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The Secondary Break: Wednesday’s Links

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From watching highlights to creating them, Duke’s Jabari Parker remains true to self (USA Today)
Despite being one of the nation’s best players, Duke freshman forward Jabari Parker has allowed the fame to change who he is. As a result the Blue Devils remain one of the favorites to win the ACC.

How Tad Boyle built Colorado into a Pac-12 contender (Sports Illustrated)
When he took over as the head coach at Colorado, Tad Boyle had a lot of work to do. The climb to respectability began while the school was a member of the Big 12, and since their move to the Pac-12 Colorado’s consistently factored into the conference race. That’s quite the achievement for a coach who began his career as a restricted earnings coach at Oregon.

The five most disappointing teams in college basketball thus far (The Dagger)
With this being finals weeks for many schools there have been a number of lists released by various websites. One such list is a compilation of the five most disappointing teams in college basketball, with two ACC programs leading the way.

Fab Four Freshmen: Metrics weigh in Andrew Wiggins’ favor (Sporting News)
Another popular list has been the weekly ranking of the nation’s top freshmen, and despite the hand-wringing that tends to take place when he’s on the floor Kansas freshman Andrew Wiggins has some numbers working in his favor to this point in the season. Among those numbers: a 116.2 offensive rating per that’s better than nay of the other newcomers listed.

The Scott Drew jokes never stop but they don’t really make any sense (CBS Sports)
On Friday night Baylor managed to defeat Kentucky, adding another solid win to the resume of head coach Scott Drew. But the run of success that Drew’s enjoyed at Baylor since taking over never seems to be enough for some, who insist that the Bears win in spite of their head coach. And that line of thinking doesn’t make much sense at all.

Q&A: Josh Bartelstein talks Michigan basketball through nine games (UM Hoops)
With Michigan having the week off to deal with finals and prepare for their game against No. 1 Arizona, former Michigan walk-on Josh Bartelstein offered his thoughts on the Wolverines’ season to date.

Mountain West basketball searches of signature victories (Albuquerque Journal)
Boise State’s loss at Kentucky represented another missed opportunity for the Mountain West, which finds itself searching for more marquee non-conference victories with the start of league play rapidly approaching. The next opportunity comes on Saturday, when New Mexico takes on Kansas in Kansas City.

Syracuse upsets No. 18 UConn as Tyler Lydon stars again

St Bonaventure Syracuse Basketball
AP Photo/Heather Ainsworth
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Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney combined for 34 points as Syracuse overcame an early 10-point deficit to knock off No. 18 UConn in the semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 79-76.

The talking point at the end of this game is probably going to end up being UConn’s decision not to foul Syracuse with 36 seconds left on the clock. Trevor Cooney dribbled out the clock and, with six seconds left, missed a 35-foot prayer, the offensive rebound getting corralled by Tyler Roberson, sealing the win.

But that’s not the real story here.

That would be Tyler Lydon, who suddenly looks like he may end up being the difference maker for this Syracuse team.

If you don’t know the name, I don’t blame you. Lydon was a low-end top 100 recruit that had been committed to the Orange for a long time. He’s not exactly a game-changing prospect, but he’s a perfect fit for Syracuse. At 6-foot-9, Lydon has the length to be a shot-blocker in the middle of the 2-3 zone — he entered Thursday averaging 3.3 blocks — but his biggest skill is his ability to shoot the ball from beyond the arc. When he plays the middle of that zone, when he is essentially the five for the Orange, they become incredibly difficult to matchup with defensively.

The question is whether or not he can consistently be that guy on the defensive end of the floor. Against UConn, Lydon had 16 points and 12 boards. Against Charlotte, he finished with 18 points, eight boards and six blocks. But neither the Huskies nor the 49ers have a big front line that crashes the offensive glass.

Lydon is great at using his length to make shots in the lane difficult, but at (a generous) 205 pounds, he may run into trouble against bigger, stronger front court players.

The perfect test?

Texas A&M, who the Orange will play in the title game on Friday.

USC holds on to beat No. 20 Wichita State

Andy Enfield
Associated Press
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With guards Fred VanVleet and Landry Shamet both sidelined due to injury, No. 20 Wichita State arrived at the Advocare Invitational shorthanded. But even with that being the case the highly successful Shockers represented quite the opportunity for USC, and Thursday afternoon the Trojans took advantage.

Despite turning the ball over 23 times Andy Enfield’s team found a way to win, hanging on to beat the Shockers by the final score of 72-69. Freshman forward Bennie Boatwright, a tough matchup for most teams as a 6-foot-10 stretch forward who can score from the perimeter, shot 5-for-9 from three and scored a team-high (and career-high) 22 points.

The tandem of he and junior Nikola Jovanovic, who added 14 points and 11 rebounds, outplayed the Wichita State front court on a day in which the Shockers needed greater contributions from those players. Add in 15 points and four assists from Jordan McLaughlin, ten points off the bench from Katin Reinhardt and a 12-for-23 afternoon from three, and the Trojans were able to do enough to make up for their high turnover count and Wichita State’s 24 points off of turnovers.

Given the absence of VanVleet and Shamet there’s no reason to panic regarding Wichita State. Ron Baker, who was exhausted by the end of the game due to the heavy load he was asked to shoulder, scored a game-high 25 points and the play of freshman Markis McDuffie was a positive to build on.

McDuffie, who entered Thursday’s game without a made field goal in his first two appearances as a Shocker, shot 5-for-9 from the field and contributed 14 points and three rebounds off the bench. With their current perimeter rotation being what it is McDuffie will have opportunities to contribute, and the Shockers will need him to take advantage as they await the returns of VanVleet and Shamet (and the addition of Conner Frankamp).

Doing so will not only help Wichita State in the short term but in the long-term as well, thus giving Gregg Marshall another option to call upon on his bench.

Thursday’s outcome, even with the desire to see more from Anton Grady (eight points, seven rebounds), says more about USC at this point in time than Wichita State. Enfield’s first two seasons at the helm were about amassing the talent needed to compete in the Pac-12 while also gaining valuable (and at times painful) experience. In year three the Trojans hope to take a step forward within the conference, and wins like this one provide evidence of the program’s growth.