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Big 12 Tournament: Iowa State lights up a poor Kansas defense

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DeAndre Kane had 20 points, six boards and six assists, hitting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, and Georges Niang added 25 points and seven assists, doing the majority of his damage down the stretch, as No. 16 Iowa State held off No. 10 Kansas in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament, 94-83.

If you want to know what Iowa State is a trendy Final Four pick and why they will be such a dangerous opponent in the NCAA tournament, all you need to do is watch the film of this game.

MORE: Get caught up on today’s Bubble Banter

This group simply has so many weapons offensively. They are just a nightmare to try to matchup with defensively. Kane’s confidence from three has never been higher. Niang is a nightmare for anyone to try and guard one-on-one. And Melvin Ejim, who had as quiet of a 19-point performance as you’ll ever see, was the Big 12 Player of the Year.

But we already knew all of that about the Cyclones.

The story from this game was the inability of Kansas to find any kind of consistency on the defensive end of the floor.

PHOTOS: Georges Niang’s eyebrow was split open

For the second time in three games, Kansas played a team that spread them out on the perimeter and absolutely gashed them defensively. West Virginia, a team that’s not even in the conversation when it comes to the NCAA tournament, shredded them in a dominating win on the final day of the regular season. The Cyclones did the same on Friday.

Part of the issue is the absence of Joel Embiid. Without him in the lineup, Kansas doesn’t have a rim protector, and if there’s anything we’ve learned over these last six days, it’s that Kansas is not a great defensive team on the perimeter. You can beat them off the bounce and get to the rim.

RELATED: ‘The Tweak’ worked for Kentucky

The other concern is that, outside of Andrew Wiggins and Perry Ellis, everyone else on Kansas seems to be in a bit of a slump offensively. Naadir Tharpe is 2-for-13 from the floor and 0-for-5 from three the last three games. Wayne Selden is 12-for-36 from the field and 4-for-19 from three the last four games. If they aren’t going to be locking people up defensively, they need more balance offensively.

Wiggins put on a show the last two games, and that resulted in a loss to West Virginia and an overtime win over Oklahoma State. Ellis had 30 points on 11-for-12 shooting on Friday and the Jayhawks still lost to Iowa State.

They need to get stops even if Embiid is out. If they don’t, this is a group that can get picked off before Embiid is even able to return to the floor.

Villanova beats Duke, Kansas, Indiana for Jermaine Samuels

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Jermaine Samuels, Jr. #23 of Expressions Elite dunks. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Villanova landed a commitment from top 50 prospect Jermaine Samuels on Saturday.

Samuels is a tough and athletic 6-foot-5 wing that will remind many Wildcat fans of Josh Hart. He’s got the same kind of versatility and nose for the ball that will let him guard perimeter players as well as work in as a small-ball four. Players like this are a specialty of Jay Wright.

Samuels picked up an offer from Duke recently and also had Indiana, Kansas and Georgetown in his top five. Beating out blue-bloods for a prospect like this is quite the statement for Villanova, one that should tell you the reigning national champs are here to stay as a national power.

Syracuse lands critical piece in Andrew White

LINCOLN, NE - FEBRUARY 3: Andrew White #3 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers shoots the ball over Rasheed Sulaimon #0 of the Maryland Terrapins during their game at Pinnacle Bank Arena on February 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Syracuse has found their replacement for Malachi Richardson.

On Sunday, Nebraska transfer Andrew White committed to the Orange, picking Syracuse, in the end, over VCU. White is a graduate transfer who spent last season with Nebraska, where he averaged 16.2 points while shooting 41.2 percent from three. A top 50 prospect out of Virginia back in the Class of 2012, White played a limited role for Kansas his first two seasons in college.

This is a significant pickup for the Orange, one that legitimately puts them into the conversation as a Final Four contender and a threat to finish at or near the top of the ACC. Jim Boeheim has put together a roster full of talented, long and athletic front court players, but after Richardson declared for the NBA Draft as a one-and-done freshman, he was left with just two back court players on his roster.

Earlier this offseason, Cuse landed Colorado State grad transfer John Gillon, a 6-foot-1 combo-guard, to reinforce their back court. The addition of White gives them a lights-out shooter and a big-time scorer on the wing, something that would have been a major void on their roster.

With Paschal Chukwu getting eligible at the center spot and Tyler Lydon likely landing on every breakout player list this preseason, the Orange should be a markedly better team than the one that made their way to the Final Four last season.

Arizona lands first commitment in 2017 class

Alex Barcello (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)
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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.