Late Night Snacks: Sunday’s excitement wasn’t just on the gridiron

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 24 North Carolina 93, No. 3 Louisville 84

The Tar Heels got a career-high 32 points out of Marcus Paige and 13 points, 12 boards and seven assists from Kennedy Meeks as they ran over Louisville despite 36 points from Russ Smith. This win would have been impressive regardless of situation, but it was all the more impressive due to the issues that UNC had entering the game. Namely, everyone had written this group off. Guess they proved us wrong, eh?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 6 Duke 91, Vermont 90

The Catamounts went shot-for-shot with the Blue Devils on Sunday night in Cameron, a thriller that featured about as much defense as you’ll find in the last game of over-30 pickup. Vermont shot 64.9% from the floor and scored 1.424 PPP. That’s not good. The game came to a thrilling end, as the final seconds featured a four-point play for the Cats, a free throw from Rodney Hood and UVM dribbling out the clock to end the game without getting off a shot to win the game.

THE OTHER BUZZER-BEATER: Florida State 62, Northeastern 60

Devon Bookert hit a fadeaway 10-footer with 0.5 seconds left to give the Seminoles the win over the Huskies and a 2-1 record in a tournament where Leonard Hamilton’s club made a statement.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Charlotte came to Puerto Rico as an afterthought, but thanks to Terrence Williams, who tipped in his own miss with 0.4 seconds left, the 49ers left San Juan with a title in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Sunday’s win came over No. 14 Michigan, which should, in theory, be a marquee win come tournament time. The concern here for Michigan isn’t the loss; it’s injuries to Glenn Robinson III (back) and Nik Stauskas (ankle).

2) Georgetown managed to get out of Puerto Rico without a complete disaster as they picked up an 84-80 win over No. 10 VCU to win the fifth-place game. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks combined for 49 points, and while VCU forced 26 turnovers, they had the same issues as they did against Florida State: 35% shooting while allowing Georgetown to shoot 56%.

3) Colorado rallied from a 14 point second half deficit to knock off Harvard, 70-62, and hand the Crimson their first loss of the season. Spencer Dinwiddie led four scorers in double-figures with 17 points.

STARRED

1) Cady Lalanne finished with 20 points and 12 boards to lead UMass to a 62-56 win over Clemson in the final of the Charleston Classic. Chaz Williams is the Minutemen’s superstar, but Lalanne may be their best player to date.

2) Stony Brook’s Jameel Warney finished with 32 points and 21 boards (11 offensive) in a 104-102 win in triple overtime over Detroit. He was 13-for-14 from the floor. Warney scored at the end of the second overtime to tie the game and won the game with five seconds left in triple-overtime.

3) Tyler Harris got a career-high 22 points to go along with nine boards to lead Providence to a win over La Salle in the final of the Paradise Jam.

STRUGGLED

1) Long Beach State shot 11-for-56 from the floor in a loss to Kansas State. That’s 19.6%. The were 4-for-32 in the first half, or 12.5%. Not good.

2) Georgia lost. Again. This time to Nebraska, 73-65. They went 0-3 in the Charleston Classic and now sit at 1-4 on the season. Not a great start to the season for Mark Fox.

3) After scoring 66 points in the first two games of the Charleston Classic, Chester Frazier went 3-for-13 from the floor as UAB lost to Temple, 87-66, in the fifth-place game.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Elgin Cook had 18 points and six boards off the bench to lead No. 17 Oregon to a 100-82 win over San Francisco.
  • No. 19 New Mexico’s Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk continued their strong play with 34 points, 21 boards, eight assists and three blocks in a 79-58 win over Davidson.
  • No. 22 UCLA got 22 points from Jordan Adams and 17 points, 10 boards and seven assists from Kyle Anderso in a 106-65 over Chattanooga.

NOTABLES

  • Troy Huff had 32 points and 10 boards as North Dakota whipped up on their in-state rival North Dakota State, who got 34 points from Taylor Braun.
  • Evan Smotrycz had 20 points and nine boards for Maryland in a win over Northern Iowa.
  • 32 points, 13 assists and 10 steals from Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant will do a lot for a team like Notre Dame.
  • Justin Drummond led four scorers in double-figures with 23 points to lead Toledo to a 6-0 record with a win over Florida Atlantic.
  • D.J. Newbill’s 23 points, nine boards and seven assists led Penn State to a 93-67 win over Longwood.
  • Kerry Carter led St. Mary’s with 15 points in a win over Alcorn State.
  • Amric Fields had 16 points off the bench to lead TCU to a win over Washington State.
  • Mo Watson had 16 points, six assists, four boards and four steals to lead BU to a win over LIU.
  • Trae Golden went for 20 points and seven assists to lead Georgia Tech to a 78-71 win over North Carolina A&T.

4-star center commits to Purdue

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With Vince Edwards and Isaac Haas entering their senior seasons, adding front court options in the 2018 class was something that Purdue needed to do. Purdue added its second front court commitment in the 2018 class Tuesday evening, as four-star center Emmanuel Dowuona reportedly made his pledge. News of Dowuona’s commitment was first reported by the Lafayette Journal & Courier.

Dowuona, a 6-foot-11 big man who attends Westwood Christian School in Miami, joins fellow four-star prospect Trevion Williams in Purdue’s 2018 class to date.

Dowuona’s commitment comes just days before he was reportedly to visit Tennessee. Among the other programs to have offered Duwuona were Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami and UConn.

Dowuona played for the Team Breakdown program on the Under Armour Association circuit during the summer, averaging 7.9 points, 7.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 59.3 percent from the field. While still a bit raw offensively, the native of Ghana provides value as a defender and rebounder. Dowuona is joining a program that during Painter’s tenure as head coach has done a good job of developing big men.

Dowuona and the aforementioned Williams will look to compete for playing time in 2018-19 alongside current redshirt junior Jacquil Taylor and 7-foot-3 redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms.

Dayton freshman Toppin ineligible for 2017-18 season

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Dayton announced Tuesday afternoon that one of the program’s incoming freshmen will not be eligible to compete this season. 6-foot-8 forward Obadiah Toppin has been ruled by the NCAA to have not met initial eligibility requirements, and he will have to sit out the 2017-18 season as a result.

Toppin will be allowed to remain a member of the team and participate in practices, and he will have four seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2018-19 season. While the NCAA’s decision leaves the Flyers short a front court option in head coach Anthony Grant’s first season at the helm, it did not come as a surprise.

“We knew this was a possible scenario for Obi early on in the recruiting process,” Grant said in the release. “And if it came to pass, we saw this as a chance for him to utilize this year acclimate as a student and enhance his strength and skill as an academic redshirt. This is a great opportunity for Obi to develop as a player and student over the next 12 months, and prepare himself for a very successful college career.”

Toppin, who averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game at Mt. Zion Academy last season, is one of five freshmen who have joined the program. Matej Svoboda and Jordan Pierce will look to earn minutes alongside returnees Josh Cunningham and Xeyrius Williams, and the same can be said for redshirt freshman Kostas Antetokounmpo.

Toppin being declared ineligible is the third hit Dayton has taken to its front court this offseason. Ryan Mikesell, who played in 32 games last season, will redshirt after undergoing two hip surgeries. And Sam Miller, who was also part of the team’s front court rotation last season, was suspended from school for the fall semester after he was arrested during the summer.

Four-star forward commits to Ohio State

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Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.

In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.

With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.

Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.

With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.

Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.

The Pac-12 is foolish for scheduling Arizona-UCLA once during the regular season

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Last month, I wrote about one of the more troubling trends in college basketball: Teams steering away from playing the games that fans are going to care about the most.

It was the result of Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing stating publicly that he was “not thinking about Maryland” after the rivalry between the DMV’s two most well-known programs went by the wayside.

Ewing isn’t the only coach that is culpable here. Kansas and Missouri don’t play. Kansas and Wichita State don’t play, either. Duke and Maryland don’t play. Ohio State doesn’t play Cincinnati, Xavier or Dayton. It goes on and on.

But the blame can no longer only be given to the coaches that schedule to protect themselves and/or their program.

The conferences deserve some criticism as well. Take, for instance, the Pac-12, who released their schedule recently after deciding that Arizona, a contender for the preseason No. 1 team in the country, should only play UCLA and USC, the only two teams that have a realistic chance of upending the Wildcats for the Pac-12 crown, once apiece.

Not only that, but the games will be played in Tucson, an incredible advantage for Sean Miller’s club as they pursue the league’s regular season title.

Look, I get it. There are 12 teams in the league and there is an 18-game schedule. Each team in the league is going to play four of their 11 league foes just once. It’s simple math. But the answer should never, ever be to schedule the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once.

The reasoning is simple: Arizona and UCLA are the two biggest brands in the league. When they play it will draw more interest than when any other two teams in the conference play, and that’s something the conference should be trying to capitalize on. It takes a lot to convince anyone on the east coast to stay up to watch a Pac-12 basketball game. I cover this sport for a living and I have a hard time making it all the way through a 10 p.m. ET tip. When a two-year old is going to be screaming at me to make breakfast at 6:30 a.m., do I really want to stay up to watch Arizona blow out Washington or UCLA to beat up on Cal?

The Pac-12 should do everything they can to ensure that Arizona and UCLA play twice every season.

That is even more true this year. Arizona might be the best team in the country and they might have the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft on their roster in Deandre Ayton. UCLA is a top 15 team that just so happens to have Liangelo Ball, the worst of the three Ball brothers and potentially the last one to matriculate through the college ranks. The seemingly inevitable LaVar Ball blow-up is something we all will be watching patiently to see.

Should I mention the simmering hatred between Sean Miller and Steve Alford as they continually compete for the best prospects on the west coast?

And that’s before you factor in that USC is the second-best team in the league, and anyone that UCLA plays twice, USC will also play twice.

I’ll be sure to watch a number of Oregon games this season, and I think that Stanford, Oregon State and Colorado all have the pieces to sneak up on some people this year. I’ll be sure to check in on them a couple times as well.

But the games that I’ll have circled on my calendar, the games I’ll be excited about watching, are between Arizona, UCLA and USC.

By scheduling the Arizona schools and the Southern California schools just once during the regular season, the Pac-12 cost themselves a third of that inventory.

That doesn’t seems like the smartest way to run a business conference.

But hey, if conference realignment and the development of conference-only networks taught us anything, it’s that major college athletics are all about competitive balance over those advertising dollars.

Vanderbilt lands commitment from Aaron Nesmith

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Vanderbilt landed their first commitment in the Class of 2018 with four-star wing Aaron Nesmith.

Nesmith is a native of South Carolina, and the Commodores beat out South Carolina for his services. At 6-foot-6, Nesmith is the kind of defensive presence and athlete that Vandy will need to replace Jeff Roberson, who will be graduating this season.

This is a critical class for Bryce Drew, who is squarely in the mix for five-star guards Darius Garland and Romeo Langford. Nesmith isn’t on that level, but he will be a nice piece for Vandy for four years.