Shabazz Napier

Late Night Snacks: Shabazz Napier leads UConn over Indiana at Madison Square Garden

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 18 UConn 59, Indiana 58

Shabazz Napier had what turned out to be the game-winning bucket, but made key plays down the stretch to secure the one-point win over the young Indiana Hoosier team on Friday night in the title game of the 2K Sports Classic inside The World’s Most Famous Arena. The lead was never larger than seven and despite Napier’s heroics down the stretch, the Hoosiers still had the ball for one last chance, though they could not get a shot off.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

No. 14 Michigan 82, Florida State 80: The Wolverines were coming off a road loss to Iowa State on Sunday and rebounded from a 16-point second half deficit against a confident Florida State team to pull off an overtime win and advance to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off final.

UMass 81, No. 19 New Mexico 65: The Minutemen not only have a pretty good resume early in the season, they also made their best case for a spot in next week’s top-25 after taking down New Mexico. Four starters for UMass scored in double figures with Cady Lalanne posting his third triple double.

Oklahoma 86, Seton Hall 85: Oklahoma State and Kanas, can go No. 1 and 2 in the Big 12. Then there is Iowa State and Baylor. The Sooners are floating in the middle of the pack in the Big 12. But this young Oklahoma team showed some fight, overcoming a seven-point deficit with a minute to play. Sooners could pull one of those same upsets during conference play.

STARRED:

1) Shabazz Napier: Madison Square Garden is becoming a familiar stage for the UConn leader. Napier scored 27 points, five rebound and three steals to lead the Huskies over the Hoosiers.

2) Nik Stauskas: The Michigan sophomore scored 23 of his career-high 26 points in the second half and overtime. His dunk sparked the comeback, and layup with seconds remaining in overtime forced overtime.

3a) Kyle Anderson: The UCLA point forward posted a triple-double on Friday night in an 81-70 win over Morehead State. Anderson dropped 13 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and dished out 11 assists.

3b) Adreian Payne: Payne finished with 20 points, six rebounds and one block … in the first half. The Michigan State big man scored 29 points and 10 rebounds in the Spartans win over Virginia Tech in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

STRUGGLED:

1) Washington defense: The Boston College offense basically did whatever it wanted, shooting 56 percent from the field and 44 percent from behind the arc. The Eagles back court of Joe Rahon and Olivier Hanlon combined for 42 points off 15-of-25 shooting.

2) No. 19 New Mexico: Tough turnaround for the Lobos. New Mexico had to go up against a fast, talented UMass team after an emotional double-overtime win over UAB less than 24 hours before. Kendall Williams and Cullen Neal combined for 13 of New Mexico’s turnovers.

3) Noah Vonleh: The Indiana freshman deserves to be in the conversation with the likes of Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Julius Randle and Aaron Gordon. But the 6-foot-9 IU big man was saddled with foul trouble, logging only 10 minutes, scoring zero points and grabbing two boards. He posted double-doubles in the first four games, so don’t expect Friday’s stat line to appear again.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • Top-ranked Michigan State, led by a big first half by Adreian Payne and took down Virginia Tech 96-77 and will play Oklahoma.
  • Andrew Wiggins had 16 points and seven boards in No. 2 Kansas’ 88-58 win over Towson
  • VCU took a good beating from Florida State on Thursday. On Friday night, the Rams trailed almost midway through the second half to Long Beach State before using an 11-0 run to take the lead.
  • No. 22 UCLA held off Morehead State behind the guard play of Jordan Adams (30 points) and Kyle Anderson (triple-double).

NOTABLES

  • Clemson and UMass meet in the Charleston Classic final on Sunday after the Tigers knocked off Davidson behind 22 points from K.J. McDaniels.
  • Charlotte advanced past Northeastern into the Puerto Rico Tip-Off final against Michigan.
  • Kris Dunn led the charge in Providence’s come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt in the Paradise Jam quarterfinal.
  • Alex Kirk had a career day with 32 points and 11 boards in a loss to the Minutemen
  • Jarell Martin made his return to the floor for LSU after being sidelined since the opening minute against UMass on Nov. 12. The five-star freshman played 16 minutes and went for seven points and a rebound.
  • Eastern Washington defeated Patriot League favorite Boston University 80-68.
  • Will Cummings drilled a three with seven seconds remaining to give Temple an 83-81 win over Georgia.
  • Georgetown had four starters in double figures in a 90-63 win over Kansas State. Hoyas coming off a loss to Northeastern the day before.
  • JerShon Cobb’s runner with 2.3 seconds to play gave Northwestern a 63-61 win over IUPUI.
  • Jordan McRae dropped 25 points in Tennessee’s 88-67 win over Tennessee State.

Duke knocks off No. 13 Louisville in first game of critical four-game stretch

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Grayson Allen scored 16 of his 19 points in the first half and Brandon Ingram added 18 points, 10 boards and four assists as Duke picked up a critical win over No. 13 Louisville in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Monday night, 72-65.

A call this a critical win for the Blue Devils because it kicks off what may be the most important two-week stretch of Duke’s schedule This weekend, the Blue Devils square off with No. 9 Virginia. Next Wednesday, they’re at the Dean Dome to take on No. 7 North Carolina. Four days after that, they head to the Bluegrass State to pay a visit to Louisville.

 

With the way that Duke has been struggling on the defensive end of the floor without Amile Jefferson, that’s a stretch that could derail Duke’s season; entering Monday, all four of those games were losable. But a four-game winning streak — or even going 3-1 in that stretch — could completely change the tenor of what has been a fairly disappointing year for the defending champs, and that’s before they get Jefferson back to 100 percent.

And the difference was defensively, at least in the first half.

I’ve written in this space a number of times about how opponents know what they’re going to get from Duke defensively. Coach K, traditionally, plays half court man-to-man defense, switching every exchange — ball-screen, off-ball pick or simply when two players run by one another — that doesn’t involve the center. In recent years, he’s played some zone in situations where he defense has struggled or, like this season, when he doesn’t have the depth to risk foul trouble. We’ve even seen some 2-2-1 pressure from him of late.

But on Monday night, Duke played straight man-to-man for much of the game, and in the first half, it seemed to fluster the Cardinals. They scored just 24 points in the first 20 minutes, and while Louisville did find a way to break Duke down defensively in the second half — they shot better than 55 percent from the floor after the break — but part of the reason Duke was able to win this game was the lead they built. After a three from Allen opened scoring in the second half, the Blue Devils were up by 14, and while Louisville made a run down the stretch, they could never get control of the game.

Duke is becoming appointment viewing for basketball nerds like me that pay too much attention to X’s-and-O’s to see what kind of wrinkle Coach K is going to put in to try and compensate defensively, so I’m not sure that this performance sticks. But it is worth noting that this was the first time in eight games the Blue Devils gave up less than 1.0 PPP, and the first time since Dec. 19th they did so against an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

As far as Louisville is concerned, you have to tip your hat to those kids. They played their hearts out and fought back from a big deficit in one of the toughest places in the country to play. They did all that three days after their school ripped their hearts out with an NCAA tournament ban for this season.

So good for them. You never know how a team is going to react to something like that, but the Cardinal players showed that they have some serious fight in them.

Iowa State’s starting center Jameel McKay remains suspended

Iowa State forward Jameel McKay celebrates on the court at the end of an NCAA college basketball game against Oklahoma, Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. Iowa State won 82-77. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Steve Prohm announced on Monday that starting center Jameel McKay will not be in the lineup on Wednesday when the Cyclones take on Texas Tech.

“He’ll practice today because I want him in practice,” Prohm said, “but game-wise, he’s suspended.”

McKay did not make the trip to Stillwater with the team on Saturday, where Iowa State beat Oklahoma State, 64-59. Prohm has not gotten into specifics regarding the cause of McKay’s suspension, but it’s reportedly an issue with the way he has been practicing. McKay is dealing with a nagging knee injury, which may play a role in the situation as well.

“My hope is he’ll be with us on Saturday,” Prohm said.