Kenny Kadji

Late Night Snacks: Miami takes bad loss, A-10 proves to be entertaining

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Game of the Day: Georgia Tech 71, No. 6 Miami 69

Sometimes the outcome of a game can be as easy as who boxes out and who doesn’t. On Georgia Tech’s final possession, Miami was the team that did not get a body on every available Yellow Jacket, allowing Marcus Georges-Hunt to get free for a tip-in as time expired. Miami’s hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament took a hit with the loss, especially considering the four bad losses they’ve amassed over the course of the season.

Important Outcomes

1. Villanova 67, No. 5 Georgetown 57

Villanova solidified its spot in the NCAA tournament by notching its third win of the season over a Top 5 team. With good RPI and SOS numbers, the Wildcats’ resume compares favorably to other bubble teams, especially those that have registered bad losses in the past few weeks.

2. Xavier 77, No. 16 Saint Louis 66 (OT)

The final score does not speak to how closely contested this game was. Xavier led by seven points with 4:40 remaining, but Saint Louis clawed back to force overtime. The Xavier wins kept the Billikens from claiming at least a share of the A-10 title Wednesday night and opens up a more interesting race for the top. La Salle and VCU are still in contention.

3. Iowa State 87, No. 13 Oklahoma State 76

In the same way that Villanova needed a big win Wednesday, Iowa State did too and it capitalized. The Cyclones are difficult to beat at home and now add this OSU win to wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma.

Starred

1. Trey Burke, Michigan (26 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds)

If there was another night on the schedule where Trey Burke was to prove that he was worthy of a National Player of the Year award, this was it. He started out cold and Michigan’s offense followed suit, but he began to pick it up in the second half and ultimately led the Wolverines to victory in a tough road environment.

2. Travis Taylor, Xavier (19 points, 19 rebounds)

Xavier could continue to pick up steam and get stronger as we get closer to the conference tournament. For that reason and considering what we saw today from Taylor in a win over Saint Louis, I think Barclays Center is going to play host to one of the best tournaments in the country next week.

3. Will Clyburn, Iowa State (20 points, 7-of-10 FG)

Iowa State needed a win badly to help to solidify its NCAA tournament resume and Clyburn helped to that end. He was 2-of-4 from three-point range as well in the victory.

Struggled

1. Reggie Johnson, Miami (2 points, 1-of-4 FG, 3 TOs)

Johnson has been out of his groove over the past two games, following up an 0-of-5 shooting game against Duke with another subpar performance Wednesday. He needs to be an interior presence for the Hurricanes if they want to make noise in the ACC tournament and make a run in March.

2. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (4-of-19 FG, 2-of-11 3pt FG)

Muhammad still managed to pull together 14 points, but he struggled to find his stroke from the field. He was part of a larger UCLA attack that was stagnant Wednesday night in a loss to Washington State.

3. Rob Loe, Saint Louis (0 points, 0-of-3 FG, Fouled Out)

Loe typically averages over seven points per game on the year, but was ineffective Wednesday night. His Saint Louis team was able to push the game to overtime, but he and three other teammates eventually fouled out and the Billikens took the loss.

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

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)
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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.