Late Night Snacks: No. 5 Duke beats No. 1 Syracuse

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 Kentucky 77, LSU 76 (OT)

A Julius Randle basket in the final seconds of overtime proved to be the difference as Kentucky beat the Tigers in Lexington. Aaron Harrison scored 21 points and James Young added 20 as the young Wildcats have now won two straight since losing to No. 2 Florida last Saturday. As for LSU, they missed out on what would have been a valuable win for a resume that needs quality results. And with both Missouri and Tennessee also losing, this was not a good day for SEC bubble teams.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 5 Duke 66, No. 1 Syracuse 60

The rematch wasn’t as high scoring as the first game between the Blue Devils and Orange, but it didn’t lack for entertainment. Jabari Parker scored 19 points and grabbed ten rebounds in what may have been his most complete effort as a Blue Devil, and on the other side Syracuse’s starting guards struggled offensively. The big play: a charge called on C.J. Fair with 10.4 seconds remaining that ultimately led to Jim Boeheim being ejected. And as a result of this outcome Virginia has sole possession of first place in the ACC.

2) No. 11 Louisville 58, No. 11 Cincinnati 57 

This finish set the tone for the day, with Russ Smith’s jumper with just under three seconds remaining moving the Cardinals into a tie for first place in the American. An underrated aspect of the game-winning play: Terry Rozier being calm enough to get the ball back to Smith as opposed to forcing up a tough shot. Cincinnati got off to a rough start offensively but managed to claw their way back into the game with the reserves being a key reason why. But it was Louisville that got the win, and they showed some signs of being capable of making a deep run this season.

3) No. 16 Wisconsin 79, No. 15 Iowa 74 

Wisconsin picked up another quality win, holding off the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. Frank Kaminsky led the way with 21 points and seven rebounds, and with the Badgers playing as they have been of late it’s time to ask if Bo Ryan has a team that can contend for the national title. As for Iowa, shoddy late-game execution did them in and likely ended their hopes of winning the Big Ten.

STARRED

1) Stephen Holt (Saint Mary’s)

35 points on 14-for-17 shooting in the Gaels’ 76-54 win at Santa Clara.

2) Langston Galloway (Saint Joseph’s) 

Galloway shot 10-for-15 from beyond the arc, scoring 33 points in the Hawks’ 87-72 win over Fordham.

3) Cedric Kuakumensah (Brown) 

Kuakumensah accounted for 30 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocked shots in Brown’s 81-75 overtime win at Cornell.

STRUGGLED

1) Codi Miller-McIntyre (Wake Forest)

Miller-McIntyre went scoreless in the Demon Deacons’ 105-72 loss at North Carolina, missing all seven shots from the field and accounting for four assists and three turnovers.

2) Xavier Thames (San Diego State)

Scored seven points on 3-for-15 shooting in the Aztecs’ 58-44 loss at New Mexico.

3) Branden Frazier (Fordham) 

Frazier, averaging 18.1 points per game, scored just two points on 1-for-8 shooting in the Rams’ 87-72 loss at Saint Joseph’s.

NOTABLES

  • No. 3 Wichita State moved to 29-0 with an 83-54 win over Drake. Tekele Cotton scored 21 points for the Shockers, who are the first team to go 29-0 since Illinois did it in 2005.
  • No. 2 Florida may be the nation’s top team come Monday but they had to work hard to ensure that, beating Ole Miss 75-71 in Oxford. The Gators are now 14-0 in SEC play.
  • No. 4 Arizona made quite the statement on Saturday night, clamping down on Colorado in an impressive 88-61 victory in Boulder. The Wildcats also shot 60% from the field and now lead the Pac-12 by two games.
  • No. 8 Kansas avenged their loss at Texas with an 85-54 whipping of the 19th-ranked Longhorns in Lawrence. Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points and Frank Mason added 14 for the Jayhawks, who are poised to win their tenth consecutive Big 12 regular season title.
  • New Mexico beat No. 6 San Diego State 58-44 in Albuquerque, moving into a tie for first place in the Mountain West as a result. Cameron Baristow accounted for 26 points and nine rebounds for the Lobos.
  • On a day that saw multiple bubble teams fail to help themselves, Stanford beat No. 23 UCLA 83-74 in Palo Alto. Chasson Randle, Josh Huestis and Anthony Brown combined to score 66 points for the Cardinal.
  • Stephen F. Austin won its 22nd consecutive game in exciting fashion, as a Jacob Porter steal and dunk with three tenths of a second remaining gave the Lumberjacks a 70-68 win over Northwestern State.
  • Southern Miss outscored UTEP 36-17 over the final 15:18 to beat the Miners 77-68 in Hattiesburg. The win pulled the Golden Eagles into a four-way tie for second place in Conference USA, with Middle Tennessee now in sole possession of first place.
  • Johnny Dee scored 16 points and Duda Sanadze added 15 as San Diego upset No. 25 Gonzaga, 69-66. Kevin Pangos scored just four points on 2-for-8 shooting.
  • Cal-State Northridge knocked off UC Irvine 81-75, dropping the Anteaters into a tie for first place in the Big West with UCSB. UC Irvine and UCSB meet Thursday night in Irvine.
  • Davidson beat Wofford 59-49 to maintain its two-game lead in the SoCon. De’Mon Brooks scored 18 points in the win.
  • No. 10 Saint Louis moved to 12-0 in the Atlantic 10 with a 66-59 home win over George Washington. The Billikens, who have won 19 straight games, lead Saint Joseph’s by three games.
  • Oklahoma beat Kansas State 86-73 in Norman, and the Wildcats have just one true road victory on the season: at TCU.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

Gonzaga’s Mark Few named AP Coach of the Year

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Gonzaga head coach Mark Few has added to his program’s banner season with an individual award, being named AP Coach of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

Few led the Bulldogs to their first Final Four. The Zags enter the national semifinal with a 36-1 record. Up until Feb. 25, they were flirting with a perfect season. A loss to BYU is currently the only blemish on their season.

Few also won his 500th career game during the course of the 2016-17 season. Since 2014, two coaches from outside the major conferences have earned his honor. Gregg Marshall was named AP Coach of the Year in 2014 after leading the Shockers to a perfect regular season.

This was a very competitive race this season. Sean Miller lost two players expected to be key pieces this season — and had Allonzo Trier miss 19 games — but guided Arizona to the Pac-12 Tournament championship. Jay Wright led Villanova to another Big East title despite two cornerstone pieces — Ryan Arcidiancono and Daniel Ochefu — gone from last season’s national championship team. For a while, Baylor’s Scott Drew seemed to be the favorite. The Bears didn’t receive a single vote in the preseason top-25 poll but went on to earn a No. 1 ranking.

Few’s season continues on Saturday against South Carolina.

Frank Mason is named AP Player of the Year

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Kansas point guard Frank Mason III was named the AP Player of the Year on Thursday afternoon.

The senior floor general for the Jayhawks headlined the AP All-American team, which included UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Villanova Swingman Josh Hart, Purdue big man Caleb Swanigan and North Carolina small forward Justin Jackson.

Mason averaged 20.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 5.1 assists, and shot 49 percent from behind the 3-point line during the 2016-17 season. He helped guide Kansas to its 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

He becomes the fourth senior in a row to win the award, preceded by Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine, Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminksy and Creighton’s Doug McDermott.

He had previously been named player of the year by NBC Sports.

TJ Leaf declares for the 2017 NBA Draft

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UCLA freshman forward TJ Leaf announced he is declaring for the 2017 NBA Draft on Thursday afternoon.

The 6-foot-10 Leaf averaged 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.1 blocks per game. His shooting numbers were also impressive, connecting on 62 percent of his field goals, including 27-of-58 from beyond the 3-point arc.

This news comes six days after Lonzo Ball officially announced he had played his last game at UCLA. Neither move is shocking, with Ball in the running for the No. 1 overall pick and Leaf also pegged as a first round selection.

The Bruins will have quite a bit of turnover next season with guards Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton exhausting their eligibility. UCLA head coach Steve Alford has a six-man recruiting class set to come in to help replenish the roster. It’s led by versatile forward Kris Wilkes, point guard Jaylen Hands, and big men Cody Riley and Jalen Hill.

CBT Fancast: Catching up with famous Final Four fans: Adam Morrison, Marcus Paige, Neil Everett

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For today’s episode, I spoke with the famous fans of the programs in the Final Four, from the greatest player in Gonzaga history to the almost-star of last year’s Final Four to the most famous dual Gonzaga and Oregon fan in the world.

Sindarius Thornwell misses practice on Thursday

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Sindarius Thornwell has been the best player in the NCAA tournament to date, yet he was not in the building on Thursday when the South Carolina Gamecocks practiced and he was nowhere to be found during South Carolina’s media availability.

A school spokeswoman told reporters that Thornwell was back at the hotel, that he was sick and resting.

Thornwell is averaging 25.7 points in four games in the NCAA tournament. He’s been sensational. If he’s not at his best this weekend, that’s a massive blow for South Carolina’s chances of getting to a national title game, but South Carolina head coach Frank Martin doesn’t seem too concerned.

“I’ve got a bug myself. Luckily I don’t have to play,” Martin said. “He had a little body temperature last night when we landed. And he was a little better this morning. But I kind of told our trainer, just feed him fluids, do what doctors do and let him rest rather than stress him right now. He’s our most intelligent player. And I don’t mean to say that demeaning the other guys. He understands basketball at a high, high level, he doesn’t need to be on the practice court to understand what we’re doing.”