Utah v Oregon - Pac-12 Semifinals

Utah lands verbal commitment from 2014 forward Kyle Kuzma

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Slowly but surely, Larry Krystkowiak’s Utah basketball program is taking steps back towards respectability.

After winning just six games in his first season at the Pac-12 school, Krystkowiak’s team improved its win total by nine games in 2012-13 and reached the semifinals of the Pac-12 tournament. With rising sophomores Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor being joined by a six-member recruiting class that includes junior guard Delon Wright, the hope is that the Utes can improve their standing within the conference (5-13 record last season) in 2013-14.

Coach Krystkowiak and his staff have done a good job on the recruiting trail as well, and on Friday it was reported by Tony Jones of the Salt Lake Tribune that 6-8 forward Kyle Kuzma has verbally committed to attend Utah. The versatile Kuzma, who some have described as a “point forward,” joins 6-8 forward Brekkott Chapman as commitments in Utah’s 2014 class.

Utah will lose just one senior at the end of the 2013-14 campaign, with that playing being 6-9 power forward Renan Lenz. Utah was in a bit of a downward spiral towards the end of their time in the Mountain West, and their move to the Pac-12 made the rebuilding process a little tougher. But with the newcomers on board to join key contributors such as Loveridge and Taylor, things may be starting to look up for a program that during the 1990s was one of the best in the western United States.

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin gets technical foul for copying famous Vince Carter dunk

Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin (2) shoots over Cincinnati forward Quadri Moore (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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Memphis senior forward Shaq Goodwin picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season on Saturday with the Tigers on the road against Tulane. Goodwin attempted to copy Vince Carter’s famous arm-in-the-rim dunk from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. This would have been okay during pregame warmups, but Goodwin tried to pull this off on a breakaway near the end of the first half. He was quickly hit with the T for hanging on the rim.

Goodwin has good timing when it comes to current events, as the NBA’s dunk contest airs on Saturday night, but the timing of pulling this off in the first half of a tight conference game is not so great.

For past reference, here’s Carter’s original arm-in-the-rim dunk from 2000, which had everyone astonished since it had never been done before.

(H/T: The Cauldron)