Late Night Snacks: No. 13 Oregon survives first road test

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 13 Oregon 115, Ole Miss 105 (OT) 

Prior to Sunday the 13th-ranked Ducks hadn’t played a game away from Eugene since beating Georgetown in South Korea in their season opener, so their trip to Oxford represented a significant test. And after a Jarvis Summers three-pointer with eight tenths of a second remaining in regulation sent the game to overtime, Dana Altman’s squad did enough to leave the “Tad Pad” with the win. The Ducks took advantage of match-ups, with Johnathan Loyd (25 points, 15 assists) and Mike Moser (24 points, ten rebounds) being two of the beneficiaries. Marshall Henderson led Ole Miss with a career-high 39 points, shooting 10-for-23 from beyond the arc.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 24 San Diego State 70, Washington 63

After struggling offensively in the first half San Diego State was much better in the second, shooting 60% from the field and assisting on ten of their 15 made field goals. Xavier Thames (19 points) and Winston Shepard III (17) led the way for SDSU, while C.J. Wilcox paced the Huskies with 17 points.

2) George Washington 77, Maryland 75

The Colonials nearly blew a 14-point lead in the game’s final seven minutes but Indiana transfer Mo Creek came to the rescue, knocking down a stepback jumper to give GW the win. Creek scored 25 points, and the victory is the latest sign that the match of player and program has been a very good one.

3) Creighton 82, Nebraska 67

This one got out of hand quickly, as the Bluejays scored 22 of the first 25 points on their way to the victory. Doug McDermott scored 33 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the way for Creighton, which also received a solid performance from senior forward Ethan Wragge. Shavon Shields scored 22 points and Terran Petteway (who was ejected from the game along with Creighton’s Grant Gibbs with 1:14 remaining) added 21 for the Huskers.

STARRED: 

1) Johnathan Loyd (Oregon): 25 points and 15 assists in Oregon’s 115-105 overtime win at Ole Miss.

2) Doug McDermott (Creighton): 33 points (12-for-23 FG) and eight rebounds in the Bluejays’ 82-67 win over Nebraska.

3) Juvonte Reddic (VCU): 24 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks in the Rams’ 69-48 win over Old Dominion.

STRUGGLED:

1) George Mason starters: Shot 4-for-25 in an 81-66 loss to Oklahoma, with Vaughn Gray responsible for three of the made field goals (on 11 attempts).

2) Boston College: The Eagles shot 9-for-35 from beyond the arc in their 78-62 loss at USC. And Olivier Hanlan attempted just five shots, with the result dropping BC to 3-6 with their ACC opener against Maryland next on the schedule.

3) Saint Peter’s: After limiting Niagara to just 15 points in the first half the Peacocks fell 61-56, and their 21 turnovers had a lot to do with the outcome.

NOTABLES:

  • Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark is one of the nation’s most improved players. In the Sooners’ 81-66 win over George Mason he tallied 22 points and ten rebounds, his eight double-figure scoring effort in nine games. He had six such games all of last season.
  • Illinois returned to Atlanta just days after they blew a large lead at Georgia Tech, but met much less resistance in their 81-62 win over Auburn. Illinois shot 12-for-23 from deep and led 41-17 at the half.
  • Juwan Howard Jr. scored 17 points and Evan Bruinsma added 15 as Detroit beat Rhode Island 70-68, dropping the Rams to 0-4 in true road games.
  • Mike Thorne Jr. scored 28 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked two shots in Charlotte’s 77-59 win at Appalachian State.
  • Sean Armand accounted for 28 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in Iona’s 83-72 win at Fairfield, moving the defending MAAC tournament champs to 2-0 in league play.
  • Jarell Eddie scored 24 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Virginia Tech beat Miami 61-60 in overtime. Garrius Adams led three Hurricanes in double figures with 14 points in the ACC opener for both teams.
  • Seton Hall held on to beat in-state rival Rutgers, 77-71, and the tandem of guard Sterling Gibbs and center Eugene Teague was a big reason why. Gibbs scored 27 points and four assists, with Teague adding 16 points, 16 rebounds, five steals and four assists.

TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 13 Oregon 115, Ole Miss 105 (OT)
  • No. 24 San Diego State 70, Washington 63

Syracuse’s Tyus Battle to test NBA draft waters

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Syracuse announced on Friday afternoon that sophomore guard Tyus Battle will be declaring for the NBA draft without signing with an agent, giving him until the NCAA’s May 30th deadline to withdraw from contention and return to school.

Battle averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore for the Orange, who made a surprising run to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament.

He is a projected late-first round or early-second round pick given his size, shooting ability and skill with the ball in his hands.

Losing Battle would be a massive blow to a Syracuse team that is already going to be without Matthew Moyer, who transferred out of the program, and Dareus Bazley, who is heading to the G League instead of enrolling in college.

Maryland’s Kevin Huerter declares for NBA draft, won’t hire agent

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Maryland wing Kevin Huerter announced on Friday afternoon that he will be declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, giving him the option of returning to school by May 30th.

“This will be a great experience for Kevin to get honest feedback from NBA teams and executives,” said head coach Mark Turgeon. “Taking advantage of this opportunity will allow Kevin and his family to make an informed decision about his future.”

Huerter is a 6-foot-7 wing known for his ability to shoot from the perimeter. He averaged 14.8 points and shot 42 percent from three as a sophomore.

He is also the third player from Maryland to declare for the 2018 NBA Draft. Justin Jackson, a borderline first round pick who missed time last season with a shoulder injury, has signed with an agent while Bruno Fernando is testing the waters. Maryland, who has an excellent recruiting class coming in, will be a preseason top 20 team if Huerter and Fernando both return to school.

Huerter is a borderline first round pick.

Michigan’s Charles Matthews to test NBA draft waters

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Michigan guard Charles Matthews announced on Friday that he will be declaring for the NBA draft, but that he does not intend to sign with an agent, meaning he has until May 30th to withdraw from the draft and return to school.

“After careful consideration with my parents and coaching staff, I am excited to announce that I will be declaring for the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent,” said Matthews. “I give thanks to the Lord for this amazing opportunity, as well as the entire University of Michigan for their support. Go Blue!”

Matthews, a redshirt sophomore that averaged 13.0 points and 5.5 boards for the national runners-up, was a four-star prospect coming out of Chicago and spent his freshman season at Kentucky.

Matthews is a likely second round pick with the potential to climb into the first round should he prove to be a more consistent three-point shooter. He shot just 31.8 percent from beyond the arc this past season.

Virginia’s Hunter to return to school for sophomore season

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De’Andre Hunter announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be entering his name into the NBA draft and will return to Virginia for his redshirt sophomore season, a decision that will have as much of an impact on the 2018-19 college basketball season as any that is made this spring.

Hunter, now a potential top ten pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, was one of the breakout stars of the 2017-18 season. A 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Hunter averaged 9.2 points and 3.5 boards while shooting 38.2 percent from three in just under 20 minutes a night for a Virginia team whose pace severely limits the kind of numbers a player like him can put up.

Throw in his ability to defend on the perimeter and in the paint, and Hunter is precisely the kind of player that NBA teams are looking to land as basketball becomes more and more built on positional versatility and the ability to space the floor.

And it’s that versatility that will make Hunter so important for the Cavaliers next season.

Let’s go beyond the simple fact that he is going to be the only guy on the Virginia roster that can create his own shot against length and athleticism and that there is a chance that he could end up being an all-american next season if things play out the right way. What makes Hunter so important to Virginia his that his defensive versatility is what allows Virginia to matchup with teams that want to try and play small-ball against them.

That’s precisely what UMBC did in the first round of the NCAA tournament, a game that Hunter missed with a broken wrist. We all know how that played out, and I’m not even dumb enough to pin all the blame of a 20-point loss to a No. 16 seed on a guy that played less than 20 minutes a night.

Virginia choked once they realized that there was a chance this could happen, but I would argue that a major reason they couldn’t ever truly assert their dominance was because they were unable to matchup with UMBC’s four-guard lineup without Hunter.

With Hunter back, Virginia is the No. 6 team in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25. If he had declared for the draft and signed with an agent, I’m not sure I would have had the Wahoos in the top 20.

He takes Tony Bennett’s club from simply being good to once against being a contender for the ACC regular season title.

Vanderbilt the sixth Kentucky player declares for the NBA draft

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Jarred Vanderbilt is now the sixth Kentucky Wildcat to declare for the NBA draft this spring, joining P.J. Washington and Wenyen Gabriel in testing the waters without signing with an agent.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kevin Knox and Hamidou Diallo have all declared for the draft and signed with an agent.

Vanderbilt announced his decision on Friday afternoon.

“This season wasn’t easy for me,” Vanderbilt said. “At the end of the day, my goal has always been to make it to the NBA.”

“I know I have more to my game to show, but now I’ve got to figure out if the time is right for me to do it at the next level or if I would be better to return to school.”

Vanderbilt missed the first 17 games of his freshman season with a left foot injury, a foot that he had injured twice before during his high school career. He then missed all four of Kentucky’s postseason games with a left ankle injury, and there is a chance that he could end up needing surgery to correct this issue this offseason.

All told, the 6-foot-9 Vanderbilt played in 14 games as a freshman, averaging 5.9 points and 7.9 boards in just 17 minutes a night. But issues with his ability to shoot from the perimeter and a lower left leg that has proven to be extremely problematic, there is a good chance that Vanderbilt would go undrafted should he decide to turn pro.