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.

John Calipari reminds Kentucky fans to remain classy in defeat

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Before traveling to Phoenix for the Final Four festivities, Kentucky head coach John Calipari used his Twitter account in an effort to diffuse the anger members of Big Blue Nation have directed at a referee following a heartbreaking loss in the Elite Eight.

In the days following the season-ending loss to North Carolina, some fans — not all — have harassed official John Higgins. They’ve flooded the Facebook page of his roofing business, leaving negative reviews and lowering his company’s star rating. Some have gone even more extreme, going as far as sending death threats over the phone.

Based on the replies, some have received the message. Others haven’t. The latter, despite it being a small but vocal group, can, unfortunately, paint a fan base with a broad brush.

Mark Emmert: NCAA Board of Governors to meet ‘in the next few days’ to determine N.C.’s tournament standing

AP Photo/David J. Phillip
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GLENDALE, Ariz. — Late on Wednesday night, the state of North Carolina reached an agreement to repeal the controversial and discriminatory House Bill 2 law, which is commonly known as the bathroom bill.

The NCAA had given the state a deadline of Thursday morning to make a change in this law or they would miss out on hosting NCAA tournament game until the 2022 season, so it’s not hard to connect the dots here. The pressure the NCAA asserted on the state helped create a change.

The question is just how much of a change, as many believe that the repeal does not do enough to change what is discriminatory about the law.

“What distinguished North Carolina,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said, “there were four distinct problems that the board had with that bill, and they removed some of them but not all of them. If you removed two or three of them, is that enough?”

The NCAA Board of Governors have stretched out the process of determining future tournament sites as far as possible, Emmert said, meaning that a decision on this new bill will be made soon.

“Because this happened on such short notice, we have to find a time to get together with the board, and that will probably happen in the next few days,” Emmert said, and in those meetings, the board “will determine if this [new] bill is sufficient change.”

“I’m personally very pleased they have a bill to debate and discuss. Hopefully we can be in a place where we can announce the board’s decision early next week.”

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.