Jackson’s competitive side surfaced on the second day of Brey’s basketball camp during the evening pickup session. Jackson was matched against senior guard Jerian Grant, who scored over him in a variety of ways.It didn’t come easily.“He’s a great defender,” Grant said. “And he’s really quick.”Undeterred by Grant going off, Jackson responded with several strong plays and passes of his own, which rocketed up the intensity level. Summer suddenly felt like mid-winter.“I never try to back down from anybody,” Jackson said. “I always try to compete. When the intensity picks up, I love it.“I try to stay composed, play hard and get better.”
NEW YORK (AP) — John Petty scored 16 points to spark No. 25 Alabama to a 71-59 win over BYU in the second game of the Barclays Center Classic on Friday.
Dazon Ingram added 15 for Alabama, which improved to 5-0, the best start for the Crimson Tide since 2012-13, when they began 6-0. Donta Hall had 12, and Collin Sexton finished with 10.
BYU fell to 3-2 with its second loss in its last three games. Yoeli Childs led the Cougars with 21 points.
In his third season, coach Avery Johnson is attempting to build Alabama into a program that can compete on a national level. And the matchup against BYU displayed why the Crimson Tide could be an intriguing team this season.
Alabama was able to build a 15-point lead in the second half following Riley Norris’ layup layup with 10:43 left. Part of that was because of the Crimson Tide’s ability to pressure BYU defensively. Alabama recorded six blocked shots and forced 11 turnovers.
But program building does mean growing pains. And the Crimson Tide’s youth also revealed itself in the second half. Following Petty’s 3 with 7:35 left, which gave Alabama a 61-47 lead, BYU outscored the Crimson Tide 8-2 in a span of 1:21 to cut the deficit to 63-55. Dalton Nixon made two free throws and Zac Seljaas made consecutive 3s for the Cougars in that stretch.
BYU got back into the game in part because of questionable shot selection in the second half from the Crimson Tide, who made 18 of 30 shots from the field before halftime.
Eight points was as close as BYU would get. Ingram knocked down two free throws, and Hall’s tip-in in the final two minutes gave the Crimson Tide the margin of victory.
Alabama: Size matters. At least it does to the Crimson Tide. Alabama has 11 players 6-foot-5 or taller. That size and length allowed Alabama to create turnovers and contest shots, leading to fast breaks.
BYU: It may not be fair to say as Elijah Bryant goes, so does BYU. But Bryant, who entered the game averaging 21.5 points, was limited to three points in the first half and five for the game.
The Crimson Tide entered the game having won their first four by an average of 18 points per game. Moreover, Alabama was holding opponents to .411 shooting from the field and .338 shooting from 3-point range, while blocking 6.8 shots and forcing 7.3 steals in those games. … The Cougars fell to 0-2 all-time against the Crimson Tide. In the only other meeting, BYU dropped a 77-74 decision on Dec. 30, 1957.
Alabama: Will play No. 14 Minnesota Saturday in the Barclays Center Classic.
BYU: Will play Massachusetts Saturday in Brooklyn.
FULLERTON, Calif. (AP) — In less than 24 hours, Washington State went from playing another game of catch-up to dictating down the stretch against a ranked team.
Malachi Flynn scored 26 points and the Cougars held off No. 21 Saint Mary’s 84-79 to reach the title game of the Wooden Legacy on Friday.
In the opening round, Flynn hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining to seal a 75-71 win against Saint Joseph’s after the Cougars rallied from 20 points down.
This time, the Cougars were the ones putting the Gaels (5-1) in a 16-point hole in the second half, and they stayed cool when Saint Mary’s got within three on a 3-pointer by Jordan Ford with 47 seconds left.
Robert Franks and Jeff Pollard made layups to preserve the win for the Cougars (5-0), who shot 62 percent in the second half.
“It was a 10:30 a.m. game, not too many people in the crowd, and we had to come out first and hit them with a lot of energy,” Flynn said.
Cougars coach Ernie Kent added, “On an off-day, college students usually sleep until 2.”
Washington State led 42-40 at halftime, just its second lead at the break this season. They outscored Saint Mary’s 42-39 in the second half just as they’ve done in every game so far.
“We continue to grow up a little bit with each challenge,” Kent said. “We’re already better than when we got on the plane to come here. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the stage, the more they rise up.”
Saint Mary’s opened the second half on a 10-4 spurt before Flynn’s basket tied it at 50-all. He followed with a 3-pointer that gave the Cougars the lead for good. He came up one point short of tying his career high.
The Gaels got to 65-61 on a basket by Jock Landale before the Cougars went on a 13-1 run. Kwinton Hinson had five points and Flynn added eight to extend Washington State’s lead to 78-62.
Saint Mary’s rallied on back-to-back 3-pointers by Calvin Hermanson that cut its deficit to 10. Evan Fitzner’s layup got the Gaels within six, leaving them to foul in the final minute.
“It’s probably one of our worst games of the year defensively,” Hermanson said. “We just got to be tougher and not let guys beat us.”
Emmett Naar scored 17 points for Saint Mary’s, which will play in the third-place game on Sunday. Fellow Aussie Landale added 14 points and nine rebounds while playing with three fouls. Ford finished with a career-high 15 points and Hermanson had 14.
“It’s simple, we didn’t guard anywhere close to well enough to beat a team like Washington State,” Gaels coach Randy Bennett said. “That’s been our Achilles’ heel thus far.”
Saint Mary shot 52 percent but its 64-game winning streak when shooting at least 50 percent from the floor ended. On the defensive side, the Gaels allowed Washington State to shoot 59 percent from the floor, just the seventh time since the start of the 2015-16 season that an opponent has topped 50 percent against them.
REPPIN’ THE PAC-12
For the fifth time, a Pac-12 team will play for the title. The league is 4-0 in the event. Washington State will try to join previous conference winners Southern California, California, Washington and UCLA.
Saint Mary’s never led by more than six and had three players in foul trouble as the Gaels’ five-game winning streak ended.
Washington State has been living on the edge, digging itself big holes in the first half of games only to rally in the second half. But the Cougars grew up in less than 24 hours. They led Saint Mary’s by 2 at halftime and played with poise down the stretch.
Saint Mary’s: Advances to the third-place game Sunday.
Washington State: Moves on to the championship game Sunday.
When Villanova made the decision to play in the 2017 Battle 4 Atlantis, they expected that the event would give them a shot at landing at least two quality wins, if not three.
Instead, the Wildcats will be leaving paradise with a title that came with victories over Western Kentucky, Tennessee and Northern Iowa, after Friday’s 64-50 triumph.
It’s hard to say that winning three games in three days in a resort’s ballroom on a tropical island is a bad thing, but this certainly was not a best-case scenario for Jay Wright’s club. Instead of playing – and, in theory, beating – No. 19 Purdue in the semifinals and No. 3 Arizona in the title games, upsets took those matchups out of play.
That means that Villanova brings themselves home a trophy and a couple more strands of net.
But that’s not exactly the reason that teams play in these events. The experience of playing a neutral site game after a crazy amount of travel on back-to-back nights certainly does good for the team as a whole, but that’s not quite as important as strengthening non-conference schedules and adding the kind of quality wins that could bump them up a seed line or two.
Think about it like this: The only two quality non-conference opponents that Villanova has left on their schedule are No. 17 Gonzaga, UConn and Temple. Maybe Tennessee will do them a favor and get good enough to be looked at as a quality win, and there’s always a chance that Northern Iowa will end up being one of the nation’s best mid-major programs, but this is still a major blow to Villanova’s non-conference profile.
So when Bracketology season starts and Villanova finds themselves getting mentioned as a No. 2 or No. 3 seed because they don’t have the kind of quality wins that other contenders for the top seed line do, remember this week.
Villanova may be good enough that it does not matter.
But it would be foolish to pretend like those upsets don’t have some kind of effect.
Thanksgiving was not a day for fans of the Pac-12 the thankful.
For the second time in two days, No. 2 Arizona lost to a team that is in no way a lock to get to the NCAA tournament, falling to SMU just 24 hours after they lost to N.C. State; the Wolfpack, mind you, lost to Northern Iowa in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis the next night.
The only saving grace for what has been a disastrous homecoming for Deandre Ayton is that Arizona gets to play No. 19 Purdue in the 7th-place game. At least the Wildcats will get another shot at a potentially good win.
Arizona’s loss came just a couple of hours after Oregon fell against a UConn team that looks like it will be competitive this season but is a long way away from being the UConn teams your older brother knew. Stanford followed up Oregon’s loss by getting absolutely run out of the gym by No. 8 Florida, who put up 58 first half points and were in garbage time mode when the second half kicked off. Utah lost by 27 to UNLV. Oregon State lost to St. John’s. Just a day earlier, California took a 24-point beating by Division II Chaminade, a program that is getting run out of the Maui Invitational because they aren’t good enough.
And this all came during the same week that UCLA couldn’t get past Creighton in the first round of the Hall Of Fame Classic.
Arizona State takes No. 15 Xavier on Saturday afternoon while No. 10 USC hosts No. 16 Texas A&M this weekend, a last gasp for the conference to salvage what has been a disastrous start to the year.
Rest assured, those losses are going to matter come March. Quality non-conference wins are not only good for the individual teams getting those wins, they buoy the computer numbers for the teams within the conference itself. If, say, Arizona State turns out to be a top 25 team in KenPom and the RPI, then that makes every loss they take in conference that much better for their opponent and every win they get that much easier for the other team to write off. If all ships rise with the tide, then all NCAA tournament résumés rise with a strong non-conference performance.
The Pac-12 is doing the opposite of that, and it doesn’t help that there were really only thought to be four or five good teams in the league before the start of the season.
The big question now becomes whether or not this is something that the league can turn around. Maybe it’s just a fluky coincidence that Arizona, UCLA and Oregon played some of their worst basketball at the same time. UCLA still gets Michigan, Cincinnati and Kentucky before league play. Arizona has UNLV, Texas A&M, Alabama, New Mexico and UConn on their schedule. It’s not like they can’t turn this thing around.
But … at some point we’re going to have to talk about the distraction narrative.
Generally speaking, I think the idea of off-the-court distractions affecting sports teams is a little overblown, but this is more than just a regular distraction. UCLA is missing three players because of a shoplifting incident in China that has turned into a twitter battle between LaVar Ball and Donald Trump. Arizona had one assistant coach fired as a result of the FBI investigation into college basketball, another suspended and is currently without Rawle Alkins, who has a broken foot. USC also had an assistant coach fired and is playing without De’Anthony Melton, who had a relative caught accepting money in the FBI investigation.
That’s a lot to deal with.
So maybe it is playing a role in the league’s slow-start.
And I’d recommend the league’s big three find a way to right the ship, and quickly.
Because they are not going to have the luxury of being able to build their tournament résumé during league play.
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — SMU attacked the glass and kept scoring off turnovers to offset a bad shooting performance. It was enough to hand No. 2 Arizona a second stunning loss to an unranked opponent in two nights.
Ben Emelogu scored 20 points and the Mustangs upset the Wildcats 66-60 in Thursday’s consolation round at the Battle 4 Atlantis, a jarring start for an Arizona team that began the season as a Final Four favorite with a preseason Associated Press All-American in Allonzo Trier.
Arizona (3-2) lost to North Carolina State 90-84 in Wednesday’s first round. It’s the first time the Wildcats have dropped back-to-back games against nonconference opponents since losing to Mississippi State and San Diego State in November 2011.
“This is a different feeling,” coach Sean Miller said. “It might be healthy for our team because instead of everybody telling you how good you are and you’re going to get to a Final Four and you’re awesome, it’s going to go opposite now.
“And I think that it could be something that drives our team to have even better practice to fix a few things and hopefully get back in the winner’s circle.”
The Mustangs (5-1) blew an 11-point lead in the second half but responded with a 10-2 run to go ahead for good. SMU won despite shooting 31 percent and going eight minutes without a basket in the second half.
“I always say — and everybody thinks I’m lying but I’m not when I say this — the best wins of the year are always when you can’t get your shots to go in the basket and you find a way to win anyway,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich said. “That’s how great seasons are made. Everybody wins when they shoot great and feel great and all that.”
The Mustangs hung on in two ways. First, they capitalized on 20 Arizona turnovers by scoring 19 points off those miscues. Then there was their effort on the boards; they were outrebounded 43-39 overall but nearly doubled up Arizona on the offensive glass (20-11) to finish with 23 more shot attempts and 14 second-chance points.
“We talk about this all the time,” Jankovich said. “Really break it down: Does it take a lot of talent to go run after a ball? Does it take a lot of talent to dive on a ball? … And the answer is no. So really what it takes is the character and it takes an unselfishness and a commitment to the things that win rather than the things that necessarily make me look good.
“And in the end, if you have a team full of those guys, then you’re going to have a successful team.”
Trier scored 22 points to lead the Wildcats, who shot 47 percent. Arizona freshman Deandre Ayton added 17 points and 15 rebounds, but no other Wildcats player scored in double figures. Arizona also shot just 5 of 20 on 3-pointers.
“No, our confidence isn’t affected at all,” freshman forward Ira Lee said. “We’ve just got to see these two games as a learning experience and move on.”
Arizona: Miller immediately said offense wasn’t the problem after the loss to N.C. State, noting the Wildcats haven’t dropped many games when scoring 84 points. Rather, he was concerned about a bad defensive effort. This time, his team had some good defensive moments, but Miller said there was something missing in glaring fashion.
“Maybe we did play some good defense,” Miller said, “but defense always ends with the rebounding. And we were unable to rebound.”
SMU: The Mustangs trailed much of the way against Northern Iowa in their first-round tournament game, but played from ahead in this one. They also came up with a counterpunch, regaining the lead after Arizona erased that 11-point deficit.
“The effort, gosh darn, I don’t care if we were big or tiny or medium-sized out there or who was guarding who, I saw some fighting cats out there,” Jankovich said. “And I loved it.”
Emelogu went 7 of 11 from the field and 5 of 7 on 3-pointers to lead SMU’s offense. The rest of SMU’s starters made 12 of 53 shots (23 percent).
“A lot of times, you just play hard and play defense, you win games even though offense didn’t go our way,” Emelogu said.
Arizona: The Wildcats will play No. 18 Purdue in Friday’s seventh-place game.
SMU: The Mustangs will play Western Kentucky in Friday’s fifth-place game.