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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

Hart returning for Villanova’s title defense

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Villanova’s title defense just got a whole lot stouter.

Josh Hart, the leading scorer of the Wildcats’ national championship team, will return for his senior season, he announced on Twitter.

The decision for Hart to return is a major boost for Villanova in its quest to become the first back-to-back champions since Florida in 2006 and 2007. Hart, a 6-foot-5 guard,  averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while shooting 51.3 percent from the floor and 35.7 percent from 3-point range.

Most draft pundits had him pegged as a potential end-of-the-first-round pick in next month’s draft though he could have certainly slid into the second should he had decided to forego his senior season. Instead, Hart will be a potential first-team All-American exhausting his eligibility in Philadelphia.

The 2016-17 season is taking shape nicely, and Hart returning to Villanova only increases the strength of the field at the top. Title game hero Kris Jenkins as well as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Mikal Bridges are also back for the defending champs while the super recruiting classes of Duke, Kentucky and Michigan State, Kansas’ returning core along with Josh Jackson and a solid group of teams including North Carolina, Arizona, Louisville and Wisconsin make for an intriguing upper-tier of teams that could very well make for a top-heavy season following last year’s free for all.

College basketball isn’t the NFL. Parity doesn’t equal strength and quality, and when the sport has a handful high-quality teams, it is at its best. It’s looking like that is a possibility for the 2016-17 campaign.

UConn duo returning to school

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Connecticut may have lost its 6-foot-7 wing scorer but it is keeping its defensive stalwart and leading scorer.

Center Amida Brimah and guard Rodney Purvis have withdrawn their names from NBA Draft consideration and will return to the Huskies for another year, the school announced Tuesday.

The decisions from Brimah, a 7-foot center, and Purvis, a 6-foot-4 shooting guard, help soften the blow dealt by Daniel Hamilton’s decision to sign with an agent and leave school despite having some shaky draft stock. The Huskies may not open the season as a top-25 team, but they won’t be far behind and will be one of the AAC’s favorites, along with Cincinnati.

Brimah averaged 6.5 points per game last year, but blocked 2.7 shots per game. He missed 11 games last season with a broken finger. Purvis registered 12.8 points per game while shooting 43.4 percent from the floor.

Neither Brimah or Purvis were among those invited to this month’s NBA Draft combine nor were either expected to be drafted should they have kept their names in the draft.

Gonzaga’s Karnowski returning for fifth year

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The man in the middle is returning to Gonzaga.

Przemek Karnowski will return to the Bulldogs for his final year after a medical redshirt waiver was granted allowing him a fifth season in Spokane, the school announced Tuesday.

“I’m excited to be coming back,” Karnowski said in a statement. “After talking with the coaches, my parents and the team, I decided this was the best decision for me. I still have a ways to go with my rehab, but I’m staying positive about the upcoming season.”

The 7-foot-1 Karnowski, a Poland native, would have, at minimum, had professional opportunities overseas, but instead will return to play for the Bulldogs once more after a back injury limited him to five games last season. He averaged 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds per game as a junior in 2014-15.

With Karnowski returning along with  Josh Perkins and Silas Melson, Gonzaga coach Mark Few will be having newcomers Nigel Williams-Goss, Zach Norvell, Johnathan Williams II and Zach Collins joining an experienced and talented group.

Gonzaga (shocker) will be the West Coast Conference favorite once more, but the Bulldogs will also be fielding a team that should open the season in most everyone’s top-15.

Michigan St. at Duke highlights ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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A matchup in Durham of likely top-10 teams is the headliner of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, whose schedule was released Tuesday.

Michigan State, expected to open the season in the top-10, and Duke, the presumptive preseason No. 1, will meet Tuesday, Nov. 29, at Cameron Indoor Stadium in the most intriguing contest of the 14-game event.

The Spartans are losing Denzel Valentin, Bryn Forbes and Matt Costello, but the recruiting class of Miles Bridges, Cassius Winston, Joshua Langford and Nick Ward is one of coach Tom Izzo’s best and has Michigan State positioned as one of the Big Ten’s favorites.

Izzo’s recruiting class, though, pales in comparison to what coach Mike Krzyzewski is bringing to the Blue Devils, with Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Javin DeLaurier in their 2016 class, which is why, when paired with the likes of Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard, make Duke nearly everyone’s No. 1 heading into next season.

Krzyzewski is 9-1 all-time against Izzo’s Spartans.

Among the other highlights of the conference competition is Syracuse at Wisconsin (Nov. 29) Pittsburgh at Maryland (Nov. 29), Purdue at Louisville (Nov. 30) and Ohio State at Virginia (Nov. 30).  

Monday, Nov. 28

Minnesota at Florida State

Wake Forest at Northwestern

Tuesday, Nov. 29

Syracuse at Wisconsin

Michigan State at Duke

Pittsburgh at Maryland

Iowa at Notre Dame

Georgia Tech at Penn State

N.C. State at Illinois

 

Wednesday, Nov. 30

Purdue at Louisville

North Carolina at Indiana

Ohio State at Virginia

Virginia Tech at Michigan

Rutgers at Miami (Fla.)

Nebraska at Clemson

 

Hayes returning to Wisconsin for senior season

Wisconsin forward Nigel Hayes celebrates with fans after an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, in Iowa City, Iowa. Wisconsin won 67-59. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
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Wisconsin has cemented itself as one of the teams to beat in the Big Ten for the 2016-17 season.

Forward Nigel Hayes, the Badgers’ leading scorer and assist man, is withdrawing his name from NBA Draft consideration to return to Madison for his senior season, he told the Wisconsin State Journal on Tuesday evening.

Hayes declared for the draft last month, but did not hire an agent, taking advantage of new NCAA legislation that allowed him to attend the NBA Draft combine and workout for pro franchises. He was largely regarded as a fringe first-round prospect by draft observers.

His decision is a major boon for Greg Gard, who may have the Big Ten’s best team in his first full season at the helm after taking over for Bo Ryan in the middle of last season. Wisconsin had a major turnaround under Gard, which ultimately resulted in him moving from interim to full time. The Badgers were 7-5 when Ryan stepped down, but recovered by going 13-4 to end the season and make the Sweet 16. 

Now, the entirety of that team, headlined by Hayes, is returning for another year and almost assuredly will be a top-15 (or better) preseason pick. Michigan State will welcome in a dynamite recruiting class that features five-stars Miles Bridges and Cassius Winston, and Indiana should remain strong, but the Badgers, with some players having the experience of  playing in two Final Fours, could very well have the best roster on paper with its blend of talent and experience. Whichever team is pegged as the favorite, the top of the Big Ten is shaping up to be a fantastic race.