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

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.