North Carolina A&T

Late Night Snacks: NC A&T, Saint Mary’s get wins in First Four Tuesday

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Game of the Day: Robert Morris 59, Kentucky 57

This is finally the painful end of the 2012-13 season for Kentucky. Robert Morris perfectly executed an inbound play with nine seconds remaining an drew a foul, hit its free throws, and sealed the upset win over the No. 1-seeded Wildcats. Coach John Calipari never got this 2012-13 group to gel like his other one-and-done-centric teams at Kentucky, but the incoming 2013 recruiting class for UK could ease the pain pretty quickly.

Important Outcomes

1. North Carolina A&T 73, Liberty 72

North Carolina A&T came into the game ranked 317th in Division I in shooting percentage at 39.9 percent from the floor. And in the spirit of this season of unlikely outcomes, what happened? The Bulldogs shot 52 percent Tuesday night and eeked out a one-point win. But the reason for the close game was A&T’s inability to hit free throws, including two key one-and-ones down the stretch.

2. Saint Mary’s 67, Middle Tennessee 54

The West Coast Conference hasn’t gotten as much credit as it likely has deserved this season and Saint Mary’s showed what it can do Tuesday night. Matthew Dellavedova broke out of his NCAA tournament struggles with a huge 22 points. He was the orchestrator of the entire Gaels’ offense and SMC moves on to play Memphis.

3. St. John’s 63, St. Joe’s 61

In the battle to find out who is the true “SJU,” Sir’Dominic Pointer hit a fallaway jumper from the baseline to send the Red Storm on to the second round of the NIT. St. Joe’s underperformed all season after being chosen to win the Atlantic 10 in the preseason. The Hawks struggled with injuries at different points in the season, but have ended up being one of the more underachieving teams in the country.

Starred

1. Matthew Dellavedova, Saint Mary’s (22 points, 5-of-7 3pt FG, 6 rebounds, 4 assists)

Dellavedova showed Tuesday how versatile he is from the guard position, finding his shooting stroke again to go 5-of-7 from three-point range. He is one of the best in the country at controlling pace, which is what he will need to do in the next round against Memphis.

2. Bruce Beckford, North Carolina A&T (16 points, 9 rebounds)

Beckford led an uncharacteristically efficient and accurate NC A&T offense Tuesday with his near double-double. Jeremy Underwood added 19 points.

3. Tyler Haws, BYU (37 points, 6 rebounds)

Haws led BYU to a win over Washington in the NIT win this offensive outburst. This is three straight games for him with at least 20 points, following a 24-point performance against Loyola Marymount and 20 more against San Diego.

Struggled

1. Alex Poythress, Kentucky (6 points, 3-of-7 FG)

His stat line isn’t necessarily indicative of major struggles Tuesday, but one major play hurt him in the loss to Robert Morris. On an important inbounds play with nine seconds left, Poythress was caught out of position and allowed the Pioneers to get to the basket, eventually leading to a Willie Cauley-Stein foul and game-winning free throws from RMU.

2. C.J. Aiken, St. Joe’s (2 points, 0-of-6 FG)

Aiken was out of sync on the offensive end and only had 20 percent of his typical per-game scoring output on Tuesday in a loss to St. John’s. To his credit, he affected the game in other ways with two blocks and eight rebounds, but the Hawks could have used him during the two-point loss.

3. Kenneth Smith, Louisiana Tech (4 points, 2-of-8 FG, 6 TOs)

Louisiana Tech was still able to get a win Tuesday over Florida State, but Smith could not find his groove. The typically efficient Smith had six turnovers.

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

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

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Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.

Duke’s Azura Stevens transfers to UConn

Duke's Azura Stevens (11) steals the ball from North Carolina A&T's Kenya Hailey, right, as Duke's Ka'lia Johnson watches during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Jan. 2, 2015, in Durham, N.C. (AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)
(AP Photo/Ellen Ozier)
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STORRS, Conn. (AP) Azura Stevens, the leading scorer and rebounder for Duke, has decided to transfer to UConn.

The 6-foot-6 sophomore center from Raleigh, North Carolina will sit out next season and will have two years of eligibility remaining when the 2017-18 season begins the school announced Saturday.

Stevens averaged 18.9 points and 9.6 rebounds a game and was named to the ACC’s all-conference first team.

She was second in the league both scoring and rebounding.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma said Saturday that he normally doesn’t get involved in transfer situations, but Stevens convinced him that Storrs would be the right place for her going forward.