Late Night Snacks: Villanova, Harvard win in-season tournament titles

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GAME OF THE DAY: Villanova 88, No. 23 Iowa 83 (OT) 

James Bell scored 20 points to lead four players in double figures as Villanova came back from 15 down to beat Iowa in the Battle 4 Atlantis title game. The win caps a very good three-day run in The Bahamas for Jay Wright’s team, but the same can be said in defeat for Fran McCaffery’s Hawkeyes. Roy Devyn Marble led Iowa with 24 points, and they’ve got another big one on Tuesday as Notre Dame visits Iowa City as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 2 Kansas 67, UTEP 63: By no means was it pretty, but at the very least the Jayhawks managed to leave The Bahamas with a 2-1 mark. Perry Ellis led the way with 19 points and seven rebounds, and it’s clear that this young group has a lot to work on. Andrew Wiggins scored just six points, but he’s got teammates capable of picking up the slack offensively. The question: will he be willing to take over when he’s needed to in the bigger games that lie ahead of Kansas?

2) Pittsburgh 84, Duquesne 67: Pittsburgh capped a 3-0 week with a solid win over city rival Duquesne on Saturday afternoon. And in veterans Lamar Patterson and Cameron Wright head coach Jamie Dixon has two of the most improved players in the country. Patterson finished the game with 18 points, eight rebound, six assists and five steals, with Wright accounting for 20 points, five rebounds and five assists.

3) Ole Miss 79, Penn State 76: The Rebels moved to 6-0 on the season with their win over the Nittany Lions, and the key thing to take out of the 2-0 weekend in Brooklyn is the fact that it wasn’t “The Marshall Henderson Show.” He certainly received his fair share of the publicity, but against Penn State both Jarvis Summers (19 points) and Derrick Millinghaus (14) reached double figures as well. And if Ole Miss is to make a run at a second consecutive NCAA tournament bid they’ll need multiple offensive options to step up.

STARRED: 

1) Prince Okoroh (Howard): Okoroh’s Bison fell 84-79 in overtime to William & Mary but he was outstanding, shooting 15-for-19 from the field and 9-for-10 from the foul line in scoring 40 points to go along with six rebounds.

2) Kyle Collinsworth (BYU): Collinsworth may have scored just seven points in the Cougars’ 85-74 win over Utah State, but he also accounted for 13 rebounds and eight assists.

3) Jordan Aaron (Milwaukee): 33 points (10-for-14 FG, 7-for-10 3PT) in the Panthers’ 84-79 win over Kansas City.

STRUGGLED: 

1) Xavier: The Musketeers’ 84-78 loss to USC in the seventh place game of the Battle 4 Atlantis capped an 0-3 weekend in The Bahamas, exactly the kind of hit Chris Mack’s team couldn’t afford to take from a resume standpoint.

2) San Francisco’s three-point shooters: The Dons shot 4-for-27 from beyond the arc in their 90-76 loss to Illinois State. Inside of the arc Rex Walters’ team shot 27-for-35 (77.1%).

3) TCU: The Horned Frogs were never in it against Harvard, shooting from the 25% field in the 71-50 defeat.

TOP 25 SCORES: 

  • No. 2 Kansas 67, UTEP 63
  • No. 14 Oregon 91, North Dakota 76
  • Villanova 88, No. 23 Iowa 83 (OT)

NOTABLES: 

  • 6-foot-4 guard Mike Anderson led six players in double figures with 19 points (and 16 rebounds) as Washington held off Long Beach State 92-89 in double overtime.
  • On the day that Georgetown announced Greg Whittington’s dismissal from the program the Hoyas put together a solid second half in their 70-49 win over Lipscomb. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivers led the way with 17 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.
  • Harvard took care of business at the Great Alaska Shootout, beating TCU in the title game 71-50. The three wins in Anchorage won’t do much for the Crimson when it comes to a possible NCAA tournament resume, but they avoided the loss that would look really bad come March.
  • Matt Carlino and Tyler Haws combined to score 39 points in BYU’s 85-74 win over Utah State. But it would be wise to not overlook the contributions of some members of the supporting cast, including Eric Mika and Kyle Collinsworth.
  • Kendall Williams went on a personal 8-0 run late in New Mexico’s 73-66 win over San Diego. Williams finished with 28 points and Alex Kirk added 21.
  • Justin Anderson scored 23 points in 23 minutes to help lead Virginia to an 83-63 win over Missouri State that wasn’t all that close. Next up for the Cavaliers is a home game against Wisconsin on Wednesday, and a win would do wonders for their resume.
  • St. John’s rebounded from a sluggish first half to beat Georgia Tech, 69-58, and they’ve got their pressure defense to thank for it.

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.