The Secondary Break: Tuesday’s Links

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Questions remain as UMass hits home stretch (Daily Hampshire Gazette)
During much of the non-conference portion of the season, Derek Kellogg’s UMass Minutemen were a pleasant surprise that put together one of the better resumes in college basketball. Unfortunately for UMass the rigorous Atlantic 10 schedule has resulted in three losses, and as they approach the home stretch there are some significant questions to be addressed.

Talent in college basketball in need of new definition (Sports Illustrated)
What does it take to be labeled as “talented” in college basketball? Is it solely about physical gifts, or are there other aspects that need to be taken into consideration? Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis tackles this question and makes some good points about what all should be taken into consideration when discussing “talent.”

Documentary on Duke/North Carolina rivalry premieres Sunday (Beverly Hills Courier)
For all the great games that the Duke and North Carolina basketball programs have staged over the years, there seems to be a shortage of documentaries on one of college basketball’s greatest rivalries. On Sunday evening a new documentary on the rivalry will make its west coast premiere in Los Angeles.

Petteway leading Cornhuskers’ surge in Big Ten play (Associated Press)
Who’s the leading scorer in Big Ten play? Michigan State’s Gary Harris? Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell? The answer is actually Nebraska sophomore Terran Petteway, who’s currently averaging 19.5 points per game in Big Ten play. And he’s a big reason why Tim Miles’ Cornhuskers have won three of their last four games.

Caught in a shooting slump, Oregon’s Joseph Young found his answer in a familiar place: the gym (The Oregonian)
Shooting slumps are something that every basketball player has to deal with at some point in their career. What separates the standouts from the ones who are merely good is what they do about it. Oregon’s Joseph Young was faced with a shooting slump entering last week’s games against the L.A. schools, and his hard work helped the Houston transfer snap out of that funk.

John Calipari expects better defense from Kentucky basketball team (Louisville Courier-Journal)
One issue that many freshmen have trouble with when making the move from high school to college is understanding the commitment it takes to play well on the defensive end. That’s something that Kentucky’s had to address, and John Calipari isn’t too pleased with the way in which they’ve defended of late.

Maryland set for last game as ACC member in Chapel Hill (Raleigh News & Observer)
On Wednesday night the Maryland Terrapins will visit North Carolina, with the contest being the final one between the two as ACC members. The series has been in existence since 1924, and the two programs have staged some quality games over the years. But with Maryland moving to the Big Ten, this long-running chapter will be coming to an end.

High-scoring games becoming routine for Haws (Salt Lake Tribune)
After hitting a rough stretch during the latter stages of non-conference play, BYU finds itself tied for second place in the WCC at the halfway point. The biggest reason why: the prolific scoring ability of junior guard Tyler Haws. Haws’ ability to score has reached the point where some have even begun to take his recent stretch for granted.

Arizona Wildcats basketball: Surgery likely for Ashley (Arizona Daily Star)
With Brandon Ashley sidelined for the remainder of the season after breaking his right foot, No. 2 Arizona has begun the process of moving forward with the pieces they have. What does Ashley’s injury mean for their rotation? More minutes for the six players safely in the rotation, and an opportunity (depending in part on the opposition) for forward Matt Korcheck and guards Jordin Mayes and Elliott Pitts.

No. 7 South Carolina upends No. 3 Baylor to advance to the Elite 8

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NEW YORK — It was with a whipping and a whimper that Baylor’s season can to an end on Friday night.

The final two minutes of the game wasn’t actually a game. No. 7 seed South Carolina dished out a 70-50 beatdown that wasn’t in doubt after the Gamecocks used an 18-0 run at the end of the first half to turn a rock fight into statement, and for the final two minutes of the game, the Gamecocks and, eventually, Baylor dribbled out the remaining seconds before joining arms at center court for a postgame prater.

It’s the third straight year that Baylor has been bounced from the NCAA tournament by a team seeded lower than them. In 2015, it was R.J. Hunter’s heroics that knocked his dad off of a stool and sent No. 14 seed Georgia State into the second round of the tournament. In 2016, the Bears fell in the first round to No. 12 seed Yale, prompting one of the most memorable press conference moments in NCAA tournament history.

And on Friday night, it was South Carolina that sent the Bears into offseason hibernation.

It was a disheartening end to a season, a loss that will surely provide fodder for the people that traffic in ‘Scott Drew can’t coach’ jokes, the irony being that the 2016-17 season was definitive proof that Scott Drew is almost certainly better at his job than you are at yours.

“When you coach for a while and you make Elite Eights and Sweet 16, you kind of start taking it for granted that you will always be successful in March,” Drew said. “But it’s a good reminder to be here and know how hard it is.”

No. 1 North Carolina handles No. 4 Butler en route to Elite Eight

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North Carolina, the top seed in the South Region, led by as many as 20 en route to a 92-80 win over No. 4 Butler in the Sweet 16 matchup on Friday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Tar Heels were led by 26 points, off 8-of-13 shooting, from junior point guard Joel Berry II. The 6-foot floor general had been hampered by an ankle injury through the first weekend. While he still seemed to favor that same ankle at times, his play was a big improvement on his 3-of-21 shooting through the NCAA Tournament’s first two rounds. Justin Jackson nearly matched Berry’s game-high with 24 points.

Andrew Chrabascz, in the final game of his four-year career at Butler, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

North Carolina, the last of the ACC’s nine tournament bids, advances to the Elite Eight to face the winner of No. 3 UCLA and No. 2 Kentucky. The Wildcats own a win over North Carolina, defeating the Tar Heels, 103-100, on Dec. 17 behind 47 points from Malik Monk.

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.