Billy Kennedy

Texas A&M’s non-conference slate includes NCAA tournament teams Baylor, Mercer

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After finishing the 2013-14 season with an 18-16 record and a spot in the CBI, Texas A&M is looking to take a step forward in 2014-14. Head coach Billy Kennedy is looking to lead the program to its first NCAA tournament since 2011, and he’ll look to do so with guard Alex Caruso and forward Kourtney Roberson being his most productive returnees.

Friday afternoon the program released its non-conference schedule, which will include an appearance in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off and at least four games against programs that appeared in last year’s NCAA tournament. The Aggies will host Arizona State on December 6, with games against Baylor (December 9 in Waco), Kansas State (December 20 in Kansas City) and Mercer (December 30 in College Station) also on the schedule.

“This is one of the most difficult non-conference schedules Texas A&M basketball has faced in some time.” Kennedy said in the release. “I’ve really been impressed by the leadership, talent and maturity of this year’s team during the spring and summer workouts. It will be the best group since I’ve been here and we’re looking forward to the challenge of facing tough competition on the court.”

Three of the other seven teams in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off, which will be played November 20, 21 and 23 in San Juan, reached the NCAA tournament last season. UConn won the national title and Dayton reached the Elite Eight, with New Mexico also part of the 68-team field. The matchups for that event will be announced later this summer.

Unfortunately for the Aggies they’ll have to play without Houston transfer Danuel House, who averaged 13.6 points and 5.3 rebounds per game as a sophomore. The scoring average would have made House the leading scorer for a Texas A&M team that boasted just one double-digit scorer, forward Jamal Jones and he’s no longer a member of the program.

With the offensive issue the Aggies struggled with last season, ranking 13th in the SEC in points per game and 12th in field goal percentage, the opportunities for their four incoming freshmen (led by guard Alex Robinson) to earn quality playing time will be there.

Ellis, Lucas lead No. 6 Kansas past No. 10 West Virginia

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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In the first meeting between No. 10 West Virginia and No. 6 Kansas, the Mountaineers dominated in their 74-63 win in Morgantown. Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” attack forced 22 Kansas turnovers, with the Jayhawks playing far too fast and loose with the basketball while also getting out-toughed by the Mountaineers. In the rematch Kansas (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) looked far better equipped to deal with West Virginia in both of those areas, winning by the final score of 75-65.

Kansas committed 15 turnovers, with Devonte’ Graham responsible for five of them, but they did not allow West Virginia (19-4, 8-3) to use those chances to kickstart their offense. The Mountaineers scored 13 points (one fewer than Kansas, which took advantage of ten WVU miscues) off of those turnovers and did not register a single fast break points. Having to play in the half-court more than they would have liked, West Virginia could not execute at the level they did in beating Baylor Saturday.

As a result Bob Huggins’ team shot 37.3 percent from the field and 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers have shown signs of being able to win games in which they don’t force a high turnover count, but that wasn’t the case at Allen Fieldhouse.

If not for West Virginia grabbing better than 34 percent of their misses and scoring 14 second-chance points, the margin is likely even greater than the ten-point outcome due to the contract in offensive execution. Kansas pushed the ball early, getting out to an 8-0 lead, and as the game wore on the Jayhawks were much better in finding quality shot opportunities. Bill Self’s team shot 56.1 percent from the field with Perry Ellis scoring 21 points to lead five Jayhawks in double figures.

The tandem of Ellis and Landen Lucas, who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, won the battle against a WVU front court missing the suspended Jonathan Holton. Devin Williams, who went for 17 and 12 in the first meeting, finished the rematch with a respectable 14-point, nine-rebound effort but he didn’t get much help in the post from the likes of Elijah Macon and Nathan Adrian.

After having Self question their toughness in a home win over Kansas State six days ago, the Jayhawks have responded with wins over TCU and West Virginia. Obviously it’s tough to read too much into beating the Horned Frogs, because even with that game being in Fort Worth it’s one Kansas was expected to handle with ease. The Mountaineers posed a different, and far more rigorous test, and Kansas got the job done.

As a result the Jayhawks have brought West Virginia back to the pack in the Big 12 title race, making Saturday’s game at No. 3 Oklahoma even bigger than it already was.

VIDEO: North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapses on sideline

Roy Williams
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North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapsed during the second half of No. 2 North Carolina’s visit to Boston College on Tuesday night:

Roy Williams has dealt with vertigo in the past; it’s not abnormal for him to collapse on the sideline during games, and given that his team is currently losing to Boston College, it’s understandable that he may have screamed himself dizzy.

He had to be helped off the floor:

It does appear that this isn’t something serious, according to a North Carolina release, that said Williams is “doing OK”.