The Morning Mix

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What a weekend.

What a season.

Savor these moments folks, because we may never see another college basketball season quite like this one. The regular season comes to an end this week, and if this season has been any indication, Championship Week is going to be bonkers. But that’s seven days away. We got a lot of ball left to be played.

Let’s hit the links.

Monday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Texas Tech @ No. 6 Kansas
7:00 p.m. – Cincinnati @ No. 10 Louisville
9:00 p.m. – Baylor @ Texas
 
 
Read of the Day:
A tremendous story from Geoff Calkins on a JuCo player in Memphis who was accused of crimes he did not commit. But thanks to a strong will and a bond with his public defender, Marshaun Newell is now the star player for Southwest Community College. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)

Read of the Day:
If you have the time, I highly suggest you sit down with this New York Daily News article about Steve Konchalski, known throughout North America as “The Canadian Coach-K”. He’s like Coach-K, only with much better stories. (New York Daily News)
 
 
Top Stories:
Trey Burke leads No. 4 Michigan past No. 9 Michigan State: The Wolverines went 0-12 from beyond the arc, yet were still able to get past the Spartans on Sunday, and it was due in large part to the play of National Player of the Year candidate Trey Burke.

Virginia adds another line to baffling resume with loss at Boston College:The Cavaliers have more good wins and bad losses than any team in the country. Their loss on Sunday to Boston College is one of the many reasons why.

Miami’s loses to Duke by three at Cameron? Meh.: Ryan Kelly had a sensational performance, but shouldn’t we give Miami some credit? Duke needed a somewhat-fluky performance to beat the Hurricanes in Durham.

Ryan Kelly’s career day shows why he makes Duke a title contender:Ryan Kelly scored 36 points in his first game back from a foot injury, and he reminded all of us why Duke was and is still a legitimate national Championship contender.

Let’s keep VCU’s blow-out win over No. 20 Butler in perspective: It’s easy to overreact considering what VCU did to Butler on Saturday. But considering how Butler has made its living this season, a blowout loss to a high-octane team like VCU shouldn’t be too surprising.

Doug McDermott scores season-high 41, Creighton wins first MVC title since 2001: McDermott’s best performance of the season kept him alive in the National Player of the Year debate and helped the Bluejays to their first MVC title in over a decade.

Kentucky loses, but its NCAA tourney hopes aren’t dead yet:Kentucky could have benefited from a road win at Arkansas, but those are hard to come by. The Wildcats are still on the bubble, but that’s better than not being on it at all.

Ben Howland: Shabazz Muhammad headed to the NBA draft after season: It’s no shock at all to hear that Muhammad is going pro. It is a bit bizarre however that their head coach would make that known to the public. The Bruins are in a position to contend for the Pac-12 Regular Season Championship and are a near-lock to make the NCAA tournament. But that’s UCLA for ya.

Towson sets NCAA record, goes from 1-31 to 2nd place in CAA: The Towson Tigers have been the laughing-stock of college hoops for the past two seasons. But led by head coach Pat Skerry and Georgetown-transfer Jerrelle Benimon, the Tigers now own the most impressive turnaround in NCAA history.

Grambling State finishes regular season winless at 0-27:You just hate to see this happen. But at least Towson had provided even the slightest amount of optimism.
 
 
Observations & Insight:
– This is just awesome: The ultimate fantasy college basketball broadcasters draft. (Sports Illustrated)

– Is New Mexico worthy of a no.1-seed in the NCAA Tournament? Their resumes suggest that they are. (The Catch and Shoot Blog)

– Loyola (Md.) head coach Jim Patsos continues to have success because he does things his way. (Baltimore Sun)

– Akron’s 19-game winning streak is now over thanks to a lackluster performance against Buffalo. Louisiana Tech now holds the nation’s longest winning streak with 17 in-a-row. (Hustle Belt)

– The race for the Big-Ten title is still up for grabs. It’s quite possible that a tiebreaker will have to be used to determine a champion. (Columbus Dispatch)

– Northern Kentucky did Senior Night right. The Norse eased a 13-point deficit in the final three minutes of the game and earned a thrilling victory over Jacksonville. (AllKYhoops.com)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– If only we all could be as strong as 9-year old UCLA superfan Jeffrey Hughes, Jr. (Los Angeles Times)

– Great video footage of Pittsburgh seniors Dante Taylor and Tray Woddhall following Senior Day. This is what it’s all about. (Panther Lair)
 
 
Picture of the Day:
Best.Photobomb.Ever (Twitter)

source:

 
 
Video of the Day:
This is the most incredible buzzer-beater I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a lot of buzzer-beaters.


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
I have very little to say about this dunk because my jaw is currently dropped.

 
 
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No. 19 Wichita State upends No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — Dave Stallworth was running the show the last time Wichita State beat a Top 5 team on the road. Landry Shamet took the lead as the Shockers did it again 54 years later.

This one, too, will be a reference point, given all that was at stake.

Shamet scored 19 points, and No. 19 Wichita State ended the nation’s longest home-court winning streak, beating No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72 on Sunday to leave the American Athletic Conference race wide open.

The Shockers (21-5, 11-3) beat a Top 5 team on the road for the first time since 1964. They led most of the way, building an 11-point lead midway through the second half and holding on. Shaquille Morris’ dunk with 5 seconds left finished it off.

The Shockers ran onto the floor for congratulatory chest bumps. Coach Gregg Marshall got a celebratory dunking in the locker room, leaving his light-colored shirt clinging to him.

“It’s tremendous,” Marshall said. “Look at my shirt. College basketball has such tremendous parity. The games are decided by great players making great plays. Landry is a tremendous player.”

The Bearcats (23-4, 12-2) had won their last 39 home games. In their first real home challenge of the season, they wound up playing catch-up and coming up short. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a ranked team all season, falling to 0-3 with losses to Xavier and Florida.

Cincinnati and Wichita State were expected to contend for the title in the Shockers’ first season in the AAC. Wichita State gave itself a chance with a solid all-around game led by its point guard. Shamet had 16 points in the first half, when the Shockers shredded the nation’s second-ranked defense to take control.

Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin was bothered by his team’s “gross, mind-boggling defensive breakdowns,” including allowing the Shockers to get open for those two late layups. Wichita State shot 53 percent from the field, getting open 3-pointers in the first half and layups in the second half.

“We’re just not in a good place right now,” Cronin said. “I hadn’t slept much. We’re not in a good place for a lot of reasons.”

Wichita State closes the regular season by hosting Cincinnati on March 4. Houston (21-5, 11-3) also is in the running for the league title after beating Temple on Sunday.

The Shockers hit seven of eight shots during a 17-3 run that gave them a 34-23 lead. Cincinnati responded by turning up its full-court defense, forcing three quick turnovers, and going on a run that cut the deficit to 42-40 at halftime.

The Shockers showed a little defense of their own, forcing five turnovers while rebuilding their lead to 59-48 with 11 minutes left, matching its biggest of the game. Cincinnati closed to 72-70 on Trevon Scott’s dunk with 13 seconds left, but the Shockers scored on a pair of inbound passes by Landry, the last a full-court heave to Morris for a dunk that provided the final margin.

“This is what we do,” said Austin Reaves, who made the first of the two decisive layups. “We stick together on the road.”

BIG PICTURE

Wichita State: The Shockers needed a win to maintain their chances of a regular season title, and they got it with another good showing on the road. The Shockers are the most successful road team in the nation over the past five years at 47-8, including 7-2 this season.

“This is like our 50th red-out or white-out or black-out,” Marshall said. “We feel comfortable when that happens.”

Cincinnati: The Bearcats moved into the Top 5 even though they hadn’t beaten a ranked team all season. Losses at Houston and at home to Wichita State left them prepared for a plummet.

“As it gets later in the season, every team is better,” said Jacob Evans III, who had 16 points. “It’s not the beginning of conference or the season. Every team knows us well. We’ve got to be able to go to second options when they take away the first ones.”

NO LONGER A SWEET HOME

The Bearcats hadn’t lost at home since a 77-70 defeat against Temple on Dec. 29, 2015. They went 18-0 at Fifth Third Arena last season and were 13-0 at Northern Kentucky’s BB&T Arena, where they’re playing this season while their on-campus arena is renovated.

LONG TIME NO SEE

The Shockers and Bearcats played regularly as members of the Missouri Valley Conference from 1958-70, but it was their first game since 1981.

TOP 5 HISTORY

It was only the fourth time the Shockers have beaten a Top 5 team on the road. They beat No. 5 Oklahoma A&M in 1954 and topped No. 3 Loyola in 1963 and again in 1964 behind Stallworth.

TOUGH WEEKEND IN CINCY

Cincinnati had two teams in the Top 5, and both of them lost at home over the weekend. No. 4 Xavier lost to No. 3 Villanova 95-79 on Saturday at Cintas Center.cincinnati

Andy Kennedy resigns from Ole Miss effective immediately

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Andy Kennedy announced that, effective immediately, he will be stepping down as the head coach at Ole Miss. Tony Madlock will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

The reason is simple: Kennedy wanted to “relieve any external pressure being felt by our current players” and he did not believe that last week’s announcement that this would be his final season in Oxford accomplished that.

“It has become readily apparent to me that my continued presence as the head coach is proving detrimental to these players finishing the season in a fashion that is representative of The Standard for this program that has been clearly established and maintained for over a decade,” Kennedy said in a statement. “Yherefore, I believe that it is in everyone’s best interest that I exit my role as head coach effective immediately. We all know that “clean breaks” are always best, and I should have realized this last Monday. My apologies.”

On Saturday, Ole Miss lost by 17 points at Mississippi State. That came two days after Kennedy went viral for a brutally honest criticism of what his team was going through.

“I can’t get to them,” he said. “I can’t reach them.”

It’s sad that this is the way that it had to end for the best basketball coach that Ole Miss has ever had. But it had to be done.

No. 12 Duke beats No. 11 Clemson as defensive resurgence continues

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Grayson Allen finished with 19 points, four assists and four steals, scoring 17 of his points in the first half, and Wendell Carter added 15 points, 10 boards and three blocks as No. 12 Duke won their fourth straight game without Marvin Bagley III, 66-57.

No. 11 Clemson was short-handed as well, and that’s something that needs to be noted. Not only are they playing without Donte Grantham, who tore his ACL earlier this year, but Shelton Mitchell was not in the lineup after suffering a nasty concussion at Florida State on Wednesday.

The Tigers were a No. 3 seed when the bracket reveal occurred last Sunday, but like Ohio State and Oklahoma, they have now lost back-to-back games; 11 of the top 16 teams have lost a game in the last week.

But the story here more than anything is Duke.

Yes, Allen finished with 19 points and continues to play well without Bagley on the floor. Getting him into a rhythm is critically important for this team. He was averaging 14.7 points in 24 games with Bagley. He is averaging 22.3 points in the last three games that Bagley has missed, and that does not include the 37-point outburst he had when Bagley went down with an injury against Michigan State.

Coach K also has had a chance to develop some confidence in his bench. Javin DeLaurier had 10 boards on Sunday. Marques Bolden didn’t play a done of minutes, but he still finished with five points, three boards and a pair of blocks. He was, generally speaking, a positive influence on the game.

But here is the most important and perplexing nugget: Duke, for the third straight game, was excellent defensively. They’ve now allowed fewer than 1.0 points-per-possession in each of the last three games. They are clearly not the same time offensively without Bagley’s presence on the floor, but it is impossible to ignore what they have been defensively in the last 10 days without him.

To put it into context: For all the talk about how much of a problem Duke’s defense has been, the Blue Devils are now ranked 43rd in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom. They were 79th after they lost to North Carolina, the last game that Bagley played. Villanova, who many believe is the best team in the country when healthy, is 42nd.

The question we need to ask is whether or not that will continue once Bagley makes his return.

Because the only thing standing between Duke and a Final Four is their inability to defend.

No. 8 Ohio State falls at No. 22 Michigan, Michigan State moves into first in Big Ten

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After all of the drama and the speculation about whether or not Ohio State or Purdue was the best team in the Big Ten, water has seemingly found its level.

On Sunday afternoon in Ann Arbor, No. 8 Ohio State lost their second straight game, falling 74-62 at No. 22 Michigan and allowing No. 2 Michigan State — who had one of college basketball’s greatest comebacks on Saturday at Northwestern — to slide into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten with just one week left of the regular season.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 17 points while Jordan Poole added 15 off the bench in the win.

The Wolverines did a good job of slowing down Ohio State’s all-american forward, Keita Bates-Diop. KBD finished with 17 points and seven boards, but he shot just 5-for-17 from the floor. Jae-Sean Tate led the way with 20 points and 15 boards for the Buckeyes.

There was a special moment before this game even started as Austin Hatch, a two-time survivor of plane crashes that killed his entire immediate family, took part in the team’s Senior Day.

VIDEO: Michigan celebrates plane crash survivor Austin Hatch’s Senior Day

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If you don’t know the story of Michigan senior Austin Hatch, you should.

He’s survived two plane crashes in his life. The first, in 2003, robbed him of his mother, 11-year old sister and five-year old brother. In 2011, to celebrate his commitment to the Wolverines, Hatch’s father flew them up to the family’s vacation home, but the plane crashed into a garage killing Hatch’s dad and his stepmom and leaving Austin critically injured.

He had a severe brain trauma, a punctured lung, broken ribs and a broken collarbone, and in order to manage the swelling in his brain, he was put into a medically-induced coma for eight months.

He managed to return and even played for the Wolverines during the 2014-15 season, but he eventually made the decision to retire from basketball at the end of the year. He did, however, remain a part of the program and on Sunday, during Michigan’s Senior Day, he warmed up with the team and was introduced to the crowd as a starter and no, I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying: