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Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Memphis and Oklahoma State meet in Old Spice Classic title game

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 Oklahoma State vs. No. 21 Memphis (7:30 p.m., ESPN2)

Twelve days ago, Marcus Smart went off for a career-high 39 points, reasserting his place in the player of the year conversation, in Oklahoma State’s 101-80 rout of Memphis. The Cowboys and Tigers meet in the Old Spice Classic title game on Sunday night. In the semifinals, the Cowboys held on to defeat Butler with a blocked shot from Michael Cobbins. The Tigers hung tough and erased a second half deficit to defeat LSU to help set up Sunday’s rematch.

Does Marcus Smart go off on Memphis again? Or does Josh Pastner and his Tigers win the big game and silence critics?

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: No. 25 Marquette vs. San Diego State (9:30 p.m., ESPN2)

San Diego State looks to close out the Wooden Legacy with its second consecutive win over a top 25 team. On Friday night, the Aztecs jumped out to an early lead and prevented a comeback attempt to knock off No. 20 Creighton. Marquette previously lost to Ohio State and on the road against Arizona State. Sunday night’s game is made more important with a game against Wisconsin next weekend.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 12 Wichita State vs. Saint Louis (1 p.m., CBSSN)

It’s going to be a defensive battle between the Shockers and Billikens. Wichita State is coming off a CBE Classic win over BYU, holding the Cougars to 62 points. Wichita State will have to face a tough defense of its own against a Saint Louis team that is forcing opponents to shoot less than 40 percent from the field. Emotions will be high inside Chaifetz Arena as the Billikens will honor Rick Majerus, who died one-year ago today.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Iona vs. Florida Gulf Coast (2 p.m., ESPN3)

Both these teams qualified for the NCAA tournament last season — being slate as No. 15 seeds — and each team is projected to contend in their respective conferences again this season. Iona comes in a .500 while Florida Gulf Coast suffered its second loss of the season against North Carolina State on Tuesday.

FOUR THINGS TO KNOW: 

1) LSU lost to UMass during the Tip-Off Marathon and then again to Memphis on Friday. The Tigers are matched up with Butler in the Old Spice Classic third-place game. Sunday afternoon offers another opportunity for LSU to land a quality out-of-conference victory.

2) Two weeks ago, Belmont went into Chapel Hill and shocked the Tar Heels. The Bruins host another challenging opponent in VCU on Sunday, as Havoc tries to get back on track after two losses in Puerto Rico last week.

3) Kentucky’s December schedule features games against Baylor, Boise State, North Carolina, Belmont and Louisville. The Wildcats kick off the month against Providence at the Barclays Center.

4) North Carolina has had an up-and-down two weeks. Tar Heels lost to Belmont at home then struggled against Richmond before coming back and dominating Louisville. UNC is back in action on Sunday against a solid UAB team. Following Sunday’s game, North Carolina prepares for No. 1 Michigan State on Wednesday night in East Lansing.

THE TOP 25: 

  • Providence vs. No. 3 Kentucky (8:30 p.m.)
  • Coppin State vs. No. 11 Gonzaga (8 p.m.)
  • Cal Poly vs. No. 14 Oregon (10 p.m., Pac-12 Network)
  • No. 16 North Carolina vs. UAB (6 p.m.)
  • Hardin-Simmons vs. No. 16 Baylor (3 p.m.)
  • George Washington vs. No. 20 Creighton (6:30 p.m., ESPNU)

NOTABLES: 

  • Cornell vs. Notre Dame (1 p.m., ESPN3)
  • Fairleigh Dickinson vs. Seton Hall (2 p.m., Fox Sports 1)
  • Stephen F. Austin vs. High Point (2 p.m.)
  • Norfolk State vs. LIU Brooklyn (2 p.m.)
  • Butler vs. LSU (2 p.m., ESPNU)
  • Miami (FL) vs. Arizona State (2 p.m., ESPN3)
  • Oregon State vs. DePaul (4 .m., Fox Sports 1)
  • VCU vs. Belmont (5 p.m., ESPN3)

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

Screen Shot 2016-08-23 at 7.21.45 PM
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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”

Rutgers land 7-foot grad transfer from UNC Wilmington

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Brandon Ingram #14 of the Duke Blue Devils drives to the basket as he is defended by C.J. Gettys #23 of the North Carolina-Wilmington Seahawks in the second half of their game during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Rutgers landed a commitment from seven-footer C.J. Gettys on Monday night.

Gettys is a graduate transfer from UNC-Wilmington, where he averaged 5.3 points, 5.1 boards and 1.4 blocks for a team that reached the NCAA tournament. Gettys is a slow-footed back-to-the-basket player, however, and that didn’t exactly fit with the way that UNCW head coach Kevin Keatts likes to play; think Shaka Smart’s VCU teams.

So Gettys opted for Rutgers, picking the Scarlet Knights over Dayton, Purdue and Chattanooga.

He is the fifth member of new head coach Steve Pikiell’s first recruiting class.

VIDEO: Seventh Woods dunks on UNC student

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Some poor UNC student decided that he was going to try and block Seventh Woods, a freshman point guard for the Tar Heels, on a dunk attempt.

What ended up happening was that he got windmilled on.

To quote Samuel L. Jackson, as portrayed the great philosopher Dave Chappelle, “You ain’t never seen my movies?” Woods was doing this as a freshman … in HIGH SCHOOL.

Former National Player of the Year Michael Brooks dies at 58

Brooks for All-American Brochure
Courtesy La Salle Athletics
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A Philadelphia basketball legend and a former National Player of the Year passed away on Monday night.

Michael Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward who was named the NABC National Player of the Year in 1980, died in Switzerland on Monday night due to a massive stroke, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He was just 58 years old.

Brooks finished his career with 2,628 points and 1,372 rebounds. He never averaged less than 20 points in his four seasons in college. (Think about that for a second.) He was the No. 9 pick in the 1980 NBA Draft and averaged double-figures for four years before season-ending knee injuries sent him to Europe to play. Brooks was also named the captain of the 1980 Olympic team that missed out on the Moscow games due to the USA’s boycott.

Brooks, according to the Inquirer, had aplastic anemia, which required him to receive a bone marrow transplant last week. His body rejected the marrow, which resulted in the strokes that ended his life.

UCLA cruises in opener on Australian tour

UCLA head coach Steve Alford, second from right, watches action against Cal Poly with his assistant coaches in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Los Angeles, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Baker)
AP Photo/Michael Baker
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UCLA, who will be the most interesting team in all of college basketball this season, played their first game of an Australian tour on Tuesday morning, and they won in pretty impressive fashion.

The Bruins had triple digits on the board early in the fourth quarter, eventually beating a club in Sydney by the score of 123-76. For comparison’s sake, Washington and potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz beat the same team 101-80 a couple of weeks ago, so the win and the margin of victory is somewhat impressive.

Also worth noting: None of UCLA’s freshmen started. Steve Alford rolled with Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton on the perimeter — Holiday and Hamilton combined for 27 points, 18 assists and 11 boards while Alford had 17 points on just 10 shots — with G.G. Golomon and Thomas Welsh up front.

But the noteworthy performances here were from the McDonald’s All-Americans that Steve Alford brought into the program. In his first game in the blue and gold, Lonzo Ball, a potential top ten pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was just OK. He finished with nine points and four assists while shooting 3-for-9 from the floor. Leaf, however, was terrific, as he led the team with 21 points to go along with nine boards and three assists.

The first exhibition game is hardly a great way to predict how a season is going to play out, but given the pressure and expectations currently surrounding the program, everything the Bruins do this season is going to be scrutinized.

This isn’t a bad way to start.