Saint Mary's v Memphis

Late Afternoon Snacks: St. Mary’s almost gave us our first upset of the tourney

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Game of the Day

No. 6 Memphis 54, No. 11 St. Mary’s 52: This was as close as we got to an upset, as the Gaels scored to close the gap to two with just seconds left, then alertly face-guarded the Tigers on the in-bounds pass, causing a turnover. Matthew Dellavedova got the final shot he wanted – a three pointer from the wing – but it was a little bit too strong. The Tigers were led by Joe Jackson’s 14 points, but serious concerns about their offensive prowess will come to a head as they advance to face Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans.

Meaningful Results

No. 3 Michigan State 65, No. 14 Valparaiso 54: The Spartans held Valpo stars Ryan Broekhoff and Kevin Van Wijk to ten points combined, and that was enough to get them to the next round. Crusaders Erik Bugg, Matt Kenney and Ben Boggs scored in double figures, but without big plays from their studs, Valpo was doomed. Keith Appling and company advance to face Memphis.

No. 6 Butler 68, No. 11 Bucknell 56: This was one of those games that attracted upset-seekers, but Butler played strong up front, getting a 14 point, 16 board double-double from Alex Smith in the post. Bucknell center Mike Muscala was decent, putting up nine points and hauling down ten rebounds, but that wasn’t nearly enough to power the Bison to the round of 32.

No. 9 Wichita State 73, No. 8 Pittsburgh 55: No, I will not call this an upset. I will admit that I didn’t expect it to be won quite so handily by the Shockers, who have a new tourney mantra: “play angry”. The inside-out trio of Carl Hall, Cleanthony Early and Malcolm Armstead worked well together in this one, as the more mobile team beat the bigger team. WSU’s three-point shooting – a miserable 10 percent on the day – could be a serious concern in the next round.

No. 4 St. Louis 64, No. 13 New Mexico State 44: 7’5″ Aggie Sim Bhullar was big on the boards, snagging 11 errant shots, but he was a bust in the scoring column, with just four points to his name. St. Louis, on the other hand, lived up to the hype we’ve been showering on them all week, clamping down defensively and following Dwayne Evans’ 24 points into the next round.

Starred

Derrick Nix, Michigan State: 23 points, 15 rebounds to help the Spartans advance.

Darryl Evans, St. Louis: Evans was the hero as the Billikens beat up on New Mexico State, but one gets the sense that he’s just one of several St. Louis players future opponents should be very, very scared of.

Joe Willman, Bucknell: Much credit due to Willman, who busted his butt trying to make up for Mike Muscala’s muted play. Willman’s effort is today’s example of valiant play even in defeat.

Marshall Henderson, Ole Miss: No, he hasn’t stepped foot on the floor yet, but Henderson won the pre-game press conference, and made some lifelong friends in the press corps. Read up, and root for this willing villain to survive and advance, just for the fun of it.

Struggled

Tray Woodall, Pitt: Not a good final career game for Woodall. He scored just two points and gave up five turnovers before leaving early with five fouls.

New Mexico State shooters: The Aggies hit just 27.9 percent from the floor, and 12.5 percent from deep. Even the freebies weren’t falling – NMSU hit just 61.5 percent from the stripe.

Will Bogan, Valparaiso: The Valpo starting guard was 0-3 on the day, scoring exactly zero points in 26 minutes.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
(AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.