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

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.