Illinois State v Louisville

Illinois State, VCU agree to home-and-home series

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The summer months are important ones for college programs, and not only because of the skill development of players in the program and the need to hit the recruiting trail.

There’s also the act of completing the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season, a task that can be tougher for some schools than others. Wednesday evening Illinois State announced that the school has reached an agreement with VCU for a home-and-home series, with the first game being played in Richmond on Friday, November 8, 2013.

The Redbirds will host the Rams during the 2014-15 season, but a date for that matchup has not been determined.

“I am very excited about starting this series with VCU,” Illinois State head coach Dan Muller said in a statement released by the school. “They are well-coached, play extremely hard and have had a lot of success recently.

“Playing at VCU gives us a chance to play in a hostile environment this year, which is a goal for me in scheduling. (VCU head coach) Shaka Smart’s teams are always going to compete and be prepared, and bringing them back the following year should be very exciting for our fan base.”

An interesting fact about this series is that Muller played in last two meetings between the programs, with VCU currently holding a 3-1 edge.

The last time the Redbirds faced VCU, Muller was a sophomore on the court. In fact, he led all scorers with 19 points and seven rebounds to help ISU in a narrow, 74-72, loss at VCU, Dec. 23, 1995. Muller was also in uniform during VCU’s only trip to Redbird Arena. As a freshman, he netted 15 points with nine rebounds to lift Illinois State to its lone win against the Rams, 77-68, Dec. 18, 1994.

Last season Illinois State did a solid job of taking care of the basketball, as they averaged just over 13 turnovers per game. That will be a key for the Redbirds at the Siegel Center in November, as VCU forced an average of 19.7 turnovers per game in 2012-13.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Syracuse wins Atlantis, Miami gets upset

Brad Horrigan/The Courant via AP
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(This will be updated throughout the day.)

GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 74, No. 25 Texas A&M 67

The Orange got 20 points from Michael Gbinije and 15 points and five assists from Trevor Cooney as they won the Battle 4 Atlantis title on Friday afternoon. We wrote on this game earlier. Are the Orange for real this year?


No. 10 Gonzaga 73, No. 17 UConn 70: Eric McClellan and Kyle Dranginis made some big plays down the stretch as the Bulldogs held on to win a game they led by as much as 21 in the second half. Kyle Wiltjer scored a team-best 17 points for Gonzaga, which finished third at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Rob Dauster wrote more about the Bulldogs and their second-half performance here.

Alabama 64, No. 20 Wichita State 60: Not only did the Shockers drop their second straight at the AdvoCare Invitational, but they also saw Anton Grady leave the game on a stretcher after being involved in a scary second-half collision. He was awake and alert shortly after leaving the court. While the Shockers’ losses to USC and Alabama don’t help them from an NCAA tournament standpoint, the bigger issue is the team’s health.


Quincy Ford, Northeastern: Not only did he score 24 points in the upset win over No. 15 Miami, but he hit the game-winning jumper, too. Video here.


Wichita State’s bigs: Five of them (Anton Grady, Zach Brown, Rashard Kelly, Bush Wakumota, Eric Hamilton) finished a combined 3-for-21 from the floor with 14 points and 14 fouls. Wakumota shot one of the worst threes you’ll ever see with Wichita State down 62-60 with 10 seconds left.

Grady suffered a scary neck injury late in the game, but early reports sound positive.


  • Jamal Murray went for 21 points and three assists without a turnover at No. 1 Kentucky rolled over South Florida. The big question: How bad is Tyler Ulis’ elbow injury?
  • Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart both had 13 points as No. 8 Villanova knocked off Georgia Tech to win the Preseason NIT, 69-52.
  • No. 23 Xavier raced out of the gates against USC and led by as much as 32, going on to win 87-77 in Orlando. Trevon Bluiett led four Musketeers in double figures with 16 points and James Farr added 12 to go along with nine rebounds off the bench.


  • Stanford finished third at the Preseason NIT with a 69-66 win over Arkansas, closing the game on a stunning 21-1 run. Rosco Allen scored eight of his career-high 25 points during that run, and Marcus Allen’s goal-tended layup with 2.6 seconds remaining gave the Cardinal the lead for good.

Good luck Goodluck: UNLV’s Okonoboh to transfer

Goodluck Okonoboh
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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UNLV sophomore Goodluck Okonoboh is transferring out of the program, a source told

The 6-foot-10 center was the No. 31 recruit in the Class of 2014, but he never was able to find a place in the UNLV rotation. He averaged 2.9 blocks as a freshman, but is a career 34 percent free throw shooter that never proved he could be more than just an athlete.

With Ben Carter getting eligible and UNLV landing Stephen Zimmerman this season, Okonoboh’s minutes dried up. He played just 19 minutes total against UCLA and Indiana.