1. NO. 18 RHODE ISLAND SURVIVES A HERCULEAN EFFORT FROM LA SALLE’S B.J. JOHNSON
The 18th-ranked Rams clinched at least a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title, but it wasn’t easy as they needed overtime to beat La Salle 95-93 in Philadelphia. The “foul or defend” question came up on multiple occasions late in regulation and overtime, with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley opting to foul each time. Late in regulation the strategy didn’t work out, as Tony Washington rebounded an intentional miss and scored the basket that forced overtime.
B.J. Johnson was outstanding in a losing effort for La Salle, finishing with 29 points and 23 rebounds. The rebound total was one off of the Atlantic 10’s single-game record, which is held by the late Yinka Dare. As for URI, Jeff Dowtin and Stanford Robinson led the way with 25 and 20 points, apiece, with the former also dishing out seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. With the win Rhode Island can clinch the outright A-10 title by beating Dayton Friday night, and the result also keeps the Rams in the conversation to earn a 4-seed (or possibly better) in the NCAA tournament.
2. KENTUCKY REBOUNDS FROM SLOW START TO WIN AT ARKANSAS
On multiple occasions John Calipari’s young team has produced efforts that led to many wondering if they had turned the corner. But after ending a four-game losing streak on Saturday, the Wildcats trailed Arkansas 11-0 with Darryl Macon and Jalen Barford serving as the sparks for the Razorbacks. But instead of wilting and getting blown out Kentucky fought, pulling even by halftime. And in the second half the Wildcats were even better, controlling the action and picking up an 87-72 victory.
Five Kentucky players scored in double figures, with Kevin Knox accounting for 23 points and seven rebounds and fellow freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander adding 18 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Three of the five double-figure scorers came off the bench, with Jarred Vanderbilt and Quade Green providing much-needed sparks in the first half. Kentucky’s now won back-to-back games for the first time since late January, and while that may not seem like a big deal it’s certainly a positive development for this group.
3. NO. 2 MICHIGAN STATE AND NO. 16 OHIO STATE HOLD SERVE
Both the Spartans and Buckeyes took care of overmatched foes on their respective senior nights, with Michigan State beating Illinois by 20 and Ohio State whipping Rutgers by 27. With its win Michigan State wrapped up at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title, and the Spartans can wrap up the top seed in next week’s Big Ten tournament with a win over Wisconsin on Sunday. Miles Bridges led the way with 19 points and Joshua Langford added 16 for Michigan State, which shot 47.1 percent from the field and 11-for-27 from three.
Every year we look forward to this @MSU_Basketball Senior Night tradition. 💋
As Gavin Schilling, Ben Carter and Tum Tum Nairn leave the Breslin Center court for the final time, they give the customary kiss at center court: pic.twitter.com/DnWZf8MHzJ
What Michigan State will need to do against Wisconsin will be known by tip-off, as Ohio State completes its regular season schedule Friday night at Indiana. Tuesday night, Chris Holtmann’s team rolled past an overmatched Rutgers squad, with C.J. Jackson scoring a game-high 18 points off the bench. Keita Bates-Diop shot just 3-for-11 from the field and scored six points, but Ohio State received quality efforts from multiple players as it ended a two-game losing streak.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Coming off two tough road losses that dropped them out of first place in the Big Ten, the No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes got a feel-good win when they needed it.
A couple of underclassmen carried the Buckeyes on an emotional senior night. C.J. Jackson came off the bench to score 18 points, and freshman Kaleb Wesson added 14 as Ohio State routed Rutgers 79-52 on Tuesday.
After being upset by Penn State on Thursday and then Michigan on Sunday, the Buckeyes (23-7, 14-3 Big Ten) exploded in the second half, just as the Scarlet Knights folded.
“We were ready to get back on the court and try to get that bitter taste out of our mouths,” said guard Andrew Dakich, a graduate transfer who has contributed greatly as a ball-handler this season after playing three years at Michigan.
Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State’s best player who likely was playing his last game at Value City Arena, called it a “perfect storm” of motivation.
Kam Williams, also playing in his last home game, had 13 points including a trio of 3-pointers. Senior Jae’Sean Tate contributed nine points and 10 rebounds.
Corey Sanders had 12 points for the Scarlet Knights (13-17, 3-14), who have lost eight of their last nine. They were hurt by the absence of Geo Baker, the team’s third-leading scorer who was out with the flu.
Ohio State led 32-27 at the half. The Buckeyes had built a 19-point lead coming off an 11-0 run with 5:41 left in the half but then went cold. Rutgers put together a 16-2 run to finish the half, during which Ohio State went 1 for 8 from the floor.
But Rutgers opened the second half 1 for 8, and Ohio State took control with an 18-2 run, and the rout was on.
“I thought we weren’t good offensively, but our defense kind of kept us around in the first half,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “Obviously we couldn’t sustain that in the second half. Our inability to score really affected our defense in the second half.”
Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights took advantage of a short period of cold shooting by Ohio State at the end of the first half that gave them hope, but they didn’t have nearly enough talent to keep it up in the second half.
Ohio State: Buckeyes did what was expected against a poor-shooting team after dropping two on the road and giving up eight spots in the AP Top 25.
“Young people today, they sometimes have a hard time recovering from tough stretches,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Just to see the ball go in was good for them.”
They’ll need some help to win the regular-season conference title but have been one of the college basketball’s best stories this season.
Bates-Diop continued to struggle with his shooting. After starting the month as the likely candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year, he has had trouble scoring against more aggressive defenses.
He had just six points against Rutgers on 3-for-11 shooting, after grinding out 10 in the loss to Penn State and 17 against Michigan. In the two losses, he was a combined 9 for 28 from the floor, and 4 for 8 from 3-point range.
“This is a good team, and if I’m not hitting shots, everyone else is,” Bates-Diop said. “That’s all I care about.”
He has a year of eligibility remaining but likely will leave for the NBA. He graduated from Ohio State in December.
Rutgers: Finishes regular season Sunday at Illinois.
Beginning in September and running up until November 10th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2017-2018 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Making a coaching hire is more than just winning the press conference.
A jolt of energy and excitement into a program is nice, but ultimately fit between coach and program – from personality to style to recruiting footprint – will decide which programs flourish and which flounder.
Here are five coaches and programs that are set up to succeed with their new arraignment …
… and five that look destined for trouble.
1. ARCHIE MILLER, Indiana: Plenty of programs came calling for Archie Miller over the years as he piled up wins and NCAA tournament bids, but none could. Until Indiana came open, offering more than $3 million and the chance to take the reigns of one of the most tradition-rich programs in the history of college basketball. The Hoosiers and Miller are a match that seems destined to work.
The Hoosiers aren’t likely to contend atop the Big Ten this year as the roster just isn’t built for instant success, if it were, Tom Crean would likely still be installed in Bloomington, but this ranking is based on instant success. Indiana was only able to get Miller to leave Dayton because it offers one of college basketball’s best jobs, and Indiana only wanted Miller because he’s proven to be one of the sport’s best young coaches.
The only question is if Miller can recruit at a level commensurate to his new position, something he didn’t have to do in Dayton. Given his reputation and the resources available to him at Indiana, that seems like a sure bet.
2. CHRIS HOLTMANN, Ohio State: Holtmann is in much the same situation as Miller, taking over at an accomplished program with a huge athletic department budget but a slump success recently. Holtmann took over the Butler program in 2014 amid difficult circumstances when Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence, and keep the program humming along, going to three-straight NCAA tournaments as a single-digit seed as the Bulldogs navigated their transition to the Big East.
Ohio State has missed back-to-back NCAA tournaments, but Thad Matta’s program has proven that winning at an elite level in Columbus can be done with regularity and over an extended period of time. The Buckeyes’ recruiting footprint has a plethora of talented players living within it, and it’s one Holtmann is well acquainted with having spent nearly his entire career in the midwest. This pairing is a natural fit, and one that should pay major dividends.
3. BRAD UNDERWOOD, Illinois: The third Big Ten coach on here, but Underwood is another proven winner with the chops to get it done. Underwood maxed out Oklahoma State in his lone season in Stillwater, getting Jawun Evans into the NBA draft and helping Jeffrey Carroll blossom into an all-Big 12 player. He’s shown he can develop players at a high level and has the Xs-and-Os acumen to accumulate a 109-27 in his four years as a head coach.
Underwood has already experienced the good and the bad of recruiting his new home state as the Illini pulled five-star point guard Ayo Dosunmo from Chicago, but that reportedly caused their recruitment of another Chicago kid, four-star wing Talen Horton-Tucker, to go sideways. Whatever the truth about what really happened, it illustrates the potential politics and landmines that exist when recruiting the Windy City. If Underwood can do that, and getting Dosunmu suggests that he and his staff can to at least some degree, Champaign could become a destination and Illinois could regain its place among Big Ten contenders. That is, of course, assuming that there’s no carryover to Underwood from his former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans’ arrest by the FBI last month.
4. MIKE RHOADES, VCU: VCU has proven itself to be one of the best jobs outside of a Power 5 conference over the last decade-plus. Jeff Capel and Anthony Grant had enough sucess to jump to a high-major job after four and three seasons, respectively, and Shaka Smart became one of the most sought-after coaches in the country after just a pair of seasons before jumping to resource-rich and expectation-light Texas after five-straight NCAA tournaments. Most recently, Will Wade turned VCU into LSU after just a pair of seasons.
Rhoades seems primed to take advantage of the situation, not in that he’ll look to make a jump from Richmond to a Power 5, but to use the foundation already in place to keep VCU atop the Atlantic 10 and relevant nationally. He’s a former Smart assistant that spent a decade coaching in the DIvision III ranks. Seemingly any coach VCU hires is set up for success, but Rhoades appears to be a seamless fit.
5. CUONZO MARTIN, Missouri: Missouri may have slid into mediocrity – and under Kim Anderson well past it – for much of the past decade, but the Tigers’ job is one with plenty of potential. And Martin looks poised to make the most of his fourth head coaching job in 10 years by taking the shortcut to success that was hiring Michael Porter, Sr., which landed him a potential No. 1 draft pick in Michael Porter, Jr. and five-star Center Jontay Porter. Plus Missouri landed Jeremiah Tilmon, an Illinois defection.
Landing the highly-talented sons of an assistant coach may not be the most sustainable way to success, but it’s a heck of a jump start. If you can get the two Porter brothers, you do it and figure out the future later. Nothing breeds success like success, and Martin’s strategy should bring some immediately to Columbia.
1. MIKE BOYNTON, Oklahoma State: Brad Underwood bounced from Oklahoma State after feeling like the Sooners were skimping on him financially, declining to give him a significant raise from the below-market $1 million salary after taking the Cowboys to the NCAA tournament. In response…Oklahoma State apparently went the fiscally conservative route of simply elevating Boynton from assistant to the head job for a similar amount of money.
Whether or not Boynton is the man for the job is hard to say, but the perspective here is that Oklahoma State just went the cheap route, declining to invest in its hoops program. That’s a tough way to start a tenure, but making it even more difficult is that outside Jeff Carroll, there’s not a ton of talent in Stillwater. Oh, then there’s the small matter of an FBI investigation into corruption that has ensnared Oklahoma State and resulted in the firing of assistant Lamont Evans. Not ideal for anyone’s first head coaching gig.
2. WYKING JONES, California: Jones’ circumstances aren’t that far off from Boynton’s. They both succeeded coaches who found themselves on the better end of these two lists, and both are going to be making $1 million a year (a relatively small number by Power 5 standards) to try to improve a basketball situation that is less than ideal. Again, tough spot to start your head coaching career.
Jones’ roster is almost completely turning over, making this pretty much a full-scale rebuild. The Bears will need some serious recruiting wins in the next year or two for Jones to get things pointed in the right direction.
3. BRIAN DUTCHER, San Diego State: Dutcher was right by Steve Fisher’s side for all 18 years that Fisher was in southern California, turning the Aztecs into a relevant program. SDSU went to six-straight NCAA tournaments from 2010-15, including get a two-seed in 2011.
Fisher’s retirement, though, comes on the heels of back-to-back NCAA tournament misses in which the Aztecs fell from 28 wins to 19. Dutcher certainly has the resume that warrants getting this job, but it’s also fair to wonder if the program needs a breath of fresh air.
4. PATRICK EWING, Georgetown: Ewing is very respected in coaching circles after spending his post-playing career under some of the top NBA minds, but returning Georgetown back to prominence will take a lot more than being a bright basketball thinker. Ewing has never recruited, and that will be his biggest hurdle in trying to get the Hoyas in the mix both in the Big East.
There’s also the strangeness of the whole situation, which is really what makes this a tough spot more than anything. Ewing is succeeding John Thompson III, the son of the man, John Thompson II, who turned Georgetown into a national power and coached Ewing as a Hoya. That’s awkward. It’s even more awkward if Georgetown doesn’t win big relatively quickly. There’s reason for optimism (though pulling out of the PK-80 would suggest maybe not this year), but there’s a ton of expectation on an unproven head coach who has to navigate some tricky politics. It is D.C., after all.
5. BRIAN GREGORY, South Florida: Gregory turned a solid run at Dayton into a gig at Georgia Tech, where he missed the NCAA tournament each year and just twice was over .500. It’s difficult to see how he’ll have much better luck with the Bulls. The AAC got stronger this year with the inclusion of Wichita State while Houston and SMU continue to build their programs to compete with the historical powers like Memphis and UConn, who are both down now but seem unlikely to stay that way. South Florida hasn’t been above .500 since Stan Heath’s last year in 2012, and the program doesn’t appear set up to succeed any time soon.
Ohio State is on the board with regards to the 2018 recruiting class, as Chris Holtmann’s program received a much-needed verbal commitment from four-star forward Jaedon LeDee. The 6-foot-9 Houston native announced his decision via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon.
In receiving a verbal commitment from LeDee, Ohio State beat out California, Houston, Iowa State, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA. The Buckeyes hosted LeDee for his official visit the weekend of September 9, which coincided with the football team’s matchup with Oklahoma. Originally scheduled to visit Cal this past weekend, LeDee instead visited Texas A&M.
With LeDee’s commitment to Ohio State, visits to LSU (September 30) and UCLA (October 6) are likely off the board.
Currently attending the Kincaid School, LeDee played for the Texas PRO grassroots program on the adidas Uprising circuit this summer. The four-star prospect will likely be a combo forward for Ohio State, playing either the three or the four depending on the matchup.
With Jae’Sean Tate beginning his senior season and Keita Bates-Diop being a redshirt junior, Ohio State had a need to address in the front court. In landing a verbal pledge from Jaedon LeDee, the Buckeyes have done just that.
Among the front court players who will have eligibility remaining beyond the 2017-18 season are Bates-Diop, current sophomores Micah Potter and Andre Wesson, and freshmen Kaleb Wesson and Kyle Young.
Chris Holtmann suspends player on his first week at Ohio State
Chris Holtmann was formally introduced as the next head coach at Ohio State three days ago. In his first week on the job he has already sent a message to the program and the fanbase.
On Thursday afternoon, Ohio State released a statement that redshirt freshman forward Derek Funderburk had been suspended indefinitely for, “failure to meet team expectations.” The press release did not include any specifics on the situation.
The 6-foot-9 Funderburk was rated as a four-star recruit, the No. 77 overall prospect in the Class of 2016 according to Rivals. Thad Matta elected to redshirt him this past season.
Holtmann made it clear in his first press conference. “This is a proud program that’s used to competing for championships, that’s used to competing in the NCAA tournament,” he said. “We’re gonna work diligently to make that happen.” This decision supports that statement. It should serve as a wake-up call to anyone on the roster and it should show fans that he is serious about building this program back into a contender immediately.
Holtmann was hired by Ohio State last Friday. He replaced Thad Matta, who served in that role for 13 seasons. Holtmann, 45, was the head coach at Butler the past three seasons, compiling a 70-31 (34-20 Big East) record with three trips to the NCAA Tournament.
We learned something about No. 2 UCLA on Saturday: The Bruins don’t have to play well to win games.
Facing off with Ohio State in the opener of the CBS Sports Classic out in Las Vegas, the Bruins committed 12 first half turnovers and had one of their poorest shooting performances – they went just 10-for-30 from three – and the Bruins still managed to beat Ohio State, 86-73.
The outcome never felt like it was in doubt, either.
The Buckeyes hung around. They spent the entire second half within striking distance, as Marc Loving kept hitting shots and JaQuan Lyle kept making plays, but there was never truly a point where it seemed as if the Bruins were truly in danger of losing control of this one. Whenever the Buckeyes would make a push to cut the lead to six or seven, the Bruins would find an open three or get a couple of buckets in transition. It was like playing your little brother one-on-one: You know that you can coast a little bit, but every time he scores a couple of baskets in a row, it’s time to remind him that he is, yanno, the little brother.
And on the one hand, that’s a concern.
This was anything-but UCLA’s best. There were more defensive lapses than we’ve become accustomed to with this group. They let Ohio State muck things up for them offensively. They didn’t hit as many open threes as we’re used to seeing them hit. They were really sloppy in the first half. It happens, and the Bruins were able to turn it on when they needed to in order to pull away, but that’s not something they’re going to want to make a habit out of, particularly once we get into league play.
But the other side of it is that the Bruins were able to coast to a 13-point win over Ohio State in a game where they put forth somewhere around a C+ performance. As the saying goes, great teams win games when they play poorly, and that’s exactly what UCLA did on Saturday.
Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton combined for 57 points. Lonzo Ball nearly notched a triple-double – eight points, nine boards, nine assists – while fellow freshman T.J. Leaf added 13 points and eight boards.