No. 19 New Mexico escapes but will need to be better defending dribble penetration against UMass (VIDEO)

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Entering this weekend’s Charleston Classic as the lone ranked team in the event, the New Mexico Lobos are the team many expect to leave with the trophy on Sunday evening. But the Lobos ran into trouble in the form of the UAB Blazers, whose ability to attack the basket off the dribble in the second half had UNM squarely on the ropes in the game’s final seconds.

But a Kendall Williams runner from about 30 feet out forced overtime and an Alex Kirk three in the final seconds of the first overtime led to a second extra session, and the end result for the Lobos was a hard-fought 97-94 victory. Williams finished the game with 29 points, ten assists and six rebounds, leading four New Mexico players in double figures. Cameron Bairstow added 21 points before fouling out, and Cleveland Thomas knocked down a couple key shots in the extra sessions to keep the Lobos afloat.

Neither team shot all that well, with UNM making just 34.1% of its shots from the field and UAB slightly better at 37.5%, and on an afternoon that saw the Lobos shoot 8-for-38 from beyond the arc they still managed to outscore UAB by nine points in regards to points off of three-pointers. UAB was able to get some things done off the dribble, which may not be evident given their overall field goal percentage, but this wasn’t a conventional game from a statistical standpoint. And no individual stat line epitomizes this more than that of UAB’s Rod Rucker.

Rucker finished the game with 18 points, 20 rebounds and seven assists, which has the appearance of a Herculean effort at first glance. However Rucker did most of his damage (scoring-wise) from the foul line, as his 12-for-13 effort from the charity stripe offset a 3-for-22 afternoon from the field. UAB was well-positioned to pick up a quality non-conference victory on multiple occasions late, but poor defensive execution (and fouling in the act of shooting) left the door open for the Lobos to steal the game. And as a good team would, New Mexico took advantage of the opportunity.

Next up for New Mexico is UMass, whose guards are more than capable of exploiting the issues the Lobos had defending dribble penetration. It can be argued that this is part of the process in adjusting to the new guidelines regarding freedom of movement, but New Mexico will have to adjust quickly if they’re to beat a UMass team that has already knocked off Boston College and LSU and can certainly use another solid non-conference win for their resume thanks in part to BC’s lackluster start.

New Mexico led the Mountain West in defensive efficiency last season, and with four starters back the pieces are there for them to once again be formidable on that end of the floor. And even though a matchup with UMass could prove problematic, it will help them down the line as they look to win another conference title.

Florida freshman will miss the season with stress fracture

GAINESVILLE, FL - JANUARY 19: Head coach Mike White of the Florida Gators gestures during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on January 19, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Florida freshman forward Dontay Bassett is out for the season with a stress fracture, according to a release from the school.

Bassett will require surgery in his right foot and his projected recovery time will be four-to-six months. The injury will force Bassett to redshirt the 2016-17 season.

A three-star recruit coming out of Oldsmar Christian in Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t expected to be a big contributor during his first year with the Gators, but his loss does hurt some of the team’s frontcourt depth. With John Egbunu, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Kevarrius Hayes all returning, the Gators should have plenty of players to use in the frontcourt this season without Bassett.

Once Bassett is healthy and able to play next season he showed good athleticism and an ability to hit the glass hard while he was in high school. Bassett should be able to join Florida’s rotation as an energy defender and rebounder right away.

Iowa State lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Lindell Wigginton

GREENVILLE, SC- July 9, 2016:  adidas Gauntlet Finale at Upward Stars Center (Jeff Hinds/adidas)
GREENVILLE, SC- July 7, 2016:  adidas Gauntlet Finale at Upward Stars Center (Jeff Hinds/adidas)
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Iowa State has its point guard of the future as four-star Class of 2017 prospect Lindell Wigginton pledged to the Cyclones on Friday.

The 6-foot-1 Wigginton is regarded as the No. 40 overall prospect on Rivals.com as the Canadian has spent the last few seasons at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. With an ability to play both guard spots and defend a few spots, Wigginton is a valuable addition to head coach Steve Prohm’s ballclub as Wigginton could help replace Monte Morris after he exhausts his eligibility.

Wigginton is going to need to improve his consistency on his perimeter jumper, but he’s a good pull-up scorer who can make plays for himself or others off the bounce. Iowa State’s Class of 2017 recruiting haul now includes Wigginton, four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star guard Darius McNeill.

This commitment is huge for Prohm as Wigginton is the most highly-regarded recruit that he has landed with the Cyclones. With Prohm’s point guard history with guys like Isaiah Canaan at Murray State and Monte Morris now with Iowa State, Prohm did a nice job of finding his next young guard to mold for the future.

Davidson star Jack Gibbs to miss a few weeks with shoulder injury

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11:  Jack Gibbs #12 of the Davidson Wildcats celebrates a basket against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the Quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 11, 2016 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Davidson senior guard Jack Gibbs is one of the most under-the-radar players in college basketball as he will be among the nation’s leading offensive threats this season if he’s healthy.

But health is going to be a question for the 6-foot-1 guard as Gibbs is dealing with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 2-to-3 weeks, according to head coach Bob McKillop. McKillop told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that tests came back negative for Gibbs and he’s expected to be back for the Wildcats’ season-opener. The injury for Gibbs occurred during Thursday’s Davidson practice.

As a junior, Gibbs averaged 23.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as he became one of the nation’s premier offensive players.  Gibbs is going to be a huge key for Davidson this season as he needs to be healthy in order for the Wildcats to make it back to the NCAA tournament.


VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. electrifies N.C. State fans at team’s scrimmage

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N.C. State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. excited fans with some absurd plays at the team’s Primetime with the Pack event last night.

The highly-touted, five-star prospect is the most electric prospect to come to the Wolfpack in years and Smith had the crowd buzzing with some highlight-reel dunks during the team’s 20-minute scrimmage.

Smith made one teammate look silly by putting it between his legs and throwing down a vicious dunk during one play while he also threw an alley-oop to himself to finish another break.

(h/t: Ball is Life)

VIDEO: Kentucky freshman Malik Monk throws down vicious dunks during scrimmage

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15:  West Team MVP Malik Monk (L) (Bentonville, AR) in action during the 15th iteration of the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center on April 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
(Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
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Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk is going to be one of the newcomers to keep an eye on this season as the 6-foot-3 Arkansas native is an explosive scorer who packs vicious athleticism.

Monk showed Big Blue Nation some of what they can expect to see during Friday night’s Blue/White Scrimmage as he unleashed a ferocious dunk in some traffic and also had another good dunk in transition. While Monk has great lift off the floor, he also isn’t afraid to cock the ball back and put some authority on his dunks. He’s going to be a ton of fun to watch this season.