Shabazz Napier

Late Night Snacks: UConn and Florida go down to the wire

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 12 UConn 65, No. 15 Florida 64

Duh.

Shabazz Napier knocked in two ridiculous clutch shots, including a buzzer-beater in which he went 1-for-2 on the trip, in UConn’s 65-64 win over Florida.

It was a tremendous back-and-forth early-season clash of top-15 teams, and although there were a few too many turnovers, there was a lot of high-level play from both sides when the game went to crunch time.

Florida lost a tough one, but I also wrote about what there is to like about the Gators after the one-point road loss to a tough opponent like UConn.

CBT’s Rob Dauster also asked how good UConn really is at this point.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Texas 70, Vanderbilt 64

This one got really interesting in the final minutes as Vanderbilt cut a 13-point second-half deficit to one with under a minute remaining, but the Longhorns held on and pulled off the home win in the Big 12-SEC Challenge.

You can read more on the Longhorns in this one with my take on CBT here.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Oklahoma had all five starters finish in double-figures as the Sooners improved to 6-1 (5-0 at home) with a 96 to 82 win over Mercer. Ryan Spangler led the way as the sophomore forward put up 20 points and 13 rebounds.

2) Georgia continued to climb back towards .500 with a home blowout of Chattanooga 87-56. The Bulldogs are 3-4 now on the season and got 14 first-half bench points from junior forward Nemanja Djurisic as Georgia went 14 deep for at least seven minutes of playing time. Can this effort help propel Georgia to play more consistently?

3) California picked up a 73-56 home win over UC Irvine as center David Kravish went for 19 points and 10 rebounds and Richard Soloman went for 13 points and eight rebounds. The win helps the Golden Bears bounce back from a 1-2 Maui Invitational.

STARRED

1) West Virginia’s balanced scoring effort led them to a 96-47 thrashing of Loyola (Md.). The Mountaineers held a 62 to 22 advantage on the glass and slowed down Dylon Cormier — the nation’s second leading scorer at 28.1 points per game — to 11 points as he was the only Greyhound in double-figures.

2) SMU scored plenty in their 88-59 win over McNeese State, but the Mustangs only had two double-digit scorers in a balanced effort. Point guard Nic Moore had 15 points and Ben Moore chipped in 12 as 11 players saw double-digit minutes.

3) Loyola Marymount picked up a nice road win over UC Riverside. The Lions are now 6-2 and 3-1 on the young season and Gabe Levin had 13 points and 14 rebounds while Anthony Ireland went for a team-high 16 points.

STRUGGLED

1) Wright State, a preseason favorite in the Horizon League, is now 5-4 as the Raiders lost to Youngstown State 74-69. Wright State missed the front end of 1-and-1s in the game’s final five minutes.

2) Quinnipiac blew a halftime lead at home and was outscored 37-30 in the second half as they fell to Boston 69-66 on Denzel Irving’s three-pointer with three seconds remaining. Boston moved to 6-2 on the year while Quinnipiac is now 4-2.

3) Western Kentucky trailed by two at the half to Bowling Green on the road but gave up a 15-0 lead early in the second half of a game they never came close to competing in. The Hilltoppers are 4-3 and still seeking their first road win of the year.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 19 Iowa State blew past Auburn 99-60. The Cyclones had 28 assists on the night in the impressive home win.

NOTABLES

  • Seattle junior guard Isiah Umipig had 30 points in a win over UC Davis. The stat-sheet stuffing guard is averaging 18 points, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game this season.
  • Troy needed two overtimes to topple Alcorn State 73-70.

South Carolina’s Sindarius Thornwell suspended

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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South Carolina senior guard Sindarius Thornwell has been suspended indefinitely due to a violation of athletic department policy, the school announced on Sunday.

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.7 boards and 4.1 assists for the Gamecocks, who are undefeated and sitting at No. 20 nationally. Thornwell is the reigning SEC Player of the Week.

South Carolina plays FIU in Columbia at 2:00 p.m. ET.

Melo Trimble’s heroics get him a shout-out from Wale in a song

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Melo Trimble #2 of the Maryland Terrapins celebrates after hitting the game winning shot as they defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 69-68 during the championship game of the Barclays Center Classic at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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For the fourth time in the first three weeks of the college basketball season, Melo Trimble won a game for Maryland.

His two free throws in the final ten seconds gave the Terps a come-from-behind, 71-70 win over Oklahoma State in College Park, and the win not only was the sixth time this season that the Terps have won a game decided by six points or less, it improved Trimble’s record in those games to 26-5.

26-5!

That’s an insane statistic, one that should allow Maryland fans to truly appreciate just how valuable their junior point guard is.

At least one Maryland fan does. Rapper Wale, who hails from Maryland, just outside DC, made sure to name-drop his favorite Terp in a verse in a song he released on Saturday night:

And you better believe that Trimble is aware of it:

"My therapist terrible , I'm uh Terp Melo Trimbling" @wale

A photo posted by Melo Trimble (@olem__) on

Rick Pitino on Grand Canyon: ‘The toughest crowd I’ve ever faced’

Rick Pitino
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Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said after his No. 14 Cardinals struggled to put away a tough Grand Canyon team on the road had some kind – and hyperbolic – words to say about the atmosphere.

“This, in college basketball in my 40 plus year, was the toughest crowd I’ve ever faced,” he said.

Umm, but Rick, you’ve coached in the Big East and the ACC! This was tougher than any of those crowds?

“Whether we go to Duke, Kentucky, nothing was as tough as that crowd tonight,” he said.

Well, now.

That seems like a bit much, but to be fair, the atmosphere there was, shall we say, lit:

POSTERIZED: Charlotte’s Najee Garvin nearly jumpers over defender

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This is what you don’t try to take charges.

Providence beats No. 21 Rhode Island 63-60

RALEIGH, NC - MARCH 19:  Head coach Ed Cooley of the Providence Friars  reacts in the first half against the North Carolina Tar Heels during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at PNC Arena on March 19, 2016 in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley knew the Rams were in for a tough one against Providence, which had won the matchup of cross-state rivals six straight times.

He didn’t see this coming, though.

Kyron Cartwright, who had made four 3-pointers all season, hit four of five from beyond the arc in the first half. The Providence point guard finished with 19 points and eight assists to lead the Friars to a 63-60 victory over No. 21 Rhode Island on Saturday.

“That’s sports, and that’s the type of thing that makes coaches go gray and lose their hair,” Hurley said after his team lost for the third time in four games. “Four 3-pointers in seven games and he made four today – all in the first half.”

Rodney Bullock scored 17 points for the Friars (6-2). Cartwright had 15 in the first half and Jalen Lindsey scored nine of his 13 points in the second, five during a 7-0 run that erased a seven-point deficit.

“My teammates were telling me, `You need to take those shots to open up the defense,”‘ Cartwright said. “(And) we don’t shoot the ball to not make it.”

Hassan Martin had 14 points and 17 rebounds for Rhode Island (5-3), which lost at unranked Valparaiso and Providence a week after falling to No. 1 Duke. E.C. Matthews scored nine points and went 1 for 8 from 3-point range, airballing a 3 with 2 seconds left with a chance for the Rams to tie it.

“Games like this might help us down the stretch,” Martin said. `’So you just tell everybody to keep their head up.”

The Rams led 47-40 with 12:15 left when Cartwright’s arm appeared to catch Christion Thompson in the left eye. Thompson went to the court, flailing his arms in the air looking for a call, but the teams played on until Lindsey hit a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game at 11:00.

Lindsey’s free throws brought the Friars within two points, and Ryan Fazekas scored on a fast-break goaltending call to tie it. From there, there were three more ties and kept the game within one possession until Lindsey hit a fallaway jumper with 43 seconds left to give Providence a 59-55 lead.

“We beat a tournament team today,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said.

POLL IMPLICATONS

It will be difficult for Rhode Island to stay in The Associated Press Top 25 after its stumbles.

Hurley said he isn’t concerned.

The goal at the beginning of the season was to win the Atlantic 10 and play in the NCAA Tournament.

That’s all still in play.

“We expect to have a long and great season. Nothing’s changed for us,” he said. “We lost two tough road games in a long season.”

BULLOCK’S BOUNCE-BACK

Bullock scored a career-high 36 points against New Hampshire on Wednesday, but he missed all three shots from the field in the first half and had only three points on six free throws at the break.

Cooley told him not to worry about the shooting and to try to make something happen with rebounding or defense.

“Somebody coming of a great scoring game like he did there’s going to be a lot of attention on him,” Cooley said. “I thought he showed some definite grit in the second half.”

TIP-INS

Rhode Island: Martin hit all three of his 3-point attempts in the first half. … Martin surpassed the 1,000-point milestone against Valparaiso on Tuesday. … The Rams have lost nine straight to Big East teams.

Providence: The Friars lead the all-time series 73-56, including a buzzer-beating victory last year in Kingston. … They are 1-1 against ranked teams this season, having lost to then-No. 7 Virginia on Nov. 26.

UP NEXT

Rhode Island: Hosts Old Dominion on Tuesday.

Providence: Hosts Brown on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.