Late Night Snacks: Gonzaga and Washington State’s thrilling finish

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Games of the Night

No. 10 Gonzaga 71, Washington State 69: The Zags and Wazzu played one of the best early season basketball games you’re going to see. Gonzaga erased a four-point halftime deficit on the strength of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, going up by 11 points late in the second half. But Brock Motum and Devante Lacy got hot from the perimeter, eventually taking advantage of a couple of missed free throws by the Bulldogs in order to tie the game with 7.8 seconds left. Lacy went coast-to-coast, breaking Gary Bell’s ankle with a crossover in the process. But Kevin Pangos didn’t hesitate, taking the in-bounds and answering with a coast-to-coast drive of his own.

Olynyk and Harris combined for 45 points on 20-31 shooting from the floor. Lacy and Motum also combined for 45 points, hitting nine threes in total.

Charlotte 73, Davidson 69: The 49ers looked like they may be for real. Thanks to Pierria Henry’s baseline jumper with 27.5 seconds left in the game, Charlotte took a 71-69 lead and hung on to win after De’Mon Brooks drove into three defenders and missed a layup. Chris Braswell led the way for Charlotte, finishing with 15 points. This is a group that was overlooked heading into the season, but if they keep winning, Atlantic 10 foes are going to have to start taking them seriously.

St. Louis 67, North Texas 63: Jordair Jett and Cody Ellis finished with 17 points apiece as the Billikens won their second straight game since the passing of former head coach Rick Majerus. It’s the first time this season that they have won back-to-back games. Jett broke a 61-all tie with 35 seconds left, and Ellis hit four free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Chris Jones had 21 points, seven assists and seven boards to lead the way for the Mean Green, who dropped to 3-6 on the season. Tony Mitchell had 18 points and eight boards.

Important Outcomes

Colorado 70, Colorado State 61: Colorado jumped out to a 42-17 lead late in the first half, and while the Rams were able to cut the lead to three points with about five minutes left, the comeback proved to take too much out of them; Colorado responded with a run of their own and finished off the win. This was a performance that Tad Boyle’s team needed. They struggled to hold off Texas Southern and lost at Wyoming last week after breaking into the top 25, looking like they bought into their own hype.

The Rams will be just fine. They ran into a buzzsaw tonight in a rowdy environment. It happens. The concern, however, is that Colorado State’s issue last season, especially in league play, was their performance on the road.

No. 18 New Mexico 75, USC 67: New Mexico closed out the first half with a 22-4 run, taking control as Hugh Greenwood caught fire from beyond the arc. He hit five threes and finished with 17 points, while Alex Kirk went for 13 points and 13 boards and Kendell Williams chipped in with 13 points and nine assists.

Starred

Geron Johnson, Memphis: Johnson went for a team-high 21 points, shooting 8-11 from the floor, as the Tigers ran over a good Ohio team, 84-58. Johnson looked like the most talented perimeter scorer Josh Pastner has at his disposal.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado: 29 points on just 8-10 shooting. A big win over a big rival. Nights don’t get much better than that.

Kevin Willard, Dayton: The Flyers went into Tuscaloosa and beatdown Alabama, 81-76. Dillard was the star of the show, finishing with 25 points and six assists.

Tyreek Duren, La Salle: Duren went for 29 points as La Salle blew out Penn State at home.

Struggled

Florida State: The Seminoles lost their third straight game on Wednesday, losing by 25 at home to No. 6 Florida. FSU was down 50-19 at one point. They shot 34.6% from the floor. They turned the ball over 22 times.

Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: For the second straight game, Tennessee failed to crack the 40 point mark. On Wednesday night, Stokes finished with five points on 2-5 shooting. That’s not going to cut it.

Villanova: The Wildcats lost by 15 at home to Big 5 rival Temple, their fourth loss in the last five games. They turned the ball over 20 times in the loss.

The Rest of the Top 25

  • No. 19 Michigan State 76, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 44
  • No. 23 Oklahoma State 61, South Florida 49

Notable Scores

  • West Virginia 69, Marshall 59
  • Niagara 62, Loyola 61
  • Northern Iowa 76, Northern Colorado 59
  • St. Mary’s 88, Drake 73
  • Utah 76, Boise State 55

Three Facts

– Loyola Marymount won his 300th game tonight, beating Northern Arizona in overtime. Anthony Ireland had 28 points in the win.

– Maryland beat UMES 100-68, the first time that a Mark Turgeon team has reached triple digits since he lost to Baylor 116-110 in five overtimes at Texas A&M.

– Tennessee has lost three games this season. They have scored a total of 119 points in those three games. That’s a total of 39.7 points.

And one fight

That wasn’t even a real fight.

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

Osun Osunniyi picks St. Bonaventure over Syracuse, Georgetown

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St. Bonaventure has made something of a late splash on the recruiting trail.

Osun Osunniyi, a 6-foot-10 from Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, signed with the Bonnies, the school announced Monday.

It’s a bit of a recruiting coup for coach Mark Schmidt, who won the services of Osunniyi over offers from Syracuse and Georgetown, both of whom hosted the prospect on official visits this spring.

“Osun oozes with potential. His ceiling is extremely high. He has so much God-given ability,” Schmidt said in a statement. “And, he’s a great kid, a character kid who is level-headed. He has a great wingspan, he runs well, he has a natural talent for blocking shots and is a very good rebounder. He can score around the basket.

“Osun wants to get better, like all of our players. We saw how he developed at Putnam, which is a credit to coach Espinosa and the staff there. He’s come a long way to become a kid who was highly recruited. We’re thrilled to have him come to St. Bonaventure.”

Osunniyi, who previously committed to La Salle before taking a prep year, becomes the fourth member of the Bonnies’ 2018 freshman class. He averaged 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots per game while Putnam won a national prep championship.

The Bonnies made the NCAA tournament as an 11 seed last year after going 26-8.

Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.