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Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Arizona survives, No. 22 Gonzaga not as fortunate

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: DePaul 99, Butler 94 (2OT)

This wasn’t one of the games on the “marquee” for Thursday night, but the Blue Demons and Bulldogs combined to play an entertaining contest at Hinkle Fieldhouse. DePaul erased an 11-point deficit in the final 3:46 of regulation to force overtime, only to see Jackson Aldridge force a second overtime with a follow of a Kellen Dunham miss as time expired. But freshman Billy Garrett Jr. (22 points, five assists) and Tommy Hamilton IV (17 points, 12 rebounds) performed well for DePaul, as did forward Cleveland Melvin who scored 30 points. Dunham led five Butler players in double figures with 30 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 1 Arizona 79, UCLA 75

The top-ranked Wildcats looked to be well on their way to a 16th win of the season, but turnovers and missed free throws left the door open for the home-standing Bruins. Ultimately Sean Miller’s team was able to make the plays needed to remain undefeated, with USC standing between the Wildcats and the best start in school history.

2) No. 24 Memphis 73, No. 12 Louisville 67

After nearly forgetting that their big men needed to get touches in a loss to Cincinnati on Saturday, Memphis did a much better job of getting the ball to Shaq Goodwin and Austin Nichols (and sharing in general) in a six-point win at Louisville. While the Tigers now have a second win over a ranked team this season Louisville is still without a “signature” victory, which could impact their NCAA tournament seeding come Selection Sunday.

3) California 96, No. 17 Oregon 83

Jordan Mathews scored 20 of his career-high 32 points in the first half and Justin Cobbs added 20 points and 11 assists as the Golden Bears beat the Ducks for the 12th consecutive time. Cal’s now 2-0 in Pac-12 play, and keep in mind that this group is still without Jabari Bird and Ricky Kreklow.

STARRED

1) Karvel Anderson (Robert Morris)

Anderson scored 36 points in the Colonials’ 79-70 win at Sacred Heart, shooting 15-for-19 from the field (6-for-7 3PT).

2) Tevin Calhoun (Troy)

35 points on 11-for-15 shooting (7-for-9 3PT) and six rebounds in the Trojans’ 98-84 win over Arkansas State.

3) Josh Williams (Lipscomb) 

34 points (13-for-17 FG), four rebounds and three assists in the Bisons’ 82-80 win at East Tennessee State.

STRUGGLED

1) Clemson

The Tigers shot 30% from the field and finished with more turnovers (18) than made field goals (15) in their 56-41 home loss to Florida State.

2) Chris Jones (Louisville) 

Jones couldn’t find his groove in the Cardinals’ 73-67 loss to Memphis, scoring just two points on 1-for-9 shooting.

3) C.J. Cooper (UTEP) 

Cooper shot 2-for-13 from the field (2-for-11 3PT) in UTEP’s 73-68 loss to Charlotte.

NOTABLES

  • Derrick Walton Jr.’s layup with 21.8 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Michigan’s 71-70 win at Nebraska, moving the Wolverines to 3-0 in Big Ten play. Nebraska missed two shots at the win before time expired.
  • Manhattan’s 81-76 loss at Quinnipiac could prove even costlier for the Jaspers, as leading scorer George Beamon left the game in the first half with a shoulder injury. According to the school he’ll be reevaluated on Friday.
  • Stanford dropped to 0-2 in Pac-12 play with an 81-72 loss at Oregon State, with Roberto Nelson scoring 21 points and Eric Moreland adding 17 to go along with 15 rebounds.
  • Semaj Christon scored 28 points to lead Xavier to an 86-79 win over Marquette, setting up a showdown for a share of first place in the Big East with Creighton this weekend.
  • Without the suspended Fran McCaffery No. 22 Iowa had little trouble with Northwestern, beating the Wildcats 93-67 with Aaron White leading the way with 18 points, ten rebounds and five assists.
  • Portland ended its 20-game losing streak to Gonzaga, beating the Bulldogs 82-73 in Portland. Bryce Pressley led the way with 16 points and nine assists.
  • Another WCC result that won’t help the conference earn multiple NCAA tournament bids was Santa Clara’s 57-55 win at Saint Mary’s. Jared Brownridge’s three-pointer with two seconds remaining proved to be the difference.
  • UC Irvine held on to beat Long Beach State 46-44 in a matchup of two of the teams expected to contend in the wide-open Big West.
  • While Montana and Weber State have been the standard in the Big Sky in recent years, keep an eye on Northern Colorado. B.J. Hill’s Bears whipped Weber State 70-51 thanks in part to a 21-point, 13-rebound performance from Derrick Barden.
  • Sam Mills scored 17 points to lead three La Salle players in double figures as the Explorers held off George Washington, 76-72.

Illinois PG expected to be ready for practice

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Illinois point guards and injuries have been an unfortunate trend over the past two seasons with Tracy Abrams, who missed the past two seasons with a torn ACL followed by a torn Achilles the next year.

On Sunday, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports reported some good news for an incoming Fighting Illini floor general. Te’Jon Lucas, a three-star prospect from the Class of 2016, will be fully cleared for the start of practice, according to Rothstein. In February, Lucas had broke his fibula in his right leg in two places during a game.

Lucas had committed to Illinois the previous September.

Abrams received a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June, and he decided to remain in Champaign for his final season. If healthy, he’ll be the starter. Jaylon Tate is also back for another season. But they are both seniors, which makes Sunday’s report important for John Groce’s program. Lucas will be on the floor Day 1 of practice, being molded for the future by two experienced guards.

The 5-foot-11 Lucas is the only true freshman on the roster.

Illinois begins the 2016-17 season on November 11, hosting Southeast Missouri State.

Xavier adds to class with three-star center

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Xavier added a fourth piece to its 2017 recruiting class on Sunday morning.

Kentravious Jones, a 6-foot-11, three-star recruit, committed to the Musketeers. He announced the decision via Twitter.

Chris Mack’s current recruiting class is headlined by four-star swingman Naji Marshall. The incoming quartet also includes guard Elias Harden and forward Jared Ridder. But Jones’ commitment fits an area that needs to be addressed for the Musketeers moving forward. Xavier isn’t particularly deep when it comes to big men. That frontcourt only gets thinner once RaShid Gaston, a graduate transfer from Norfolk State, exhausts his eligibility after this season.

Jones, along with current freshman forward Tyrique Jones, gives Xavier a young foundation for the future. Jones is an old-school, big-bodied center. He’s got a nice back-to-the-basket game, and had his best stretch of the summer during the UAA Finals. In three games with the Atlanta Xpress, he averaged 15.3 points, shot 59 percent from the field, and grabbed nine boards per game.

Conditioning will be the emphasis for him over the course of the next year. However, we have seen Xavier work well with a big, skilled centers in the past (see: Stainbrook, Matt). According to Shannon Russell of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jones has dropped 30 pounds.

Sunday morning’s news may not even be Xavier’s last score on the recruiting trail. The Musketeers have one scholarship remaining (two, or three if Edmond Sumner and Trevon Bluiett enter the NBA Draft this spring), and are in play for several coveted prospects like point guards Paul Scruggs, Quade Green and Matt Coleman, as well as forward Kris Wilkes.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.