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.

No. 24 TCU snaps 3-game skid with 96-73 over Iowa State

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Vladimir Brodziansky had 26 points and No. 24 TCU snapped a three-game losing streak with a 96-73 win over Iowa State on Wednesday night, when the Horned Frogs played for the first time without injured starting point guard Jaylen Fisher.

Alex Robinson, who started at point guard, scored eight points and had a school-record 17 assists for the Horned Frogs (14-4, 2-4 Big 12), who never trailed and shot 60 percent from the field. He had only one turnover in 38 minutes.

Brodziansky shot 11 of 13 for his third 20-point game in five games. JD Miller added 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five 3-pointers. Kouat Noi scored 16 points and Kenrich Williams had his eighth double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Donovan Jackson had 19 points for Iowa State (10-6, 1-5). Cameron Lard and Lindell Wigginton each had 16.

Fisher was scheduled to have surgery Thursday, two days after injuring his right knee during practice. The sophomore guard missed the team’s trip to Australia in August after tearing meniscus in his left knee during practice then, but was back for the start of the season after surgery.

Robinson’s 12th assist, surpassing his previous career high of 11, was on pass to Brodziansky for a slam dunk that made it 70-53 with 11:36 left before an Iowa State timeout. That was among many plays applauded by Fisher, who sat in a chair near the TCU bench.

TCU jumped out to a 14-4 lead in the game’s first 5 minutes, and led by as many as 17 in the first half.

BIG PICTURE

Iowa St.: Even while they shot 51 percent from the field (30 of 59), the Cyclones couldn’t gain any momentum coming off their first Big 12 victory Saturday against Baylor. Wigginton, the freshman who was the Big 12 newcomer of the week after games with 30 and 27 points last week, had only two points at halftime after he got two fouls in the first 9 minutes.

TCU: After so many close games, including consecutive overtime losses on the road last week, the Frogs finally had a game in which they didn’t have to press in the closing minutes. Their four Big 12 losses are by a combined 11 points, and their only previous conference win was by three points in overtime.

UP NEXT

Iowa St.: Another ranked opponent for the Cyclones, who host No. 8 Texas Tech on Saturday.

TCU: The Horned Frogs play three of their next four games on the road. They are at Kansas State (13-5, 3-3) on Saturday.

No. 14 Arizona overcomes slow start, runs past Cal 79-58

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BERKELEY, Calif. — Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 14 Arizona overcame a slow, sloppy start to beat California 79-58 on Wednesday night.

Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 14 points with three 3-pointers during a decisive stretch spanning halftime as the Wildcats won their third straight since losing at Colorado on Jan. 6.

Dylan Smith made all four of his 3s and added 14 points and Allonzo Trier scored 15 as Arizona (15-4, 5-1 Pac-12) played without sophomore guard Rawle Alkins, held out as a precaution with what the school said was mild right foot soreness.

Justice Sueing scored 19 points to lead Cal (7-12, 1-5) but missed all six of his 3-point attempts for the cold-shooting Golden Bears, held to 35.3 percent and outrebounded 36-22. Don Coleman had 11 points but shot just 3 of 13.

Ayton made 9 of 11 shots and Arizona shot 62 percent, going 11 for 19 from deep.

Arizona connected on six straight 3-pointers from the 9:20 mark until 2:32 left before halftime to take control, three by Parker Jackson-Cartwright, then seven in all spanning halftime. Cal got within single digits, down by nine, for all of 17 seconds in the second half.

The Wildcats went four possessions until getting their first shot off while committing three quick turnovers and falling behind 6-0. They had turnovers on six of their initial nine possessions and 21 overall but still wound up shooting 70 percent in the opening half.

Arizona won its fourth straight in the series.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: The Pac-12’s top team from the free throw line, the Wildcats followed up a 34-of-37 showing at the line against Oregon last Saturday — the program’s first time at 90 percent or higher with at least 35 attempts since going 38 of 40 (.950) vs. Washington on Jan. 27, 2005, a span of 454 games — by shooting just 13 free throws and making six. Arizona came in shooting 85.3 percent at the line. … The Wildcats are 18-11 in Pac-12 road games played in the state of California under Sean Miller since 2009. Miller also is 12-4 vs. Cal.

Cal: Kingsley Okoroh, a 7-foot-1 center, scored 10 points to post his first game in double figures scoring since Nov. 16 against Wofford. … Cal has beaten ranked Arizona teams 11 times, including No. 1 four years ago at Haas Pavilion. While the Bears averaged 54.5 points over their recent road trip to Washington and Washington State last weekend, they hurt their chances with a 1-for-13 shooting performance from 3-point range but made 21 of 30 free throws.

UP NEXT

Arizona: At Stanford on Saturday afternoon.

Cal: Hosts Arizona State on Saturday night.

Holtmann makes Big Ten history as Ohio St. tops Northwestern

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ROSEMONT, Ill. — Chris Holtmann became the first coach in 95 years to win his first seven Big Ten games as No. 22 Ohio State defeated Northwestern 71-65 on Wednesday night.

C.J. Jackson had 12 points, eight assists and three steals, Micah Potter scored 13 points off the bench, Jae’Sean Tate added 12 and Keita Bates-Diop had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (16-4, 7-0), who won their sixth straight overall.

Holtmann is the third Big Ten coach to win his first seven conference games, joining Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (1911-12) and Iowa’s Sam Barry (1922-23). Holtmann replaced Thad Matta, the program’s all-time wins leader, this season.

Vic Law scored 14 points and Scottie Lindsey added 13 for Northwestern (11-9, 2-5) as the Wildcats suffered their second straight double-digit loss.

Picked to finish 11th in the Big Ten in a preseason media poll, the Buckeyes have been the story of the conference so far this season.

Coming off successive routs of then-No. 1 Michigan State, Maryland and Rutgers, Ohio State led Northwestern by as many as 15 in the second half before holding off a late Wildcats charge.

Northwestern got within three at 68-65 on a 3-pointer by Lindsey with 43 seconds left, but Jackson sealed the the victory from the foul line.

BIG PICTURE

Ohio State: The Buckeyes won on the road without a big game from Bates-Diop. The reigning two-time Big Ten Player of the Week, Bates-Dio entered the game leading the Big Ten in scoring (20.3) and third in rebounding (8.8).

Northwestern: With four starters back from the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance, the Wildcats have fallen far short of expectations and are going to have turn things around in a hurry to make a case for another invitation to the dance.

UP NEXT

Ohio State: The Buckeyes host Minnesota on Saturday.

Northwestern: The Wildcats host Penn State on Saturday.

Reserve Harrell leads Creighton past No. 19 Pirates 80-63

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OMAHA, Neb. — Marcus Foster scored 25 points and reserve Ronnie Harrell Jr. had a career-high 18, and Creighton never trailed in an 80-63 win over No. 19 Seton Hall on Wednesday night.

The Bluejays (15-4, 5-2 Big East) split the season series with the Pirates (15-4, 4-2), avenging a 90-84 road loss last month in which they blew a double-digit lead and failed to score the last 3 1/2 minutes.

Creighton led by 16 points early but saw the Pirates pull to 39-32 at half. Harrell scored seven points during a 17-9 run to open the second half that put Creighton up 58-43.

Harrell later brought the sellout crowd to its feet with a behind-the-back move as he drove to the basket, and Foster urged on the fans to make more noise when Angel Delgado elbowed Toby Hegner for a flagrant-1 foul on the other end. It was Delgado’s fourth personal, and Hegner made the free throws for a 67-47 lead with 8 minutes to play.

Delgado, who came into the game off seven straight double-doubles and had 18 points and 14 rebounds in the first meeting with Creighton, was in foul trouble all night. He was limited to four points and four rebounds in 20 minutes. Desi Rodriguez, the Pirates’ season scoring leader, did not play in the second half and finished with four points.

Myles Powell led the Pirates with 19 points.

Seton Hall shot a season-low 38.1 percent, committed 17 turnovers and scored its fewest points of the season.

Creighton shot 51.7 percent, making it the first Seton Hall opponent to hit more than half its shots.

BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: This was a debacle from the beginning for the Pirates. Time to forget this one and get ready for the showdown with Xavier on Saturday.

Creighton: The Bluejays bounced back from a 22-point road loss to Xavier in resounding fashion.

UP NEXT

Seton Hall: hosts No. 11 Xavier on Saturday.

Creighton: visits Providence on Saturday.

Kerem Kanter rallies No. 11 Xavier over St. John’s 88-82

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CINCINNATI — Kerem Kanter had 22 points and led a late run that swept No. 11 Xavier to an 88-82 victory over St. John’s on Wednesday night, giving Chris Mack the Musketeers record for career coaching wins.

Kanter had eight points and an emphatic block during a 17-2 run that kept Xavier (17-3, 5-3 Big East) unbeaten in 13 games at the Cintas Center this season. He also matched his career high with 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.

Mack got his 203rd coaching victory at his alma mater, passing Pete Gillen for the school record in his ninth season.

Trevon Bluiett emerged from a shooting slump by scoring 24 points during a 92-70 win over then-No. 25 Creighton on Saturday. He followed with 23 points on Wednesday.

St. John’s (10-9, 0-7) led midway through the second half before Xavier surged ahead 79-67 with 2:56 left. The Red Storm dropped its seventh straight. Justin Simon had a career-high 28 points.

The Red Storm made their first 11 shots in the second half and went up 65-62 on Tariq Owens’ 3-pointer with 10 minutes left. Kanter’s tip-in started Xavier’s decisive run.

BIG PICTURE

St. John’s: The Red Storm keeps coming close and coming up short. Five of the losses during their skid have been by seven points or fewer.

Xavier: The Musketeers have regained their footing after consecutive road losses at Providence and No. 1 Villanova that dropped them from No. 5 nationally to No. 11. Their 3-point shooting was a big problem during the two losses, and they found their touch during the two wins. They went 14 of 26 from beyond the arc on Wednesday.

UP NEXT

The Red Storm plays a second straight road game at Georgetown. They lost at home to the Hoyas 69-66 on Jan. 9.

The Musketeers play at No. 19 Seton Hall on Saturday. The rematch is Feb. 14 at the Cintas Center.