Bryce Cotton

Late Night Snacks: Rhode Island rivalry and VCU’s overtime

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Providence 50, Rhode Island 49

I bet you didn’t realize the Ocean State had a hoops rivalry like this, did you? The Rams and the Friars did battle on Thursday night in a game that turned into a dogfight pretty quickly. How emotional was it? At one point, Ed Cooley and Danny Hurley both drew technical fouls as they had to be separated at mid-court during an argument.

Bryce Cotton led the way for Providence with 15 points, but URI was able to erase an early nine-point lead and, eventually, tie the game on an E.C. Matthews runner with 53 seconds left. Kadeem Batts was fouled at the other end and hit 1-of-2 from the foul line, and Matthews missed a 17-foot fadeaway at the buzzer.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

1) No. 24 San Diego State was 97-0 under Steve Fisher in games they led with five minutes left, but San Diego nearly ended that streak. The Aztecs had a 57-47 lead in the final minutes, but Johnny Dee brought the Toreros back. Fisher decided to foul up three in the final seconds two times, and it almost backfired. With 3.2 seconds left, SDSU turned the ball over on a jump-ball. USD got a great look at a three to win it, but it bounced harmlessly off the rim.

2) VCU hung on to beat Eastern Kentucky in overtime, 71-68. I went a little more in-depth on VCU’s struggles here.

3) Vanderbilt blew a 13-point second half lead, but they managed to hold on as Marshall nearly came all the way back in Nashville. Damion Jones had 15 points off the bench for the ‘Dores, who held high-scoring Elijah Pittman to just 17 points. Kareem Canty led the way for Marshall with 18. The bad news? Josh Henderson has reportedly torn his ACL and MCL.

4) Seton Hall beat LIU 92-81, but it came at a price: Fuquan Edwin went down with an injury to his right ankle.

STARRED

1) With Edwin out, Brian Oliver had himself a day, finishing with 26 points to lead the way for the Pirates.

2) Anthony Myles went for 28 points on 7-for-10 shooting as Rider beat Monmouth.

3) Georgetown’s back court of D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera and Markel Starks combined for 35 points and nine assists, hitting 5-for-11 from three, in a blow out win over High Point.

STRUGGLED

1) Marshall Henderson was 4-for-18 and 2-for-13 from three in a 61-58 loss at Kansas State. He airballed a step-back, 28-footer with a couple of seconds left on the clock that could have given Ole Miss the lead.

2) West Virginia entered the night as the No. 4 three-point shooting team in the country at 46.5%. They finished the night 4-for-19 from deep in an 80-71 loss to Missouri.

POSTERIZED: Kentucky’s Derek Willis drops a hammer on Florida

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It’s worth noting here that Derek Willis is not left-handed, yet he dunks this with his left hand.

UNC clinches share of ACC title in one of the top coaching jobs of Williams’ career

CHAPEL HILL, NC - JANUARY 16:  Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels celebrates after his 800th career victory with a 85-68 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Dean Smith Center on January 16, 2017 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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No. 8 North Carolina knocked off Pitt on the road on Saturday afternoon, picking up an 85-67 win that clinched at least a share of the ACC regular season title for the Tar Heels this season.

It’s the second straight season and the eighth time in the 14 years that Roy Williams has been the head coach of the Tar Heels that they can make such a claim. For comparison’s sake, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have won just three ACC regular season titles in those 14 years and they haven’t won one since 2010.

So this is a pretty good run that Roy Williams is on, and that’s before you consider the two national titles — plus a third national title game — that he’s won during that stretch.

And this year may be as impressive as any job that he’s done during his career.

This UNC team is different than past UNC teams in the sense that it’s the first time that one of his great teams doesn’t have a front line anchored by a future first round pick that is a killer on the block and a stallion running the floor in transition. There’s no Brice Johnson or Tyler Zeller or Tyler Hansbrough or Sean May. Joel Berry II is a really good college guard, but he’s not Kendall Marshall or Ray Felton or Ty Lawson, and his inconsistency is one of UNC’s bigger question marks heading into the tournament. Justin Jackson has turned into a killer this season, which is not something we would have said about Justin Jackson in any other year.

Put another way, this team is not a team that you can look at and know will be a title contender.

But they are.

They hold a two-game lead over an ACC that might get 10 teams into the NCAA tournament with two games left. If they win at Virginia next week, they will be playing for pride and for seeding when they take on Duke in the season finale.

I’d go as far as to say that the Tar Heels are as good, or better, than anyone in college basketball this season. They’ll probably end up as the No. 1 seed in the south and could very well make another run to the Final Four this season.

Considering just how good Williams has been throughout his career, and particularly during his tenure in Chapel Hill, you can understand what it means to say that this may very well be the best coaching job of his career.

Grayson Allen out for Duke against Miami

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts against the Florida Gators in the first half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Duke will be without star junior guard Grayson Allen on Saturday.

According to a report from Greg Gumbel of CBS Sports, Allen will miss the Blue Devils’ road game at Miami with an ankle injury.

The 6-foot-5 Allen is averaging 15.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game this season as he’s battled a few different injuries as well as getting suspended for another tripping incident. Duke is used to playing without Allen and the Blue Devils should still have enough to stay in this one against Miami but it is going to be a tough game to win on the road.

Duke is coming off of a road loss to Syracuse earlier this week as the No. 10 Blue Devils are trying to finish out a tough regular-season schedule these next three games.

VIDEO: Parents fly from Denmark to surprise Drake’s Jacob Enevold on Senior Day

DES MOINES, IA - DECEMBER 19: Center Jacob Enevold #11 of the Drake Bulldogs grabs a rebound in the first half away from forward Dom Uhl #25 of the Iowa Hawkeyes on December 19, 2015 during the Hy-Vee Big Four Classic at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
(Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)
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Drake senior center Jacob Enevold received a special surprise on Saturday afternoon as his parents flew all the way from Denmark to surprise him for Senior Day.

The 7-foot-1 Enevold appeared perfectly content to take part in the Senior Day celebrations when his parents appeared on the floor and he ran to greet them.

De’Aaron Fox out for Kentucky against Florida

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 21:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball during the game against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC YUM! Center on December 21, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Starting freshman guard De’Aaron Fox will be out for Kentucky on Saturday as the Wildcats host Florida in an important SEC showdown.

The 6-foot-3 Fox has a knee contusion, and without him, the Wildcats will start senior Mychael Mulder. Fox is averaging 15.5 points, 5.3 assists and 4.2 rebounds per game as he’s been one of the country’s best two-way freshmen this season.

Kentucky and Florida both enter Saturday’s game at 13-2 in SEC play but the Gators took the first matchup by 22 points between these two teams in Gainesville on Feb. 4.