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Cliff Alexander commits to Kansas

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AP Photo/Damen Jackson via Triple Play New Media

Kansas missed out on Jalil Okafor and Tyus Jones on Friday afternoon, but the Jayhawks landed themselves a pretty solid consolation prize: Cliff Alexander.

Alexander is the No. 4 player in the Class of 2014. A 6-foot-8 power forward, Alexander is athletic, a strong and powerful kid with long arms that physically abuses the rim when he dunks and attacks the glass unlike anyone else in class.

Alexander is a Chicago native and picked the Jayhawks over both DePaul and Illinois. Memphis was still on Alexander’s list when he made his decision, but there wasn’t much momentum for the Tigers in the final weeks of his recruitment.

And, in this video making the rounds, Illinois fans got a tease when Alexander reached for an Illini hat at first, before realizing he actually hadn’t grabbed a KU hat.

Alexander will join 6-foot-7 Kelly Oubre, a Houston native, in the Jayhawk’s 2014 recruiting haul, which should be enough to keep Kansas in the national title discussion heading into the 2014-2015 season, particularly is they get two of Wayne Selden, Perry Ellis and Joel Embiid back.

Ironically enough, Bill Self probably shouldn’t get all of the credit for landing Alexander. Neither should any of his assistants. You see, Alexander’s girlfriend is Caelynn Manning-Allen. Manning-Allen is a freshman on the Kansas women’s team this season. I wonder just how much of a role that played in Alexander’s decision, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt the Jayhawk’s chances.

Here Eric Bossi, a Rivals recruiting analyst, with a breakdown of Alexander: “Alexander is a physically intimidating power player. He uses his strength, long arms and attacking nature to go right at the rim. He can make jump hooks and is developing touch to eight feet. Perhaps his biggest strength is his rebounding. Alexander grabs rebound above the rim and often snatches them away from opponents.”

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.