indiana state

Indiana State hits 11 threes in upset win over Notre Dame

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Indiana State saw a 16-point halftime lead quickly evaporate, as Belmont scored 63 second half points to come from behind and defeat the Sycamores 96-95 on Thursday night.

The Sycamores had a major collapse three days before they traveled to South Bend with a meeting against No. 21 Notre Dame. But like an experienced team, Indiana State bounced back to come away with a huge 83-70 upset victory over the Fighting Irish, justifying the Sycamore’s preseason hype entering the season.

Indiana State shot 11-of-20 from three as a team, hitting eight in the first half and connecting on all three attempts in the second half. The eight first half threes built the lead while the last triple — from Justin Gant — provided  the dagger, putting the Sycamores up 73-60 with two minutes to play.

It appeared to be another long-second half for Indiana State when Notre Dame came out of the gate with a 15-4 run to take a 54-45 lead. Indiana State regrouped and responded with 10 unanswered points, eventually upping the lead to 15 points with six minutes to go in the game. From that point on, Notre Dame would cut the lead to single digits, but nothing closer than eight.

Past the midway point of the first half is when Indiana State began creating separation via the 3-ball. In less than a three-minute span, five different Sycamores connected on shots from behind the arc, which turned what was a six-point lead to a 28-14 ISU advantage, which helped the Sycamores take a 40-30 lead into the break.

Wichita State is the clear-cut favorite in the Missouri Valley Conference, but Indiana State is being pegged as the Shockers top competition. Sunday afternoon, Indiana State handed Notre Dame a rare home loss, taking an early first half lead, absorbing a second half shot the Irish gave them before ultimately pulling away midway through the second half. That gives you some idea of what they are capable of this season.

The Sycamores are led by senior Jake Odum, one of the best mid-major point guards. Odum didn’t connect on his first field goal until 13 minutes to go in the game. But he was able to do other things on the floor to give ISU a boost (seven boards, five assists, two steals to two turnovers). Gant and Manny Arop combined for 6-of-8 shooting from deep while Khristian Smith and Devonte Brown added production off the bench.

This a team that beat Wichita State on the road and knocked off Creighton last season during conference play. But ISU stumbled losing seven of its last nine games. Once again, this is a dangerous team, and they showed it Sunday afternoon. But can the Sycamores make this noise come late-February/early March?

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.