Stanford v Connecticut

Late Night Snacks: Two top 15 teams lose at home

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Texas 86, No. 14 North Carolina 83

The Tar Heels remain the toughest team in college basketball to figure out. After knocking off Kentucky to pick up their third win over a preseason top three team, the Heels were once again atrocious from the charity stripe, losing to Rick Barnes and the Longhorns. North Carolina now has arguably the three best wins in the country and three losses to unranked teams. Go ahead. Try and explain that to me. You can’t.

As far as Texas is concerned, good for them. Rick Barnes took more heat than any coach in the country over the course of the the offseason. The consensus among the media was that he was essentially already fired. I heard more talk about who would get the Texas job than I did what Barnes could do to win games with this team. But here he is, sitting at 9-1 on the season with a road win over a top 15 opponent.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Stanford 53, No. 10 UConn 51

UConn’s reliance on Shabazz Napier came back to bite them. The Huskies struggled from the floor and went ice cold from three in the second half as they lost to a Stanford team that desperately needed a win. The Cardinal are now sitting at 9-2 on the season with a chance to truly solidify their non-conference resume against Michigan on Saturday.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Kenny Chery missed a layup that could have won the game in regulation, but No. 12 Baylor’s starting point guard made up for it in the extra frame by scoring 12 of his 20 points in overtime as the Bears outlasted Northwestern State 91-84. The Bears struggled, playing their first game in 10 days after taking some time off for finals. Isaiah Austin was benched for the first half and played just nine minutes on the night.

2) T.J. Warren popped off for 21 points and 11 boards as N.C. State went into Knoxville and put a whipping on Tennessee. The final score was 65-58, but the Vols were down by 17 at the break. Jordan McRae had 21 points, but shot 6-for-22 from the floor. Both Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon finishied with double-doubles but it wasn’t enough. Tennessee just does not look like a very good basketball team right now. No point guard and no role players is not usually a successful combination.

3) LSU’s best player, Jordan Mickey, struggled with fouls, but the Tigers put four players in double-figures as they went into Texas Tech and knocked off the Red Raiders in Lubbock, 71-69.

STARRED

1) Aaric Murray scored a Division I-high 48 points to lead Texas Southern to a win at Temple.

2) The two most important players on No. 3 Ohio State’s roster, LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams, combined for 30 points and 17 boards in a win over Delaware.

3) Halil Kanicevic had 27 points, 14 boards, four assists and two blocks while shooting 12-for-13 from the floor as St. Joe’s beat Drexel, 75-55.

STRUGGLED

1) Jake Odum finished with seven turnovers and just nine points as Indiana State lost 83-66 at St. Louis.

2) At one point, Southern Utah trained No. 24 San Diego State 35-4. Ouch.

3) Ohio’s defense was a bit leaky on Wednesday. No. 22 UMass shot 61.5% from the floor and 9-for-14 from three.

NOTABLES

  • Marshall Henderson scored 26 points and hit three of his six threes in succession to lead Ole Miss to a 75-62 win over UL-Monroe.
  • Jelan Kendrick at 18 points off the bench for UNLV in a 81-62 win over Radford.
  • San Jose State outlasted UC-Davis in triple-overtime, 89-85.

No. 22 Cincinnati’s loss to No. 16 Butler shines light on AAC’s struggles

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Kelan Martin scored 20 points and Andrew Chrabascz added 12 points, four boards and five assists as No. 16 Butler bounced back from a tough loss at Indiana State to beat No. 22 Cincinnati, 75-65.

The Bulldogs had been undefeated on the season prior to the loss to the Sycamores, but their ranking was built on the fact that they had beaten Arizona, who was No. 8 at the time, as well as a trio of high-major programs that look destined for the NIT.

Cincinnati probably isn’t destined for the NIT. Their top 25 ranking is justified, which is what makes this win valuable. Quality non-conference wins matter, and this is just one of a handful of good wins for what has proven to be one of the most top-heavy conferences in the country. Villanova, Creighton, Xavier and Butler all look capable of reaching the Sweet 16 this season.

The opposite is true for Cincinnati, who look like the flag-bearer in a conference that isn’t really all that good. They’re the best team in the AAC this season, but that’s a conference that has consistently disappointed this year. SMU, Temple and UConn have all struggled more than we expected them to. Tulsa and Memphis are in rebuilding mode. Houston was supposed to be good this season but they’ve yet to live up to the preseason hype.

Think about it like this: The only team in the AAC without multiple losses on the season is now UCF. That’s … not ideal, and it’s going to be interesting to see just how many bids the league is able to generate.

Think about it. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. UConn beat Syracuse but has some atrocious losses on their resume. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. UCF’s best win is … Mississippi State?

Cincinnati’s lone quality win is at Iowa State, who is about to drop out of the top 25.

POSTERIZED: Wichita State’s Daishon Smith dunks on Oklahoma big man

WICHITA, KS - NOVEMBER 13:  Guard Daishon Smith of the Wichita State Shockers drives up court past forward Roschon Prince #23 of the Long Beach State 49ers during the first half on November 13, 2016 at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kansas.  (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
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Daishon Smith is 6-foot-1.

Kristian Doolittle is 6-foot-7.

The lil guy won this battle:

Here’s another angle of the dunk, which sent Wichita State’s bench into hysterics:

POSTERIZED: Duke’s Grayson Allen with a Dunk of the Year candidate (VIDEO)

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It looks like Grayson Allen’s toe is healthy. I’d say his explosivness is back:

Whoa.

Yeah.

POSTERIZED: Five-star Class of 2017 guard Trevon Duval dunks on 6’8″ defender

CHARLOTTE, NC - JULY 9: Trevon Duval during the 2015  Under Armour All-America Basketball Camp on July 9, 2015 at Queens College in Charlotte, NC. (Photo by Ned Dishman/Under Armour)
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Class of 2017 point guard Trevon Duval put down a huge poster dunk on a 6’8″ defender on Saturday as the five-star prospect showed why many consider him the top lead guard in high school basketball.

The 6-foot-2 Duval is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.

Nigel Hayes shines against as No. 17 Wisconsin beats Marquette

MILWAUKEE, WI - DECEMBER 10:  Nigel Hayes #10 of the Wisconsin Badgers is fouled by Luke Fischer #40 of the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half of a game at the BMO Harris Bradley Center on December 10, 2016 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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What a difference a year makes.

Last season at this time, Wisconsin dropped a home game to a Marquette team that was headed to the NIT.

This year?

The Badgers put six players in double-figures as they went into Milwaukee and knocked off Marquette, 93-84.

Bronson Koenig continued his hot shooting, finishing with 18 points and six assists while shooting 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Vitto Brown chipped in with 15 points, Khalil Iverson had 16 and Ethan Happ chipped in with 11 despite battling foul trouble all afternoon.

But the really story here – hell, the story of Wisconsin’s season to date – has been the change in the way that Nigel Hayes plays.

Hayes was terrific again on Saturday. He had 17 points, nine boards, four assists and three steals. He shot 6-for-10 from the floor and attempted just a pair of threes, making one of them. He had the ball in his hands when Wisconsin was trying to kill off the game, and, more importantly, head coach Greg Gard has seem to start to take advantage of just how good Hayes can be as a facilitator.

There are a couple of points that need to be made here:

  1. When Hayes plays like this, he deserves to be in the all-american discussion. He’s averaging 18.0 points, 7.3 boards and 6.7 assists in the three games Wisconsin has played against high-major competition since the change, and the Badgers have won five straight games while playing easily their best basketball of the season.
  2. And it’s not just because of the numbers he puts up. When Hayes operates as Wisconsin’s de-facto point guard, it makes everyone else on the roster better. For starters, it allows Koenig to play off the ball, where he seems to be more effective. He’s at his best when he’s hunting shots and trying to create off the bounce, but his aggressiveness can be detrimental when he’s the only one touching the ball. It also means offense runs through Happ more often since Koenig isn’t dominating possession, and it lets guys like Brown space the floor because they’re actually able to get rhythm threes.

As of today, Wisconsin is the favorite to win the Big Ten, even if Indiana is far more likely to end up being a No. 1 seed in March.