Late Night Snacks: Champions Classic does not disappoint

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GAMES OF THE DAY: The Champions Classic 

The doubleheader in Chicago more than lived up to the advanced billing, with the Spartans and Jayhawks leaving the United Center with victories. In the first game Michigan State’s experience played a role in their 78-74 win over Kenutcky, with Keith Appling leading the charge with 22 points, eight assists and seven rebounds. As for the nightcap, Kansas defeated Duke 94-83 despite a sensational first half from the Blue Devils’ Jabari Parker. Parker finished with 27 points while Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins scored 22 points to go along with eight rebounds, and the performance of players such as Perry Ellis and Frank Mason bodes well for the Jayhawks.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) Xavier 67, Tennessee 63: This is one of those early season non-conference results that will be just as important in March as it is in November. Semaj Christon led three Xavier players in double figures with 18 points, allowing Xavier to hang on despite some impressive shot-making down the stretch from Tennessee’s Jordan McRae. Also of note for Xavier was the play of forward Matt Stainbrook, who finished the game with 12 points and nine rebounds.

2) No. 20 Wisconsin 59, No. 11 Florida 53: The Badgers bounced back from a slow start to defeat the Gators in Madison, with Sam Dekker leading three players in double figures with 16 points. At this point in time Florida simply lacks the depth needed to win a game of this caliber, and that was evident during the stretch that saw Billy Donovan’s team go from 12 up to 11 down.

3) UMass 92, LSU 90: LSU very nearly won in Amherst despite losing Jarell Martin to an ankle injury in the first minute of the game and fighting off foul trouble for much of the game. Johnny Jones’ team can still take some positives away from the trip, while UMass now has wins over teams from the ACC (Boston College) and SEC to its credit.

STARRED: 

1) Jordan Clarkson of Missouri went off for 31 points (12-for-18 FG), five assists and two steals in the Tigers’ 72-59 win over Southern Illinois.

2) It was early down in Dunk City, but that didn’t slow down Chase Fieler, who went off for 30 points as Florida-Gulf Coast picked up another win while playing in the national spotlight.

3) Treveon Graham had 22 points, including the game-winning three-pointer, as No. 14 VCU knocked off No. 25 Virginia 59-56.

STRUGGLED:

1) UNLV lost to UC Santa Barbara by 21 points? What?

2) Denver was supposed to be one of the best mid-major programs in the country this season, but it didn’t look like in on Tuesday night, as the Pioneers got dropped by Cal, 77-50.

3) Free throw shooters. Baylor nearly lost because they went 22-43 from the line. Kentucky lost because they were 20-36. If Duke doesn’t miss three front-ends against Kansas, they may not have lost to the Jayhawks. Gotta hit those freebies.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

VIDEO: John Wall gets emotional talking to his mom during Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.

Michigan lands four-star 2018 forward Ignas Brazdeikis

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Michigan added to an already strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul on Friday night as four-star forward Ignas Brazdeikis pledged to the Wolverines on Twitter.

The 6-foot-8 Canadian was one of the premier scorers in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer playing with CIA Bounce as Brazdeikis averaged 21.1 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the floor. Well-rounded outside of his scoring, Brazdeikis also put up 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while also showing a workable jumper that was 26 percent from three-point range.

With the job that Michigan head coach John Beilein has done developing forwards, most recently with the rapid improvement of players like D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner, it’ll be fascinating to see how Brazdeikis will look at the college level after some time on campus. Beilein’s offense is favorable for skilled forwards with a penchant for scoring and Brazdeikis could end up being a tremendous fit for the Wolverines.

Brazdeikis becomes the fourth member of Michigan’s Class of 2018 recruiting haul as he joins four-star forward Brandon Johns, four-star guard David Dejulius and three-star forward Taylor Currie.

Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.