Late Night Snacks: Christian Laettner rematch edition

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Game of Tomorrow

Duke vs. Louisville – Starting off the snack a little differently tonight. Saturday night’s Battle 4 Atlantis championship game will be between No. 5 Duke and No. 2 Louisville. If a top-5 game isn’t enough to make you feel better about all the food you ate, or the self-shame you imposed on yourself during Black Friday, then add this to the mix. This will be the first time Mike Krzyzewski and Rick Pitino will coach against each other since the 1992 East regional final when Christian Laettner made himself the most hated man in the state of Kentucky for eternity.

Game of the Night

1. N.C. State survives UNC-Asheville – The Wolfpack trailed the majority of the game, until Richard Howell, who had 23 points gave N.C. State the lead for good with just over three minutes to go. N.C. State is coming off a big loss to Oklahoma State and now have to regroup to play Michigan next week as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

2. Duke 67, VCU 58 – Although Duke didn’t surrender the lead at all in the second half and VCU did everything they could to not take advantage of opportunities  this game was very exciting. The energy the Rams bring every night is worth watching. Despite trailing by a  consistent six-eight points throughout the second half, VCU had a chance to string a run together at any moment, just couldn’t put it all together for one sequence

3. Fairleigh Dickinson 63, Delaware State 62 – Kinu Rotchford hit a layup with one second left to give Fairleigh Dickinson its first win of the season over Delaware State as part of the South Padre Island Invitational. Rotchford had 19 points an 14 rebounds.

Important Outcomes

1. Minnesota over Memphis – The Gophers got an early-season win over a ranked opponent. Solid way to regroup after a tough 89-71 loss to Duke the previous day.

2. Pacific beats St. Mary’s – Pacific took down the Gaels 76-66 and showed how to frustrate Matthew Dellavedova. The Tigers threw hedges and double-teams at him in pick-and-roll situations and kept him working for all of the 16 points he got, which is half of what he had the previous day against Drexel. Interesting to see how St. Mary’s handles the first loss and how Dellavedova will respond against Cal Poly Dec. 1

3. Oregon upsets UNLV – Oregon came out with a hard-fought victory, hanging on to a narrow lead late in the game.Oregon’s Damyean Dotson had 19 points and sank two free throws to ice the win. The Ducks survived a good performance from UNLV freshman Anthony Bennett with 22 points and 10 rebounds and four 3-pointers from fellow freshman, Katin Reinhardt.

Starred

1. Andre Hollins, Minnesota – Hollins made Memphis’ trip to the Bahamas go from bad to worse. After throwing the ball away 22 times against VCU on Thursday, Hollins dropped 41 points on the No. 19 Tigers. And he didn’t need 108 shots to get that point total. Hollins was an amazing, 12-of-16 from the field, including hitting all five 3-pointers. He also connected on 12-of-13 free throws.

2. Tim Hardaway Jr., Michigan – Hardaway was named most outstanding player at the NIT Season Tip-Off, leading Michigan to a 71-57 win over Kansas State. Hardaway showed great confidence and growth in his game, not forcing anything offensively and being active in other areas such as rebounding.

3a. Sean Kilpatrick, Cincinnati – Kilpatrick had half of his 32 points come from the line, which he was perfect from. The Cincy junior put the Bearcats in the Global Sports Classic final after a 78-70 win over Iowa State.

3b. Doug McDermott, Creighton – McDermott is one of several mid-major stars this year. If he wants national player of the year consideration he needed a big performance against a good team, which he got Friday night in 84-74 win over Wisconsin. The Creighton start dropped 30 points and eight rebounds on the Badgers.

3c. Quinn Cook and Mason Plumlee, Duke – Plumlee had 17 points and 10 rebounds in a win over VCU to advance to the Battle 4 Atlantis final. Quinn Cook controlled the ball with only three turnovers to nine assists against the “havoc” Rams pressure defense.

Struggled

1. Memphis – Forgettable Thanksgiving week for the Tigers, following a pair of losses at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Over 20 turnovers in a loss to VCU, followed by Andre Hollins dropping 41 on them the following day.

2. VCU free throws – The Rams had a chance to climb into a tie with Duke during the second half, trailing 56-50. VCU went to the line and missed six straight, after converting on the first 10-of-11 shots they took from the charity stripe. The free throw woes and missed opportunities kept Shaka Smart’s club from a potential key early-season victory.

3. Vanderbilt – West Virginia took its frustration out on Marist Thursday, beating the Red Foxes 87-44. Marist returned the favor to Vanderbilt, taking down the SEC-opponent 50-33. Marist only shot 37 percent and that was still 14 percent better than Vanderbilt. Commodores are 1-3.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.

Bruce Pearl: ‘Good chance’ Auburn returns four players testing the waters

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Bruce Pearl told reporters on Monday that there is a “good chance” that his Auburn program will return all four of the players that are currently testing the waters of the NBA draft.

“I think there’s a good chance they’re all going to consider coming back,” Pearl said. “There’s a chance they’re all going to come back, but that’s been the case since the beginning.”

“I just feel as we get closer to the deadline and they gather more and more information, I think that chance improves. It would not surprise me, still, to see a couple of them stay in.”

Those four players are Mustapha Heron, Austin Wiley, Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Brown was the leading scorer for the Tigers last season, while Heron was arguably their best player and Harper a steady floor general that is the piece that holds everything together. Wiley did not play after he was ruled ineligible as a result of the FBI’s investigation into college basketball. If he returns he will be eligible to play the 2018-19 season.

Heron will be the most interesting decision of the four. A former McDonald’s All-American, when he declared for the draft last month, he announced that he intended to sign with an agent. But he has told reporters in the last week that he never actually signed and is still “50-50” on whether or not he will return. He was not invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. Wiley was, but he did not make enough of an impression to earn himself a first round guarantee. Brown and Harper are very unlikely to be drafted, but both juniors will get feedback from NBA teams on what they might need to do to play their way into the league.

Auburn is coming off of a year where they shared the SEC regular season title with Tennessee, but they struggled down the stretch of the season after Anfernee McLemore suffered a gruesome ankle injury. As it stands, under the assumption that Heron and Wiley are gone, we currently have the Tigers ranked as a top 15 team in the country in the NBC Sports Preseason Top 25.

With Heron and Wiley back, however, Auburn will have the pieces to make a case as one of college basketball’s five best teams next season.

Forward Lance Thomas transferring from Louisville

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With Anas Mahmoud out of eligibility and Ray Spalding having made the decision to enter the 2018 NBA Draft, new Louisville head coach Chris Mack had some holes to fill in the front court ahead of his first season at the helm. There’s now another departure to account for, as it was announced Tuesday afternoon that 6-foot-8 forward Lance Thomas has decided to transfer.

Thomas, who will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at his next school, appeared in 12 games for the Cardinals last season and averaged 2.2 points and 1.3 rebounds in 4.2 minutes per game.

Losing Thomas may not appear to be a big deal based upon his production as a freshman. But, given the combination of player departures and misses on the recruiting trail this spring it can also be argued that Louisville is not in a position where it can afford any more personnel losses.

Louisville is now down to four scholarship players in the front court, wings V.J. King and Jordan Nwora and forwards Malik Williams and Steven Enoch, with Enoch eligible after sitting out last season after transferring in from UConn.

Williams made 12 starts as a freshman, averaging 3.8 points and 2.4 rebounds in 10.6 minutes per game, with King averaging 8.6 points per game and Nwora 5.7 points per game. Enoch played in 29 games at UConn during the 2016-17 season, averaging 3.4 points and 2.3 rebounds in 12.1 minutes per appearance.

Four-star wing Romeo Weems commits to DePaul

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DePaul landed its first verbal commitment in the Class of 2019 Tuesday afternoon, as four-star small forward Romeo Weems announced that he will be a Blue Demon. Weems, who attends New Haven HS in New Haven, Michigan, picked DePaul over Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State and Oregon and is considered by most major scouting services to be a Top 50 prospect in the 2019 graduating class.

The 6-foot-6 Weems plays his grassroots basketball for The Family on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 15.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game this spring. Weems also has experience playing for USA Basketball, as he was part of the Under-16 team that won the FIBA Americas U16 title last year. Weems will also be part of the training camp from which the Under-17 team will be selected next month in preparation for this summer’s FIBA Under-17 World Championships.

DePaul managing to land a commitment from a prospect of Weems’ caliber, a versatile wing who can defend multiple positions while also being productive offensively, could be the shot in the arm that Dave Leitao’s program so desperately needs if they’re to improve their standing within the Big East.

Since making the move from Conference USA in 2005, DePaul has finished above .500 in a season just once (20-14 in 2006-07) with that also being the only time in which the Blue Demons finished above .500 in Big East play (9-7). Since Leitao, who led DePaul to its most recent NCAA tournament in 2005, returned for his second stint at the school the Blue Demons have gone 29-65.

Getting out of Allstate Arena and moving to the new Wintrust Arena ahead of last season was an important move for the DePaul program, but it’s been clear that the rebuild won’t be a “quick fix.” Bringing in a talent of Weems’ caliber should help DePaul moving forward, with the key now being to recruit well enough to ensure that the talented wing has ample help when he arrives on campus next year.

Among the players currently on the roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019 are guards Devin Gage and Justin Roberts and wing Darious Hall, who will sit out the 2018-19 season after transferring to DePaul from Arkansas. Hall appeared in 35 games for the Razorbacks this past season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.1 rebounds in just under 15 minutes per game.