Ohio State v Marquette

Shannon Scott, Sam Thompson lead No. 10 Ohio State to a win over No. 17 Marquette

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In a season that’s been defined by an excess of fouls that stems from an effort to increase the amount of scoring that we see on a nightly basis in college hoops, it was somewhat refreshing to see a good old-fashioned defensive slug-fest on Saturday afternoon.

No. 10 Ohio State held No. 17 Marquette to 18.9% (10-53) shooting from the floor, a 1-for-18 performance from three and forced 20 turnovers en route to a 52-35 demolition of the Golden Eagles in Milwaukee. The final score simply does not do justice to the level of dominance portrayed by Thad Matta’s club in the final 20 minutes. Marquette went 12 minutes without a field goal in the second half, which is not a good way to go about getting a win.

Much of that can be pinned on Marquette, as they got a ton of minutes out of Derrick Wilson and Jake Thomas, two role-playing guards that don’t provide much of an offensive threat. That forced the Golden Eagles to rely on the unreliable Todd Mayo for a perimeter scoring punch. Mayo went 3-for-15 from the floor and played an all-around horrendous offensive game.

Why didn’t Buzz Williams give more minutes to his talented freshmen class? JuJuan Johnson and John Dawson didn’t see the floor. Deonte Burton barely got off the bench.

But credit must be given where credit is due, and there is no way around the fact that the Buckeyes simply played suffocating defense. That should not come as a surprise to you, either. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott are two of the best perimeter defenders in the country. There’s simply no disputing that fact. Lenzelle Smith certainly is no slouch on the defensive side of the ball, and Sam Thompson’s length and athleticism will give opposing wings nightmares.

We expected this, however. We knew heading into the season that the Buckeyes were going to be able to play stifling defense. The question marks were on the offensive end of the floor, and based on what we saw out of this group this afternoon, Ohio State fans should feel quite confident.

When Ohio State took over in the second half, it was because Shannon Scott and Sam Thompson, and to a lesser extent Aaron Craft, got it going offensively. Scott provided the spark with a couple of buckets in transition before finding a few lanes to penetrate in Marquette’s halfcourt defense. Thompson continued the run with a series of perimeter jumpers and baskets slashing to the paint. Craft was typical Aaron Craft, finishing with 10 points and 10 assists to go along with seven rebounds.

All told, Scott, Thompson and Craft finished with 38 points and 14 assists while shooting 15-for-31 from the field. It’s not overwhelming offensive production, but it’s good enough given Ohio State’s ability on the defensive end of the floor. It becomes all the more impressive when you consider that: A) Marquette is traditionally a tough, physical defensive teams; B) the games was played at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee; and C) it came in a game where LaQuinton Ross, the guy that was supposed to be the replacement for Deshaun Thomas offensively, went scoreless on six shots from the floor.

There is no part of me that doubts the fact that Buzz Williams will get his team turned around. I don’t question the fact that the Golden Eagles will be a top 20 team by the end of the season, even if they are a ways away from that level right now.

But regardless of that fact, it’s inarguable that Ohio State looked every bit the part of a legitimate Big Ten title contender on Saturday.

Villanova’s Jenkins to return for senior season

Villanova forward Kris Jenkins (2) reacts to play against North Carolina during the second half of the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 4, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After briefly taking part in the NBA Draft evaluation process, Villanova forward Kris Jenkins announced Monday night that he’s decided to withdraw and return to school for his senior year. Jenkins, whose three-pointer as time expired gave the Wildcats the win over North Carolina in the national title game, announced the news via Twitter.

2015-16 was a breakout season for Jenkins, who moved into the starting lineup and averaged 13.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The 6-foot-6 forward shot 45.9 percent from the field and 38.6 percent from beyond the arc, and with starters Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu graduating he’ll have even more opportunities to produce next season.

Jenkins’ decision to return leaves wing Josh Hart as the lone Wildcats going through the early entry process at this time. Hart was a first team All-Big East selection as a junior, and his return would be the final piece to the puzzle for a team that many expect to be a national title contender in 2016-17.

Jenkins and Hart wouldn’t be the only returnees who had a part in the national title run, with guards Jalen Brunson and Phil Booth, wing Mikal Bridges and forward Darryl Reynolds back as well. To that group Villanova adds Fordham transfer Eric Paschall and a recruiting class anchored by Omari Spellman and Dylan Painter with Donte DiVincenzo and Tim Delaney available after being hampered by injuries last season.

Delaney missed all of last year after undergoing surgical procedures on his hips, and DiVincenzo played a total of 74 minutes over the first nine games before having to sit due to a broken foot.

Florida State guard Rathan-Mayes to return for junior season

Florida State guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes (22) drives past Notre Dame guard Rex Pflueger, left, for a score in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser
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With their top three scorers from last season all deciding to declare for the NBA Draft, Florida State was facing the possibility of having to rebuild their backcourt ahead of the 2016-17 season. However two of those three have decided to return to Tallahassee, with rising junior Xavier Rathan-Mayes announcing on Monday that he will be back in school.

Rathan-Mayes joins rising sophomore Dwayne Bacon in returning to play another season for head coach Leonard Hamilton, with Malik Beasley hiring representation and remaining in the draft.

Rathan-Mayes had more scoring help last season and as a result was able to concentrate more on the distribution aspects of the point guard position, as he averaged 11.8 points and 4.4 assists per contest. With the return of Rathan-Mayes and Bacon, Florida State will have two of its top three scorers from last season back on campus.

The Seminoles did lose some veteran players, most notably guard Devon Bookert and center Boris Bojanovsky, but the returnees and a recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American forward Jonathan Isaac means that they won’t lack for options next season.

Auburn lands third transfer within the last week

Auburn guard T.J. Dunans (4) and coach Bruce Pearl celebrate a 75-74 win over UAB in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Nov. 13, 2015, at Auburn Arena in Auburn, Ala.  (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP
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After receiving commitments from former Purdue/Houston guard Ronnie Johnson and former Presbyterian forward DeSean Murray, Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl continued to load up on the transfer market Monday. Forward LaRon Smith, who was named MEAC Defensive Player of the Year at Bethune-Cookman last season, announced that he will use his final season of eligibility at the SEC program.

Like Smith, Johnson will also be eligible to compete immediately for the Tigers while Murray will have to sit out next season before having two years of eligibility remaining.

The 6-foot-8 Smith played two seasons at Georgia State before transferring to Bethune-Cookman, where he averaged 7.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per contest in 2015-16. Smith played just over 25 minutes per game for the Wildcats, shooting 58.5 percent from the field.

Smith reached double figures in scoring in four of the Wildcats’ final seven games, including a 20-point, 11-rebound, three-block outing in an overtime win over North Carolina A&T. He joins a front court in need of depth following the departures of the likes of Cinmeon Bowers and Tyler Harris, with Horace Spencer, Trayvon Reed and incoming freshman Anfernee McLemore also competing for minutes in 2016-17.

SMU lands former Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt

Arkansas guard Jimmy Whitt (24) leaps for a layup past Tennessee guard Shembari Phillips (25) during an NCAA college basketball game in Knoxville, Tenn., Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. Arkansas won 75-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP
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With a five-member recruiting class set to arrive on campus this summer, SMU added a talented transfer Monday afternoon. Jimmy Whitt, who played his freshman season at Arkansas, committed to join Larry Brown’s program. Whitt, a 6-foot-4 guard from Columbia, Missouri, will have three seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out the 2016-17 campaign.

As a freshman at Arkansas, Whitt averaged 6.1 points and 1.7 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game. He reached double figures in scoring nine time, with the high being a 15-point outing in a blowout win over Missouri in mid-January. Whitt produced a stretch of four consecutive games in double figures during non-conference play, but he struggled to maintain that consistency against SEC competition.

At SMU he’ll join a perimeter rotation that will lose rising senior Sterling Brown following the 2016-17 season. Among those who will have eligibility remaining when Whitt becomes eligible are Ben Emelogu, Shake Milton, Jarrey Foster and incoming freshmen Tom Wilson and Dashawn McDowell.

 

Boise State assistant named head coach at Northern Colorado

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Courtesy UNCBears.com
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GREELEY, Colo. (AP) Jeff Linder is the new basketball coach at Northern Colorado. He spent the last six seasons at Boise State, where he was associate head coach for the Broncos since 2013-14.

Linder replaces B.J. Hill, who was fired last month amid an NCAA investigation into allegations of violations in the program.

University President Kay Norton and Athletic Director Darren Dunn announced Linder’s hiring Sunday.

Linder played high school ball in Lafayette, Colorado, and college ball at Mesa State and Western Colorado State. He began his coaching career under Colorado head coach Ricardo Patton.

In a statement, Linder said, “I look forward to returning home to the state of Colorado and continuing to build this program into something everyone can be proud of.”

Hill was 86-98 in six seasons at UNC.