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Saturday’s College Basketball Recap: Michigan’s win, West Virginia’s loss, Trae Young

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

No. 4 Michigan State has one of, if not the best front line in all of college basketball this season. They are deep, they are talented, they are huge and they are the reason that the Spartans have been one of the best defensive teams in the country this year.

And on Saturday afternoon, Michigan’s Mo Wagner was the best big man on the floor. He finished with 27 points and four boards, shooting 8-for-13 from the floor and 3-for-4 from three, before fouling out. Those stats weren’t without highlights, either. There was this Dirk fadeaway …

… and this move that left Nick Ward on his backside:

The result was an 82-72 win in the Breslin Center, a win that will go down as one of the best wins that anyone lands this season, a win that essentially locks Michigan into an NCAA tournament berth as long as they do what they’re supposed to do the rest of the season.

We went more in-depth on this game here, including some words about Michigan’s defensive improvement and what is wrong with Michigan State.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma: Young tied a career-high with 43 points and set career-highs in rebounds (11) and made threes (10) as the No. 16 Sooners beat No. 9 TCU in overtime, 102-97. Oklahoma moved into a four-way tie for first-place in the Big 12 with the win, but the story of this game may actually be TCU. Why? We break it down here.
  • MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: It shouldn’t surprise anyone that, in a win over Wake Forest, Bagley went for 30 points, 11 boards and three assists. What is a great sign is that Bagley also added four steals and three blocks. The knock on him is defense. It’s getting better.
  • SHANNON EVANS II, Arizona State: Evans went for 22 points and seven assists, making big play after big play down the stretch, as Arizona State landed themselves a come-from-behind win over Oregon State.
  • DONTE DIVINCENZO, Villanova: DiVincenzo loves playing St. John’s. After torching the Red Storm three times as a freshman, he went for 25 points and a career-high six threes on Saturday night in the Garden as No. 1 Villanova won.
  • SHAI GILGEOUS-ALEXANDER, Kentucky: Gilgeous-Alexander continues to be Kentucky’s best player. He had 22 points and six assists in Saturday’s win at Vanderbilt, including this beautiful assists to Hamidou Diallo for a three with less than two minutes left.

TEAM OF THE DAY

No. 8 Texas Tech did what they needed to do if they want to win the Big 12 regular season title this season: They defended their home court, erasing an 11-point second half deficit to knock off No. 2 West Virginia, 72-71, in Lubbock.

The win is the first that anyone has landed against the Mountaineers since the opening night of the season, when Texas A&M beat them in Germany. It’s the second win that Texas Tech has landed against one of the other top four teams in the Big 12 – they also won at Kansas – and it moved the Red Raiders into a first place tie with West Virginia, No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 12 Kansas.

It’s hard to believe that Chris Beard, in just his second season as head coach at Texas Tech, is doing this despite being just six years removed from getting fired by Texas Tech and being forced to take a job as the head coach of an ABA expansion team.

GAME OF THE DAY

No. 12 Kansas has now beaten Kansas State for the sixth straight game – and the 12th straight game at Allen Fieldhouse – but it didn’t come without a fight. Kansas State had a chance to win the back-and-forth affair at the buzzer, but Barry Brown missed a tough three at the buzzer.

The final score was 73-72. Devonte’ Graham led the way with 23 points and five assists.

The Jayhawks got Silvio De Sousa eligible for the first time this season, but the freshman had a limited impact in his debut.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t the only one that was sick on Saturday.

No. 7 Duke played without their Hall Of Fame head coach when Wake Forest came to town on Saturday, winning 89-71 behind 30 points, 11 boards, four steals, three blocks and three assists from Marvin Bagley III. But Krzyzewski wasn’t the only one that was sick on Saturday. Apparently freshman Gary Trent Jr. was as well, because he spent one TV timeout puking into a bucket while the team managers held up towels around him.

He still finished with 19 points on 6-for-7 shooting from three.

That’s not bad.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Texas A&M was back to full strength for the first time in ages, and it didn’t matter. The Aggies lost their fifth straight game to open SEC play, falling at No. 24 Tennessee, 75-62.

Allonzo Trier went for 25 points and Deandre Ayton added 24 as No. 17 Arizona survived Oregon, 90-83, in the McKale Center. The Ducks were coming off of a win at No. 11 Arizona State, who erased a 12-point second half deficit to beat Oregon State, 77-75, on Saturday.

Trevon Bluiett and No. 10 Xavier took their frustrations out on No. 25 Creighton, whipping the Bluejays 92-70 in the Cintas Center to snap a two-game losing streak. As Bluiett goes, so goes Xavier, and Bluiett snapped himself out of a dreadful slump with a 24-point performance, hitting 9-for-16 from the floor and 5-for-7 from three.

It looks like Minnesota may have given up on the season. The Golden Gophers suffered their second-worst home loss in the history of their home on Saturday, falling to No. 5 Purdue, 81-47. The only time Minnesota lost by more in their own building came when John Wooden and Lew Alcindor were at UCLA.

T.J. Gibbs had 19 points and six assists as Notre Dame came agonizingly close to beating
No. 20 North Carolina at home on Saturday. They lost 69-68 because this shot rolled out:

Donte Grantham went for 18 points and Marcquise Reed added 16 points as No. 19 Clemson hit 12-for-21 from three in a 72-63 win over No. 18 Miami. The Hurricanes have now lost two of their last three and three of their last six.

No. 22 Auburn improved to 16-1 on the season after landing a come-from-behind win at Mississippi State, 76-68.

Braian Angola went for 24 points and eight assists and Christ Koumadje added 23 points, eight boards and four blocks off the bench for No. 23 Florida State, who overcame 37 Tyus Battle points to beat Syracuse in double-overtime, 101-90.

A 31-10 run midway through the first half turned a 21-10 deficit into a 42-31 lead as No. 13 Seton Hall knocked off Georgetown, 74-61.

No. 5 Wichita State and No. 14 Cincinnati both avoided a road loss in league play, picking up wins at Tulsa and South Florida, respectively.

Washington’s Thybulle returning for senior season

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Matisse Thybulle will return to Washington for his senior season after contemplating declaring for the NBA draft following a junior campaign in which he was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year.

“The NBA is really enticing and it was definitely something that I seriously considered when the season was over,” Thybulle told the Seattle Times. “I talked it over with my family and we came to the conclusion that it would be in my best interest to stay and get my degree (in communications) and grow as a basketball player and take this last year to mature and fine tune everything so I can be fully prepared to take that next step when it’s time.”

The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 11.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 3.0 steals per game last season. He shot 44.5 percent from the field and 36.5 percent from 3-point range.

“I talked to coach (Mike Hopkins) and he gave me some good advice that was honestly something that helped in the grand scheme of things,” Thybulle said. “He told me that if I do it (enter the draft), then I should be all in because that’s what I’m going to be up against is a whole bunch of guys fighting for their lives. He thought it would be a better idea for me to stay in school until I’m at that point.”

Washington is awaiting the decision of Noah Dickerson, who declared for the draft but has not hired an agent. The 6-foot-8 averaged 15.5 points and 8.4 rebounds last season.

Koby McEwen transferring to Marquette

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Steve Wojciechowski added a significant piece to his 2019-20 team over the weekend.

Koby McEwen announced his intention to transfer to Marquette from Utah State late Sunday evening.

“I would like to thank God, my family, inner circle and all the schools/coaches that recruited me during this process!” McEwen tweeted. “With that being said, I’m proud to announce that I’ll be furthering my college career at Marquette University.”

McEwen picked the Golden Eagles over fellow finalists Creighton and Grand Canyon after he decided to transfer when the Aggies announced South Dakota coach Craig Smith was taking over the program last month. The 6-foot-4 guard averaged 15.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range as a sophomore.

After sitting out the upcoming season, McEwen will have to years of eligibility remaining. Marquette went 21-14 last season, but missed the NCAA tournament for the third time in Wojciechowski’s four years in Milwaukee.

Minnesota adds Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis

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Minnesota has added some depth for the future.

The Golden Gophers received a pledge from Vanderbilt transfer Payton Willis over the weekend, giving him a guard with two seasons of eligibility remaining starting in 2019-20.

Willis will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules.

The 6-foot-4 guard played a limited role in two seasons in Nashville, never averaging more than 18. 5 minutes or 5.2 points per game. He scored in double figures in three games as a sophomore.

Willis was a top-150 prospect in the Class of 2016 coming out of Fayetteville, Ark. with offers from the likes of Tulsa, Rice and Dayton. Vandy and Minnesota were his two high-major offers.

After being ranked in the top-15, Minnesota was beset by injury and suspensions last season as they limped to the finish line in a 15-17 season that featured losses in 12 of its last 13 games.

Richard Pitino still has two available scholarships for the 2018-19 campaign.

Report: Quade Green returning to Kentucky

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John Calipari just landed a critical recruit for 2018-19, and he was already on the roster.

Quade Green, who averaged 25 minutes per game last season, is returning to Kentucky for his sophomore season, his mother told the Lexington Herald-Leader on Monday.

Given that six Wildcat players have entered the draft (Kevin Knox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Hami Diallo are signing with agents), getting the 6-foot point guard back for a second season is a massive deal for Calipari and Co. The Wildcats have always been at their best under Calipari with returning players as the cornerstones of the roster with talented one-and-dones providing the extra boost. Getting one such returner at the point guard position is even more critical.

Green, who came to Kentucky as a five-star recruit last year, averaged 9.3 points and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 45.1 percent from the field and a respectable 37.1 percent from 3-point range, an area where Kentucky continually needs help.

With Green back in the fold, Kentucky will now await the decisions of PJ Washington, Wenyen Gabriel and Jarred Vanderbilt, who are all going through the pre-draft process without hiring agents, which will potentially allow them to return to school and bolster a Kentucky roster has the look of a top-five team.

CBT Podcast: NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline: Winners, losers and who has the most on the line?

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The NBA Draft Early Entry Deadline came and went on Sunday night, meaning there are now roughly 60 college players that have signed with an agent and another 100 or so that have declared for the draft while retaining their college eligibility. Who were the winners? Who were the losers? Who has the most on the line? Sam Vecenie of the Game Theory podcast joined Rob Dauster to talk through all of it. The rundown:

OPEN: What do NBA teams value in players these days?

10:00: Villanova has more on the line during this testing the water process than anyone

19:00: Just how important was De’Andre Hunter’s decision to return to Virginia

25:25: Gonzaga getting Rui and Killian Tillie back makes them a title favorite

32:10: Nevada has a top ten season on the line with the Martin twins and Jordan Caroline

36:15: #RANTALERT – The decision to turn pro is so much more complicated than “is he a first round pick”

48:30: Rapid fire: Maryland, Kansas, Syracuse, Nebraska, Purdue and Michigan. What do they have on the line?