Thursday’s Morning Shootaround: What a night

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Florida State 66, No. 1 Duke 61: See here and here.

No. 2 Ohio State 68, Michigan 64: The Buckeyes moved to 17-0 on the season and 4-0 in the Big Ten with a win over Michigan, but once again Ohio State struggled to put away an inferior opponent, just like they did against Minnesota at home and at Iowa in the past week. OSU opened up a 53-41 lead in the second half with a 12-0 run, but Michigan scrapped their way back and cut the lead to two on two separate occasions. But four straight free throws from William Buford and Aaron Craft sealed it. Buford had 19 points and nine boards, while Michigan was able to neutralize Sullinger with their 1-3-1 attack, allowing him just 12 points, seven boards, and forcing six turnovers.

No. 3 Kansas 84, Iowa State 79: Marcus Morris had 33 points and 13 rebounds while his brother Markief added 17 points and 11 rebounds as the Morrii were able to pace the Jayhawks as they knocked off a scrappy Iowa State team by only five points despite never trailing in the game. Josh Selby bounced back from an ugly game against Michigan with 14 points on 5-12 shooting.

No. 4 Syracuse 76, St. John’s 59: The Orange are turning into an absolutely dominant defensive team this season. They held the Johnnies to just 36.8% shooting from the floor, while shooting 9-20 from three and putting four players into double figures.

No. 5 Pitt 72, No. 19 Georgetown 57: See here.

No. 6 San Diego State 55, UNLV 49: The Aztecs pulled out a tough, hard-fought Mountain West matchup that saw six technical fouls called and a brawl nearly break out. Kawhi Leonard had 15 points and 17 boards to pace SDSU while Malcolm Thomas also notched a double-double. SDSU improves to 17-0 on the season.

No. 7 Villanova 88, No. 17 Louisville 74: Corey Stokes had 23 points and Mouph Yarou had his best game since he’s been at Villanova, dominating Louisville’s big men with 18 points and 11 boards, as the Wildcats knocked off their second straight top 25 team at home. More impressive is the fact that Nova was able to win despite Louisville getting them to play at their tempo, forcing 18 turnovers, and hitting 12-25 threes. Corey Fisher and Maalik Wayns add 17 and 15, respectively. When all three back court players are hitting and Yarou is playing well in the paint, this Nova team is scary.

No. 12 Missouri 77, Nebraska 69: The Tigers bounced back from a loss at Colorado thanks in large part to Marcus Denmon, who had 27 points and hit five threes. Mizzou was never able to put on a run to put the Cornhuskers away, but the Tigers were able to maintain a two and three possession cushion throughout the second half.

No. 13 Texas A&M 71, Oklahoma State 48: Its a different post for a different day, but Texas A&M and Mark Turgeon are approaching Wisconsin-Bo Ryan and Pitt-Jamie Dixon territory. You just cannot count them out heading into a season. Ever. Nathan Walkup and David Loubeau both had 16 points last night to lead the Aggies.

Vanderbilt 73, Georgia 66: Travis Leslie had 21 points while Trey Thompkins and Gerald Robinson combined to add 33, but Vandy was just too much, as Fetsus Ezeli outplayed Thompkins (18 points, 10 boards) and John Jenkins had 18 points.

Northwestern 90, Iowa 71: Drew Crawford led four players in double figures as Northwestern jumped out to a 21 point halftime lead in a win they had to have.

Wichita State 68, Creighton 54: JT Durley led three players in double figures as the Shockers went into Omaha and knocked off the Bluejays. Impressive win, as WSU moves into second place in the MVC.

Seton Hall 78, DePaul 67: Jeremy Hazell scored 23 points for the Pirates in his first game back from a broken wrist and a gunshot wound.

SMU 64, Memphis 58: Memphis doesn’t look like a tournament team this season.

LSU 56, Arkansas 53: Umm, LSU is now 2-0 in the SEC.

Ohio 79, Akron 70: DJ Cooper’s line — 13 points, 15 assists, eight rebounds. Solid.

Other Notable Games:

  • No. 23 Temple 83, St. Bonaventure 55
  • Maryland 74, Wake Forest 55
  • Hofstra 74, Towson 60
  • Clemson 87, Georgia Tech 62
  • New Mexico 68, Colorado State 61
  • Arizona State 69, Tulsa 59
  • Cincinnati 74, South Florida 66
  • Alabama 57, South Carolina 47
  • Xavier 79, UMass 50
  • Missouri State 64, Southern Illinois 51
  • UTEP 69, Tulane 58
  • Dayton 65, St. Joe’s 59
  • La Salle 89, Penn 83
  • Southern Miss 81, Rice 78 OT
  • VCU 70, William & Mary 52
  • Bucknell 75, American 60
  • Wofford 74, Georgia Southern 65

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Kansas and Kansas State end rivalry game in brawl

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Kansas and Kansas State erupted into a brawl on Tuesday night.

The Jayhawks were closing out an 81-60 Big 12 home win over their in-state rivals. The buzzer sounded and things got heated.

Kansas forward Silvio De Sousa threw punches during the chaos. It’s difficult to pinpoint things from there. Police, security and team personnel stepped in to clear up the melee.

It’s one of the uglier incidents in recent memory for the heated Kansas state rivalry.

It’s been a wild night in college basketball. Illinois’ Alan Griffin stepped on Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic and was ejected. This is yet another bad incident that doesn’t involve basketball.

We’re definitely going to see suspensions out of this Kansas and Kansas State brawl.

Illinois’ Alan Griffin ejected for stepping on Purdue player

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Alan Griffin stepped on Purdue’s Sasha Stefanovic and was ejected on Tuesday night. With Illinois on the road in a crucial Big Ten road game, Griffin was lost for the game midway through the first half.

Griffin turned to run back on defense and clearly stepped on Stefanovic while he was on the ground. Attacking the basket and not getting a call, Stefanovic was on the ground when Griffin stepped on his chest.

Griffin finished scoreless before his ejection.

A 6-foot-5 sophomore, Griffin is a key reserve during Illinois’ resurgent season. Playing 17.9 minutes per game, Griffin is an adequate three-pointer shooter and good rebounder from the wing.

Potentially facing a suspension for his actions, Griffin’s potential absence is something to monitor.

Walter McCarty dismissed as Evansville head coach

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Walter McCarty was fired as Evansville’s head coach on Tuesday night.

The school officially announced the decision after additional reports of alleged misconduct. On administrative leave since Dec. 26, McCarty was under investigation for Title IX violations.

Bennie Seltzer will remain interim head coach.

“While the investigation of potential Title IX violations will continue under University policies, UE has decided that, based on the facts uncovered thus far, it is necessary to terminate Mr. McCarty’s employment immediately,” the release said.

“There is no place at UE for any behavior by any University employee or student that jeopardizes the safety and security of others,”

The statement also said McCarty received “warnings last year regarding inappropriate off-court behavior with members of the campus community.”

The 45-year-old McCarty was in his second season with the Purple Aces. After an 11-21 finish in the first season, Evansville had a promising 9-4 start. Evansville made national news when the beat No. 1 Kentucky at Rupp Arena earlier this season.

Player of the Year Power Rankings: Powell vs. Pritchard vs. Howard vs. Toppin

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At this point, I do feel like we have reached a point where there is finally a top tier in the College Basketball Player of the Year race.

Myles Powell. Payton Pritchard. Markus Howard. Obi Toppin. That’s the order that I have it in, but there is a strong and legitimate argument for all four to be No. 1 on this list. I wouldn’t call any of them wrong.

This doesn’t mean that the players from outside those ranks cannot win the award — it is so wide open this year, anyone with a couple of big weeks will be in the mix — but as of this moment in time, those are the likely favorites.

Anyway, here is the definitive Player of the Year power rankings:

1. MYLES POWELL, Seton Hall

Stats: 22.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.3 apg, 34.9 3PT%

Powell had his best week of the season last week, averaging 29.0 points — including 21.0 points in the second half — as he led the Pirates to a pair of come-from-behind wins at Butler and at Saint John’s. It took Powell a while to get to this point, as he dealt with an ankle injury and a concussion, but there is no questioning the fact that he is the leader and the go-to guy for a Seton Hall team that is currently sitting at No. 10 in the AP poll and in sole possession of first place in the Big East.

And here’s the ironic part in all of this: It took a Powell injury for Seton Hall to really find themselves as a team. They made their leap on Dec. 19th, when the Pirates beat Maryland at home without Powell in the lineup. That’s when the supporting cast found their confidence. That’s when Seton Hall became a team, not just a bunch of guys playing next to Myles Powell.

2. PAYTON PRITCHARD, Oregon

Stats: 19.5 ppg, 5.7 apg, 4.4 rpg, 41.2 3PT%

No one in college basketball has had more, or bigger, moments this season. He scored 19 of his 23 points in the second half and overtime, including 15 in the final five minutes, in a win at Michigan. He had 16 points and six assists in a come-from-behind win against Seton Hall in the Battle 4 Atlantis. He hit a number of big shots late as Oregon knocked off Memphis in November, the only game against a quality opponent that James Wiseman played. Then there was Saturday’s game at Washington, when Pritchard hit a 30-footer to tie the game and force overtime then made a pair of big shots in the extra frame, including this ridiculous game-winner:

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Payton Pritchard called game!!!!!!

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He has carried the Ducks this season. He’s the reason this team is a top ten team.

3. MARKUS HOWARD, Marquette

Stats: 28.2 ppg, 2.9 apg, 43.1% 3PT, 9.8 3PAs

The numbers themselves are ridiculous.

Howard is leading the nation in scoring at 28.2 points. He’s shooting better than 43 percent from three on nearly 10 threes attempted per game. He’s doing it while posting a significantly higher offensive rating than Myles Powell and a significantly higher usage rate than Payton Pritchard.

To put his season into context, there is one other high-major player since 1992 that has made better than 42 percent of his threes while shooting more than nine threes per game: J.J. Redick during his college basketball Player of the Year season in 2005-06. Stephen Curry did the same during the 2007-08 season, when he led Davidson to within one shot of the Final Four.

Markus Howard has been the most lethal offensive weapon in college basketball, and if Marquette was a title contender this season, he’s easily be No. 1 on this list.

4. OBI TOPPIN, Dayton

Stats: 19.6 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 35.3% 3PT

What Obi Toppin provides for Dayton cannot be overstated. He’s putting up massive numbers this season, and he’s doing it while being the piece that makes everything Anthony Grant wants to run work so well. The breakdown below explains it all:

The thing that’s tough about placing Toppin on this list is that he is not the go-to guy for Dayton. Jalen Crutcher is going to be the player that takes and makes all of the big shots. See: Kansas, when he forced overtime, and Saint Louis, when he won the game in overtime.

But the reason Dayton is in a position to do things like take Kansas to overtime, get ranked in the top ten and have a shot at winning a national title is because of what Toppin opens up for them every possession other than the final one.

He may not have the moments we all remember, but Dayton is as good as they because of him. That matters.

5. LUKA GARZA, Iowa

Stats: 22.9 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Garza has been relentless this season, and he is absolutely one of the most improved players in the country. The reason that he’s just outside the top four, for me, is because of the defensive side of the ball. I talk through that more in this piece.

6. CASSIUS WINSTON, Michigan State

Stats: 18.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 2.4 rpg

Winston has been really, really good this year. He has not been quite as good as expected — he was the consensus preseason college basketball player of the year — and neither has Michigan State, which hurts him a bit. I think he’ll be back in the mix by the time the season ends, particularly if the Spartans play their way back into being one of the nation’s elite teams.

7. JARED BUTLER, Baylor

Stats: 16.1 ppg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 spg, 38.1% 3PT

It’s getting harder and harder to ignore the fact that the sophomore point guard is the best player on the best team in college basketball. That’s worth something in the Player of the Year race.

8. JORDAN NWORA, Louisville

Stats: 19.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 42.7% 3PT

On the plus side, Louisville once again looks like a team that can win the ACC, get to a Final Four and win a national title now that David Johnson has taken the point guard reins, and Nwora is unquestionably the best player on the roster. On the down side, he really hasn’t shown up in Louisville’s biggest games. That’s a delicate balance.

9. VERNON CAREY, Duke

Stats: 17.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.8 bpg

Carey looked like a much bigger player in this race before Duke lost two games last week in large part due to the ability to Miami and Louisville to expose Carey on the defensive end of the floor. Coach K has fixed issues like this before. We’ll see what he has up his sleeve this year.

10. MALACHI FLYNN, San Diego State

Stats: 16.5 ppg, 5.0 apg, 3.6 rpg, 40.4% 3PT

Malachi Flynn is the best player, the leader, of the only team in college basketball that remains undefeated. And the reason they are still undefeated is because of him: It was his three that allowed the Aztecs to avoid defeat at the hands of San Jose State back in December.

Three Things To Know: Shaka’s seat heats up, Baylor survives, Virginia doesn’t

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It was a slow night for college hoops on Monday, but there is still plenty to talk about after some weird results.

Here are the three things you need to know:

1. SHAKA’S SEAT IS HEATING UP

The Shaka Smart era at Texas feels like it has hit an inflection point.

On Monday night, the Longhorns went into Morgantown, W.V., and found themselves wishing Country Roads would take them home before the first half came to a close. No. 14 West Virginia, coming off of blowout loss at Kansas State on Saturday, used a 28-2 run over a 10 minute stretch in the first half to turn a 15-13 lead into a 43-15 blowout. They would go on to win 97-59.

The loss dropped Texas to 12-6 on the season and 2-4 in the Big 12. The Longhorns certainly are not out of it just yet — three of their four Big 12 losses came against teams that currently rank in the top six at KenPom — but it’s getting harder and harder to defend the situation that’s brewing in Austin. Texas has now lost four of their last six and five of their last eight. They are in danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight season and for the third time in four years.

But perhaps the biggest concern is that the Longhorns just don’t seem to be growing as a program. Last year, while Texas ended up missing the tournament, they finished as a top 25 team on KenPom and made a run all the way to the NIT title. It’s worth noting that before the tournament started, they were already a top 30 team on KenPom; their ranking wasn’t skewed by getting hot for three weeks in a tournament no one cares about.

The problem this season is that there has been no progression. Texas has been a program under Shaka that has hung their hat on defense, but this is the worst defensive team he has had in his tenure. That becomes even more of an issue when you factor in that they cannot score. They’re 111th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency, which is what happens when your offense is, essentially, a spread ball-screen into a contested three.

KenPom has Texas favored to win just three more games the rest of the season. They’re projected to finish 17-14 overall and 7-11 in the Big 12.

That’s not good.

2. NO. 1 BAYLOR SURVIVES

It looked like Baylor was going to cruise to a pretty easy win at home against Oklahoma, but the Sooners had other ideas. They hung around long enough in the second half to make things interesting late. Oklahoma hit back-to-back threes in a 40 second span to cut a 59-51 lead to 59-57 with 41 seconds left, and after Baylor couldn’t find a way to score on their next possession, Austin Reaves cut off a 3-on-1 break to flare to the corner and fire up a wide-open, go-ahead three with less than five seconds left.

He missed.

Baylor won.

And No. 1 lived to fight another day.

3. VIRGINIA LOSES AGAIN

The reigning national champions lost for the fourth time in their last five games on Monday night, this time falling at home against N.C. State, 53-51.

Like Oklahoma, Virginia had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, as N.C. State fouled up three and then missed free throws of their own at the other end. But Virginia is the 346th-best three-point shooting team in the country for a reason, and Casey Morsell missed the game-winner as time expired.

At this point, it’s getting harder to see how Virginia is going to find a way to play their way into the NCAA tournament.