The Morning Mix

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Big Monday delivered last night. There were only 15 games on the schedule, but the marquee games delivered. Kansas and Iowa State played in the game of the night. Elijah Johnson went for 39 points, and scored 12-straight points down the stretch. Some will say Iowa State got jobbed. Others will say that last night belonged to Elijah Johnson. Neither group is wrong.

Let’s hit the links.

Tuesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – No. 1 Indiana @ Minnesota
7:00 p.m. – No. 19 Memphis @ Xavier
7:00 p.m. – Towson @ George Mason
9:00 p.m. – No. 8 Florida @ Tennessee
9:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 17 Wisconsin

Read of the Day:
Jabari Parker is the most heralded recruit in the class of 2013. The Chicago Grid details how Nike got the inside track towards obtaining the exclusive rights to Parker’s feet. Read it. (Chicago Grid)

Read of the Day:
Using the two marquee games from this past weekend, Georgetown-Syracuse and New Mexico-Colorado State, Matt Brown explains why over-analyzing certain college basketball games is a futile process. (Sports on Earth)
Top Stories:
For Elijah Johnson, Monday’s comeback was about more than just one win: Elijah Johnson has had his share of struggles this season. But on Monday night, he had all the confidence in the world and was able to put the Jayhawks on his back and carry them to victory. They will need him to play with confidence more often down the stretch. He’s tough to stop when he’s confident.

Iowa State loses to Kansas, but don’t disregard their three-point shooting: Iowa State may have lost last night, but they provided a lot of entertainment thanks to their wide array of long-range marksmanship.

Syracuse’s back court struggles becoming a major concern: Syracuse lost to Marquette last night 74-71, marking the first time the Orange have lost back-to-back games all season. Syracuse’s backcourt has been the key concern in the two recent defeats.

Marquette gets 26 from Gardner in victory over Syracuse: The Marquette big man had himself a big time performance against Syracuse, scoring from inside and outside.

Andrew Wiggins named Naismith High School Player of the Year: Wiggins is the one of the top three unsigned recruits in the class of 2013 and will choose between Kentucky and Florida State.

The Big East’s new TV deal could include a name change:The Big East signed a television deal with ESPN last week and one of that may be made is to change the name of the conference. I think we can all agree that this is the right decision.
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Former-USC basketball player Brandon Martin has been named Athletic Director at Cal State Northridge. (Yahoo Sports)

– The 25 finalists were announced for the Lou Henson Award, given to the top mid-major player of the year. (College Insider)

– Memphis’ Antonio Barton is no longer in a walking boot and may be able to return for the postseason. (College Basketball Talk)
Observations & Insight:
– This is what the NCAA Tournament bracket would look like if teams were seeded based on storylines. (Wilmington Star News)

– You’re probably already aware that March has the potential to be absolutely bonkers, but in case you need more convincing, Mike Lopresti previews what may be in store. (USA Today)

– In case you forgot, the USC Trojans are looking for a new head coach. The opening should command some quality attention when the season ends, and according to Doug Gottleib, who knows the SoCal area very well, believes the hiring could set off a chain reaction of events. (CBS Sports)

– Mississippi State has just six scholarship players available for use and are sitting at the bottom of a weak SEC. But regardless of his teams struggles, head coach Rick Ray doesn’t want people to feel sorry for him. (Clarion Ledger)

– La Salle is one of the more interesting bubble teams to watch for as the regular season comes to a close. They have four good wins and only one bad loss. They have the looks of a team that can solidify their NCAA tournament status with a strong run in the A-10 Tournament. (Hoopville)

– At the beginning of the season, the balance of power in the Mountain West was geared towards UNLV and San Diego State, but as the season has progressed, the balance of power has shifted towards Fort Collins and Albuquerque. (College ChalkTalk)

– Memphis will put two large winning streaks on the line tonight when they face Xavier tonight in a rare late-February non-conference showdown. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

– Saint Mary’s still has some work to do in order to make the NCAA tournament, but their win over Creighton showed that they deserve to be considered. (Rush The Court)

– Blake Griffin advises college players to not rush their pro career. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Andy Katz provides a bevy of thoughts on the hoops world, including his choice for some conference Player of the Year awards. (ESPN)

– LeBron James, the pride of Akron, OH, returns home during the offseason to reunite with Akron Zips head coach Keith Dambrot, who coached LeBron at St. Vicent-St. Mary’s High School. The Zips are currently riding an 18-game winning streak and are ranked inside the top-25. (USA Today)

– Washington State dismissed Reggie Moore back in September, and well, I think it’s safe to asusme that they really missed his services this season. (Coug Center)

– A month ago, it looked like the Missouri Valley may get three teams into the NCAA Tournament, but with Creighton and Wichita State’s recent struggles, it’s quite possible that The Valley only sends one team to the Big Dance. (Eye on College Basketball)
Odds & Ends
– Two weeks after snapping at ESPN’s Andy Katz, Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim was back at it again, barking at CBS’ Jeff Goodman. (Fox Sports Wisconsin)

– Denver mascot sparks controversy. Weirdest headline of the day. (Mile High Mids)

– Your “stat of the day”: Illinois has gone 5-1 since John Groce banned Twitter. (The Big Lead)

– In case you’re in to this sort of thing: Karl Hess has worked more games this season than any other referee. (Run The Floor)

– A bizarre story on Junior College hoops in Iowa. A brawl broke out after a game, one player got arrested. The School President bailed the player out, and the team got punished. Just read it. (Deadspin)

– A top-10 list of the ugliest college basketball uniforms of all time. (Lost Letterman)
Tweet of the Day:

Picture of the Day:
No words necessary. (H/T @MattMumISU)

Video of the Day:
Ball State recruit Franko House drills a 3/4 court buzzer-beater.

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 (@Tro

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.