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

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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

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averaged 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.