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Late Night Snacks: Texas Tech whips No. 12 Baylor

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: UNLV 76, New Mexico 73

After playing poorly in home losses to Air Force and Nevada the Runnin’ Rebels needed to circle the wagons with games at New Mexico and San Diego State this week. On Wednesday night UNLV brought the effort needed to win a game of this magnitude and it paid off, with Bryce Dejean-Jones scoring 23 points to lead four players in double figures. While the win is a step forward for UNLV, New Mexico has some adjustments to make on the defensive end.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Texas Tech 82, No. 12 Baylor 72

Tubby Smith’s Red Raiders executed at a high level on the offensive end, shooting 57.1% from the field in a game they led by as many as 24 points. Five Texas Tech players scored in double figures with Jaye Crockett’s 19 leading the way. As for Baylor, if they don’t improve defensively they can forget about contending for a Big 12 title.

2) No. 16 UMass 88, George Mason 87

For a team that’s currently ranked 16th the Minutemen have lived a charmed existence of sorts in Atlantic 10 play. wednesday’s victory is the third straight in which Derek Kellogg’s team needed to stage a comeback in the second half, with Derrick Gordon’s basket with 8.4 seconds remaining proving to be the difference. Even though UMass continues to escape with victories, should we be concerned about them?

3) Maryland 74, Notre Dame 66

In a game both teams needed in a big way it was Maryland who got the desired outcome, with Dez Wells’ 17-point second half sparking a rally from a nine-point halftime deficit. Maryland’s road back to the NCAA tournament will be a difficult one, but their win on Wednesday is a step in the right direction.

STARRED

1) Rodney Glasgow (VMI) 

Glasgow scored 36 points on 13-for-16 shooting (10-for-10 FT) as the Keydets won 101-88 at Radford. Teammate D.J. Covington added 28 points and 11 rebounds.

2) Trevor Releford (Alabama)

28 points on 10-for-13 shooting (6-for-9 3PT), four rebounds and four assists in Alabama’s 80-61 win over Mississippi State.

3) Tanner Plomb (Army)

29 points (11-for-15 FG) and ten rebounds in the Black Knights’ 78-75 loss to Holy Cross.

STRUGGLED

1) Virginia Tech

In their 56-49 loss to Clemson the Hokies shot 4-for-14…from the free throw line.

2) Winthrop

The Eagles shot just 4-for-20 from deep and 27.8% from the field overall in their 56-51 loss to Gardner-Webb.

3) UMBC

Shot 11-for-40 from the field (27.5%) and committed 19 turnovers in a 56-42 loss at New Hampshire.

NOTABLES

  • A Codi Miller-McIntyre three-point play proved to be the difference as Wake Forest beat N.C. State 70-69 in Winston-Salem. Miller-McIntyre scored 20 points to lead four Demon Deacons in double figures, and after the win the athletic department’s Twitter account sent out an interesting tweet.
  • Trailing 53-36 with 15 minutes remaining, Xavier outscored Georgetown 44-14 the rest of the way to win 80-67. Semaj Christon scored 18 points and Dee Davis added 17 to lead the way for the Musketeers.
  • In what was the finish of the night, Julius “Juice” Brown’s jumper as time expired gave Toledo a 67-65 win over Buffalo. Brown finished the game with 20 points and six assists.
  • No. 4 Michigan State won 54-40 at Northwestern without the injured Adreian Payne, who according to multiple outlets will undergo X-rays on his foot on Friday.
  • Jabari Bird returned to the floor for California in their 82-56 pasting of Washington, accounting for two points and five assists. Tyrone Wallace led five Golden Bears in double figures with 14 points, moving Cal to 4-0 in Pac-12 play.
  • Manny Arop and Dawon Cummings scored 14 points apiece to lead Indiana State to a 70-55 win over Missouri State. Next up for the Sycamores: a game at No. 5 Wichita State on Saturday.
  • UMass-Lowell picked up its third America East victory, beating reigning conference tournament champion Albany 70-66 in overtime. Akeem Williams scored 20 points and dished out eight assists to lead the way.
  • Florida State moved to 3-1 in ACC play with a hard-fought 63-53 win at Miami.
  • Marshall Henderson made his return for Ole Miss, scoring 25 points to lead the Rebels to an 88-74 overtime win over LSU. But the most important line may have been provided by freshman forward Sebastian Saiz, who tallied 20 points and nine rebounds.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 9 Oklahoma State 82, TCU 50
  • No. 10 San Diego State 68, Fresno State 60
  • No. 24 Saint Louis 66, St. Bonaventure 60

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.