Wednesday’s Shootaround: Pitt’s upset again while Wisconsin’s still Wisconsin


No. 11 Wisconsin 64, Nebraska 40: It simply does not get more ‘Wisconsin’ than what the Badgers did to poor Nebraska in their Big Ten opener on Tuesday night. On the strength of a career-high 22 points from Ryan Evans, Wisky scored just 64 points as they dominated and demoralized a Nebraska team that never really was in the game after the first 10 minutes. What’s more impressive is that Wisconsin allowed 40 points on 51 possessions, or 0.784 PPP, on the defensive end, but that actually was a below-averaged defensive performance for the Badgers. Coming into this game, they were giving up 0.730 PPP on the season.

The beauty of this Wisconsin system has nothing to do with the skills of the individual players, however. Sure, Jordan Taylor is an all-american that finally showed some glimpses of that ability. And yes, Ryan Evans played a fantastic basketball game. Jared Berggren, Ben Brust, Mike Breusewitz — all good players. But what makes Wisconsin such a good team is that they just take you out of any kind of rhythm with the pace that they play. They don’t attack the offensive glass hard so as to prevent run outs. They don’t gamble for steals because they want to make you use clock to score. They use every second of the shot clock and hit absolutely deflating jumpers as the shot clock expires.

The Badgers are good, don’t get me wrong. But the reason they are so successful has as much to do with the frustration and impatience that their style causes in their opponents than in how good the Badgers truly are.

Notre Dame 72, No. 22 Pitt 59: I don’t think there is that much that is wrong with Pitt this season, but I think their issues are going to be very difficult to overcome. Simply put, this group just doesn’t have the same kind of toughness and ruggedness we normally expect out of a Jamie Dixon team. We probably should have expected their defense to fall off with Gary McGhee, Gilbert Brown and Bradn Wanamaker graduating, but the fact that the Panthers are currently sitting around 150th in the country in defensive efficiency is appalling. That should be helped a bit when Travon Woodall gets healthy, and his presence on the offensive end of the floor should also help Ashton Gibbs become more efficient as a scorer by moving him off the ball.

To be fair, Pitt is also just playing poorly right now. I think that we can all agree that the Panthers are a better team than what they have shown through the first two months of the season. But that lack of toughness — both mental and physical — is a problem that cannot be cured. It sounds like copping out with a cliche when I say it like that, but its true. They are making mistakes on both ends of the floor we are unaccustomed to seeing players in this program make.

Illinois 81, Minnesota 72 2OT: Minnesota is going to be a tough out all year long. They don’t have a ton of talent on their team, but they have some size, a lot of athletes and a roster stocked with kids that play hard. That is precisely why the Gophers were able to come back against Illinois, erasing what was a 13 point second half deficit, but its also why they were unable to pull out the win.

The Illini have, on paper, a starting lineup that is as good as anyone in the Big Ten outside of Ohio State. At every position in their starting lineup, they have a guy capable of going for 15-20 points on a given night. The problem, however, is that every one of those players is best-suited for playing as a complimentary option. In other words, there is no go-to player on the Illini, no one that you can give the ball to at the end of a clock and count on them to get a bucket. Without that star power, the Illini have to rely on offensive execution down the stretch to win them games. And, as we have come to expect with Bruce Weber coached team, Illinois’ late-game execution leaves much to be desired.

Illinois allowed Minnesota to get right back into the game with poor shot selection and bad offensive possessions. But the Gophers simply don’t have enough talent to take advantage of it.

Georgia 92, Winthrop 86 OT: Winthrop got robbed in a wild game. Georgia blew a 13 point second half lead, finding themselves down 66-62 with 45 seconds left. But the Bulldogs got 14 points out of Dustin Ware and Gerald Robinson — and a couple of missed free throws out of Winthrop — that opened the door for this game-tying layup:

Umm, travel much, Gerald? I counted four steps. Anyway, Robinson finished with 22 points and Ware added 20 as the Bulldogs took an early lead in OT and hung on late.

Other notable scores:

– No. 24 Virginia 69, UMES 42
– St. John’s 91, Providence 67
– St. Louis 71, Texas Southern 39
– North Texas 78, New Orleans 47

Top performers:

Moe Harkless and D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s: There have been few freshmen in the country that have been as impressive as Harkless has been early on this season. Coming into the night, he was averaging 15 points and eight boards, and Harkless (for lack of a more fitting description) balled out: 32 points, 13 boards, four assists, four steals and two blocks in a 91-67 win over Providence. Harrison added 25 points and seven assists. Combined, the two had a single turnover.

Jordan Tolbert, Texas Tech: Tolbert has been just as impressive as Harkless, especially in the past four games. After scoring 27 points and adding six boards in a win over CS Bakersfield, Tolbert has now broken 20 in four straight games. In that stretch, he has 97 points and has shot 38-54 (70.3%) from the floor.

Drew Viney, LMU: In his first game back from a foot injury, Viney had 29 points and eight boards. Granted, it was against Vanguard, but getting Viney back could end up being the turning point in what has been a very up and down season for the Lions.

Meyers Leonard, Illinois: Leonard turned in another impressive performance, finishing with 20 points, 11 boards and five blocks in Illinois’ win over Minnesota.

Andre Jones, Winthrop: Jones had 33 points as Winthrop lost to Georgia in a game that they would have won had a travel been called on the final Georgia possession.

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

Marquette extends Shaka Smart’s contract through 2029-30 season

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MILWAUKEE — Marquette coach Shaka Smart has received a contract extension after leading the Golden Eagles to their first outright regular-season championship and tournament title in the Big East.

Smart’s contract now runs through the 2029-30 season. This is the first extension Smart has received since signing a six-year deal when he took over as Marquette’s coach in 2021.

Marquette didn’t release financial terms of Smart’s deal.

“In a very short period of time, Shaka and his staff have done a tremendous job of establishing a winning culture, both on and off the court,” athletic director Bill Scholl said in a statement. “Shaka’s vision for the program is focused on extended, sustainable success. The individuals who interact with the team on a daily basis are able to observe frequent examples of growth and the excitement around the program is contagious.”

Marquette has gone 48-20 in Smart’s two seasons and reached the NCAA Tournament each of those years.

The Golden Eagles went 29-7 and won the Big East’s regular-season and tournament championships last season after the league’s coaches had picked them to finish ninth out of 11 teams. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

Purdue’s Edey returning to school at NBA draft deadline; Kentucky’s Tshiebwe stays in

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Purdue’s Zach Edey decided it was the right call to go back to school instead of staying in the NBA draft. His predecessor as national player of the year, Kentucky’s Oscar Tshiebwe, is sticking with his pro pursuit.

And Connecticut’s reign as NCAA champion will begin with multiple starters having left for the NBA draft and one returning after flirting with doing the same.

The 7-foot-4 Edey and UConn guard Tristen Newton were among the notable names to announce that they were withdrawing from the draft, the NCAA’s deadline for players who declared as early entrants to pull out and retain their college eligibility.

Edey’s decision came in social media posts from both the center and the Boilermakers program that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament behind Edey, The Associated Press men’s national player of the year.

But Tshiebwe announced late in the afternoon that he would remain in the draft after a college career that included being named the AP national player of the year in 2022.

For the current champions, Newton (10.1 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds) is returning after being one of four Huskies to declare for the draft after a run to UConn’s fifth national championship in early April. He scored a game-high 19 points to go with 10 rebounds in the victory over San Diego State in the title game.

The others were Final Four Most Outstanding Player Adama Sanogo, wing Jordan Hawkins and versatile guard Andre Jackson Jr. Sanogo (17.8 points) and Hawkins (16.3) have made it clear they have closed the door on their college careers, while team spokesman Phil Chardis said that Jackson (6.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.6 assists) would remain in the draft.

The Huskies have 247sports’ No. 3-ranked recruiting class for next year to restock the roster, led by McDonald’s All-American point guard Stephon Castle.

The NBA’s withdrawal deadline is June 12, but is moot when it comes to college players returning to school due to the NCAA’s earlier timeline to retain playing eligibility.


TREY ALEXANDER: Creighton gets back a 6-4 guard who averaged 13.6 points and shot 41% from 3-point range in his first full season as a starter.

ADEM BONA: The 6-foot-10 forward and Pac-12 freshman of the year is returning to UCLA after starting 32 games as a rookie and averaging 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks – with coach Mick Cronin praising his toughness for “competing through multiple injuries for as long as he could” in a statement Wednesday.

EDEY: He averaged 22.3 points, 12.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks and 1.5 assists while shooting 60.7% from the field. His presence alone helps Purdue be a factor in the Big Ten race.

JOSIAH-JORDAN JAMES: The 6-6 guard went through the NBA G League Combine and had workouts with multiple teams before opting to return to Tennessee for a fifth season alongside teammate Santiago Vescovi.

JUDAH MINTZ: The 6-3 freshman averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists for Syracuse, ranking third among Division I freshmen in scoring behind only Alabama’s Brandon Miller and Lamar’s Nate Calmese.

OWLS’ RETURNEES: Florida Atlantic got good news after its surprise Final Four run with the return leading scorers Johnell Davis (13.8) and Alijah Martin (13.4). ESPN first reported their decisions, while Martin later posted a social media statement.

TERRENCE SHANNON JR.: Illinois got a big boost with Shannon announcing his night in a social media post. The 6-6 guard is returning for a fifth college season after averaging 17.2 points.

SPARTANS’ RETURNEES: Michigan State announced that guards Jaden Akins and A.J. Hoggard have withdrawn from the NBA draft. Standout guard Tyson Walker had previously withdrawn in April, setting up Tom Izzo to have five of his top scorers back.


KOBE BROWN: Missouri’s 6-8 swingman opted against returning for a fifth college season after being an AP first-team all-Southeastern Conference pick averaging 15.8 points last season.

JAYLEN CLARK: The third-year UCLA guard averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds while leading the Pac-12 with 2.6 steals en route to being named Naismith national defensive player of the year. Cronin called him a winner with strong intangibles who made UCLA “a better program because he chose to be a Bruin.”

BRICE SENSABAUGH: The Ohio State freshman averaged 16.3 points and 5.4 rebounds in 31 games before missing his final two in the Big Ten Tournament due to a knee injury. He’s a potential first-round prospect.

TSHIEBWE: The 6-9, 260-pound forward is a tough interior presence who led the country in rebounds for two straight seasons (15.1 in 2022, 13.7 in 2023) while racking up 48 double-doubles. But he faces an uncertain next stop and is projected at best as a second-round prospect.

North Carolina transfer Caleb Love commits to Arizona

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Caleb Love is now headed to Arizona.

The North Carolina transfer tweeted, less than a month after decommitting from Michigan, that he will play next season with the Wildcats.

“Caleb is a tremendously talented guard who has significant experience playing college basketball at a high level,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said in a statement. “We look forward to helping Caleb grow his game at Arizona. And as we near the completion of the roster for the upcoming season, we feel great about how everything has come together. Now it’s time for the real work to start.”

A 6-foot-4 guard, Love averaged 14.6 points and 3.3 assists in three seasons at North Carolina. He averaged 17.6 points in seven NCAA Tournament games, helping lead the Tar Heels to the 2022 national championship game.

Love entered the transfer portal after leading North Carolina with 73 3-pointers as a junior and initially committed to Michigan. He decommitted from the Wolverines earlier this month, reportedly due to an admissions issue involving academic credits.

Love narrowed his transfer targets to three schools before choosing to play at Arizona over Gonzaga and Texas.

Love will likely start on a team that will have dynamic perimeter players, including Pelle Larsson, Kylan Boswell and Alabama transfer Jaden Bradley.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.