Late Night Snacks: No. 7 Indiana outlasts No. 13 Michigan State

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Game of the Day: No. 7 Indiana 75, No. 13 Michigan State 70

The showdown in Bloomington did not disappoint, with the Hoosiers holding Michigan State scoreless over the final 3:33. Victor Oladipo led the way with 21 points, seven rebounds, six steals and three blocked shots in a performance that should open more eyes when it comes to the Big Ten Player of the Year award. Freshman Gary Harris led Michigan State with 21 points, but with fellow guards Keith Appling and Travis Trice struggling the Spartans fell five points short.

Important Outcomes

1. No. 2 Michigan 74, Illinois 60

With the victory the Wolverines could ascend to the top of the national polls for the first time since the 1992-93 season. Trey Burke scored 19 points and as a team Michigan shot 52.5% from the field. The bad news for John Beilein’s team? Jordan Morgan played just two minutes due to a sprained ankle suffered in the first half, but the contributions of Jon Horford, Mitch McGary and Max Bielfeldt (combined for 17 points and 15 rebounds) more than made up for Morgan’s absence.

2. Niagara 66, Canisius 65 

The “Battle of the Bridge” provided the finish of the day, as Billy Baron’s jumper was ruled to have been released after time expired. A Marvin Jordan three-pointer with 2.9 seconds remaining proved to be the difference, keeping Niagara alone atop the MAAC standings with a 9-1 conference record. Jordan scored a game-high 23 points off the bench for the Purple Eagles, who will look to avenge their lone MAAC defeat on Thursday night when they host 8-2 Iona.

Video from maacsports.com

3. Purdue 65, Iowa 62 (OT) 

If the Hawkeyes are to have any chance of working their way into the NCAA tournament conversation they can ill afford to lose games like this one. Freshman Mike Gesell scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half but ultimately Iowa’s 31.1% shooting from the field was too much to overcome. Terone Johnson led four Boilermakers in double figures with 17 points, and the win moves Purdue to 4-3 in the Big Ten ahead of Wednesday’s game against rival Indiana.

Starred

1. F O.D. Anosike (Siena) 

Anosike was outstanding in the Saints’ 79-75 win at Marist, accounting for 20 points, 21 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocked shots. Anosike is the fourth player this season to put up at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in the same game. Oral Roberts’ Damen Bell-Holter, Towson’s Jerrell Benimon and FIU’s Tymell Murphy are the others.

2. G/F Trevis Simpson (UNC Greensboro) 

Simpson tied a school record for points in a game in the Spartans’ 77-69 win over Chattanooga, scoring 41 points (14-of-25 FG) while also grabbing seven rebounds. This comes on the heels of his scoring 30 on Thursday night to lead UNCG past Samford.

3. F Milton Jennings (Clemson) 

Jennings may have played the best game of his career in the Tigers’ 77-70 win over Virginia Tech. The senior finished with 28 points (6-of-12 FG, 16-of-18 FT) and 14 rebounds, establishing a new career high in points (the rebounds tied a career high).

Struggled 

1. Florida State 

The Seminoles continue to struggle offensively, as evidenced by their 71-47 loss at No. 25 Miami. Florida State shot 30.8% from the field with 11 players managing to score (Ian Miller was the lone player in double figures with 12 points).

2. G Keith Appling and G Travis Trice (Michigan State) 

Struggling to score as Appling and Trice did is one thing, as they combined to shoot 4-of-16 from the field and score 11 points. But nine combined turnovers? Can’t win a road game against a team like Indiana doing that.

3. G/F Dane Miller and F Wally Judge (Rutgers)

Given Connecticut’s struggles in the paint Sunday’s matchup in Hartford seemed to set up as one in which these two could be productive. Miller and Judge (both starters) would combine to play just 30 minutes, finishing with two points and six rebounds on 1-of-5 shooting (all five shots taken by Judge) in the 66-54 loss.

Three Facts 

1. Northeastern expanded their lead in the CAA to three games with a 71-51 win over George Mason in Boston. Quincy Ford and Joel Smith scored 15 points apiece for the Huskies, who haven’t lost since December 29.

2. Lafayette handed Lehigh its first Patriot League loss on Sunday, shooting 70% from the field in the second half of their 78-57 victory at Lehigh. The win moves Fran O’Hanlon’s Leopards to within a game of Lehigh and Bucknell, who are now tied atop the Patriot League standings.

3. St. John’s is now 5-3 in Big East play, a record that has Steve Lavin’s team sitting in a tie for third place with Pittsburgh. D’Angelo Harrison scored 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the Red Storm’s 71-67 win over Seton Hall, and they also have the odds-on favorite for Big East Rookie of the Year in forward JaKarr Sampson.

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

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.