Otto Porter

Late Night Snacks: Georgetown is rolling, Penn State shocks Michigan

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Game of the Day: No. 7 Georgetown 78, Connecticut 77 (2OT)

Otto Porter, as you’ll read below, was everything Georgetown needed and more Wednesday. He was key in each of the Hoyas’ last three possessions, but it was also his supporting cast that came up in a big spot. Without Greg Whittington because of his ineligibility, freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera has emerged as a legitimate third scoring option with 14 points in the win. Add that to Markel Starks and package it all with a team focused on defense, and it’s no wonder why Georgetown is on such a streak.

Important Outcomes

1. Penn State 84, No. 4 Michigan 78

In perhaps the biggest upset of the year (in good company with TCU’s win over Kansas), few saw a Penn State victory coming Wednesday night. The Nittany Lions simply outplayed a potent Michigan offense and played at the Wolverines’ pace on their way to a win. As for Michigan, there is little to say other than to question how something like this happened.

2. Akron 88, Ohio 81 (OT)

The battle for the top of the MAC did not disappoint. The Zips extended their winning streak to 19 games and have now beaten Ohio, the next best team in that conference, twice. Demetrius Treadwell and Zeke Marshall led the way for Akron.

3. USC 89, No. 11 Arizona 78

Arizona’s defense continues to stick out as likely its biggest threat to hopes of a Pac-12 title and a run in the NCAA tournament. USC shot 61 percent from the floor, despite coming into the game ranked 212th in the nation in field goal percentage. This should be another wakeup call for the Wildcats and a realization about the limits of their growth potential if they don’t improve defensively.

Starred

1. Otto Porter, Georgetown (22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists)

The do-it-all forward was at it again Wednesday, giving an encore to the huge performance he put on Saturday against Syracuse. He had a hand in Georgetown’s final three possessions, scoring five points in that span and dishing out an assist. His layup with under 0:10 to play put the Hoyas ahead for good.

2. Doug McDermott, Creighton (32 points, 12-of-17 FG, 11 rebounds)

McDermott has had some un-McDermott-like performances spread out over the past few weeks, but he came back in a big way Wednesday against Bradley. Creighton is now tied atop the Missouri Valley race with Wichita State.

3. Eric Wise, USC (22 points, 9-of-12 FG, 5 rebounds)

Wise was one of five Trojans in double figures for a USC Wednesday night that simply broke Arizona down. The Wildcats continue to sturggle on the defensive end and Wise led an attack that shot 61 percent from the floor in a win.

Struggled

1. Trey Burke, Michigan (6 turnovers in loss to Penn State)

Burke came into Wednesday ranked third in the country with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 3.6. Against Penn State, he finished with six assists and six turnovers. Yes, he still scored 18 points but two of his six turnovers came at key points. One came with the game tied at 74 with 4:23 to play, and another with Michigan down three with 1:47 remaining.

2. Arizona’s Defense (61% FG Defense, 60% 3pt FG Defense)

There has been a trend emerging in Arizona’s losses. The Wildcats are continually unable to keep teams from shooting a high percentage. In their five Pac-12 losses, coach Sean Miller’s team has not been able to hold anyone below 48 percent shooting. That certainly does not bode well for March.

3. Carl Jones, St. Joseph’s (2 points, 1-of-9 FG, 3 TOs)

St. Joe’s has not has not had the type of season it might have expected to have coming into the season, and a loss Wednesday to Saint Louis adds to that. Jones struggled from the floor in the 17-point loss.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.