Late Night Snacks: Oregon holds off Arizona State in battle of Pac-12 undefeateds

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Game of the Day: Oregon 68, Arizona State 65 

When the season began who expected tonight’s meeting between the Ducks and Sun Devils to be a matchup of teams still undefeated in conference play? Not sure if even the most passionate of fans of the two teams would have envisioned such a scenario but that’s exactly what happened in Eugene. Once again Dana Altman’s team relied on its offensive balance as they completed a 2-0 weekend against the Arizona schools, with four starters reaching double figures.

Carlos Emory, Damyean Dotson and Tony Woods scored 14 points apiece and Dominic Artis added ten for Oregon who is now 3-0 in Pac-12 play. Jahii Carson led all scorers with 20 points (seven rebounds and four assists as well) but a Carrick Felix shot as time expired fell left on the basket as ASU dropped to 3-1 in the conference. If there’s one statistic that stuck out in Oregon’s victory it’s the fact that they outscored Arizona State by nine at the foul line. The Ducks shot 14-of-15 from the charity stripe while Arizona State made just five of their eight attempts.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 15 Ohio State 56, No. 2 Michigan 53

Thanks to the Buckeyes there are no more undefeated teams in college basketball. Deshaun Thomas was the lone Buckeye to reach double figures as he led all scorers with 20 points, but Ohio State’s defense (Michigan did help them out by settling for three-pointers down the stretch instead of attacking the basket on occasion) helped make up for a cold second half from the field. Trey Burke (15 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (12) led the way for the Wolverines but shot a combined 9-of-28 from the field in doing so. The question now: who should be number one in the polls come Monday?

2.  Evansville 71, No. 23 Wichita State 67 

The Shockers were far too generous with the basketball on Sunday afternoon and the Purple Aces made sure to take advantage, scoring 27 points off of 22 Wichita State turnovers. Malcolm Armstead scored 21 points and Cleanthony Early added 16 to lead Wichita State, who shot 54.3% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc while also out-rebounding Evansville 33-19. But those turnovers and the 24 points and eight assists tallied by Evansville guard Colt Ryan proved to be too much to overcome.

3. No. 22 Michigan State 66, Nebraska 56 

Essentially there were two victories in this one for the Spartans: the game itself and the fact that Branden Dawson was able to return to the game after having his left leg buckle on a drive to the basket in the second half. Without Brandon Ubel (fractured elbow) the Huskers hung around for much of the game (David Rivers led the way with 18 points and six rebounds) but the Spartans closed the game on an 11-2 run (6-of-6 FT). Derrick Nix led the way for Michigan State with 17 points and five rebounds, and Adreian Payne added 14 off the bench.

Starred

1. G Sean Armand (Iona) 

When Armand gets rolling from deep look out. That’s what happened in the Gaels’ 97-87 win over Canisius as Armand hit nine three-pointers and finished with 32 points. He also tallied five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

3. G Colt Ryan (Evansville) 

Ryan shot 9-of-19 from the field but without him the Purple Aces don’t upset No. 23 Wichita State. Ryan finished with 24 points and eight assists and had a hand in every field goal made by Evansville in the second half (scoring three himself and assisting on the other six).

3. G Chaz Williams (UMass) 

Williams tallied 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the Minutemen’s 77-73 win at Fordham. UMass moves to 1-1 in the Atlantic 10 with the victory, and if they’re to contend this was a game they had to have after losing at Saint Louis on Thursday night.

Struggled

1. Maryland and Miami

The Hurricanes left with the 54-47 win and that’s the objective. But neither team shot the ball well at the Bank United Center. The worst numbers: Maryland shooting 31.6% from the field, the two teams shooting a combined 8-of-35 from three and the Hurricanes going 5-of-13 from the foul line. Another issue Maryland needs to address: Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard continue to struggle (1-of-13 combined, two points).

2. Seton Hall 

Wichita State wasn’t the only team to do itself in with turnovers, as the Pirates committed 15 of their 17 turnovers in the first half of a 67-55 loss to Providence. The other problems for Seton Hall: Providence scoring 23 second chance points on 22 offensive rebounds and another front court injury. Brandon Mobley left the game in the first half with a right shoulder injury and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

3. Penn State 

Without Tim Frazier the Nittany Lions are bound to have rough games offensively and that’s exactly what happened in their 60-42 loss at Purdue. As a team Penn State shot 25.9% from the field and the three players expected to pick up the slack with Frazier done for the year, D.J. Newbill, Jermaine Marshall and Brandon Taylor, combined to shoot 10-of-39 from the field (that means the rest of the team shot 5-of-19).

The Bonus

In No. 20 NC State’s win over No. 1 Duke on Saturday the students stormed the floor, with Will Privette being one of the revelers. The wheelchair-bound Privette discussed his experience with Nicole Auerbach of USA Today hours after the game (credit C.J. Leslie with an important assist) and today he posted the video he shot with his iPhone on YouTube.

Video credit: @thrill21

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

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.

Georgia Tech’s Okogie to sign with agent

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Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie, one of the big winners from this past weekend’s NBA combine, announced on Monday that he will be signing with an agent and remaining in the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 Okogie finished his sophomore season averaged 18.5 points and shooting 38.4 percent from three. The numbers he posted during the athletic testing at the combine, as well as his 7-foot wingspan, makes Okogie an ideal 3-and-D wing at the NBA level.

“Josh is a tremendous young man and an excellent student-athlete,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “He has set a tremendous example, making the Dean’s List this past semester, and deserves a lot of credit for making himself a much better player over the course of his two years here. We will miss him in our program in many respects, from his performance on the court to the energy he plays with and brought to our team. We fully support his decision to take this next step, and wish him all the best.”