The Morning Mix

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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. (

– 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)


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)

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

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VIDEO: Kris Dunn wills Providence to win over No. 11 Arizona

Kris Dunn, Elliott Pitts
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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Kris Dunn spent the first 35 minutes of Friday night’s game against No. 11 Arizona in foul trouble, splitting his time between sitting on the bench and trying to avoid finding himself, again, on the wrong side the whistle.

With 11 minutes left in the game, and with Dunn yet to find a rhythm, the all-american point guard was whistled for his fourth foul as he battled for a rebound with Arizona’s Mark Tollefsen. Head coach Ed Cooley say his superstar beside his for six game minutes, time enough for Arizona to turn a 49-47 deficit into a 58-54 lead.

There were just over five minutes left when Dunn reentered the second semifinal of the Wooden Legacy, and he proceeded to show everyone in the country why he was named the Preseason Player of the Year. Providence had nine possessions after he reentered the game. Dunn scored 11 points and had a pair of assists on those eight possessions, and if Ben Bentil had stuck a wide-open three — that was setup by Dunn — the Friars would have scored on all nine.

In total, Dunn was responsible for all 15 Friar points in a game-changing, 15-7 run in the final 4:30. It was capped off by this Kobe-in-his-prime-esque game-winner:

The win for Providence is huge for a couple of reasons:

  • Dunn showed a killer instinct against a marquee opponent, something that we didn’t necessarily see out of him a season ago. He wasn’t going to let his team lose, and given that Providence doesn’t have anyone else that can consistently create good shots, they are going to need that from him a lot this year.
  • It makes a statement for the Friars. Arizona is overrated at No. 11 in the country, yes, but going out on national television against an elite program and getting this kind of performance from Dunn is a confidence-booster and a tone-setter. Providence hasn’t been accustomed to winning in recent years. This is a way to set a trend.
  • Ben Bentil continues to play like a star. Dunn had 19 points and eight assists on Friday, but Bentil followed up a 24-point performance in the win over Evansville with 21 critical points on Friday.

This win sets up a matchup between No. 3 Michigan State and Providence on Sunday night, which means that Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn — the two best players in the country, sorry Ben Simmons — will be going head-to-head.

Oh. Hell. Yes.

No. 14 Cal goes 0-2 in Las Vegas Invitational

Jaylen Brown
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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After midnight on the east coast on Thanksgiving, No. 14 Cal blew a 15 point second half lead against San Diego State, allowing the Aztecs to use a 30-6 run to put away the game and advance to the final of the Las Vegas Invitational. That’s the same San Diego State team had scored 43 points in a loss to Arkansas-Little Rock last week.

Not 24 hours later, the Golden Bears were shredded defensively by the Richmond Spiders, losing 94-90 in the consolation game of a four-team tournament they were considered to be the heavy favorite in.

It’s a disappointing two-game stretch for Cal, who entered the season as a Pac-12 favorite and had looked the part for the first four games of the season.

And the issue appears to be on the defensive end of the floor.

Richmond is a good Atlantic 10 team. Terry Allen and Marshall Wood are high-major big men, Shawn’Dre Jones is a jitterbug at the point and Chris Mooney runs a Princeton-esque system that is very difficult to prepare for without a day in-between games. So it’s not really surprising that the Spiders gave Cal a fight.

But 94 points?

On the heels of giving up 44 points in the second half against the offensively-challenged Aztecs?

That’s a problem, one that I’m sure that Cuonzo Martin is going to address this week in practice. Martin has managed to put together a roster that is build for small-ball, with four talented perimeter players surrounding a first round pick in the post. But that’s not the style that he’s known for. Martin played his college ball at Purdue in the Gene Keady days. He cut his teeth as a head coach at Missouri State in the Missouri Valley. His team’s at Tennessee were known for being tough and physical defensively.

That’s how Martin coaches, which is part of the reason Cal had such hype entering the year.

The talents of Tyrone Wallace, Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, Jabari Bird and Jordan Mathews on a team with a coach that gets teams to defend the way Martin does? It’s no surprise that pundits would be optimistic.

But as of now, they have some work to do defensively if they want to live up to that hype.