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Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Michigan State, No. 12 North Carolina struggle

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Nevada 92, San Francisco 90 

The battle between the Wolf Pack and Dons didn’t lack for entertainment, with the two starting point guards leading the way. Nevada’s Deonte Burton finished with 31 points and six rebounds, while San Francisco’s Cody Doolin tallied 33 points and four assists in a losing effort.

A key for the Wolf Pack was their ability to neutralize USF senior forward Cole Dickerson, who finished with nine points and eight rebounds on the night. In addition to Burton three other Nevada players scored in double figures, with Michael Perez and Cole Huff scoring 15 points apiece and Jerry Evans Jr. adding 11.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 2 Michigan State 62, Columbia 53: Much to Tom Izzo’s chagrin the Spartans, fresh off of their win over No. 1 Kentucky on Tuesday, came out with little fire against Columbia and struggled for much of the night. But some credit should be given to Kyle Smith’s Lions, who controlled the tempo throughout and likely would have won if not for Adreian Payne (26 points, 11 rebounds).

“We’ve just got to hope now that Kansas blows somebody out so [the voters] move them ahead of us,” Izzo said after the game. “We proved tonight we’re not ready to handle any kind of success, and that disappoints me.”

Michigan State hosts Portland on Monday, and one would suspect that they’ll show up more prepared to play.

2) No. 4 Duke 97, FAU 64: Rodney Hood and Jabari Parker was productive for the Blue Devils, who had no problem moving on from the Champions Classic. And Andre Dawkins, after playing just two minutes in Duke’s first two games, scored 17 points in 19 minutes off the bench. If he can be a consistent perimeter shooter for the Blue Devils, they’ll be even tougher to defend.

3) No. 12 North Carolina 62, Holy Cross 54: Like Michigan State the Tar Heels did not play well against a scrappy opponent, but Roy Williams’ team was still able to pull out to victory. Marcus Paige scored 23 points to lead the way offensively, and it’s quite apparent that this team needs P.J. Hairston on the floor. When that time will come who knows, but until he is UNC will have its issues offensively. And, the schedule will get tougher with games against Michigan State and Kentucky on the non-conference slate.

STARRED:

1) Roscoe Smith (UNLV): Smith was outstanding in UNLV’s 73-70 win over Omaha, posting a line of 17 points and 22 rebounds to lead the Runnin’ Rebels to a win they needed to get.

2) Jalan West (Northwestern State): 30 points (10-for-15 FG), nine rebounds, six assists and three steals in the Demons’ 111-92 win at Auburn.

3) Jabari Parker (Duke): Rodney Hood (28 points) was Duke’s leading scorer, but this selection’s about history more than anything. Prior to Parker’s arrival, no Duke freshman under Krzyzewski managed to score 20 points or more in each of his first three games. With his 21 points and ten rebounds against FAU, Parker accomplished that feat.

STRUGGLED: 

1) Auburn: Tony Barbee’s Tigers led Northwestern State 48-39 at the half, and then seemingly decided that they no longer needed to play defense. The Demons would score 72 second-half points and beat the Tigers 111-92.

2) Jon Severe (Fordham): The good news for Severe is that the Rams beat Lehigh, 80-72. The bad: he shot 5-for-23 from the field (0-for-10 3PT).

3) Angelo Warner and Bakari Turner (Morehead State): The two guards combined to score ten points in the Eagles’ 79-56 loss to Xavier, but they did so while shooting a combined 0-for-13 from the field.

NOTABLES:

  • Arizona State senior center Jordan Bachynski blocked six shots, which made him the school’s all-time leader in blocked shots (he passed Mario Bennett). Arizona State beat Idaho State 88-60 with Jahii Carson’s 19 points leading the way.
  • Two Brett Comer free throws with six seconds remaining proved to be the difference as FGCU came back to beat Furman 70-69. Comer finished with 21 points and Bernard Thompson added 20 to lead the way for the Eagles.
  • Kevin Ware made his regular season debut in No. 3 Louisville’s 99-54 win over Cornell. Ware scored five points in 13 minutes of action but it was Wayne Blackshear who stood out, scoring 20 points to lead the way offensively.
  • Trae Golden (18 points) and Daniel Miller (14 points, 13 rebounds) led the way as Georgia Tech beat in-state rival Georgia for the third consecutive season, 80-71.
  • Indiana welcomed back former assistant Bennie Seltzer on Friday, as he’s now the head coach at Samford. The Hoosiers weren’t all that hospitable to Seltzer’s players however, beating the Bulldogs 105-59.
  • Markel Brown (22 points), Phil Forte (22) and Marcus Smart (16) combined to score 60 points to lead No. 8 Oklahoma State to a 97-63 win over UAPB.
  • Cal freshman Jabari Bird scored 24 points to lead the Golden Bears to a 64-60 win over Oakland, which dressed just eight scholarship players.
  • Brandon Taylor (21 points) led four players in double figures as Utah whipped UC Davis, 94-60.
  • BYU guard Tyler Haws did not play in the Cougars’ 108-75 win over Mount St. Mary’s due to an abdominal strain. With BYU playing Colorado Mesa on Saturday and a game against Iowa State coming on Wednesday, it will be interesting to see if he plays.
  • South Florida point guard Anthony Collins made his season debut after missing the opener with a knee injury, accounting for seven points and five rebounds in 26 minutes off the bench in the Bulls’ 75-61 win at Bowling Green.

Whitehead to stay in NBA Draft

Seton Hall guard Isaiah Whitehead (15) shoots past Xavier forward Sean O'Mara (54) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Feb. 28, 2016, in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
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Seton Hall sophomore guard Isaiah Whitehead has signed with an agent and will remain in the NBA Draft, according to multiple reports.

Whitehead averaged 18.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game last season for Seton Hall, which went 25-9 and reached the NCAA tournament. He likely projects as a second-round pick with a bit of a shaky shot, but a high usage and assist rates. His strong finish to the season likely lifted him on some draft boards, but his inefficiency will cap his ceiling in June’s draft.

The loss is significant for the Pirates as Whitehead was so much of their offense, but they’ll bring back Khadeen Carrington, Desi Rodriguez, Angel Delgado and Ismael Sanogo. It’s a group that will miss Whitehead’s playmaking, but is still a solid enough foundation that Seton Hall will still likely be competitive in the Big East and vying for another NCAA tournament berth.

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson