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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.

VIDEOS: Michigan State’s Miles Bridges puts on another show at local summer Pro-Am

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Watching Michigan State’s Miles Bridges throw down high-level dunks in local summer pro-ams has been a good way to pass the time the last few weeks.

The 6-foot-7 Bridges has been annihilating rims all summer as he had more ridiculous dunks on Tuesday night. Playing with former Michigan State star Denzel Valentine and some of his current Spartans teammates, Bridges had more crowd-pleasing plays to add to his summer reel.

Lansing State Journal reporter James Edwards III has been on the scene for Bridges’ games all summer as he has more dunks from the future lottery pick.

Minnesota keeps in-state three-star 2018 guard Gabe Kalscheur at home

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Minnesota is keeping a big-time shooter at home as Class of 2018 shooting guard Gabe Kalscheur pledged to the Golden Gophers on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-4 Kalscheur is the third in-state prospect to pledge to head coach Richard Pitino in the Class of 2018 as he joins three-star forward Jarvis Thomas and four-star big man Daniel Oturu. The three-star Kalscheur gives Minnesota a valuable floor spacer and a winner as he’s a three-time state champion at DeLaSalle. All three of these commitments also played together with Howard Pulley in the Nike EYBL.

During this spring and summer in the Nike EYBL, Kalscheur averaged 14.9 points and shot 39 percent from three-point range as he made 61 treys in 21 games.

Pitino has certainly done a nice job of keeping local players home as he’s hoping that trend continues with upcoming in-state five-star prospects like 2018 point guard Tre Jones and 2019 forward Matthew Hurt. The Golden Gophers will have to win national recruiting battles to keep those guys home, but they’ve done a nice job of getting the other guys that they need to keep home.

North Carolina and NCAA set August hearing

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North Carolina and the NCAA have released additional responses and set the dates for a future hearing on Tuesday amid an investigation into paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department.

The NCAA’s allegations center around UNC’s athletes — most notably members of football, men’s and women’s basketball teams — allegedly being guided to the fake classes in order to keep GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The fake classes typically had a high number of athletes enrolled each semester.

While North Carolina argued in May that this should be a school matter and not an NCAA matter, the NCAA responded to the matter in its belief that it has the right to investigate the classes. North Carolina is facing five top-level charges in the case with lack of institutional control among the charges.

A two-day hearing will be held with the NCAA in Nashville on August 16-17.

“The hearing is the next step in bringing closure to this longstanding issue by allowing us the opportunity to address the Committee on Infractions and present the facts,” said Joel Curran, vice chancellor of University communications. “The NCAA has requested certain individuals from the University attend the proceedings. It is standard practice for the current head coaches of programs referenced in a notice of allegations to attend. Therefore, Coaches Larry Fedora (football), Sylvia Hatchell (women’s basketball) and Roy Williams (men’s basketball) will accompany University representatives to the hearing.”

Potential top ten pick Robert Williams discusses decision to return to Texas A&M

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PHILADELPHIA — Robert Williams knew that his family could use the money that would come with being a lottery pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. He also knew that he wasn’t ready — mentally, emotionally, skill-wise — to make the leap to the NBA, which is why all it took was one question from his mother, Tundra, to convince the 6-foot-9 19-year old to return to Texas A&M for his sophomore season.

“We haven’t been rich for 19 years,” Williams recalls Tundra, whom he describes as a “middle school cafeteria lady”, telling him. “What’s one more year?”

“That sealed the deal. If she’s good, I’m good,” Williams told NBC Sports as he nursed shin splints at the Under Armour All-American camp in Philadelphia last week. “My mom just wants to see me happy. I could quit basketball and go work at Burger King. If I’m happy, she’s happy.”


“Oil City made me, Vivian raised me.”


Williams may not be a household name the way that fellow members of his high school class — Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Jayson Tatum, etc. — were, but he was certainly a known quantity on basketball circles. Williams was a potential top 10 pick in last year’s draft, a 6-foot-9 big man with a 7-foot-4 wingspan and the kind of athleticism most of us can only dream about. He has elite physical tools, even by NBA standards, and his ability to protect the rim along with his versatility defensively and budding post-game makes him a tantalizing long-term project.

Casual college basketball fans aren’t going to be familiar with bigs averaging 11.9 points on a team that didn’t even get a trip to the NIT, but NBA front office personnel were well-versed in his ability.

Just a borderline top 50 prospect coming out of high school, Williams’ ranking had as much to do with where he’s from as what he can do. He was born in Oil City, Louisiana, a town of roughly a 1,000 people tucked in the Northwest corner of Louisiana, five miles from the Texas on the west side of town and 18 miles from Arkansas to the north. “There’s just really nothing there,” Williams said. Oil City was small enough that he had to move to Vivian, a town of 3,600 people nine miles away, in order to attend high school.

Glen Johnson, Texas A&M Athletics

He spent four years playing for North Caddo High, a 2A public school in Louisiana, which isn’t exactly the best high school basketball in the country, and his role on the Houston Hoops team he played with in the summer after his junior year was somewhat limited, to say the least; he was teammates with De’Aaron Fox, Jarred Vanderbilt (a top 15 player in the Class of 2017) and Carsen Edwards, who started at the point for Purdue as a freshman. Combine that with the 25 pounds of muscle that he added to his frame, and what you have is a player that went from being a pogo stick that got pushed around on a team full of studs to a grown man that did the pushing and proved himself capable of playing a role that has value in the NBA.

“I went to Nike Camp, but I wasn’t that high of a recruit,” Williams said. “I was like No. 60 I think. It’s weird because I’ve never had this much ‘fame’, I guess is the word.”

“People knew who I was [in Vivian], but just because I was a people person. I was also always bigger than everyone.”

There weren’t many that expected Williams to have the season that he had as a freshman, averaging 11.9 points, 8.2 boards and 2.6 blocks in just 25 minutes a night. Even fewer expected him to return to Texas A&M once he caught the eye of NBA scouts, but head coach Billy Kennedy wasn’t one of them.

“Only because he told us,” Kennedy said with a chuckle, as if he knew just how lucky he and his staff are to be getting a second season with a talent like this. “We felt that during the year. But you never know until the end. We wanted to see him go through the whole process, but the cool thing is the kid made a decision and he did what was best for him.”


“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready.”


For Williams, the decision to return was two-fold. He knew that he wasn’t yet the player that he wants to be, and getting drafted as a dunker, a shot-blocker and an athlete can get a player pigeon-holed. “In the NBA,” Williams reasoned, “once you get there, what you are is what you are. I don’t want to be stuck in that jumping, that dunking position. I’m not necessarily saying I want to be able to play the two or the three, but I want to expand and show that I can sometimes push it and make a jump shot.”

“Rebounding, jumping, dunking. That’s been my game. That’s gets you paid well. But I know I have more. I want to be able to knock down a corner three. I’m not saying that I need to be coming off of screens and pulling, but I want to be able to knock down that shot and prove I’m able to get a rebound and start a fast break.”

He knew that it would take a lot of hard work and time in the gym this offseason to get to that point, and that’s where the second part of this comes into the equation. Williams knew that he wasn’t ready to be a professional yet, that he wanted to be able to enjoy life and basketball as a college kid for another year.

“People don’t understand that once you get to that level, it’s a job. It’s a business,” Williams said. “It’s not high school, it’s not even college, you’re competing for your job every time you go play.”

“Mentally and emotionally, I wasn’t ready.”

Thomas Campbell, Texas A&M Athletics

That didn’t necessarily sit well with everyone in Williams’ circle — specifically, Williams says his father wanted him to go to the NBA — because they all know the risk. Blake Griffin, who went from being a projected top ten pick as a freshman to the No. 1 overall pick as a sophomore, is the outlier. The likes of Ivan Rabb, Perry Jones III and Jared Sullinger tend to be the norm. When a player doesn’t take a step forward in his second season in college, the flaws are nitpicked instead of the potential being touted, and that’s to say nothing of the potential for devastating injury. For a player like Williams, who thrives on his athleticism, a torn ACL or a ruptured Achilles’ this season could be devastating to his earning power.

He knows all of that, and, Williams says, once he made his choice, the people closest to him rallied around him. There was some negativity, people calling his dumb for passing up on the guaranteed millions that come with being a first round pick, but for the most part, the feedback he heard was reassuring.

“You gotta grind now.”

“You made your decision, you made your bed, now you have to lay in it.”

“You know what you got to do.”

And that’s part of where being ready for the NBA comes into play.

Ask Williams what he needs to do to be successful at the next level, to prove that he can be more than just an athlete, and he’ll tell you that it’s developing his perimeter skills. Making corner threes and trail threes. Improving his handle and his footwork to the point that he is a threat as a face-up four. But if you ask Kennedy what the next step for Williams is, this is his answer: “Just getting to where he’s working out more, learning how to work at a higher level, and that’s something that he’s gotten better at.”

Williams didn’t need to work all that hard to dominate in high school, not with his physical gifts and not with the level of competition that he was facing. The same can mostly be said his his time as a freshman in the SEC. As Mike Schmitz, a scout working for Draft Express and ESPN, put it, Williams “is very much living off his elite physical tools.”

As the saying goes, you don’t know what hard work is until you see someone working harder than you, and there is no better role model for Williams than junior center Tyler Davis, who has streamlined what was once a 300 pound frame into a chiseled, 260-pound rock. He has “the best work ethic I’ve ever seen,” Williams says, and that’s rubbing off on him. Williams says he’s working out two or three times a day, doing conditioning with the team at 6 am before heading off to the gym at 8 am to work on his stroke — form-shooting, making 25 shots from each spot out to the foul line; step-in mid-range jumpers; trail threes — and closing the day with pickup or more skill-work in the afternoon.

The way he sees it, he can’t control injuries — although he has taken out an insurance policy on the off-chance he does something catastrophic — but he can control the work he puts in. Put another way, he is the one that will determine where he ends up. “My mindset,” Williams said, “is as long as you put in the work, results will come.”

And maybe those results will get him some notoriety on campus at a football school.

“Some people recognize me on campus, but it’s all football at A&M,” he said. “They say hi, ask for a picture, but people actually think I’m a mean guy. They don’t understand, I’m a people person! I like people!”

So say hi to Williams if you see him this year.

You won’t have a chance to do so much longer.

Texas A&M Athletics

VIDEO: Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval get in on #DriveByDunkChallenge

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Trevon Duval, the point guard that will finally replace Tyus Jones at Duke, and Grayson Allen added their flare on the #DriveByDunkChallenge, as Allen throws a picture perfect alley-oop through the sun-roof of the car Duval is driving:

This is solid work, but I still think Scott Cross has the best #DriveByDunkChallenge performance in the collegiate ranks. John Calipari’s effort is solid, but pretty awkward. He shouldn’t be running or jumping.