Temple survives UMass, are tournament hopes still alive?

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AMHERST, Mass. — Nineteen seasons ago, John Chaney tried to fight then-UMass coach John Calipari in the post game press conference. In 2013, the Temple-UMass rivalry resumed with postseason implications.

Following an 83-82 road win over the Minutemen on Saturday, the Temple Owls keep NCAA tournaments hopes alive after doing its best to ruin them with a  84-83 home loss to Duquesne on Thursday night.

“It’s really important,” said Temple coach Fran Dunphy. “We did not play well at home against Duquesne, Duquesne had a lot to do with that. They’re really coming on. It wasn’t surprising they got us. We’re just inconsistent enough to not win that game at home.

Khalif Wyatt scored 17 of his game high 24 points in the second half, knocking down 5-of-8 threes in the last 20 minutes. UMass cut the lead to one twice down the stretch, including a Freddie Riley three with 1:04 to go to cut the lead to 83-82. The Minutemen had a chance to win it with a 17 seconds to go, but the ball was deflected, and UMass couldn’t get a handle on it as time expired.

“I was just think they were giving Chaz [Williams] the ball,” said Dunphy. “Everybody but Anthony Lee, we’re going to switch on Chaz and just to help as much as we can on the weak side, and hope he doesn’t have one of those floaters that buries us.”

If Williams and UMass did bury Temple on Saturday with a game-winner, it would have essentially buried their season in the NIT. The win pushes Temple (17-8, 6-5 Atlantic 10) over .500 in conference play and tied with Charlotte three games behind first-place VCU.

The Owls looked promising in non-conference play with a win over then-No. 3 Syracuse, Villanova and nearly knocking of Kansas in Lawrence.

In A10 play, the Owls have been inconsistent with losses to St. Bonaventure, St. Joseph’s and most recently to Duquesne. The bounce-back win was big for Temple, who have a difficult week coming up with games slated against La Salle and at Charlotte.

“That was a bad loss on Thursday, but the best thing about the loss was it was a quick turnaround, so we didn’t have much time to think about it or dwell on it,” said Wyatt. “We just want to make sure we’re one of those 68 teams.”

“We have to be a solid as we were in the second half on the defensive end, and we have to really be efficient on offense,” added Dunphy. “We have a tough week coming up with La Salle at home, and at Charlotte. This presents a tremendous challenge for us.”

Along with La Salle and Charlotte, Temple still has a makeup game against Detroit and a regular season finale against VCU.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?