NBCSports.com 2013-2014 College Basketball Preseason All-American Team

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All month long, CBT will be rolling out our 2013-2014 season preview. Check back throughout the day, as we’ll be posting three or four preview items every day.

To browse through the preview posts we’ve already published, click here. To see the rest of our preview lists, click here. For a schedule of our previews for the month, click here.

NBCSPORTS.COM PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Marcus Smart, Oklahoma State, So.

Smart shocked the college hoops world when he announced back in the spring that he would be returning to school for his sophomore season. It was great news for the Pokes, however, as they now have a chance to win the Big 12. Hopefully, Smart spent the offseason making his jumpshot more consistent, because that’s the only thing that he does not excel at on a basketball court. He’s tied with Aaron Craft atop the intangibles leaderboard.

FIRST TEAM

Andrew Wiggins, Kansas, Fr.: There’s an argument to be made that Wiggins will enter the season with more hype surrounding him than any freshman in the history of college basketball. How about this for expectations: if he averages 18 points and 8 boards, it will be seen as a disappointing season. Yeesh. Wiggins is an absurdly athletic, 6-foot-8 wing with the physical tools to one day be some combination of Scottie Pippen and Tracy McGrady. But is he ready to reach that level right now?

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Russ Smith, Louisville, Sr.: Smith may not be much of an NBA prospect, but he’s the perfect player for Rick Pitino. A ballhawk defensively, Smith proved himself capable of being an efficient scorer last season, even winning KenPom.com’s Efficiency Player of the Year award a season ago. It will be interesting to see if the 5-foot-11 Smith plays more point this season in an effort to audition to NBA teams.

Julius Randle, Kentucky, Fr.: Randle is a beast. Plain and simple. The 6-foot-9 lefty is going to score a lot of points and grab a lot of rebounds simply because he’s bigger, stronger, more athletic and more aggressive than so many of his collegiate counterparts. It doesn’t matter that he’s only a freshman. Ironically enough, the only thing that could really end up holding Randle back is the fact that John Calipari is going to experiment with playing him on the perimeter.

Doug McDermott, Creighton, Sr.: Ho-hum, just a third straight season where Doug McDermott will end up being an All-American, which is incredible considering the kid went to Creighton over Northern Iowa and even his own father didn’t think he was good enough to get a scholarship when he was at Iowa State. McDermott is the best scorer in the country, and he’ll have a chance to prove it as the Bluejays make their way into the Big East this season.

SECOND TEAM

Jahii Carson, Arizona State, So.: The most electric talent this side of Andre Wiggins is must-see TV whenever he steps onto the court.

Gary Harris, Michigan State, So.: We’re going to get a chance to see just how good Harris can be now that his shoulder is healthy.

Jabari Parker, Duke, Fr.: Parker is arguably the most skilled player in the country and will be the star of the ACC favorite Blue Devils.

C.J. Fair, Syracuse, Sr.: Fair has spent three years as one of the most underrated and consistent players in the Big East. Let’s see if that translates to the ACC.

Mitch McGary, Michigan, So.: He’s massive, he plays hard, he attacks the glass and he’s got a lot more skill to his game than he’s had a chance to show thus far.

THIRD TEAM

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Aaron Craft, Ohio State, Sr.: Craft is the best on-ball defender in the country. He’s also a leader and a winner, two skills you cannot teach. Can he score more this season?

Shabazz Napier, UConn, Sr.: Like Fair, Napier has had a terrific career at UConn that’s been somewhat overshadowed thanks to Kemba Walker and UConn’s APR.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado, Jr.: The 6-foot-6 point guard is going to have a chance to show what he can do to a national audience in the resurgent Pac-12.

Adreian Payne, Michigan State, Sr.: Consistency is the key for Payne, who is a lottery pick if he can ever figure out how to bring it on a nightly basis.

Aaron Gordon, Arizona, Fr.: The nation’s best dunker will be a star if he accepts that he’s a prototype stretch four at the college level.

HONORABLE MENTION

  • Isaiah Austin, Baylor, So.
  • Markel Brown, Oklahoma State, Sr.
  • Semaj Christon, Xavier, So.
  • Cleanthony Early, Wichita State, Sr.
  • Montrezl Harrell, Louisville, So.
  • Tyler Haws, BYU, Jr.
  • Rodney Hood, Duke, So.
  • Kevin Pangos, Gonzaga, Jr.
  • Glenn Robinson III, Michigan, So.
  • James Young, Kentucky, Fr.

Lawson, Moore carry No. 1 KU to 89-53 rout of South Dakota

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Dedric Lawson had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Charlie Moore made six 3-pointers en route to 18 points, and top-ranked Kansas pulled away in the second half for an 89-53 victory over plucky but overmatched South Dakota on Tuesday night.

Freshman forward David McCormack added a career-best 12 points off the bench for the Jayhawks (10-0), helping to soak up minutes while Udoka Azubuike is sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Kansas has won 40 consecutive games in Allen Fieldhouse as the nation’s No. 1 team.

Stanley Umude scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Coyotes (6-6), who have never defeated a ranked team in seven tries. Tyler Peterson added 15 points, and leading scorer Trey Burch-Manning was held to two points on 1-for-5 shooting before fouling out.

Neither team was particularly good in the first half.

The Jayhawks struggled to stop South Dakota’s relentless backdoor cuts, and eventually Kansas coach Bill Self was so fed up with their defensive execution he started to burn timeouts.

Not that the Coyotes did much with all those easy looks. They committed 12 first-half turnovers, allowing the Jayhawks to slowly pull out to a 37-27 advantage at the break.

Most of the work was done without Lawson, who was forced to the bench with two fouls.

The Jayhawks’ dominant point forward joined Moore in helping the Jayhawks pull away in the second half. Lawson scored in the paint, Moore hit a 3-pointer and Lawson added a pair of foul shots to turn a 49-40 lead into a 56-40 lead with about 12 minutes to go.

The undersized Coyotes answered with a run of their own, but Moore and Lawson provided one more answer. Moore curled in his fifth 3-pointer, this time from the wing, and then took a run-out to the rim before dropping a pass to Lawson for an easy layup and a 66-47 lead.

The advantage only grew from there as Moore, a transfer from California who once scored 38 in a game as a freshman, and the massive McCormack continued to put together breakout games.

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota hung around long enough to keep Kansas on the edge, but the Jayhawks’ superior athleticism was evident. They were quicker in transition, better on the boards and were able to pull away when the Coyotes went cold from beyond the arc.

Kansas finally got an easy win after surviving nail-biters against everyone from New Mexico State and Stanford to Villanova and Tennessee. It was the first time all season that the Jayhawks put away a game in time to empty the bench in the final minutes.

UP NEXT

South Dakota hosts Southern Miss on Friday night.

Kansas visits No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday night.

Kevin Ollie alleges racial discrimination in new civil action against UConn

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Former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is heading to court with the school over alleged racial discrimination. In a report from the Hartford Courant, Ollie has filed a civil action alleging that the school illegally attempted to deter him from filing a racial discrimination complaint.

Submitted on Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Ollie is claiming he was treated differently from predecessor Jim Calhoun, because Calhoun kept his job after receiving comparable recruiting violations.

Ollie was fired for those violations earlier this year as he’s been in a contentious back-and-forth battle with the school that has gone to court. The former head coach claims he informed UConn of his intention to file the complaint but the school said it would refuse to have a contractual-grievance arbitration process that would give Ollie the final $10 million on his contract.

Seeking an emergency injunction that would allow him to file the complaint while proceeding with an arbitration process.

UConn responded to the Courant on Tuesday through a spokesperson as they disputed Ollie’s account that race played a role in his firing.

“As UConn has stated from the outset, the university terminated Kevin Ollie’s employment due to violations of NCAA rules, pursuant to his employment agreement,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. “Any claim to the contrary is without merit.”

Ollie’s attorney told the Courant that the hope is to file and stay with a racial discrimination complaint, which could be addressed after the arbitration.

From the sound of it, UConn and Ollie are going to be in court for quite a bit of time as this whole firing process has been difficult from the start.

No. 15 Buckeyes overcome slow start, rout Youngstown State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kaleb Wesson had a career-high 31 points as No. 15 Ohio State overcame a terrible start and beat Youngstown State 75-56 on Tuesday night.

Wesson was dominating in the second half, scoring 26 points as the Buckeyes were again forced to win in come-from-behind fashion. The sophomore topped his previous career-best 22 points, achieved in Saturday’s game against Bucknell.

The Buckeyes (10-1, 2-0 Big Ten) shot poorly in the first half and were forced to rally against a mid-major opponent they should have handled easily from the beginning.

Ohio State trailed 25-22 at the half, but took the lead with a Wesson put-back three minutes into the second half and took control from there.

Luther Muhammad and C.J. Jackson each had 11 points for Ohio State, which has won three in a row after losing their only game of the season Nov. 28.

Darius Quisenberry had 17 points, and Naz Bohannon added 11 for the Penguins (5-9), who have lost five of their last six.

The first half was a nightmare for Ohio State. The Penguins went on a 14-2 run to open the game as the Buckeyes missed shot after shot. Ohio State shot 24 percent from the floor and 1 for 11 from beyond the 3-point line before intermission. The score was so close mostly because Youngstown State wasn’t much better, hitting just 33 percent of its shots.

Wesson took a seat with 5:40 left in the first half when he picked up his second foul and got his third early in the second half before going on a scoring tear.

BIG PICTURE:

Youngstown State: Took advantage of Ohio State’s poor shooting to lead the entire first half, but couldn’t keep up once Wesson and the Buckeyes got themselves unglued.

Ohio State: After nearly losing to Bucknell on Saturday, the Buckeyes took another opponent too lightly and were getting stung for a while. They are making too many mistakes against teams they should be dominating.

UP NEXT:

Youngstown State: Hosts Detroit Mercy on Dec. 28.

Ohio State: At UCLA on Saturday.

No. 2 Duke emerges from exam break to beat Princeton 101-50

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DURHAM, N.C. — A cold offensive start for second-ranked Duke on Tuesday night turned out to be a good sign for coach Mike Krzyzewski. That’s because his Blue Devils never let all those missed shots infect the team’s defensive focus.

RJ Barrett continued his rookie-season scoring rush, finishing with 27 points to help second-ranked Duke beat Princeton 101-50. Meanwhile, as the offense got rolling to hand Princeton its most lopsided loss in its program history, the defense finished with a bevy of steals, blocks and deflections to earn the approval of the Hall of Fame coach.

“We kept telling them: `Just don’t be down about the offense, you’re doing a good job, just keep shooting, keep doing it and don’t let it affect the defense,” Krzyzewski said.

“And they did. So that’s good.”

Consider it a lesson learned and applied for the freshman-led Blue Devils (10-1), whose high-flying offense has the potential to run past just about anybody. Yet this group has shown the ability to be a get-after-’em defensive team, too, with freshman point guard Tre Jones pressuring the ball surrounded by plenty of length and athleticism on the wings.

Krzyzewski wants his players to focus on the latter, knowing it’s likely a matter of time before any off-target shooting corrects itself. And that was obvious Tuesday as Duke opened its first game in more than a week due to an exam break by missing its first eight shots and falling behind 8-0.

Even more unusual of a sight on its famously hostile home court, the Blue Devils didn’t take their first lead until more than 14 minutes in.

“We were getting good shots,” Barrett said. “We just couldn’t make them.”

But after a steady start from the Tigers — who caught Duke with some early backdoor cuts — the Blue Devils scored on 10-of-11 possessions to close the first half, then on four more out of the break to take a 48-28 lead. Duke shot 64 percent after halftime as the game turned into a rout.

“Boy, that’s a really good team,” Princeton coach Mitch Henderson said. “They’re even better in person.”

Myles Stephens had 19 points for Princeton (5-5), which led 18-16 before Duke put together an 11-0 run to take over. Princeton shot just 30 percent for the game, including 8 of 36 (22 percent) after halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Princeton: Those opening few minutes had to be encouraging for the Tigers. They just didn’t have an answer once Duke’s shots started falling to pair with that defensive aggression.

“They got so many deflections, just stuff we hadn’t seen before,” Henderson said. “It’s a great lesson, that when you’re playing against the best, you have to be absolutely sharper than you’ve ever been.”

Duke: The Blue Devils hadn’t played since beating Yale here on Dec. 8, and it took a while for the offense to get into gear. Things went to script once that happened. Barrett came in averaging an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 24.2 points and finished 11 of 21 from the field while fellow rookie Zion Williamson (17 points, 10 rebounds) had another big game. Meanwhile, Duke’s defense had 12 steals, 14 blocks and 23 points off turnovers to go with a 50-25 rebounding advantage.

NEW RECORD

The 51-point margin surpassed Princeton’s previous worst margin of defeat of 45 points, set against Penn in December 1908.

CLOSING THE (BACK)DOOR

Duke quickly did a better job of closing off those backdoor lanes after Princeton got loose inside for easy early layups.

“Really that was just something we hadn’t worked on as much coming in,” said Duke forward Javin DeLaurier, who had six points and three rebounds. “Once we realized that was something they were going to try and hurt us with, guys did a good job of just making the adjustment, not contesting as much. And as soon as a guy was dribbling at you, expect the back door.”

UP NEXT

Princeton: The Tigers visit Lafayette on Friday.

Duke: The Blue Devils face No. 12 Texas Tech in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

VIDEO: Backboard nearly takes out Zion Williamson on blocked shot

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Zion Williamson was almost taken out by a backboard as Duke played Princeton at home on Tuesday night. Playing at home, Williamson went for a block as his arm and face appeared hit the backboard and caused him to fall to the ground.

Williamson was okay, but the startling block is yet another freakish play that the freshman forward has made on the defensive end this season. Although mostly known for his dunks, Williamson is showing himself to be one of the scariest shot blockers in college hoops this season.

No. 2 Duke ran past Princeton for the easy home win.