No. 18 SMU entered Wednesday’s game against No. 11 Louisville with an outside shot of winning the American Athletic Conference regular season title, which would have been a monumental achievement for Larry Brown’s program. But the Mustangs dropped an 84-71 decision to the Cardinals, and while Russ Smith’s 26-point night will get most of the attention (and rightfully so) turnovers proved to be just as much of an issue for SMU.
SMU, which entered the game ranked fifth in the American in turnover margin and seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio, committed 23 turnovers and finished a minus-9 in turnover margin. On multiple occasions those mistakes turned into Louisville points on the other end, as the Cardinals converted those turnovers into 25 points (SMU scored nine points off of Louisville’s 14 turnovers).
Louisville may have outscored SMU by 27 points from beyond the arc (39-12), but the extra possessions that came as a result of SMU being too loose with the basketball is what truly did the Mustangs in. Nic Moore struggled, spending an extended amount of time on the bench in the second half due to foul trouble and finished with five points (2-for-3 FG) and four turnovers. And the same can be said for Nick Russell even with the senior scoring a team-high 18 points, as he also committed eight turnovers.
Against a team the caliber of Louisville, especially considering their ability to pressure full-court, how well the guards take care of the basketball is the difference between winning and losing on most nights. Limit the turnovers and limit the Cardinals’ opportunities to get out in the open floor, thus creating offense by way of the live-ball turnover. SMU didn’t do that, resulting in a loss in their home finale.
The question moving forward is whether or not the turnovers are a major concern for SMU as they move closer to the NCAA tournament. Per Ken Pomeroy’s numbers SMU ranks eighth in the American in turnover percentage, turning the ball over on 20.1% of their possessions in conference play. That’s something that will need to be addressed, beginning with their game at Memphis on Saturday afternoon.
Defensively SMU’s been very good all season long, and that attribute is one reason why they’ve won games in spite of the turnover percentage. But while this isn’t a reason to panic, the Mustangs will need to tighten things up in that regard if they want their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993 to consist of more than just one game.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.