Raphielle Johnson

Raphielle has been writing about college sports for more than a decade for multiple outlets, including NBC Sports. Focuses have included game recaps, columns, features and recruiting stories. A native of the Northeast, he now calls Pac-12 country home. Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.
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Tuesday’s Three Things to Know: Texas Tech beats Oklahoma, UVA and Michigan State win and E.C. Matthews suffers injury

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1. TEXAS TECH REMAINS ALONE ATOP THE BIG 12 In the lone matchup between ranked teams on Tuesday’s schedule, No. 7 Texas Tech took care of No. 23 Oklahoma in Lubbock, winning by an 88-78 final score. Keenan Evans led the way for the Red Raiders, who are now 10-3 in Big 12 play and remain a game ahead of No. 13 Kansas atop the standings, with 26 points but he had plenty of help offensively. Defensively Texas Tech limited Oklahoma to 7-for-22 shooting from three, with freshman Trae Young going 0-for-9.

Young finished the night with 19 points, seven assists and six turnovers, and Christian James led the Sooners with 23 points, but the freshman’s shooting slump continues on for another game. During Oklahoma’s four-game losing streak Young has shot 7-for-41 from three, something the Sooners cannot afford to have continue.

BUBBLE BANTER: Butler suffers a bad home loss to Georgetown

2. NO. 1 VIRGINIA AND NO. 2 MICHIGAN STATE PICK UP ROAD WINS The top two teams in the Associated Press Top 25 were both on the road Tuesday night, with Virginia visiting Miami and Michigan State taking on a depleted Minnesota squad. Both managed to pick up road wins, with Virginia’s 59-50 victory over the Hurricanes being the more competitive of the two games. De’Andre Hunter, who’s developed into a dependable option for Virginia, led the way with 22 points and Kyle Guy added 13 for the top-ranked Cavaliers.

As for Michigan State, the Spartans pulled away from the Golden Gophers during the first half and went on to win by an 87-57 final score. Minnesota didn’t have an answer for Jaren Jackson Jr., who made ten of his 14 shots from the field and finished with a career-high 27 points to go along with six rebounds, three assists and three blocks. Nick Ward added 13 points and nine boards and Cassius Winston 12 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Spartans who are now 13-2 in Big Ten play.

3. RHODE ISLAND ROLLS, BUT THE WIN COULD BE A COSTLY ONE Taking on a Richmond team that’s been much-improved in Atlantic 10 play after struggling mightily during the non-conference portion of its schedule, Dan Hurley’s 16th-ranked Rams moved to 21-3 overall and 13-0 in conference with an 85-67 win in Kingston. But the news wasn’t all good for the Rams, who have now won 16 straight, as senior guard E.C. Matthews left the game late in the first half after suffering a left knee injury.

Following the game Hurley said that while the prognosis was “good,” a timetable was not known with more to be learned regarding Matthews’ status moving forward on Wednesday. Next up for Rhode Island may be their toughest conference game of the season, as they visit a hot St. Bonaventure team Friday night. The Rams are certainly rolling as well, but the injury suffered by Matthews is a big deal for this talented group.

No. 16 URI streak reaches 16 with 85-67 win over Richmond

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KINGSTON, R.I. (AP) β€” Jared Terrell had 17 points and 16th-ranked Rhode Island extended its winning streak to 16 games with an 85-67 victory over Richmond on Tuesday night.

Cyril Langevine added 15 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Rams (21-3, 13-0 Atlantic 10), who now have the longest single-season streak in school history. The longest ever was 22 games over two seasons in 1937-38 and 1938-39.

But the Rams were dealt a blow late in the first half when senior guard E.C. Matthews left the game with a left knee injury after getting tangled up with Richmond’s Grant Golden on a loose ball.

URI has won four of last five meetings with the Spiders (9-16, 7-6).

Matthews, the Rams’ second-leading scorer, previously missed six games earlier this season after breaking his left wrist in URI’s second game. His return to action in mid-December marked the start of its winning streak.

Nick Sherod led Richmond with 21 points. Grant Golden added 16 points and seven rebounds.

Entering Tuesday, either Matthews or Sherod had scored at least 20 points in 11 of the team’s previous 15 games.

The Rams did a good job adjusting without Matthews in the second half.

Richmond looked to be figuring things out offensively after getting some quick baskets and pulling within 49-44. That was before URI responded with 17-3 run to open up a 19-point lead.

URI finished with 13 steals and scored 28 points off 19 Richmond turnovers.

BIG PICTURE

Richmond: Entered the night in the hunt for a top four seed in the upcoming A-10 tournament. The loss was a setback for team that had won three of its previous four road games.

URI: Matthews injury is certainly one to watch as the Rams head into their final five games of the regular season. The Rams went 4-2 without him earlier this season.

UP NEXT

Richmond: Hosts St. Louis on Saturday

URI: At St. Bonaventure on Friday.

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More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

Coach K receives birthday cake fit for an all-time great

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On Tuesday Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski celebrated his 71st birthday, and to mark the occasion he was gifted a creative birthday cake.

Coach K’s cake was a design of the Cameron Indoor Stadium court with a goat sitting atop half-court. Of course, the goat represents the moniker “greatest of all time,” and it also had medals around its neck to commemorate the three Olympic gold medals he led USA Basketball to in 2008 (Beijing), 2012 (London) and 2016 (Rio de Janeiro).

No. 7 Texas Tech beats No. 23 Oklahoma to remain atop Big 12

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Tuesday’s matchup between No. 23 Oklahoma and No. 7 Texas Tech was a showdown of two of the top guards not only in the Big 12 but in all of college basketball, with freshman Trae Young facing off against senior Kennan Evans.

Evans won the duel, but it was a collective effort that saw Chris Beard’s Red Raiders move one step closer to their first conference regular season title since its first the 1995-96 season with an 88-78 win.

How long has it been since Texas Tech last won a regular season conference title?

The Big 12 had yet to begin play. The Red Raiders won the last Southwest Conference title before the merger with the Big 8.

Not only did Evans outscore Young, finishing with 26 to the freshman’s 19, but he also produced in a much more efficient manner. Evans shot 9-for-15 from the field, and while he finished the game with just two assists, the senior only turned the ball over once. Young’s night was much more difficult, as he shot just 4-for-16 from the field and missed all nine of his three-point attempts.

If not for his going 11-for-11 from the foul line, Young’s night — and that of the Sooners by extension — could have been even worse. The freshman did manage to dish out seven assists, but his struggles from deep contributed to the Sooners shooting just 7-for-22 from beyond the arc. Texas Tech shot 11-for-21 from three, shooting much better than it has throughout the course of the season (35.1 percent 3PT).

Young’s in the midst of a brutal shooting slump from three. He’s just 7-for-41 over the last four games and has now missed 16 in a row. Giving the freshman the freedom to make plays is critical for Oklahoma, but if he’s off it puts the Sooners in a tough spot. Against Texas Tech, others did step forward, most notably Christian James who scored a team-high 23 points, but it still wasn’t enough.

There’s certainly talent on Lon Kruger’s roster, and they’ll hopefully see Kristian Doolittle get into some kind of a groove down the stretch as he works his way back after missing the first semester.

But as Trae Young goes so go the Sooners, and it’s no coincidence that the team’s four-game skid has coincided with him going cold from three.

While the production of Evans and Young had a significant impact on the outcome, the overriding factor was Texas Tech’s approach on both ends of the floor. For much of the night Chris Beard’s team was patient offensively, working for the shots it wanted to take as opposed to allowing Oklahoma’s defense to dictate what they would do. Defensively they got after the Sooners, using a solid man-to-man for much of the night with a trap once the freshman crossed half-court to get the ball out of Young’s hands down the stretch mixed in for good measure.

That’s been the way the Red Raiders have played throughout the season. Texas Tech knows who it is and what is the most effective way to attack opponents, and rarely have they deviated from the identity that they’ve developed. There’s certainly experience on the roster, led by Evans with the likes of Niem Stevenson, Norense Odiase and Tommy Hamilton IV not lacking for it either.

But there’s also freshmen Zhaire Smith and Jarrett Culver, who are both averaging in double figures for the season. Against Oklahoma, Smith (13 points, four rebounds, three assists) and Culver (seven points, three assists) combined to score 20 points and dish out six assists with the former extending his streak of double-digit scoring performances to four games. While Keenan Evans’ mastery has been a key factor in Texas Tech’s run to the top of the Big 12 standings, he hasn’t lacked for help either.

With games to be played against Baylor and Oklahoma State, two teams looking to strengthen their respective NCAA tournament arguments, before the February 24 showdown with Kansas, it’s imperative that Texas Tech remain focused on the task at hand.

But if their play over the last seven games — and for much of the season overall — is any indication, sticking with what’s gotten them to this point won’t be a concern for the Red Raiders.

James Palmer Jr. throws down emphatic poster dunk

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Having won its last five games entering Tuesday’s matchup with Maryland, Nebraska is looking to continue its run of good results and ultimately play itself into the NCAA tournament.

One of the standouts for the Huskers this season has been junior guard James Palmer Jr., and during the first half Tuesday night Nebraska’s leading scorer threw down a poster-worthy dunk.

Give Maryland’s Kevin Huerter credit for attempting to block the dunk attempt, but his missed swipe led to his being on the receiving end of an emphatic one-handed finish.

Pepperdine to replace Marty Wilson at season’s end

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Tuesday afternoon it was announced by Pepperdine athletic director Dr. Steve Potts that the school has decided to part ways with head coach Marty Wilson at season’s end. Currently in his seventh season as the head coach of his alma mater, Wilson currently has a record of 86 wins and 125 losses.

“It has been decided that terminating the current contract at the end of this season is in the best interests of the program,” Dr. Potts said in the release. “Marty Wilson will always be a Pepperdine Wave. He has worked tirelessly for our men’s basketball program for many years and we sincerely thank him for his commitment and contributions to our program. We wish great success for Marty in the future. We all wish that we had experienced more success in our men’s basketball program and we are committed to identifying new leadership that can help bring us that success.”

After making noticeable strides during Wilson’s first five seasons at the helm, going from ten wins in his debut season to consecutive 18-win seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16, the Pepperdine program has struggled over the last two seasons. After going 9-22 last season, Pepperdine is currently 4-22 with a 1-13 record in WCC play.

Three of Pepperdine’s top five scorers this season have missed at least nine games due to injury, with Kameron Edwards missing time due to a concussion and Eric Cooper and Nolan Taylor being sidelined due to shoulder injuries.

Per a source of NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster, the name of current Arizona assistant and former Washington head coach Lorenzo Romar is one that could emerge in the search. Romar spent the first three seasons (1997 through 1999) of his head coaching career at Pepperdine, going 42-44 before leaving to take the Saint Louis job in 1999.