Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Ohio State hosts Iowa in Big Ten play

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 20 Iowa vs. No. 3 Ohio State, 1:30 p.m. (CBS)

The Hawkeyes travel to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in a battle between two top 20 teams in an early Big Ten Conference clash. Iowa has lost three games — Villanova, Iowa State and Wisconsin — and in each of those games blew second half leads. Ohio State trailed by 17 points against No. 5 Michigan State, in East Lansing, on Tuesday night. But Thad Matta’s club was able to force overtime before 3-pointers from Kenny Kaminski, Adreian Payne and Keith Appling.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET? Washington over No. 15 Colorado, 3 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)

The Huskies, who have won four of five games — that only loss coming to top-ranked Arizona — welcome No. 15 Colorado on Sunday. The Buffaloes are coming off a less than stellar performance against Washington State in an overtime win.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Green Bay vs. Milwaukee, 2 p.m.

The two top teams in the Horizon League meet in Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon. Green Bay, led by Kiefer Sykes’ 19.6 points per game, have three losses on the season — a three-point loss to Wisconsin and against Harvard — while knocking off Virginia at home. Milwaukee is 2-1 in conference play after losing to Cleveland State.

FIVE THINGS TO KNOW

1) Louisville hosts SMU. The Cards are 2-2 in their last four games with those losses coming to Kentucky and Memphis. The Mustangs are coming off a win over UConn.

2) The Ducks were undefeated. But thanks to Colorado and Cal, they are trying to avoid a third straight loss against Stanford. The Cardinal have also lost two consecutive conference games. Will Oregon or Stanford get a much-needed win?

3) Iowa State suffered its first loss. Wichita State came back from 19 down to remain unbeaten while Syracuse stayed perfect as well. No. 1 Arizona looks to remain on the dwindling list of unbeatens on the road against USC.

4) San Diego State has a tough Mountain West test on the road against Air Force. Is Tre’ Coggins enough to lead the Falcons over the Aztecs talented frontline?

5) Saturday was jam-packed with ACC games. North Carolina, Duke and Notre Dame all lost while Pitt and Virginia both picked up W’s. There’s only one conference game on Sunday is between Maryland and Florida State. If the Terrapins win they move into fourth place. If the Seminoles win they share the fourth spot with Clemson.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • No. 1 Arizona vs. USC, 9 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • SMU vs. No. 12 Louisville, 1 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • No. 13 San Diego State vs. Air Force, 4 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Stanford vs. No. 17 Oregon, 5 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
  • No. 23 Illinois vs. Northwestern, 7:30 p.m. (Big Ten Network)

NOTABLES:

  • Nebraska vs. Purdue, 12 p.m. (Big Ten Network)
  • Southern Miss vs. Tulsa, 1 p.m.
  • Monmouth vs. Canisius, 2 p.m.
  • Iona vs. Siena, 2 p.m.
  • Xavier vs. Creighton, 3 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
  • Akron vs. Ohio, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Utah vs. Washington State, 7 p.m. (Pac-12 Network)
  • Maryland vs. Florida State, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
  • Arizona State vs. UCLA, 10 p.m. (ESPNU)

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.