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

Sweet 16 Preview: Thursday’s picks, predictions, betting lines and channels

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The Sweet 16 kicks off on Thursday night, and the games are going to be terrific.

Oregon-Michigan should be thrilling, Gonzaga-West Virginia is a fascinating contrast of styles and Kansas-Purdue features arguably the two best players in college basketball.

Oh, and then there’s Arizona-Xavier, with Sean Miller and Chris Mack doing battle.

For an in-depth look at each region, check these out:

SWEET 16 PREVIEW: Midwest | West | South | East

No. 3 Oregon vs. No. 7 Michigan (-1.5), 7:09 p.m. (CBS): So this run that Michigan on, is it a fluke?

Frankly, I don’t think that it is. Derrick Walton has been awesome for the better part of two months while Michigan’s perimeter shooters have always been shooters and the duo of D.J. Wilson and Mo Wagner are legit. I honestly do not believe that the Wolverines are a team of destiny after the plane crash. They are just really good and a perfect roster for John Beilein to tinker with.

That’s why they’re favored on Thursday night. But here’s the thing … Oregon is pretty good themselves. Dillon Brooks is going to be guarded by a big man, which should be a matchup that Brooks can take advantage of, and Tyler Dorsey has been playing terrific basketball since the start of the Pac-12 tournament.

If you like small-ball, spread-the-court basketball, you’ll love this game.

PREDICTION: Michigan (-1.5)

No. 1 Gonzaga (-3) vs. No. 4 West Virginia, 7:39 p.m. (TBS): On paper, I think Gonzaga should win this game. They have a good back court in Nigel Williams-Goss and Josh Perkins, a pair of talented point guards that have won a lot of games in their career. Gonzaga is also the best defensive team in the country. So if they don’t turn the ball over against West Virginia’s press and they make it difficult for West Virginia to score in the half court and get into their press, they should be able to win this thing, right?

Well, maybe not.

My concern with Gonzaga is game-pressure. They didn’t handle it well down the stretch against BYU in their one loss of the season, and I’m not convinced that they win that second round game against Northwestern if the officials don’t blow the goaltending call. How are they going to handle an endless wave of Mountaineers in their face?

PREDICTION: Gonzaga (-3)

No. 1 Kansas (-5) vs. No. 4 Purdue, 9:39 p.m. (CBS): More than any other game this weekend, I’m fascinated to see how these two teams decide to try and play each other. Kansas has, essentially, one big man that Bill Self can trust, and he’s going up against a Player of the Year candidate in Caleb Swanigan and one of the best big men in the country at drawing fouls in Isaac Haas. Will Self double-team Swanigan knowing that Purdue may be more effective offensively when Swanigan can find shooters out of the double-team, or will he risk Lucas getting in foul trouble by trying to guard Swanigan one-on-one?

Then, at the other end of the floor, how will Purdue deal with the Kansas back court? Frank Mason III, the NBC Sports National Player of the Year, and Devonte’ Graham are a nightmare for anyone to deal with, let alone a team that struggles against penetrating guards and that lacks rim protection. It should be a fascinating coaching battle.

PREDICTION: Kansas (-5)

No. 2 Arizona (-7.5) vs. No. 11 Xavier, 10:09 p.m. (TBS): On paper, Arizona should be able to handle a Xavier team that doesn’t have Edmond Sumner or Myles Davis. That said, as we all know, Chris Mack and Sean Miller are very close and used to work together. Mack knows everything that Miller is going to do and vice versa. I think this game will be a low-scoring, grind-it-out affair that comes down to the final minutes.

PREDICTION: Xavier (+7.5)

Shayok and Reuter transferring from Virginia

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Virginia announced the departure of two players Wednesday.

Marial Shayok and Jerred Shayok will both transfer out of the program, the school said.

“Marial and Jarred informed me today that they are leaving the Virginia basketball program and are looking to transfer to other schools,” Cavaliers coach Tony Bennett said in a statement released by the school. “I thank Marial and Jarred for their hard work and contributions to our program, and wish them success in the future.”

Shayok, a a 6-foot-5 junior, played 20.9 minutes per game last season for the Cavaliers, averaging 8.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game while shooting 44.5 percent from the floor. The Ottawa native started 23 games in three seasons with Virginia.

Reuter played a minimal role for the Cavaliers, averaging just 10.8 minutes and 3.8 rebounds per game.

Wake’s Collins declares for NBA draft without hiring agent

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WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Wake Forest’s John Collins is entering the NBA draft but will not hire an agent and is keeping open the option of returning to school for his junior season.

In a statement Wednesday announcing the decision, Collins said he wants “to make an informed decision about what is best for my future.”

Collins is a 6-foot-10 forward who as a sophomore blossomed into one of the best big men in the Atlantic Coast Conference and was voted to the Associated Press all-ACC team.

He averaged 19.2 points and 9.8 rebounds, putting together a string of 12 consecutive 20-point games late in the season.

His progression was a big reason why the Demon Deacons earned their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2010. Kansas State beat Wake Forest in the First Four.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

Porter, Jr. will ask for Washington release

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There may be an overwhelming assumption on where Michael Porter, Jr. – and his father – will ultimately end up, but the five-star recruit is said publicly that he see his re-recruitment process through.

Porter, Jr. said in a teleconference Wednesday that he will ask for his release from Washington, and his father, a former Huskies assistant, has been offered a job at Missouri by new Tigers coach Cuonzo Martin.

“Right now I’m just trying to take it slow with my family and weigh my options,” Porter Jr. said, according to the Kansas City Star. “I plan to get my (national letter of intent) from Washington back and just go from there, not saying that I’m not going to Washington anymore, but I just want to get it back and weigh my options.”

The prevailing thought has been that the Porters will ultimately land in Columbia, where they have significant history.

Still, it would appear at least publicly that Porter, Jr., a potential No. 1 pick in the 2018 NBA draft, will weigh his options in at least the short-term.

Calipari signs two-year extension with Kentucky

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Kentucky continues to take care of John Calipari.

The Wildcats coach has received a two-year extension, keeping him under contract in Lexington through the 2024 season, the school announced Wednesday.

The contract will pay Calipari $7.75 million next season and increase to $8 million per season thereafter.

“John has achieved consistent championship-level performance at Kentucky,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “No one in America is better suited for everything that comes with being the coach here. Not only has he attained incredible success on the court, he is also a leader in our community and in college basketball.

“We have been blessed to have him and Ellen here for the last eight years and we are blessed they will continue to call Kentucky home.”

Not only does the deal extend Calipari, but it continues to keep Kentucky competitive with the NBA, which would seem to be the only outlet that would even potentially tempt Calipari away from Kentucky. An NBA franchise would have to make him among the highest-paid coaches in the league to even match Kentucky financially.

Of course, given that Calipari has spurned interest from the league since returning to college in 2000, it seems unlikely that financial considerations would be the lone or heaviest variable in making a decision to move on.

Certainly, Calipari has an excellent thing going at Kentucky as the premier recruiting program in the country that has enjoyed serious success on the court, culminating in a 2012 national title and a 38-0 start to the 2015 season before a loss in the Final Four.

“The last eight years at the University of Kentucky have been a terrific ride,” Calipari said in a statement. “This extension shows our full commitment to each other. I believe this school is the gold standard and I’m so thankful and blessed that this university has given me this opportunity at this point in my career.”

The Wildcats face UCLA in the Sweet 16 on Friday.