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Late Night Snacks: Five ranked teams, including No. 10 Saint Louis, fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Oregon 87, UCLA 83 (2OT)

With UCLA playing without the suspended Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, it seemed as if Oregon was well-positioned to earn a win that they needed to improve their NCAA tournament hopes. Of course the game supplied more drama than many anticipated, with Bryce Alford scoring 31 points and David Wear forcing overtime with a three-pointer as time expired. Oregon would eventually get the win with Mike Moser accounting for 12 points, 20 rebounds and five assists and Joseph Young scoring 26 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) Arkansas 71, No. 17 Kentucky 67 (OT)

The Razorbacks got themselves a quality road win on Thursday night, beating the Wildcats in Lexington with both teams struggling to execute down the stretch. But all that matters is the result, and the sweep of the regular season series could be what puts Mike Anderson’s team in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky’s starting perimeter of James Young and the Harrison twins shot a combined 11-for-39 from the field, and this was a big reason why Arkansas won despite committing 20 turnovers.

2) Indiana 93, No. 20 Iowa 86

For the third consecutive game the Hawkeyes struggled defensively, and as a result Fran McCaffery’s team has now lost three straight. Will Sheehey scored 19 of his 30 points in the first half to lead Indiana, and in the second half a 27-4 edge in bench points made the difference. How long Iowa stays in the NCAA tournament will depend on their ability to defend, something they must get better at in the coming weeks.

3) Duquesne 71, No. 10 Saint Louis 64

Micah Mason scored 22 points and Jerry Jones added 19 off the bench to lead the Dukes to the upset win at Saint Louis. The result ended the Billikens’ 19-game win streak two days ahead of their showdown at VCU, and it’s possible that Jim Crews’ team was caught looking ahead. SLU turned the ball over 16 times and shot 4-for-23 from beyond the arc, and they’ll need to be better in both areas on Saturday afternoon.

STARRED

1) Patrick Miller (Tennessee State) 

Miller scored 38 points and grabbed five rebounds in the Tigers’ 70-68 win at Morehead State. Miller’s final points of the night came on a three-pointer with two seconds remaining to give TSU the win.

2) Ledrick Eackles (McNeese State) 

31 points (10-for-17 FG), six rebounds and five assists in the Cowboys’ 87-72 win over Incarnate Word.

3) Jordan Reed (Binghamton) 

Reed accounted for 33 points (10-for-19 FG) and 13 rebounds in the Bearcats’ 89-83 overtime loss at Hartford.

STRUGGLED

1) Earl Brown and Greg Brown (St. Francis-PA)

The two starters (unrelated) combined to score two points on 0-for-14 shooting from the field in the Red Flash’s 74-45 loss at Wagner.

2) Middle Tennessee 

The Blue Raiders were on the wrong end of 55-39 loss at Louisiana Tech, shooting 35.4% from the field and finishing with more turnovers (19) than made field goals (17).

3) Memphis’ starting backcourt

Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson combined to shoot 4-for-15 in the Tigers’ 77-68 loss at Houston.

NOTABLES

  • D.J. Newbill scored 23 points and Tim Frazier added 16 as Penn State beat No. 22 Ohio State 65-63. The win gave the Nittany Lions a sweep of the season series.
  • There will be a new champion in the NEC as Central Connecticut State beat LIU Brooklyn 86-82 in overtime, eliminating the Blackbirds from contention for a spot in the conference tournament.
  • The top two teams in the Atlantic Sun both fell, with Lipscomb whipping FGCU 92-71 and Mercer dropping a 79-76 overtime decision to North Florida.
  • Wins by Southern Miss (beat FIU), Louisiana Tech (Middle Tennessee) and Tulsa (UTEP) forced a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA, with UTEP sitting a game behind the group.
  • VCU used a 51-point second half to pull away from Fordham, beating the Rams 85-66 in the Bronx. Juvonte Reddic led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Luke Apfeld led five players in double figures with 14 points as Vermont beat Stony Brook 69-53, wrapping up the America East regular season title.
  • Davidson also clinched a regular season title, wrapping up the SoCon crown with a 79-46 win over UNCG. Brian Sullivan and Tyler Kalinoski combined to score 33 points off the bench for the winners.
  • Green Bay wrapped up the Horizon League title with a 71-63 win at Oakland, outscoring the Golden Grizzlies 40-19 in the second half.
  • Siena upset Quinnipiac 72-70 in Hamden, moving into sole possession of fifth place in the MAAC and moving closer to earning the final first-round bye in the conference tournament.
  • UC Irvine grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big West with a 71-60 win over UCSB.
  • Gonzaga wrapped up the outright WCC regular season title with a 70-53 win over Pacific. Drew Barham scored 17 points for the Bulldogs.
  • Utah Valley took a step towards the WAC regular season title, beating New Mexico State 66-61 in overtime. However a post game fight has taken attention away from the result for the Wolverines.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 7 Louisville 88, Temple 66
  • Houston 77, No. 21 Memphis 68

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.