Late Night Snacks: ACC leads 4-2 after Day 1 of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge

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GAME OF THE DAY: Boise State 69, Utah 67

Lost in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge hype was the battle between Mountain West and Pac-12 programs. The Broncos and Utes entered as two of the time scoring teams in the nation, but both struggled from the field early. Derrick Marks had 17 points and Anthony Drmic added 14 for Boise State. Utah was led by a game-high 19 points from Jordan Loveridge. Late in the first half, Princeton Onwas was hit with a flagrant-2 foul.

Boise State improves to 7-0 and has one game on Thursday before next week’s showdown against No. 3 Kentucky.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Duke 79, Michigan 69: Duke gets back in the win column after a loss to Arizona at Madison Sqaure Garden on Saturday. Michigan suffers its third loss in its last six games.

Colorado 67, Colorado State 62: The Buffalos got a scare, but in the end Spencer Dinwiddie was too much for the Rams as CU leaves with a road win. Won’t get easier … Kansas is on its way to Boulder for Saturday.

Iowa 98, Notre Dame 93: The Hawkeyes won the shootout. Notre Dame got itself back in the game early in the second half, and despite a career-high 29 points from Garrick Sherman, the Irish couldn’t make enough stops down the stretch.

STARRED

Quinn Cook, Duke: He matched Michigan’s Caris LeVert with 24 points, but Cook also added nine assists and four boards in Duke’s bounce-back win against the Wolverines.

Trevor Cooney and Tyler Ennis, Syracuse: The new-look back court is looking good so far, continuing its strong play from Maui. Cooney ended with 21 points, off five 3-pointers and Ennis took care of the rock with eight assists to one turnover, adding 17 points of his own.

J.J. Mann, Belmont: One of the key returners for Belmont dropped 32 points and added seven rebounds, four steals against Middle Tennessee. The Bruins were coming off a loss to VCU on Sunday.

STRUGGLED

Illinois: Georgia Tech closed out the game on a 19-4 run to steal a game from the Fighting Illini, handing them their first loss of the season.

Nik Stauskas/Michigan offense: The Wolverines leading scorer played 34 minutes, took two shots and finished with four points. He also lost his shoe at one point, but that’s neither here nor there. Tyler Thornton, Matt Jones and his injured ankle all caused problems. Stauskas is Michigan’s best offense and when he struggles, the team struggles.

Florida International: The Golden Panthers lost by 28 to Division II Nova Southeastern.

BIG TEN/ACC CHALLENGE

  • No. 4 Syracuse 62, Indiana 52
  • Georgia Tech 67, Illinois 64
  • Pittsburgh 78, Penn State 69
  • Duke 79, Michigan 69
  • No. 23 Iowa 98, Notre Dame 93
  • Minnesota 71, Florida State 61

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 2 Arizona 79, Texas Tech 58: Brandon Ashley goes for 18 points and 10 rebounds. Nick Johnson adds 18 of his own. Aaron Gordon goes for a game-high 19.
  • No. 18 UCLA 89, UC Santa Barbara 76: Closer than the score seems. UC Santa Barbara hit nine first half threes, but the Bruins buckled down on defense. Jordan Adams led with 22 points. Kyle Anderson added 21 points, nine assists and six boards.
  • No. 21 UMass 69, Eastern Michigan 57: The Minutemen survive their first game as a ranked team since 1998. Trailed by four at half, but UMass had five double figure scorers led by the much-improved Cady Lalanne.

NOTABLES

  • East Carolina’s Akeem Richmond and Presbyterian’s each went for 37 points on Tuesday night. ECU beat Fayetteville State and Presbyterian topped UNC Greensboro.
  • Spencer Dinwiddie went over 1,000 career points at Colorado
  • Miami (OH) and Stetson each won their first games this season. The RedHawks defeated IPFW 94-87  while the Hatters beat Bethune Cookman 56-52
  • Kyle Boswell hit five threes for UC Santa Barbara (same amount he did in the upset win over UNLV). The Gauchos hit 12 threes in the game, though, not enough against UCLA.
  • Minnesota picked up a nice win against Florida State at home on Tuesday. The Golden Gophers now 7-2.
  • Tyler Haws went for 23 points in BYU’s 97-67 win over North Texas. More importantly, Matt Carlino had 11 assists, 10 boards, only five more points and he would of had a triple-double.
  • Denver rallied to beat Southern 75-74 in overtime.
  • Dougie McBuckets goes for 21 points and four boards after a tough outing against George Washington in the Wooden Legacy. Creighton defeated Long Beach State 78-61.
  • Pittsburgh saw Tim Frazier drop 27, but remain unbeaten after a 78-69 win.
  • Troy Williams did this (WATCH HERE). Did he dunk on a teammate?

Texas Tech forward Zach Smith returns to school after withdrawing from NBA Draft

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Texas Tech forward Zach Smith will return for his senior season, the school confirmed on Monday.

The 6-foot-8 forward is one of the most intriguing athletes in college basketball as he’s been a double-figure scorer for the Red Raiders the past two seasons. As a junior, Smith put up 12.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game as he shot 50 percent from the field.

Three-point shooting was something that Smith improved dramatically last season as he increased it to 39 percent in a small sample size. If Smith can continue to show that he’s a perimeter shooting threat then he could be an ideal three-and-d candidate at the pro level.

By returning to Texas Tech, Smith gives head coach Chris Beard a potential all-league candidate who should be counted on to be a double-double threat next season.

 

Missouri lands five-star forward Jontay Porter

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Missouri has another member of the Porter family in the fold as forward Jontay Porter officially committed to the Tigers on Monday night.

Following in the footsteps of older brother Michael Porter Jr., and father Michael Porter Sr., Jontay is currently a member of the Class of 2018 who is rumored to be reclassifying to the Class of 2017.

A 6-foot-10 forward who was recently elevated to five-star status on Rivals.com, Porter is having a monster spring in the Nike EYBL with MoKan Elite. Porter has been one of the best players in the league, as he’s putting up 18.1 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range.

If Jontay is able to join Missouri next season then he gives the Tigers another intriguing piece to play alongside his brother Michael, who is good enough to be a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Although Jontay isn’t the go-to player that his brother is, he could be a very effective SEC role player early in his career, as his ability to rebound and stretch the floor makes him an extremely intriguing piece on the floor.

Kevin Stallings is a tone-deaf clown

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Pitt guard Cameron Johnson is the most coveted transfer in college basketball this offseason.

The 6-foot-8 Johnson is coming off of a strong campaign with the Panthers in which he put up 11.9 points per game while shooting 42 percent from three-point range.

Not only is Johnson a proven double-figure scorer in a league like the ACC, but he’s eligible to play right away thanks to his graduation from Pitt. Johnson graduating from school in three years and missing one season due to injury also makes him the rare graduate transfer who has two seasons of eligibility remaining. So, not only can Johnson come in and make an immediate impact, but he’s also able to stay for another year after.

This sort of thing almost never happens, let alone with a 6-foot-8 shooter that could sway the national title race.

It’s why blueblood programs like Kentucky and UCLA are in hot pursuit of Johnson. It’s why another ACC school, reigning national champion North Carolina, is also intrigued by Johnson being on the market.

Except Johnson won’t be allowed to attend North Carolina, or any other school in the ACC, without first sitting out a season and losing one season of eligibility. At least that’s how things currently stand thanks to Pitt’s power over Johnson — despite Johnson graduating from the school and having no more formal educational ties to the school.

Here’s what Pitt said on the matter in a release to the News-Observer.

“Cameron Johnson and his father were informed of our policy as well as the appeals process when they elected to seek to transfer. They went through our transfer appeals process and were granted permission to contact ACC schools; however, the committee upheld the policy to limit immediate eligibility within the conference.

If Cameron were to transfer within the ACC, he would be eligible to receive financial aid immediately but would have to sit out a year of competition due to standard NCAA transfer regulations. Throughout this process, we have remained consistent to our department policy and we will continue to do so.”

Pitt head coach Kevin Stallings had a peculiar interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that was published about two weeks ago. During the interview, of which the full transcript was made public, Stallings went in-depth about Johnson’s transfer and the current state of college basketball. Stallings also made remarks about how the media holds programs accountable for trying to bully certain players.

Here’s a small sample of what Stallings had to say.

“But the unexpected departures are the things that are becoming more common than uncommon in college basketball. You have guys constantly trying to transfer up. You have guys going pro that have never played a minute of college basketball after they’ve sat out a year at a school. You have guys asking out of their letters of intent with frequency. We’re dealing in a landscape in college basketball right now that is as probably as difficult and peculiar as it’s ever been. It used to be if a kid signed his letter of intent and he wanted out of it, you had to play a year of junior-college ball to get out of it.

“The media didn’t basically force institutions to let people break a binding agreement. It’s kind of interesting now the media tries to put so much pressure on programs, whether it be athletic directors or coaches, saying ‘Well, the coaches can move.’ Well, hey, guess what? I’ve got a great big buyout in my deal that prevents me from moving. I’ve got something in my contract saying I can’t go to another league school. It’s not as easy for coaches to go. That’s everyone’s rationale — ‘Well, the coaches can leave.’ We’re dealing in an environment right now that is as fluid as it’s ever been. It’s just where we’re at in the whole thing with the unexpected departures.”

Stallings makes some sound points–particularly about coaches having buyouts and the general perception of coaching changes in basketball.

But Kevin Stallings mostly sounds like a tone-deaf clown here.

Nobody is going to feel sorry for a millionaire coach who willingly makes the decision to change jobs.

Nobody.

Especially if that same millionaire is comparing a choice to change jobs to the transfer decisions of unpaid student-athletes. It’s even more laughable now that Stallings is holding power over an unpaid student-athlete from going to play at another school because of purely basketball reasons.

Pitt and Stallings need to do the right thing and release Johnson to play at any school right away because Johnson has already done everything he needs to do to appease the program.

Things changed dramatically for Johnson during his three years at Pitt. He became one of the ACC’s better players and earned his degree. Johnson held up his end of the bargain when he signed his Letter of Intent.  Now Johnson just wants the chance improve his basketball future by playing with one of the nation’s elite programs.

Stallings can blame the current state of college basketball, the media, or whoever he wants for Johnson’s transfer from Pitt.

But Stallings also has to realize that he’s going to be the one who looks stupid if he continues to leave these restrictions in place for Johnson. Stallings already has a history of this sort of thing when he placed transfer restrictions on former player Sheldon Jeter. If Stallings continues to uphold transfer restrictions on Johnson, then he’s going to gain a permanent reputation in recruiting during a time when players continue to gain more freedom over their basketball futures.

If Johnson does happen to go to an ACC school like North Carolina, it’s not as if Pitt has any sort of competitive roster that is going to be fighting the Tar Heels for league supremacy during the next two seasons.

Stallings and Pitt need to just bite the bullet, let Johnson have his freedom, and hope it doesn’t come back to hurt them for one or two seasons in ACC play.

It surely beats the alternative of being labeled a head coach who limits player freedom after six players left Pitt during a single offseason. That type of burn lasts a lot longer than two years.

Presbyterian hires Wofford assistant Dustin Kerns as new head coach

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Presbyterian finally has its new head coach as the program is set to hire Wofford assistant coach Dustin Kerns, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

Kerns has been an assistant at Wofford for the past seven years during his second stint with the program. Also spending six seasons as an assistant coach at Santa Clara, the Tennessee native is getting his first shot at running his own program.

Finishing last in the Big South last season at 5-25 and 1-17 in conference play, Presbyterian is trying to rebuild after head coach Gregg Nibert resigned in April. Nibert was the head coach of the Blue Hens for 28 seasons, so Kerns is going to be a completely fresh start for the program.

Tennessee lands impact graduate transfer James Daniel

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Tennessee and head coach Rick Barnes earned a commitment from one of the top graduate transfers on the market on Monday when Howard guard James Daniel pledged to the Volunteers.

The 6-foot-0 Daniel was the nation’s leading scorer at 27.1 points per game his junior season in 2015-16. Daniel played in only two games last season as a left ankle injury caused him to have surgery.

With nearly 2,000 career points to his name, Daniel gives Tennessee an additional perimeter scorer who should come in and make an immediate impact right away. While Howard has low shooting percentages and a high usage rate during his time at Howard, it’ll be interesting to see how the year off and more talented teammates will alter his game.

If Howard can be a more efficient scorer in his final season, then he has a chance to be one of the better players for the Volunteers this season.