Buzz Williams

Late Afternoon Snacks: Marquette stays atop Big East; Cowboys claim Big 12 lead

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Game of the Day

No. 18 Marquette 79, N0. 16 Pittsburgh 69: Vander Blue has really been asserting himself in Big East play, and today he helped the Golden Eagles protect the Batcave Bradley Center, a place where Marquette hasn’t lost in 23 straight games. That’s important, because Buzz Williams and company play four of their last six games at home. The Golden Eagles are currently 9-3 and tied with Georgetown for the league lead.

Meaningful Results

Tennessee 88, No. 25 Kentucky 58: We knew Nerlens Noel was important to the Wildcats, but holy moley. This is a Tennessee team that, in general, does not shoot well at all. In this game? Fifty-eight percent from the floor, which can be somewhat attributed to the absence of Kentucky’s star center, though the Vols have lost to nine other teams this season who didn’t have Noel on their rosters. But Kentucky’s problems start with guard play, and the perimeter defense in this game was execrable. Tennessee was 5-5 for a perfect 100 percent from deep, and held UK’s nominal point guards – Jarrod Polson and Ryan Harrow – without a single assist. This could be the last time this season we see John Calipari’s defending champions with a number next to the team name.

Providence 71, No. 21 Notre Dame 54: Is there a team in the nation more evocative of multiple personality disorder than the Irish? This week they were all heart and guts in a quintuple-OT win over Louisville. They followed that big win with a single overtime in which they struggled to beat a mediocre DePaul team in South Bend, and now this lopsided loss on the road. It’s not going to get any easier, either – three road games against ranked foes await. Providence, on the other hand, is on a roll.

North Carolina 93, Virginia 81: The distance between Miami, Duke, NC State and the rest of the ACC just seems to get wider every day. Virginia seemed poised to get into the at-large conversation once and for all with an upset of the Wolfpack, then slid back to the pack with this loss. UNC, also struggling to build a tourney-worthy resume, got a plus mark on their ledger.

No. 17 Oklahoma State 84, Oklahoma 79: Bedlam is always a great show, and the Cowboys came out shooting in this renewal of the rivalry.  Marcus Smart and Le’Bryan Nash combined for 54 points as they downed their in-state rival and firmed up their standing in the Big 12 race, where they’re currently a half game ahead of both Kansas and Kansas State.

Games of the Night

6:00 Duke at Maryland (ESPN)
6:00 Detroit at Valparaiso (ESPN2)
7:00 Baylor at Kansas State (ESPNU)
7:00 Oregon at Washington (Pac-12 Network)
7:00 Princeton at Harvard (NBCSports)
8:00  Michigan State at Nebraska (BigTen)
8:00 Memphis at Marshall (CBSSports)
8:00 Georgia at Ole Miss (ESPN2)
9:00 Texas at Kansas (ESPN)
9:00 Arizona State at Colorado (ESPNU)
9:00 San Diego State at UNLV (NBCSports)

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.