Villanova shocks No. 2 Kansas in Battle 4 Atlantis semifinal (VIDEO)

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Villanova isn’t as talented as Kansas. In fact, Kansas will almost assuredly have a better season than Villanova. But, tonight in The Bahamas, Villanova was the better team — they were the tougher team.

Ryan Arcidiacono was nearly invisible for the entire game, but in the final minute he drilled the biggest shot of his young career — a corner three right in front of his team’s bench to put the Wildcats up 61-59. James Bell then hit two free throws in the final seconds to seal the game for Villanova, winning 63-59.

Dylan Ennis was Villanova’s best offensive player, despite coming off the bench and taking only five shots — he was 4-5 from the field, 3-3 on 3PT, and 3-4 from the line, totaling 14 points.

A quick look at the box score shows an ugly game. Both teams shot below 40% from the field and below 70% from the free throw line. Villanova won this game by being tougher and more physical than Kansas; they out-rebounded the Jayhawks and their talented frontcourt 43 to 34.

All things considered, Villanova wasn’t overly impressive in the sense that their offensive play was very pedestrian. What they did, however, was make Kansas very uncomfortable throughout the game with their physical play on defense and on the boards. Essentially, they frustrated Kansas, and the Jayhawks didn’t respond like the No. 2 team in the country should have.

Andrew Wiggins struggled all night as he scored just ten points on 3-8 shooting from the field and 4-7 from the free throw line. Furthermore, he committed four turnovers. There is no doubting Wiggins’ talent, but this isn’t the first time that he has looked too passive on the floor. Credit Villanova’s defense for that as Wiggins and others were never able to get in a rhythm offensively.

How concerned should Kansas be with the result? Well, how concerned should Duke be with their near loss at home against Vermont? What about Kentucky’s unimpressive performance against Cleveland State? Michigan State’s performance against Columbia? Granted, these were all wins for Duke, Kentucky, and Michigan State, but they exposed weaknesses. We are not even into December yet, so it should come as no surprise that some of the nation’s top teams have had their weaknesses exposed.

Kansas will learn from this loss to Villanova — a team that is hardly any slouch, is now 6-0, and a likely Top 25 team in next week’s poll — and make the necessary adjustments. What is of potential concern is that Kansas was “out-toughed” tonight against Villanova. There are some very talented teams who lack that “it” factor. It is still far too early to be questioning Kansas’ toughness and will to win, but it was obvious that Villanova seemed to want this game more than Kansas.

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.