Late Night Snacks: No. 3 Miami survives, No. 20 Wisconsin rolls

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Game of the Day: James Madison 72, Delaware 71 

The Blue Hens entered Sunday’s game against JMU with a chance to pull within a game of first-place Northeastern (in the loss column) in the CAA, but a lob from Devon Moore to Andre Nation with less than a second remaining gave James Madison the win in Newark. As a result of the win JMU is now tied for second with Towson (10-5), and with the Tigers banned from postseason play due to their APR score the Dukes lead the race for the two-seed in next month’s conference tournament. Delaware’s Devon Saddler led all scorers with 23 points, while Moore and Rayshawn Goins paced JMU with 19 apiece.

Important Outcomes

1. No. 3 Miami 45, Clemson 43

Sometimes teams simply have to gut out wins, especially on the road, and that was the case for the Hurricanes as they scored seven of the game’s final eight points to win at Clemson. A Kenny Kadji three-pointer in the final minute gave Miami the lead for good, and they’re now 12-0 in the ACC. Three games up on No. 2 Duke with six conference games remaining, Miami is in excellent position to win their first-ever ACC regular season title. Kadji finished with 12 points to lead the Hurricanes, and Jordan Roper led the Tigers with a game-high 19. But Clemson shot just 30.4% from the field, which left the door open for a Miami comeback.

2. No. 20 Wisconsin 71, No. 13 Ohio State 49 

This one was ugly from the start for the Buckeyes, who shot 37.5% from the field and 3-of-12 from beyond the arc. It didn’t help matters that they were unable to slow down Wisconsin on the other end, as the Badgers shot 52.7% on the afternoon. Ben Brust and Jared Berggren scored 15 apiece to lead four Badgers in double figures, and Bo Ryan’s swing offense resulted in Wisconsin shooting 22-of-36 inside the three-point arc. Deshaun Thomas scored 18 to lead all scorers but outside of Sam Thompson (ten points) the other Buckeyes struggled mightily on offense.

3. Iowa 72, Minnesota 51 

With 12:57 remaining in the first half Minnesota led 21-5 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. It all went downhill from there, as Iowa stormed back and left no doubt by the end of the game. Andre Hollins scored just three points and Rodney Williams went scoreless in ten minutes of action for Minnesota, who is now tied with the Hawkeyes and Illinois for sixth in the Big Ten. The question for Iowa is whether or not they can climb back into the NCAA tournament conversation, but Fran McCaffery’s team has some work to do given their poor non-conference strength of schedule ranking (323).

Starred

1. G Trey Burke (Michigan) 

29 points (9-of-16 FG), five assists and three rebounds (without a turnover) in the Wolverines’ 79-71 win over Penn State.

2. G Allen Crabbe (California) 

Things got a bit heated between Crabbe and head coach Mike Montgomery (h/t @Stephen_Nelson) early in the second half but the junior finished with 23 points, nine rebounds and five steals in the Golden Bears’ 76-68 win over USC. For his part Crabbe offered the following in the postgame press conference:

3. F Stephen Lumpkins (American) 

Lumpkins played 42 of a possible 45 minutes in the Eagles’ 64-61 overtime win over Holy Cross, accounting for 17 points, 12 rebounds and three assists.

Struggled

1. South Florida

The Bulls haven’t fared well this season after getting to the NCAA tournament in 2012. Now 1-12 in Big East play, the Bulls shot 24.5% from the field in their 59-41 loss to No. 12 Louisville. USF finished the game with more turnovers (16) than field goals (13).

2. Minnesota 

The Golden Gophers hit six of their first nine shots and led Iowa 21-5. For the remainder of the game Minnesota shot 11-of-38, losing a game they led by 16 at one points by 21 (72-51).

3. Northwestern

The Wildcats nearly established a new record for fewest points scored in a game during Bill Carmody’s tenure but got going late in their 62-41 loss to Illinois. Northwestern shot 25% from the field and attempted 27 three-pointers, making five. And just like South Florida, Northwestern’s turnovers (14) beat out their made field goals (12).

Three Facts 

1. Wichita State picked up a big win, 68-67 at Illinois State, to take over sole possession of first place in the Missouri Valley. A Cleanthony Early three-pointer capped an 8-0 rally that began with a flagrant 1 called on Illinois State’s Jackie Carmichael with 41.2 seconds remaining.

2. Niagara was once again without the services of leading scorer Antoine Mason (ankle) but point guard Juan’ya Green made up for his absence, scoring 18 points to lead the Purple Eagles to a 60-56 win at Manhattan. The win keeps Niagara alone atop the MAAC standings, and with Rider’s win over Marist later in the day Rider is almost guaranteed of not having to play in the first round of next month’s conference tournament (the bottom four teams play in the first round).

3. No. 9 Arizona was too reliant on the three-pointer, attempting 22 of their 53 shots from beyond the arc (making six), but thanks to some big plays late from seniors Mark Lyons and Solomon Hill the Wildcats held off Utah 68-64 in Salt Lake City. Jarred DuBois led Utah with 16 points, but it was another case of “close but no cigar” for a team that’s played better than their 11-14 record would indicate.

Video James Madison’s game-winner at Delaware (at the 2:05 mark)

Top 25 Scores 

No. 3 Miami 45, Clemson 43
No. 4 Michigan 79, Penn State 71
No. 9 Arizona 68, Utah 64
No. 12 Louisville 59, South Florida 41
No. 20 Wisconsin 71, No. 13 Ohio State 49

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

Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.