Pat Connaughton,Russ Smith

Late Night Snacks: Pluck of the Irish

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Game of the Night

No. 25 Notre Dame 104, N0. 11 Louisville 101: Of the 205 points scored in this game, 85 came in extra time. Louisville lost four players to fouls, and Notre Dame lost three. The night’s Iron Man award goes to Eric Atkins, who played 60 minutes, scored 14 points and somehow had only three fouls. The takeaway from all this madness? The dissolution of the Big East sucks.

Meaningful Results

N0. 13 Kansas State 79, Iowa State 70: K-State became sole owners of the Big 12 lead with this win over a consistently dangerous Iowa State squad. They’ll take the mojo on the road Monday to face in-state rival Kansas for a chance to extend the Jayhawks’ misery.

N0. 12 Michigan State 78, Purdue 65: Don’t look now, Sparty is standing atop the B1G all by his lonesome. Pretty impressive feat in the Big Ten meat grinder.

No. 6 Gonzaga 74, Loyola Marymount 55: I mention this only because it’s very easy to forget about the Zags during conference play, when they tend to disappear off TV screens in most of the country. The Bulldogs are 10-0 in their league, where they appear to be safe from the upset-itis hitting the rest of the top ten.

UNLV 64, N0. 15 New Mexico 55: The Mountain West continues to be an exemplar of parity. Just when New Mexico seemed poised to pull away, the Rebs dragged them back a step. Colorado State is just 1/2 game behind the Lobos, and hosts San Diego State on Wednesday.

No. 19 Oregon 73, Utah 64: The Ducks trailed for much of this game, but turned on the jets to break a three-game losing streak. That they did it against one of the Pac-12’s worst teams is something we’ll just have to accept.

Illinois State 75, No. 16 Creighton 72: The MVC is getting to be as unpredictable as the Mountain West. Plenty of good teams, but nobody seems to want to seize the day and become the undisputed best team in the league. Creighton should be that team, by pure dint of talent and star power, but they aren’t. Puzzling.

Starred 

Jerian Grant, Notre Dame: Down five with less than a minute left in the game and star Jack Cooley fouled out, some Fighting Irish fans filed out of the Joyce Center to beat the traffic. They missed Jerian Grant’s personal crusade to force OT, best described by Blue Ribbon’s Chris Dortch:

The Summit Show: There were no national TV cameras there, but South Dakota State vs. Oakland was likely one of the best individual matchups of the year. Jackrabbit star Nate Wolters had a slight edge, putting up a line of 36 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists, but his opposite number Travis Bader finished with 31 points, 3 assists, 3 steals and one big W for the Golden Grizzlies. Duke Mondy’s 26 off the bench didn’t hurt.

La Salle shooters: Sam Mills broke out of a slump in a big way against Fordham, hitting seven of eight from behind the arc. The bounty from deep wasn’t limited to Mills alone, however. Ramon Galloway was 5-7 and Tyreek Duren 4-4 from three point range. As a team, the Explorers tied the program record for made treys, hitting 18 to match a mark set against Oregon in 1991.

Struggled

Elijah Johnson: The embattled KU point guard has become the focal point for much of the heat surrounding the team’s three-game losing streak. Johnson was 3-11 from the field against Oklahoma, and was ineffective leading the offense as well. The only thing saving his starting job? Backup Naadir Tharpe is so clearly not ready for prime time either.

Lobo Shooters: New Mexico’s starting perimeter players were terribly ineffective. They failed to score over UNLV’s guards, hitting just 7-26 from the floor, and precious few of those from deep. On the other end of the floor, they played matador defense, allowing the Rebs to top 40 percent from behind the arc.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

rp_primary_Linder_Jeff_Action_vs_Dayton_031815_2_
Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.