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Late Night Snacks: Bubble teams take center stage

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Missouri 86, Arkansas 85 

Jabari Brown’s shot with 10.2 seconds remaining was the difference as the Tigers denied the Razorbacks a much-needed SEC road victory. Arkansas still has just one conference road win to its credit this season, and that came at Vanderbilt last week.

As for the Tigers, Jordan Clarkson scored 27 points and Brown added 25 (14-for-15 FT) as they ended their three-game losing streak. How many teams will the SEC place in the NCAA tournament field? Outside of Florida and Kentucky that’s anyone’s guess, and games such as this one will determine the answer.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) St. John’s 68, Seton Hall 67

A Chris Obekpa free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining moved the surging Red Storm to 7-1 in their last eight games. Losing to the Pirates would have been a tough enough blow, but the fact that Seton Hall played without suspended seniors Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague made this one even more important for St. John’s. St. John’s turned the ball over 19 times but did shoot 53.2% from the field, and they made just one less three-pointer than Seton Hall (three to the Pirates’ four) despite the fact that the Pirates attempted ten more (20 to ten).

2) No. 21 Wisconsin 78, Minnesota 70 

Ben Brust scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Badgers to their second consecutive victory, with Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes added 17 and 15 points respectively. The difference in this one was the free throw line, with Wisconsin outscoring Minnesota 30-15 from the charity stripe.

3) No. 18 Creighton 68, Butler 63

Doug McDermott’s three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining gave the Bluejays the lead for good at Hinkle Fieldhouse, moving Creighton back into a tie for first place with No. 6 Villanova. McDermott finished the game with 26 points and five rebounds, and Will Artino added 11 key points off the bench. Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs with 22 points.

STARRED

1) Isiah Umipig (Seattle)

Umipig racked up 32 points (12-for-20 FG), seven rebounds and two assists in the Redhawks’ 71-57 win at WAC leader Utah Valley.

2) Sherman Blanford (Eastern Illinois) 

Blanford tallied 32 points (13-for-20 FG) and 18 rebounds in the Panthers’ 88-83 loss at Austin Peay.

3) Andrew Rowsey (UNC Asheville)

In the Bulldogs’ 102-92 loss at Radford, Rowsey accounted for 41 points and four assists, shooting 14-for-28 from the field.

STRUGGLED

1) Ryan Weber (Youngstown State) 

Weber shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring two points and committing five turnovers in the Penguins’ 71-40 blowout loss to Green Bay.

2) Chris Fouch (Drexel) 

Fouch made just two of his ten shots from the field, scoring six points in Drexel’s 47-46 loss at College of Charleston.

3) Brett Comer (FGCU) 

Comer shot 2-for-10 from the field and finished with as many turnovers (four) as assists (four) in FGCU’s 89-81 loss at East Tennessee State.

NOTABLES

  • No. 9 Michigan State beat Northwestern 85-70, remaining tied with rival Michigan for first place in the Big Ten as a result. Adreian Payne finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
  • Kyle Anderson racked up 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to lead UCLA to a 92-74 win over Colorado, with the margin not indicative of the game’s competitiveness.
  • Karvel Anderson scored 28 points to lead Robert Morris to a 66-60 win over Saint Francis (PA), moving the Colonials to 10-1 in NEC play.
  • Green Bay rebounded from its second Horizon League loss with a 71-40 win over Youngstown State. Alec Brown scored 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
  • Drew Kelly scored 19 points to lead Morehead State to a 69-67 win over Jacksonville State, keeping the Eagles a game behind Belmont in the loss column atop the OVC East.
  • Chad Frazier scored 20 points in UAB’s 84-60 win over Southern Miss, handing the Golden Eagles their second loss in Conference USA play.
  • Gonzaga bounced back from its loss at Memphis on Saturday night with an 83-68 win over Pepperdine.
  • UCSB moved to 7-2 in Big West play with 65-64 win at Long Beach State. Michael Bryson’s layup with one second remaining gave the Gauchos, who are tied for first with UC Irvine, the win.
  • Utah picked up its first road victory of the season, beating USC 79-71 due in large part to the tandem of Delon Wright (20 points, nine rebounds and five assists) and Jordan Loveridge (19 points, eight rebounds and four assists).
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt’s four-point play with seven tenths of a second remaining gave Georgia Tech a 74-71 win over Boston College.
  • Saint Mary’s is now in sole possession of second place in the WCC after beating San Diego 69-57, with BYU falling 89-82 at Pacific. The Gaels and Cougars meet on Saturday.

Minnesota center to miss a month

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 7: Reggie Lynch #22 of the Illinois State Redbirds and Fred VanVleet #23 of the Wichita State Shockers fight for control of a loose ball during the MVC Basketball Tournament Semifinals at the Scottrade Center on March 7, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
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Minnesota’s projected starting center is sidelined, but is expected to be ready for the season opener.

Reggie Lynch, the Illinois State transfer, had surgery on his left knee, the program announced on Friday night. According to Marcus R. Fuller of the Star-Tribune, the Golden Gophers are anticipating that Lynch is available for the season opener on Nov. 11 against Louisiana-Lafayette.

The 6-foot-10 Lynch has been in the news this offseason prior to his impending debut with Minnesota. In May, he was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault. On August 1, the Hennepin County attorney’s office was announced he would not face charges, citing insufficient evidence.

Lynch spent two seasons at Illinois State, averaging 9.5 points and 5.4 rebounds per game for the Redbirds as a sophomore. He sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules. Minnesota is coming off a second-to-last place finish in the Big Ten with an 8-23 (2-16 Big Ten) record.

Women’s hoops coaches boycotting recruiting events

DENVER, CO - MARCH 31:  Head coach Muffet McGraw of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish directs her team during practice prior to the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four at Pepsi Center on March 31, 2012 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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For some high-major women’s basketball programs, the final evaluation period of 2016 is being used as a vacation from the recruiting trail.

According to a report from Lindsay Schnell of Sports Illustrated, are not attending events during this weekend’s recruiting period for a host of reasons.

First, many are fed up with the price of tournament packets, booklets of rosters that college coaches receive upon paying their entry fee. Packets are supposed to be chock-full of contact information for the prospects, but sometimes aren’t accurate or up-to-date. (This has become a well-documented issue on the men’s side of college hoops. CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish wrote on it this summer.) Furthermore, there are so many events now that college coaches are often forced to pay obscene amounts of money to watch just one player at a single event, and play recruiting hopscotch around the country, criss-crossing the nation to see so many events and spend thousands of dollars. One Power Five coach said her staff crunched the numbers, and found that in just two years, they’ve spent more than $4,000 more than they did in 2014 on packets alone. Another coach told a story of sending an assistant across the country for one day, to one event, to watch one team. When the assistant arrived, the team had left early for its next event. No refund was available for the college that had paid what turned out to be a useless entry fee. The head coach called it “exasperating.”

Jeff Borzello of ESPN, who spoke to Notre Dame head coach and eventual Hall of Famer Muffet McGraw for his report, estimated that the cost for one of the coaches packets — the ones that include player contact information, rosters, etc. — can cost each school an average of $600 per event.

This era of grassroots basketball has taken off in recent years with Nike, Under Armour and adidas all creating their own sponsored leagues. All three run exceptional events from the staff to the facilities, all the way to the three, free meals a day for coaches. Organizers of these events will argue that there’s a cost to running such high-end events. These packets, some of which are so in-depth they include players’ GPAs, help fund these tournaments (events, paying a staff, etc.).

Coaches, mostly mid to low-major coaches, will argue that these packets aren’t worth the cost, considering that every coach (head and assistant) must purchase them in order to gain entrance. And you will find packets where the information inside is either inaccurate, or missing or both. For elite programs, this isn’t an issue. You show up, you’re seen, you leave, you go to the next event, repeat. For mid to low-major coaches, this really puts a dent in their budget, especially when they have to travel to multiple events (buying packets at each one) because you have to land that “steal,” you have to find that player who is overlooked.

This protest, or boycott (or whatever you want to call it) will hurt those these events are intended to help the most: the players. If coaches continue to avoid these tournaments, that late-bloomer may miss out on a scholarship, or that player with mid-major offers won’t get the chance to play in front of high-major coaches.

According to Schnell, there is a proposal, voted on in April, to eliminate a live recruiting period in April and September. But many coaches in women’s basketball have made it clear this weekend how they feel about the issue.

USC lands commitment from three-star center

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USC added to its 2017 recruiting class with a commitment from a 7-foot big man.

Andy Enfield and the Trojans beat out Florida, Vanderbilt and Tennessee for the services of Calvary Christian Academy (Florida) center Victor Uyaelunmo. He announced his college decision on Friday afternoon.

“It was the best fit for me academically and athletically,” Uyaelunmo said according to David Furones of the Sun Sentinel. “The basketball coaches really wanted me to come, and I thought it was the best place for me.

“They told me how they were going to use me, and they have a couple of guys leaving this year, so I just fit in right.”

Uyaelunmo is regarded as a three-star prospect by Rivals, however, ESPN rates him a four-star recruit. He joins a two-man class which includes four-star forward Jordan Usher.

The departure of Nikola Jovanovic, the Trojans’ leading rebounder during the 2015-16, was a surprising one, and one that left USC with a hole in the middle. While Uyaelunmo still has one more year before arriving on the Los Angeles campus, the Trojans have a promising piece in the paint for the future; a long, athletic big man who has the potential, in time, to become one of the nation’s top shot blockers.

Uyaelunmo played for Nike South Beach in the EYBL this spring and summer. In 12 appearances, he averaged 5.0 points. 5.9 rebounds and 1.0 block in 17.6 minutes per game.

VIDEO: Rupp Arena’s new video board arrives

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Rupp Arena is getting a makeover. Take a peak as the new video board arrives and is put together:

Five-star freshman ruled ineligible to play for Villanova this season

Jay Wright
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Omari Spellman will not be eligible to play for Villanova this season, the school announced on Friday morning.

“We are extremely disappointed for Omari,” stated Villanova head coach Jay Wright. “While we don’t agree with the NCAA’s decision, we are members of the association and respect it. We understand why the NCAA felt it had to rule this way.”

“We will make a positive out of this for Omari. He will concentrate on his academics and individual development this season. In the long run Omari will be a better student and player for this experience.”

Spellman is a top 20 recruit that played for St. Thomas More this past season. At 6-foot-9, 260 pounds, Spellman was going to be counted on to play a major role in replacing Daniel Ochefu, the 6-foot-11 center that graduated this past spring. Without Spellman, Villanova will have to rely on inconsistent senior Darryl Reynolds to man their front line.

It is worth noting, however, that Reynolds did average 9.0 points and 10.6 boards in three games Ochefu missed last year. That was the first time in his career that he was given consistent minutes.

Spellman will be allowed to continue to practice with Villanova as he takes an academic redshirt.