Rob Dauster

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 31:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Countdown Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Five Takeaways as No. 6 Louisville knocks off No. 16 Indiana

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Fresh off of an embarrassing home loss to Virginia, No. 6 Louisville went into Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday and knocked off No. 16 Indiana, 77-62.

Donovan Mitchell played his best game of the season. Deng Adel looked like a guy that is good enough to be considered for an all-ACC team. Indiana? They lost their second-straight game and their fourth this season in the state of Indiana.

Here are the five things we can takeaway from this game:

1. This is the Donovan Mitchell we expected to see this season: Donovan Mitchell was the guy everyone had pegged has a breakout player this season. The expectation that he would be a top 30ish player in the sport and an all-ACC guard is a major reason that the Cardinals were projected as a top ten team in the preseason. And through the first seven weeks of the season, Mitchell has been … a disappointment?

That’s probably going to far. Mitchell’s been fine. He wasn’t’ the one that put that burden of expectation on himself.

But however you want to phrase it, the bottom line is this: Mitchell entered Saturday averaging 11.5 points and 2.1 assists while shooting 35.7 percent from the floor and 28.8 percent from three. If the Cardinals are going to compete for an ACC title and a Final Four, he has to be better.

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He has to be the guy he was Saturday. Mitchell finished with 25 points and three assists off the bench, shooting 8-for-15 from the floor and 4-for-8 from three. He hit important threes. He attacked the rim in the half court. He made plays in transition. He was, as he usually is, a pest defensively, but it was the points that he created that mattered. We all saw the game against Virginia and we all saw how much Louisville can struggle to score, so we all know what Mitchell means when he plays like this.

2. Anas Mahmoud is a difference maker: Deng Adel is going to get much of the credit for Louisville’s run late in the first half that opened up a 12-point lead at the break, as he should. He hit a pair of threes in that run and had an assist to Jaylen Johnson for a dunk. He finished with 17 points and hit a trio of threes, which matters for the same reason Mitchell’s offense matters, but he wasn’t the second-best player on the floor for Louisville.

Anas Mahmoud was.

He finished with 10 points, three blocks, two steals and two assists, but it was his presence as much as anything that had an impact. His length makes him a difference-maker defensively, both in his ability to change shots at the rim and to create steals and deflections in Louisville’s zone and press. Offensively, he’s better than people will give him credit for. He has a soft touch in the paint and can pass out of the post and out of a double-team.

Saturday was Mahmoud’s first start of the season. I would be surprised if it was his last.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 31: Anas Mahmoud #14 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Countdown Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Anas Mahmoud (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

3. The importance of Indiana’s early wins even more evident: The Hoosiers are going to head into the New Year having lost two straight and three straight games to teams that aren’t named Delaware State and Austin Peay. They’ve dropped a home game to Nebraska, who entered the game having lost six of their last eight, and fell at Fort Wayne earlier this season. They’re 10-4 on the season and, quite clearly, a team that is still trying to figure out what, exactly, they are.

There are a lot of teams in that spot right now. And like most of those teams, the Hoosiers are going to take a few more losses before the season is over.

But those other teams don’t have wins over Kansas and North Carolina in their back pocket. However this ends up playing out, those two wins give Indiana a much-higher seed floor than anyone else that will lose to Nebraska at home.

4. Indiana’s go to guy issues exposed: The knock on the Hoosiers all season has been that they lack a point guard and they lack a go-to guy that can create shots when their offense stalls, and that hasn’t been more evident than it was today against Louisville and the nation’s-best defense. The Hoosiers shot 32.2 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 14 times. Robert Johnson was 1-for-13. James Blackmon was just 3-for-8. Other than O.G. Anunoby, who was 6-for-10 and had three dunks, the Hoosiers as a team shots 26 percent. No one had more than two assists, and they assisted on just eight of their 19 field goals as a team.

The question Tom Crean has to answer is this: Who on his team makes others better, and how can he put them in a position to do just that?

5. Louisville suddenly looks like the favorite the ACC: On a day where North Carolina loses at Georgia Tech and Duke gets humiliated by Virginia Tech, the Cardinals beat Indiana in the state of Indiana, which, when combined with their win over Kentucky earlier this season, gives Louisville bragging rights in Kentuckiana and the look of a team that could end up winning the ACC title.

Granted, that’s likely going to require the Cardinals going into Charlottesville and beating a Virginia team that they haven’t been able to figure out in years. But if it really just is a matchup thing with UVA, if the Cavs find a way to drop games to lesser opponents that have the tools to breakdown their Pack-Line defense – like, oh, I don’t know, Florida State? – the Cards look like a team fully capable of taking advantage.

Now imagine what we would be saying if they hadn’t blown that 22-point lead to Louisville.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 31: Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Indiana Hoosiers in the Countdown Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on December 31, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

POSTERIZED: O.G. Anunoby dunks on Anas Mahmoud

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Indiana is struggling against Louisville, but O.G. Anunoby exacted a measure of revenge by dunking on Louisville center Anas Mahmoud:

No. 9 North Carolina loses ACC opener at Georgia Tech

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels reacts after being defeated by the Villanova Wildcats 77-74 in the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
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Josh Pastner’s tenure at Georgia Tech is young enough that the majority people outside the city of Memphis, including the numerous fans that didn’t actually make it to their the seats McCammish Pavilion on Saturday afternoon, probably didn’t realize he was the new Yellow Jacket head coach.

In the immortal words of comedic philosopher Kevin Hart, “You gon’ learn today.”

The Yellow Jackets opened up ACC play on Saturday afternoon with a 75-63 win over No. 9 North Carolina in Atlanta. Josh Okogie led the way for Georgia Tech with 26 points, five boards and three assists while Josh Heath chipped in with 15 points off the bench, a terrific performance and a terrific win that will be the feather in the cap of Pastner’s inaugural season regardless of how it ends.

So good for him. Pastner is a good man that had an ugly split with Memphis which gave him a reputation nationally that would make Scott Drew blush.

But the real story on Saturday was North Carolina, who started the day as 18-point favorites but will head home with a 12-point loss and an 0-1 record in ACC play. The issue was that the Tar Heels couldn’t figure out the zone that Georgia Tech was running. As a team, North Carolina shot just 33.3 percent from the floor and 5-for-26 (19.2%) from three and committed 20 turnovers.

But it was worse than that for North Carolina’s stars. Josh Jackson and Joel Berry II, two guys that are in contention for All-American honors, finished a combined 9-for-30 from the floor and 2-for-14 from three. They turned the ball over nine times. Throw in Kenny Williams’ 0-for-6 performance from three and, well, you get the point.

North Carolina couldn’t do anything on the offensive end of the floor, and that’s what the concern for this team has been and will be all season long. Their bigs were kept in check in part because Ben Lammers is one of the best rim protectors in the sport and in part because Tech could collapse defenders into the paint; if UNC is going to shoot like they shot from three, you let them shoot. The zone took away Berry’s ability to operate in isolation and eliminated the ball-screen and down-screen actions UNC had used against Kentucky to such effect.

The concern for Tar Geel fans now has to be whether or not Pastner just provided the ACC with a blueprint for how to beat them.

My guess?

Probably not.

Jackson and Berry are too good to play like this consistently, and Roy Williams is too good not to adjust what he does against a zone. He made the switch to a four-guard lineup with Jackson at the four in the second half, but it was too late to have any real impact.

More than anything, this is a loss that will end up being a drag on UNC’s seed and their chance to win the ACC regular season title. If the Tar Heels end up as a No. 3 seed on Selection Sunday, note this loss on their profile. If they finish a game behind the regular season champs, remember that they gave one away to one of the teams from the bottom of the conference.

Mason III leads No. 3 Kansas past TCU 86-80 in Big 12 opener

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks in action against the Duke Blue Devils in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Frank Mason III drove hard the length of the court a couple of times and made some other gritty plays to try to get Kansas out of an early funk on the road in its Big 12 opener.

The senior guard did enough for the third-ranked Jayhawks to win their 12th straight game and 26th consecutive conference opener, scoring 22 points with seven assists in an 86-80 victory over TCU on Friday night.

And while coach Bill Self liked the offense from his floor leader, he felt the slow start has plenty to do with what Mason and backcourt mate Devonte Graham didn’t do on the defensive end.

“I’m going to try to be very positive; he played good on one end,” Self said. “He certainly didn’t guard tonight and Devonte didn’t either. Those are good two-way players. We get our personality and our toughness from those two setting the tone and that never occurred tonight.”

Senior Landen Lucas had 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds to help the Jayhawks (12-1, 1-0) hold off the Horned Frogs, who led by 10 points in the first half and stayed close after winning 11 of their first 12 under first-year coach Jamie Dixon, a former TCU guard.

Kansas improved to 13-1 against TCU, almost four years after the Jayhawks’ only loss in the series on the same court. But it wasn’t easy improving to 21-0 in Big 12 openers against a program that has finished at or near the bottom in all four of its previous Big 12 seasons.

“We can complain that we didn’t play well,” Self said. “I think there’s a reason why we didn’t. I think TCU’s good.”

Vladimir Brodziansky had a career-high 28 points and nine rebounds for TCU (11-2, 0-1), and Kenrich Williams had his fifth double-double this season with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Horned Frogs were within four points after Alex Robinson stole a pass by Mason and beat him to the end for a layup. Graham answered with a leaning runner over Brodziansky, and Mason made it 84-76 on a layup with 1:23 remaining.

“The thing about tough conferences, probably the biggest challenge, the biggest indicator, is how you respond to a loss,” Dixon said. “It’s a good team. We lost to a good team. We expected to win. I think we should have won.”

Mason, who had just one turnover, gave the Jayhawks a boost early, keeping them close with some gritty plays while they missed 11 of their first 12 shots and trailed by 10 points several times.

Lagerald Vick made 5 of 11 from 3-point range and finished with 17 points for Kansas.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas: It was a good road win for a team that has won a school-record 12 straight conference titles, the second-longest streak in NCAA history. TCU shows signs of being much more competitive in the Big 12 under Dixon, who is familiar with rugged leagues coming from the Big East and the ACC.

TCU: The Horned Frogs have to be encouraged that they won’t have a repeat of 2014-15 when they started 13-0 before losing 10 of their first 11 in Big 12 play.

PHENOM’S TOUGH NIGHT

It was a frustrating night for Kansas freshman Josh Jackson, a potential No. 1 pick in next year’s NBA draft. He got a technical for slamming the ball after getting called for a foul, a sequence that left him with four fouls early in the second half.

Self also got a technical during the delay after the call against Johnson, who had season lows with four points and 12 minutes, fouling out with 4:27 remaining. “I think frustrated not playing well, didn’t play very smart,” Self said.

MORE FRESHMAN STRUGGLES

TCU guard Jaylen Fisher had game highs with nine assists and five turnovers, including several of the walking calls against TCU that Dixon said were crucial. He scored four points, getting just five shots in 38 minutes. “Obviously I think he’s a better player than what he played tonight,” Dixon said. “The great thing about him is I think he’ll respond great in practice tomorrow.”

UP NEXT

Kansas: Following their first two true road games of the season, the Jayhawks get two at home against Kansas State on Tuesday and Texas Tech on Jan. 7. Kansas has 46 consecutive wins at Allen Fieldhouse.

TCU: The Frogs haven’t had a .500 conference record in the Big 12. They might have their best shot yet at home against Oklahoma on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Follow Schuyler Dixon on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apschuyler

No. 18 Arizona rallies from 13 down to beat California 67-62

TUCSON, AZ - DECEMBER 14:  Rawle Alkins #1 of the Arizona Wildcats slam dunks against the Grand Canyon Lopes during the first half of the college basketball game at McKale Center on December 14, 2016 in Tucson, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) Dusan Ristic scored 16 points and No. 18 Arizona overcame a sluggish and sloppy first half to beat California 67-62 on Friday night in the Pac-12 opener for both teams.

Kobi Simmons added 14 points while Lauri Markkanen had 13 points and nine rebounds as the Wildcats (12-2, 1-0) rallied from 13 points down and used a big run coming out of halftime to extend their winning streak to six games.

The win was the 200th at Arizona for Wildcats coach Sean Miller.

Ivan Rabb had 16 points and a career-best 16 rebounds for California (9-4, 0-1).

Arizona struggled from the perimeter most of the game before Simmons provided a big lift in the second half. The freshman guard scored 10 consecutive points as part of a 15-4 run coming out of halftime, made a key save at midcourt following an inbounds play under the Wildcats basket, then fed Rawle Alkins for a late dunk to help preserve the win.

California made just nine field goals in the second half and shot 37 percent from the field overall. The Golden Bears have lost consecutive games at Haas Pavilion following a school-record 27-game winning streak.

The game, featuring two of the Pac-12’s best defensive teams, opened up following a slow first half.

Arizona led 41-36 with 14 minutes remaining before Rabb sparked a mini-run that put California back in front. After the teams traded scores, Chance Comanche scored on a three-point play with 10:33 left that put Arizona ahead for good.

The Wildcats still had to hold off a late run by the Bears. Jabari Bird’s 3-pointer pulled California within 66-62, and after a turnover near midcourt, Bird had a chance to pull the Bears closer but his 3-point attempt bounced off the front of the rim.

Bird finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.

The Bears used their conference-leading defense to set the tone in the first half when California’s offense sputtered.

Nine days after limiting No. 12 Virginia to 22 points in the first half, the Bears limited the Wildcats to 26 and used a 15-0 run to take control.

Arizona had won five straight since losing to Gonzaga in the Naismith Hall of Fame game on Dec. 23.

BIG PICTURE

Arizona: It was a lot closer than it probably should have been but the young Wildcats kept it together and made the game-changing run when they needed to. The offense wasn’t sharp early but Miller’s group responded in front of a hostile crowd on the road.

California: For the second consecutive game the Bears played a Top 25 team tight but couldn’t finish the job. Cuonzo Martin’s team continues to shine defensively, although the problems on the offensive end are making it tough.

UP NEXT

Arizona: Takes a short trip across the San Francisco Bay to play at Stanford on Sunday night.

California: Closes out its five-game homestand by hosting Arizona State on Sunday night at Haas Pavilion.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

No. 2 UCLA rebounds with a 76-63 victory over Oregon State

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins brings the ball up the court against the Ohio State Buckeyes during the CBS Sports Classic at T-Mobile Arena on December 17, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. UCLA won 86-73.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Lonzo Ball had 23 points, including four 3-pointers, and No. 2 UCLA rebounded from a loss to Oregon earlier in the week with a 76-63 victory over Oregon State on Friday night.

T.J. Leaf added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Aaron Holiday had 14 points for the Bruins (14-2, 1-1 Pac-12), who led by as many as 14 points.

Stephen Thompson Jr. had 25 points for the Beavers (4-11, 0-2).

Trailing 34-26 at halftime, the surprisingly resilient Beavers pulled into a tie at 38 on Thompson’s 3-pointer. While the Bruins never surrendered the lead, Oregon State kept it close, pulling within 44-43 on Kendal Manuel’s 3-pointer with 12:52 left.

Ball and Holiday hit consecutive 3s to give UCLA a 53-45 lead midway through the half. Ball made another 3 to extend the lead to 64-50 with 6:12 left and Oregon State could no longer keep up.

The Bruins were undefeated until Wednesday, when they fell 89-87 to No. 21 Oregon on a last-second 3-pointer by Dillon Brooks. The loss ended UCLA’s 13-game undefeated run to open the season, the team’s best start since 2006-07.

The Beavers were coming off a 70-63 loss to No. 22 Southern California on Wednesday night, their sixth loss in the last seven games.

Oregon State continues to struggle without sophomore forward Tres Tinkle who broke his wrist during a game against Fresno State on Nov. 25. There is no timetable for Tinkle’s return.

The teams split their games last season.

BIG PICTURE

UCLA: The Bruins, who went through the nonconference season without a loss for the first time since 1995, will likely drop a few spots in the rankings next week because of the loss to the Ducks. Bryce Alford had 12 points, after three straight games with at least 20. … Ball’s 3-pointers match his season high.

Oregon State: Last season the Beavers snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion with an 86-82 victory. … Portland Trail Blazers GM Neil Olshey was at the game. … The Beavers’ last win over a No. 2-ranked team was in 1989 when they beat Arizona 84-61 at Gill.

UP NEXT

UCLA: The Bruins host California next Friday at Pauley.

Oregon State: The Beavers head to Spokane for a game against Washington State next Thursday.