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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.

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.