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Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Indiana gets a big win, Miami shows its versatility

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Game of the Day: No. 1 Indiana 72. No. 4 Michigan State 68

Indiana made a statement Tuesday night with a win over a quality Michigan State team. The Hoosiers worked to break down the Spartans’ defense and, with another Player of the Year-type performance from Victor Oladipo, held their ground in the Big Ten on the road.

The Indiana defense took Michigan State point guard Keith Appling out of the game and forced the offensive pressure on Gary Harris and Adreian Payne. That was enough for grind out a win Tuesday. Cody Zeller continues to be consistent and finished with 17 points and five rebounds.

Important Outcomes

1. Missouri 63, No. 5 Florida 60

Missouri needed a win like this. The Tigers still haven’t had success away from home and have their fair share of flaws, but a resume-building win like this Tuesday night is what helps NCAA bubble teams fall on the right side of the fence, come Selection Sunday. Florida’s Kenny Boynton took a questionable three-pointer when the Gators trailed by just one, but a win is a win for Missouri.

2. No. 2 Miami 54, Virginia 50

Miami is perhaps most dangerous because it has proven that it can still win games, regardless of the pace at which the opponent tries to force it to play. If the Hurricanes are hot from the floor, they can reach into the 70s. If a team like Virginia or Clemson tries to slow the game down and grind it out, Miami can win anyway. That versatility in March is key.

3. Saint Louis 76, No. 24 VCU 62

Virginia Commonwealth and Butler have been in the spotlight for much of the season, but this Saint Louis team has now beaten both at home in dominating fashion. The biggest test will come on Friday when the Billikens travel on the road to meet Butler again with the top of the conference at stake.

Starred

1. Victor Oladipo, Indiana (19 points, 7-of-11 FG, 9 rebounds, 5 steals)

Oladipo continues to build his case for National Player of the Year as the do-it-all engine behind No. 1 Indiana’s attack. As important as Cody Zeller is, this Indiana team is not the elite team that it is without Oladipo in the lineup and producing as he has been.

2. T.J. Warren, NC State (31 points, 13 rebounds)

NC State needed this win at home to hold its ground in the ACC race. Warren’s dominating performance sparked a Wolfpack offensive attack that put up 84 points. The rest of the NC State regular season schedule is favorable, but that also means there is little room to slip up and lose ground.

3. Jordan McRae, Tennessee (34 points, 13-of-18 FG, 6 rebounds, 3 steals

Tennessee is likely an NIT team, but McRae’s performance in a win over LSU cannot go unnoticed. he was efficient from the floor and hot from behind the arc with 6-of-6 shooting from three.

More of Note: Tristan Carey, Longwood (40 points, 12 rebounds) | Olivier Hanlan, Boston College (26 points, 7 rebounds)

Struggled

1. Keith Appling, Michigan State (6 points, 1-of-8 FG, 4 TOs)

Appling’s recent struggles are likely because of a combination of things, including a heavy load of minutes and the absence of injured backup Travis Trice. Michigan State needs Appling back on track either scoring or distributing (or both) for the start of March.

2. Alex Len, Maryland (4 points, 1-of-5 FG, Fouled Out)

Len had foul troubles and was unable to get in a groove offensively against a Boston College team that Maryland needed to beat to keep its NCAA hopes alive. Without this win, Maryland can ultimately say goodbye to its NCAA tournament aspirations.

3. Desmar Jackson, Southern Illinois (5 points, 1-of-9 FG, 3 TOs)

Southern Illinois needed Jackson to contribute in order to beat one of the conference’s best teams, but Jackson had trouble finding his shooting stroke.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Coach Cal softball game raises $300K for La. flood relief

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John Calipari is known for his ability to amass talent. Over the weekend, that quality helped raise $300,000 for Louisiana flood relief.

The Coach Cal Celebrity Softball Classic brought Kentucky stars like Keith Bogans, Andrew Harrison and Karl-Anthony Towns and the likes of former UK quarterback Tim Couch and NFL Hall of Famer Chris Carter to Lexington to help aid Louisiana in conjunction with the Red Cross after the area suffered major flooding earlier this month.

“I didn’t want to really do a softball game,” Calipari said according to his website, “but then we decided to do it and then Louisiana happens and now you have a cause. … It’s kind of neat. You have a cause, you have a why.”

Towns’ team was the 18-12 victor over Team Calipari on the day.

“This is amazing,” Towns said on CoachCal.com. “This is something that we get a chance to rarely do. We get to help the community out but at the same time have fun. There’s nothing better than doing something that we would do for free but for charity. This is something we’re going to have a lot of fun doing today.”

The softball game was played the same weekend as the John Calipari Basketball Fantasy Experience which generated $1 million that will be shared with 14 charities.

‘Noles add legacy guard to 2017 class

ACC Basketball Tournament: Florida State v North Carolina
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Florida State has added another solid member to its 2017 recruiting class.

Anthony Polite, a 6-foot-6 guard from Florida, pledged to the Seminoles on Tuesday morning.

“Officially committed to Florida State University #Nole Nation,” Polite wrote on Twitter.

Polite chose Leonard Hamilton’s program out of a final top-five that also included Pitt, Memphis, Texas Tech and Miami. He also sported offers from TCU, Boston College, Kansas State and Utah, among others.

“It was a really tough decision,” Polite said according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “Miami had a great coaching staff. I just thought FSU would be the best fit for me and I had more of an opportunity to talk to the players at Florida State.”

Polite, whose father played for the Seminoles during his college career, averaged 21.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists last year as a junior playing for St. Andrew’s in Boca Raton, Fla.

“Anthony Polite is a skilled wing who can handle the ball and distribute a bit,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “Florida State still needs to help Polite improve his perimeter jumper, but his commitment gives them another talented playmaker from the wing who can handle and attack the rim.”

Regarded as a three-star prospect, Polite join power forward RaiQuan Gray and fellow guard Bryan Trimble in the Seminoles’ 2017 class. It doesn’t have the star power of Hamilton’s group last year, which included five-star Jonathan Isaac and four-star Trent Forrest, but they can be important pieces for a Florida State team that has just one senior on the 2016-17 roster.

Kansas players make weight room gains – and losses – this summer

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA - JUNE 18: Udoka Azubuike #105 in red runs back for defense the NBPA Top 100 Camp on June 18, 2015 at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images)
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Summer is the time to refine not only players’ skill sets, but also their bodies. Kansas’ highly-touted freshman duo of Josh Jackson and Udoka Azubuike have fulfilled the latter thanks to the Jayhawks’ strength and conditioning program.

Azubuike has dropped 27 pounds from his 7-foot frame while the wiry Jackson has added 17 pounds, according to the Kansas City Star.

“These guys have goals,” Adrea Hurdy, Kansas’ long-time assistant director for sports information, told The Star. “They come here in part because we have the resources to help them attain their goals.

“They want the challenge and want to become better people, better basketball players and better athletes.”

Only 16 years old, Azubuike arrived in Lawrence having been consistently listed as weighing around 270 pounds throughout his prep career. Getting leaner while still maintaining – and increasing – strength is a significant development for such a young player, who was a consensus top-50 player in the 2016 class.

Jackson, the country’s top rated incoming freshman, now weighs in at slightly over 200 pounds at 6-foot-8. Six-foot-10 forward Carlton Bragg,a sophomore, also got in on the body-changing as he’s put on 26 pounds to head into the fall at 247 pounds.

Kansas is a likely top-five preseason team with returners like Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk, and having newcomers like Jackson and Azubuike along with sparsely-used but talented returnees like Bragg making gains in the weight room will only make them more formidable as they look to capture an astounding 13th-straight Big 12 title.

 

Texas bolsters 2017 frontcourt

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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Shaka Smart has added another four-star forward to his 2017 recruiting class.

Texas picked up a commitment Tuesday from 6-foot-8 Jericho Sims of Minnesota, according to multiple reports.

Sims, who visited Texas this past weekend, is ranked in the top-50 by Scout and in the top-75 by ESPN and 247Sports. He joins Royce Hamm, a top-100 forward from Houston, as members Smart’s second recruiting class at Texas.

“Jericho Sims is a late-blooming big man who has a lot of room to grow in terms of upside,” NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips said. “A good athlete with a good frame to work with, Sims should help immediately on the glass and defensively but his offense will be a work in progress.

“Texas has a large recruiting class and targeted Sims later than many, so this is a nice commitment for the Longhorns.”

The commitment represents a significant get for the Longhorns, who beat out the likes of Kansas, Iowa State, Ohio State, Connecticut and Sims’ hometown Gophers, whom his father played basketball for in the 1970s and his brother football more recently.

Sims and Hamm both are players that could help Smart and his staff transition more back to the Havoc style of play Smart employed at VCU as both have the length, speed and athleticism to help the Longhorns dial up the pressure and push tempo.

Five-star 2017 point guard Trevon Duval down to 10 schools

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
(Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.

Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.

Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.