Bryce Cotton

Late Night Snacks: Ranked teams finish the night unscathed

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Providence 82, Boston College 78 OT

The Friars got 28 points from Bryce Cotton, seven of which came in the extra frame, as we got a thriller in the first game of the new Big East. BC forced the overtime when Olivier Hanlon, who finished with 23 points before fouling out, finished a three-point play with 18 seconds to tie the game. Cotton airballed a three at the other end, but redeemed himself by scoring four straight points in overtime after the Eagles had opened a 75-72 lead.

A paragraph worth of a recap doesn’t do this game justice, which is precisely what you should expect when Gus Johnson and Bill Raftery are on the call. Ryan Anderson chipped in with 21 points for BC, while LeDontae Henton had 15 points and 13 boards for Providence. Believe it or not, this could end up being an important win in March as both teams should be in NCAA tournament contention in March.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Fresno State 98, UC-Irvine 97 OT

How do you feel about half-court, overtime buzzer-beaters? Good? Me too. The crazy part about this game is that it capped an insane final minute that saw five lead chances. Five!

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

1) No. 19 Oregon 82, Georgetown 75: The Ducks got 55 combined points from their five incoming transfers, picking up a key non-conference win over a very good Georgetown team. Josh Smith finished with 25 points in his first game with the Hoyas.

2) No. 18 UConn 78, Maryland 77: Shabazz Napier led the way for the Huskies with 18 points, seven boards and seven assists as UConn held on despite blowing a 17 point lead in the final 10 minutes of the second half.

3) No. 19 Wisconsin 86, St. John’s 75: Five Badgers finished in double-figures as Wisconsin went 11-23 from beyond the arc in a win that they dominated from the start. St. John’s whittled an 18 point lead to four late in the second half, but Wisconsin answered with a pair of threes to push the lead back to 10.

STARRED:

1) Casey Prather doubled his previous career-high as he went for 28 points in No. 10 Florida’s 77-69 win over North Florida. The Gators needed every single one of those buckets, as they are dealing with starting the season short-handed. Patric Young had a dominating, two-point and two-rebound performance.

2) Trevor Cooney went off for 27 points, hitting 7-of-8 from beyond the arc, as No. 8 Syracuse erased an early 14 point deficit in an 82-60 win over Cornell. It’s worth noting that Tyler Ennis went 0-for-6 from the floor but finished with eight boards and seven assists to just two turnovers.

3) Kadeem Jack went for 30 points and 12 boards as Rutgers beat Florida A&M 92-84. The Scarlet Knights have a lot of work to do, but that work is easier when Jack can go for 30.

STRUGGLED:

1) Miami won the ACC regular season and tournament championships a season ago. The Hurricanes kicked off their defense of those titles by losing to St. Francis NY in overtime at home.

2) Kansas State lost their opener at home to Northern Colorado 60-58. You know who didn’t struggle? 6-foot-4 power forward Derrick Barden, who finished with 16 points and 17 boards for UNC.

3) Whoever was guarding Davante Gardner. Marquette’s big man finished the night with 25 points in 23 minutes off the bench, going 5-for-7 from the field and 15-for-20 from the charity stripe. Efficient. Todd Mayo added 20 off the bench in the 63-56 win over Southern.

NOTABLES:

  • In his first game as the point guard for No. 25 Baylor, JuCo transfer Kenny Chery put together 14 points, four assists and just a pair of turnovers in the Bear’s 72-60 win over Colorado. Not an easy thing to do against a team with that much perimeter defensive talent.
  • Aaron Gordon had 13 points, 10 boards and four blocks as No. 6 Arizona beat Cal Poly 73-62.
  • For the first time in Duke history, the Blue Devils had four players — Rodney Hood, Jabari Parker, Quinn Cook, Rasheed Sulaimon — score 20 points in the same game in their 111-77 win over Davidson.
  • Andrew Wiggins finished with 16 points and just nine FGAs as No. 5 Kansas beat UL-Monroe 80-63.
  • Julius Randle put on a show (23 and 15) but how about Marcus Lee (17 points) and Alex Poythress (10 points, 13 boards) showing out in Kentucky’s win over UNC-Asheville.
  • No. 7 Michigan struggled early, but ran over UMass-Lowell, 69-42, behind 17 points from Caris LaVert.
  • Marcus Smart had a quiet night as his teammates whipped up on Mississippi Valley State by 55 points.
  • Gary Harris finished with 20 points, 10 boards and six assists in a blowout win over McNeese State.
  • Doug McDermott had 20. Creighton dropped 101 and won by 30.
  • St. Mary’s started the year nicely, knocking off Louisiana Tech by 13 behind 28 points from Brad Waldow and 18 points, seven boards and six assists from Stephen Holt.
  • Kyle Anderson had 12 points, 12 boards and seven assists, but UCLA needed Damion Lee to airball a wide-open three with eight seconds left to hang on to a 72-67 win.
  • Buddy Hield had 19 points and Ryan Spangler added 15 points and 12 boards in a come-from-behind win over Alabama, 82-73, in Texas.
  • Bucknell put a scare into Stanford on the road, losing to the Cardinal 72-68.
  • An impressive start to the season for Khem Birch, who had 13 points, 17 boards and four blocks in an ugly win over Portland State. Roscoe Smith added 16 points and 10 boards for UNLV.
  • A cool 28 points and 13 boards for BYU’s Tyler Haws in a dominating win over Weber State.
  • T.J. Warren had 21 of his 27 points in the second half as N.C. State avoided a loss to Appalachian State.
  • Texas picked up a solid win over Atlantic Sun favorite Mercer, 76-73.
  • Florida-Gulf Coast got worked over by Nebraska as the Cornhuskers unveiled their brand new arena. Is #DunkCity still #DunkCity?
  • Anthony Drmic kicked off the season in a nice way, going for 34 points as Boise State scored 116 on Friday.
  • Drake transfer Rayvonte Rice had 22 points and nine boards in his debut for Illinois while Drake transfer Joey King went for 20 in a win for Minnesota.
  • J.J. Mann went for 21 points as Belmont knocked off Lipscomb in the first Battle of the Boulevard between Rick Byrd and Casey Alexander.
  • James Bell and Jayvaughn Pinkston had 46 points combined as Villanova overcame a 1-for-7 night by Ryan Arcidiacono.

Kansas forward arrested on suspicion of battery

Douglas County Sheriff
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Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. was charged today with one count of battery.

According to a press release sent out by the Douglas County district attorney’s office, police received a call around 1 a.m. from a woman who said that “her boyfriend had struck her and pushed her down stairs during an argument.”

The DA also included a note in the statement that, essentially, said the only reason Bragg wasn’t charged with domestic violence – he was initially arrested on suspicion of domestic battery – was due to a technicality. Since the couple is only dating and not married, under Kansas law, the assault does not constitute domestic violence.

Battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.

Bragg, who was still in custody until an appearance in court on Friday afternoon, was held on bond of $500. Bragg plead not guilty.

“We are still trying to gather information,” head coach Bill Self told The Star. “But it is a charge which we take very seriously.”

Bragg is a 6-foot-8 sophomore that lost his spot in the starting lineup earlier this year. He is averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 boards in 16 minutes. No. 3 Kansas hosts Nebraska on Saturday.

St. John’s to lose center to transfer

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats has his shot blocked by Yankuba Sima #35 of the St. John's Red Storm at the Wells Fargo Center on February 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Villanova won 73-63. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Yankuba Sima will transfer out of the St. John’s program, the school announced on Friday.

“I want to thank the coaching staff and the administration for all of their support since I arrived at St. John’s,” said Sima. “I enjoyed my experience at St. John’s, but right now I feel it is best for me to explore options that will be a better fit for me as I work toward my goals.”

“We wish Yankuba the best of luck,” said head coach Chris Mullin. “I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him, but we respect and understand it. He’s a good basketball player and a good person with a bright future ahead.”

Sima started 26 of the 34 games he played with the Johnnies, including eight starts this season. He was averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 boards this year.

Frank Martin comments on Sindarius Thornwell suspension

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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South Carolina head coach Frank Martin commented on Sindarius Thornwell’s suspension during his call-in show on Thursday.

Thornwell, who was the leading scorer for the 8-0 No. 19 Gamecocks, was suspended indefinitely last Sunday. Martin has yet to provide a reason for the suspension.

“He’s been with us at practice, he’ll travel with us, he’s excited about our team, his role on the team,” he said, according to South Carolina’s 247 site. “Sindarius is one of my favorite guys I’ve ever come across. He messed up and it is what it is. He’s like a son to me. He messed up and he’s owned up to his mess up.”

“Outside of that, I’m not going to get into anything else. He has my full support. Our job is to prepare our team to play, we don’t prepare individual players to play. It’s no different to someone rolling an ankle. We’re down because of a bad decision. We’ll be fine.”

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.0 boards and 4.1 assists. The Gamecocks play Seton Hall in New York City on Monday night.

UCF star point guard out indefinitely with thumb injury

STORRS, CT - JANUARY 22: B.J. Taylor #1 of the Central Florida Knights carries the ball up the court in front of Ryan Boatright #11 of the Connecticut Huskies in the first half during the game at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on January 22, 2015 in Storrs, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Sophomore guard B.J. Taylor is out indefinitely after suffering a hand injury, UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins confirmed at a press conference earlier today.

According to a report from 247 Sports’ UCF site, the injury is a broken thumb, which was suffered in Saturday’s win over UMass.

Taylor is not expected to miss the rest of the season but will be out for an extended amount of time. He missed all of 2015-16 season dealing with a foot injury.

On the season, Taylor, a 6-foot-2 point guard, was having an all-AAC caliber season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 boards.

Weekend Preview: Villanova tested by Notre Dame, bounce-backs for Xavier, Butler

Notre Dame's Steve Vasturia (32), Bonzie Colson (35) and V.J. Beachem (3) talk during the second half of a first-round men's college basketball game against Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in New York. Notre Dame won 70-63. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 23 Notre Dame, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: This is a fascinating matchup for a couple of reasons. For starters, this is the first real test that undefeated Notre Dame is going to be getting this season. We honestly have no idea how good the Irish actually are, and you wouldn’t be alone in needing to see a team starting Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson prove it before buying in.

But we also haven’t see Villanova tested in a while, either. They won at Purdue earlier this season and, since then, have more-or-less coasted to their undefeated mark. This will not only be a nice gauge game for Villanova, but it will also be a chance for them to pad an NCAA tournament résumé that will need to be strong for them to get a No. 1 seed this year.

The other part of this that’s fascinating? Both of these teams play small ball. There are going to be times on Saturday where 6-foot-5 Bonzie Colson is playing center and being guarded by 6-foot-5 Kris Jenkins, who will be at center for the Wildcats.

No. 22 Cincinnati at No. 16 Butler, Sat. 4:30 p.m.: Butler could really use this win. Coming off of a road loss to Indiana State during the week, the Bulldogs will be playing back in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. But here’s the thing: Cincinnati could really use this win as well, and that Bearcat program already owns a road win over Iowa State.

The matchup here will be intriguing as well. Butler plays a more open, run-and-gun style than they did under Brad Stevens. Tyler Lewis is a show-man in transition, as is Kamar Baldwin, and getting Kelan Martin spotting up or attacking a close out is always a good coaching maneuver. Cincinnati is tough and big and physical. They try to wear you down. They pound the glass. They really, really defend. How does Butler handle it?

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FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH

  • No. 17 Wisconsin at Marquette, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: In one of the more under-appreciated rivalries in college basketball, Marquette will be looking to land a marquee win to bolster the non-conference portion of their NCAA tournament résumé. Will
    Nigel Hayes continue to play like an all-american?
  • Utah at No. 13 Xavier, Sat. 5:30 p.m.: The Musketeers have lost back-to-back games and are really struggling to shoot the ball from the perimeter. Utah has struggled this season as they have a young roster waiting on a pair of transfers to get eligible.
  • Michigan at No. 2 UCLA, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: UCLA is now a week removed from their win over then-No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena. This will be the first time they see the floor since then. Michigan had the look of a tournament team earlier in the season, but they’ve lost a pair of winnable games in recent weeks.
  • Hofstra vs. No. 6 Kentucky, Sun. 3:00 p.m.: The Wildcats will square off with Hofstra on Sunday, a game that is only really notable because it will be played in the Barclays Center.
  • No. 21 Florida at Florida State, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: The Gators looked the part of an NCAA tournament team when they lost to Duke in New York City on Tuesday. Florida State is more talented, however, but it’s difficult to trust them. This will be a big win for whoever gets it.

FIVE STORY LINES TO FOLLOW

1. Kentucky’s perimeter shooting is officially a concern: The Wildcats are currently shooting 32.2 percent from beyond the arc, which is 254th nationally. The only real threat they have from three in their starting lineup is Malik Monk, and he’s streaky. They can play Derek Willis at the four, but Willis is such a step-down on the defensive end of the floor from Wenyen Gabriel that it may not end up being a net-positive to play him, not when the Wildcats rely so heavily on their defense to create offense in transition.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m not even sure there is an answer. This is just what Coach Cal has to work with this season. Can they improve? Probably. The great thing about being a bad shooting team is that shooting is the easiest thing to develop. Teams without size can’t get bigger. Teams without athleticism can’t get more athletic. The only problem? There are just four months left of the season. How much better can Kentucky really get?

One thing worth noting here: The 2010 Kentucky team, the one with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, the one that lost in the Elite 8 because of their shooting issues, finished the season making 33.1 percent of their threes.

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 07:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on December 7, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
De’Aaron Fox (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2. Let’s see if Notre Dame is for real: The Fighting Irish are one of nine undefeated teams left in college basketball, but as good as they have been this season, Mike Brey’s club still hasn’t really beaten anyone. The Colorado win looks better after the Buffaloes beat Xavier. Beating Fort Wayne, the team that upset Indiana, is good. Northwestern and Iowa are Big Ten teams.

But none of those four wins – none of Notre Dame’s nine wins – have come against a team we know will be in the NCAA tournament. We know Villanova will be, and the interesting thing about this matchup is how well the two teams matchup, particularly up front. Neither the Irish nor the Wildcats have much size inside. If Notre Dame can pull off the upset, it will be time to start talking about them much more.

3. UCLA’s first action since the win at Kentucky: The last time that we saw the Bruins take the court they put up 97 points on Kentucky in Rupp Arena. That’s pretty good. It’s also an easy way to get a big head, especially for a team that has so many freshmen on the roster. UCLA will face off with Michigan at home on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how they come out early on in this one.

4. Bounce-back chances for Big East programs: No. 13 Xavier has lost two games in a row now, both of them coming on the road. They were felled at No. 4 Baylor before getting dropped at Colorado on Wednesday. The Musketeers will host Utah, a winnable game that could help them find a rhythm shooting the ball.

No. 16 Butler is coming off of a loss of their home, having been upset at Indiana State by the Sycamores. The Bulldogs will have a bigger test than the Musketeers, as they host a top 25 team in No. 22 Cincinnati.

5. Jonathan Isaac’s health, Florida State’s tournament hopes?: Isaac is the forgotten top ten pick. He’s been terrific this season and has a chance to play his way into the top ten if he continues doing what he’s been doing, but he’s missed the last two games with a hip injury. This is an important game for the Seminoles, as they host Florida this weekend. Will Isaac be available?