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.

#POSTERIZED: Donovan Mitchell caps Cards win with an oop

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 19:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals reacts after making a three point shot to end the first half against the Clemson Tigers at KFC YUM! Center on January 19, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Louisville used a huge first-half run to pull away from Syracuse, and a Donovan Mitchell slam to put the icing on the cake.

The Cardinals sophomore caught a pass one-handed and seamlessly threw it home to deliver the signature moment of Louisville’s 88-68 win over the Orange on Saturday

LaVar Ball walks back statement on Lonzo’s Laker future

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 03: Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins reacts after making a three-point basket against the Kentucky Wildcats in the second half of the game at Rupp Arena on December 3, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. UCLA defeated Kentucky 97-92. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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The only person better at generating headlines than Lonzo Ball seems to be his father, LaVar. The elder Ball managed to do so again this weekend, once for saying something wild and then again for walking those comments back.

LaVar told KCUB Sports Radio 1290 in Arizona that UCLA star Lonzo would play for the Lakers and that he would discourage other teams from taking the stellar point guard at the top of the draft. Later, he said he was only posturing.

“I’m not trying to say he won’t play for a different team,” LaVar told ESPN. “But I’d like him to play for the Lakers because it’s home, and I’d love him to learn from Magic [Johnson]. He’s the best guard ever to me, and nobody better for Lonzo to learn from than Magic Johnson.”

Lonzo is averaging 14.8, 7.6 assists and 6.8 rebounds per game for the Bruins, who stand at 26-3 on the season. He’s in the mix to be the potential No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft.

LaVar has already stated on multiple occasions that Lonzo is better than two-time MVP Steph Curry of Golden State. He’s clearly supremely confident – and outspoken – about his son’s talent. With two younger sons, LaMelo and LiAngelo, set to soon begin their own college careers, LaVar’s exuberant proclamations may just be getting started.

Duke and Krzyzewski have “a decision” to make as injuries linger

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 26:  Amile Jefferson #21 talks with Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils during the game against the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 26, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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Duke missed the production of veterans Grayson Allen and Amile Jefferson on Saturday in its 55-50 loss to Miami, the Blue Devils’ second-straight loss after falling to Syracuse earlier in the week. It also missed their influence on the offensive end.

Allen missed the game with an ankle injury while the foot problem that sidelined Jefferson for a pair of games in January continues to be an issue and limited to minor second-half minutes Saturday. Without the pair, Duke shot 31.8 percent from the floor and had 13 turnovers against the Hurricanes.

We need those guys to calm people down on the offensive end,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “The continuity on the offensive end is not up to par with the defense.”

Both players will be re-evaluated before Tuesday’s home contest against Florida State, but Jefferson’s injury would appear to be the most concerning given it has lingered for well over a month now.

“I’ve got to make a decision with Amile,” Krzyzewski said. “He’s not running. He is not running at all.”

Duke could likely make it work in the short term if it was short just one of the Allen-Jefferson duo, but without both it stresses the ballhandling, playmaking and inexperienced frontcourt all at the same time. Luke Kennard was the only Blue Devil to crack double figures scoring against the ‘Canes while freshmen Marques Bolden and Harry Giles, who both have had their injury issues, were relatively ineffective in player fewer than 20 minutes apiece. Both Kennard and Jayson Tatum played a full 40.

At the start of the season, Duke had the look of a juggernaut, but given the multitude of issues they’ve faced seemingly from the jump, it has a bit of a slog with only a seven-game winning streak to have eased their pain all year.

What made the Blue Devils look so formidable before the season was their sheer level of talent. With Allen and Jefferson ailing, the move for Krzyzewski might be to just bet on that talent in the NCAA tournament rather than jockey for seeding position. He could keep Jefferson and Allen on the shelf as they heal, give Giles and Bolden a ton of run and then just make a go of it in the Big Dance, betting on the talent overcoming the inconsistency of the season.

Like Krzyzewski said about Jefferson, he’s got a decision to make.

VIDEO: Indiana’s Hartman proposes to girlfriend on Senior Night

OMAHA, NE - MARCH 20: Collin Hartman #30 of the Indiana Hoosiers reacts against the Wichita State Shockers during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at the CenturyLink Center on March 20, 2015 in Omaha, Nebraska.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Indiana’s Collin Hartman hasn’t appeared in a game this year after suffering a torn ACL in the offseason. Still he managed to make one heck of a highlight this weekend.

The Hoosier senior took the opportunity of his senior night speech to propose to his girlfriend, an Indiana cheerleader.

She said yes.

Hartman’s night wasn’t the only one that was a success, as Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak with a win Saturday over Northwestern.

Is Gonzaga a fraud? Did Gonzaga need to lose? Answering key Zags questions after BYU loss

SPOKANE, WA - FEBRUARY 25:  The BYU Cougars celebrate their 79-71 victory over the Gonzaga Bulldogs at McCarthey Athletic Center on February 25, 2017 in Spokane, Washington.  (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
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There are going to be a lot of questions asked about Gonzaga following their loss to BYU late on Saturday night

We answer all of those questions for you right here:

Is Gonzaga a fraud?: So let me get this straight: You think that Gonzaga is a fraud because, after winning 29 straight games and totally outclassing everyone in their conference for two months, they lost to a program that has beaten them four times in the last four years? Come on.

The Zags are still sitting atop KenPom’s efficiency ratings. They’re still sitting atop Sagarin’s ratings. They’re still the second-favorite team to win the national title, according to Vegas Insider’s futures. The team at the top of that list, Duke, took a similarly awful loss at home earlier this year, falling to an N.C. State team that has won one game in the six weeks since. You might have asked if Duke was a fraud then. You would’ve been wrong about that, too. West Virginia lost at home to Oklahoma earlier this year. Are they frauds, too?

The fact of the matter is that the Zags blew a 16-point lead at home to a team that lost to San Diego earlier this year. That’s really bad. No one is trying to sugar coat it. It’s also the first time this season that they’ve put out this kind of a performance. The first time in 29 games. The first time in four months.

Weird things happen in college basketball. This is probably one of them.

Did Gonzaga need to take a loss before the start of the tournament?: No.

I hate that line of thinking. Taking a loss is not some kind team-defining wake-up call, especially not when it’s a program like Gonzaga, a program that is defined as much by their lack of March success as anything. Fair or not, that’s how the Zags are viewed nationally, even if that perception — as my buddy Gary Parrish of CBS Sports detailed here — is inaccurate based on the actual tournament results. But the fact remains that this program has never been to a Final Four. Wichita State has. Butler has. VCU has. Those are the teams from outside the establishment that have played in April.

Gonzaga has not

And that is the monkey on this team’s back.

Yes, having a ‘1’ in the loss column is going to take some of the attention and some of the pressure off in March, but that’s not going to change the fact that this is the best Gonzaga team that Mark Few has ever had. That’s going to be the narrative enveloping this team in March, and heading into the tournament with a loss isn’t going to change that.

SPOKANE, WA - FEBRUARY 25: Head coach Mark Few of the Gonzaga Bulldogs works from the sideline in the second half against the BYU Cougars at McCarthey Athletic Center on February 25, 2017 in Spokane, Washington. BYU defeated Gonzaga 79-71. (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)
Head coach Mark Few (Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images)

Are they still going to be a No. 1 seed?: Probably.

The Zags would have been a lock to be a No. 1 seed out west had they entered Selection Sunday without a loss to their name. Barring some kind of insanity, they will probably still be a No. 1 seed if they can win the WCC tournament, especially if that title includes another win over Saint Mary’s. Where things get tricky is if the Zags drop a game in the WCC tournament. In that case, whoever ends up winning the Pac-12 tournament will probably have a strong argument to be seeded above the Zags.

Can they be trusted to win a national title?: This is where things get tricky.

I think the idea of needing to take a loss late in the season is dumb, but I do subscribe to the thinking that Gonzaga needed to be tested in a close game before taking a loss means that their season is over. The Zags hadn’t trailed in the second half for 15 straight games before Saturday, and it showed. They lacked poise down the stretch. They made defensive errors. They turned the ball over. They struggled to find good shots in their offense. For lack of a better way to phrase it, the Zags looked overwhelmed by the moment.

Will they learn from this? Because they need to.

But there’s more to it than just having to learn. The concern with this Gonzaga team is whether or not they have the guard play to be able to create offense down the stretch against a set, elite defense. BYU’s defense is not what one would call elite. If the Zags cannot score against them down the stretch, what are they going to do against some of the best back courts in the country?