Late Night Snacks: Four ranked teams fall on first Saturday of 2014

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GAME OF THE DAY: Notre Dame 79, No. 9 Duke 77 

In their ACC debut Notre Dame knocked off Duke in South Bend, with guard Eric Atkins playing an important role in the outcome. Atkins finished the game with 19 points and 11 assists, and with Jerian Grant done for the season he’ll need to continue to do so. For Duke, Rodney Hood scored 27 points and Quinn Cook added 22, but a struggling Jabari Parker didn’t play for the final three-plus minutes. With Notre Dame having lost home games to Indiana State and North Dakota State, Saturday’s result was a much-needed one from a resume standpoint.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Kansas State 74, No. 6 Oklahoma State 71

Marcus Foster scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Nino Williams added 15 off the bench as the Wildcats beat Oklahoma State in Manhattan. Le’Bryan Nash led the Cowboys with 20 points and nine rebounds, but with Markel Brown and Marcus Smart combining to shoot 8-for-22 Oklahoma State was unable to win their Big 12 opener. And looking forward, the Cowboys’ lack of interior depth in the aftermath of Michael Cobbins’ season-ending injury is a concern.

2) SMU 74, No. 17 UConn 65

The two-game trip to Texas wasn’t a good one for the Huskies, as they lost to both Houston and SMU. While UConn has some serious issues to address in regards to their front court production and offensive execution, Saturday’s win is a big one for Larry Brown’s program. In the first game at the new Moody Coliseum, the Mustangs put on a nice show for the sold-out crowd.

3) No. 2 Syracuse 49, Miami 44

Syracuse played its first conference game as an ACC member against the reigning ACC champions and it certainly wasn’t easy, as the Hurricanes did a good job of limiting the Orange’s fast break opportunities. But the Orange found a way to win anyway, with C.J. Fair scoring 15 points and Tyler Ennis adding ten points and seven assists.

STARRED

1) Elfrid Payton (Louisiana) 

The Ragin’ Cajuns fell to UL Monroe 103-98 in double overtime but Payton was highly productive, racking up 34 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and five steals. And we have to mention UL Monroe’s Tylor Ongwae, who finished with 27 points and 11 rebounds.

2) Doug McDermott (Creighton)

One day after his birthday McDermott dropped 3o points, ten rebounds and five assists in the Bluejays’ 79-66 win at Seton Hall.

3) Cameron Bairstow (New Mexico) 

Bairstow racked up 29 points and 14 rebounds in New Mexico’s 80-73 win over Colorado State. And according to Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal, Bairstow drew 14 fouls on the day. 

STRUGGLED

1) Memphis guards 

Memphis’ four-guard attack struggled offensive in the Tigers’ 69-53 loss to Cincinnati, combining to shoot 14-for-49 (28.6%) from the field and 2-for-17 from three.

2) Florida State

The Seminoles shot 30.8% from the field and had as many turnovers as made field goals (16) in their 62-50 home loss to Virginia.

3) Milwaukee

The Panthers missed all 16 of their three-point attempts (and shot 27.9% from the field overall) in a 77-49 home loss to Cleveland State.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

NOTABLES

  • After getting off to a slow start and trailing 17-2, Pittsburgh rebounded to win 74-62 at N.C. State with Lamar Patterson scoring 17 of his 22 points in the second half.
  • In the 100th meeting between the two teams Georgetown blew out St. John’s 77-60. D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scored 31 and grabbed six rebounds to lead the way.
  • Iona shot 64.5% from the field and 14-for-26 from three in their 118-92 beating of Niagara, setting school records for points in a regulation game and assists (34).
  • Maryland shot 10-for-19 from three and turned the ball over just six times in their 77-61 win over Georgia Tech.
  • Utah bounced back from a tough loss to No. 10 Oregon Saturday, beating Oregon State 80-69 with Brandon Taylor accounting for 23 points and eight assists.
  • Iona wasn’t the only team to set a school record for points in a game, as Louisiana Tech scored 126 in their 126-52 pasting of Longwood. The Bulldogs shot 17-for-35 from deep.
  • E.C. Matthews tallied 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists while Gilvydas Biruta added 19 points and 14 boards in Rhode Island’s 74-70 win at LSU.
  • Dayton was the other Atlantic 10 team to beat an SEC team, as Devin Oliver banked in a three with three tenths of a second remaining to give the Flyers an 83-80 overtime win at Ole Miss.
  • Can’t say that too many people expected Air Force to be 2-0 in Mountain West play (tied with Nevada), but they are after winning 75-68 at UNLV.
  • Buddy Hield led five Oklahoma players in double figures with 22 points as the Sooners beat rival Texas 88-85 in Austin.
  • Skyler Halford took full advantage of his first career start at BYU, scoring 28 points (11-for-16 FG) in the Cougars’ 87-53 win over San Diego.

Cameron Johnson ending his slump is big for No. 15 North Carolina

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When it comes to the long-term hopes of No. 15 North Carolina, not only to win the ACC but to also be a national title contender, the play of veterans Joel Berry II and Luke Maye will be critical.

Rated among the best in the country at their respective positions, Berry and Maye entered Tuesday’s game against No. 20 Clemson averaging a combined 35.6 points per game.

Yet it would be two other Tar Heels, Kenny Williams III and Cameron Johnson, who combined to do the damage that dropped the visiting Tigers to 0-59 all-time in Chapel Hill. North Carolina won 87-79, holding off a Clemson squad that shot 61.3 percent from the field in the second half due in large part to the work done in the first half.

While both Maye and Berry II were kept quiet in the first half, Williams (12 points) and Johnson (eight) combined to score 20 points in the stanza. Johnson would finish the game with 21 points, the most that the Pitt transfer has scored in a North Carolina uniform, and Williams would add 15 as Roy Williams’ team moved to 4-2 in ACC play.

Berry (17 points, four assists), Theo Pinson (12 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Maye (11 points, four rebounds, five assists) all performed better in the second half, making it possible for the Tar Heels to hang on despite being challenged by a team that made ten of its first 11 second-half shots.

Williams and Johnson have proven themselves to be capable supplementary scorers this season, with the former averaging just over 12 points per game on the season and the latter at 9.7. But in the case of Johnson, following up his 2-for-10 effort in Saturday’s win over Notre Dame by shooting 7-for-10 from the field (6-for-9 3PT) is a needed bounce-back effort.

Prior to Tuesday night, Johnson reached double figures just once in the four games prior (14 vs. Boston College) and shot a combined 3-for-16 from three. Getting Johnson back on track is a big deal for North Carolina, and if his performance against Clemson can serve as a spark that would certainly bode well for the Tar Heels moving forward.

A productive Johnson affords Roy Williams the luxury of playing a “small” lineup in which Johnson mans the four and Maye the five. This North Carolina team isn’t like past editions in the Williams era, as many of those squads possessed the ability to have two “true” big men on the court at all times. With the big men lost from last year’s national title team, it’s been Maye carrying much of the load with freshmen Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley both looking to work their way into the fold.

A consistent Johnson not only makes North Carolina better, but it’s also a necessity given the team’s available options.

As for Clemson, this game felt like one of the program’s best chances to finally pick up that elusive win in Chapel Hill. Brad Brownell’s group entered the game with a 15-2 record, and with the improvements both in the post (Elijah Thomas) and on the perimeter (Marquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell) this is a group that has some staying power.

But Reed, Mitchell and forward Donte Grantham got off to frigid starts, combining to score two points on 0-for-13 shooting from the field in the first half. Despite the first-half efforts of Thomas the hole was too deep to climb out of, with Clemson pulling to within two on multiple occasions in the second half. Reed got hot in the second stanza, finishing the game with 21 points, and Mitchell would add 18 points to the effort.

Now 1-1 halfway through an important four-game stretch — Notre Dame next, followed by a trip to Charlottesville to take on No. 2 Virginia — when it comes to their NCAA tournament seeding prospects, Clemson paid the price for its inability to knock down shots in the early going. But in their comeback, the Tigers put forth a performance along the lines of what they’ve managed to do for much of this season to date.

Unfortunately for Clemson, its supplementary scorers were unable to match the production of Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams III.

VIDEO: Kentucky coach John Calipari shows long-range skills during shootaround

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Kentucky coach John Calipari’s shooting touch is still there, even from long range.

The Hall of Famer proved that during Tuesday’s shootaround before the No. 18 Wildcats faced South Carolina in a late-evening Southeastern Conference contest. In a video posted on his official Twitter account, Calipari stepped up and drained a basket from center court to his players’ surprise.

The coach smiled as he walked off the court, showing the swagger and confidence he seeks from another young roster of freshmen and sophomores.

Then again, one key to a coach getting what he wants from players is showing them how it’s done.

No. 3 Boilermakers keep rolling by blowing out Badgers 78-50

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Vincent Edwards scored 21 points and Carsen Edwards added 20, leading No. 3 Purdue to a 78-50 blowout over Wisconsin on Tuesday night.

The Boilermakers (18-2, 7-0 Big Ten) have won 14 straight overall, 19 in a row at home and have matched the best 20-game record in school history. The only other time Purdue did that was 1987-88 when it also won its first seven conference games.

Ethan Happ had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds to lead the Badgers (9-10, 2-4). Wisconsin has lost three straight — all on the road.

But they were never in it Tuesday.

Purdue made its first four 3-point attempts to jump out to a 12-0 lead, and then things got even worse for the Badgers.

Wisconsin needed more than 7 1/2 minutes to make a basket, and then the Boilermakers continued to pour it on.

Purdue extended the lead to 36-16 before the Badgers finally fought back to get within 39-22 at the half.

The second half was a virtual replay when Purdue’s first three baskets were again all 3s. And when Vincent Edwards drove in for a layup with 16:59 to go, the Boilermakers led 50-29.

Wisconsin cut the deficit to 16 with 14:50 to go, then allowed a 10-2 run to make it 62-38.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: Tuesday night’s performance looked very non-Badger like. They struggled to score, struggled on defense, got into foul trouble, couldn’t get to loose balls and had 15 first-half turnovers. They’re young, and, yes, they were playing their third straight road game. But they need to improve greatly.

Purdue: The Boilermakers just keep rolling along. They’ve held 11 straight opponents under 70 points, have made at least 10 3s in six of their last seven games and have won their last two by a combined 62 points. It’s hard to imagine Purdue playing much better.

KEY STATS

Wisconsin: Finished with a season high 20 turnovers. The Badgers’ previous high was 15. … Nobody other than Happ scored more than eight points or made more than two baskets. … The Badgers are 0-5 against ranked teams this season, each coming from a different conference: Xavier (Big East), Baylor (Big 12), UCLA (Pac-12), Virginia (ACC) and Purdue.

Purdue: P.J. Thompson scored 14 points and Carsen Edwards had five rebounds and four assists. … Purdue was 14 of 22 on 3s, giving them 10 or more in six of its last seven games. … The Boilermakers have held 11 straight opponents to fewer than 70 points. … Purdue is 17-0 on American soil.

No. 12 Cincinnati beats UCF 49-38

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Gary Clark scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to help No. 12 Cincinnati to a 49-38 victory over Central Florida.

Jacob Evans added 10 points for the Bearcats (16-2, 5-0 American Athletic Conference), who won their ninth straight game.

UCF (12-6, 3-3) got seven points apiece from Tacko Fall, Terrell Allen and Dayon Griffin, but struggled the entire game to get inside the Bearcats defense. UCF shot just 30 percent for the game and committed 14 turnovers.

It was expected to be a defensive game and both teams played up to that for the entire 40 minutes.

Cincinnati, which has suffered slow starts in its last three games, overcame this one by using speed in transition to beat the Knights down the court. That was especially effective when Fall, UCF’s 7-foot-6 center, was on the bench, which he was when Clark made a layup to put the Bearcats ahead for good at the 13:40 mark of the second half.

Clark’s basket was the start of a 10-2 run that gave Cincinnati a 38-30 lead.

UCF made a brief run when Fall got six straight points on two dunks and a layup to cut the deficit to 39-36, but the rally died when the Knights center missed two free throws on the next possession.

Clark took an alley-oop pass and slammed it home at the other end to push Cincinnati’s lead to 45-36 with 3:52 left in the game and UCF never got closer.

VIDEO: Chris Silva posterizes Kentucky’s Wenyen Gabrial

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Chris Silva is quietly having an excellent season for South Carolina, and while the struggles of the Gamecocks have left that somewhat under the radar, this dunk on Kentucky was anything but.