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SATURDAY’S SNACKS: Duke gets huge road win; three ACC ranked teams fall to unranked teams

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SATURDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW

The biggest game of the day featured No. 2 Kansas going into Rupp Arena and taking on No. 4 Kentucky, and thanks to 20 points and ten boards from Josh Jackson, the Jayhawks left Lexington with a 79-73 win.

Pulling off one of its biggest wins of the season was No. 17 Duke as the Blue Devils rallied from double-digits with under five minutes left to win on the road at Wake Forest. Sophomore Luke Kennard put himself back in the Player of the Year discussion with an outrageous effort as he had 30 points in the second half alone.

It was the kind of win that can ignite a struggling Duke team and give them confidence going forward. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one.

The ACC had an insane day to kick things off in the afternoon as three ranked teams suffered upsets to unranked opponents on the road.

It began with Georgia Tech winning another ACC home game against a ranked opponent as the Yellow Jackets stung No. 14 Notre Dame with a buzzer-beating layup from freshman Josh Okogie. Tadric Jackson (25 points) had a monster outing for Georgia Tech and I wrote about how the Yellow Jackets are now in the NCAA tournament hunt.

Shortly after Georgia Tech’s win, Syracuse held off No. 6 Florida State for a very important conference win of their own. Andrew White led the Orange with 24 points — while continuing to look more comfortable on both ends of the floor — while guard John Gillon added 21 points and 11 assists. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on how this affects the Seminoles and Syracuse from here. Florida State has dropped two straight games.

Miami wanted to also partake in the ranked team takedown in the ACC as they thoroughly outplayed No. 9 North Carolina for a home win. The Hurricanes had a great game from freshman Bruce Brown while the Tar Heels had another sluggish outing from point guard Joel Berry. I wrote more on what both individual performances mean for each team’s season going forward while also discussing Miami’s NCAA tournament chances here.

Those weren’t the only teams to get upset on Saturday, as No. 10 Oregon fell at Colorado and No. 11 Butler lost at home to Georgetown. All told, eight of the top 11 teams in college basketball have lost this week, and No. 12 Virginia plays at No. 1 Villanova on Sunday.

No. 3 Gonzaga didn’t lose. They haven’t lost all season long, and look like they’re headed to No. 1 in the country on Monday morning.

STARRED

Luke Kennard, Duke: Desperately needing a win on the road, the sophomore scored 30 points in the second half to lift No. 17 Duke past Wake Forest. Kennard finished with 34 points as he was 11-for-14 from the field and 6-for-6 from three-point range. He was 10-for-10 in the second half and made all five of his threes. He might have jumpstarted the Blue Devils and changed their fortunes with his efforts.

Marcus Keene, Central Michigan: Another Saturday and another gargantuan effort from the nation’s leading scorer. After putting up 50 last Saturday, Keene poured in 41 points in an overtime MAC road win over Kent State. Keene was 13-for-26 from the field and also added 10 rebounds and four assists on the afternoon.

Ethan HappWisconsin: Bailing out the struggling Badgers on Saturday as the sophomore forward as Happ accounted for over half of the team’s points (32 overall) in an overtime road win over Rutgers. Also adding six rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks, Happ was 12-for-18 from the field. He could have done even more damage but was only 8-for-16 from the free-throw line.

RELATED: The return of Bubble Banter 

Peyton Aldridge and Jack Gibbs, Davidson: Both Aldridge and Gibbs had 28 points each as the Wildcats ran past Fordham for an A-10 road win. The duo combined to go 17-for-28 from the field and 11-for-15 from three-point range as Gibbs also had seven assists.

Nisre Zouzoua, Bryant: The Bulldogs pulled off an overtime win over Fairleigh Dickinson as Zouzoua hit the game-winning jumper with four second left. Zouzoua also added a game-high 25 points.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 5 Baylor overcame a 13-point first half deficit to beat Ole Miss in Oxford. Manu Lecomte buried a huge three with 20 seconds left to seal the win.
  • Georgetown went into Indianapolis and picked off No. 11 Butler, who has not looked like the same team they were early on in the season since league play started.
  • This one wasn’t pretty but No. 15 Wisconsin needed overtime to outlast Rutgers for a Big Ten road win. The Badgers needed a huge performance from forward Ethan Happ as they were 3-for-25 from three-point range.
  • Needing a win in the worst way, No. 16 Creighton rolled past DePaul for a Big East home win behind a balanced effort. Khyri Thomas had 18 points to pace the Bluejays.
  • Pressure defense was the key for No. 18 West Virginia in a home win over Texas A&M. The Mountaineers forced 23 turnovers as junior guard Jevon Carter had 19 points and nine rebounds.
  • Winning in Minnesota is never easy but No. 22 Maryland made a late push to escape with a solid Big Ten road win. Freshman Justin Jackson had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Terps while freshman Kevin Huerter (19 points) and junior Melo Trimble (13 points) also finished in double-figures.
  • Another blowout win for No. 22 Florida as they destroyed Oklahoma in the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Kevarrius Hayes led four Gator double-figure scorers with 20 points.
  • No. 23 South Carolina didn’t get an invite to the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, but they did pick off Missouri on the road to keep pace with Kentucky in the SEC standings.
  • No. 25 Florida beat the breaks off of Oklahoma, winning by 32 in Norman.

NOTABLE

  • Clemson hadn’t won since the football team captured the national championship so they picked up a desperately-needed ACC road win at Pitt. The Tigers still have NCAA tournament hopes as senior Jaron Blossomgame led with 25 points.
  • The Big 12/SEC Challenge had some dud games as Texas Tech beat LSU by double-digits and Tennessee smoked Kansas State by jumping out to a 17-point halftime lead. It did give us this legendary LSU highlight though.
  • Major letdown game for Marquette as they fell at home to Providence after back-to-back top-10 wins over Creighton and Villanova. Kyron Cartwright had 18 for the Friars.

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.