Late Night Snacks: Princeton battles Harvard for Ivy League crown

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Game of the Day

Princeton 58, Harvard 53

The Tigers needed to beat the Crimson at home Friday or NCAA tournament hopes would be all but gone. Princeton shrugged off a 15-2 run with under three minutes to go from Harvard. With 1:06 to go Ian Hummer hit two free throws, putting Princeton up 54-53. Princeton missed the front-end of a one-and-one but hustle plays kept the ball in the Tigers’ hand. Princeton is only half a game behind Harvard in Ivy League standings, avenging an earlier loss to the Crimson.

Important Outcomes

Princeton 58, Harvard 53

Princeton has kept alive the hopes of an Ivy League play-in game with the win over Harvard. The Tigers trail half a game in the conference standings. If Princeton had lost, Harvard would only have to win two of its final three games. A play-in game happened two years ago.

Iona 90, Loyola (MD) 86

Iona dropped a double overtime game against Manhattan last Friday, starting a three-game losing streak. The Gaels got back on track and stayed in the MAAC standings mix with a win over Loyal (MD), who held sole possession of second place entering the game. Lamont Jones had 22 of his 35 in the second half for Iona. The MAAC has five teams with 10 wins.

Mahattan 34, Fairfield 31

It’s hard to win a game only scoring 34 points, but somehow the Jaspers did. Manhattan and Fairfield combined for the second-lowest point total since 3-point was added in 1986. Fairfield shot 26 percent, while Mahattan shot 25 from the floor. Shane Richards has 11 points for the Jaspers, the only player to score in double figures.

Starred

Lamont Jones, Iona

Jones scored 22 of his game-high 35 points in the second half, snapping a three-game losing streak and keeping Iona in the crammed MAAC standings. The Gaels had lost six of their last seven and topped Loyola (MD) who was in second place entering the game. Jones was 7-for-7 from the field in the second half.

Ian Hummer, Princeton

Hummer scored 23 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. Harvard had 24 rebounds as a team. Hummer shot 8-of-14 from the field and doubled Harvard’s production on the offensive glass with four rebounds.

Adam Kemp, Marist

Kemp had 24 points 14 rebounds and five blocks in a two-point win over Siena. What’s more impressive is he did this against a frontline that includes O.D. Anosike. Kemp played above the rims, dunking on seven of his 10 field goals.

Struggled

Harvard 3-point shooting

The Crimson were 0-of-8 from behind the arc. The Crimson were dominated on the glass, but were unable to connect on an area where they shine. Harvard’s loss makes the Ivy League a battle that will go down to the final day.

Fairfield and Manhattan

The Stags and Jaspers hit an almost all-time low, with the second-lowest combined score since the 3-point line has been in use. Only one player in double figures and neither team shot better than 26 percent. Fairfield and Manhattan joins Tennessee-Georgetown in the 30-30 club this season.

East Tennessee State defense

The Bucs allowed USC Upstate Spartans to shoot 49 percent from the field, including 46 from behind the arc (13-for-28) opposed to their 35 percent and 22 percent from deep. East Tennessee State allowed four of USC Upstate’s five starters to score in double figures.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.