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Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Syracuse, No. 18 Kentucky win Saturday’s showdowns

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 Kentucky 73, No. 6 Louisville 66

The home team won both of Saturday’s games matching ranked teams, with the young Wildcats beating their in-state rival despite not having Julius Randle for much of the second half. The Harrison twins and James Young grew up in the second half, and that certainly bodes well for the Wildcats down the line. As for Louisville, they need to get more from guys other than Chris Jones and Russ Smith

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 2 Syracuse 78, No. 8 Villanova 62

After a hot start by the visiting Wildcats the Orange found their groove, winning the matchup of former Big East rivals behind the point guard play of Tyler Ennis. Villanova attempted 31 three-pointers, allowing themselves to be seduced into taking those shots by the Syracuse zone. And while those shots fell early, they didn’t fall with the same regularity as the game progressed. 

2) No. 25 Missouri 68, N.C. State 64

Jordan Clarkson scored 21 points and Jabari Brown added 17 as the Tigers beat the Wolfpack in their first true road game of the season. Another important development for the Tigers moving forward was the play of freshman Johnathan Williams III, who accounted for ten points and seven rebounds. T.J. Warren led N.C. State with 24 points and 13 rebounds, but he didn’t score in the game’s final 11 minutes. 

3) No. 23 UMass 69, Providence 67

A Derrick Gordon putback with just over a second remaining proved to be the difference as the Minutemen beat the Friars by two points for the second consecutive season. UMass was able to win despite the fact that starting point guard Chaz Williams fouled out late in regulation. 

STARRED: 

1) J.J. Avila (Colorado State) 

33 points (14-for-17 FG), eight rebounds and four assists in the Rams’ 86-71 win over Lamar. 

2) Rayvonte Rice (Illinois) 

28 points (10-for-16 FG), seven rebounds and three assists in the Fighting Illini’s 74-60 win over UIC. 

3) Trevor Releford (Alabama) 

34 points (11-for-15 FG) and five steals in the Crimson Tide’s 75-67 loss at UCLA

STRUGGLED: 

1) Akron

The Zips’ road trip came to an end at South Carolina and it’s a good thing it did, as they shot 32.5% and committed 21 turnovers in a 78-45 loss to the Gamecocks.

2) Tulane

The Green Wave scored ten points in the first half and shot 28.6% from the field in a 72-41 loss to Kansas State.

3) Boston College

The Eagles shot 3-for-18 from beyond the arc and committed 23 turnovers in their 69-50 loss to VCU. 

NOTABLES: 

  • BYU is in trouble when it comes to the NCAA tournament. The Cougars lost their WCC opener 87-76 at Loyola Marymount, with Evan Payne leading the victors with 27 points. 
  • In its first game without Mitch McGary, Michigan beat Holy Cross 88-66. Glenn Robinson III led the way offensively with 23 points.
  • No. 24 Gonzaga was also without a starting big man, as Sam Dower missed the Bulldogs’ 74-60 win over Santa Clara. David Stockton accounted for 21 points and four steals. 
  • Chris Perry (18 points) led USF to a 61-57 win at Bradley, with the game being the eighth straight contest decided by five points or less for the Bulls (h/t Ray Curren).
  • Justin Jackson tallied 15 points, ten rebounds and four blocks in Cincinnati’s 74-59 win over Nebraska. 
  • Kyle Cain scored 18 points and grabbed ten rebounds to help lead UNCG to a 55-52 win at Virginia Tech. 
  • Jake Odum finished with 25 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals to lead Indiana State to an 86-73 win over Belmont. The Bruins won the first meeting of the season between the two teams last month in Nashville. 
  • Jabari Parker tallied 23 points and eight rebounds and Andre Dawkins hit six three-pointers in No. 9 Duke’s 82-59 win over Eastern Michigan. Also of note: Amir Jefferson grabbing 14 rebounds in the win. 
  • Kareem Jamar (26 points, eight rebounds) hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds to give Montana a 72-71 win at Idaho. 

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 4 Wisconsin 80, Prairie View A&M 43
  • No. 5 Michigan State 101, New Orleans 48
  • No. 15 UConn 82, Eastern Washington 65
  • No. 17 Memphis 75, Jackson State 61
  • No. 21 Colorado 84, Georgia 70

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.