Late Night Snacks: First Saturday of the season produces no upsets

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GAME OF THE DAY: Manhattan 99, La Salle 90 (2OT)

The Jaspers and Explorers played an outstanding game at Tom Gola Arena, with Manhattan coming back from four points down with 23 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime. Guard George Beamon scored 24 points in his return to the court, and Mike Alvarado put together a solid all-around game (16 points, eight rebounds and six assists) to help push the Jaspers past La Salle.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Dayton 81, IPFW 80

IPFW’s answer to the “foul or defend” question when up three in the final seconds was to foul, and it nearly worked. But they threw away the inbounds pass, leading to Jordan Sibert’s game-winning three pointer. Dyshawn Pierre was excellent for the Flyers, finishing with 24 points and eight rebounds.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 3 Louisville 70, College of Charleston 48: The Cardinals weren’t at their best, with the absence of both Chane Behanan (suspension) and Luke Hancock (Achilles) playing a role in that. With the eventual return of those key players and the continued development of Montrezl Harrell, Louisville will improve.

2) USC Upstate 64, Virginia Tech 63: All-Atlantic Sun forward Torrey Craig shot just 5-for-20 from the field but the Spartans still managed to win in Blacksburg in a result that wasn’t all that stunning. The Hokies shot 9-for-18 from the foul line.

3) Ohio 75, Northern Iowa 64: The Bobcats have some big holes to fill but their win over UNI is a good start. Junior college transfer Maurice Ndour led four starters in double figures with 20 points and five rebounds.

STARRED:

1) Richard Carter (Drake): In the Bulldogs’ 61-59 win at UIC, Carter “put the team on his back” to the tune of 38 points (12-for-17 FG, 12-for-12 FT), four steals and three rebounds.

2) F Marvin Dominique (Saint Peter’s): The Peacocks didn’t get the win in their game against LIU Brooklyn but Dominique was outstanding, finishing with 31 points (12-for-19 FG), 14 rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

3) Aaric Murray (Texas Southern): Murray is the most talented player in the SWAC, and if he’s focused the well-traveled big man can lead the Tigers to the NCAA tournament. Murray tallied 33 points, eight rebounds, five blocks and three assists in TSU’s 95-83 win over Norfolk State.

STRUGGLED:

1) Everyone involved with the Niagara/Seton Hall game: The Pirates won 83-72 with Sterling Gibbs scoring 23 points, but the issue was the inability to adjust to the new rules regarding contact. The teams struggled (73 total fouls) and so did the officials, resulting in a game that lacked rhythm.

2) Grambling State: The Tigers were (as expected) outclassed on Saturday, falling 96-58 at DePaul. Grambling State’s now lost 29 games in a row, and they visit Big East preseason favorite Marquette on Tuesday.

3) South Dakota: The Coyotes took one on the chin, falling at St. Bonaventure (68-46) and finishing with more turnovers (17) than made field goals (15).

NOTABLES

  • No. 15 Gonzaga made short work of Bryant in the season opener for both, winning 100-76. While Przemek Karnowki struggled with foul trouble Sam Dowe had no such issues, finishing with 21 points and 17 rebounds.
  • No. 23 New Mexico’s Craig Neal won his first game as head coach, as the Lobos coasted past Alabama A&M by a final score of 88-52. One of the standouts for the Lobos was forward Cameron Bairstow, who put up 22 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Ohio State’s balanced effort in their 89-50 win over Morgan State is something people should get used to seeing this year. Lenzelle Smith Jr. scored 18 to lead five Buckeyes in double figures, with Shannon Scott adding 16.
  • Cleanthony Early picked up where he left off last season, scoring a game-high 21 points in No. 16 Wichita State’s 93-50 win over Emporia State. Ron Baker (17 points) and Fred Van Vleet (12) also reached double figures for the Shockers.
  • USF scored 70 points or more in just five games last season, with only one of those occasions coming in the 2013 portion of the slate. The Bulls scored 72 on Saturday night, doing so without the services of injured point guard Anthony Collins.
  • Three starters scored at least 20 points for Loyola Marymount, which moved to 2-0 with a 98-89 win over South Dakota State. While Anthony Ireland (20 points, 12 assists) is a known commodity, keep an eye on newcomers Ben Dickinson (22 points; transfer from Binghamton) and Gabe Levin (20).
  • VMI handed Air Force their first-ever loss in the three-year history of the All Military Classic, beating the Falcons 71-63 with D.J. Covington (20 points, seven rebounds) and O.J. Peterson (19) leading the way.
  • First-year head coach Dedrique Taylor enjoyed quite the debut, as his Cal-State Fullerton squad won at Montana State by the final score of 84-55. Guard Alex Harris (20 points) led four starters in double figures.
  • Temple held off Penn 78-73 at the Palestra to move to 1-0 in Big 5 play, with Dalton Pepper accounting for 19 points and nine rebounds off the bench. Four Owls scored in double figures.
  • Players returning from season-ending injuries included Penn State’s Tim Frazier, Northwestern’s Drew Crawford and Cleveland State’s Anton Grady, who finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in the Vikings’ 73-69 comeback win over Iona.
  • Kameron Belin’s shot with four seconds remaining proved to be the difference as Youngstown State beat FIU 74-72 in overtime. Belin, who finished with 17 points, scored all nine of the Penguins’ points in the extra session.
  • Butler’s Brandon Miller picked up a win in his regular season head coaching debut, as the Bulldogs put together a very good second half performance on the way to an 89-58 win over Lamar.
  • One night after losing by 84 points at Utah, NAIA Division II school Evergreen State was back on the floor at Idaho State. The Geoducks put up a better fight against the Bengals, losing 99-62.

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.