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Wednesday delivered yet another entertaining night of hoops. Kansas and Oklahoma State went into double overtime and featured a candidate for .GIF of the year. Minnesota continues to slide closer and closer to the bubble, and Northeastern and James Madison went down to the wire in a pivotal CAA battle.

Let’s hit the links.

Thursday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Cincinnati @ Connecticut
7:00 p.m. – La Salle @ Temple
7:00 p.m. – Drexel @ Delaware (NBC Sports Network)
8:00 p.m. – South Alabama @ Middle Tennessee
9:00 p.m. – No. 6 Duke @ Virginia Tech
9:00 p.m. – California @ No. 23 Oregon
11:00 p.m. – BYU @ Saint Mary’s

Read of the Day:
It’s Thursday, which means Luke Winn’s Power Rankings are hot off the presses. As is the case every week, this is must-read stuff. (Sports Illustrated)

Hoops Housekeeping:
– Vanderbilt recruit Darius Thompson has decommited from the school and will re-open his recruitment. (The Tennessean)

– Jake Toolson, the nephew of former Cougar sharpshooter and NBA GM Danny Ainge, has committed to BYU. (Salt Lake Tribune)

– Former-Texas standout Gary Johnson suffered a skull fracture yesterday playing in Europe and was placed in a medically induced coma. He is expected to make a full recovery. (CSN Houston)

Observations & Insight:
– This is just crazy. Temple has played in five consecutive games decided by one point. They play La Salle tonight in a pivotal A-10 match-up. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Remember when Ole Miss was the talk of the town? That was roughly seven games ago. They’ve lost five games since then. A tourney bid is looking less and less likely for Marshall Henderson & company. (The Dagger)

– Earlier this week John Feinstein penned an article for the Washington Post in which he stated that Siena may be a possible candidate to join the Catholic-7. While the Saints have had excellent success for a MAAC program, does the school have the financial support to run a high-major basketball program? (Fours Guys in Blazers)

– George Mason had a planned proposal to upgrade it’s basketball practice facillities. Many mid-majors across the country are upgrading their facillities, including two of George Mason’s local rivals, Old Dominion and VCU. But head coach Paul Hewitt advised against the project, and the proposal was subsequently scrapped. (GMU Hoops)

– Georgetown freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored a career-high 22 points off the bench in the Hoya’s 90-66 win over DePaul. (Washington Times)

– Baylor lost at home to Iowa State last night, ending any shot the Bears had at making the NCAA tournament. (Our Daily Bears)

– Xavier’s Travis Taylor had his wisdom teeth removed on Monday, had a career night against Rhode Island on Wednesday. (Cincinnati.com)

– In case you missed it, North Carolina has gone to a four guard lineup and surprisingly enough, it seems to be working. (Rush The Court)

– Rumors swirled yesterday regarding expansionocalypse and the recruitment of UNC and UVA to the Big-Ten. Both schools are staying put in the ACC. (Busting Brackets)

Odds & Ends
– Former-Duke Blue Devil Brian Zoubek is closing his pastry shop in Haddonfield, NJ. Yes, that’s right, the former Duke big-man owned and operated a pastry shop. There is a joke or two to be made here. (The Blue Zone)

– Well this is certainly bizarre: North Dakota has suspended their men’s basketball play-by-play announcer for two games because he used the term “choke job” during the broadcast of their weekend overtime loss to Northern Arizona. (ESPN)

– This too is bizarre: Idaho fan gets prosthetic leg designed in honor of Vandals. (Lost Letterman)

– Yeah, I can’t imagine Missouri administrators are too happy with Truman the Tiger. (The Big Lead)

Picture of the Day:
Phil Forte is a freshman sharpshooter at Oklahoma State. Best.Sign.Ever. (The Big Lead)

source:

Video of the Day:
I think Marcus Smart’s ankles are still at the top of the key.

Video of the Day:
Bill Self is a dancing fool. (The Mock Session)

http://www.gophoto.it/view.php?i=http://cdn2.mocksession.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/BILL-SELF-HAMMERTIME.gif#.USWlDKWTjSg

Dunk of the Day:
The Ben McLemore Show, ladies and gentlenman.

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)

Johnson, Paige help No. 9 Tar Heels roll past Panthers 85-64

North Carolina's Isaiah Hicks (4) dunks against Pittsburgh during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Chapel Hill, N.C., Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
AP Photo/Gerry Broome
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Brice Johnson scored 19 points to lead a dominating offensive performance that helped No. 9 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 85-64 on Sunday.

Marcus Paige added 15 points for the Tar Heels (21-4, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who shot 59 percent to stay atop the league ahead of the next renewal of their fierce rivalry with Duke.

UNC had plenty of balance, shared the ball and got out in transition in arguably their best performance in weeks, using a 13-0 second-half burst to blow the game open. UNC finished with 26 assists on 32 baskets, 24 points off turnovers and scored 16 fast-break points after managing a combined five in the past two games.

Michael Young and James Robinson each scored 15 points to lead Pitt (17-7, 6-6). But the Panthers shot 37 percent and committed 19 turnovers, and a strong effort on the glass did little to offset their troubles.

The Tar Heels were playing their first home game in two weeks after a difficult three-game road trip that started with losses at Louisville and Notre Dame. Then came Tuesday’s game at Boston College, where the Tar Heels struggled against a winless league team then had a scare when Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams briefly collapsed in a second-half huddle after an attack of vertigo and had to leave the sideline for the rest of the game.

Williams was back in the office on Wednesday’s off day, returned to practice Thursday and told reporters Friday he was fine and even cracked jokes about a two-decade history with vertigo dating to his Kansas years.

Getting back home certainly helped everyone feel better. After wrestling with shooting struggles for much of the past month, UNC’s offense kicked back into an efficient and balanced gear, while Paige – the player the Tar Heels are practically begging to jolt free from a prolonged shooting slump – looked more like his old self against the Panthers.

That included one second-half play in which he caught a crosscourt pass from Theo Pinson in transition and made sure to step back behind the arc before burying a 3-pointer.

The Panthers had lost three of four since a 5-2 league start coming in, including 65-63 on a late tip-in at No. 12 Miami on Tuesday. And Pitt again had trouble getting their offense going, failing to crack 70 points for the third straight game.

TIP-INS

Pittsburgh: Second-leading scorer Jamel Artis scored five points on 2-for-8 shooting. … Pitt finished with a 41-29 rebounding advantage. … Pitt made 9 of 21 3-point attempts.

UNC: Justin Jackson scored 14 points. … UNC made 8 of 15 shots from 3-point range and 13 of 15 free throws. … Jackson and Pinson had six assists each. … UNC managed just one offensive rebound.

UP NEXT

Pittsburgh hosts Wake Forest on Tuesday.

UNC hosts Duke on Wednesday.

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap and the AP’s college basketball site at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

Michigan State's Denzel Valentine (45) shoots over Indiana's Kevin Yogi Ferrell during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Sunday, Feb. 14, 2016, in East Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
AP Photo/Al Goldis
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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.