Thursday’s Shootaround: No. 2 goes down, UNLV survives


Oklahoma State 79, No. 2 Missouri 72: In the most surprising result of the night, Missouri went into Gallagher-Iba Arena and got dropped by the struggling Pokes, who were able to fight back from a deficit midway through the second half despite having starter Markel Brown tossed for his celebration of two thunderous dunks.

Missouri didn’t play their best game, and that is far from a secret. Outside of Ricardo Ratliffe, who had 25 points and 12 boards on 10-17 shooting, the Tigers shot 33.3% from the floor. They were just 4-19 from three. The biggest culprit was Marcus Denmon, Missouri’s all-american guard, who was just 4-16 from the floor. Perhaps the biggest issue that the Tigers had was that they weren’t getting any shots created off of the penetration of their guards. When the Tigers have just eight assists as a team and aren’t hitting (or are settling for) threes, they are susceptible.

But in the same vein, the credit for this win has to go to Oklahoma State, a team that has struggled this season despite fairly high expectations coming into the year. For the first time all season long, we got a taste of why LeBryan Nash was such a highly regarded recruit. An immense talent, Nash has had issues with consistency, not only in his performance but in his effort level as well. He told’s Jason King that “I’ve needed to be more consistent as far as playing hard.” After scoring a total of just 10 points in losses to Baylor and Kansas State, Nash exploded for 27 points against the Tigers. He had 13 in a 17-4 run that changed the game in the second half, hitting three threes in the run.

Oklahoma State may have already cost themselves a chance at earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, but with how weak the field is around the bubble, all it would take is getting hot at the right time — like, for example, right now — for them to be able to make a run and get into contention. Playing in the Big 12, they will have the opportunities to get the wins. If they — and is Nash — decide to show up for those games, we now know what this team is capable of doing on the right day.

No. 12 UNLV 77, Boise State 72 OT: The Rebels got a bit lucky here. They shot a season-low 34.2% from the field and fired up a season-high 34 threes, which is a bad thing to do when you aren’t hitting them. Throw in the fact that a young-but-talented Boise State team was gaining confidence, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Broncos were able to erase an early 12 point deficit. Mike Moser led the way with 18 points and 21 boards.

This win should be a good sign for UNLV fans. The Rebels didn’t play their best game by any stretch and were on the road against a team playing well. They blew a lead, but were able to hold it together enough to force overtime. In the extra frame, Oscar Bellfield stepped up and hit a big three with two minutes remaining to put them up five.

St. John’s 78, West Virginia 62: For the first time since 1927, St. John’s started five freshmen. Maybe they should keep doing it. Despite 26 points and 15 boards from Kevin Jones, the Johnnies were able to hold on after jumping out to a 21-6 lead. Moe Harkless led the way with 23 points and 13 boards. I guess no one wants to hold the title of the second best team in the Big East. UConn lost to Cincinnati, who lost to West Virginia. Does that title fall on Georgetown now?

This loss is also notable because WVU is far from a guarantee to make the NCAA Tournament. If the Mountaineers can’t put it all together for the rest of the season, this loss may end up being noteworthy in six weeks.

Notre Dame 55, Seton Hall 42: The Irish successfully took any and all flow out of the game, getting 13 points and 11 boards from the suddenly-dominant Jack Cooley and 29 points combined from Eric Atkins and Jerian Grant. Don’t look now, but the Abro-less Irish are now sitting at 5-3 in league play. Seton Hall has now lost three straight games to teams that shouldn’t finish in the top half of the league. Is our love affair with the Pirates officially over now?

No. 6 Duke 74, Maryland 61: Mason Plumlee went for 23 points, 12 boards and four assists — and, more importantly, hit all five of his free throws — as the Blue Devils took Maryland’s best punch on the night that the court at the Comcast Center was named after Gary Williams and hung on to win. Plumlee sparked a second half surge after Maryland was able to stay within three at the half.

South Carolina 76, Alabama 74: Bruce Ellington scored on a driving bucket with 1.4 seconds left as the Gamecocks notched their first win in the SEC this season. The bigger concern, however, is Alabama, who is putting themselves in another hole when it comes to bubble contention. They are now 2-4 in the SEC, having lost four straight, and 13-7 overall. Its a good thing they had a good start in non-conference play.

BYU 70, Virginia Tech 68: In a late non-conference game that may end up having some bubble implications, the Cougars were able to go into Blackburg and knock off the Hokies behind 22 points from Noah Hartsock. Brandon Davies added 17, but it was Brock Zylstra’s three with 26 seconds left that broke open a 66-all game.

Atlantic 10: The A-10 is a mess right now. As of Thursday morning, there are five teams tied for first at 4-2 with six more teams sitting within a game of first place. Wednesday night’s games only served to muddle the conference standings even more:

St. Louis 73, Xavier 68: Brian Conklin scored 10 of his 19 points in a decisive 12-3 run that broke a second half tie as the Billikens ended Xavier’s 43 game home court winning streak. Mark Lyons came off the bench in this one, scoring 24 points while Tu Holloway went for 22. The problem was that Xavier’s front line, which cannot seem to figure out a way to consistently dominate despite their size, struggled again.

Here’s the question I have for you: is Xavier a team that has fallen on hard times, or are they a group that we overrated early in the season. The Muskies struggled with some inferior opponents early in the season, and if it wasn’t for the two comebacks that were capped by a flurry of Holloway threes early in the year, I don’t think we ever would have had this team anywhere near the top ten. Could it just be that this is, in fact, the real Xavier team?

St. Joe’s 77, Dayton 63: Ronald Roberts came off the bench to lead four scorers in double figures with 27 points as the Hawks ran through the Flyers, who came into this game leading the conference. St. Joe’s is one of the six teams sitting a game out of first place.

La Salle 78, George Washington 63: Ramon Galloway scored 21 of his career-high 28 points to lead a hot-shooting explorer team over the Colonials. Galloway was 11-12 from the floor and 6-7 from three while La Salle, as a team, shot 21-29 from the floor en route to 51 first half points. La Salle is tied for first in the league.

St. Bonaventure 72, Rhode Island 66 OT: The Bonnies overcame a slow start, using a 19-6 run to open the second half to take a three point lead, but couldn’t pull away. It may have been ugly, but a win is a win, and this win puts them in a tie for first.

– Richmond 102, Fordham 58
– Temple 79, Charlotte 57

Conference USA: If you’ve been paying attention, than you know that the Conference USA race is going to be one of the most intriguing to follow this season, and Wednesday night didn’t disappoint.

UAB 56, Marshall 49: Most of the pundits agree that the winner of CUSA is going to be the team in the top four (Marshall, Memphis, UCF and Southern Miss) that does the best in their home-and-home round robin and avoids having bad losses. This qualifies as a very bad loss for Marshall. Forget, for a second, the fact that this game was played in Huntington, UAB is just 7-12 on the season. They are a young team that is getting better — their six CUSA games have now been decided by a total of 24 points — but this is still a team that Marshall has to be able to handle at home. They had no answer inside for Cameron Moore, who went for 21 points, and shot just 35.2% from the field.

Tulsa 66, UCF 61: I said it last week — with their weaker CUSA schedule (their football team is in the west division, which means they only have to play the top four teams once instead of twice), Tulsa has a chance to sneak up on some people if they can steal a couple of wins. They did exactly that tonight, as Scottie Haralson led the way with 18 points. Marcus Jordan, who struggled in this one, got called for a charge and picked up a technical in the final seconds. That tech was followed up by a technical on Keith Clanton.

Memphis 73, Rice 51: The result isn’t what is notable here. What happened late in the second half is. After Tamir Jackson put a hard foul on Joe Jackson, the two went nose-to-nose and a brawl nearly erupted. During the confusion, both Will Barton and Tarik Black jumped off of the Memphis bench. That’s not allowed, and they were both ejected from the game. Its unclear whether or not they will be suspended for a game, but if they are, that will be a huge hit for the Tigers, who get Marshall next.

Southern Miss 72, East Carolina 60: With the win, USM is now tied with Memphis at 5-1 in the league, with UCF and Tulsa sitting at 5-2 and Marshall at 4-2.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 3 Ohio State 78, Penn State 54: Jared Sullinger went for 20 points and 13 boards as the Buckeyes knocked off the Nittany Lions handily at home.

No. 11 Michigan State 78, Minnesota 62: Draymond Green had 22 points, 14 boards and six assists as the Spartans ended the Gophers three-game winning streak and gave Tom Izzo his 400th win as a head coach.

No. 14 Creighton 77, Drake 69: Doug McDermott overcame the constant double teams to score 30 points and grab nine boards as the Bluejays kept pace with Wichita State at the top of the Missouri Valley standings.

No. 16 Mississippi State 76, LSU 71: Arnett Moultrie had 28 points and 12 boards as he continued his push for SEC player of the year, scoring 19 in the second half to carry the Bulldogs. Dee Bost, who did had 10 assists, and Renardo Sidney both struggled for Rick Stansbury’s team, which begs the question: how good can this team be when they put it all together, and is that ever going to happen?

No. 24 Kansas State 69, Texas Tech 47: Martavious Irving and Rodney McGruder combined to go for 29 points as the Wildcats pushed their winning streak to three games in league play. This group looks like the third best team in the Big 12, a title that no one seems to be able to hold onto for very long.

No. 25 Louisville 84, Villanova 74: On Saturday, it was Kyle Kuric and Chane Behanan breaking out offensively. On Wednesday, it was Peyton Siva, who had 16 points and made a number of key plays down the stretch as Louisville held on to beat Villanova. Gorgui Dieng added 12 points and 13 boards. Louisville may not be as good as their ranking indicated early in the season, but they also aren’t as bad as they have been playing. Have these last two games been the sign that they are breaking out of their slump.

Other notable scores:

– VCU 67, Towson 42
– ODU 53, UNCW 48
– George Mason 55, Hofstra 50
– Drexel 68, Georgia State 46
– Pitt 86, Providence 74
– Florida State 75, Wake Forest 52
– Ohio 56, Western Michigan 51
– Bucknell 67, American 61
– Illinois State 76, Missouri State 69 OT
– Arkansas 56, Auburn 53
– New Mexico 85, Colorado State 52

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

UConn adds former Rutgers guard Cam Spencer from transfer portal

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STORRS, Conn. — National champion UConn added some shooting depth to its roster Friday, announcing the signing of former Rutgers guard Cam Spencer from the transfer portal.

Spencer, who graduated last month with a year of eligibility remaining, averaged 13.2 points in his only season in New Jersey. The 6-foot-4 guard, who played his first three seasons at Loyola of Maryland, shot 44.4% from the floor, including 43.4% from 3-point range.

“Cam is the perfect addition to our basketball program,” UConn Coach Dan Hurley said. “He brings a unique combination of high-level skill and feel for the game, with a fierce competitiveness that has allowed him to enjoy a terrific college basketball career thus far.”

The Huskies lost their top 3-point scoring threat, sophomore Jordan Hawkins, to the NBA draft, along with wing Andre Jackson Jr. and post Adama Sanogo.

Guard Tristen Newtown gave the Huskies a boost last month when he withdrew his name from the draft pool and returned to Storrs.

The Huskies began summer workouts this week, welcoming a top recruiting class led by 6-6 point guard Stephon Castle, a McDonald’s All-American from Georgia. The class also includes 6-7 wing Jayden Ross and 6-4 guard Solomon Ball from Virginia, 6-7 wing Jaylin Stewart from Seattle, Washington, and 7-foot center Youssouf Singare from New York.

“I think that some of my strengths will stand out in UConn’s style of play,” Spencer said. “They have a lot of great movement and they play so well together, with great chemistry. I think that I can come in and hopefully contribute to that.”

NCAA tweaks rules on block/charge calls in men’s basketball

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INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA is tweaking how block/charge calls are made in men’s basketball.

The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved rule changes on Thursday that require a defender to be in position to draw a charge at the time the offensive player plants a foot to go airborne for a shot. If the defender arrives after the player has planted a foot, officials have been instructed to call a block when there’s contact.

Defenders had to be in position to draw a charge before the offensive player went airborne under previous rules.

NCAA Men’s Basketball Rules Committee members made the proposal after NCAA members complained that too many charges were being called on those types of plays.

The panel also approved reviews of basket interference calls during the next media timeout – if the official called it on the floor – a shot clock reset to 20 seconds on an offensive rebound that hits the rim, and players being allowed to wear any number between 0 and 99.

A timeout also will be granted to an airborne player with possession of the ball, and non-student bench personnel will be allowed to serve as peacekeepers on the floor if an altercation occurs.

Charlotte head coach Ron Sanchez resigns after winning CBI title

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Ron Sanchez resigned as head coach of the Charlotte 49ers.

Sanchez took over the 49ers on March 19, 2018, inheriting a team coming off a 6-23 campaign. In five years Charlotte went 72-78 under Sanchez, highlighted by winning the College Basketball Invitational championship this past season, the Niners’ first post-season tournament title in school history.

The 22 wins this past season are the most for Charlotte since 2001.

“Ron took over a proud but struggling program and carefully rebuilt it into a 22-game winner. He has led with class, dignity and devotion to our young men,” Charlotte director of athletics Mike Hill said. “His decision to step down from Charlotte was a difficult one for him and everyone associated with our program. We wish him and his family every happiness.”

Hill said the team has already begun a national search for a replacement.

“This is a bittersweet day for me and my family as I step down to pursue other opportunities,” said Sanchez, who came the 49ers after working as an assistant coach at Virginia under Tony Bennett. “It has been a tremendous privilege to lead the 49ers basketball program over the past five years and I want to thank Niner Nation for its support. I will be forever grateful to my staff, players and the university.”

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.