Rico Gathers, Demarcus Holland, Sheldon McClellan

Late Night Snacks: Making the most of a light slate

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Only 10 total games tonight, but a decent amount on the line with the games that were played. Two teams took hits in their quest for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament, while others had players continue to develop. It’s Late Night Snacks.

Game of the Night

Texas 79, Baylor 70 – If there’s a game where we can all look back and say “that’s the day Baylor’s at-large hopes died” it’d be Monday night against Texas. The Longhorns were carried by three players and the Bears couldn’t stop them. At 13 losses and losing eight of their last 11, Baylor will need a miracle run in the Big 12 Tournament to make the Field of 68.

Games of Note

No. 8 Louisville 67, Cincinnati 51 – The Bearcats could’ve really boosted their tournament resume with a road win at the Cardinals. Instead, Louisville forced them into 21 turnovers, three more turnovers than buckets, actually, and the Cardinals won their sixth straight since the five overtime loss at Notre Dame. Russ Smith scored 18 points in the win.

No. 4 Kansas 79, Texas Tech 42 – The game wasn’t really of significance. It was a blowout win that the Jayhawks rightfully earned. But Jeff Withey had 22 points and nine rebounds and Elijah Johnson finished with a season-high 12 assists. This team is rounding into a lock for a one seed.

Norfolk State 69, Florida A&M 58 – On a national spectrum, the game wasn’t a big deal. But the win put the Spartans at 15-0 in the MEAC, with a game against North Carolina A&T standing in the way of a perfect conference season. They haven’t lost since a Jan. 2 defeat at Ball State.


Sheldon McClellan, Texas – He just seems more relaxed with Myck Kabongo back. McClellan finished with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting in the win over Baylor.

Elijah Johnson, Kansas – Every game since the Iowa State contest, Johnson has just gotten better. On Monday night, it was a 12-assist effort in the rout of Texas Tech on Senior Night.

Damon Heuir, Southern Utah – In a loss to 89-76 Montana, Heuir finished with 29 points for the Thunderbirds. He was 10-for-20 from the field and 4-of-8 from three. He added six rebounds and four assists.


Brady Heslip, Baylor – He averages 8.9 points per game and finished 0-for-3 from the field, all three’s, and just two points at the foul line. He was just one of many Bears who had a bad night.

Stuffing the Stat Sheet

Savannah State’s rebounding prowess – Jyles Smith and Arnold Louis both had 11 rebounds apiece in the Tigers’ 59-57 loss at North Carolina A&T, while teammate Rashad Hassan finished with nine. Only one other teammate finished with more than one rebound.

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
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Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
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When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.