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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.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.

Four-star guard Fisher commits to TCU

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Jamie Dixon’s presence is already being felt in the Big 12 and on the recruiting trail.

TCU received its first commitment of the Dixon era when four-star 2016 point guard Jaylen Fisher announced his decision to join the Horned Frogs on Wednesday.

“Due to how comfortable my family and I are with the coaching staff,” Fisher posted from his Twitter account, “and the emphasis the university has put on making basketball a priority, I’m committing to be a student-athlete at TCU.”

Getting a consensus top-75 prospect, who was once committed to UNLV, is a heck of a coup for being just a couple months on the job. It instantly shows the Frogs are going to be a player for some of the country’s top players, which is a necessity if you have designs on making a move up the ladder of arguably the country’s best league in the Big 12.

Maybe the most gratifying thing for TCU, though, is the reason Fisher publicly stated for making his decision, the school’s “making basketball a priority.” The hoops program has suffered immensely in the Big 12 (while the football program has flourished), winning a total of eight games in their four seasons (including a winless 2014), but the school sank $72 million into renovating its arena, made an aggressive move in firing Trent Johnson and then went out and got its dream candidate, Dixon, an alum. Fisher’s commitment is the first time those moves have shown that commitment to basketball paying off.

 

Report: Izundu’s San Diego State transfer ban rescinded

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Washington State transfer Valentine Izundu will be visiting San Diego State after all.

Coach Ernie Kent has rescinded his restriction on the 6-foot-10 graduate transfer from visiting the Aztecs, according to a report from the Spokesman-Review, citing an anonymous source. Izundu will also be reportedly visiting Fresno State and UNLV.

Izundu had previously been barred from considering the Aztecs by Kent because of suspcisions of tampering. Izundu vigorously denied that was the case as at the center of the dispute was a trip he made to San Diego for spring break. He publicly said he did not have any contact with the SDSU coaching staff , though he attended an Aztecs NIT game.

Kent, though, appears to have relented, as many coaches who have similarly faces public pressure in such situations before him have. In this era where so much attention is being paid to player rights and welfare, there only seems to be growing public sentiment against programs restricting transfers beyond the absolute bare minimum is rarely going to go over well. It may make things more difficult for coaches and programs, but it’s the deck is largely already stacked in their favor in most every other instance.

Ex-Michigan State player Keith Appling faces weapons charges

Keith Appling
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DEARBORN, Mich. (AP) Authorities say former Michigan State basketball player Keith Appling faces charges including carrying a concealed weapon after he was found in possession of guns and marijuana in suburban Detroit.

The Wayne County prosecutor’s office says 24-year-old Appling was arrested outside a Dearborn club on Sunday night. Club security called police after seeing a man pull a gun from the trunk of a car.

Prosecutors say Appling was in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived. Officers found a handgun under the driver’s seat, a loaded weapon in the trunk and a small amount of suspected marijuana.

Weapons and marijuana possession charges were announced Wednesday.

The court says he doesn’t have a lawyer on record.

Appling played for the Spartans from 2010-2014 and plays for the NBA’s development league.

UNLV transfer to finish career at Michigan State

UNLV forward Ben Carter, right, celebrates after his team defeated Oregon in an NCAA college basketball game Friday, Dec. 4, 2015, in Las Vegas. UNLV won 80-69. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Former UNLV center Ben Carter announced on Wednesday that he will be transferring to Michigan State to finish his collegiate career.

Carter, who began his career at Oregon, averaged 8.6 points and 6.0 boards in his one season with UNLV before tearing his ACL in late January. He spent two seasons with the Ducks before transferring to Vegas, which is why he’s eligible immediately for the Spartans.

And that’s the biggest reason that Tom Izzo and company targeted him.

The Spartans lost Deyonta Davis to the NBA Draft after one season, a fact that became an inevitability midway through the year but one that the Spartans didn’t necessarily plan for heading into last season. Carter isn’t going to be an instant impact kind of player, particularly not when he’s coming off of an ACL injury, but he is a big body and a veteran presence on a front line that wasn’t going have much of either.