Late Night Snacks: Indiana mounting a late charge towards the bubble?

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GAME OF THE DAY: Clemson 77, Maryland 73 (2OT)

With both teams looking to keep alive incredibly slim hopes of earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, the Terrapins and Tigers needed ten extra minutes to determine a winner. Clemson would pull out the win in the end, with a Demarcus Harrison three with 1:08 remaining in the second OT giving them the lead for good. K.J. McDaniels finished the game with 26 points and 14 rebounds to lead the way for Clemson, while Seth Allen paced Maryland with 20 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Indiana 72, No. 22 Ohio State 64

Could Indiana, a team that really didn’t accomplish a great deal during non-conference play, be mounting a late rally to join the bubble discussion? A question that seemed absurd just a week ago is now valid after the Hoosiers picked up wins over No. 20 Iowa and No. 22 Ohio State this week. Will Sheehey followed up his 30-point game against Iowa with 19 points and six rebounds on Sunday, and Yogi Ferrell scored 20 points to lead the way. Indiana’s chances of reaching the NCAA tournament remain slim but in the Big Ten they won’t lack for quality opportunities, whether it’s in their final two games of the regular season (vs. Nebraska, at No. 16 Michigan) or in the conference tournament.

2) No. 3 Arizona 79, Stanford 66

The Wildcats wrapped up the outright Pac-12 regular season title, and outside of a second-half stretch in which the Cardinal cut a 20-point Arizona lead down to 11 Sean Miller’s team played very well. Aaron Gordon tallied 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead five Wildcats in double figures. Arizona defended well, getting out in the open floor after forcing Stanford turnovers in the first half, and they once executed well offensively for the third consecutive game. Arizona certainly looks to be hitting its stride at the right time.

3) No. 20 Iowa 83, Purdue 76

The Hawkeyes went with more full-court pressure defensively and the move paid off, with Purdue committing 16 turnovers on the afternoon. Roy Devyn Marble led four players in double figures with 21 points and as a team Iowa racked up 17 assists with just five turnovers. Defending in the half court remains an issue for Iowa, with Purdue shooting nearly 60% from the field in the second half. With this being the case, not to mention Iowa’s depth, could we see more pressure looks from the Hawkeyes down the stretch?

STARRED

1) Bryant Mbamalu (Louisiana) 

Mbamalu scored 32 points (10-for-19 FG) and grabbed 11 rebounds in the Ragin’ Cajuns’ 102-76 win over South Alabama.

2) Sean Armand (Iona) 

Armand racked up 21 points (7-for-12 FG), nine rebounds and nine assists in Iona’s 97-81 win over Rider.

3) Aaron Gordon (Arizona) 

19 points (8-for-13 FG), 15 rebounds and two assists in Arizona’s 79-66 win over Stanford.

STRUGGLED

1) Billy Baron and Zach Lewis (Canisius) 

The Golden Griffins’ starting backcourt shot a combined 4-for-20 from the field in Canisius’ 68-63 loss at Manhattan.

2) Jay Hook (Tulane) 

Shot 2-for-11 from the field, finishing the Green Wave’s 73-47 loss at FIU with five points and seven rebounds.

3) Aaron Craft (Ohio State) 

Shot 2-for-11, finishing Ohio State’s 72-64 loss at Indiana with seven points, six rebounds and four assists.

NOTABLES

  • No. 14 Wisconsin won its seventh consecutive game Sunday, beating Penn State 71-66 with Josh Gasser scoring 15 points and Ben Brust adding 14.
  • Darrun Hilliard scored a career-high 26 points to lead No. 8 Villanova to a 73-56 win over Marquette, the Wildcats’ 26th win of the season.
  • St. John’s avoided what would have been a bad loss, beating DePaul 72-64. D’Angelo Harrison led the way with 25 points and ten rebounds.
  • Maurice Creek scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead George Washington to a 66-58 win over George Mason.
  • Marist blew out Quinnipiac 103-72, and that result combined with Manhattan’s 68-63 win over Canisius makes Steve Masiello’s Jaspers the two-seed in next week’s MAAC tournament.
  • Vermont capped its regular season with a 92-82 overtime win at Binghamton, finishing 15-1 in America East play. If the Catamounts can win two games in Albany next week and reach the tournament final, they’ll be the hosts.
  • Three of the top four teams in Conference USA (Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and Tulsa) all won on Sunday, meaning that there’s still a four-way tie for first (Middle Tennessee’s also 12-3) with one league game remaining.
  • Florida State kept alive its NCAA tournament hopes with an 81-71 win over Georgia Tech.
  • No. 25 New Mexico shot 57.7% from the field in the second half as they turned a 14-point first half deficit into a 72-58 win at Nevada.
  • After failing to score a single point in the first meeting between the two teams, Jordan Adams scored 24 points and grabbed five rebounds in UCLA’s 74-69 come-from-behind win over Oregon State.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

Auburn’s leading shot-blocker suffers devastating ankle injury

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Things went from bad to worse for No. 10 Auburn in a hurry.

The Tigers currently trail South Carolina 46-25 at the half in Columbia. The deficit is not impossible to overcome — right, Michigan State? — but it will be very hard to do without their leading shot-blocker and best frontcourt defender.

With a minute left in the first half, Anfernee McLemore suffered a devastating left ankle injury that will almost assuredly end his season. Think Gordon Hayward. Video of the injury can be seen here. Be warned: It is graphic and unpleasant to watch and listen to.

McLemore is one of just three players in Auburn’s rotation over 6-foot-7. He’s also Auburn’s leading shot-blockers at 2.7 per game and second-leading rebounder despite averaging fewer than 20 minutes. Without him available, Chuma Okeke and Horace Spencer are going to be asked to carry the entire load up front for a team whose biggest question mark was already their complete lack of size and depth up front.

This is a brutal blow for a team that has gone from an SEC afterthought to a projected No. 1 seed.

McLemore was taken off the floor on a stretcher.

No. 2 Michigan State matches largest comeback in a decade with 27-point rally over Northwestern

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Michigan State overcame a 27-point deficit on Saturday afternoon to beat Northwestern, 65-60, for a memorable Big Ten road win. It’s the biggest comeback win in Big Ten history while also matching the largest college basketball comeback of the last decade.

Trailing by 22 points at halftime and by 18 points with 14 minutes left, the comeback for the Spartans was slow and methodical at first, as Michigan State’s defense slowly suffocated the Wildcat offense.

And when the jumpers started falling with a Josh Langford (eight points) three with a little over 13 minutes left, the Spartans made their big push.

Sophomore point guard Cassius Winston was a major catalyst in the comeback for Michigan State as he buried multiple top-of-the-key threes and pull-up jumpers to help give the Spartans a new-found confidence. Winston finished with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists as he came through in a major way in the second half. With star Miles Bridges (eight points) battling foul trouble in the second half, Winston and other Michigan State role players stepped up in a big way. Big man Nick Ward grinded to 15 points and a lot of key stops on the defensive end. Matt McQuaid knocked down some big shots while taking a charge and playing well on both ends. Jaren Jackson had the go-ahead three-point play to finally give the Spartans their first lead.

This was a team comeback in which Michigan State (26-3, 14-2) used the sum of its parts to slowly dismantle Northwestern. It was one of the more impressive comebacks in recent memory. Doing commentary for Fox, Steve Lavin said this was one of the biggest one-half swings in his 30 years of being around Division I basketball. The win probability chart for this game is definitely unique.

While beating Northwestern isn’t some sort of monumental achievement this season, Michigan State didn’t have a huge comeback win this season. The biggest deficit that the Spartans had overcome to win this season was only 13 points. Now we know that Michigan State is capable of making a comeback from a very large deficit as they showed they’re capable of coming through with the offensive firepower. And Bridges, the team’s leading scorer, only had two field goals.

This is the Michigan State we’ve wanted to consistently see this season. Michigan State getting stops is nothing new. The Spartans held Northwestern scoreless for over 11 minutes at one point in the second half as the Wildcats were brutal shooting the ball in the first half. But if Michigan State’s offense gets rolling like that because of balanced inside/outside contributions from role players? That’s the Spartans everyone keeps hoping will show up in March.

No. 23 Oklahoma loses fifth-straight, Trae Young at risk of missing NCAA tournament?

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Trae Young has hit the freshman wall, and there are few signs that he is ready to break through to the other side.

Let’s start with the good news, I guess: In today’s 77-66 home loss to a Texas team that entered the day tied for eighth in the Big 12 standings, Young finally snapped his streak of 20 missed three-pointers. After starting off Saturday 0-for-4 after missing all nine of his threes at Texas Texas and his last seven threes at Iowa State, Young hit three of his last six triples.

He also made all nine of his free throws, extending that streak to nearly 30 consecutive makes, while scoring 26 points and committing fewer than four turnovers in a game for the first time since December 8th.

Those are all good things!

The problem, however, is that they came in Oklahoma’s fifth straight loss, their sixth loss in the last seven games and their eighth loss in their last ten games. The Sooners have been dreadful for more than a month, and it’s not going to get any easier; they play at Kansas on Monday.

The question “why?” is pretty simple, too. Young is struggling and the rest of the pieces on the roster just have not been good enough to be able to pick up the slack. Brady Manek is a spot-up shooter that has struggling shooting the ball. Kameron McGusty went from being a player that looked like a potential all-Big 12 guy last season to Just A Guy this season. Christian James hasn’t been bad, and Jamuni McNeace and Khadeem Lattin hold their own in the paint, but by and large Young’s supporting cast has not been providing enough support while Young has been in this slump.

The question of whether or not Oklahoma can turn this around is not quite so simple unless you know the reason for Young’s struggles. Has he simply found himself in a place where the grind of a full season of college basketball and two months of Big 12 play — a league where every team has a good-to-great player at the point — has worn him down physically and mentally, or has the blueprint for how to beat the Sooners become too prevalent?

Or is it all of the above?

If Young is gassed, that’s an issue that, in theory, can be solved.

If the Sooners, are a flawed roster that cannot function or win games when opponents sell out to stop their superstar freshman, that isn’t as easy to deal with. Rest can solve the former. You’re not solving the latter, you’re not bring more talent into the program, while Young is still on campus.

At 16-10 overall and 6-8 in the Big 12, Oklahoma still looks like a pretty safe bet to reach the NCAA tournament. For starters, they were listed as a No. 4 seed just six days ago when the Selection Committee unveiled their first iteration of the top 16 seeds. They also have six Quadrant 1 wins and no bad losses to their name. Their won-loss record is a casualty of the Big 12 meat-grinder.

But that doesn’t mean they are safe. If they finish up the Big 12 season going 1-3 — which is feasible given how they’ve played the last month and their remaining opponents: at Kansas, Kansas State, at Baylor, Oklahoma State — then they’ll be 7-11 in the league. No one in more than 25 years has reached the NCAA tournament with a league record four games under .500.

The Sooners aren’t doomed yet.

But it is time for them to figure their issues out.

PHOTOS: Miami, Syracuse wear shirts honoring Florida shooting victims

Photo via Mike Waters, Syracuse.com
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Syracuse is playing in Miami on Saturday, the first game that the Hurricanes have played at home since the shooting at Parkland, Florida’s, Stoneman Douglas High School.

Both teams wore warmup shirts honoring the victims of the shooting prior to the game:

Parkland and Coral Gables are about 50 miles apart, but both towns are suburbs with the same Miami-Fort Lauderdale metro area.

St. John’s guard Lovett to leave school, turn pro

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Marcus Lovett announced on Saturday morning that he will be leaving St. John’s to pursue a professional career.

This decision doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Lovett, who averaged 14.9 points through the first seven games of the season, was ruled out for the rest of the season with a knee injury despite reports that he was healthy enough to play.

According to the New York Post, Lovett was not even enrolled in school for the spring semester.

Lovett spent three seasons in New York with the Johnnies and played less than a year and a half.