Mike McCall

Mike McCall’s buzzer-beater lifts Saint Louis over Valparaiso (VIDEO)

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With 3.8 second left, Saint Louis forward Dwayne Evans tossed his inbounds pass to Rob Loe, who drove to the bucket, but his lefty layup was blocked. The Valparaiso defense had its heads turned, allowing Mike McCall Jr. to slip past on the box out, and tipped in the game-winner as the Billikens escaped with a 67-65 road win over Valpo on Saturday.

Saint Louis never trailed on Saturday, but in the second half the Crusaders erased a 12-point deficit. Valpo dug itself in a first half hole, committing 13 turnovers through the first 20 minutes.

Exciting finish aside, was Saturday a concern for Saint Louis?

A week ago, the Billikens held a seven-point edge against No. 12 Wichita State while Shockers guard Ron Baker sat on the bench with foul trouble. When Baker went back in, the Shockers took the lead with 9-0 run, as Cleanthony Early woke up after a 1-for-8 start. Saint Louis had several opportunities to tie or take the lead, but missed all three 3-point tries and missed half its free throws in the final 90 seconds.

(Watch Askia Booker’s buzzer-beater in Colorado’s win over Kansas on Saturday)

Credit to Valparaiso for clawing back into the game. The Crusaders trailed by nine with under six to play, but a 53-31 edge on the glass, which included 20 offensive boards, helped Valpo tie the game at 65 with five seconds to go off a LaVonte Dority layup. Saint Louis had multiple chances to put the game out of reach, but could not convert.

“We had a couple offensive lapses, but our defense was good,” Evans said after the game according to Tom Timmerman of the St. Louis Dispatch. “Rebounding got the best of us. But down the stretch, we made the plays we needed to make, so I’ll take it.”

Despite giving up more offensive rebounds in the second half than they pulled down in the entire game, the Billikens were able to take advantage of the biggest second-chance bucket of the night with McCall’s heroics.

After another quality test, Saint Louis — the defending champion in the Atlantic 10 — improves to 8-2. The Billikens host Wofford next Saturday before welcoming an experienced Indiana State team to Chaifetz Arena on Dec. 18 for yet another non-conference challenge.

Tennessee G Hubbs undergoes arthroscopic knee surgery

Robert Hubbs III, Anton Beard
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee guard Robert Hubbs won’t practice this week after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Tuesday.

The school said in a news release that Hubbs had it done “to address chronic swelling issues that have been present since the preseason.”

No timetable has been set for when Hubbs could return to action, but he is considered doubtful for Tennessee’s next game on Dec. 12 at Butler. Tennessee (4-3) is in the midst of a 13-day break from games, which marks the program’s longest layoff during a season since December 1967.

Hubbs is averaging 15.3 points per game to rank third on the team. The 6-foot-4 junior has scored at least 13 points in each of Tennessee’s seven games.

Clemson lands 2017 guard

Brad Brownell
AP Photo
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Clemson landed a quality commitment on Tuesday as Class of 2017 guard A.J. Oliver committed to the Tigers. The son of Clemson women’s head coach Audra Smith, Oliver is regarded as a three-star prospect, according to Rivals, although some others view him as a top-100 caliber player.

The 6-foot-4 Oliver attends nearby Daniel High School and should have some time to get acclimated with the players and coaches before he sets foot on campus. A versatile guard who plays hard, Oliver showed that he can make plays with the ball in his hands this summer with the Upward Stars.

Oliver is Clemson’s first commitment in the Class of 2017 and it’s a strong start for head coach Brad Brownell.