Thursday’s Shootaround: SDSU takes control of the MWC

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No. 16 San Diego State 75, New Mexico 70: The Aztecs have done some impressive things this season — there is a reason that they are ranked in the top 20 right now — but going into The Pit and getting a win is unquestionably the most impressive thing they’ve done this year. And its more than just the win, its how they did it. Down 48-44 midway through the second half, SDSU used a 15-0 run to open up an 11 point lead that New Mexico was never able to overcome. Throw in the fact that the Aztecs dug themselves a 10-0 hole and were playing in one of the toughest environments in the country, and you should understand why Steve Fisher’s club was so impressive.

What makes this win all the more important is that SDSU now as a one game lead on both UNLV, who they knocked off on Saturday, and UNM. Those two teams face off this Saturday, meaning that as long as SDSU can handle Air Force, they’ll be heading into next week with a two game lead on one of the other two challengers in the conference. Xavier Thames, who had been out with a knee injury, finally looked healthy on Wednesday night, going for 22 points and four assists. Jamaal Franklin and Chase Tapley added 12 each.

At this point in the season, Steve Fisher has to be considered a strong favorite to win Coach of the Year. Think about this: his team lost four starters, including their entire front line that counted a lottery pick as a member, and were all but written off this season. But instead of rolling over and dying, Fisher has coached this team into a well-deserved top 20 ranking. Based on who else has lost already this week, its pretty safe to say that SDSU will slide up into the top 15 come Monday.

Fisher has built that into a hell of a program. Its a shame that they are heading to the Big West.

New Mexico didn’t play terribly on Wednesday, but they were horrible for a five minute stretch during the second half when SDSU went on their run. Drew Gordon had 15 points, eight boards and five assists and Phillip McDonald went for 20 points off the bench, which more than made up for the no-show Tony Snell posted.

Cincinnati 70, No. 11 UConn 67: This game had a thrilling finish. After UConn erased a seven point lead in the final minute, capped by Shabazz Napier burying a tough and contested three, Sean Kilpatrick came down at the other end of the floor and drilled a deep three with two hands in his face with 2.5 seconds left on the clock. On the ensuing in bounds, Neils Giffey had a 3/4 court shot bounced off the back board and the rim.

The win was a big one for the Bearcats. Its the seventh straight they have won on the road in league play, dating back to last season, and the second straight they’ve won on the road vs. a ranked team this year (they knocked off Georgetown in DC 10 days ago). Its hard not to consider Cincinnati the second best team in the Big East right now, particularly with Ryan Boatright out.

UConn has a lot of work left to do. Andre Drummond took a step back against the Bearcats, as did Alex Oriakhi. They combined for six points and 12 boards on 3-16 shooting. Jeremy Lamb was not aggressive enough and while Napier played great — especially leading UConn’s comeback — he’s not ideal as a leader and a point guard.

Nebraska 70, No. 13 Indiana 69: The Hoosiers were up by as much as 13 in the second half of this game and blew the lead, losing their third consecutive game. Indiana has their issues as a team, but I did not think that this group was going to fall off a cliff the way that they have.

Simply put, winning is a skill. Knowing how to play as the favorite, as the team with a target on your back, is a tough thing to do. Indiana has never had to do that before. These guys were 2-29 under Tom Crean on the road. They’ve been stuck at the bottom of the Big Ten standings for the entirety of their careers. This group certainly has the ability to compete with the best in the conference, they have to learn how to approach those games mentally. Myron Medcalf did a really good job breaking this down for

Missouri Valley:

No. 18 Creighton 66, Missouri State 65: Doug McDermott was slowed as Missouri State send two and three defenders at him on every touch, but Gregory Echinique stepped up, finishing with 16 points and seven boards as the Bluejays managed to hold off the Bears to move to 7-1 in league play. A back and forth game, MSU’s Kyle Weems missed a tough jumper with six seconds left, and after McDermott missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Anthony Downing missed a 15 foot pull-up from the foul line. It was a good look, it just didn’t go down. Its the Bear’s third straight loss in league play.

Wichita State 71, Northern Iowa 68: Toure Murry had 24 points, including a layup with 1:21 left in the game to give the Shockers the lead and a jumper with 12 seconds left to push that lead to three. Marc Sonnen missed a three at the buzzer that would have forced overtime. WSU is now tied with Creighton at 7-1 in the league. Drake is the only other team with less than four losses. Unless something drastic changes over the next month and a half, the MVC looks like its going to be a two-bid league.

Atlantic 10:

Xavier 68, St. Joe’s 55: Playing without Carl Jones, St. Joe’s simply had no answer for Xavier’s back court. Mark Lyons went for 17 points and Tu Holloway added 12 assists as the Musketeers improved to 4-1 in league play. They haven’t lost an Atlantic 10 game in the Cintas Center since 2006.

Temple 76, La Salle 70: Rahlir Hollis-Jefferon led the Owls with 19 points and Ramone Moore had 17 points to pace Temple, as they knocked off their Philly rivals and improved to 2-2 in the league. The owls led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but La Salle was able to get that lead down to one point on four different occassions. The Explorers, who have gotten off to a terrific start to the season, dropped to 2-2 in the league as well.

Duquesne 80, UMass 69: BJ Monteiro had 23 points, Sean Johnson went for 20 and 10 boards and TJ McConnell added 15 points and six assists as the Dukes knocked off UMass on the strength of forcing 29 turnovers. Both teams are now 3-2 in the league and sitting a game behind Xavier in the standings.

Ole Miss 75, No. 15 Mississippi State 68: Reginald Buckner went for 19 points, 15 boards and three blocks, out playing Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie to lead the Rebels to their first win over their in-state rivals in six tries. Ole Miss had control for all of the second half, as they never trailed and only allowed the Bulldogs to get within three once, a 63-60 with about two minutes left.

South Florida 64, St. John’s 49: Its time that we start taking USF seriously. After this win, the Bulls are now 4-2 in Big East play, the four wins being the most that they have ever won in the Big East. Victor Rudd led the way with 24 points, including one of the nastiest dunks you are going to see this season.

Villanova 84, Seton Hall 76: So much for the Pirates being a contender. They’ve now lost back-to-back games after getting put into the top 25 last week. I know the name on the jersey might allow you to justify the loss, but the Wildcats are not the same team that we expect them to be. Maalik Wayns has been outstanding the last two games, finishing with 39 points, 13 boards and six assists in a loss at Cincinnati and 25 points and seven assists last night.

West Virginia 78, Marshall 62: Kevin Jones scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half as the Mountaineers pulled away from a scrappy Marshall team in the second half. The Thundering Herd were giving WVU everything they could handle in the first half, but the ‘Eers looked outstanding in the final 20 minutes. Truck Bryant added 22 points.

Central Florida 68, Memphis 67: Joe Jackson his a three with 42 seconds left to give Memphis a 67-65 lead, but they couldn’t hold on to it as Keith Clanton scored on an and-one, hitting the free throw, with four seconds left for the win. Clanton had 23 points and Marcus Jordan added 20.

Kansas State 84, Texas 80: If Anthony Marshall isn’t the hottest player in the country, than Rodney McGruder is. The junior guard with for 33 points to carry K-State to a four point win on Wednesday night and is now averaging 22.7 ppg in the last seven games. Both teams are sitting at 2-3 in league play.

Iowa State 71, Oklahoma State 68: This happened:


The rest of the top 25:

No. 10 Murray State 66, Morehead State 60: The Racers knocked off their heated rivals despite trailing for much of the game, moving to 19-0 on the season. Isaiah Canaan finished with 20 points, including the go-ahead three with 3:57 left.

No. 20 UNLV 101, TCU 78: The Rebels have really shown the ability to get out and score some points this season. Mike Moser had 16 points and 15 boards for UNLV, but it was Anthony Marshall’s 27 points, nine assists, five boards, three blocks and two steals that really set the tone. The 27 points are a career-high, besting the 26 he scored on Saturday against SDSU. There are not many guards in the country playing as well as he is right now.

Other notable scores:

– Wisconsin 77, Northwestern 57
– Northeastern 60, Georgia State 57
– Ohio 87, Kent State 65
– Buffalo 82, Akron 70
– Miami 76, Clemson 73
– Bucknell 4-0, Lehigh 2-2
– Georgia 57, Tennessee 53 OT
– Wyoming 64, Air Force 53

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

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.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”