Austin Hollins

Late Night Snacks: Minnesota holds off Nebraska-Omaha, Princeton proves legitimacy

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Minnesota 92, Nebraska-Omaha 79 — Friday nights in college hoops tend to be quiet, but Minnesota and Omaha put on a show at The Barn tonight with the Gophers holding on for the win. Deandre Mathieu led all scorers with 27 points for Minnesota.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) SMU went on the road and beat Wyoming to improve to 10-2 on the season. This all but concludes the Mustang’s non-conference schedule — they still have a date with Hofstra in mid-January — and now things really begin to ramp up. Their next three: at Cincinnati,vs. Connecticut, at Louisville. SMU is a solid team, but we’ll find out just how good they are during this stretch.

2) Princeton went out west and dismantled a solid Pacific team, 83-58, in the Las Vegas Holiday Hoops Classic. The win pushes the Tigers to 9-1 on the season.

3) For the second time this season, Utah State and UC Santa Barbara did battle, and for the second time the Aggies came out on top. The Gauchos figured to have a better chance this time around as their star player Alan Williams, who missed the first meeting, was back for tonight, but Utah State won 77-71 in overtime. Spencer Butterfield at 31 and 10 in the win.

STARRED

1) Stephen Croone, a 6-foot-0 guard from Furman, had some kind of night going off for 40 points and 11 rebounds in an 86-83 victory against Liberty. Scoring 40 points on just 16 shots is downright efficient. Croone could have had even more if he hit his free throws as he was 13-21.

2) SMU’s bench was the reason for coming away victorious at Wyoming as they combined to score 32 of the Mustangs’ 62 points. Markus Kennedy led the way with 15 point.

3) Marist entered tonight’s game against Bucknell at 1-9, but their record may not be the best indicator of what kind of team the Red Foxes are as six of their losses have come against teams ranked in the Top 100, according to Ken Pomeroy. Marist has won two straight games after thrashing Bucknell, 69-51. Chavaughn Lewis had 19 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in the win.

STRUGGLED

1) Not having played in close to two weeks, Bucknell may have felt the lingering effects of the exam break tonight at Marist. The Red Foxes, who were 1-9 entering the game, jumped out to a 21-3 lead. The closest the Bison would get the rest of the way was 14 points — just a thorough beating.

2) Sacred Heart’s trip out west got more difficult tonight as they lost 82-50 to UNLV. The Pioneers shot just 3-17 3PT and 1-6 FT. They are now 2-10 in Anthony Latina’s first season at the helm.

3) Yale (minus Javier Duren) lost tonight to Albany, 70-62. The loss isn’t necessarily a bad one, but the performance of everyone with the exception of Javier Duren was poor. Duren was 8-15 FG for 26 points, while the rest of the team was 10-42 for 36 points.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

Ernie Kent
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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.