Bright future evident after SMU’s blowout win over No. 7 Cincinnati

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Nick Russell finished with 15 points and Nic Moore chipped in with 14 as SMU picked up their biggest win in the Larry Brown era on Saturday night, smacking around No. 7 Cincinnati in Moody Coliseum and eventually winning 76-55.

The Mustangs held Cincinnati to 35.4% and 4-for-22 from three, which isn’t exactly a shock given how inept the Bearcats can be on the offensive end of the floor when Sean Kilpatrick is having an off-night and how improved SMU is on that end of the floor; they’re 17th in defensive efficiency this year, as opposed to 151st last season. What was surprising, however, is that SMU managed to shoot 54.3% from the field against a Bearcat D that had built a reputation as one of the toughest and most physical in the country.

It was a beatdown.

SMU was clearly the better team on this night, and it wasn’t even close.

It was the third time that SMU has beaten a ranked team on their home court, which is probably the best sign of just how far this program has come under head coach Larry Brown, who is more than a decade or two past the age where you’re still celebrating birthdays with numbers. Moody was sold out on Saturday night in a game on national television in front of a student section that could only be described as raucous.

The biggest hurdle Brown had to clear at SMU was fan apathy. He’s done that, fielding a team full of transfers that will likely see their first national ranking in almost three full decades on Monday morning.

Here’s the crazier part, however: this was supposed to be the year before the year. Next season, SMU has the nation’s top point guard, Emmanuel Mudiay, coming into the program to join a team that will basically bring everyone back next year. Keith Frazier, the all-american wing that Brown brought in from the Class of 2013, still hasn’t reached his potential.

Most importantly, SMU had their biggest win in decades in their best performance of the season in front of a terrific college basketball environment all while a ridiculous amount of local high school talent was in attendance: Elijah Thomas (No. 9 2015), Jawun Evans (No. 59 2015), Matt McQuaid (No. 58 2015), Austin Grandstaff (No. 32 2015), King McClure (No. 14 2015), Admon Gilder (No. 123 2015), Terrance Ferguson (No. 10 2016), P.J. Washington (2017).

The state of Texas has as much hoops talent as anywhere in the country right now, and those players have to go somewhere. Rick Barnes of Texas hasn’t seemed to care about recruiting in recent summers. Scott Drew has brought in some talent to Baylor, but his teams — and players — always seem to underachieve. Texas A&M isn’t relevant right now. Neither is Texas Tech and Houston.

That leaves SMU.

Where a hall of fame coach with impressive NBA credentials is already winning games and already has a McDonald’s all-american this season with another on the way.

Who knows how long Brown’s coaching career actually lasts, and speculating about a group of uncommitted high school juniors would be getting way — WAY — ahead of myself.

But right now, the pieces are in place for Brown to turn SMU into a powerhouse in the AAC.

I guess that was a pretty good hire after all.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

(YouTube)
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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.