Tennessee v Xavier

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.

Cody Riley cuts list to five schools

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Cody Riley has cut his list to five schools, according to Scout.com.

A four-star four man, Riley is now considering just UConn, Kansas, Oklahoma, UCLA and USC.

Ranked the No. 29 player in the Class of 2017 by Rivals, Riley is an undersized-but-powerful forward. His bread and butter is on the block, where his strength and low center of gravity make him a nightmare to deal with, but he’s also skilled enough to do damage as a face-up four.

Riley is from California and will be playing his senior season alongside Marvin Bagley III, the No. 1 player in the Class of 2018, at Sierra Canyon.

Auburn continues to stockpile talent, adds top 50 prospect in 2017

Bruce Pearl
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey
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Auburn’s hire of Bruce Pearl was almost universally lauded as the first step towards the return of relevance for the Tiger basketball program.

And while the results have yet to shine through on the floor, Pearl is unequivocally stockpiling the kind of talent that will allow him to push for trips to the NCAA tournament and maybe one day contend for a league crown with Kentucky.

The latest step came on Sunday, when Pearl landed a commitment from Chuma Okeke, a top 50 wing prospect out of Georgia.

“He is a versatile wing who can handle and score,” said NBCSports.com recruiting analyst Scott Phillips. “Coming off of a big July, Okeke could move up the national rankings and Auburn pounced on him right away.”

Okeke joins big man Austin Wiley, a top ten player in the class, and Davion Mitchell, who is likely one of the five best point guards in the country, in what is currently the nation’s best recruiting class in 2017. That’s before you consider that Pearl already has Mustapha Heron, a top 25 prospect, joining the mix this season.

“This group has the makings of a monster recruiting class for Auburn,” Phillips said.

Okeke picked the Tigers over Florida State, Georgia and a number of other programs across the southeast.

VIDEO: Watch Virginia freshman Jay Huff dunk from the free throw line

Tony Bennett
AP Photo/Nell Redmond
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Jay Huff is a member of Tony Bennett’s best recruiting class to date, a 6-foot-11 top 50 recruit from North Carolina.

He also happens to be pretty athletic.

Don’t believe me?

Check out this video that McDonald’s All-American Kyle Guy tweeted out on Sunday night:

Yup, that’s Huff taking off from the foul line to dunk.

Not bad, young fella.

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)