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_

Cyclones add big man for 2017

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 15:  Head coach Steve Prohm of the Murray State Racers shouts from the sidelines against the Colorado State Rams  during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KFC YUM! Center on March 15, 2012 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Iowa State secured its first commitment Wednesday of what will be a pivotal class of forwards in 2017.

KeyShawn Faezell of Mississippi committed to Steve Prohm and the Cyclones, he announced Wednesday.

“After praying to God to lead me in the right path and talking with my dad,” Faezell wrote, “I’ve decided to further my education and basketball career under coach Prohm at Iowa State University.”

Faezell, a 6-foot-9 consensus top-150 forward in the 2017 class, joins wing Terrence Lewis as the first two members of a class that figures to number at least six for ISU. The addition of Faezell is key because ISU will be losing three members of its frontcourt it will likely be leaning on heavily in 2015-16 in Deonte Burton, Merrill Holden and Darrell Bowie. A 2016 big man, Cameron Lard, has also yet to enroll in classes this fall due to academic issues, making Faezell’s commitment even more important should Lard be unable to get clearance.

“They need some people to come in and compete,” Feazell told the Ames Tribune. “I think I fit in the program.”

Prohm’s teams dating back to his Murray State days have always been guard-oriented and guard-heavy, but beginning to stack the roster with quality big men will be key as he looks to continue the Cyclones’ success in the Big 12, which includes a school-record five-straight NCAA tournament appearances.

BYU adds commit for 2019

Dave Rose
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BYU added a commitment from a high school senior this week, but the Cougars won’t be seeing him on campus until 2019.

Kolby Lee, a 6-foot-9 forward from Idaho, pledged to BYU on Monday evening, but won’t suit up until after serving a two-year mission for the Church of Latter Day Saints, according to the Deseret News.

“I had a great feeling about BYU, and I prayed about it,” Lee told the paper. “I just feel like it’s the right fit for me. It just seems right. It feels right.”

Lee chose BYU over offers from  Utah State, Boise State and UC Davis. He was rated a four-star prospect by ESPN and three by Scout.

His decision to forego immediately joining BYU certainly isn’t a new wrinkle for the Cougars, who routinely see their players either delay their initial eligibility or pause it mid-career while serving on missions.

Self pays freshman Jackson a major compliment

Josh Jackson, from Napa, Calif.,, dunks over Nancy Mulkey, from Cypress, Texas, as he competes in the slam dunk contest during the McDonald's All-American Jam Fest, Monday, March 28, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Matt Marton)
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Freshman phenom production under Bill Self has been something of a contentious topic. Many fault the coach, who has won one national title and 12-straight Big 12 championships, for not developing one-and-done talent to their fullest potential during their single-season stays in Lawrence. Cliff Alexander and Cheick Diallo are Exhibit 1-A and 1-B for this argument in recent years.

Whatever outside criticism there is (Andrew Wiggins did go No. 1 overall just 2 years ago, after all), Self isn’t shying away from hyping the latest freshman with big expectations to come to KU. When asked who the greatest athlete of all-time is at the school’s annual Tradition Night last week, Self had a simple, if tongue-and-cheek, response.

“I’ll say Josh Jackson,” Self said of the the 6-foot-8 shooting guard ranked No. 1 in his class, according to Lawrence Journal-World.

With others answering with the likes of Michael Jordan and Muhammed Ali, it’s pretty fair to say Self was playing to the crowd with the answer, but it’s still telling that he was willing to deliver such a sound bite, even if it was before a welcoming audience. Self didn’t try to seriously depress expectations for Wiggins, a player Jackson is often compared to, and it looks like he won’t for Jackson as well.

Jackson, though, won’t have the burden Wiggins had as there’s one of the country’s best backcourts in Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham to help shoulder the workload for the Jayhawks.

 

ACC non-commital on HB2 stance

John Swofford
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With North Carolina unwilling to rescind their controversial so-called bathroom bill, the NBA has withdrawn its All-Star Game from the state this year and numerous high-profile music acts have canceled performances as a result.

The ACC is declining to join them with a hard-line, or really any, position.

“We don’t want to damage our league with any premature decisions,” commissioner John Swofford said on The David Glenn Show. “We’ll just see how it plays out.”

The ACC, of course, has quite the presence in the state with North Carolina, N.C. State, Duke and Wake Forest all in the Tar Heel State. Swofford’s comments are sure to draw the interest of the LGBT community, which has roundly been critical of the bill, which requires people to use the bathroom which corresponds to the gender on their birth certificate, and has recently been active in college athletics, opposing the Big 12’s potential inclusion of BYU in its expansion plans over concerns of the Church of Latter Day Saints school’s honor code.

North Carolina’s bill has also drawn the eye of the NCAA, which is requiring potential championship sights to provide information on local anti-discrimination laws.

One of the loudest voices in the ACC, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, has come out against the law.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Coach K said last month.

The Champions Classic renewed through 2019

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 27: Bill Self head coach of the Kansas Jayhawks claps for his team as they celebrate winning the Big 12 Conference Championship after they defeated Texas Tech Red Raiders 67-58 at Allen Fieldhouse on February 27, 2016 in Lawrence, Kansas. With the win, Kansas clinched its 12th straight conference championship. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Champions Classic is back, baby!!!

On Wednesday, the four schools that participate in the event — Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and Michigan State — announced that they have signed deals to extend the life of the doubleheader for another three years.

This is terrific news. The Champions Classic is always the best early-season event of the season, an annual double-header that always ends up putting together two of the best non-conference games in packed NBA arenas. This year, it features Duke, the consensus preseason No. 1 team in the country, squaring off with Kansas, who is a consensus top three team with the No. 1 freshman in the class, Josh Jackson, on their roster, in one game.

The other game? Kentucky, the third consensus top three team nationally, going up against Tom Izzo and Michigan State, who will be, at worst, a top 15 team in the preseason polls.

So yeah, we’re going to get a pair of sensational basketball games in Madison Square Garden on Nov. 15th. MSG also just so happens to be the best arena to watch a great neutral site basketball game.

It’s going to be awesome.

There’s only one possible way to make it better: turn it into a two-day event, with the winners squaring off for the Champions Classic title the following night.

Make it happen.

Anyway, here’s the schedule:

Nov. 14, 2017 (United Center, Chicago)
Kansas vs. Kentucky
Duke vs. Michigan State

Nov. 13, 2018 (Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis)
Michigan State vs. Kansas
Duke vs. Kentucky

Nov. 12, 2019 (Madison Square Garden, New York)
Kansas vs. Duke
Michigan State vs. Kentucky