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.

4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.