Late Night Snacks: Ohio State gets a big win, UNLV holds off Boise State

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Game of the Day: No. 14 Ohio State 67,  No. 2 Indiana 58

Defense was the key for Ohio State Tuesday night in its big road win over Indiana. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott combined for eight steals and ground Indiana’s offensive attack to a halt, including National Player of the Year candidate Victor Oladipo. That defensive effort turned into offense and the Buckeyes were able to get by without an efficient night from Deshaun Thomas. The victory keeps Ohio State in the running for a share of the Big Ten regular season title.

Important Outcomes

1. UNLV 68, Boise State 64

A signature road win in the tough Mountain West would have helped Boise State in its bid for the NCAA tournament, but the Broncos were unable to come up with one Tuesday. Anthony Marshall took over down the stretch and was too much for coach Leon Rice’s team, despite 22 points from Anthony Drmic.

2. Iowa 63, Illinois 55

This game did a couple of things. First, the loss hurts Illinois’ seeding in the NCAA tournament, dropping them for now from a seven or eight seed to a nine or ten seed. Secondly, it keeps the slim Iowa NCAA tournament hopes alive, which were hurt so badly by the Hawkeyes’ loss to Nebraska last month.

3. No. 25 Memphis 56, UTEP 54

Despite remaining undefeated in the C-USA, Memphis likely scared off some believers with its performance Tuesday. The Tigers had to claw back from behind and turned the ball over with three seconds to play, allowing UTEP to get off one final heave and shot at a win, though that shot fell short. Without a signature win on its resume, how confident can we be in Memphis?

Starred

1. Aaron Craft and Shannon Scott, Ohio State (23 points, 8 steals)

The combination of these two players on the perimeter completely disrupted Indiana’s offensive flow, keeping Victor Oladipo and the rest of the Hoosiers’ attack in check. Ohio State then turned that defense into offense and got a big road win in the conference.

2. Anthony Marshall, UNLV (16 points, 5-of-6 FG, 8 assists, 5 rebounds)

Marshall took the game over in the second half for UNLV in a big home victory over a tough Boise State bubble team. He scored eight points in the final 4:42 of regulation and had a key dribble-drive that opened up Katin Reinhardt for the three-pointer that sealed the game for the Rebels.

3. D.J Cooper, Ohio (First player ever to record 2,000 points, 900 assists, 600 rebounds, 300 steals in career)

What Cooper put the finishing touches on Tuesday is an accomplishment that had never before been achieved in the history of college basketball. He finished with 24 points and five assists in a three-point Ohio win.

Struggled

1. St. John’s Offense (17-of-56 FG, 40 points)

The young Red Storm were already at a disadvantage offensively without suspended leading scorer D’Angelo Harrison, but Notre Dame was successful in slowing down their transition attack and forcing them to operate in the half court. The result was 30 percent shooting and a lack of overall offensive flow. St. John’s will be without forward Sir’Dominic Pointer after his scuffle with Notre Dame’s Cameron Biedscheid at the end of the game.

2. Illinois Backcourt (11-of-39 FG)

Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, and Tracy Abrams combined to shoot 11-of-39 from the floor for an Illinois team that is sliding back into back habits and did not shoot well from the floor in a loss to Iowa. After a bad stretch earlier in the season, the Illini seemed to have bounced back, but will have to stop this slide before it really starts.

3. Arkansas Rebounding (-23 vs. Missouri)

Missouri is a good rebounding team, that’s for certain, but the Razorbacks had little chance Tuesday with a -23 rebounding margin against the Tigers. Arkansas continues to struggle away from home.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

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.