Marcus Smart

NBCSports.com 2013-2014 College Basketball Preseason All-American Team

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

NBCSPORTS.COM PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, So.

Smart shocked the college hoops world when he announced back in the spring that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season. It was great news for the Pokes, however, as they now have a chance to win the Big 12. Hopefully, Smart spent the offseason making his jumpshot more consistent, because that’s the only thing that he does not excel at on a basketball court. He’s tied with Aaron Craft atop the intangibles leaderboard.

FIRST TEAM

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Fr.: There’s an argument to be made that Wiggins will enter the season with more hype surrounding him than any freshman in the history of college basketball. How about this for expectations: if he averages 18 points and 8 boards, it will be seen as a disappointing season. Yeesh. Wiggins is an absurdly athletic, 6-foot-8 wing with the physical tools to one day be some combination of Scottie Pippen and Tracy McGrady. But is he ready to reach that level right now?

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Russ Smith, Louisville, Sr.: Smith may not be much of an NBA prospect, but he’s the perfect player for Rick Pitino. A ballhawk defensively, Smith proved himself capable of being an efficient scorer last season, even winning KenPom.com’s Efficiency Player of the Year award a season ago. It will be interesting to see if the 5-foot-11 Smith plays more point this season in an effort to audition to NBA teams.

Julius Randle, Kentucky, Fr.: Randle is a beast. Plain and simple. The 6-foot-9 lefty is going to score a lot of points and grab a lot of rebounds simply because he’s bigger, stronger, more athletic and more aggressive than so many of his collegiate counterparts. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a freshman. Ironically enough, the only thing that could really end up holding Randle back is the fact that John Calipari is going to experiment with playing him on the perimeter.

Doug McDermott, Creighton, Sr.: Ho-hum, just a third straight season where Doug McDermott will end up being an All-American, which is incredible considering the kid went to Creighton over Northern Iowa and even his own father didn’t think he was good enough to get a scholarship when he was at Iowa State. McDermott is the best scorer in the country, and he’ll have a chance to prove it as the Bluejays make their way into the Big East this season.

SECOND TEAM

Jahii Carson, Arizona State, So.: The most electric talent this side of Andre Wiggins is must-see TV whenever he steps onto the court.

Gary Harris, Michigan State, So.: We’re going to get a chance to see just how good Harris can be now that his shoulder is healthy.

Jabari Parker, Duke, Fr.: Parker is arguably the most skilled player in the country and will be the star of the ACC favorite Blue Devils.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse, Sr.: Fair has spent three years as one of the most underrated and consistent players in the Big East. Let’s see if that translates to the ACC.

Mitch McGary, Michigan, So.: He’s massive, he plays hard, he attacks the glass and he’s got a lot more skill to his game than he’s had a chance to show thus far.

THIRD TEAM

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Aaron Craft, Ohio State, Sr.: Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He’s also a leader and a winner, two skills you cannot teach. Can he score more this season?

Shabazz Napier, UConn, Sr.: Like Fair, Napier has had a terrific career at UConn that’s been somewhat overshadowed thanks to Kemba Walker and UConn’s APR.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, Jr.: The 6-foot-6 point guard is going to have a chance to show what he can do to a national audience in the resurgent Pac-12.

Adreian Payne, Michigan State, Sr.: Consistency is the key for Payne, who is a lottery pick if he can ever figure out how to bring it on a nightly basis.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona, Fr.: The nation’s best dunker will be a star if he accepts that he’s a prototype stretch four at the college level.

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Isaiah Austin, Baylor, So.
  • Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, Sr.
  • Semaj Christon, Xavier, So.
  • Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr.
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, So.
  • Tyler Haws, BYU, Jr.
  • Rodney Hood, Duke, So.
  • Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, Jr.
  • Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, So.
  • James Young, Kentucky, Fr.

UT-Arlington dominates, upsets No. 12 St. Mary’s

Texas-Arlington's Kevin Hervey, left, reacts to a 73-68 NCAA college basketball game win as Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate looks on  in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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UT-Arlington made a statement on Thursday night, completely dominating No. 12 Saint Mary’s in a 65-51 upset win in a true road game in Moraga.

Back in October, I ranked both the Gaels and the Mavericks in the top-5 of my Mid-Major Power Rankings. Saint Mary’s was the obvious top choice, one of the nation’s most efficient offenses that returned Emmett Naar and Jock Landale. UT-Arlington, ranked fifth, served as a dangerous opponent. The Mavs had defeated Ohio State and Memphis in 2015, but their season was derailed once Kevin Hervey, a player with serious pro potential, tore his ACL.

With five starters back, including Hervey, who is just now getting back to 100 percent, UT-Arlington looks every bit the part of a March Cinderella.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead and forced the Gaels to play out of character. Saint Mary’s had only committed a season-high 14 turnovers before the midway point of the second half. The Gaels, who entered shooting 40 percent from three as a team, was held to 8-of-27 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

UT-Arlington did an incredible job of closing out on shooters. And it didn’t matter the matchup, at times we saw Hervey, a 6-foot-9 junior, come out and run a guard off the 3-point line. While those statistics mentioned above show up in the box score, the amount of deflections don’t. The Mavericks used its length and athleticism to get their hands everywhere on the defensive end of the floor, making it difficult to find good looks.

In the first half, UT-Arlington controlled the glass. Saint Mary’s found more success in that department after halftime, as Kevin Clark’s offensive putback capped an 11-2 run, which cut the deficit to 52-41. However, the Mavs were able to counter each time the Gaels threatened, never letting the lead get to single digits.

Aside from the struggles the typically-efficient Saint Mary’s offense had, the Gaels struggled to keep UT-Arlington guards Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson out of the lane, whether it be on a high ball screen or a handoff. Saint Mary’s never seemed to have a help-side defender there to protect the rim. Neal had 13 points and eight assists (five turnovers), while Wilson had 10 points off the bench. Hervey had a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds.

UT-Arlington is winners of eight straight after losing three straight. One of those wins includes a double-digit win over Texas in Austin. The Mavericks are the clear-cut favorite to win the Sun Belt. Come Selection Sunday, I’d say plenty of at-large teams would not like to be paired up with Scott Cross’ team.

Iowa cruises past No. 25 Iowa State

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Iowa picked up a major win on Thursday night, defeating in-state rival No. 25 Iowa State, 78-64, in a contest the Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated.

Let’s put it this way: the Hawkeyes have played four top-100 teams, according to kenpom. In those games, all losses by the way, their defense has surrendered 91 points to Seton Hall, 74 points to a Virginia team that plays at the slowest tempo in the country, 100 points to Memphis and 92 points to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, on the same floor Iowa demolished the Cyclones, its defense allowed 98 points in a loss to Nebraska Omaha.

This is exactly the sort of win Fran McCaffery and Co. needed to right the ship as we inch closer and closer to conference play.

When the Cyclones went to their bench in the first half, Nick Baer sparked a 10-0 run which helped set the tone for the remainder of the half. Iowa State went without a field goal for more than six minutes during that span.

Iowa kept Iowa State from getting out and running, holding the Cyclones to zero fast break points through the first 20 minutes and limiting them to only 36 percent from the floor as a team. Iowa, on the other hand, shot 47 percent, including 59 percent in the first half, which led to a 15-point halftime lead.

Peter Jok torched Iowa State to the tune of 23 points (4-of-7 from distance).

Monte Morris was held in check with 10 points, while Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas shot a combined 4-of-13 from three (they each hit a three with less than three minutes to play and the outcome all but decided).

Iowa State’s offense is becoming a bigger concern. Just like against Gonzaga, the Cyclones dug a first-half hole they could shoot out their way of. And like last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Iowa landed a marquee win it needed, while its rival headed home with questions to answer after losing three of four.

 

Alabama wing sidelined due to weight loss

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Alabama junior wing Nick King will not be with the team for Sunday evening’s matchup against No. 24 Oregon in Eugene.

According to Rainer Sabin of the AL.com, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said King undergoing a series of tests after losing more than 10 pounds in less than a week and a half.

Johnson told reporters that he is “very concerned” and estimates that as of now King will be sidelined for “a week or two.”

King, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, has appeared in all seven games for the Crimson Tide, averaging 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game.

Damonte Dodd out with MCL sprain

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Melo Trimble #2 and Damonte Dodd #35 of the Maryland Terrapins react to a call as Alex Illikainen #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second half at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland could be without the services of starting center Damonte Dodd for the remainder of the non-conference slate, the team announced on Wednesday.

Dodd suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee during practice earlier this week. The injury caused him to miss Wednesday’s 76-56 win over Howard. He will not be available for matchups with St. Peter’s and Jacksonville State. The Terrapins then close out the non-conference slate at Charlotte on Dec. 20 before opening up Big Ten play a week later.

Dodd has started in six of seven games he’s appeared in this season. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Michael Cekovsky started in place of Dodd on Wednesday night. Ivan Bender, who returned to the lineup against Howard after missing the previous contest, should also see an increase in minutes with Dodd sidelined.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.