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Late Night Snacks: No. 2 Arizona survives, Sean Kilpatrick thrives

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Belmont 99, Murray State 96

Belmont hasn’t been in the OVC very long, but their three games against Murray State have all been good. Thursday’s meeting was the latest chapter in this series, with the Bruins hanging on to beat the Racers with Blake Jenkins and J.J. Mann scoring 25 points apiece to lead the way. As a team Belmont shot 56% from the field, with Murray State shooting 48% and hitting 12 three-pointers to remain close. Cameron Payne scored 29 points and Jarvis Williams added 21 and 13 rebounds to lead Murray State offensively. The two teams remain atop their respective divisions, with Belmont maintaining a one-game lead in the loss column on Eastern Kentucky in the OVC’s East Division.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 2 Arizona 67, Oregon 65

In their first full game without the injured Brandon Ashley the Wildcats struggled for much of the night, and some suspect foul shooting helped keep Oregon in the game. But the Ducks also missed some key free throws late, falling by two points with Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (14 points, ten rebounds) giving Arizona a much-needed spark.

2) No. 7 Cincinnati 63, No. 22 UConn 58

Senior guard Sean Kilpatrick added more evidence to the argument that he’s one of the nation’s best players, accounting for 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in the Bearcats’ 15th consecutive victory. UConn shot just 32% from the field in the second half, and their offensive struggles in the final 20 minutes contributed to the outcome as well.

3) No. 9 Michigan State 82, Penn State 67

Keith Appling didn’t play due to an injured write but Adreian Payne returned to the court, scoring 12 points and grabbing three rebounds in his first action since January 7. The stars for Michigan State in their win over the Nittany Lions were Kenny Kaminski and Denzel Valentine, with Kaminski scoring a career-high 19 points and Valentine adding 11 points, 11 rebounds and six assists.

STARRED

1) Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri State)

In the Redhawks’ 93-88 overtime loss at SIU-Edwardsville, Stone tallied 37 points (15-for-19 FG), eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

2) Charlie Lee (Cleveland State) and Travis Bader (Oakland) 

In the Vikings’ 92-85 win at Oakland both Lee and Bader stood out for their respective teams. Lee accounted for 31 points, six assists and three rebounds to lead Cleveland State to the win, with Bader hitting ten of his 13 three-pointers and scoring 35 points. Bader set the NCAA record for made three-pointers in a career on Sunday.

3) Brett Comer (FGCU) 

30 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field, eight assists and four rebounds in the Eagles’ 100-71 win over Jacksonville.

STRUGGLED

1) Andrew Andrews (Washington) 

Made just one of his 12 field goal attempts in Washington’s 78-69 loss at Utah.

2) Shabazz Napier (UConn) 

UConn’s leading scorer shot 5-for-19 from the field (2-for-12 in the second half) in the Huskies’ 63-58 loss at No. 7 Cincinnati.

3) Xavier Munford (Rhode Island)

Munford shot 4-for-15 from the field in Rhode Island’s 68-52 loss at VCU. As a team URI shot 34.6% from the field and committed 20 turnovers.

NOTABLES

  • LSU suffered a defeat that won’t look good on its resume, falling 91-78 at Georgia. The Bulldogs shot 60% from the field.
  • Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski put together one of the best games of his career, finishing with 17 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks in the Sun Devils’ 86-82 overtime win over Oregon State. In the win Bachynski also became the Pac-12’s all-time leader in blocked shots (279).
  • Karvel Anderson scored 16 points to lead Robert Morris to a 65-56 win at LIU Brooklyn, maintaining their one-game lead atop the NEC. In the loss LIU’s Jason Brickman moved into 11th on the NCAA’s all-time assist list (941), passing Gary Payton.
  • Juvonte Reddic accounted for 14 points and 11 rebounds as VCU beat Rhode Island 68-52, staying within a game of Saint Louis in the Atlantic 10.
  • Markus Kennedy and Shawn Williams scored 14 points apiece to lead five players in double figures as SMU beat Temple 75-52.
  • Georgia State moved to 10-0 in Sun Belt play with a 68-57 win at UALR, putting the game away with a 16-6 second half run.
  • Davidson shot 16-for-22 from three in its 109-88 win at Samford, with Brian Sullivan making seven of his ten attempts from beyond the arc.
  • Weber State maintained its two-game lead in the Big Sky with an 84-72 win at North Dakota. After the Wildcats and Northern Colorado (7-4) there are eight teams with either five or six conference losses. Only the top seven qualify for the Big Sky tournament.
  • Luke Nelson scored 28 points to lead UC Irvine to a 61-58 win over Long Beach State in a battle of teams tied for first place in the Big West.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
Eric Francis/Getty Images
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (Jon Lopez/Nike)
(Jon Lopez/Nike)
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Arizona landed their first commitment in the Class of 2017 on Friday night as point guard Alex Barcello pledged to Sean Miller and the Wildcats.

Barcello is a 6-foot-2 point guard from Tempe who plays his high school ball for Corona del Sol. He committed to the Wildcats on an official visit to the Tucson campus.

Barcello is a borderline top 100 prospect who sits at No. 123 in the Rivals top 150. He’s known for his ability to shoot, and he’s more of a combo-guard — i.e. shoot-first — than a point guard at times, but he’s a nice pickup and projects as a solid four-year player for the Wildcats.

Virginia, Indiana, Stanford and Butler were the other four schools on Barcello’s list.

Duke lands first commitment in 2017 class

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Alex O’Connell knew exactly where he wanted to play his college ball, which is why, just two days after picking up an offer from Coach K and the Blue Devils, he became Duke’s first recruit in the Class of 2017.

O’Connell announced the on twitter on Friday afternoon:

O’Connell is a four-star prospect from Georgia that had a terrific summer, going from being a borderline top 75 prospect to a player that caught the interest of Duke, who, along with Kentucky, sit atop the college recruiting hierarchy. He’s an explosively athletic and lanky 6-foot-6 wing with three-point range on his jumper. He needs to add some weight and some strength — he’s listed as a crisp 175 pounds — but he has the tools, and the swagger, to develop into a very effective player in the ACC.

Is he a one-and-done prospect?

Probably not. In fact, since 2010, Duke has landed just two players that were rated lower than O’Connell: Antonio Vrankovic and Jack White. If you know who both of them are, you’re probably either Jon Scheyer or lying.

But what O’Connell is is a kid who put in the work to get better this past year and who has the skill set, the physical tools and work ethic to continue to improve. He may not be on Grayson Allen’s trajectory, but O’Connell has the makings of being an impact player for the Blue Devils for three or four years.

Alex O'Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)
Alex O’Connell (Jon Lopez/Nike)

Shaka Smart lands contract extension at Texas

Texas head coach Shaka Smart instructs his team in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Baylor on Monday, Feb. 1, 2016, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Shaka Smart has already landed himself a contract extension at Texas.

The school, according to the Austin American-Statesman, has given Shaka a one-year extension — through the 2022-23 season — and bumped his salary up to a cool $3 million, a raise of $100,000 annually.

Smart’s Longhorns went 20-13 last season and lost on a half court buzzer beater from Northern Iowa’s Paul Jespersen. It will be tough for Smart to match the success that he had last season, specifically because he lost senior point guard Isaiah Taylor to the professional ranks.

That said, the former VCU head man has been reeling in quite a bit of talent from the state of Texas — namely, Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen — and is not all that far from turning the Longhorns back into a relevant member of the Big 12 title race.