The Morning Mix

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Indiana and Florida lost on the road last night. Minnesota and Tennessee both picture up resume-boosting wins. Wednesday features a bevy of games with serious tournament implications.

It might be Hump Day, but we have a lot to get to and a lot to look forward to.

Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
6:30 p.m. – No. 4 Michigan @ Penn State
7:00 p.m. – Virginia Tech @ No. 5 Miami
7:00 p.m. – No. 7 Georgetown @ Connecticut
7:00 p.m. – Akron @ Ohio
8:00 p.m. – Saint Joseph’s @ No. 18 Saint Louis
9:30 p.m. – No. 11 Arizona @ USC
10:15 p.m. – San Diego State @ No. 14 New Mexico
11:00 p.m. – Colorado @ Stanford

Read of the Day:
Dana O’Neil sheds some light on Orlando Sanchez’s NCAA eligibility situation. It’s a shame the NCAA doesn’t operate with common sense, because that’s really what is needed here. (ESPN)

Read of the Day:
A fantastic read from Dave Roth on the cult of the coach. A tremendous piece of writing. Read it. (Sports on Earth)

Read of the Day:
Andy Glockner provides the latest installment of “Bubble Watch”. You know what to do with this. Read it. (Sports Illustrated)
 
 
Top Stories:
All it took was the first 6:05 for Trevor Mbakwe to beat Indiana: Minnesota big man Trevor Mbakwe shot out of the gates last night, scoring 10 points and making big stops in the games’ first six minutes. That was the momentum boost that the Gophers needed to get them over the top.

Cody Zeller tentative in No. 1 Indiana’s loss to Minnesota, raises concern for Hoosiers: Cody Zeller finished with just nine points on 2-of-9 shooting last night in the Hoosiers’ road loss to Minnesota. Victor Oladipo might be the National Player of the Year, but Indiana won’t win the National Championship if Zeller is tentative.

Bus carrying Maine women’s basketball team reportedly involved in ‘serious accident’: A charter bus reportedly carrying members of the Maine women’s basketball team was involved in a serious crash along Interstate 95 in Georgetown, Mass.

Big 12 admits error was made near end of Kansas’ win over Iowa State:the Big 12 admitted that mistakes were made by the officiating crew at the end of regulation of the Kansas-Iowa State game from Monday, though the conference would not point to a specific play or sequence.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– The 30 finalists for Naismith Player of the Year were announced yesterday. (Card Chronicle)

– Oregon desperately needs freshman point guard Dominic Artis back on the court. The Ducks have been a different squad while he’s sat out with a foot injury. It looks like Artis will be to return this Thursday when Oregon faces Oregon State. (Oregon Live)
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– It appears that the Catholic-7 is very close to making an announcement regarding the league’s future. (A Jersey Guy)

– As Jason McIntyre suggests, use defensive efficiency numbers when determining which teams you think will make the Final Four. (The Big Lead)

– Duke forward Ryan Kelly is expected to return to the hardwood for the Blue Devil’s Senior Night game against Miami. Duke was a different team with Kelly in the lineup, but what exactly should we expect from him now that he’s back? (Duke Hoop Blog)

– Memphis has been steamrolling through a weak Conference-USA. But the Tigers always seem to come up short when they play a step up in competition. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Mike DeCourcy explains why the Akron Zips are built to succeed in the NCAA Tournament this year. (Sporting News)

– Seth Greenberg breaks down his list of the top-ten “match-up nightmares”. Indiana’s Victor Oladipo is the obvious choice, but his no. 2 selection might throw you off. (ESPN)

– I’m still confused as to why former Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine would take the job as Athletic Director at Sacred Heart. (New York Daily News)

– Jim Boeheim snapped at CBS Sports’ Jeff Goodman following Syracuse’s loss on Monday at Marquette. HEre is Goodman’s response, and it’s on point and completely valid. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Ohio vs. Akron is the mid-major game of the night. If Ohio is able to beat Akron, ending the nation’s longest active win streak, the no. 1 seed for the MAC tournament could get determined via coin flip. (Hustle Belt)

– Georgetown is in first place in the Big East and will head to Storrs, Conn. tonight to play UConn in the Gampel Pavilion. Surprisingly enough, Georgetown has never won inside Gampel Pavilion. (Hartford Courant)

– North Carolina State has had its share of ebbs and flows this season. The same can be said of star forward Travis Leslie. If the Wolfpack want to have any postseason success, they will need Leslie to step his game up. (Wilmington Star News)

– Making the case for Gee McGhee as SoCon Freshman of the Year. (Mocs Mania)

– In his latest “Tuesday Truths” entry, Jon Gasaway takes a look at how BCS-conference teams are doing against league opponents on a per possession basis. (Basketball Prospectus)

– It does not appear as if Mike Krzyzewski will be returning to the sidelines as the head coach of the US Olympic team. (USA Today)
 
 
Odds & Ends
– This might just be the most disturbing thing Twitter conversation I’ve ever read. Seriously, people like this need to get punished for their words. (Busted Coverage)

– A pretty awesome timeline of all the upsets No. 1 teams have suffered this year. (USA Today)

– It looks like Cincinnati, Louisville, Baylor and a few other schools will be getting camouflage uniforms, similar to what they wore last year during the post season. (Bearcats Blog)

– The following link takes you to an actual video of a Division I college basketball player taking a jump shot on a free throw attempt. Ryan Evans has been absolutely plagued by free throw issues this season. He’s got a serious case of the “yips”. I suppose this is the last resort. (The Big Ten Network)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Jordan McRae did just about everything last night against Florida. And yes, I mean EVERYTHING. (H/T @WesRucker247)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Trevor Mbakwe crumples Cody Zeller with A TREMENDOUS BLOCK!


 
 
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VIDEO: Presbyterian’s Toss for Tots night earns technical foul for charity

Presbyterian Sports Information Dept
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Presbyterian College held an cool and unique fundraiser this week.

In a game against Toccoa Falls, the Blue Hose held what will now be an annual Toss for Tots event. It was simple: after the first basket of their game on Thursday night, fans in attendance were asked to throw a stuffed animal onto the court, with every stuffed animal earmarked for a local elementary school.

Presbyterian ate the technical foul for the cause:

In total, 108 stuffed animals were “donated”.

The program had partnered with Bailey Elementary School, where there are 103 students. On Friday, the team delivered every student at the school one of the stuffed animals for Christmas. Head coach Dustin Kerns told NBC Sports that the team spent some times with the kids today as well, reading to the team and putting a smile on their face.

“Proud of our team,” Kerns, who is in his first year with the program, said. The win against Toccoa Falls was the fifth in a row for the Blue Hose, the first time the program has accomplished that since going to the Division I level. They are not 6-5 on the season after winning five games a year ago. “It was fun seeing out program give back.”

Presbyterian Sports Information Dept
Presbyterian Sports Information Dept

Rape charges will not be filed after last year’s incident in Kansas basketball dorm

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The Douglas County District Attorney’s office will not file sexual assault charges stemming from a report that a 16-year old girl was raped nearly a year ago in the Kansas basketball dorm.

“After an exhaustive review of all available reports, evidence and testimony, our office has determined there is not sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt a sexual assault occurred,” District Attorney Charles Branson told the Lawrence Journal-World. “Unless additional evidence or reports come to light there is insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed.”

What’s more, a suspect in the investigation was never actually identified, the paper reported. All five witnesses in the rape report were members of the men’s basketball team. The incident allegedly occurred in McCarthy Hall, which is a dorm where 40 Kansas students live, including all members of the men’s basketball team.

No. 8 Kentucky maturing, more challenges ahead for freshmen

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky coach John Calipari hasn’t hidden his frustration about the learning curve of his latest group of talented freshmen.

And while the No. 8 Wildcats are starting play better, they’re bracing for more challenges ahead.

Kentucky has struggled to put away opponents such as Utah Valley, Vermont, Troy and Harvard, efforts that players and Calipari acknowledge have contributed to a perceived lack of national respect. On the other hand, their lone loss — a 65-61 setback to Kansas — showed their ability to compete with college basketball’s heavyweights.

“It was one of the big games they got to see,” sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel said. “The feeling and high intensity of the game, people watching, the fight in a big game like that, it really started to hit. Some players really started to get rolling off of that.

“We’re starting to get better as a team, individuals are getting better and we’re trending upward and trying to stay on that path.”

Kentucky (8-1) has begun running away from opponents, a promising trend it hopes to continue against upcoming Power Five conference foes.

Saturday’s home game against Virginia Tech (9-1) opens a daunting year-ending stretch for the Wildcats that includes next weekend’s matchup against UCLA in New Orleans; their annual in-state rivalry showdown against Louisville on Dec. 29; and their Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia on New Year’s Eve.

Though Calipari still hopes February will reveal Kentucky’s true strengths, he’s eager to see how the Wildcats stack up against the Atlantic Coast Conference Hokies, who lead the nation in scoring at 96.2 points per game and rank second in 3-point shooting at 47 percent.

“They have three or four guys that can absolutely make 3s,” Calipari said Friday while listing other Tech strengths. “They’re looking for layups and kicking it out for 3s and they’re getting to the line because of it.

“They’re not afraid. They go on the road in big games. Their home games are craziness. This is plugged into our schedule at a time where we need to learn about us, and we will.”

After a busy November without much practice time, Kentucky has welcomed a lighter December schedule that has allowed the Wildcats more time for workouts and to build chemistry.

The Wildcats have a long way to go, but games such as last week’s 93-76 win over Monmouth are encouraging for Kentucky fans.

Besides continuing their solid shooting — the Wildcats rank 22nd at nearly 51 percent — redshirt freshman guard Hamidou Diallo (23 points) and forward PJ Washington (20) posted career scoring highs against Monmouth. Kentucky also succeeded with a smaller lineup and has been effective playing a zone defense, which Calipari disdains but has used because of his team’s length.

“They’re as long as anybody in the country,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said of Kentucky. “We’ll have to work really hard to get the same shots we’ve been getting.”

Kentucky remains short-handed with freshman forward Jarred Vanderbilt (foot) and guard Jemarl Baker (knee) sidelined by injuries. But the Wildcats appear to be developing depth.

They faced Monmouth without sophomore forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (sprained ankle) before starting guard Quade Green left in the second half after being poked in the eye. Both will be available against the Hokies and return knowing that the bench can fill the void after it combined for a season-high 27 points.

Granted, Monmouth is not a barometer for success against the likes of Tech, UCLA or Louisville. But considering Kentucky’s early struggles, any growth is welcome.

“We think highly of ourselves as a team,” Gabriel added. “I think we deserve more credit than we’re getting, so we’re going to go out there and try to earn it.”

Arizona State rising fast beyond the desert

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Arizona State has taken college basketball by devilish hurricane, running and gunning its way into the national consciousness while igniting an often-blase local fan base.

Even the Sun Devils’ rivals down south have taken notice.

“Bobby Hurley, he’s en route right now to be one of the coaches talked about for national coach of the year because of what he’s done with their program,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of the coach of his biggest rival. “He’s played a tough nonconference schedule. It shows some guts to play who they play. Their results speak really clearly. They might be underrated where they’re at right now.”

It wasn’t supposed to be like this, at least not yet.

The Sun Devils were expected to be better in Hurley’s third season in the desert. They returned three senior guards and finally got them some front-court help with the addition of Romello White and De’Quon Lake.

Kodi Justice, ASU’s 6-foot-5 guard, would no longer have to guard 7-footers. Arizona State would be better defensively and on the glass. The guards would not have to carry the entire load.

Even so, the Sun Devils were projected to be at the middle of the Pac-12, picked to finish sixth.

The big jump was supposed to be next season, when a trio of transfers will be eligible and could possibly lead the Sun Devils to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2014.

This breakneck band of Devils spun the narrative forward a year early.

Playing with a confidence bordering on cocky and with an offensive freedom afforded them by their coach, the Sun Devils have pushed their way into the national spotlight.

They made a blip by beating Xavier, No. 15 at the time but now No. 10 in the AP Top 25 . Blew the Musketeers away, actually, turning a 15-point first-half deficit into a 102-86 rout with an onslaught of fast breaks and 3-pointers.

Arizona State next moved into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2008-09, coming in at No. 20 after the win over Xavier. The Sun Devils climbed four spots the next week.

The catapult launched last Sunday: Arizona State 95, No. 2 Kansas 85. At Allen Fieldhouse.

One of the biggest wins in program history led to another bit of history: A No. 5 ranking this week, ASU’s highest since reaching No. 3 in 1980-81. The Sun Devils even garnered the first No. 1 votes as a program. Five of ’em, actually.

Now Arizona State is 9-0 and being mentioned as a possible national-title contender. Yeah, really.

“I knew the success was going to be better, but you don’t expect necessarily when you look at a schedule to run the table up to this point, and beat the type of teams we’ve beaten,” Hurley said. “So you just appreciate it and then you kind of move on and get ready for the next battle.”

Arizona State’s success starts with its quartet of fearless guards, turning Arizona State into “Guard U.”

With carte blanche from Hurley to shoot from anywhere at almost any time, they’ve gone from carrying the load last season to ferrying the Sun Devils closer to college basketball’s upper echelon.

Tra Holder has transformed himself from steady freshman to unquestioned, sometimes nasty senior floor leader. He scored 40 points against Xavier and leads Arizona State with 21.2 points per game. He also grabs 5.6 rebounds, dishes out 5.2 assists and won consecutive Pac-12 player of the week honors, a first by a Sun Devil since James Harden in 2008.

Shannon Evans II followed Hurley from Buffalo, had to sit out a season as a transfer and was solid as a junior, averaging 15 points per game. The 6-1 guard had become go-to guy 1-A this season, second on the team with 19 points while matching Holder in assists. Big shots? He’s go those, too, including a clutch 3 to kill a Kansas rally in one of the loudest atmospheres in the game.

Justice plays with Pete Maravichian flair, has a range that seems to extend to the opposing team’s free-throw line.

Then there’s Remy Martin. The freshman guard is more spiced rum than cognac, playing with a confidence and intensity well beyond his years.

Martin treats irritation by the opposing team’s point guard as the highest honor, often nodding his bouncy hair in approval when he officially finds his way under their skin. He was the spark off the bench against Kansas, finishing with 21 points and five steals.

“They are now freed up to be who they are more,” Hurley said. “I think they would have shown that on a more regular basis last year if I had done my job a little better and sooner and gotten them some help.”

That help is here and the Sun Devils are running and gunning with it.

Follow John Marshall on Twitter @jmarshallap

Oklahoma State dismisses two players

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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma State has dismissed junior Davon Dillard and freshman Zack Dawson from the team for failing to meet unspecified standards set by the program.

Coach Mike Boynton says he could not “make compromises in our core values when it comes to individual players.” Dillard and Dawson were suspended before the season for reasons the school has not disclosed. Dawson missed one game and Dillard missed the first five.

Oklahoma State (7-2) faces No. 19 Florida State (9-0) in Sunrise, Florida, on Saturday.