Rob Dauster

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17:  Harry Froling #13 of the Southern Methodist Mustangs puts up a shot against Ryan Luther #4 of the Pittsburgh Panthers in the first half during the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 17, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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Report: SMU’s prized recruit to transfer

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Freshman Harry Froling is transferring out of the SMU program, according to a report from ESPN.

Froling is a skilled, 6-foot-11 center from Australia that was considered a four-star prospect. Through ten games with the Mustangs, Froling was averaging 4.3 points and 3.2 boards in 16 minutes.

Froling is the third player to transfer out of the SMU program in the last two seasons. Sedrick Barefield transferred to Utah after just one semester on campus last season, and he was followed out by Keith Frazier, who left for North Texas in the wake of an academic scandal that got the Mustangs banned from the NCAA tournament.

Five Things We Learned: Duke’s awesome, Kentucky might be, and Joel Berry II awareness

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Jayson Tatum #0 of the Duke Blue Devils drives the ball up the court against the Florida Gators in the second half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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1. Duke is the best team in the country: And I’m not sure that I can see any argument against this, and I say that knowing full-well just how good the likes of Kansas, UCLA, Villanova and Kentucky are this season.

This week should have proved that fact to you.

Because the bottom-line is this: If the season ended today, Duke would have two players – Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson – on all-american teams; Kennard would very likely be a first-team all-american and, if it wasn’t for Josh Hart’s 37-point explosion on Saturday, would have a strong argument to be the National Player of the Year through the first month of the season.

Think about that for a second, then think about this: Grayson Allen was the NBCSports.com Preseason National Player of the Year. He played quite poorly through November as he battled a nagging toe injury, but on Saturday, he exploded for a career-high 34 points in a game where he threw down what could end up being the dunk of the season. I think he’s healthy, as is Jayson Tatum, who is a matchup nightmare that can play the three or work as Duke’s small-ball four. He’s still not totally in shape but felt good enough to put 22 points on Florida in the Jimmy V Classic.

Come March, would anyone be surprised if it was Allen and Tatum that were considered to be the players deserving of all-america consideration?

The kicker?

Duke still hasn’t reached their ceiling. Marques Bolden is still trying to figure out how he fits into the Duke rotation, and we’re still waiting to see just what Harry Giles III will provide if (when?) he returns to the court.

Get your money in on Duke winning the title now.

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2. We’re about to learn how good Kentucky is: Because we know Kentucky is good.

They have a half-dozen future NBA players on the roster. Three could end up in the 2017 lottery. They’re averaging 94.2 points on the season, are ranked third in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric and are 9-1 on the season.

So yeah, they’re really good, we just don’t know how good. Only four of Kentucky’s ten opponents are ranked in the top 170 on KenPom.com. Only two – UCLA, who beat the Wildcats in Rupp Arena, and Michigan State, who isn’t very good – are ranked in the top 80, and the way that Kentucky plays simply overwhelms teams that can’t match them from an athleticism or talent perspective.

The good news, Kentucky fans?

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 07: De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on December 7, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
De’Aaron Fox (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

People like me will stop making these references in the next ten days. Because on Saturday, the Wildcats square off with No. 7 North Carolina in Las Vegas. Four days after that, next Wednesday, Kentucky squares off with No. 11 Louisville in the Yum! Center.

For what it’s worth, KenPom is predicting that Kentucky beats the Tar Heels by a point and loses to Louisville by a point.

Speaking of the Tar Heels …

3. … we now know just how valuable Joel Berry II is to North Carolina: Playing without their star point guard, North Carolina struggled to put away Davidson and barely avoided an upset at the hands of Tennessee, both games that were played in the Dean Smith Center. There’s a reason for this, and I went through it in a post last night.

4. Villanova was tested by Notre Dame because the Irish are for real: On Saturday, No. 1 and still-undefeated Villanova was given their toughest test of the season by No. 23 and then-undefeated Notre Dame, as the Irish held an 11-point first half lead before losing, 74-66.

Josh Hart was awesome in that game, scoring 37 points on 10-for-14 shooting, and the biggest talking point coming out of Newark on Saturday was that Hart was the frontrunner for the National Player of the Year award. That’s justified.

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 10: Matt Farrell #5 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish drives to the basket as Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats defends during the second half of a college basketball game at Prudential Center on December 10, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Villanova defeated Notre Dame 74-66. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Matt Farrell Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

But it also needs to be pointed out that the reason that Villanova needed to dig out of that hole, the reason they needed Josh Hart to put together that kind of performance, was because Notre Dame is good. I don’t think they can win the ACC – a top three finish would probably be a stretch – but I don’t see any reason why this group can’t play their way into the top four of the league. Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell are two of the most improved players in college basketball while Steve Vasturia and V.J. Beachem are doing exactly what you would expect seniors to do under Mike Brey.

As we wrote on Saturday, Brey was right.

5. It might be time to be worried about the AAC: I think there’s a chance that this could end up being a one-bid league this season. While it seems more likely that two or three teams would be able to sneak in, the bottom-line is that the non-conference did not go well for the conference.

UCF is the only team left in the league with less than two losses, and their best win is over Mississippi State. UConn has been terrible, the win over Syracuse not withstanding. Temple has beaten West Virginia and Florida State while losing to New Hampshire and UMass. SMU’s best win is either Pitt or TCU, both of whom are borderline tournament teams. Houston beat Rhode Island but lost to Arkansas and LSU. Memphis beat Iowa, but Iowa’s not all that good. Tulsa is rebuilding.

The best non-conference win the AAC produced thus far is Cincinnati’s win over Iowa State, and the Cyclones are about to drop out of the top 25.

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - DECEMBER 10: Head coach Mick Cronin of the Cincinnati Bearcats reacts against the Butler Bulldogs in the first half of the game at Hinkle Fieldhouse on December 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: UT Arlington Mavericks

Texas-Arlington's Kevin Hervey, left, reacts to a 73-68 NCAA college basketball game win as Ohio State's Jae'Sean Tate looks on  in Columbus, Ohio, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)
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The Mavericks entered the season as one of the mid-majors on every watch list, but they struggled early on.

They lost at Minnesota, at Arkansas and at FGCU in the first two weeks of the season, but for a team that spends the majority of their non-conference schedule on the road, it’s impressive to note that they haven’t lost since then.

They won at Fordham and North Texas. Then they won at Texas. Thursday, however, was their most impressive win of the season, and one of the most impressive that anyone has landed during non-conference play: The Mavericks went into Moraga and picked off then-No. 12 Saint Mary’s.

And they didn’t just win. They were up by double-figures for the last 25 minutes. They controlled the tempo and they totally flummoxed a really efficient and well-coached team, and they did it despite the fact that their best player, Kevin Hervey, is still feeling the effects of a torn ACL suffered last season.

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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Wichita State: The Shockers lost Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker this offseason, but it looks like Gregg Marshall’s team hasn’t lost a beat. With wins over Saint Louis and Oklahoma this week, the latter of which came in Oklahoma City, Wichita State moved to 9-2 on the season and put themselves into a good position to get back to the NCAA tournament. Picking off Oklahoma State next week in the Koch Arena would be huge.
  • Middle Tennessee State: If UT Arlington has been one of the best mid-majors in college basketball this season, the Blue Raiders aren’t all that far behind. This week, they won at South Alabama and beat Vanderbilt by 23 points at home. This came two weeks after they mollywhopped Ole Miss in Oxford, winning by 15 in a game they led 48-19 at the half. Believe it or not, this team might be better than the one that beat Michigan State last year in the NCAA tournament.
  • BYU: The Cougars needed to get a couple of wins this week, and they got them, beating in-state rival and Big Sky favorite Weber State and following that up with a win over Colorado (who was fresh off upsetting Xavier) over the weekend.
  • Florida State: The Seminoles not only got a win over in-state rival No. 21 Florida, they also got Johnathan Isaac back from a hip flexor injury that had held him out of the lineup for two games.
  • Arizona: The Wildcats have had a rough go of things early on this season. They’re working through a rash of injuries and a suspension to the guy that would probably be the best guard on their roster in Allonzo Trier. The good news? It looks like Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons are starting to figure things out. They both had 19 points in a win at Missouri on Saturday.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Villanova’s Josh Hart

NEWARK, NJ - DECEMBER 10: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats takes a shot against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish during the first half of a college basketball game at Prudential Center on December 10, 2016 in Newark, New Jersey. Villanova defeated Notre Dame 74-66. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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We talk about it all the time: If you’re going to be college basketball’s National Player of the Year, you have to have the performances – or, in some cases, the individual play – to justify that title in the games when the entire sport is watching.

If this was college football, we’d call them Heisman Moments.

In college basketball, there are a half-dozen Player of the Year awards, so we don’t have a catchy moniker to label what Josh Hart did on Saturday afternoon.

In the biggest game of the first Saturday without college football on TV, Hart had the most dominating performance of his career. He scored 37 points on 10-for-14 shooting, grabbing 11 rebounds and handing out four assists for good measure as he single-handily kept No. 1 Villanova among the ranks of the undefeated, leading them to a win over No. 23 Notre Dame. Think about it like this: Hart scored as many points on Saturday as his teammates did combined.

Considering the opponent, the moment and the performance, it was the best game we’ve seen from an individual player this season.

And, as a result, Hart should top just about everyone’s Player of the Year rankings heading into Christmas.

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THEY WERE GOOD, TOO

  • Jeremy Morgan, Northern Iowa: Morgan put together one of the most impressive halves of basketball you’ll ever see, scoring all 38 of his points after halftime as the Panthers landed a come-from-behind win over North Dakota. Earlier in the week, Morgan had 17 points, eight boards and seven assists in a win over South Dakota State.
  • Marquise Moore, George Mason: Moore had an incredible game of his own on Saturday, finishing with 17 points, 16 boards and 10 assists in a win at Penn. That’s only the third time that’s happened since 2010 and it’s only the seventh 15-15-10 games in the last 20 years. Oh, and Moore – a 6-foot-2 guard – also had 25 points, 13 boards and five assists in a win at Penn State this week.
  • Jayson Tatum, Duke: Tatum wasn’t the best player on the floor for Duke in either of their wins this week – Luke Kennard and Amile Jefferson were against Florida and Grayson Allen was against UNLV – but Tatum gets the mention here for the simple fact that we can mention his name. He’s back.
  • Marcus Marshall, Nevada: Marshall scored 32 points on Sunday night, outplaying Markelle Fultz and hitting the game-winner with 0.2 seconds left to beat Washington in Seattle.
  • Dedric Lawson, Memphis: Lawson finished with 24 points, 10 boards and eight blocks for the Tigers as they picked up a much-needed come-from-behind win over UAB.

College Basketball Talk Top 25: Duke is back in the No. 1 spot

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 10: Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils watches as he sinks a 3-point shot against the UNLV Rebels during their game at T-Mobile Arena on December 10, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Duke won 94-45. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
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I made some changes in my top 25 this week, and I did it for one reason and one reason only: I think Duke is the best team in college basketball.

And I get it. I might be the only one that ranks Duke No. 1 this week, because there are so many other teams with valid argument to be ranked above Duke.

  • Villanova was No. 1 last week and all they did was beat a city rival and then knock off No. 21 Notre Dame.
  • Kansas has already beaten Duke this season on a neutral court.
  • UCLA owns the most impressive win of the season, picking off Kentucky in Rupp Arena. Duke has beaten Florida, Rhode Island and Michigan State and played Kansas tough.
  • Baylor has the best résumé of anyone to date.

But these rankings are supposed to be used to determine who is the best team in the country, right?

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

And I think that Duke is the best team in college basketball. We all had them there in the preseason, before all of the injuries. Now that they’re getting back to full strength, we’re just going to ignore that fact because Frank Mason II hit a jumper and Villanova hasn’t given us a reason to drop them?

I guess I understand the logic, but it just seems silly to rank someone else No. 1 when you don’t think they’re the best team in the country.

Anyway, here is the NBCSports.com Top 25:

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1. Duke (10-1, Last Week: 4)
2. Villanova (10-0, 1)
3. UCLA (10-0, 2)
4. Kansas (9-1, 3)
5. Kentucky (9-1, 5)
6. North Carolina (10-1, 6)
7. Gonzaga (10-0, 7)
8. Baylor (8-0, 8)
9. Creighton (10-0, 9)
10. Indiana (8-1, 10)
11. Wisconsin (9-2, 11)
12. Louisville (9-1, 12)
13. West Virginia (8-1, 15)
14. Purdue (8-2, 14)
15. South Carolina (8-0, 17)
16. Xavier (8-2, 13)
17. Saint Mary’s (7-1, 14)
18. Virginia (8-1, 18)
19. Butler (9-1, 19)
20. USC (9-0, 21)
21. Notre Dame (9-1, 24)
22. Cincinnati (7-2, 19)
23. Oregon (9-2, NR)
24. Arizona (8-2, NR)
25. Texas A&M (7-2, NR)

DROPPED OUT: No. 21 Florida, No. 23 Syracuse, No. 25 Iowa State
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 23 Oregon, No. 24 Arizona, No. 25 Texas A&M

No. 24 Oregon holds off Alabama 63-56

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks drives to the basket on Riley Norris #1 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the game at Matthew Knight Arena on December 11, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
AP Photo/Paul Vernon
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) For the first third of Oregon’s season, coach Dana Altman has waited for a “sense of urgency” for an entire game.

Then his Ducks found it just in time, with a little luck on their side.

Tyler Dorsey scored 19 points and Dylan Ennis hit the tiebreaking 3-pointer as the shot clock expired to help No. 24 Oregon beat Alabama 63-56 on Sunday night.

“We’re stuck in the mud a little bit and there are a lot of things we have to work on,” Altman said. “We found a way to win. I don’t sense that urgency that the coaching staff has amongst the team, so we’ve got to do a better job.”

Dillon Brooks and Chris Boucher added 10 points each for the Ducks (8-2). They won their sixth consecutive game and 31st in a row at home.

Ennis’ shot started a 9-0 run for the Ducks to finish the game after Donta Hall’s fifth dunk tied it for Alabama at 56-all with 3:16 left to play. Hall led the Crimson Tide (4-4) with 14 points.

Brooks found Ennis open on the right wing after getting caught in the air on a baseline drive. Ennis and Brooks each had six of Oregon’s 18 assists.

“That 3 was lucky,” Altman said. “It was penetration-kick and Dylan hit a really tough shot there.”

The Ducks had assists on all 10 of their first-half field goals and led 31-23 despite not scoring for the last 5 minutes before the break.

Alabama came back after being down 11 early in the second half with its strong inside game. The Crimson Tide outscored the Ducks 42-24 in the paint and finished with a 21-6 edge in second-chance points.

“They got pretty much anything they wanted that second half,” Altman said. “Those offensive-rebound putbacks really got them back in the game and allowed them to stay right there.”

Oregon scored 21 points off Alabama’s season-high 18 turnovers. The Crimson Tide had a 33-27 edge in rebounds, with Hall and Riley Norris each grabbing seven.

Alabama had eight of its 11 offensive rebounds in the second half, though it was Oregon that grabbed the key defensive boards in the final 2 minutes

“We made simple plays at the end and closed the show,” Dorsey said, “but we should have boxed out more.”

BIG PICTURE

Alabama’s longest trip in three years nearly resulted in its first road win over a ranked team since 2004. The Crimson Tide, who finished 10th in the Southeastern Conference in coach Avery Johnson’s first season, have four games to gear up for the start of SEC play on Jan. 7 against Vanderbilt.

Oregon, which has slipped 20 spots since its poll high of No. 4, will try to keep its focus on its final three nonconference games with a Pac-12 opener against No. 2 UCLA looming on Dec. 28 in Eugene.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A sixth-straight victory should stop No. 24 Oregon’s slide in the rankings after the Ducks dropped another spot last week. The Ducks have three more games against unranked teams before Pac-12 play begins.

NEW KID IN THE HOUSE: Oregon introduced its new football coach, Willie Taggart, during the first media timeout to the crowd of 8,922, which responded with a standing ovation. Taggart, who was hired last week to replace Mark Helfrich, then roamed the arena posing for selfies with fans during the first half.

ROUNDING INTO SHAPE

Brooks, Oregon’s preseason All-American, played a season-high 31 minutes in his seventh game off the bench since recovering from offseason foot surgery. He was particularly active on defense with four steals.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Alabama was just 2 of 19 (10.5 percent) from 3-point range after coming in shooting 36.4 percent and hitting 8.6 per game. “We’re a much better 3-point-shooting team than that and we’re a much better decision-making team than that,” said second-year coach Avery Johnson, who has seven newcomers among his 11-man rotation.

UP NEXT

Alabama plays its first home game of the month when it hosts South Carolina Upstate on Thursday night.

Oregon goes for its 100th victory in 6-year-old Matthew Knight Arena when it hosts Montana on Tuesday night to cap a five-game homestand. The Ducks then play UNLV at Moda Center in Portland on Saturday.