Shabazz Napier, Breanna Stewart

Team Geno beats Team Kevin in UConn’s coed “First Night” scrimmage

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UConn has been a powerhouse in both men’s and women’s college basketball for decades now. Both teams enjoy massive popularity in Storrs, but they have sometimes rumored to be at odds with one another – especially when Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma were vying for the spotlight at the same time.

Under Kevin Ollie, however, things are definitely more cordial. At Friday’s “First Night”, as UConn’s version of midnight madness is known, the men and women split up into mixed teams and scrimmaged against one another. According to the school’s website, Team Geno took a hard-fought (that might be an exaggeration) 51-49 victory in the abbreviated twenty minute game.

Team Geno was led to victory by 11 points from Shabazz Napier, who hit three deep shots. His teammate Breanna Stewart had five points and three boards.

Team Kevin got 11 points from NC State transfer Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Olander, who had a rough offseason, attempted to make it up to his teammates by dishing out three assists.

The coed scrimmage was something new for the Huskies, who had never done anything similar in the past. There’s video, so go check it out.

“You can’t sit back and keep doing the same thing over and over again,” Auriemma said after the game. “I think you need to figure out ways to do things differently and create new events. This is just another event that the marketing people came up with that we thought was a great idea. The kids are very excited about this, I’ll tell you that.”

I’m not sure if Tennessee has ever done something like this, but it’s not a bad idea.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons. Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.