Late Night Snacks: Ohio State gets a big win, UNLV holds off Boise State

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Game of the Day: No. 14 Ohio State 67,  No. 2 Indiana 58

Defense was the key for Ohio State Tuesday night in its big road win over Indiana. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott combined for eight steals and ground Indiana’s offensive attack to a halt, including National Player of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo. That defensive effort turned into offense and the Buckeyes were able to get by without an efficient night from Deshaun Thomas. The victory keeps Ohio State in the running for a share of the Big Ten regular season title.

Important Outcomes

1. UNLV 68, Boise State 64

A signature road win in the tough Mountain West would have helped Boise State in its bid for the NCAA tournament, but the Broncos were unable to come up with one Tuesday. Anthony Marshall took over down the stretch and was too much for coach Leon Rice’s team, despite 22 points from Anthony Drmic.

2. Iowa 63, Illinois 55

This game did a couple of things. First, the loss hurts Illinois’ seeding in the NCAA tournament, dropping them for now from a seven or eight seed to a nine or ten seed. Secondly, it keeps the slim Iowa NCAA tournament hopes alive, which were hurt so badly by the Hawkeyes’ loss to Nebraska last month.

3. No. 25 Memphis 56, UTEP 54

Despite remaining undefeated in the C-USA, Memphis likely scared off some believers with its performance Tuesday. The Tigers had to claw back from behind and turned the ball over with three seconds to play, allowing UTEP to get off one final heave and shot at a win, though that shot fell short. Without a signature win on its resume, how confident can we be in Memphis?

Starred

1. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott, Ohio State (23 points, 8 steals)

The combination of these two players on the perimeter completely disrupted Indiana’s offensive flow, keeping Victor Oladipo and the rest of the Hoosiers’ attack in check. Ohio State then turned that defense into offense and got a big road win in the conference.

2. Anthony Marshall, UNLV (16 points, 5-of-6 FG, 8 assists, 5 rebounds)

Marshall took the game over in the second half for UNLV in a big home victory over a tough Boise State bubble team. He scored eight points in the final 4:42 of regulation and had a key dribble-drive that opened up Katin Reinhardt for the three-pointer that sealed the game for the Rebels.

3. D.J Cooper, Ohio (First player ever to record 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds, 300 steals in career)

What Cooper put the finishing touches on Tuesday is an accomplishment that had never before been achieved in the history of college basketball. He finished with 24 points and five assists in a three-point Ohio win.

Struggled

1. St. John’s Offense (17-of-56 FG, 40 points)

The young Red Storm were already at a disadvantage offensively without suspended leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison, but Notre Dame was successful in slowing down their transition attack and forcing them to operate in the half court. The result was 30 percent shooting and a lack of overall offensive flow. St. John’s will be without forward Sir’Dominic Pointer after his scuffle with Notre Dame’s Cameron Biedscheid at the end of the game.

2. Illinois Backcourt (11-of-39 FG)

Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, and Tracy Abrams combined to shoot 11-of-39 from the floor for an Illinois team that is sliding back into back habits and did not shoot well from the floor in a loss to Iowa. After a bad stretch earlier in the season, the Illini seemed to have bounced back, but will have to stop this slide before it really starts.

3. Arkansas Rebounding (-23 vs. Missouri)

Missouri is a good rebounding team, that’s for certain, but the Razorbacks had little chance Tuesday with a -23 rebounding margin against the Tigers. Arkansas continues to struggle away from home.

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

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.