syracuse

Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Syracuse holds off St. John’s

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Syracuse 68, St. John’s 63

In a matchup of former Big East rivals, it was Syracuse who made the plays late at Madison Square Garden. C.J. Fair and Tyler Ennis scored 21 points apiece, with the freshman point guard also racking up six assists, to lead the way for the undefeated Orange. D’Angelo Harrison scored 21 to lead the Red Storm, but a sluggish start and some bad decisions down the stretch proved to be too much to overcome. Even in defeat, there were some positives to be taken from the game for the Red Storm.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 24 Missouri 66, Western Michigan 60

Jordan Clarkson didn’t have his best night, scoring 12 points on 3-for-8 shooting, but a group effort allowed the Tigers to push their non-conference home win streak to 80 consecutive games. Jabari Brown led four Tigers in double figures with 15 points, and as a team Missouri shot 50% from the field. David Brown led three Broncos in double figures with 18 points. Next up for Missouri is their annual “Braggin’ Rights” game against Illinois on Saturday.

2) No. 10 Villanova 73, La Salle 52

James Bell and JayVaughn Pinkston combined to score just ten points for Villanova but the Wildcats were fine, thanks to 21 points from Darrun Hilliard and a very good defensive effort in the second half. Also of note was the 24 points scored by freshmen Kris Jenkins (13) and Josh Hart (11). The win moves Villanova to 3-0 in Big 5 play.

3) Kansas State 72, Troy 43

Marcus Foster and Will Spradling scored 14 points apiece to lead the way offensively for the Wildcats, but the team’s best work against the Trojans came on the boards. K-State rebounded 43.6% of its missed shots, and the Wildcats also scored 20 points off of 16 Troy turnovers.

STARRED

1) Devon Collier (Oregon State): 24 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in the Beavers’ 98-66 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore.

2) Pendarvis Williams (Norfolk State): 27 points, four steals and three assists in the Spartans’ 86-82 overtime win at Boston University.

3) Larry Nance Jr. (Wyoming): 38 points and 12 rebounds in the Cowboys’ 64-61 loss at Denver.

STRUGGLED

1) Davidson: Shot 3-for-22 from beyond the arc in their 72-58 home loss to Drexel.

2) Albert Thomas and Casey Walker (Delaware State): Combined to shoot 5-for-27 in the Hornets’ 64-62 loss to Howard.

3) Tyreek Duren and Tyrone Garland (La Salle): Combined to shoot 4-for-18 in their 73-52 loss at No. 10 Villanova.

NOTABLES

  • Michael Bryson scored 21 points to lead UCSB to a 72-61 win at San Diego. After going scoreless in the first half Alan Williams finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.
  • USC struggled throughout but thanks to 19 second-half points from Byron Wesley the Trojans hung on to beat Bakersfield, 63-59. And moving forward, keep an eye on freshman forward Nikola Jovanovic. He’s been quite effective of late (14 & 10 vs. Bakersfield), and as he gains physical strength he’ll be a valuable piece for Andy Enfield moving forward.
  • Carson Puriefoy scored 15 points off the bench to lead reigning America East regular season champion Stony Brook to a 67-48 win at New Hampshire in the conference opener for both.
  • Royce Woolridge accounted for 20 points and four assists in Washington State’s 78-61 win over Pepperdine.
  • Chavaughn Lewis led four Marist starters in double figures with 18 points in the Red Foxes’ 69-62 win at College of Charleston. Marist entered the game with an 9-0 record.
  • George Beamon scored 23 points and Rhamel Brown added 16 in Manhattan’s 77-72 win at UNCW.
  • Billy Garrett Jr. made some key plays in overtime as DePaul held off Chicago State, 77-70. In the game Cleveland Melvin moved into seventh place on DePaul’s all-time scoring list, passing Dallas Comegys.

TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 2 Syracuse 68, St. John’s 63
  • No. 10 Villanova 73, La Salle 52
  • No. 24 Missouri 66, Western Michigan 60

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.