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Late Night Snacks: Tournament-record four overtime games on Thursday

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 7 Texas 87, No. 10 Arizona State 85

After Jonathan Gilling tied the game with two free throws, Arizona State’s season ended in cruel fashion as a Cameron Ridley basket as time expired gave the Longhorns the win in Milwaukee. The individual matchup between Ridley and Jordan Bachynski was entertaining to say the least, with Ridley finishing with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots and Bachynski countering with 25 points and seven boards. Six Longhorns finished in double figures including Martez Walker, who scored 16 points off the bench. Next up for Texas is Midwest Region No. 2 Michigan.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 12 North Dakota State 80, No. 5 Oklahoma 75 (OT)

When star guard Taylor Braun fouled out with 1:18 remaining in overtime it seemed as if the Bison were in trouble in the West Region matchup. But what ultimately occurred was freshman Carlin Dupree taking advantage of his opportunity to shine, making two free throws and then converting a critical layup with 42 seconds remaining. From there NDSU would go on to pick up the school’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory, advancing to play either No. 4 San Diego State or No. 13 New Mexico State. Lawrence Alexander led the way for the winners with 28 points.

2) No. 5 Saint Louis 83, No. 12 NC State 80 (OT)

The Wolfpack, a trendy pick to beat Saint Louis, led by 14 points with 5:03 remaining and looked poised to make prophets out of many. But then NC State started missing free throws and doing other things teams looking to close out a game should not do, allowing Saint Louis to pick up an improbable comeback victory. T.J. Warren scored 28 points and grabbed eight rebounds but he fouled out in the final minute of overtime, robbing NC State of its best scoring option. Rob Loe led SLU with 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Jordair Jett played very good defense on Warren down the stretch in regulation as well as in overtime.

3) No. 11 Dayton 60, No. 6 Ohio State 59

Vee Sanford’s basket with 3.9 seconds remaining was the difference in the first game of the day, advancing the Flyers into the Round of 32 where they’ll face South Region No. 3 Syracuse. Dyshawn Pierre scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds to lead the balanced Flyers, who won despite shooting just 3-for-13 from beyond the arc. Sam Thompson scored 18 points and Aaron Craft 16 for the Buckeyes, with the latter having his college career come to an end in Buffalo.

STARRED

1) Adreian Payne (Michigan State) 

Payne shot 10-for-15 from the field and 17-for-17 from the foul line, scoring a career-high 41 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Spartans’ 93-78 win over Delaware.

2) Lawrence Alexander (North Dakota State)

Alexander scored 28 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field to go along with eight rebounds and four assists in North Dakota State’s 80-75 overtime win over Oklahoma.

3) Rob Loe (Saint Louis)

Accounted for 22 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in the Billikens’ 83-80 overtime win over NC State.

STRUGGLED

1) Jordan Aaron (Milwaukee)

Aaron shot 1-for-15 from the field, scoring six points in the Panthers’ 73-53 loss to Villanova.

2) Askia Booker (Colorado)

Scored six points on 2-for-9 shooting to go along with five rebounds and four turnovers (no assists) in Colorado’s 77-48 loss to Pittsburgh.

3) Sam Rowley (Albany)

Rowley made just one of his eight field goal attempts, finishing with three points in the Great Danes’ 67-55 loss to Florida.

NOTABLES

  • After getting off to a slow start West Region No. 2 Wisconsin built its lead over American to ten points at the half, and they would go on to win 75-35.
  • South Region No. 9 Pittsburgh jumped out to a 13-0 lead on No. 8 Colorado and never looked back, beating the Buffaloes 77-48 in Orlando. The 29-point margin is the largest for a Pitt team in its NCAA tournament history.
  • Wesley Saunders scored 12 points and Siyani Chambers added 11 as East Region No. 12 Harvard established an early lead and held off No. 5 Cincinnati in Spokane, 61-57. Seniors Sean Kilpatrick and Justin Jackson led the way offensively for Cincinnati, scoring 18 and 13 points respectively.
  • Trevor Cooney shot 4-for-8 from beyond the arc, scoring 18 points in South Region No. 3 Syracuse’s 77-53 win over Western Michigan.
  • West Region No. 7 Oregon proved to be too much for No. 10 BYU as the Ducks won 87-68 in Milwaukee. The star of the day for the Ducks: forward Elgin Cook, who finished the game with 23 points and eight rebounds.
  • South Region No. 1 Florida didn’t put forth its best effort against scrapping No. 16 Albany but they were able to establish some distance in the second half, beating the Great Danes 67-55.
  • Adreian Payne’s career afternoon will receive much of the attention as East Region No. 4 Michigan State beat No. 13 Delaware 93-78 in Spokane, but Travis Trice’s 19 points off the bench were important as well.
  • Amida Brimah’s three-point play with 39 seconds remaining in regulation forced overtime, and with Saint Joseph’s forward Halil Kanacevic having fouled out East Region No. 7 UConn took over in the extra session to win 89-81.
  • Midwest Region No. 2 Michigan didn’t get to play as fast as it may have wanted to against No. 15 Wofford, but the Wolverines managed to shoot 47.8% from the field in their 57-40 win over the Terriers. Nik Stauskas scored 15 points and Glenn Robinson III 14 for the Wolverines.
  • East Region No. 2 Villanova didn’t get off to the best of starts against No. 15 Milwaukee, but the Wildcats woke up in the second half to beat the Panthers 73-53 in Buffalo. The Wildcats will face former Big East foe UConn Saturday.
  • Midwest Region No. 4 Louisville, a trendy pick to reach the Final Four, had its hands full with a Manhattan squad coached by former Rick Pitino assistant Steve Masiello. But the Cardinals managed to win 71-64, with Luke Hancock hitting two critical three-pointers down the stretch.
  • In spite of some shoddy play in the late stages of regulation, West Region No. 4 seed San Diego State managed to beat New Mexico State 73-69. This was the fourth overtime game of the day, something that hadn’t happened in the NCAA tournament prior to Thursday.

Four-star 2017 shooting guard commits to Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech head coach Buzz Williams celebrates a play in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Virginia, Monday, Jan. 4, 2016, in Blacksburg, Va. (Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP) LOCAL STATIONS OUT; LOCAL INTERNET OUT; LOCAL PRINT OUT (SALEM TIMES REGISTER; FINCASTLE HERALD; CHRISTIANSBURG NEWS MESSENGER; RADFORD NEWS JOURNAL; ROANOKE STAR SENTINEL; MANDATORY CREDIT
Matt Gentry/The Roanoke Times via AP
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Recruiting, and on-court results, have picked up at Virginia Tech since Buzz Williams took over as head coach. In his second year at the helm the Hokies won ten conference games, and in reaching the Postseason NIT made their first postseason appearance since 2011.

Thursday night Virginia Tech landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2017, as four-star shooting guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker made his pledge.

The 6-foot-5 Alexander-Walker, who’s ranked 91st in his class by Rivals.com, also took official visits to Maryland and USC before making his pledge to the ACC program. Alexander-Walker attends Hamilton Heights Christian Academy in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but as a native of Canada plays his grassroots basketball for the Canada Elite program on the Under Armour Association circuit.

Good with either hand, Alexander-Walker can play either on or off the basketball. And that versatility should serve him well in a system that places a high value on “switch-ables,” or players who can fill multiple roles.

The Canada connection paid off for Virginia Tech in the recruitment of Alexander-Walker, with assistant coach Jamie McNeilly being a native of the country himself and having a connection to the Walker family. The Hokies will lose two perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season in Devin Wilson and Seth Allen, which will give Alexander-Walker the opportunity to earn minutes as a freshman.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File
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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

Creighton point guard Watson Jr. to return for senior season

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr. (10) reacts after scoring during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Xavier in Omaha, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Creighton won 70-56. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
AP Photo/Nati Harnik
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Creighton’s chances of moving up the Big East standings and returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2014 improved a great deal Thursday, as starting point guard Maurice Watson Jr. announced that he will be returning for his senior season. Watson, who began his college career at Boston University, entered his name into the NBA Draft pool without hiring an agent but decided that another year in Omaha would be best for him.

Watson was one of the most impactful transfers in the country last season, as his play at the point was a major factor in the Bluejays winning 20 games and going 9-9 in conference play after being picked to finish eighth in the Big East preseason poll. Watson averaged 14.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game last season, earning second team All-Big East honors.

With Watson’s return the Bluejays will welcome back three of their top four scorers from last season, with center Geoffrey Groselle being the lone departure. Head coach Greg McDermott adds a talented shooting guard in Marcus Foster, who sat out last season after transferring in from Kansas State. With Watson and Foster working together, Creighton will have a formidable perimeter tandem leading the way in 2016-17 with the likes of forward Cole Huff and guard Isaiah Zierden also being key contributors.

In addition to what Watson can provide in games he’ll also serve as a good mentor for Kaleb Joseph, who will have to sit out next season after transferring in from Syracuse. Joseph, who will have two seasons of eligibility remaining, fell out of the rotation as a sophomore so the year in residency should benefit him as he works towards grabbing the reins in 2017-18.

h/t ESPN.com

UConn, four-star 2017 big man Brown part ways

Brown, Zach
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Back in mid-January UConn made waves on the recruiting trail by securing a verbal commitment from 7-foot-1 center Zach Brown, a player seen by many as one of the top prospects in the Class of 2017. That partnership came to an end Thursday, as the two parties decided to part ways. News of the mutual decision was first reported by Scout.com.

The Miami native is currently ranked 28th in the Class of 2017 by Rivals.com, and Thursday’s news opens up a spot in the front court that UConn head coach Kevin Ollie and his staff will now have to fill. Amida Brimah, who’s currently going through the NBA pre-Draft process, will be a senior next season should he return to Storrs as will Kentan Facey.

Among the interior options who will have eligibility remaining beyond next season for the Huskies are sophomore Steven Enoch and incoming freshmen Mamadou Diarra and Juwan Durham.

UConn was in the running for 2016 power forward Taurean Thompson, but multiple outlets have the Brewster Academy product considering Michigan State (which added UNLV grad transfer Ben Carter Wednesday), Seton Hall and Syracuse at this point in his recruitment.

UCF lands commitment from transfer Terrell Allen

New UCF men's NCAA college basketball coach Johnny Dawkins speaks at his introductory press conference Thursday, March 24, 2016 in Orlando, Fla. (Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP) MAGS OUT; NO SALES; MANDATORY CREDIT
Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel via AP
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Having already landed one transfer in former Michigan guard Aubrey Dawkins (the new head coach’s son), UCF landed a second Thursday afternoon as former Drexel guard Terrell Allen announced that he’ll finish out his college career playing for Johnny Dawkins.

Allen, a CAA All-Rookie Team selection in his lone season at Drexel, announced the news by way of his Twitter account. After sitting out the 2016-17 season per NCAA transfer rules, Allen will have three seasons of eligibility remaining.

On a team that struggled throughout the 2015-16 season, winning just six games, Allen averaged 9.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists in 32.5 minutes of action per game. The 6-foot-2 point guard finished the season ranked in the top ten in the CAA in both assists and assist-to-turnover ratio, with his assist tally ranking eighth and his A/T ratio of 1.9 placing him seventh.

With B.J. Taylor entering his junior season and Jeremy Carter-Sheppard joining the ranks this summer, the addition of Allen gives UCF another option at the point for the 2017-18 campaign.