Late Night Snacks: No. 17 Ohio State snaps four-game skid

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Portland 114, BYU 110 (3OT)

Portland has now beaten both Gonzaga and BYU at home this season, and their win over the Cougars may stand as one of the best games of the season when we reach early April. Tyler Haws, whose 48 points were the most scored in a WCC game since Loyola Marymount great Bo Kimble scored 50 in a game against San Francisco on February 4, 1990 (interestingly, the late Hank Gathers scored 49 in a game against LSU the day prior), tied the game at 80 with 30 seconds remaining in regulation. And his three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in the first overtime would force a second extra session, only to have Portland’s Bobby Sharp return the favor and force a third extra session.

Sharp scored 27 points off the bench for the Pilots, who also received a 27-point, 18-rebound performance from Thomas van der Mars. In total nine players reached double figures (five for Portland, four for BYU), and if the Cougars are to look at any aspect of this game it would likely be their 9-for-24 night from beyond the arc. Portland outscored them by 15 points from deep, dropping BYU two games behind Gonzaga two days ahead of their meeting in Spokane.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 17 Ohio State 62, Illinois 55

Both teams entered the game with four-game losing streaks but it was Ohio State who made enough shots in the end. LaQuinton Ross scored 14 of his 18 points after halftime and Lenzelle Smith Jr. snapped out of his six-game slump by hitting four of his eight three-point attempts. As for Illinois they need to get Rayvonte Rice, who missed all eight of his shot attempts and went scoreless, back on track.

2) Washington 80, Oregon 76

A C.J. Wilcox three-pointer in the game’s final minute sealed the deal for Washington, who handed the Ducks their fifth consecutive loss. Wilcox hit five of his six three-point attempts and scored 23 points to lead the Huskies, who shot 57.8% from the field. Joseph Young scored 18 to lead Oregon but the struggles of the other starters combined with more defensive woes resulted in yet another defeat.

3) Mercer 68, FGCU 55

In a matchup of the top two teams in the Atlantic Sun the home standing Bears gained a small measure of revenge for last season’s A-Sun tournament final with a 13-point victory in Macon. Langston Hall led the way with 18 points and 11 assists for Mercer, which limited FGCU to 35% shooting from the field and 1-for-17 from beyond the arc. Bernard Thompson scored 21 to lead the way for the Eagles but needed 18 attempts to do so.

STARRED

1) Tyler Haws (BYU) and Thomas van der Mars (Portland) 

Haws scored 48 points (17-for-34 FG, 10-for-13 FT) for the Cougars, only to fall at Portland in triple overtime with van der Mars putting up 27 points (9-for-14 FG) and 18 rebounds (ten offensive).

2) Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)

Harvey set a new Big Sky record by going 20-for-20 from the foul line in the Eagles’ 90-83 win over Southern Utah. Harvey finished the game with 36 points and eight rebounds.

3) R.J. Hunter (Georgia State)

Hunter scored 33 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Panthers’ 77-70 win at Louisiana.

STRUGGLED

1) Rayvonte Rice (Illinois)

Rice went scoreless in Illinois’ 62-55 loss at No. 17 Ohio State, shooting 0-for-8 from the field.

2) UCF

In their 69-51 loss at No. 15 Cincinnati the Knights managed to shoot 6-for-17 from the foul line.  

3) Chasson Randle (Stanford) 

While he did finish with 14 points, six rebounds and four assists Randle shot 3-for-16 from the field in the Cardinal’s 91-74 loss at UCLA.

NOTABLES

  • No. 1 Arizona scored 18 of the first 22 points in their 69-57 win over Colorado, with the final margin not being an indication of the difference between the two teams.
  • Also in Pac-12 play Arizona State ended its four-game skid with a 79-75 win over Utah, giving older brother Jordan Bachynski temporary bragging rights over younger brother Dallin. Jahii Carson led the Sun Devils with 23 points and eight rebounds.
  • Neil Watson scored 28 points to lead Southern Miss to a 75-60 win at Old Dominion, handing the Monarchs their first Conference USA defeat.
  • Sir’Dominic Pointer’s defense in the final seconds preserved a 77-76 win over Seton Hall for St. John’s, the Red Storm’s first Big East win this season.
  • First-year head coach Will Wade has Chattanooga rolling right now, as the Mocs moved to 7-0 in SoCon play with an 84-63 win over preseason favorite Elon.
  • Craig Bradshaw scored 24 points in Belmont’s 80-66 win over Morehead State, moving to 6-1 in OVC play as a result.
  • Despite 28 points and 11 rebounds from Javon McCrea, Buffalo was upset 71-68 at Bowling Green with their three-point shooting (1-for-14) being one of the reasons why.
  • Northern Colorado made 11 of its 16 three-pointers in an 87-72 win over Northern Arizona, moving to 6-1 in Big Sky play.
  • Tony Parker scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds to help lead UCLA to their 91-74 win over Stanford.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

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.