Nic Moore

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Kansas/USA advances to World University Games semifinals

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Late in the third quarter of the Kansas/USA team’s World University Games quarterfinal matchup with Lithuania, Bill Self’s team led by just one point (43-42) and appeared to be locked in a struggle similar to that of their one-point win over Serbia in group play. However that would not be the case, as the Americans clamped down defensively and Lithuania could not hit a shot.

A 15-0 run established the distance needed to put the game away, with Self’s team going on to win by a final score of 70-48. After scoring eight points in the third quarter the Americans outscore Lithuania 25-6 in the fourth, with Frank Mason III leading a balanced offensive effort with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Joining Mason in double figures were Wayne Selden Jr. (13 points, five rebounds) and Perry Ellis (11 points, six rebounds), with SMU’s Nic Moore adding nine points and six assists. Kansas received solid efforts from big men Landen Lucas and Hunter Mickelson as well, with the latter making the start at the center position. Lucas contributed seven points and nine rebounds, with Mickelson adding six points and four rebounds and freshman Carlton Bragg grabbing five rebounds during his time on the floor.

Paulius Dambrauskas, who scored 12 points and was a difficult matchup for the Americans in the first half, led Lithuania with 18 points but did not score again until just past the halfway point of the fourth quarter. Also of note on the Lithuanian team was Evansville rising senior forward Egidijus Mockevicius, who had a quiet night after rolling his right ankle chasing down a rebound just over a minute into the game.

Mockevicius, who has led the Missouri Valley Conference in rebounding each of the last two years and was a first team all-conference selection in 2014-15, finished the game with two points and five rebounds. As a team Lithuania shot just 27 percent from the field, with their percentage plummeting after they made seven of their 13 shots from the field in the first quarter.

Next up for the United States, which has reached the semifinals of the World University Games for the first time since 2009, will be either Russia or Estonia. That 2009 team, coached by Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, won the bronze medal.

Kansas/USA rolls past Switzerland in World University Games group play finale

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One night after wrapping up a spot in the quarterfinal round of the World University Games with a one-point win over Serbia, Kansas/United States took on Switzerland in its final group play match Wednesday night in Gwangju, South Korea. And Bill Self’s team didn’t have much trouble with the Swiss either, scoring 12 of the game’s first 15 points and going on to win by the final score of 96-57.

The leading scorer for the Americans was one of the two players on the roster who will not suit up for the Jayhawks this coming season in guard Julian DeBose, who plays his college basketball at FGCU. The rising senior led the way with 18 points on 8-for-11 shooting to go along with four rebounds.

DeBose was one of four players to score in double figures, with Wayne Selden tallying 16 points and Perry Ellis and LaGerald Vick adding 11 apiece. Vick also grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Nic Moore, who was the American Athletic Conference Player of the Year at SMU last season, dished out six assists with Kansas’ Frank Mason III racking up five himself.

The Americans shot 59 percent from the field (which includes a 5-for-16 fourth quarter), and one night after struggling mightily from beyond the arc against Serbia they rebounded to shoot 10-for-17 from three. Next up for Self’s team will be Lithuania in Friday’s quarterfinal round.

SMU guard Nic Moore makes immediate impression on summer head coach

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When it was announced that SMU point guard Nic Moore would be joining the Kansas basketball team this summer as it represents the United States in the World University Games, some people were caught by surprise and wondered how it would work. The Jayhawks, who won’t bring Cheick Diallo (Mali), Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk (Ukraine) and Dwight Coleby (Bahamas) on the trip, have a point guard in Frank Mason and the dynamic of working in a new player can be a tricky one.

However it helps matters that in Moore, Kansas will have one of the top point guards in the country at their disposal in South Korea. Moore won Player of the Year honors in the American Athletic Conference as he led SMU to the regular season and postseason titles, so he has some solid credentials on his resume.

And according to the Lawrence Journal-World, despite arriving in Lawrence for practices Friday he’s already made quite the impression on Kansas head coach Bill Self.

“I learned he’s a leader. He got there halfway through practice, walked in and acted like he owned the place. That’s exactly what best players in leagues do,” KU coach Bill Self told the Journal-World after a two-hour World University Games team practice and orientation of his Friday/Saturday Parent/Child camp.

“I’m going to really enjoy coaching him. Our players are going to really enjoy playing with him,” Self added of the 5-foot-9, Winona Lake, Indiana, native who led the Mustangs in scoring (14.5 ppg), assists (5.1) and steals (1.3) his junior season.

“I think Nic can help them all,” Self said of the 11 Jayhawk players, who, along with Moore, complete KU’s Team USA roster for the University Games, July 3-14 in Gwangju, South Korea. “We’ve got good players, but we haven’t had anybody that’s been Player of the Year in the league. Nic is Player of the Year in the American Conference, a great league. SMU won it last year.”

The player who stands to benefit the most from the addition of Moore is rising junior point guard Frank Mason III, who made noticeable strides as a sophomore and will be asked to take on an even greater leadership role this winter. Mason averaged 12.6 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season, giving Kansas a level of consistency at the point that they’ve lacked in recent years.

While representing one’s country is a great honor that cannot be overlooked, this trip can also be used as a springboard by Mason, his new sidekick at the point and the rest of the roster. The first chance to see how they’re progressing in game action comes June 23, when the team plays the first of two exhibitions against Canada.

Chase for 180: Already a good shooter, Tyler Harvey’s been even better in 2014-15

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The “Chase for 180″ is back for a second year, and for those who may not be familiar with the project it’s our attempt to identify some of the best shooters in America. But what makes one an “elite shooter?” For some it’s merely the ability to knock down perimeter shots at a high rate, but that isn’t the case for all players. High-level shooting requires proficiency from three, the field overall, and from the foul line. 

“180” refers to the resulting number when adding a player’s field goal, three-point and free throw percentages, with the best shooters either approaching or surpassing that mark. 50 percent or better from the field overall, 40 percent or better from three and 90 percent or better from the foul line. This achievement has occurred more often in college basketball than it has in the NBA, where just six players (Steve Nash did it in four different seasons) have done it in the history of the league. 

We’ll update this list throughout the season, with players also needing to qualify to be ranked by the NCAA in each of the three percentage categories in order to be considered. In order to qualify to be ranked a player needs to have played in at least 75 percent of his team’s games and have averaged: 

  • five or more field goal attempts per game;
  • two or more three-point attempts per game;
  • 2.5 or more free throw attempts per game.

To read prior installments of the Chase for 180, click here

Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey enjoyed a productive debut season after redshirting in 2012-13, scoring an average of 21.8 points per game while shooting 44.3% from the field and 43.3% from beyond the arc. Obviously the opportunities Harvey saw a season ago would once again be present in 2014-15, and he’s certainly taken advantage for head coach Jim Hayford. But the scary thing for the rest of the Big Sky is that while Harvey’s scoring 24.0 points per game, he’s putting points on the board in a more efficient manner than he did last season.

Harvey’s percentages have risen to 51.4% from the field and 48.6% from beyond the arc, with the biggest change coming in the way he’s scored inside of the arc. After making 45.2% of his two-point attempts as a freshman, Harvey’s shooting 54.3% this season. The ratio has changed some this season, with the majority of Harvey’s shots coming from outside of the arc (163 three-point attempts, 92 two-point attempts) after attempting just 24 more three-pointers than two-pointers in 2013-14 (234 three-point attempts, 210 two-point attempts).

But Harvey’s done a better job of converting the two-point looks he does get, even with the increased attention that comes with being the focus of every opponent’s scouting report.

Scoring-wise, Harvey’s reached double figures in every game this season and he’s scored no fewer than 16 points in any of those games. In conference play Harvey’s been even more productive, averaging 26.1 points per game on a team that’s 6-1 in Big Sky play. In wins over Northern Colorado and North Dakota last week, Harvey averaged 30.5 points per game on 59.3% shooting from the field, 46.7% from three and 88.0% from the foul line.

While the presence of three other double-figure scorers in conference play, led by freshman forward Bogdan Bliznyuk (15.1 ppg), helps Harvey from a spacing standpoint teams still know who EWU’s primary scoring option is. And yet he continues to put up highly impressive numbers for the Eagles, who are aiming for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004.

50-40-90 Players

Jack Gibbs (Davidson) 
51.7% FG, 41.4% 3PT, 90.8% FT = 183.9

Gibbs has missed the last two games for the Wildcats due to a knee injury.

He’s Close to 50-40-90 Status

Derrick Marks (Boise State)
51.9%, 53.8%, 86.2% = 191.9

Marks and the Broncos have now won five straight, with the senior scoring 28 in a win over Colorado State Tuesday night.

Tyler Harvey (Eastern Washington)
51.4%, 48.6%, 85.8% = 185.8

Seven More “180” Players 

Jacob Parker (Stephen F. Austin)
55.6%, 46.2%, 81.6% = 183.4

Parker followed up a 13-point outing in a win over Sam Houston State with a 20-point (7-for-13 FG), 12-rebound night in a win over Lamar on Monday.

Justin Anderson (Virginia)
50.0%, 51.9%, 81.0% = 182.9

Like his teammates Anderson got off to a slow start Sunday at Virginia Tech. But he scored ten points in the final 7:05 to lead the Cavaliers to the 50-47 win.

Corey Hawkins (UC Davis) 
50.9%, 51.0%, 80.0% = 181.9

Shooting wasn’t an issue for Hawkins in the Aggies’ loss at Hawaii last Thursday (5-for-8 3PT), but the seven turnovers were.

Nic Moore (SMU) 
45.9%, 46.3%, 89.2% = 181.4

With the Mustangs navigating multiple personnel losses, it’s been Moore leading the way for a team one game behind Tulsa in the conference standings.

Alec Peters (Valparaiso) 
50.2%, 46.4%, 84.4% = 181.0

Peters bounced back from Friday’s loss at Green Bay in a big way Monday night, shooting 10-for-14 from the field to lead the Crusaders past Milwaukee.

Kevin Pangos (Gonzaga)
49.7%, 47.0%, 83.6% = 180.3

Pangos played just 18 minutes in the Bulldogs’ blowout win over Pacific on Saturday, making three of his five three-point attempts.

Rayvonte Rice (Illinois)
51.5%, 48.3%, 80.3% = 180.1

Like Gibbs, Rice remains out of the lineup for Illinois due to injury (left wrist).

College Basketball Talk’s Top 100 Players: Nos. 100-81 #CBTTop100

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Nic Moore tries to get SMU on the right track after months of misfortune

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Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

On March 1, SMU sat at 23-6 and looked like a sure-fire NCAA Tournament team. But the Mustangs lost three consecutive games, including the first-round upset to Houston in the American conference tournament and ultimately found themselves on the outside looking in thanks in-part to a weak non-conference schedule.

Things got more complicated this summer when star freshman point guard Emmanuel Mudiay never set foot on campus after previously committing to play for head coach Larry Brown, and instead he’s reportedly making seven figures to play professional basketball in China for the year before going to the 2015 NBA Draft.

But the Mustangs still return a strong core of players this season and feisty and talented junior point guard Nic Moore is at the heart of that core. The 5-foot-10 Moore is tough and efficient and shot 46 percent from the field, 43 percent from three-point range and 82 percent from the free-throw line while averaging 13.6 points, 4.9 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game last season.

Although many things have gone wrong for the SMU program in the last few months, there is plenty of talent in place to make things go right in 2014-15.

“[It] just made us realize that things are not given to you, you have to work for them,” Moore said of falling short last season.

The team’s most important player is joined by junior Markus Kennedy and a lot of talented wings, including sophomores Keith Frazier, Ben Moore and Sterling Brown and seniors Justin Martin and Jordan Tolbert. Big men behind Kennedy include seniors Yanick Moreira and Cannen Cunningham.

This is a deep and experienced team that still won 27 games last season and lost in the NIT Championship game to Minnesota.

“It was a good offseason. Just taking time and putting the work in and keeping the guys together,” Moore said. “We’re all on the same page, I’m just trying to be more of a leader this year.

“Just getting shots up and working on areas that you need to improve. The summertime we have to focus on ourselves.”

MORE: American Preview: Does SMU have what it takes to win the American?

The focus now turns to the 2014-15 season and the NCAA Tournament for SMU. The Mustangs haven’t seen the NCAA Tournament since 1993 and the program has been revitalized by Brown, the influx of talent and the remodeled Moody Coliseum, which is now packed each and every game.

The fan base is excited, recruits are taking notice and the players are happy to be at SMU again.

“It’s pretty exciting because our arena is not that big, so it just excites the community and people are trying to get tickets to watch us play,” Moore said. “Just the support behind us and the community wanting us to do good; it’s great.”

Moore is the quiet member of last season’s All-AAC conference team. He was joined by three senior All-Americans in Russ Smith, Shabazz Napier and Sean Kilpatrick as well as Louisville highlight-reel forward Montrezl Harrell.

But the guard doesn’t receive nearly the same national attention as those players. He’s one of the better players in the country nobody is talking about. The junior’s main focus isn’t to generate headlines for himself, but to keep his team together as a team leader.

“[I have to] keep my composure and keep everybody together,” Moore said. “I was trying to improve it but there were times I didn’t control it [last season]. [Now] I just focus on what I have to do and how to keep the team together.”

If the Mustangs can navigate through a more challenging non-conference schedule that includes road games at Gonzaga and Michigan, they’ll feel prepared as of the favorites in the AAC. But after last season’s disappointing turn and being left out of the Big Dance, the Mustangs aren’t taking anything for granted.

This season will be all about taking things slowly.

“Just stay together, have fun and play the right way,” Moore said. “Not looking forward or back on anything and just taking it day-by-day. You’ve just got to continue to work hard and get better each day. You’ve got to keep fighting.”