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_

Arizona freshman Lauri Markkanen to declare for NBA Draft

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Arizona freshman Lauri Markkanen will announce today that he is declaring for the NBA Draft and signing with an agent, according to multiple reports.

The program is holding a press conference for Thursday at 1 p.m. ET.

Markkanen is a 7-footer from Finland that averaged 15.6 points this season while shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc. He’s projected as a top ten pick, and his size and versatility should make him a valuable piece given the way that the NBA is trending.

There is very little surprise with this decision. The expectation always was that Markkanen would be gone after one season.

The news was first reported by Scout.com.

Anthony Grant to replace Archie Miller at Dayton

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Dayton has hired Anthony Grant to replace Archie Miller as head coach, the program announced on Thursday.

“Anthony Grant is a proven winner with the highest integrity,” Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said. “He has successful experience in coaching, recruiting and playing basketball at an elite level. I welcome Anthony to our staff and look forward to partnering with him as we continue to aggressively pursue graduating student-athletes, winning conference championships and advancing in the NCAA tournament. He is absolutely the right coach.”

Grant is a Dayton alum. He spent 12 years as Billy Donovan’s assistant coach before finally landing a head coaching gig at VCU. After three seasons with the Rams, he took over at Alabama, where he was fired in 2015.

Grant has spent the last two years with Donovan as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I am honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Dayton,” Grant said. “It’s a great responsibility to take over at an institution that is so well-respected. Anyone you talk to in college basketball would say our program is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more.”

North Carolina ‘repeals’ HB2 to satisfy NCAA, anti-LGBTQ discrimination remains legal

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Late on Wednesday night, literally hours before an NCAA-imposed deadline that would have prevented the state of North Carolina from hosting any and all NCAA tournament events until at least 2022, the lawmakers in the state announced that they have reached an agreement to repeal House Bill 2, a discriminatory law that is commonly known as the bathroom bill.

The question now is whether or not this repeal will be enough to satisfy the NCAA, who was one of a handful of businesses that pulled out of the state due to HB2. According to the AP, more than $3.7 billion in revenue will be lost over the next decade as a result.

The issue with HB2 isn’t just that it makes it illegal for transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as. That gets the headlines, but the real damage done by this law is that it curbs legal protections for the LGBTQ community by banning local governments from passing laws to make discrimination illegal for at least three years.

From the New York Times:

Gay rights advocates were harshly critical of the bill. Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said that the compromise would leave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with no statewide anti-discrimination ordinance and no ability to seek such protections from local government for a number of years.

“What that means for the L.G.B.T. community is that we continue to be boxed out of nondiscrimination protections,” she said.

Chris Sgro, executive director of the gay rights group Equality North Carolina, said that the proposal “keeps North Carolina as the only state in the country obsessed with where trans people use the restroom through law.”

From the Charlotte Observer:

“The rumored HB2 ‘deal’ does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The consequences of this hateful law will only continue without full repeal of HB2. Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what’s right.”

The NCAA had pulled first and second round games from Greensboro for this year’s tournament, instead allowing Greenville, South Carolina, to host the games. That’s significant because the NCAA, in 2002, pulled all events from that state because they flew the confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. The flag came down in 2015, and the NCAA rewarded the state with games; it’s hard not to see that as a statement to North Carolina.

In this year’s tournament, No. 2 seed Duke lost a game to No. 7 seed South Carolina in a game that was played in South Carolina instead of in North Carolina. The location wasn’t the only reason Duke lost that game, but you’ll have trouble convincing me that quasi-home court environment didn’t play a role.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.