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.


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.


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.


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.


  • 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.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.