Late Night Snacks: Colorado, Minnesota pick up quality home wins over ranked foes

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Game of the Night: Duquesne 84, Temple 83

Jim Ferry’s Dukes entered Thursday on an 11-game losing streak and 0-8 all-time at the Liacouras Center, but they pulled off the upset due to two Derrick Colter free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining. For Duquesne the win is a positive step in the first season of the Ferry era. As for the Owls, they’re now 5-5 in Atlantic 10 play and aren’t exactly a lock to reach the NCAA tournament. Khalif Wyatt scored 35 points and will continue to lead the way offensively, but if Temple is to get back to the NCAA tournament others have to step up.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 5 Gonzaga 77, Saint Mary’s 60 

After finishing second to the Gaels in the WCC race last season, Gonzaga took a big step towards reclaiming their spot atop the conference with a 17-point win in Moraga. Gary Bell Jr. scored 20 points and the Bulldogs shot 50% for the game, but it was their defense that made the difference. Gonzaga limited Saint Mary’s to 33% shooting from the field and 5-of-19 from three in the second half. Matthew Dellavedova (22 points) and Stephen Holt (17) led the way for Saint Mary’s, who missed out on a great opportunity to improve their NCAA tournament resume.

2. Minnesota 58, No. 20 Wisconsin 53 (OT)

The Golden Gophers found a way to pick up a win they desperately needed, with two Joe Coleman free throws sending the game into overtime. Andre Hollins led Minnesota with 21 points and Austin Hollins added 11 for a team that entered Thursday having lost six of its last eight games. Wisconsin shot 7-of-28 from three and 30.5% overall, which left the door open for Minnesota to mount a rally. Sam Dekker scored 14 points off the bench to lead the Badgers offensively.

3. Colorado 71, No. 9 Arizona 58

The Buffaloes avenged their controversial loss in Tucson thanks in large part to point guard Spence Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie finished with 21 points and seven assists as Arizona struggled for much of the night to contain him in ball screen situations. Freshman Xavier Johnson added 19 points and nine rebounds for Colorado, which added a nice victory to their NCAA tournament resume. Solomon Hill scored 12 points and Mark Lyons added 11 for the Wildcats, who have lost two straight.

Other Notable Outcomes 

1. Weber State 87, Montana 63

The showdown between the two best teams in the Big Sky lacked suspense as the Wildcats took control of things halfway through the first half and led by as many as 28 points. Weber State pulls to within a game of Montana, whose 24-game Big Sky regular season win streak came to an end. Montana may still lead the conference but a very good argument can be made that Weber State is the best team in the Big Sky.

2. Tennessee State 80, Belmont 69 and SIU-Edwardsville 65, Murray State 60 

Lat Thursday the Bruins and Racers played a classic that many expect to see in the OVC tournament final in a few weeks. That may still happen but the road to the OVC title game won’t be easy, with tonight’s scores being examples as to why. Three-point shooting cost both Belmont and Murray State, with Belmont shooting 5-of-26 in their loss at Tennessee State and Murray State going 3-of-13 in a five-point loss at SIU-Edwardsville.

3. Davidson 75, College of Charleston 59 

De’Mon Brooks struggled with foul trouble for much of the night but Jake Cohen more than made up for it, scoring 32 points on 13-of-24 shooting and blocking four shots to lead the Wildcats past Charleston. Nik Cochran added three three-pointers and as a team Davidson shot 10-of-24 from deep. The Wildcats are two games up on Charleston in the South Division of the SoCon with four league games remaining, and the win puts them in good position to grab the top seed in the conference tournament.

Starred

1. G Sam Prescott (Mount St. Mary’s) 

Prescott went off in the Mountaineers’ 84-70 win over Bryant, scoring 44 points on 16-of-24 shooting from the field (10-of-14 3PT). Prescott also grabbed six rebounds on the night.

2. F/C Damen Bell-Holter (Oral Roberts) 

Bell-Holter accounted for 24 points (8-of-13 FG), 14 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Golden Eagles’ 74-64 win over Sam Houston State.

3. F Augustine Rubit (South Alabama)

Rubit scored 34 points on 11-of-16 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds in the Jaguars’ 88-64 win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Struggled

1. South Carolina 

The Gamecocks did not have a good night offensively, shooting 28.1% from the field and 3-of-19 from deep in a 64-46 loss to LSU.

2. Massachusetts in the second half

Derek Kellogg’s team succumbed to “HAVOC” in the second half, turning the ball over 13 times and shooting 27.3% from the field as a five-point halftime lead turned into an 86-68 defeat.

3. Montana State

The Bobcats, who beat Weber State earlier this season, struggled mightily in an 87-51 loss at Idaho State. Montana State grabbed just 17 rebounds, which matched their turnover count, and shot 5-of-21 from beyond the arc.

Top 25 Scores

No. 5 Gonzaga 77, Saint Mary’s 60

Colorado 71, No. 9 Arizona 58

No. 12 Louisville 72, St. John’s 58

No. 13 Ohio State 69, Northwestern 59

Minnesota 58, No. 20 Wisconsin 53 (OT)

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.