VILLANOVA, PA - NOVEMBER 11: Josh Hart #3 of Villanova attempts a shot as Nick Lindner #11 and Kyle Stout #24 of Lafayette defend during the second half of a game at The Pavilion on November 11, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. Villanova defeated Lafayette 88-48. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Player of the Year Power Rankings: Frank Mason III makes up ground on Josh Hart

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1. Josh Hart, Villanova: Hart had his worst game of the season at Butler on Wednesday, as he finished with 13 points on 3-for-11 shooting as he battled foul trouble and the Wildcats dropped their first game since last March. His response? 19 points and seven assists in a win over Marquette at home.

2. Frank Mason III, Kansas
: I’m going to keep on beating this drum, but it’s ridiculous how under-appreciated Mason is this season. Here are his numbers: 19.9 points, 5.7 assists, 4.5 boards and just 2.4 turnovers while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 52.3 percent from three on more than four threes a night. Here is Kansas’ record since a season-opening, overtime loss to Indiana in which Mason had 30 points and nine assists: 14-0.

3. Lonzo Ball, UCLA: After playing a fairly poor game at Oregon to open Pac-12 play, Ball has bounced back in his last three games by averaging 19.3 points, 7.3 assists, 5.7 boards, 2.3 steals and 1.7 blocks while shooting 52.8 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three. I think he bounced back from his “slump”.

4. Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Caleb Swanigan now has 13 double-doubles and eight in his last eight games, a stretch that has also seen him notch three 20-20 games, two of which he eclipsed 28 points. He’s averaging 18.3 points and 12.9 boards on the season, and if Big Ten play, he’s posting 20.8 points and 14.0 boards. Oh, and should I mention Purdue is coming off of a statement win over Wisconsin on Sunday?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 17:  Caleb Swanigan #50 of the Purdue Boilermakers dunks the ball during the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 17, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Caleb Swanigan (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

5. Luke Kennard, Duke: In the last two games, I think we’ve started to get a glimpse of what Kennard’s role is going to be moving forward. He scored 25 combined points against Georgia Tech and Boston College on just 13 total shots. That’s what happens with Grayson Allen back, Jayson Tatum hitting his stride and Harry Giles III moving into the starting lineup. What a luxury it would be to have a guy as good as Kennard taking six shots a night.

6. De’Aaron Fox, Kentucky: For my money, Fox is the best player on Kentucky. He’s the point-man of their defense, he’s the engine of their fast break and he’s the guy that creates shots for the players on the roster that can’t do it for themselves. As good as Malik Monk is and as lethal as he can be as a scorer, he can’t affect a game is as many different ways as Fox.

7. Mo Watson, Creighton: Like Fox, Watson is the engine of one of the nation’s most high-powered offenses. The nation’s leader in assists, Watson is the guy that leads the break and he’s the guy who, in the half court, can get into the lane and find the myriad of shooters that populate the Creighton lineup.

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8. Dwayne Bacon, Florida State: Bacon has developed into one of the best and most efficient wing scorers in college hoops this season. How? His turnovers are way down and his shooting numbers are up across the board, specifically from beyond the arc, where he’s hitting 37.1 percent from deep. He also has a signature performance already, when he scored 26 second half points and hit the game-winner at Virginia. He’s very much in the race for all-american.

9. Malik Monk, Kentucky: Monk’s last five games:

  • 47 points, 18-28 FGs, 8-12 3PTs
  • 16 points, 6-17 FGs, 1-9 3PTs
  • 34 points, 11-16 FGs, 5-7 3PTs
  • 26 points, 8-11 FGs, 5-7 3PTs
  • 12 points, 4-10 FGs, 0-5 3PTs

That’s the streakiness reputation that Monk has developed in action. The good news for Kentucky is that A) it only has cost them once this season, a road game against a top 10 team, and B) when Monk is hot, he’s been far better than anyone could have predicted.

10. Johnathan Motley, Baylor: Baylor is undefeated and the No. 1 team in the country, but the only player from that team that sniffs this list slid a spot to No. 10? That’s just how this team is built. Motley is their leading scorer, but is he their best player? Is Manu Lecomte? Luke Winn of Sports Illustrated made the argument last week that a guy that is averaging 5.5 points is actually their most valuable player. The Bears are good, but star power isn’t the only way to win college basketball games.

JUST MISSED THE CUT

Joel Berry II, North Carolina
Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame
Markelle Fultz, Washington
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s
Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
Kelan Martin, Butler
Yante Maten, Georgia
Alec Peters, Valparaiso
Melo Trimble, Maryland

No. 9 North Carolina beats Syracuse for Roy Williams’ 800th win

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On Monday night, Roy Williams became the ninth men’s Division I college basketball coach to reach 800 wins.

The only man that has ever done it faster is Adolph Rupp, who needed all of 976 games to get to 800 wins.

Williams, after a 85-68 win over Syracuse in the Dean Dome on Monday, has a career record of 800-212, and only Mike Krzyzewski, Jim Boeheim, Bobby Knight, Dean Smith, Jim Calhoun, Rupp, Eddie Sutton and Bob Huggins have more.

So while the 20 points that Isaiah Hicks scored tonight matter, as does the 19 posted by Justin Jackson and the double-double from Kennedy Meeks, this night was about Williams and this milestone in his career.

“Eight hundred wins means I’ve had very good players,” Roy said at a ceremony after the game honoring him. “It’s the players, players that have made me every day.”

“It was never a dream of mine to win 800 games,” Roy added. “But it was a dream of mine to coach guys like this.”

Whenever he finally decides to retire, Ole Roy’s legacy will be an interesting one. For starters, the man has had two head coaching jobs in his life: Kansas and North Carolina. Spend enough time at those two programs and piling up the wins is almost inevitable, which is one of the reasons that Williams has developed a reputation for being a guy that brings in talent and just rolls the ball out there. Put another way, people talk about the other names on that 800-win list as some of the greatest coaches that have ever lived, but when was the last time you heard someone put Williams in that conversation?

And all that comes before you consider that Williams has been the face of the UNC program while they’ve spent the last five years dealing with an academic scandal surrounding the fake classes in the African-American studies department and the association it had with the basketball team and keeping players eligible.

Is that what Williams legacy will be? An overrated coach that needed to cheat to keep his kids academically eligible at UNC? Or will people realize that 800 wins and a pair of national titles aren’t a fluke or an accident?

Lobos assistant apologizes for altercation with Rams player

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) New Mexico assistant coach Terrence Rencher has apologized for his role in a verbal confrontation with Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo outside Moby Arena following Saturday’s game.

The Mountain West Conference admonished both schools on Monday, but took no action over the altercation. The league said the behavior after the Lobos’ 84-71 win was unacceptable and poor judgment was used by several individuals. It also said it was unclear how the incident began.

The confrontation between Rencher and Omogbo was caught on video by The Albuquerque Journal.

In the video posted on Twitter , Omogbo and Rencher scream insults at each other while standing between two Lobos assistant coaches. Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy is seen holding back Omogbo, who eventually leaves the parking lot.

The conference left any possible punishment up to the schools after its investigation failed to determine who was at fault, and New Mexico vice president of athletics Paul Krebs said Rencher would receive a letter of reprimand.

Rencher released a statement apologizing “to my family, UNM, CSU and everyone affected by the incident and I acknowledge my fault in the situation. I should have walked away. The situation could have been diffused and I am very regretful of that momentary lapse in judgment. I don’t know Emmanuel personally but he seems to be a good person and good teammate.”

Rencher added that he didn’t instigate the confrontation nor did he make light of Omogbo’s personal tragedy as some media outlets including ESPN have reported. Wednesday marks the anniversary of Omogbo losing his parents, a niece and a nephew in a house fire in Maryland.

Rencher, who had been ejected from the game, also said he didn’t “make racially derogatory remarks to him.”

Both men are black.

During the confrontation following the Lobos’ 84-71 win, Rencher tells Omogbo, “Learn how to lose, boy.”

Colorado State said Monday it would have no comment on the matter.

The incident was the latest embarrassment for the Mountain West Conference, which has seen a large number of technical fouls over taunting and trash talk in men’s games this season and three women’s players suspended for their roles in a brawl in a game between Utah State and UNLV .

During the confrontation between Rencher and Omogbo, Eustachy’s wife, Lana, suggests the three New Mexico assistants get on the Lobos charter bus to defuse the situation. Instead they stayed and watched as Larry Eustachy and guard J.D. Paige, among others, finally steer Omogbo toward the parking lot.

Lobos coach Craig Neal told ESPN hours after the confrontation that Rencher didn’t do anything wrong.

Rencher and fellow Lobos assistant Chris Harrima were ejected late in the game for leaving the bench when Lobos forward Joe Furstinger flexed after a hard screen and then made contact with Rams guard Anthony Bonner as he jogged back down the court. That flared tempers that were already on edge following pregame trash talk.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported that Rencher taunted the Rams during warmups at Moby Arena last year, according to former Rams forward Fred Richardson, and did so again Saturday.

Eustachy called Furstinger’s blind screen with 2:10 left a clean play but noted the bad blood began before the game.

Colorado State’s Prentiss Nixon and New Mexico’s Obij Aget were assessed technical fouls and Rencher and Harriman were ejected.

The league said it “examined all facets of the event, from pregame warmups through the postgame confrontation” and found “a number of conflicting perspectives … and, in some cases, there is no definitive proof as to the responsible party or parties.”

“What has been determined is the entire incident created an undesirable athletic competition environment and did not reflect favorably upon either basketball program, either member institution or the conference,” the league continued. “There were a number of errors in judgment throughout the course of the afternoon and poor decisions made by various individuals. Such conduct is unacceptable.”

The Mountain West added that the league’s board of directors and joint council “have been adamant in their emphasis on good sportsmanship and behavior. Those involved with this most recent incident will be under close scrutiny going forward – as will all Mountain West constituents.”

The Rams (11-7, 3-2) visit New Mexico (10-8, 3-3) on Feb. 21.

Injured hip sidelines Louisville guard Snider for 2-3 weeks

LOUISVILLE, KY - DECEMBER 10:  Quentin Snider #4 of the Louisville Cardinals dribbles the ball during the game against the Texas Southern Tigers at KFC YUM! Center on December 10, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville guard Quentin Snider will miss 2-3 weeks with an injured hip, leaving the No. 12 Cardinals without their assists leader and No. 2 scorer.

The school said Snider won’t need surgery and should heal with rest.

Snider strained a hip flexor early in the second half Saturday in a win over Duke. The junior stayed in the game and finished with 13 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Snider is averaging 12.1 points and 4.0 assists per game.

The Cardinals (15-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) host Clemson on Thursday night before visiting No. 10 Florida State on Saturday.

More AP College Basketball: collegebasketball.ap.org

Mountain West issues statement on Colorado State/New Mexico altercation

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The Mountain West issued a statement on Monday in response to the altercation that happened after New Mexico’s win at Colorado State on Saturday.
Following the Lobos’ 84-71 road victory, Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal captured an incident on video between Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo and the New Mexico coaching staff.
Both sides claimed that the other was the instigator and the incident didn’t make anybody in the video look good.
For as bad as things might have looked, the Mountain West has decided not to hand down any sort of punishment. After an investigation, the conference could not truly determine the root cause of all the drama saying in the release, “A number of conflicting perspectives have emerged and, in some cases, there is no definitive proof as to the responsible party or parties.”
What has been determined is the entire incident created an undesirable athletic competition environment, and did not reflect favorably upon either basketball program, either member institution or the Conference. There were a number of errors in judgment throughout the course of the afternoon and poor decisions made by various individuals. Such conduct is unacceptable.
The Colorado State and New Mexico athletic departments have already initiated follow-up conversations with all appropriate parties to address the events of this past Saturday. Those will continue, with the institutions taking corrective measures they deem appropriate and advising the Conference office accordingly.
The Mountain West Board of Directors and Joint Council have been adamant in their emphasis on good sportsmanship and appropriate behavior. Those involved with this most recent incident will be under close scrutiny going forward – as will all Mountain West constituents.

Obviously there is a lot to sift through with this incident but hopefully these two teams don’t have any further incident when they play at New Mexico on Feb. 21st.

No. 22 Xavier’s slide continues with loss to short-handed No. 7 Creighton

CINCINNATI, OH - JANUARY 16:  Chris Mack the head coach of the Xavier Musketeers  gives instructions to his team against the Creighton Blue Jays during the game at Cintas Center on January 16, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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It’s officially time to be concerned about No. 22 Xavier.

The Musketeers have now lost three straight games, all to the top three teams in the Big East, and currently sit at 13-5 on the year with just a single good win to their name: Clemson.

But prior to Monday’s loss to No. 7 Creighton, Xavier had lost all of their games on the road to teams that will either get a top five seed in the NCAA tournament (Villanova, Butler, Baylor) or play at altitude (Colorado). On Monday, the Musketeers not only lost 72-67 to Creighton, but they did so on a day where the Bluejays lost star point guard and all-american candidate Mo Watson to a knee injury midway through the first half and spent the majority of the game playing with star center Justin Patton saddled with fouls.

Should I mention that Creighton, who is third-nationally in three-point percentage, shot 5-for-19 from beyond the arc, or that their two best healthy guards – Marcus Foster and Khyri Thomas – shot a combined 10-for-31?

All of the stars were aligned. Coming how to an afternoon game against a top ten team on a holiday after losing back-to-back games on the road, and that top ten team lost their most important player early in the first half?

This should have been where Xavier landed that first elite win.

Instead, the Musketeers are left scratching their head again.

And it begs the question: If not now, when?

The Musketeers still play Villanova and Butler at home, visit Creighton and have the Crossroads Classic at Cincinnati. There are opportunities for them to get wins that they need.

But if they cannot get a win over a short-handed Creighton team at home, who are they actually going to be?