Late Night Snacks: Traevon Jackson propels Wisconsin past No. 9 Michigan State

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GAME OF THE DAY: Wisconsin 60, No. 9 Michigan State 58

Wisconsin entered Sunday’s game in need of a second consecutive victory in order to keep the momentum gained from their win at Illinois on Tuesday night. They did that thanks to Traevon Jackson, whose jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Madison. Wisconsin had four players finish in double figures, with freshman Nigel Hayes scoring 14 points off the bench to lead the way. As for Michigan State, Adreian Payne scored 24 points and Travis Trice added 13, nearly resulting in the Spartans winning in spite of a 3-for-20 afternoon from Gary Harris.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) St. John’s 70, No. 12 Creighton 65

The Red Storm may have begun Big East play with five consecutive losses, but by no means was their season over. Steve Lavin’s Red Storm have now won six of their last seven games, and the late-game defending of Doug McDermott (25 points) by Jakarr Sampson was critical on Sunday night. McDermott failed to score at all in the final 8:40 of the game, and his teammates were unable to make the plays needed to leave Madison Square Garden with the win. D’Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm, who are looking to fight their way into the NCAA tournament picture, with 19 points.

2) No. 1 Syracuse 57, Clemson 44

The Orange limited Clemson to 34% shooting from the field in winning their 23rd consecutive game, moving to 10-0 in the ACC. This is the first such start to conference play in school history for Syracuse, with C.J. Fair scoring 19 points to lead the way offensively. Next up: a game at No. 25 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, but it remains to be seen if they’ll have center Baye Moussa Keita for that one. Keita left Sunday’s game after spraining his right knee in the first half.

3) No. 2 Arizona 76, Oregon State 54 

After squeaking out a two-point win on Thursday night against Oregon, the Wildcats took care of Oregon State in Tucson. Arizona shot 50% from the field, and defensively Nick Johnson and company limited Roberto Nelson to ten points on 3-for-12 shooting. Arizona will play its next three games on the road, beginning with a trip north to battle rival Arizona State on Valentine’s Day.

STARRED

1) A.J. English (Iona) 

English accounted for 32 points (10-for-17 FG), six assists and five rebounds in the Gaels’ 101-91 win at Canisius.

2) Xavier Johnson (Colorado)

Johnson scored 27 points (10-for-14 FG) and grabbed ten rebounds in the Buffaloes’ 91-65 beating of Washington. For the weekend Johnson averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

3) TaShawn Thomas (Houston) 

Thomas tallied 25 points (10-for-12 FG), nine rebounds and six blocked shots in the Cougars’ 88-74 win over Temple.

STRUGGLED

1) Gary Harris (Michigan State)

Harris scored just six points on 3-for-20 shooting in the Spartans’ 60-58 loss at Wisconsin.

2) UCF starters not named Isaiah Sykes

While Sykes shot 6-for-13 from the field in the Knights’ 75-55 loss to No. 22 UConn, his fellow starters combined to shoot 1-for-15 from the field.

3) C.J. Wilcox (Washington) 

Wilcox shot 2-for-10 from the field (0-for-7 3PT), scoring eight points in the Huskies’ 91-65 loss at Colorado. Wilcox is averaging 19.8 points per game this season.

NOTABLES

  • Iona took a two-game lead in the MAAC with a 101-91 win at Canisius. A.J. English scored 32 points to lead the way for the Gaels.
  • Manhattan also completed the difficult sweep of the Buffalo schools, with Rhamel Brown’s block as time expired preserving a 78-77 win at Niagara. Brown finished the game with 22 points and six blocked shots.
  • Holy Cross beat Bucknell 66-50, picking up its seventh win in the last eight games. Justin Burrell led the Crusaders with 19 points and four rebounds.
  • Jerrold Brooks scored 19 points and Michael Craig 14 to lead Southern Miss to an 81-64 win over Charlotte, keeping pace with UTEP atop Conference USA as a result. A point of concern for the Golden Eagles: senior guard Neil Watson leaving the game in the first half with a sprained ankle.
  • Indiana State rebounded from its loss to No. 4 Wichita State with a 60-56 win over Drake. Khristian Smith scored 19 points off the bench for the Sycamores, who are 9-3 in Missouri Valley play.
  • Chaz Williams scored 21 points and dished out seven assists to lead UMass to a 73-68 win at Rhode Island.
  • Quincy Diggs’ jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining gave Akron a 65-63 win at Bowling Green. The win keeps Akron a game ahead of Ohio and Buffalo in the MAC East standings.
  • DeAndre Daniels made his return to the court for No. 22 UConn after missing the last two games, scoring 14 points in the Huskies’ 75-55 win at UCF. Lasan Kromah and Shabazz Napier tallied 17 points and seven rebounds apiece.

Anthony Grant to replace Archie Miller at Dayton

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Dayton has hired Anthony Grant to replace Archie Miller as head coach, the program announced on Thursday.

“Anthony Grant is a proven winner with the highest integrity,” Athletic Director Neil Sullivan said. “He has successful experience in coaching, recruiting and playing basketball at an elite level. I welcome Anthony to our staff and look forward to partnering with him as we continue to aggressively pursue graduating student-athletes, winning conference championships and advancing in the NCAA tournament. He is absolutely the right coach.”

Grant is a Dayton alum. He spent 12 years as Billy Donovan’s assistant coach before finally landing a head coaching gig at VCU. After three seasons with the Rams, he took over at Alabama, where he was fired in 2015.

Grant has spent the last two years with Donovan as an assistant with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

“I am honored and humbled to be the head coach at the University of Dayton,” Grant said. “It’s a great responsibility to take over at an institution that is so well-respected. Anyone you talk to in college basketball would say our program is a successful one, but the potential is here for so much more.”

North Carolina ‘repeals’ HB2 to satisfy NCAA, anti-LGBTQ discrimination remains legal

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Late on Wednesday night, literally hours before an NCAA-imposed deadline that would have prevented the state of North Carolina from hosting any and all NCAA tournament events until at least 2022, the lawmakers in the state announced that they have reached an agreement to repeal House Bill 2, a discriminatory law that is commonly known as the bathroom bill.

The question now is whether or not this repeal will be enough to satisfy the NCAA, who was one of a handful of businesses that pulled out of the state due to HB2. According to the AP, more than $3.7 billion in revenue will be lost over the next decade as a result.

The issue with HB2 isn’t just that it makes it illegal for transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify as. That gets the headlines, but the real damage done by this law is that it curbs legal protections for the LGBTQ community by banning local governments from passing laws to make discrimination illegal for at least three years.

From the New York Times:

Gay rights advocates were harshly critical of the bill. Cathryn Oakley, senior legislative counsel for the Human Rights Campaign, said that the compromise would leave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people with no statewide anti-discrimination ordinance and no ability to seek such protections from local government for a number of years.

“What that means for the L.G.B.T. community is that we continue to be boxed out of nondiscrimination protections,” she said.

Chris Sgro, executive director of the gay rights group Equality North Carolina, said that the proposal “keeps North Carolina as the only state in the country obsessed with where trans people use the restroom through law.”

From the Charlotte Observer:

“The rumored HB2 ‘deal’ does nothing more than double-down on discrimination and would ensure North Carolina remains the worst state in the nation for LGBTQ people,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The consequences of this hateful law will only continue without full repeal of HB2. Sellouts cave under pressure. Leaders fight for what’s right.”

The NCAA had pulled first and second round games from Greensboro for this year’s tournament, instead allowing Greenville, South Carolina, to host the games. That’s significant because the NCAA, in 2002, pulled all events from that state because they flew the confederate flag on the statehouse grounds. The flag came down in 2015, and the NCAA rewarded the state with games; it’s hard not to see that as a statement to North Carolina.

In this year’s tournament, No. 2 seed Duke lost a game to No. 7 seed South Carolina in a game that was played in South Carolina instead of in North Carolina. The location wasn’t the only reason Duke lost that game, but you’ll have trouble convincing me that quasi-home court environment didn’t play a role.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.