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Late Night Snacks: Providence, Colorado survive at home

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Providence 73, Brown 69

The Friars were up by as much as 16 points in the first half, but Brown made their run in the second half. The Bears completely erased the lead that Ed Cooley’s club had built, tying the game midway through the half. Brown was never able to take control of the game, however, and thanks to a three from Josh Fortune with just 37 seconds left in the game, they were able to escape the Dunkin Donuts Center with their second straight win.

Providence was playing without Kris Dunn (shoulder), Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock (suspensions). And while Bryce Cotton struggled a bit on Wednesday night, he was picked up by a pair of teammates. Kadeem Batts finished with 19 points and 11 boards while Tyler Harris had 21 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1)  For the first time since 1996, Colorado knocked off Wyoming on Wednesday night, 63-58. The Buffaloes lost to the Pokes on the road last season, which dropped them out of the top 25 permanently. Spencer Dinwiddie had 12 of his 15 points in the second half, Askia Booker went for 14 and Josh Scott chipped in with 12 points and nine boards. That said, it was another ugly performance by the Buffaloes. Colorado finished the night with four assists. Four!

2) Illinois picked up a win against Valparaiso at home on Wednesday night, knocking off the Crusaders 64-52. But it was not a pretty win by any stretch of the imagination. The Illini were never able to pull away. Rayvonte Rice led the way with 18 points.

3) No. 18 Oregon may be without two holdovers from last season’s Sweet 16 team (Dominic Artis and Ben Carter), but their newcomers are doing just fine. In the Ducks’ 107-83 win over Western Carolina transfers Joseph Young (36 points) and Mike Moser (26) combined to shoot 18-for-26 from the field. Add in 16 points off the bench from junior college transfer Elgin Cook and that was enough to take care of the Catamounts despite Trey Sumler scoring 29 points.

STARRED:

1) D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks clearly weren’t bothered by jet lag returning from South Korea. They went for 48 points and 11 assists combined in a win over Wright State.

2) How about Villanova freshman Josh Hart? He finished with 17 points and 11 boards in a win over Mt. St. Mary’s. He’s a 6-foot-4 guard.

3) Freshman Marcus Foster had himself a day, finishing with 25 points to lead Kansas State to their first win of the season, knocking off a better-than-you-think Oral Roberts team, 71-63.

STRUGGLED:

1) Seton Hall beat Kent State 78-76, thanks to 20 points and six assists from Sterling Gibbs, but the Pirates did everything they could to give that game away. We even saw a five-second call with 21 seconds left and Seton Hall up two with two timeouts left.

2) With 14 minutes left on Wednesday, Abilene Christian was up 44-38 at Maryland. The final score? Maryland 67, Abilene Christian 44. That’s a 14-minute, game-ending 29-0 run.

3) Tim Frazier had 13 points and seven assists, but he turned the ball over five times and played just 27 minutes while battling foul trouble as Penn State lost to Bucknell 90-80. Steven Kaspar had 25 points for the Bison.

NOTABLES:

  • A.J. Hammons returned to Purdue’s lineup with 12 points, five boards and seven blocks in 17 minutes in a win over CCSU.
  • Florida State handled Central Florida on the road on Wednesday, 80-68, despite playing without Kiel Turpin. Devin Bookert had 17 points and five assists.
  • Cameron Clark led five players in double figures with 14 points as Oklahoma beat Idaho.
  • Oregon State didn’t lose to a mid-major on Wednesday, surviving with a 79-73 win over Portland. Roberto Nelson had 24 points and seven dimes.
  • DePaul was up by double figures in the first half but couldn’t hold on to the lead, eventually losing to Southern Miss 75-68.
  • St. Joe’s big man Halil Kanicevic had 12 points, 11 boards and nine assists in a win over Marist.
  • Dayton improved to 2-0 on the season with a 70-56 win over St. Francis PA.
  • Holy Cross beat Sacred Heart 122-118 in double-overtime. Sounds like that was a fun one.
  • Mark Tollefson led five San Francisco players in double figures with 18 points as the Dons moved to 2-0 win a 91-82 home win over Cleveland State.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.