Late Night Snacks: No. 1 Arizona falls, but status of Brandon Ashley more important

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Syracuse 91, No. 17 Duke 89 (OT)

The first meeting between these two storied program as members of the same conference did not disappoint, with the Orange needing overtime to beat the Blue Devils. Duke made 15 three-pointers against the Syracuse zone and scored 32 points in the paint, but Jabari Parker and Amile Jefferson fouling out late in regulation robbed them of their two best front court players. Syracuse’s C.J. Fair scored 28 points to lead all scorers, while it was Rasheed Sulaimon who led five Blue Devils in double figures with 16. His three-pointer as time expired forced overtime.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) California 60, No. 1 Arizona 58

Justin Cobbs’ jumper with nine tenths of a second remaining proved to be the difference, but it was the play of big men David Kravish (14 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and four blocks) and Richard Solomon (12 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks) that put the Golden Bears in position to win the game. The biggest issue for Arizona: the health of Brandon Ashley, who injured his right foot early in the game and per head coach Sean Miller’s post game comments there’s a concern that he may have broken the foot. That would be a far bigger issue for Arizona than the fact that they suffered their first loss of the season.

2) No. 25 Texas 81, No. 6 Kansas 69

Rick Barnes’ Longhorns are now a game out of first place in the loss column, with Isaiah Taylor scoring 23 points and Jonathan Holmes adding 22 to lead the way offensively. Also of note for Texas was the play of young big men Prince Ibeh and Cameron Ridley, who more than held their own against Kansas’ talented front court. As for the Jayhawks, they’ve allowed three straight opponents to shoot better than 40% from the field, and while that may not seem like a big deal Bill Self-coached teams are generally better defensively than that.

3) Georgetown 64, No. 7 Michigan State 60 (OT) 

Did Georgetown save its season with this win? That remains to be seen, but the fact of the matter is that the Hoyas were in desperate need of some good news. They also welcomed back Jabril Trawick, who missed time with a broken jaw. Gary Harris scored 20 for Michigan State, but without Adreian Payne and Branden Dawson the sophomore guard didn’t receive enough help.

STARRED

1) Alan Williams (UCSB)

Williams tallied 27 points, 20 rebounds and four assists in the Gauchos’ 82-67 win over UC Davis.

2) Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)

Harvey made ten of his 15 three-point attempts, scoring 38 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists in the Eagles’ 94-90 overtime win over Northern Colorado.

3) Juwan Staten (West Virginia) 

35 points on 8-for-13 shooting, five assists and four rebounds in the Mountaineers’ 81-71 win over Kansas State.

STRUGGLED

1) Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell (Arizona) 

Arizona’s starting backcourt had a rough night in Berkeley, with Johnson shooting 1-for-14 and McConnell not registering a single assist in the Wildcats’ 60-58 loss at Cal.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Wiggins shot 2-for-12 from the field and scored seven points in the Jayhawks’ 81-69 loss at No. 25 Texas.

3) Ashton Moore (The Citadel)

Moore made just two of his 14 attempts from the field, scoring six points in the Bulldogs’ 62-43 loss at Davidson.

NOTABLES

  • No. 3 Florida used stifling defense to roll over another overmatched opponent, beating Texas A&M 69-36 in Gainesville. And on Tuesday night against Missouri, Chris Walker will make his debut.
  • No. 4 Wichita State moved to 23-0, beating Evansville 81-67 after recovering from a slow start. The Shockers, who trailed by 15 in the first half, led by as much as 19 in the second.
  • The wildest finish of the day: that would be Sacramento State’s 78-75 win over Weber State. Dylan Garrity’s 75-footer may have won it, but read this recap of the final 15 seconds by Jonathan Reed of Big Sky Basketball.
  • No. 24 Ohio State picked up a win they really needed, beating No. 14 Wisconsin 59-58 in Madison. And as a result of this it’s now the Badgers who have lost five of their last six.
  • Aaron Harrison led four players in double figures with 21 points and No. 11 Kentucky won 84-79 at Missouri. An Alex Poythress blocked shot in the final minute sealed the outcome.
  • Baylor ended its skid with a 76-70 win at No. 8 Oklahoma State, with Brady Heslip (20 points) and Gary Franklin Jr. (11) playing well in place of the injured Kenny Chery. As for the Cowboys, they need more from Marcus Smart.
  • Chris Collins’ Northwestern Wildcats won again, beating Minnesota 55-54 in Minneapolis with Drew Crawford scoring 17 points to lead the way.
  • Halil Kanacevic scored 18 points to lead Saint Joseph’s to a 73-68 win over No. 21 UMass in Philadelphia. The Minutemen, who began A-10 play 3-0, are now 4-3.
  • Gabriel Olaseni established new career highs with 15 points and 12 rebounds as No. 15 Iowa beat Illinois, 81-74.
  • Kevin Olekaibe and Deville Smith made key plays down the stretch to lead UNLV to a 73-69 win over Boise State. Dave Rice’s Runnin’ Rebels moved to 6-3 in Mountain West play.
  • Tyler Haws scored 33 points to lead BYU to an 84-71 win over Saint Mary’s, moving into a tie for second place in the WCC with San Francisco.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25 

No. 1 Villanova leads by 44, beats Ewing, Georgetown 88-56

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WASHINGTON — Top-ranked Villanova led by as many as 44 points — 44! — and gave Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing a rude welcome back to the schools’ rivalry, handing the Hoyas their worst loss in more than 40 years, 88-56 on Wednesday night.

Jalen Brunson led the way with 18 points and seven assists for Villanova (17-1, 5-1 Big East), which finished 17 for 33 on 3s, while Georgetown went 4 for 15.

Mikal Bridges scored 17 for the Wildcats, winners of seven consecutive games against the Hoyas, Villanova’s longest streak in a series that dates to 1922.

The last time Ewing faced Villanova in any capacity was in the last game of his college playing career at Georgetown, a surprising 66-64 victory for the underdog Wildcats in the 1985 NCAA championship game. It was quite clear, quite quickly, on Wednesday that there would be no such tight outcome —nor any chance of an upset by Georgetown (12-6, 2-5).

This is Ewing’s first season as a head coach at any level, and he opted to go with an easy-as-can-be non-conference schedule to try to build his players’ confidence. Now that league play is underway, especially against a foe like Villanova, the gap between the Hoyas and the best teams is obvious.

It was 42-20 at halftime, and Georgetown to that point had more turnovers (nine) than made baskets, shooting 8 for 26, including 0 for 8 on 3s.

Villanova just kept pushing the margin after the break, going up by 30, then 40, and then reaching the apex at 88-44 on a layup by Dhamir Cosby-Roundtree with about 3½ minutes remaining. Less than a minute later, Villanova coach Jay Wright finally sent on the subs and pulled any remaining starters.

INJURED AND ILL

Villanova: Reserves Tim Delaney and Jermaine Samuels sat out with a virus.

Georgetown: Backup PG Trey Dickerson left in the first half with a back spasm and did not return.

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: Since its only loss, 101-93 at Butler on Dec. 30, Villanova has won four games in a row, propelled by an efficient offense that gets a lot of its work done from beyond the arc.

Georgetown: This was the Hoyas’ largest margin of defeat since a 33-point loss to Maryland, 104-71, on Dec. 10, 1974.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Travels to UConn on Saturday in a matchup between former Big East rivals and the Wildcats’ first game at Hartford in five years. Villanova is 12-0 in non-conference games heading into the last one on their schedule.

Georgetown: Hosts St. John’s on Saturday, the teams’ second meeting in less than two weeks. The Hoyas won 69-66 at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 9

NCAA pushes up college hoops start date as Champions Classic will open the season

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The NCAA is pushing up the start of the college basketball regular season to begin on the Tuesday before the second Friday in November.

That means the Champions Classic will open the college basketball season in 2018-19 as announced in an official release on Wednesday. So now, we get Duke vs. Kentucky and Michigan State vs. Kansas in Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse to open the college basketball regular season?

Yes, please.

This is a very smart move for the NCAA as men’s and women’s basketball can now open the regular season a bit earlier. The made-for-TV, neutral-court spectacle of the Champions Classic is also the perfect programming to get casual sports fans to tune in for the opening night of college basketball.

There will also be a new level of intrigue for the Champions Classic with all four superpowers making their season debuts in the event next season. Instead of getting a regular-season tune-up to begin to campaign, all of these teams will get thrown straight into the fire.

Hopefully, the sport can continue to make moves like this to generate casual interest and develop more intriguing non-conference possibilities. College basketball’s regular season has suffered from too many lulls in the past. At least now the regular season will start with a bang.

Arizona State benefits from unusual timing in landing forward Taeshon Cherry

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Arizona State has been one of the biggest surprises in college basketball this season as they’re off to a 14-3 start.

The Sun Devils are also rolling on the recruiting trail as they might have landed their signature recruit on Tuesday night. With high-end, four-star forward Taeshon Cherry pledging to the Sun Devils, it gives them a top-20 class and three different four-star caliber prospects coming in next season.

Bobby Hurley has something going here.

In Cherry, Arizona State gets a 6-foot-9 forward who was previously committed to USC but decommitted in late December. Reportedly “Player-8” in the FBI’s case of college basketball bribery, according to Nathan Fenno of the Los Angeles Times, Cherry’s relative allegedly met Christian Dawkins and financial advisor Munish Sood at a restaurant in Los Angeles on Aug. 8. The group was joined by an undercover FBI agent posing as a financial advisor as the gathering was recorded.

Dawkins and Sood were attempting to get Player-8’s relative to use their financial services for when the player eventually went pro. The FBI’s complaint also said Dawkins was given an envelope of $4,000 to give to the relative from the undercover agent.

But with Cherry not being present for the meeting, and no firsthand account of the relative actually receiving the money, it’s uncertain how the NCAA might respond to this.

So Arizona State jumped right in the mix for Cherry and started recruiting him once he decommitted from USC. The Sun Devils brought Cherry in for an official visit to campus on Jan. 11 — only weeks after Cherry’s decommitment — and were able to secure the commitment days later as he canceled a trip to Texas A&M.

This commitment is no doubt a product of unusual timing and circumstances.

When Cherry pledged to USC right after the July live evaluation period, Trojans assistant coach Tony Bland hadn’t been involved in the FBI scandal and the Trojans had a top-25 team returning this season. Arizona State was only 30-35 in Hurley’s first two seasons and they hadn’t secured the two four-star commitments they would later get in October.

Now, the Sun Devils are a darkhorse Final Four team after its surprising start this season and they were able to land a highly-touted recruit merely weeks after he left a conference rival. Things have changed quickly in the Pac-12 recruiting race in the past few weeks. And Arizona State also benefited from the unusual circumstances surrounding Cherry and his recruitment.

With commitments in each of the next three classes as well — yes, Arizona State even has a commitment from a high school freshman in the Class of 2021 — the Sun Devils are starting to sustain a presence at every level of college basketball. Arizona State will have to replace some talented seniors when Tra Holder and Shannon Evans depart after this season. The program also seems like its heading in the right direction with all of the talent that is flocking to Tempe.

Four-star recruit Joey Hauser enrolls early at Marquette

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Marquette’s top recruit in the Class of 2018 is enrolling early. According to a release from the school, four-star forward Joey Hauser has enrolled at the school and will join the basketball program.

The younger brother of sophomore forward Sam Hauser, the younger Hauser will redshirt this season and have four years of eligibility remaining.

Suffering a few injuries the past few years, Hauser had surgery on his ankle in early December as he’ll get a chance to rehab on campus while also acclimating to the team and school.

“We are really excited to have Joey join us for the second semester,” Marquette coach Steve Wojciechowski said in a release. “It’s a unique opportunity for him to recover from his recent surgery while also becoming acclimated to our basketball program and university.

“He is without question one of the top players in the class of 2018 and for him to be able to get a head start on his career is a tremendous positive.”

Hauser is regarded as the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, as he helped Stevens Point win three consecutive WIAA Division 1 state titles during his first three seasons.

While Hauser won’t be able to play and help Marquette this season, the Golden Eagles only have one senior on the roster in Andrew Rowsey. That means the entire roster gets a head start on being together for next season as Hauser should be a contributor by then.

Notre Dame freshman D.J. Harvey out four weeks with knee injury

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Notre Dame freshman D.J. Harvey will miss the next four weeks with a bone bruise in his left knee.

Harvey, a 6-foot-6 wing, played only seven minutes in Notre Dame’s loss to Louisville on Tuesday night as he’s played 18.2 minutes per contest. With senior All-American candidate Bonzie Colson going down to injury, Harvey had been playing increased minutes for the Fighting Irish, including 37 minutes in Notre Dame’s loss to North Carolina.

Harvey averaged 5.8 points and 2.9 rebounds per game before the injury. The Fighting Irish are fighting the injury bug right now with Colson and Harvey out as their rotation gets even thinner. Notre Dame has dropped three consecutive games as they are 13-6 on the season and 3-3 in the ACC. Another tough game looms for the Fighting Irish as they face Clemson on Saturday.