Oregon v Saint Louis

Saint Louis, Wichita State agree to home-and-home series

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Schools are continuing to progress towards completing their non-conference schedules for the upcoming season, and on Thursday it was announced that Saint Louis and Wichita State have agreed to a home-and-home series.

Saint Louis will host the first meeting on December 1, 2013, with the return game being played during the 2014-15 season. No date for the 2014-15 meeting at Koch Arena in Wichita has been announced.

Given the amount of success that both programs enjoyed last season (and have the potential to enjoy in 2013-14), this is certainly an attractive non-conference matchup.

Wichita State won 30 games and made its first Final Four appearance since 1965, and despite losing players such as guard Malcolm Armstead and forward Carl Hall the Shockers will likely be the early favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference.

As for Saint Louis, the Billikens won 28 games and the Atlantic 10 regular season and tournament crowns. Head coach Jim Crews loses guard Kwamain Mitchell and forward Cody Ellis, but like Gregg Marshall he’ll also have some key contributors back and should once again contend for the Atlantic 10 title.

The December 1 meeting will be the first between the two schools since 1975, with Saint Louis currently holding a 42-18 edge in the series. That date will also be a bittersweet one, as it will mark the one-year anniversary of former SLU head coach Rick Majerus’ passing.

Saint Louis didn’t mention that in the release announcing the series, but it’s likely safe to assume that the school will honor their former coach at Chaifetz Pavilion on that day.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.