State Farm Champions Classic - Michigan State v Kentucky

Late Night Snacks: Kentucky, Duke, Arizona and Syracuse all win

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 4 Arizona 66, Drexel 62

Arizona erased a deficit that reached 19 points at the seven minute mark of the first half, using a 25-4 run to regain the lead and a late surge to take control down the stretch. Drexel got terrific play from their back court of Chris Fouch and Frantz Massenat, but the biggest news coming out of this game was that Damion Lee went down with a knee injury midway through the second half. He landed awkwardly on  jump shot and immediately went down, grabbing his knee. Those are the kind of injuries that generally don’t end up well.

Anyway, the Wildcats advance to face No. 6 Duke in the final.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 8 Syracuse won the Maui Invitational, taking home a 74-67 win in the final over No. 18 Baylor. The Orange seem to have hit their stride a bit out in the islands, as C.J. Fair and Jerami Grant both got into a bit of a rhythm offensively. That’s huge considering the fact that a) Trevor Cooney has been shooting the cover off of the ball this season and b) Tyler Ennis has been one of the best possession point guards in the country. As a freshman, he’s got eight turnovers in seven games.

2) Did anyone make more of a statement this week than Dayton? The Flyers wrapped up a terrific Maui Invitational with an 82-64 win over Cal in the third place game. Devon Oliver finished with 21 points in the win, as the Flyers put their name into the conversation for the best team in the Atlantic 10.

3) Jabari Parker went for 27 points on 9-of-12 shooting to lead the No. 6 Blue Devils to a 74-64 win over Alabama to advance to Friday’s final in the Preseason NIT.

STARRED

1) Sam Dekker led the way for No. 10 Wisconsin with 21 points and 12 boards as the Badgers knocked off West Virginia to win the Cancun Challenge.

2) Derrick Marks went for 39 points as Boise State picked up a 98-89 win over Idaho. He was 9-of-13 from the floor, taking 23 free throws.

3) Kevin Pangos went for 34 points as Gonzaga managed to salvage one relevant win in the Maui Invitational, knocking off Arkansas 91-81.

STRUGGLED

1) Trevor Releford played far from his best game in Alabama’s loss to Duke, but his first half? Woof. Zero points, zero assists, zero rebounds, four turnovers and three fouls.

2) James Young played 37 minutes in No. 3 Kentucky’s win over Eastern Michigan. He finished with six points and five assists, shooting 1-for-8 from the floor and 0-6 from three.

3) Andre Hollins finished up a disappointing Maui Invitational with an eight point performance against Chaminade. He averaged 11.0 points and just 1.0 assists in the three games, shooting 32.3% (10-31) from the floor and 27.8% (5-18) from three.

NOTABLES

  • Kelsey Barlow had 38 points on 8-for-11 shooting, adding eight boards and five assists as Illinois-Chicago beat Wagner.
  • Dwayne Evans had 21 points as St. Louis beat Old Dominion.
  • James Woodard finished with 24 points, hitting the game-winning three with eight seconds left as Tulsa beat Indiana State.

Duke, Cincinnati lead Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.

Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.

The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.

The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.