North Dakota State v Oklahoma

Lawrence Alexander, Carlin Dupree spark No. 12 North Dakota State’s win over No. 5 Oklahoma

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source: Getty Images
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Carlin Dupree had not played a second for No. 12 North Dakota State in regulation, and if it wasn’t for a dumb reach-in foul by Summit League Player of the Year Taylor Braun with 1:18 left in overtime, he would have spent the entire evening on the bench.

But Braun did reach-in. And that was his fifth foul. And after Cameron Clark hit a pair of free throws, the Bison found themselves in the final minute of a tie game against No. 5 Oklahoma with Dupree, a freshman that was getting his first minutes of the night, handling the ball.

WATCH: North Dakota State’s locker room celebration

The first time he touched the ball, Dupree was fouled, calmly stepping to the free throw line and burying both free throws just four seconds after he stepped onto the court. Less than a minute later, on the ensuing possession, Dupree drove baseline and finished a floater over Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler, giving the Bison a 76-72 lead with just 42 ticks left on the clock.

And that was it.

The Sooners would never get closer than that, and the Bison, who had seen their all-conference center, Marshall Bjorklund, foul out at the end of regulation, advanced to take on the winner of No. 4 San Diego State and No. 13 New Mexico State with an 80-75 win.

“I’m elated the way we did,” NDSU head coach Saul Phillips said in a postgame interview. “How about Carlin Bupree? We were just telling him a lot of the year, ‘hold on, we’re going to need you, we’re going to need you.'”

It’s fairly impressive that the Bison were even able to get this game into overtime. NDSU blew an eight-point halftime lead and trailed 66-63 with less than 20 seconds left in regulation, but Braun — who was 3-for-11 and scored just 11 points on the night — was able to find Lawrence Alexander for a three to tie the game and force the extra period.

Alexander was just terrific on Thursday night, finishing with 28 points, eight boards and four assists on 10-for-15 shooting, leading four players in double-figures.

Here’s the better news: the Bison did not matchup well with Oklahoma on paper. They play a pack-line defense, which essentially means that they play man-to-man, pack in their defense and dare you to try to shoot jump shots over the top of them. It worked against the Sooners, thanks in large part to the job that Braun did on Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield (4-for-14 shooting, 1-for-9 from three), and it should work even better against San Diego State, assuming they beat New Mexico State.

The Aztecs have a ton of size and athleticism on their roster, but outside of Xavier Thames, they don’t really have any perimeter shooting.

America, you may have just met your 2014 Cinderella.

Phillips isn’t worried about that yet, however.

He’s just happy “we get to keep playing!”

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)
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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)
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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
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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.