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Late Night Snacks: UConn wins in OT, Syracuse survives again

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 24 UConn 86, No. 20 Memphis 81 OT

Shabazz Napier had himself a day. UConn’s all-american point guard finished with 34 points, five boards and four assists as the Huskies outlasted Memphis in overtime.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

1) No. 3 Florida 69, No. 14 Kentucky 59: Florida’s performance over the last 11 minutes of this game was absolutely dominating. The Gators scored at least one point on each of their final 13 possessions, averaging 2.38 PPP over that stretch. In the last six minutes, they allowed the Wildcats to score just six points.

2) No. 1 Syracuse 56, N.C. State 55: The Orange are still undefeated after they won their third straight game by one point. This time, it was a turnover that led to a layup with 6.7 seconds left that gave them the win.

3) No. 12 Saint Louis 64, VCU 62: Well, the Billikens are going to win the Atlantic 10. In a battle of the two best teams in the conference, Saint Louis was victorious, taking a three-game lead over the Rams, who are currently sitting all alone in second place.

STARRED:

1) Baylor’s Kenny Chery had himself a day, finishing with 20 points, 12 assists, 10 boards and three steals in a double-overtime win over Kansas State.

2) Sean Kilpatrick had another huge game, finishing with 28 points and six assists while committing just a single turnover as No. 10 Cincinnati knocked off Houston, 73-62.

3) Perry Ellis: 32 points, 13-for-15 from the floor, eight boards, five assists, two steals. No. 7 Kansas beat TCU, 95-65. The Horned Frogs had 19 fields goals as a team.

4) Jabari Parker for No. 8 Duke went for 23 points in a 69-67 win over Maryland.

STRUGGLED:

1) Talib Zanna and Lamar Patterson combined to go 7-for-26 from the floor as No. 25 Pitt lost at North Carolina, 75-71.

2) Vols not named Jordan McRae or Jarnell Stokes were 6-for-25 from the floor in Tennessee’s 75-70 loss to Missouri.

3) Indiana. The entire team.

NOTABLES:

  • No. 5 San Diego State struggled to put away Air Force in Viejas Arena, winning 64-56.
  • Deandre Kane went for 17 points, nine assists and eight boards as No. 11 Iowa State beat Texas Tech, 70-64.
  • Four players reached double figures as No. 16 Iowa knocked off Penn State on the road.
  • Joe Harris led the way with 16 points as No. 17 Virginia survived a tough trip to Clemson.
  • Javan Felix led five players in double-figures with 18 points as No. 19 Texas blew out surging West Virginia.
  • No. 22 Ohio State held Illinois to six points in the first 12 minutes of the second half in their 48-39 win.
  • BYU got 18 points from Tyler Haws in an important win over Saint Mary’s.
  • Buddy Hield led four players in double figures with 22 points as Oklahoma overcame a huge game from Markel Brown to sweep Bedlam.
  • Marquette got 18 points from Jake Thomas in an 81-72 win over Xavier.
  • Utah couldn’t overcome 24 points from Jordan Adams in an 80-66 loss to UCLA.
  • Ole Miss committed three turnovers on the road and got 24 points out of Marshall Henderson … and lost? To Georgia?
  • Not a bad day for Alex Kirk, the second-best big man on New Mexico: 29 points, five boards, five assists, four blocks and no turnovers.
  • Middle Tennessee State beat Southern Miss to move into first place in Conference USA.
  • Jeff Mullahey scored 27 points as Troy handed Georgia State their first loss in Sun Belt play, 85-81.

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)
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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.