Missouri v Florida

Chris Walker returns, Patric Young emerges in No. 3 Florida’s win over Mizzou

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The big news of the day for Florida was that stud freshman Chris Walker would be playing his first game as a collegian on Tuesday night.

And he did enough to pique the interest of Florida fans, throwing down a couple of alley-oops while grabbing two boards and blocking two shots in limited minutes off the bench in a 68-58 win for the No. 3 Gators.

It was promising, but the bigger news may actually have been the play of Patric Young, who finished with 13 points and six boards while showing off an array of moves in the post. He scored over both shoulders, he hit jump hooks with both hands, and overall, he looked like a real threat on the block, which adds yet another weapon to Florida’s arsenal.

You see, the strength of this Florida team is their defense. They have a pair of ball-hawking point guards and a slew of big, athletic wings — Casey Prather, Will Yeguete, Dorian Finney-Smith. That versatility allows them to be able to¬†press, run a couple of different zone, and play either straight man-to-man or a switching man-to-man. The athleticism of their front court players allows them to play ball-screens in a number of different ways. And regardless of what defense they’re in, they play it well.

That’s a nightmare scenario for a coach trying to prepare for them and a major reason why the Gators had allowed an averaged of 42.7 points in their last three games entering Tuesday.

But Florida doesn’t have a ton of great scoring options. Prather is a slasher that gets his buckets from five feet and in. Michael Frazier can shoot the cover off the ball. Scottie Wilbekin is one of the more underrated players in the country. Kasey Hill can create off the bounce. Those are all nice pieces, but there is nothing there that scares you.

And Young’s low post game isn’t going to scare many people, especially considering this performance came against a Missouri team that isn’t exactly known for their interior.

But that’s missing the point: knowing that Young will be able to take advantage of a mismatch inside makes Florida that much more dangerous offensively. Florida doesn’t have a go-to guy offensively, but they also don’t have a weakness. They have a roster full of players that know, understand and execute their roles. That’s not a bad thing.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown:

Niang, Morris lead No. 14 Iowa State past No. 24 Texas

Iowa State forward Georges Niang drives past Texas guard Tevin Mack, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall
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After falling at Texas Tech for the second straight season midweek, No. 14 Iowa State needed to bounce back with No. 24 Texas visiting Hilton Coliseum. The return of Jameel McKay, who was suspended for two games, certainly helped the Cyclones and the play of Georges Niang and Monte Morris was key as well. But the biggest difference on this night was the fact that Iowa State was able to limit the effectiveness of Texas point guard Isaiah Taylor.

 

Taylor scored just nine points on 3-for-14 shooting from the field, and with Morris and Niang scoring 24 points apiece the Cyclones won by the final score of 85-75.

Taylor had multiple opportunities to make plays around the basket thanks to his ability to beat defenders off the bounce, but he struggled to finish. Add in a 0-for-4 night from three, and Texas’ most dangerous offensive option was unable to duplicate his performance in the first meeting between the two teams. In Texas’ 94-91 overtime win over the Cyclones January 12, Taylor scored 28 points and dished out six assists with just one turnover, shooting 11-for-17 from the field.

Four Longhorns finished in double figures, with Tevin Mack and Javan Felix scoring 18 apiece, but with Morris decisively winning the point guard matchup Texas was unable to pick up the win on the road.

For Iowa State the aforementioned tandem of Morris and Niang performed as they did in the first meeting, which should come as no surprise. What helped them, especially when it came to Texas attacking the basket, was the presence of McKay. McKay finished the game with eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks in 22 minutes of action, and to have their best interior defender back on the floor certainly helped the Cyclones on this night.

With their lack of depth Iowa State’s margin for error is small, especially when it comes to foul trouble, injuries and disciplinary reasons.¬†Even with Texas’ size advantage Iowa State outscored them in the paint 48-34, and McKay’s defensive ability factored into that. The Cyclones can put points on the board with the best of them, but at some point they’ll need to string together stops as the games get even bigger.

Iowa State managed to do that down the stretch, with Morris and Niang running the show offensively. And that’s a good formula to be able to rely upon as the season approaches its most important month.