Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Duke, No. 10 San Diego State among the big winners

Leave a comment

Saturday’s Bubble Banter

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Iowa State 85, Oklahoma State 81

Oklahoma State didn’t foul in the final seconds of regulation and Naz Long made them pay, hitting a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime. And while each team was without a key player in the extra session, Oklahoma State not having Marcus Smart proved to be more of an issue than Iowa State not having Melvin Ejim. The Cyclones will be the four-seed in the Big 12 tournament, but just as important is the fact that Oklahoma State will now have to play on Wednesday.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 4 Duke 93, No. 14 North Carolina 81

Jabari Parker scored 30 points and Rodney Hood added 24 as the Blue Devils avenged their loss in Chapel Hill last month. The biggest problem for North Carolina was their performance on the boards, as Duke rebounded more than 53% of its missed shots and scored 20 second-chance points. As a result of this game Duke gets the three-seed in the ACC tournament and North Carolina the four-seed.

2) No. 1 Florida 84, No. 25 Kentucky 65

The top-ranked Gators became the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in conference play, soundly defeating the Wildcats in Gainesville. Florida led by as much as 22 in the first half, putting together their run in spite of the fact that Scottie Wilbekin was on the bench with two fouls. To Kentucky’s credit they would cut the margin to six in the second half, getting the ball inside on a more regular basis. But the Gators would once again flex their muscle, regaining control of the game down the stretch.

3) Oregon 64, No. 3 Arizona 57 

The Ducks, who have now won seven in a row, are headed to the NCAA tournament with their win over the Wildcats being icing on the cake. Jason Calliste scored 18 points off the bench and as a team Oregon shot 10-for-19 from beyond the arc, with this stat being one of the key factors in the win. As for Arizona, they can ill-afford to have Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York combine to score two points as they did on Saturday.

STARRED

1) F Doug McDermott (Creighton)

McDermott scored 45 points on 17-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds in the Bluejays’ 88-73 win over Providence. He also became the eighth player in the history of NCAA Division I to reach the 3,000-point mark.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Wiggins’ Jayhawks didn’t win on Saturday, losing 92-85 at West Virginia, but the freshman was sensational in defeat. Wiggins scored 41 points (12-for-18 FG, 15-for-19 FT) to go along with eight rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.

3) Javon McCrea (Buffalo) 

McCrea celebrated Senior Day with a 34-point, six-rebound, four-assist performance in Buffalo’s 88-65 win over Bowling Green. McCrea made 13 of his 18 shots from the field.

STRUGGLED

1) Zach LaVine (UCLA) 

LaVine wasn’t the only Bruin to struggle in their 73-55 loss at Washington State, but he went scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting from the field.

2) Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier (UConn) 

UConn’s talented guard tandem combined for one of their worst games of the season in an 81-48 loss at No. 11 Louisville, shooting 4-for-24 from the field. They combined to score 14 points and commit nine turnovers, with Napier responsible for six of those miscues.

3) Naadir Tharpe (Kansas) 

Tharpe struggled in the Jayhawks’ 92-86 loss at West Virginia, playing just 16 minutes and finishing with zero points (0-for-3 FG), zero assists and one turnover.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • America East: All chalk at Albany
    Not only did the top four seeds all win in Saturday’s quarterfinals, but all four won by double digits. The closest game was top-seed Vermont’s 77-60 win over New Hampshire. Next up for Vermont: host Albany, who beat UMBC 86-56. The other semifinal will match two-seed Stony Brook and three-seed Hartford, who beat Maine and Binghamton respectively.
  • Big South: Winthrop, Coastal Carolina advance to Sunday’s final
    Eight-seed Winthrop continued its run, with Keon Johnson scoring the final five points of the game in their 80-79 win over UNC Asheville. They’ll take on the host Chanticleers, who beat VMI 66-62.
  • CAA: Northeastern’s the lone lower seeded winner
    Four-seed Drexel wasn’t as fortunate as the other three “home” teams on Saturday, dropping a 90-81 decision to Northeastern. Scott Eatherton accounted for 23 points and 15 rebounds in the victory. Next up for the Huskies is top-seed Delaware, with the Blue Hens outlasting Hofstra. The second semifinal will match two-seed Towson and three-seed William & Mary.
  • Horizon: Milwaukee eliminates regular season champion Green Bay
    Green Bay, the prohibitive favorite to win the Horizon League tournament, lost to Milwaukee 69-64 in overtime in one semifinal. Jordan Aaron led the winners with 28 points, hitting multiple key shots in both regulation and overtime. Keifer Sykes injured his ankle in the first half but he toughed it out for the Phoenix, who will now have a stressful eight-day wait to see if they can squeak into the NCAA tournament field. As a result of Green Bay’s loss Wright State will host the title game as a result of their 68-63 win over Cleveland State.
  • MAAC: No surprises in Springfield
    The top four seeds all advanced in the quarterfinals, with Canisius holding off Siena 71-65 in the tightest contest of the four. Top-seed Iona rolled to a 94-71 win over Rider to set up a matchup with the Golden Griffins, and Manhattan will face a Quinnipiac team that won both regular season meetings in the other semifinal.
  • MVC: No. 2 Wichita State moves to 33-0
    Gregg Marshall’s Shockers keep on rolling, as they overwhelmed Missouri State 67-42 in a semifinal matchup. Wichita State will face Indiana State in the title game, with the Sycamores surviving Southern Illinois by a final score of 62-59.
  • Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s upsets Wagner
    Jamion Christian’s Mountaineers pulled off the road upset, beating Wagner 77-72 on Staten Island. Mount St. Mary’s advances to the title game and they’ll be on the road again, with regular season champion Robert Morris holding off rival Saint Francis (PA) 60-57.
  • OVC: Eastern Kentucky punches its ticket
    Jeff Neubauer’s Colonels became the second team to cement its spot in the 68-team field, beating Belmont 79-73 for the OVC tournament title. Corey Walden led the way with 29 points, and EKU beat the top two seeds in the event on consecutive nights (beating Murray State on Friday).
  • Patriot: Top two seeds advance to title game
    Regular season champion Boston University and two-seed American both picked up home wins, advancing to Wednesday’s title game. BU, which beat Army 91-70, will get to host that game. American beat Holy Cross 57-46 in the other semifinal.
  • Southern: Georgia Southern eliminates Chattanooga
    Will Wade’s Mocs were knocked out of the SoCon quarters by Georgia Southern, which beat Chattanooga 62-55. Next up for the Eagles is Wofford, with the Terriers beating The Citadel 68-51. In the other semifinal top-seed Davidson (77-54 win over Samford) faces Western Carolina, with the Catamounts beating Elon 66-64.
  • Summit: IPFW rolls over IUPUI
    IPFW took care of business in the lone Summit League tournament game, whipping IUPUI 85-47. Luis Jacobo led four Mastodons in double figures with 19 points.
  • WCC: Top-seed Gonzaga survives
    Gonzaga nearly found itself in the unenviable position of scoreboard watching, but the Bulldogs are still alive after David Stockton’s layup with 1.6 seconds remaining gave them a 77-75 win over Santa Clara. Next up for Gonzaga is rival Saint Mary’s, which beat Pepperdine 80-69. The other semifinal matches BYU and San Francisco and keep an eye on the Dons, who have now wow six straight after beating San Diego 69-60.

NOTABLES

  • No. 11 Louisville and No. 15 Cincinnati clinched shares of the American Athletic Conference title, with the Cardinals whipping No. 19 UConn 81-48 and the Bearcats holding off Rutgers 70-66. Cincinnati won the coin flip, which means they’ll be the top seed in next week’s conference tournament.
  • No. 20 Memphis beat No. 18 SMU 67-58 but the Mustangs will still be the three-seed in the American conference tournament. Memphis will be the five, taking on UConn in the quarterfinals.
  • No. 10 San Diego State won the outright Mountain West title, beating No. 21 New Mexico 51-48.
  • The Pac-12’s Bay Area teams picked up needed home wins, with Stanford beating Utah 61-60 and Cal beating Colorado 66-65 in overtime.
  • Josh Newkirk’s basket at the end of regulation forced overtime, with Pittsburgh beating Clemson 83-76 in overtime.
  • Of the three SEC bubble teams only one made a positive statement, with Tennessee blowing out a reeling Missouri squad 72-45. As for Arkansas, they lost 83-58 at Alabama.
  • Dayton, which won at Saint Louis earlier this week, took care of business Saturday night by beating Richmond 60-48.
  • Jon Ekey’s three-pointer with five tenths of a second remaining gave Illinois a 66-63 win at No. 24 Iowa. The Hawkeyes have lost five of their last six heading into the Big Ten tournament.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 6 Villanova 77, Georgetown 59
  • No. 12 Michigan 84, Indiana 80
  • No. 23 Oklahoma 97, TCU 67

No. 9 Michigan State bounces back and routs Indiana 85-57

Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges scored 22 points and Nick Ward had 18 points and 13 rebounds to help No. 9 Michigan State bounce back with an 85-57 win over Indiana on Friday night.

The Spartans (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) had a confidence-boosting performance after going from a top-ranked team to a reeling one. They were slumping after a 16-point loss at Ohio State, an overtime win over Rutgers and an 82-72 setback to Michigan at home.

The Hoosiers (11-8, 4-3) lost for the first time in four games, falling into a fourth-place tie with the Wolverines and Nebraska.

Michigan State took control with an 18-0 run midway through the first half, led by as much as 23 and was ahead 42-23 at halftime. The Spartans stayed ahead by a comfortable margin in the second half by spreading the ball around and making it tough for the Hoosiers to make shots.

Cassius Winston had 10 points, eight assists and only one turnover, while Jaren Jackson had 10 points, six rebounds, three blocks and three assists for the Spartans.

Indiana’s Robert Johnson had 21 points and the rest of his teammates struggled offensively. Josh Newkirk scored 14, but missed 12 of 17 shots and the Hoosiers were held to 34 percent shooting.

FAMOUS FAN

Alex Rodriguez, who was in Detroit for the North American International Auto Show, attended the game. He went to Michigan State’s shootaround earlier in the day and wore an “Izzone” T-shirt while standing in the student section behind coach Tom Izzo, his staff and players.

“I’ve always been a big fan of Izzo,” Rodriguez said.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The Hoosiers had a hard time competing without Juwan Morgan playing as he has lately. One of the Big Ten’s leaders in scoring, rebounding, steals and shooting before the game started was limited to two points on 1-of-5 shooting, three rebounds and one steal.

Michigan State: The Spartans desperately needed to get their swagger back and they did, suddenly looking like the team that was ranked No. 1 two weeks ago.

Weekend Preview: Big East showdown headlines an interesting slate of games

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Leave a comment

SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

*(NOTE: Lines are not posted for Saturday or Sunday games as of publication. Spreads referenced are via Kenpom.com)

No. 11 XAVIER at No. 19 SETON HALL (-1), Sat. 2:30 p.m. (FOX)

The only game this weekend featuring two teams that are currently ranked in the top 25, Xavier and Seton Hall square off in a battle of programs trending in opposite directions. Now that Trevon Bluiett has rediscovered his shooting stroke, the Musketeers have reeled off back-to-back wins, including a beatdown of then-No. 25 Creighton. Seton Hall, on the other hand, lost by a combined 37 points at Marquette and Creighton in the last 11 days and struggled with a Georgetown team that was down 44 points at home against Villanova.

  • PREDICTION: Xavier’s new starting lineup will be interesting. The Musketeers are much more offensively oriented right now, but Kerem Kanter and Naji Marshall are not exactly known for their defense and physicality. Seton Hall has a big, old, tough and strong front line. I think they get this win they badly needed in front of a packed out. Seton Hall (-1)

No. 14 ARIZONA (-5) at STANFORD, Sat. 4:00 p.m. (CBS)

First place in the Pac-12 is on the line as 5-1 Arizona squares off with 5-1 Stanford. And yes, you read that correctly. In their last five games in league play, the Cardinal have swept the LA schools at home, the Washington schools on the road and beaten Arizona State in their place. Now they get the best team in the Pac-12. Stanford is healthy and playing the best basketball they’ve played in a long, long time.

  • PREDICTION: If Stanford is getting five points at home I am all over the Cardinal. The problem is that I don’t think they will be. KenPom’s projections don’t factor in that Stanford is healthy and hot. I think the line will be closer to Stanford (-2), and I would still probably take them. Stanford (-5)

FLORIDA at No. 18 KENTUCKY (-3), Sat. 8:15 p.m.

This matchup is fascinating. Two teams that still have quite figured things out that play polar opposite styles of basketball. Florida is loaded with quick, veteran guards that fire up threes. Kentucky is loaded big, athletic forwards that can’t really shoot. Coming off of a loss at South Carolina, I think this game is probably more important for Kentucky, who finally looks like they are going to be healthy.

  • PREDICTION: Can Kentucky overwhelm Florida with their size or will the Gators exploit the mismatches with their guards? That answer really comes down to whether or not the Gators get hot from deep. I’m going to guess that they will since they have a tendency to show up in big games. Florida (+3)

WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO WATCH?

  • No. 1 Villanova (-17) at UConn, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (CBS): The big question in this game for me, beyond “Will UConn lose by enough for UConn to fire Kevin Ollie on the spot?”, is whether or not Villanova is the elite team in college basketball that we swear doesn’t exist. Villanova (-17)
  • No. 7 Wichita State (-1) at Houston, Sat. 12:00 p.m. (ESPNU): The Shockers have turned into a defensive liability out of nowhere, and on Saturday they will be traveling to visit a Houston team that badly needs this win. Wichita State (-1)
  • No. 4 Oklahoma (-3) at Oklahoma State, Sat. 2:00 p.m. (ESPN): Trae Young hasn’t been right for a couple of weeks, and now he gets a rival on the road. Is this the game that he figures it out? Oklahoma (-3)
  • BAYLOR at No. 10 KANSAS (-8), Sat. 6:00 p.m. (ESPN): Kansas has actually had some issues at home this season, more than they’ve had on the road. Baylor tends to play the Jayhawks tough. Is this a letdown spot after that massive win at West Virginia? Kansas (-8)

No. 10 Jayhawks back on top of Big 12 with fresh approach

Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The hallmarks of Kansas under Bill Self over the years have been inside-outside post play and gritty defense, the kind of in-your-shorts man-to-man that leaves opponents gasping for air.

That trusted formula has produced 13 straight Big 12 championships.

But if the No. 10 Jayhawks are going to break a tie with the UCLA teams of the 1960s and ’70s for the most consecutive conference titles, their formula will look quite different this season: They are going to pour in 3-pointers, race around the court and simply outscore their foes.

“I do think you can get tougher. I do think you can get harder. I do think you can become more competitive and learn how to compete as you go,” Self said, “but the reality of it is we’re not changing right now playing four guards. Our second-best rebounder is 6-foot-5, 180 pounds. We’re not changing that. We’re not changing our next-best rebounder weighs 200 pounds. We’re not changing that fact.

“We’re playing four really average-sized guards,” Self said. “We’re not going to change that.”

So, best to adapt to it.

It helps that those four guards — Devonte Graham, Svi Mykhailiuk, Lagerald Vick and Malik Newman — form one of the best backcourts in the nation. Graham is a do-everything floor general, Mykhailiuk one of the best sharpshooters in the nation, Vick the most athletic of the bunch and Newman is capable of getting to the rim with as quick of a first step as anybody in the league.

It also helps that they’re experienced: Graham and Mykhailiuk are seniors with three title rings on their fingers, Vick is a junior and Newman is a third-year sophomore who redshirted last season.

Together, they’ve led the Jayhawks (15-3, 5-1) to four consecutive wins, including road wins over then-No. 16 TCU and sixth-ranked West Virginia. They’ve pushed Kansas back to the top of the league standings headed into Saturday’s game against Baylor, and back into the discussion of a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament when the bracket is revealed in about six weeks.

In other words, they have Kansas right where it is accustomed to being.

But the route has been much different, and that was evident in the Jayhawks’ comeback victory over the Mountaineers on Monday night. Graham and Mykhailiuk combined for 20 of their final 26 points, most of them on 3s and pull-up jumpers — each of them knocked down three from beyond the arc.

The comeback in years past would have featured a big man such as Darrell Arthur or Thomas Robinson in the post, or an elite guard such as Frank Mason III going right to the rim.

Different styles, even if the results have been the same.

“I think we assume some things because of the past,” Self said. “You look at the past, I mean, Landen Lucas was tough. We’re not replacing him with the same toughness. Josh Jackson was a monster. He was an assassin. We’re not replacing him with the same type of mentality. Certainly, you can’t match Frank’s mentality in that area. Which is OK. We were so spoiled with that in the past.”

Those past teams may have had bruising big men, tough guard play and pure scorers all over the floor, and they may have been one of the best defensive teams in the country. But they also had deficiencies, and in many cases, they are the same areas where this year’s team excels.

The Jayhawks have already hit 195 shots from beyond the arc, tops in the Big 12, and are shooting 41 percent from that range. They are among the league leaders in assists and shooting percentage, numbers that help to offset the fact that Kansas ranks ninth out of 10 teams in the league in rebounding.

“We’re going to be scrappy, tough. We got to do a way better job of rebounding, obviously,” Graham said. “But yeah, basically we’ve just got to get way tougher, like I’ve been saying.”

That toughness could get a boost now that Silvio De Souza, a five-star prospect from Florida’s IMG Academy, has been cleared to play. He graduated in December and promptly joined the Jayhawks, and Self is hopeful the big man will be up to speed by the time February rolls around.

It could get another boost if Billy Preston, another five-star prospect, is ever cleared. The school and NCAA have been looking into the ownership of a car he was driving on campus last fall.

In the meantime, the Jayhawks head into their game against the Bears on Saturday riding a win streak, winning high-scoring affairs thanks to 3-pointers and an offensive flair.

“We don’t have the same team we’ve had in the past,” Self said, “and we have to understand that.”

TCU PG Jaylen Fisher to miss rest of season following knee surgery

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
1 Comment

FORT WORTH, Texas — TCU point guard Jaylen Fisher had surgery Thursday to repair a meniscus tear in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season for the No. 24 Horned Frogs.

Fisher got hurt Tuesday, the second time in less than six months he injured a knee in practice. He had surgery after a meniscus tear in his left knee in early August.

The sophomore guard missed the team’s trip to Australia after the previous surgery, but was ready for the regular season. He averaged 12.1 points and was fifth in the Big 12 with 5.4 assists while playing the first 17 games. He had a career-high 22 points in an overtime loss Saturday at No. 4 Oklahoma, and he made 11 of 20 shots from 3-point range his last four games.

Fisher will need three to four months of recovery.

“I feel bad for him. We all feel bad for him,” coach Jamie Dixon said.

Even with his knee locked in a bent position and having to use crutches, Fisher attended TCU’s 96-73 home win over Iowa State on Wednesday night. He sat in a chair near the TCU bench.