Seventh Woods (Kelly Kline, UA)

Hoop Group Pitt Jam Fest Saturday: Tevin Mack outshines Seventh Woods

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Seventh Woods (Kelly Kline, UA)

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — When you talk about the Carolina Wolves, the first name that is going to be mentioned is Seventh Woods.

An electrifying athlete, Woods made waves last spring when a scintillating mixtape of his freshman season exploits went viral. He spent last summer playing in the U-16 World Championships with Team USA and shot up the Class of 2016 recruiting rankings, where Rivals currently ranks him No. 5 nationally.

But through three games at Hoop Group’s Pittsburgh Jam Fest, Woods has been an after thought on his own team as Tevin Mack has taken over. Mack is averaging 36.0 points in the three games, including a pair of 38 point performances on Saturday, making him by far the most productive scorer in the tournament.

“Best thing I do is shoot,” and Mack certainly showcased that skill in Pittsburgh. As a 6-foot-6 wing with a lengthy wingspan, Mack has the size to be able to take advantage of that shooting ability over smaller defenders. And while he’s more than just a spot-up shooter on the offensive end of the floor, part of the reason that he’s only ranked No. 97 in the Class of 2015 in Rivals top 150 is that he’s limited as an athlete and a ball-handler.

The good news?

Mack is aware of where his deficiencies lie. When asked what his goal is for this spring and summer, he said he wants to improving his “defense, ball-handling and getting more athletic.”

And if he does? “I’ll get my ranking up and show people I’m actually good.”

Georgia is considered the favorite to land Mack, as his family has a relationship with head coach Mark Fox from when his brother played for Fox at Nevada and Tevin has already made a couple of visits to the campus. But Mack, a native of Columbia, S.C., said that VCU recently extended an offer and that Clemson, Wake Forest, Southern Cal and South Carolina have shown interest in recent week.

“Stability in the program,” Mack said of what he’s looking for in a school. “The coaches that are recruiting me are going to be there the entire time. A winning program, but somewhere that I can make an impact.”

Mack shined, but Seventh Woods struggled: Woods did not have his most impressive performance in a pair of games on Saturday. He struggled with his perimeter stroke and committed a handful of unforced turnovers. His potential is evident to anyone that makes an effort to watch something as simple as layup lines, and Woods certainly has a knack for making some incredible plays on the defensive end of the floor. The problem? He seems to be trying to prove that he’s a point guard, facilitating offense and distributing the ball, which takes him out of what he does best: attacking the rim off the dribble. I’ll chalk this up as a bad day, so it will be interesting to see what kind of performance he has on Sunday.

Moustapha Heron shows out in front of Pitt fans: Heron is a beast, plain and simple. The 6-foot-5, 220 pound wing is an overpowering athlete that is strong enough to bully any wing that he will run into at the Pitt Jam Fest despite playing up an age group. Heron, the No. 19 recruit in the Class of 2016, showed off that physical prowess on Saturday, posting 27 points in a blow out win for his New Heights (NYC) over the very talented Team Thad. Panther fans would have a reason to get excited about Heron, who committed to Pitt last fall, if there wasn’t a concern that he will be reopening his recruitment soon. Barry “Slice” Rohrssen was the coach that recruited Heron, and Rohrssen left Jamie Dixon’s staff and accepted the same position with Kentucky last week.

Doral Moore’s post game is coming along: Like every lanky, athletic big man that comes through the high school ranks, Doral Moore has been an excellent shot blocker and finisher throughout his younger years. But the God-given ability to be seven-feet tall and able to dunk a basketball will only get a player so far if he can’t develop the rest of his game, and on Saturday, Moore showed off some of that development. He’s always had a soft touch on the perimeter, but Moore showed off a nice, right-handed jump hook as the Atlanta XPress advanced to Sunday’s quarterfinals. Given his length and athleticism, if Moore can perfect that shot, it can be unstoppable.

“Mostly my post-up game,” Moore said of what he’s been working the hardest on to develop. “I can shoot, but I have to get down and dirty sometimes. Finish strong.”

Moore is the highest-rated Class of 2015 prospect in Pittsburgh, ranking No. 16 on Rivals. He listed Illinois, Ohio State, Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana and Louisville.

Derrick Jones is still learning how to play: Derrick Jones will never lose a dunk contest.

Ever.

Period.

He’s the freakiest of freak athletes that you are going to come across. I’d give 5-to-1 odds that he’ll give himself a concussion by hitting his head on the rim at least once in his career, and the fact that he’s 6-foot-8 with long arms only makes him that much more impressive.

The issue is that the rest of his game is still developing. His ball-handling, his ability to shoot the ball, developing his slender frame. His ceiling is limitless, but he’s got a way to go before he reaches that ceiling. Until then, just don’t try to jump with him.

UT-Arlington dominates, upsets No. 12 St. Mary’s

Texas-Arlington's Kevin Hervey, left, reacts to a 73-68 NCAA college basketball game win as Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate looks on  in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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UT-Arlington made a statement on Thursday night, completely dominating No. 12 Saint Mary’s in a 65-51 upset win in a true road game in Moraga.

Back in October, I ranked both the Gaels and the Mavericks in the top-5 of my Mid-Major Power Rankings. Saint Mary’s was the obvious top choice, one of the nation’s most efficient offenses that returned Emmett Naar and Jock Landale. UT-Arlington, ranked fifth, served as a dangerous opponent. The Mavs had defeated Ohio State and Memphis in 2015, but their season was derailed once Kevin Hervey, a player with serious pro potential, tore his ACL.

With five starters back, including Hervey, who is just now getting back to 100 percent, UT-Arlington looks every bit the part of a March Cinderella.

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead and forced the Gaels to play out of character. Saint Mary’s had only committed a season-high 14 turnovers before the midway point of the second half. The Gaels, who entered shooting 40 percent from three as a team, was held to 8-of-27 (30 percent) from beyond the arc.

UT-Arlington did an incredible job of closing out on shooters. And it didn’t matter the matchup, at times we saw Hervey, a 6-foot-9 junior, come out and run a guard off the 3-point line. While those statistics mentioned above show up in the box score, the amount of deflections don’t. The Mavericks used its length and athleticism to get their hands everywhere on the defensive end of the floor, making it difficult to find good looks.

In the first half, UT-Arlington controlled the glass. Saint Mary’s found more success in that department after halftime, as Kevin Clark’s offensive putback capped an 11-2 run, which cut the deficit to 52-41. However, the Mavs were able to counter each time the Gaels threatened, never letting the lead get to single digits.

Aside from the struggles the typically-efficient Saint Mary’s offense had, the Gaels struggled to keep UT-Arlington guards Erick Neal and Kaelon Wilson out of the lane, whether it be on a high ball screen or a handoff. Saint Mary’s never seemed to have a help-side defender there to protect the rim. Neal had 13 points and eight assists (five turnovers), while Wilson had 10 points off the bench. Hervey had a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds.

UT-Arlington is winners of eight straight after losing three straight. One of those wins includes a double-digit win over Texas in Austin. The Mavericks are the clear-cut favorite to win the Sun Belt. Come Selection Sunday, I’d say plenty of at-large teams would not like to be paired up with Scott Cross’ team.

Iowa cruises past No. 25 Iowa State

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20:  Head coach Fran McCaffery of the Iowa Hawkeyes reacts in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Barclays Center on March 20, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Iowa picked up a major win on Thursday night, defeating in-state rival No. 25 Iowa State, 78-64, in a contest the Hawkeyes thoroughly dominated.

Let’s put it this way: the Hawkeyes have played four top-100 teams, according to kenpom. In those games, all losses by the way, their defense has surrendered 91 points to Seton Hall, 74 points to a Virginia team that plays at the slowest tempo in the country, 100 points to Memphis and 92 points to Notre Dame.

On Saturday, on the same floor Iowa demolished the Cyclones, its defense allowed 98 points in a loss to Nebraska Omaha.

This is exactly the sort of win Fran McCaffery and Co. needed to right the ship as we inch closer and closer to conference play.

When the Cyclones went to their bench in the first half, Nick Baer sparked a 10-0 run which helped set the tone for the remainder of the half. Iowa State went without a field goal for more than six minutes during that span.

Iowa kept Iowa State from getting out and running, holding the Cyclones to zero fast break points through the first 20 minutes and limiting them to only 36 percent from the floor as a team. Iowa, on the other hand, shot 47 percent, including 59 percent in the first half, which led to a 15-point halftime lead.

Peter Jok torched Iowa State to the tune of 23 points (4-of-7 from distance).

Monte Morris was held in check with 10 points, while Naz Mitrou-Long and Matt Thomas shot a combined 4-of-13 from three (they each hit a three with less than three minutes to play and the outcome all but decided).

Iowa State’s offense is becoming a bigger concern. Just like against Gonzaga, the Cyclones dug a first-half hole they could shoot out their way of. And like last week’s overtime loss to Cincinnati, they struggled from beyond the arc.

Iowa landed a marquee win it needed, while its rival headed home with questions to answer after losing three of four.

 

Alabama wing sidelined due to weight loss

ORLANDO, FL - NOVEMBER 29: Head coach Avery Johnson of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at HP Field House on November 29, 2015 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Alabama junior wing Nick King will not be with the team for Sunday evening’s matchup against No. 24 Oregon in Eugene.

According to Rainer Sabin of the AL.com, Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said King undergoing a series of tests after losing more than 10 pounds in less than a week and a half.

Johnson told reporters that he is “very concerned” and estimates that as of now King will be sidelined for “a week or two.”

King, who played his first two seasons at Memphis, has appeared in all seven games for the Crimson Tide, averaging 3.3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 12.7 minutes per game.

Damonte Dodd out with MCL sprain

COLLEGE PARK, MD - FEBRUARY 13: Melo Trimble #2 and Damonte Dodd #35 of the Maryland Terrapins react to a call as Alex Illikainen #25 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on in the second half at Xfinity Center on February 13, 2016 in College Park, Maryland. Wisconsin won 70-57.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Maryland could be without the services of starting center Damonte Dodd for the remainder of the non-conference slate, the team announced on Wednesday.

Dodd suffered a MCL sprain in his left knee during practice earlier this week. The injury caused him to miss Wednesday’s 76-56 win over Howard. He will not be available for matchups with St. Peter’s and Jacksonville State. The Terrapins then close out the non-conference slate at Charlotte on Dec. 20 before opening up Big Ten play a week later.

Dodd has started in six of seven games he’s appeared in this season. He’s averaging 5.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game. Michael Cekovsky started in place of Dodd on Wednesday night. Ivan Bender, who returned to the lineup against Howard after missing the previous contest, should also see an increase in minutes with Dodd sidelined.

Federico Mussini goes coast-to-coast, beats buzzer with and-1

CINCINNATI, OH - FEBRUARY 03:  Chris Mullin the head coach of the St. John's Red Storm gives instructions to Federico Mussini #4 during the game against the  Xavier Musketeersat Cintas Center on February 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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St. John’s capped the first half with a 6-0 run.

Sophomore guard Federico Mussini went coast-to-coast to beat the buzzer, and draw the foul, as the Johnnies went into the break up 42-33 on city rival Fordham.

The 6-foot-4 guard had gone cold during a five-game stretch, but since Thanksgiving he’s scored in double figures in four consecutive games, including on Thursday night.