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Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Duke, No. 17 Saint Louis fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Wake Forest 82, No. 4 Duke 72

This was the most surprising result of the night, with the Demon Deacons using multiple defenses in their win over the Blue Devils in Winston-Salem. Tyler Cavanaugh scored 20 points off the bench and Travis McKie added 19 for Wake Forest, which has beaten Duke, North Carolina and N.C State in the same season for the first time since 2009. As for Duke they’ve got some issues to address offensively, and head coach Mike Krzyzewski dealt with lightheadedness as well.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 11 Louisville 84, No. 18 SMU 71

Russ Smith scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half as the Cardinals beat SMU in Dallas. Defending Smith was one problem for the Mustangs, who also turned the ball over 23 times on the night. Nic Moore played just 19 minutes due to foul trouble, and both he and Nick Russell struggled with the Louisville pressure.

2) Dayton 72, No. 17 Saint Louis 67

Dayton arrived in Saint Louis in need of a quality win for its resume, and the Flyers left with the desired result. Dayton defended well in the second half and their reserves scored 31 points, outscoring the Saint Louis bench by 17. As for the Billikens, they’ve now lost three straight games and need to get things back in order ahead of the conference tournament next week.

3) No. 3 Arizona 74, Oregon State 69 

Nick Johnson scored 25 points and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added 13 off the bench as the Wildcats held off the Beavers in Corvallis. However for as impressive as that point total may look for Johnson, his defending of Roberto Nelson was even better. Nelson scored 25 points but shot 7-for-22 from the field, and as a team Oregon State shot 19-for-30 from the foul line.

STARRED

1) F Tyler Stone (Southeast Missouri State) 

In the Redhawks’ 79-61 win over Eastern Illinois in the first round of the OVC tournament, Stone racked up 27 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots.

2) G Maurice Watson (Boston University)

Watson led the Terriers to a 91-54 win over Lafayette in a Patriot League quarterfinal with 21 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and four steals.

3) F Ryan Watkins (Boise State) 

Watkins shot 9-for-12 from the field, accounting for 27 points and 14 rebounds in the Broncos’ 83-81 double overtime loss to Nevada.

STRUGGLED

1) G Jon Severe (Fordham)

Severe made just one of his 12 field goal attempts, scoring three points in the Rams’ 77-65 loss at Rhode Island.

2) G Chris Denson (Auburn) 

Tennessee made sure to take the Tigers’ leading scorer out of the game, as Denson shot 1-for-10 from the field in Auburn’s 82-54 home loss to the Volunteers.

3) F Jesse Chuku (Lehigh) 

Chuku shot 1-for-11 from the field in the Mountain Hawks’ 54-48 loss to Holy Cross in a Patriot League quarterfinal.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS 

  • Big South: Charleston Southern the lone surprise on day one
    Charleston Southern, the fifth seed out of the South Division, beat 4N Campbell 81-71 in the first round of the Big South tournament. Arlon Harper scored 20 points and Will Saunders added 18 off the bench for the Buccaneers, who will face 1S Coastal Carolina on Thursday. Winthrop, Radford and Gardner-Webb were the other winners on Wednesday
  • Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s erases 17-point deficit
    Mount St. Mary’s trailed by as much as 17 in their quarterfinal matchup with St. Francis-Brooklyn, and with 1:53 remaining the Mountaineers trailed by 11. But Jamion Christian’s team found a way to fight back, winning 72-71 on a Rashad Whack three-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining. The lone surprise on Wednesday was Saint Francis (PA) upsetting Bryant, 55-54. Top seeds Robert Morris and Wagner advanced by comfortable margins.
  • OVC: SEMO, Tennessee Tech advance
    The start of the OVC tournament didn’t provide an upset, with Southeast Missouri State beating Eastern Illinois 79-61 and Tennessee Tech holding off SIU-Edwardsville 74-67. SEMO’s Tyler Stone was the star of the night (27 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks), and Tennessee Tech’s Jeremiah Samarrippas led four Eagles in double figures with 16 points.
  • Patriot League: Army wins at Bucknell
    Just one of the four road teams managed to win on Wednesday: Army, which beat Bucknell 72-71 on a Kyle Wilson jumper with 12.5 seconds remaining. The Black Knights trailed by seven points with three minutes remaining. The top three seeds, Boston University, American and Holy Cross, all won.

NOTABLES

  • Nebraska continued its late charge towards an NCAA tournament berth with a 70-60 win over Indiana in Bloomington. Also of note for Tim Miles’ Huskers is the fact that they’re still in play for a first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament.
  • All three SEC bubble teams won on Wednesday. While Arkansas (Ole Miss) and Tennessee (Auburn) blew out their opponents, Missouri beat Texas A&M 57-56 in Columbia.
  • Colorado and Utah picked up valuable road win, with the Buffaloes beating Stanford 59-56 and the Utes holding off Cal by the final score of 63-59. And from a bubble standpoint, the Golden Bears have lost four of their last five and may be in trouble.
  • George Washington added a quality win to its resume, beating Saint Joseph’s 76-71 in Washington, D.C. That result means that Saint Louis wins the Atlantic 10 regular season title despite their loss to Dayton.
  • No. 9 Wisconsin won its eighth straight game, outlasting Purdue 76-70 in Madison. And given some of the other happenings across the country, don’t rule out the Badgers in the race for a one-seed.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

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.