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Late Night Snacks: The Marathon is on, but Doug McDermott, Shabazz Napier shine brightest

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: BYU 112, Stanford 103

All these new fouling rules? This is why they’re put into the game. So college basketball looks more like this than rugby.

Now, I’ll freely admit that the score of this game was almost entirely a result of the way that BYU plays. They love, love, love to get up and down the floor, even if it comes at the expense of being able to get stops, and on the nights where Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws get it going, they can do things like score 110 points.

But my point is that this was a game where two teams were able to penetrate without having a hand on their hip and they were able to cut through the lane without getting hip-checked three times. There was plenty of freedom of movement, and while we can’t expect every college basketball game to have final scores with more points than an average NBA game, anything is better than some of the 37-36 slugfests we were stuck with last year.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 6 Arizona head coach Sean Miller has been experimenting with his lineups early on this season. In the opener, Gabe York started at the two, pushing Nick Johnson to the three and Aaron Gordon to the four. On Monday night, Kaleb Tarczewski was back into the starting lineup, meaning Gordon was out on the perimeter. It didn’t matter much; Gordon finished with a double-double for the second straight game, going for 14 points and 10 boards on 6-for-8 shooting. Brandon Ashley added 16 points and seven boards in the 91-57 win over Long Beach State.

2) No. 19 Gonzaga lit up Colorado State, hitting 14 threes en route to a 93-61 win. Gary Bell Jr. led the way with 24 points on eight triples of his own.

STARRED:

1) Dougie McBuckets went all Dougie McBuckets on poor UMKC, finishing with 37 points. 34 of those points came in the first 24 minutes of the game. The Bluejays ended up winning 96-70.

2) No. 19 UConn handled Yale this afternoon 80-62, picking up their second win of the season. And star point guard Shabazz Napier looked every bit of an All-American, finishing with 14 points, 11 boards and 10 assists. He’s now averaging 16.0 points, 9.0 boards and 8.5 assists. Not bad.

3) Billy Baron went off for 27 points for Canisius in a season-opening win over South Dakota. He scored 13 of that 27 in the final 10 minutes.

STRUGGLED:

1) Napier was awesome. UConn’s big men weren’t. The six front court players that saw time for the Huskies on Monday afternoon gathered all of three defensive rebounds. They didn’t get a single offensive rebound among them. Yale, on the other hand, had 22 offensive rebounds. Not good.

2) Rhode Island shot 30.8% from the floor and 2-for-15 from three while committing 20 turnovers in a 31 point loss to SMU. Star point guard Xavier Munford was 1-for-11.

3) Rion Brown was 3-13 on Monday. He’s not shooting 6-for-23 from the floor and 2-for-9 from three on the season, a big part of the reason that Miami has not been taken to overtime by teams projected to finish near the bottom of the SoCon and the NEC. At least the Hurricanes beat Georgia Southern.

NOTABLES

  • Kent State went into Philly and knocked off Temple, 81-77.
  • Trae Golden had 16 points for Georgia Tech in a win over Delaware State.
  • C.J. Washington went for 18 points and 10 boards as UAB knocked off Rutgers at home, 79-76.
  • Oklahoma’s high-speed ways earned them another win on Monday, as Buddy Hield led the Sooners with 23 points in a 95-82 win over North Texas.

Swanigan staying for sophomore season

Purdue's Vince Edwards (12), Purdue's Caleb Swanigan (50) and Purdue's A.J. Hammons (20) celebrate during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against the Illinois in the quarterfinals at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Friday, March 11, 2016, in Indianapolis. Purdue won 89-58. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
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Purdue will once again be rolling out a formidable frontcourt in the 2016-17 season.

Boilermaker big man Caleb Swanigan is withdrawing from the NBA Draft to return to West Lafayette for his sophomore season, the school announced Wednesday.

The NBA is right there and always will be,” Swanigan said in the school’s press release, “but you always have to have patience and do what’s best for you.”

Purdue is losing 7-foot senior A.J. Hammons, but will be once again teaming Swanigan with Isaac Haas (7-2) and Vince Edwards (6-8) that will allow them to roll out a supersized lineup that is sure to be a difficult one to face off against.

The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Swanigan, who likely would have landed as a second-round pick, averaged 10.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists and was a finalist for the Wayman Tisdale Award for the country’s top freshman.

“We are excited that (Swanigan) has withdrawn from the NBA Draft and will return to Purdue,” head coach said Matt Painter in a statement released by the school. “He has the potential to make a huge jump from his freshman season and will be a big part of what we do next year. He received great experience going through this process and will use the feedback he received to make him a more diverse player.”

Purdue is probably a rung down from Michigan State and Wisconsin at the top of the league, but the return of Swanigan pulls them closer to competing at the top of the league next season.

USC’s Nikola Jovanovic not expected to return to USC

Southern California forward Nikola Jovanovic pauses on the court during an NCAA college basketball game against Washington State, Friday, Jan. 1, 2016, in Pullman, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Nikola Jovanovic’s college career has come to a close.

The USC center will not withdraw his name from NBA Draft consideration by Wednesday’s 11:59 p.m., a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Jovanovic, a 6-foot-11 Serbian, averaged 12.3 points and 7.0 boards as a junior with the Trojans.

Jovanovic is not expected to be drafted, which means that Andy Enfield’s club will be losing two players to the professional ranks with eligibility to spare that likely won’t end up on an NBA roster next season. Julian Jacobs, who averaged 11.6 points, 5.5 assists and 4.9 boards, signed with an agent back in April.

The Trojans were a top 25 team last season despite many considering them to still be “a year away”. But with two starters departing, the Trojans will be a borderline preseason top 25 team as opposed to a top 15 team.

Marcus Lee withdrawing from the draft, transferring from Kentucky

Kentucky forward Marcus Lee dunks during the first half of a second-round men's college basketball game against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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For the second time this season and just the sixth time in John Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the Wildcats are losing a player to transfer.

Marcus Lee announced on Wednesday that he will be withdrawing from the NBA Draft, but the 6-foot-9 forward will not be returning to Kentucky. He will be transferring out of the program to a new school.

“I want to thank the University of Kentucky, the basketball staff and the Big Blue Nation for supporting me over the years,” Lee said. “I’m sorry it took me so long to come to this decision, but I’m trying to do what’s right for me and my family. I’ll always think fondly of my time at Kentucky.”

Lee averaged 6.4 points and 6.0 boards this season, seeing his first major minutes as a member of the Wildcats. But he seemed destined for a bench role if he had opted to return to Kentucky this season as John Calipari has landed a recruiting class that includes five-star freshmen Bam Adebayo, Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.

The tough part?

It does not appear that Lee will be able to finish his degree and be eligible to play immediately next season. He’ll have to sit a year at whatever school he opts to transfer to.

“Marcus Lee informed us today that he is pulling his name out of the draft but has decided he is going to transfer to a school out west to be closer to his family,” head coach John Calipari said. “We talked it through together and discussed the team next season, which he said had no bearing on his decision. I also told him he was a semester away from graduating. With that said, he was still adamant that, after the combine experience, a year off and regrouping would be the best thing. As always I support my players and their decisions.”

Lee joins Charles Matthews as members of last year’s Wildcats that are transferring out of the program. Darnell Dodson (Southern Miss), Stacey Poole (Georgia Tech) , Ryan Harrow (Georgia State) and Kyle Wiltjer (Gonzaga) are the other four players that have transferred.

Isaiah Briscoe to return to Kentucky

Eric Johnson, Isaiah Briscoe
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Isaiah Briscoe announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season.

The 6-foot-3 guard had one of the more difficult decisions to make for players in this year’s draft class. On the one hand, there was a very real chance that he would go through this draft without getting picked. He was a role-playing guard on last year’s team that isn’t a point guard, isn’t big enough to be a two-guard and was a total liability shooting the ball.

But he’s returning to a team that is as loaded as the group that won their first 38 games two years ago, particularly in the back court. He’ll be playing behind De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk who both play essentially the same role that Briscoe does: playmaking guards that thrive with the ball in their hands. And since Briscoe can’t shoot, he may not be the best option at the three, where Derek Willis will likely see minutes.

In other words, Briscoe returning to school is essentially a two-year decision.

Kentucky now awaits an announcement from Marcus Lee on whether or not he will be returning to school.

James Blackmon Jr. to return to Indiana, Troy Williams to remain in draft

James Blackmon Jr.
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
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James Blackmon Jr. will be returning to Indiana for his junior season, the school announced on Wednesday morning.

Blackmon missed the final 22 games of his sophomore season following surgery on his knee in December. As a freshman, Blackmon averaged 15.8 points and shot 46 percent from beyond the arc.

Indiana now awaits word on the decision that will be made by Troy Williams. A junior swingman, Williams has a shot to be an early second round pick if he opts to stay in the draft. There is a report from the Indy Star that he will keep his name in the draft, but the program has yet to confirm that news.

Losing Williams would hurt, but it’s a loss that Indiana can overcome. The emergence of O.G. Anunoby as a versatile defender means that the Hoosiers have a guy that can be a defensive stopper and can allow them to play small and fast. Anunoby also has not proven to be prone to bouts of poor decision-making, which arguably may make him a better fit.