Late Night Snacks: Baylor, George Washington, and VCU close out the non-conference with convincing wins

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IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) George Washington 73, Georgia 55 — In their final game of the non-conference, the Colonials bounced back from a loss against Kansas State to handily beat Georgia. GW moves to 12-2 with the win, and have an impressive resume with wins against Manhattan, Miami (FL), Creighton, Maryland, and Boston University. It’s the best start to the season since 2005-06 when they went 26-1 in the regular season. The Atlantic-10 is wide open this season, so continuing to build the resume is of importance for GW.

2) Baylor 80 , Savannah State 50 — Taurean Prince came off the bench to lead Baylor with 15 points. Assuming nothing crazy happens over the rest of the weekend, the Bears should remain in the Top 10 in next week’s AP Poll.

3) Southern Mississippi 66, Drexel 49 — Drexel is feeling the adverse side effects of playing without Damion Lee. The Dragons, after beginning 7-2 with impressive showings in losses against UCLA and Arizona, have dropped three of their last four games to conclude the non-conference play with an 8-5 record. Considering conference realignment poached some of the CAA’s top teams, Drexel still figures to challenge for the league title. Southern Miss, meanwhile, enters Conference USA play with a 13-2 record. They and Louisiana Tech are the favorites to win the league. 

STARRED

1) Mount St. Mary’s had perhaps the shooting performance of the season. Usually, when a team has a higher 3PT% than a FT%, they have shot the ball well. In tonight’s 104-84 win over a solid Norfolk State team, The Mount went 18-25 3PT (72%) and 16-23 FT (69.6%). Coming off the bench, freshman Will Miller was a perfect 5-5 from distance for 15 points in just 11 minutes.

2) South Carolina was hardly stellar tonight against South Carolina State in an 82-75 win, but the win pushes the Gamecocks to above .500 for the non-conference. Once sitting at 2-5, they have rattled off five wins in their past six games — three of them being good ones: Akron (2x) and St. Mary’s. Brenton Williams led the way tonight with 19 points on just seven shots.

3) Briante Weber was a menace tonight in Virginia Commonwealth’s win over Stony Brook as he forced seven turnovers, while dishing out nine assists. Just vintage VCU kind of stuff.

STRUGGLED

1) Stony Brook guard Anthony Jackson struggled against Virginia Commonwealth’s defense, as many guards tend to do. In an 81-63 loss, Jackson shot 2-8 and committed six turnovers to just one assist.

2) Bethune-Cookman players not named Clemmye Owens had a night they’d like to forget. Owens was 7-16 FG and 5-11 3PT, accounting for 19 of Bethune-Cookman’s 51 points in a 14 point loss to Northern Illinois. Aside from Owens, B-C shot 9-38 (24%).

3) Georgia concludes their non-conference schedule losing to George Washington, and falling to an even 6-6 on the season, despite playing an extremely weak schedule. It was an ugly offensive output by the Bulldogs as they had just four assists on 23 buckets, and turned the ball over 20 times. 

 

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.