Late Night Snacks: North Carolina beats No. 5 Duke

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Carolina 74, No. 5 Duke 66

North Carolina used the strategy of changing defenses in the second half to confuse Duke, and sure enough it worked. The Tar Heels used both 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones in addition to their man-to-man defense, and the Blue Devils went more than eight minutes without scoring a basket as a result. Add to that Marcus Paige scoring 13 second-half points and Leslie McDonald scoring 21, and North Carolina had its eighth straight victory. As for Duke, their inability to crack those different looks could be a concern for them moving forward.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 13 Michigan State 94, Purdue 79

After putting forth their worst showing of the season on Sunday the Spartans bounced back in a big way, hitting a school-record 17 three-pointers in West Lafayette. Gary Harris scored 25 points and Adreian Payne 23 to lead the Spartans, who remain in a tie in the loss column for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan. The two in-state rivals meet on Sunday in Ann Arbor.

2) BYU 73, No. 25 Gonzaga 65

BYU picked up a valuable result for its resume, beating the Bulldogs by eight in Provo. Anson Winder made all ten of his free throws and scored a team-best 17 points for the Cougars, who had four players score in double figures. Neither team shot particularly well from three, but the difference was the play of BYU’s bench. Cougar reserves outscored Gonzaga’s bench 34-21 on the night. As for Gonzaga, they’ll have to wait to clinch the WCC outright after shooting 40.7% from the field.

3) Seton Hall 82, Georgetown 67

Being a bubble team in February is as much about avoiding losses that will hurt the resume as it is picking up quality wins. Georgetown’s 15-point loss in Newark qualifies as a result that will not help their cause, with Fuquan Edwin pacing Seton Hall with 21 points. As a team Seton Hall shot 55% from the field and assisted on 20 of its 27 made baskets, proving to be too much for the Hoyas to handle.

STARRED

1) Kendrick Perry (Youngstown State) 

Perry scored 35 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field to go along with nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in the Penguins’ 88-83 overtime win over Milwaukee.

2) Jarvis Haywood (Jacksonville)

Accounted for 28 points on 11-for-14 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists in the Dolphins’ 91-86 win over East Tennessee State.

3) Stacy Davis (Pepperdine) 

27 points and 12 rebounds in the Waves’ 72-69 win at Loyola Marymount.

STRUGGLED

1) Jordan Sims (UTSA)

Sims shot 1-for-10 from beyond the arc in the Roadrunners’ 85-56 loss at Southern Miss.

2) LaVonte Dority (Valparaiso) 

Dority made just three of his 13 shots from the field, scoring nine points in the Crusaders’ 67-53 loss at Green Bay.

3) Myles Mack (Rutgers) 

Mack did account for seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in the Scarlet Knights’ 64-59 loss to Memphis, but he also shot 4-for-17 from the field.

NOTABLES

  • Terran Petteway scored 26 points to lead Nebraska to an 80-67 win over Penn State, building on the momentum gained in their win at Michigan State on Sunday.
  • East Carolina led by as much as 13 in the second half before holding on for a 75-68 win over Louisiana Tech. As a result of the loss the Bulldogs are now a game behind Middle Tennessee and UTEP for first place in Conference USA.
  • Robert Morris came back from a 10-point second half deficit to beat LIU Brooklyn, 73-64, moving to 12-1 in NEC play. Andy Toole’s Colonials are now 12-1 in league play.
  • Quinnipiac beat Canisius 88-81 in Buffalo to move into a second-place tie with Manhattan in the MAAC. And with the Bobcats having swept the season series, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker should those two teams finish the season tied.
  • Green Bay clinched the Horizon League regular season title with a 67-53 win over Valparaiso. As a result Brian Wardle’s team will host the quarterfinals and semifinals of the conference tournament, and should they advance to the title game they’ll host that as well.
  • Kareem Jamar scored 25 points to lead Montana to a 68-57 win over Weber State, shrinking the Wildcats’ lead in the Big Sky to a single game over Northern Colorado.
  • Josh Huestis became Stanford’s all-time leader in blocked shots while also accounting for 11 points and 18 rebounds in the Cardinal’s 80-59 win over USC.
  • UC Irvine picked up a 60-56 overtime win at Hawai’i, winning in spite of a 5-for-17 night from Luke Nelson. The win keeps the Anteaters on top of the Big West standings, one game ahead of UCSB and two ahead of Long Beach State.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 21 UConn 68, Temple 55
  • No. 22 Memphis 64, Rutgers 59

Cameron Johnson ending his slump is big for No. 15 North Carolina

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When it comes to the long-term hopes of No. 15 North Carolina, not only to win the ACC but to also be a national title contender, the play of veterans Joel Berry II and Luke Maye will be critical.

Rated among the best in the country at their respective positions, Berry and Maye entered Tuesday’s game against No. 20 Clemson averaging a combined 35.6 points per game.

Yet it would be two other Tar Heels, Kenny Williams III and Cameron Johnson, who combined to do the damage that dropped the visiting Tigers to 0-59 all-time in Chapel Hill. North Carolina won 87-79, holding off a Clemson squad that shot 61.3 percent from the field in the second half due in large part to the work done in the first half.

While both Maye and Berry II were kept quiet in the first half, Williams (12 points) and Johnson (eight) combined to score 20 points in the stanza. Johnson would finish the game with 21 points, the most that the Pitt transfer has scored in a North Carolina uniform, and Williams would add 15 as Roy Williams’ team moved to 4-2 in ACC play.

Berry (17 points, four assists), Theo Pinson (12 points, seven rebounds, six assists) and Maye (11 points, four rebounds, five assists) all performed better in the second half, making it possible for the Tar Heels to hang on despite being challenged by a team that made ten of its first 11 second-half shots.

Williams and Johnson have proven themselves to be capable supplementary scorers this season, with the former averaging just over 12 points per game on the season and the latter at 9.7. But in the case of Johnson, following up his 2-for-10 effort in Saturday’s win over Notre Dame by shooting 7-for-10 from the field (6-for-9 3PT) is a needed bounce-back effort.

Prior to Tuesday night, Johnson reached double figures just once in the four games prior (14 vs. Boston College) and shot a combined 3-for-16 from three. Getting Johnson back on track is a big deal for North Carolina, and if his performance against Clemson can serve as a spark that would certainly bode well for the Tar Heels moving forward.

A productive Johnson affords Roy Williams the luxury of playing a “small” lineup in which Johnson mans the four and Maye the five. This North Carolina team isn’t like past editions in the Williams era, as many of those squads possessed the ability to have two “true” big men on the court at all times. With the big men lost from last year’s national title team, it’s been Maye carrying much of the load with freshmen Garrison Brooks and Sterling Manley both looking to work their way into the fold.

A consistent Johnson not only makes North Carolina better, but it’s also a necessity given the team’s available options.

As for Clemson, this game felt like one of the program’s best chances to finally pick up that elusive win in Chapel Hill. Brad Brownell’s group entered the game with a 15-2 record, and with the improvements both in the post (Elijah Thomas) and on the perimeter (Marquise Reed and Shelton Mitchell) this is a group that has some staying power.

But Reed, Mitchell and forward Donte Grantham got off to frigid starts, combining to score two points on 0-for-13 shooting from the field in the first half. Despite the first-half efforts of Thomas the hole was too deep to climb out of, with Clemson pulling to within two on multiple occasions in the second half. Reed got hot in the second stanza, finishing the game with 21 points, and Mitchell would add 18 points to the effort.

Now 1-1 halfway through an important four-game stretch — Notre Dame next, followed by a trip to Charlottesville to take on No. 2 Virginia — when it comes to their NCAA tournament seeding prospects, Clemson paid the price for its inability to knock down shots in the early going. But in their comeback, the Tigers put forth a performance along the lines of what they’ve managed to do for much of this season to date.

Unfortunately for Clemson, its supplementary scorers were unable to match the production of Cameron Johnson and Kenny Williams III.

VIDEO: Kentucky coach John Calipari shows long-range skills during shootaround

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Kentucky coach John Calipari’s shooting touch is still there, even from long range.

The Hall of Famer proved that during Tuesday’s shootaround before the No. 18 Wildcats faced South Carolina in a late-evening Southeastern Conference contest. In a video posted on his official Twitter account, Calipari stepped up and drained a basket from center court to his players’ surprise.

The coach smiled as he walked off the court, showing the swagger and confidence he seeks from another young roster of freshmen and sophomores.

Then again, one key to a coach getting what he wants from players is showing them how it’s done.

No. 3 Boilermakers keep rolling by blowing out Badgers 78-50

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Vincent Edwards scored 21 points and Carsen Edwards added 20, leading No. 3 Purdue to a 78-50 blowout over Wisconsin on Tuesday night.

The Boilermakers (18-2, 7-0 Big Ten) have won 14 straight overall, 19 in a row at home and have matched the best 20-game record in school history. The only other time Purdue did that was 1987-88 when it also won its first seven conference games.

Ethan Happ had 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds to lead the Badgers (9-10, 2-4). Wisconsin has lost three straight — all on the road.

But they were never in it Tuesday.

Purdue made its first four 3-point attempts to jump out to a 12-0 lead, and then things got even worse for the Badgers.

Wisconsin needed more than 7 1/2 minutes to make a basket, and then the Boilermakers continued to pour it on.

Purdue extended the lead to 36-16 before the Badgers finally fought back to get within 39-22 at the half.

The second half was a virtual replay when Purdue’s first three baskets were again all 3s. And when Vincent Edwards drove in for a layup with 16:59 to go, the Boilermakers led 50-29.

Wisconsin cut the deficit to 16 with 14:50 to go, then allowed a 10-2 run to make it 62-38.

BIG PICTURE

Wisconsin: Tuesday night’s performance looked very non-Badger like. They struggled to score, struggled on defense, got into foul trouble, couldn’t get to loose balls and had 15 first-half turnovers. They’re young, and, yes, they were playing their third straight road game. But they need to improve greatly.

Purdue: The Boilermakers just keep rolling along. They’ve held 11 straight opponents under 70 points, have made at least 10 3s in six of their last seven games and have won their last two by a combined 62 points. It’s hard to imagine Purdue playing much better.

KEY STATS

Wisconsin: Finished with a season high 20 turnovers. The Badgers’ previous high was 15. … Nobody other than Happ scored more than eight points or made more than two baskets. … The Badgers are 0-5 against ranked teams this season, each coming from a different conference: Xavier (Big East), Baylor (Big 12), UCLA (Pac-12), Virginia (ACC) and Purdue.

Purdue: P.J. Thompson scored 14 points and Carsen Edwards had five rebounds and four assists. … Purdue was 14 of 22 on 3s, giving them 10 or more in six of its last seven games. … The Boilermakers have held 11 straight opponents to fewer than 70 points. … Purdue is 17-0 on American soil.

No. 12 Cincinnati beats UCF 49-38

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Gary Clark scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to help No. 12 Cincinnati to a 49-38 victory over Central Florida.

Jacob Evans added 10 points for the Bearcats (16-2, 5-0 American Athletic Conference), who won their ninth straight game.

UCF (12-6, 3-3) got seven points apiece from Tacko Fall, Terrell Allen and Dayon Griffin, but struggled the entire game to get inside the Bearcats defense. UCF shot just 30 percent for the game and committed 14 turnovers.

It was expected to be a defensive game and both teams played up to that for the entire 40 minutes.

Cincinnati, which has suffered slow starts in its last three games, overcame this one by using speed in transition to beat the Knights down the court. That was especially effective when Fall, UCF’s 7-foot-6 center, was on the bench, which he was when Clark made a layup to put the Bearcats ahead for good at the 13:40 mark of the second half.

Clark’s basket was the start of a 10-2 run that gave Cincinnati a 38-30 lead.

UCF made a brief run when Fall got six straight points on two dunks and a layup to cut the deficit to 39-36, but the rally died when the Knights center missed two free throws on the next possession.

Clark took an alley-oop pass and slammed it home at the other end to push Cincinnati’s lead to 45-36 with 3:52 left in the game and UCF never got closer.

VIDEO: Chris Silva posterizes Kentucky’s Wenyen Gabrial

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Chris Silva is quietly having an excellent season for South Carolina, and while the struggles of the Gamecocks have left that somewhat under the radar, this dunk on Kentucky was anything but.