Frank Haith

Missouri dips into juco ranks to bolster backcourt depth

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Within the past week, it has been announced that both Jordan Clarkson and Jabari Brown would leave Missouri and enter the NBA draft. Since there hasn’t been an update regarding whether Shane Rector and Wes Clark have been reinstated, coach Frank Haith needed to bolster his backcourt depth, and the program recently received a commitment from Kevin Punter, a guard from State Fair Community College.

According to Brad Winton of Juco Recruiting, Punter is a versatile guard who seems to be peaking at the right time: in his teams two tournament games at the NJCAA, Punter averaged more than 25 points per game and made 68.1 percent of his twos. He didn’t display an accurate touch from long-range, but on the season, Punter’s shooting from beyond the arc was adequate (36 percent), and the guard should account for some of the minutes lost when Brown and Clarkson departed (as well as some of the their scoring).

Along with the additions of Deuce Bello and Cameron Biedscheid, Missouri should have twelve Tigers under scholarship for next season (including Punter), so the natural assumption is that Haith and his staff aren’t finished recruiting for the 2015 season. The team could still use some backcourt depth, and Haith may still land a juco guard, or the staff might strengthen the frontcourt: Johnathan Williams and Ryan Rosburg are the only two returning bigs who used more than 50 percent of Mizzou’s available minutes.

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: