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Late Night Snacks: Three guards shine brightest on Saturday

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 2 Wisconsin 85, No. 7 Oregon 77

The Badgers got 19 points out of Frank Kaminsky to lead five players in double figures and came back from 12 points down at the half to knock off an Oregon team that many people believe would pull off the upset. While the final score makes it look like the Badgers pulled away down the stretch, that was more the result of three late free throws. Joseph Young missed a three that would have tied the game with 15 seconds left.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 11 Dayton 55, N0. 3 Syracuse 53: The Flyers advanced to their first Sweet 16 in 30 years as Archie Miller and company were able to hang on down the stretch. Tyler Ennis went into takeover mode late, but he missed a pair of jump shots in the first 10 seconds that would have won the game for the Orange. The big question now: Will Ennis be back next season?

2. No. 7 UConn 77, No. 2 Villanova 65: The Huskies advanced to their first Sweet 16 under the guidance of Kevin Ollie, knocking off an old Big East nemesis to advance. Shabazz Napier was fantastic as always, but it was the play of guys off the bench that made the biggest difference.

3. No. 4 Michigan State 80, No. 12 Harvard 73: The Crimson gave the Spartans a scare, erasing a 17-point second half deficit to take the lead with less than five minutes remaining. But the popular pick to win the National Title survived, spurred on by a pair of massive threes from Gary Harris.

STARRED

1. Xavier Thames, San Diego State: The Aztecs sent Cinderella packing thanks to 30 points and eight assists from Thames. At one point in the second half, with No. 4 SDSU up 55-43 on No. 12 North Dakota State, Thames was responsible for 46 Aztec points and 15 of their 19 field goals.

2. Scottie Wilbekin, Florida: Wilbekin finished with 21 points, hitting big shot after big shot down the stretch, each one tougher than the last, as No. 1 Florida advanced past No. 9 Pitt, 61-45.

3. Shabazz Napier, UConn: He finished with 25 points on 9-for-13 shooting despite playing just eight first half minutes and dealing with a tweaked left ankle and a bruised right shin.

STRUGGLED

1. Texas: The No. 7 Longhorns shot just 37.1% from the floor and allowed No. 2 Michigan to hit 14 threes in a game that wasn’t all that close.

2. Russ Smith, Louisville: No. 4 Louisville advanced to the Sweet 16 despite the fact that Smith was just 6-for-19 from the field, 1-for-6 from three and committed 13 turnovers in two games.

3. Syracuse: The Orange managed just 53 points and shot 0-for-10 from three in their loss to Dayton. C.J. Fair was 4-for-14 from the floor, Trevor Cooney was 1-for-6 and Tyler Ennis took over late but finished the night just 7-for-21, missing two game-winning shots.

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)
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.