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Late Night Snacks: No. 20 Michigan takes control of Big Ten race

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GAME OF THE DAY: Providence 87, Butler 81

Providence is one of many bubble teams looking to fight their way into the NCAA tournament, and they avoided suffering a tough defeat at Butler on Sunday. All five starters scored in double figures led by Bryce Cotton, who tallied 28 points and six assists. As a team Providence shot 13-for-27 from beyond the arc and 66.7% from the field, their best performance of the season in both statistical categories. Ed Cooley’s Friars close out the regular season with games against Seton Hall, Marquette and No. 11 Creighton.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 20 Michigan 79, No. 13 Michigan State 70

The Wolverines completed a sweep of the season series in Ann Arbor, with Caris LeVert and Nik Stauskas figuring prominently in the outcome. LeVert scored 23 points and Stauskas 25 for the Wolverines, who now hold a one game lead atop the Big Ten standings. As for Michigan State, they hung around throughout the afternoon but fell short, and Keith Appling wasn’t all that effective either. The question regarding the Spartans, who have been given the benefit of the doubt by many: will they ever get back to full strength?

2) SMU 64, No. 21 UConn 55

SMU needed a win at UConn to bolster a resume that is lacking in regards to quality wins away from home and they did just that, limiting the Huskies to 29% shooting in the process. Nick Russell and company did a good job of defending UConn’s guard tandem of Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, and the Mustangs shot 46% from the field. The win is SMU’s first against a ranked opponent on the road since 2003.

3) Florida State 71, Pittsburgh 66 

Pittsburgh shot just 37% from the field, falling to the Seminoles at home. Lamar Patterson scored 22 points but shot just 8-for-21, and if the Panthers are to get themselves a decent seed in the NCAA tournament they need to figure out these offensive issues. Since shooting 51% in a win at Maryland at January 25 the Panthers have shot no better than 41% in any of the seven games they’ve played since.

STARRED

1) Doug McDermott (Creighton) 

Scored 29 points on 8-for-14 shooting in No. 11 Creighton’s 72-71 win over Seton Hall. McDermott is now ranked tenth on the NCAA’s all-time scoring list with 2,915 points.

2) Terran Petteway (Nebraska) 

Petteway shot 10-for-19 from the field, scoring 29 points and dishing out three assists in the Cornhuskers’ 76-57 win over Purdue.

3) Delon Wright (Utah) 

Made all seven of his shots from the field, accounting for 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the Utes’ 86-63 win over Arizona State.

STRUGGLED

1) D.J. Irving (Boston University)

Irving, averaging 12.5 points per game, scored just three points on 0-for-5 shooting from the field in the Terriers’ 63-53 loss to Bucknell.

2) Anthony Myles (Rider)

Shot 1-for-12 from the field, scoring five points in the Broncs’ 69-60 loss to Siena.

3) Yale

The Bulldogs shot 9-for-22 from the foul line in a 62-46 loss at Columbia.

NOTABLES

  • Mike Moser scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds as Oregon rebounded from a slow start to beat Washington State, 67-53.
  • Nebraska’s now won five straight games after beating Purdue 76-57, and given the way they’re playing Tim Miles’ team could very well earn a trip to the NCAA tournament.
  • David Laury III scored 22 points and grabbed nine rebounds off the bench in Iona’s 86-67 win at Marist. The Gaels have clinched at least a share of the MAAC regular season title.
  • Columbia beat Yale 62-46, and as a result Harvard now holds sole possession of first place in the Ivy League. Yale, a game back, hosts the Crimson on March 7.
  • The CAA race got a little tighter as a result of Drexel’s 69-65 win at first-place Delaware. The Blue Hens, who finish the regular season with two road games, now lead Towson by one game.
  • Western Michigan moved its win streak to seven games with a 75-67 victory over Eastern Michigan. The Broncos are tied for first place in the MAC West with Toledo, and they’ll visit the Rockets next Saturday.
  • After shooting 4-for-20 in his last two games Cal guard Justin Cobbs rebounded against USC, shooting 8-for-10 and scoring 22 points in the Golden Bears’ 77-64 victory.

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.

Arizona and Texas headline Lone Star Shootout

PROVIDENCE, RI - MARCH 17:  Head coach Sean Miller of the Arizona Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Wichita State Shockers during the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Dunkin' Donuts Center on March 17, 2016 in Providence, Rhode Island.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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Another marquee, early season event is on the books for the college basketball season as four potential tournament teams will be squaring off at the Toyota Center in Houston on Dec. 17th.

The highlight of the double-header, which has been dubbed the Lone Star Shootout, will probably end up being Arizona vs. Texas A&M. The Wildcats are a Pac-12 contender and a borderline top 10 team as we enter the season, and while the Aggies will have work to do replacing the seniors they lost off of last season’s roster, they’re a borderline top 25 team.

The other matchup will feature a pair of former Southwest Conference rivals facing off in Texas and Arkansas. Texas will be talented but young while Arkansas may actually have the best player on the floor in Moses Kingsley. What will make this matchup interesting is that both Mike Anderson and Shaka Smart are known for being coaches that prefer a full court pressing system.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to play in front of our fans at the Toyota Center in Houston,” Texas head coach Shaka Smart said in a statement. “It is one of the most important areas in this state as it relates to our recruiting and fan base.

Five-star 2017 guard Lonnie Walker cuts list to five schools

Men's U18 trials head shots and team photo on 6.15.16
Bart Young/USA Basketball
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Five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker is coming off of a very good summer as he trimmed his list to five schools on Thursday night.

The 6-foot-4 native of Reading, Pennsylvania is still considering Arizona, Kentucky, Miami, Syracuse and Villanova, he announced on Twitter.

Regarded as the No. 26 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, Walker played with Team Final in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer as he averaged 16.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. Walker shot 45 percent from the field, 39 percent from three-point range and 72 percent from the free-throw line.

An efficient scorer who is learning to drive with both hands, Walker is very talented and the type of guard who might also be able to handle a bit as well.