Daniel Martin

Northern Iowa Wichita State

No. 15 Wichita State loses second straight conference game, falls to Northern Iowa

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The Missouri Valley has not been kind to No. 15 Wichita State this week.

Four days after falling to a pesky Indiana State team, the Shockers lost on the road to unranked Northern Iowa, 57-52, Saturday at McLeod Center in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Carl Hall was the lone bright spot for Wichita State Saturday, going 8-of-13 from the field for 20 points and five rebounds.

His steal and layup with 1:17 to play cut the Shocker deficit to two points, 52-50. He also blocked a shot with under a minute to play and Wichita State down two, 54-52, but the Shockers were not able to capitalize on the offensive end and tie the game.

Northern Iowa allowed Wichita State to hang around in the final minutes by going 6-of-10 from the free throw line in the final 2:47, but the Panther defense locked up on the game’s final possession to secure the win.

On that final possession, Wichita State guard Malcolm Armstead was bothered by pressure and dribbled the ball off his foot and out of bounds. It was his fourth turnover of the game.

Aside from Hall, Wichita State was 13-of-39 from the field.

Down the stretch, Wichita State tried to work the ball to forward Cleanthony Early on the block with limited success. He was called for a reach-in foul in the backcourt with 2:47 to play and fouled out, leaving the Shockers without his post presence down the stretch. He finished with 10 points and five rebounds.

For as strong a defensive team as Wichita State is, Northern Iowa matched or exceeding the pressure on that end of the floor Saturday. The Panthers held WSU to 40 percent shooting.

The Missouri Valley Conference race will continue to be one of the most intriguing heading into the final month of the regular season. Wichita State falls to 8-3, but remains in second behind Creighton (9-2) and just ahead of Indiana State (7-3).

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Late Night Snacks: Virginia, Kentucky get big conference wins Tuesday

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Game of the Day: Virginia 58, No. 19 NC State 55

NC State thrives in the transition game and they were not able to shift into gear Tuesday. Credit goes to the Virginia defense and the fact that Wolfpack point guard Lorenzo Brown was forced out of the game after just ten minutes with an ankle injury. Without his, TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis all failed to find their groove. Even so, NC State had four possessions in the final three minutes with a chance to tie or take the lead, but could not capitalize.

Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell were the two biggest bright spots for Virginia, scoring 22 points and 14 points respectively.

Important Outcomes 

1. Kentucky 87, No. 16 Ole Miss 74

Kentucky needed a solid conference win on the road to boost its resume in an SEC that is weak this year. They got it Tuesday. Kyle Wiltjer led the way offensively, along with Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress. Defensively, though, Nerlens Noel showed how he can impact a gave when taking just one shot from the floor and going 2-of-8 at the free throw line. He blocked 12 shots, including four down the stretch when he had four fouls. He changed the game defensively in the same way Anthony Davis was able to last season.

2. No. 11 Ohio State 58, Wisconsin 49

Deshaun Thomas was once again the biggest offensive asset for the Buckeyes, but defense ruled the night. Ohio State held Wisconsin to 37 percent shooting and outrebounded the Badgers by six to move to 6-2 in the tough Big Ten.

3. Indiana State 68, No. 15 Wichita State 55 

The Missouri Valley race just got a whole ‘lot more interesting. Indiana State toppling Wichita State makes the Sycamores 7-3 in league play and moves them to third in the conference standings. They’re building a solid postseason resume, which also includes a non-conference victory over the now-surging Miami Hurricanes.

Starred

1. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (26 points, 7 rebounds)

Wiltjer’s scoring was the most important part of Kentucky’s offensive gameplan Tuesday night. His career-high point total paced the Wildcats in the second half and gave enough of a cushion to help fend off a late Ole Miss run, giving Kentucky an important road win.

2. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (25 points, 10-of-17 FG)

Thomas is the go-to scorer for the Buckeyes and showed it again on Tuesday night. His 25 points accounted for nearly half of Ohio State’s total. Coach Thad Matta’s team focuses on defense, but Thomas having a big night is what gives the Buckeyes offensive fuel.

3. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (19 points, 11 rebounds)

Stokes had a big breakout game in his last outing against Alabama and continued that Tuesday night against Vanderbilt. He tallied his second straight double-double in a win over Vanderbilt.

Also of Note: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (12 blocks)

Struggled 

1. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin (2 points, 1-of-10 FG, 3 TOs)

Evans was part of a Wisconsin attack that couldn’t reach the 50-point mark Tuesday vs. Ohio State. He fell significantly from his season average of 10.9 per game.He has been out of sync in three of his last four games, having shot 9-of-39 from the floor in his last four games.

2. Carl Hall, Wichita State (2 points, 0-of-2 FG, 4 fouls)

Wichita State struggled from the field as a team on Tuesday and was disrupted by Indiana State’s defensive sets. His foul trouble changed his game, as well, but the Sycamores did a good job of now allowing Hall to get to the free throw line, where he typically thrives.

3. NC State Backcourt/Wings (TJ Warren 3 points, 1-of-7 FG | Tyler Lewis, 1-of-3 FG | Rodney Purvis, 2-of-7  FG)

Point guard Lorenzo Brown played just 10 minutes after injuring his ankle, and this trio struggled in his absence. Virginia’s defense slowed the typically lethal transition attack of the Wolfpack and allowed the Cavaliers to get the win. Lewis was thrust into the role, playing more minutes than he has at any point during the conference season, which likely had a ripple effect.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Poor shooting sinks No. 15 Wichita State in loss to Indiana State

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Before it trounced No. 1 Duke, Miami found out about Indiana State in an upset loss to the Sycamores. Tuesday night, it was No. 15 Wichita State that suffered the same fate.

The Shockers shot 27 percent from the floor and did not score a field goal in the nearly the final nine minutes of the second half, on their way to a 68-55 loss to Indiana State at Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan.

Indiana State made a concerted effort Tuesday to limit Wichita State with it zone defense, not allowing dribble penetration to reach the basket and capitalizing on an offensive attack that couldn’t seem to hit any shots on the perimeter. The zone helped to neutralize forward Carl Hall, who had just two points that came on two free throws for the Shockers.

Hall was plagued by foul trouble and unable to get into the rhythm he typically is with his close to 13 points per game. Indiana State did especially well not to foul Hall, where he gets a solid chunk of his points.

While Hall couldn’t get to the line, Indiana State shot 17-of-21 as a team at the line. Manny Arop led the scoring for the Sycamores with 17 points and adding six rebounds.

This win now shakes up the Missouri Valley race.

This ISU win moves the Sycamores to 7-3 in league play, one game behind Wichita State and half a game behind Creighton. Indiana State plays each of those teams one more time, Creighton on Feb. 6 and Wichita State on Feb. 19.

Advantage for the Sycamores? Both games are at home.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Road struggles continue for No. 19 NC State, Wolfpack fall to Joe Harris and Virginia

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In the battle between the tortoise and the hare, this one went to the tortoise.

The Virginia Cavaliers, by focusing on a slow half-court offense, outlasted No. 19 NC State late to secure a big 58-55 win at John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville, Va.

NC State had four straight opportunities in the final three minutes to tie or take the lead and could not capitalize, culminating in a three-point heave from guard Scott Wood in the waning seconds that was off the mark to give Virginia the win.

Virginia guard Joe Harris led all scorers with 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the floor, able to single-handedly outplay an NC State backcourt that struggled Tuesday. Akil Mitchell anchored Virginia’s interior attack with a double-double of 14 points and 12 rebounds.

NC State guard Lorenzo Brown played just ten minutes before he was forced out by an ankle injury.

Without Brown on the floor for much of the game, the NC State transition attack was not running at the same pace that it typically does when the Wolfpack flourish. Virginia effectively slowed down NC State’s transition game and forced the Wolfpack to play more of a half-court set.

Backup point guard Tyler Lewis saw by far more minutes Tuesday than he had seen at any other point during conference play. With Brown sitting out, he had three points and two assists, but perhaps most importantly did not turn the ball over.

Without Brown on the perimeter, the focus for NC State was once again on the interior with Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie. The two had 12 points and 20 points, respectively, and were the keys to the Wolfpack remaining in the game down the stretch.

The loss continues a trend for NC State. The Wolfpack have been consistently unable to close out games on the road against quality opponents in the ACC.

On Jan. 16, NC State lost to Maryland by one, 51-50, after shooting 31 percent from the field. Less than one week later, the same Wolfpack team blew a 16-point lead to lose, 86-84, to Wake Forest.

Virginia moves into second place in the ACC with a conference record of 5-2.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

New Mexico State’s Tyrone Watson lone suspect in gruesome assault case

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New Mexico State senior Tyrone Watson is at the center of a police investigation after allegedly beating fellow 19-year-old NMSU student Miguel Rascon, leaving him with facials fractures, a broken nose, and 10 stitches, KDBC in El Paso, Texas, is reporting.

According to the report, Rascon is is not currently pressing charges, but has filed a criminal complaint with the university. Watson is the lone suspect in the police investigation. Four witnesses are listed on the police report. The incident is recounted by KDBC below:

One of those witnesses tells L4N Watson grabbed Rascon by the neck and threw him on the ground and “stomped on his head multiple times” after Watson thought Rascon was flirting with a girl he was with.

Watson is a 6-5, 225-pound native of Canada who is averaging 10.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game this season. He is the second New Mexico State player to be in the news lately for off-the-court events after freshman Emery Coleman turned himself in to police. Coleman was arrested and charged with vehicular homicide.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Wisconsin sophomore Frank Kaminsky back in lineup Tuesday vs. No. 11 Ohio State

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Wisconsin will have some more depth in the front court when it takes the floor Tuesday against No. 11 Ohio State, as sophomore big man Frank Kaminsky has been cleared to return to the lineup after sitting out with injury, the school announced Tuesday evening.

Kaminsky has missed the past three games for Wisconsin after injuring his eye in a win over Indiana on Jan. 15. In his absence, Wisconsin has gone 1-2 with losses to Michigan State and Iowa.

On the year, Kaminsky is averaging 4.6 points and 1.6 rebounds in just over 10 minutes per game. His best game of the season came against Samford on Dec. 29 when he scored 16 points. With him back in the lineup, it will take some pressure off of Jared Berggren, Ryan Evans, and Mike Bruesewitz, who will be spared those extra 10 minutes per game.

The Badgers’ main focus Tuesday will be containing Ohio State scorer Deshaun Thomas, who is averaging 20 points per game for the Buckeyes.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_