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The Morning Mix

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Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Providence @ No. 8 Syracuse
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ No. 11 Georgetown
7:00 p.m. – Minnesota @ No. 18 Ohio State
7:00 p.m. – James Madison @ Northeastern
7:00 p.m. – Charleston @ Western Carolina
8:00 p.m. – Air Force @ Boise State
8:00 p.m. – Vanderbilt @ Kentucky
8:00 p.m. – UTEP @ Southern Mississippi
8:45 p.m. – Stephen F. Austin @ Sam Houston State
9:00 p.m. – No. 9 Kansas @ No. 14 Oklahoma State
9:00 p.m. – No. 19 Wisconsin @ Northwestern
9:00 p.m. – Houston @ No. 21 Memphis
9:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Baylor
10:00 p.m. – Washington State @ Arizona State
10:00 p.m. – Pacific @ UC-Irvine
10:05 p.m. – UC-Davis @ Long Beach State
10:15 p.m. – No. 22 Colorado State @ UNLV
11:00 p.m. – Santa Clara @ No. 3 Gonzaga
11:00 p.m. – Washington @ No. 12 Arizona

Read of the Day:
A tremendous story about race and basketball through the eyes of James Reed a former Morgan State player who broke social norms in pursuing his dreams. This is the best thing you will read all day. So don’t continue on until you’ve finished it. (SB Nation)

Andy Glockner’s Bubble Watch is a must-read every week. This is vital information people. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)

Top Stories:
Ten of the top 20 teams in the country have lost by more than 17 points? I’m not sure if there is a message in all of these statistics other than March is going to be absolutely crazy.

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Colorado forward Josh Scott is day-to-day after taking an eblow to the head against Arizona State over the weekend. (Ralphie Report)

Observations & Insight:
– Expansionocalypse rumors began circulating yesterday afternoon indicating that Virginia and North Carolina may have been offered a spot in the Big-Ten. UVA and UNC were the two most likely schools to follow after Maryland and Rutgers joined, but since then the ACC schools publicly announced their solidarity. I have absolutely no clue what this rumor means. (The Champaign Room)

– Aaron Torres ranks the top-10 coaches in the country and has some interesting choices. HINT: Coach-K is not in the top-5. (Aaron Torres Sports)

– An interesting-read on Bucknell’s “anit-HAVOC” defense. The Bison rank in the top-10 for effective field goal defense and defensive rebounding, yet rank 345th in the nation in causing turnovers. (Hoop Vision)

– West Virginia is not a very good team this year. They have a lot of new peices, some of which are not as talented as previously thought, and there is no chemistry. Freshman Eron Harris was seen crying on the bench during the Mountaineers 71-61 loss at Kansas State. While you may mock his tears, you cannot deny that the kid cares. (The Dagger)

– John Gasaway provides some itneresting info on Kansas’ Big-XII title chances, bad losses, and the Big East in the most recent edition of “Tuesday Truths”. (Basketball Prospectus)

– Vander Blue has emerged this season as Marquette’s premier scoring threat. Blue was a highly-touted recruit who spurned Wisconsin for their in-state rivals. But some Marquette fans still don’t appreciate the work that Blue has put in this season. (Anonymous Eagle)

– Allen Crabbe’s mother has weighed in on the Mike Montgomery incident. She says Crabbe has put it behind him. Finally, we can move on. (Mercury News)

– We’ve said it before, but it bares repeating: The Providence Friars are on the up-and-up. (Daly Dose of Hoops)

– Some good words on Oklahoma freshman je’lon Hornbeark, who is putting the finishing touches on a productive freshman campaign. (Crimson and Cream Machine)

– Jeff Borzello updated his Freshman of the Year Rankings. Now w/ less Nerlens Noel. (Eye on College Basketball) 

Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

No. 5 Xavier stumbles at Creighton, lose 70-54

Creighton's Cole Huff (13) and Toby Hegner, left, guard Xavier's Jalen Reynolds (1) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
(AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Mo Watson went for a career-high 32 points, seven boards and five assists as Creighton jumped out to an early 21-4 lead and never looked back, beating No. 5 Xavier, 70-54, in Omaha on Tuesday night.

 

It was a massive win for the Bluejays, who still have an outside shot at earning an at-large bid this season. (We wrote all about that here.)

As well as Creighton played, the bigger story here may actually be Xavier, who lost for just the third time this season; they had been the only top ten team with just two losses to their name.

The issue for the Musketeers tonight was two-fold, but they both are a symptom of what could be an issue down the road for this team: Xavier doesn’t really have a true point guard.

They certainly didn’t have anyone to stop Watson. By the second half, they had essentially asked Reynolds, who was playing the middle of their 1-3-1 zone to matchup with Watson. It was weird but was actually somewhat effective.

The Musketeers also started out ice cold from the floor, missing 11 of their first 13 shots, and those misses led to leak outs from Bluejays, who got layups and open threes in transition to build that 17 point lead. Once Xavier got behind, it turned into scramble mode for Xavier. They forced shots early in the clock and didn’t start pounding the ball into the paint until it was too late. What they needed was someone to be able to settle things, to ensure that offensive would get initiated and sets would get executed when they were able to get the lead down to single digits.

That 1-for-19 shooting performance from beyond the arc certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the fact that they got just nine field goals all game from players not named James Farr or Jalen Reynolds. The most frustrating part for head coach Chris Mack? They had good shots. It wasn’t like Creighton took away everything that Xavier wanted to do.

The kids just had one of those nights where nothing went down.

Those happen.

And when you combine them with a total inability to contain the opposing team’s point guard, what you get is a 16 point loss on the road against a team that was desperate to get a good win.

Gill’s 16, ‘D’ lead No. 7 Virginia past Virginia Tech, 67-49

Lehigh Virginia Basketball
AP Photo/Andrew Shurtleff
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) Anthony Gill scored 16 points and No. 7 Virginia turned the tables on state rival Virginia Tech with a 67-49 victory Tuesday night, the Cavaliers’ seventh straight.

Isaiah Wilkins added a career-best 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon had 12 for the Cavaliers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia avenged a 70-68 loss to the Hokies in Blacksburg on Jan. 4 in what rates as their worst performance of the season, and extended their winning streak at John Paul Jones Arena to 17 games.

Freshman Justin Robinson scored 16 points and classmate Chris Clarke had 11 in his first action for the Hokies (13-12, 5-7) since breaking his right foot in late December. Virginia Tech’s top two scorers, Zach LeDay (16.0 ppg) and Seth Allen (14.5), were limited to seven and six points, respectively, in part because of foul trouble.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett said his team wasn’t ready to play when it lost to the Hokies earlier, but they have been surging of late and were focused from the outset. They were credited with assists and 14 of their first 15 baskets and forced 10 turnovers in the first half; they forced just eight in the last meeting of the teams.

For most of the game, the Hokies had more turnovers than field goals.

The Cavaliers led 32-20 at halftime and extended their advantage to 47-29 on a three-point play by Mike Tobey with 12:11 remaining. It capped an 11-4 run for Virginia, during which LeDay was whistled for his fourth foul. On Virginia’s next trip down court, it got the ball to Gill inside and LeDay basically backed off and let him score, quickly earning a spot on the bench.

The Cavaliers’ lead never dipped into single digits again.

The Hokies had just eight turnovers and outscored Virginia 26-6 off turnovers in their first meeting. This time, Virginia Tech had 10 turnovers by halftime and the Cavaliers had already turned them into 15 points. Virginia Tech finished with 16 field goals and 15 turnovers.

Already leading 9-6, Virginia got scoring from eight players in a 23-8 run that spanned about 8 1/2 minutes.

Gill started it with a dunk, Brogdon hit a 3-pointer, London Perrantes had a four-point play and Wilkins finished it with two free throws, giving the Cavaliers a 32-14 lead with 2:06 left in the half. They didn’t score again, and the Hokies closed within 32-20 by halftime.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies shot 57.1 percent (15 of 26) from the field in the second half of their 70-68 victory against Virginia on Jan. 4. … Virginia Tech’s starting five totaled four points in the first half.

Virginia: The Cavaliers have held four consecutive opponents to 50 points or fewer.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays at No. 12 Miami next Wednesday.

Virginia plays at Duke on Saturday.

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The AP’s college basketball page: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org