Late Night Snacks: Baylor and Syracuse advance to Maui Invitational final

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GAME OF THE DAY: Baylor 67, Dayton 66

Baylor trailed by double-digits in the second half, but some late-game 3-pointers from Royce O’Neale and Gary Franklin set up Cory Jefferson’s heroics. He corralled a miss from Kenny Chery to put Baylor up 67-66 with 16 seconds to play. Baylor lead for a total of 2:08 on the evening. Dayton outplayed the Bears, but the Flyers will head to the third-place game to play Cal. Baylor and Syracuse meet in a battle of two top-20 teams on Wednesday night in the Maui Invitational final.

What would Maui be without a crazy finish?

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 10 Wisconsin 63, Saint Louis 57: The Badgers handed the Billikens their first loss of the season, while they stay undefeated. Frank Kaminsky led the way with 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks.

No. 12 Wichita State 75, BYU 62: The Shockers won the CBE Hall of Fame Classic, holding the Cougars without a field goal for the final eight minutes. BYU entered the game scoring 93.2 points per game. Ron Baker had a career-high 23 points.

Syracuse 92, Cal 81: The Golden Bears kept it close even without Richard Solomon, but career highs from Jerami Grant and Tyler Ennis put the Orange in the Maui Invitational final against Baylor.

STARRED

Jon Severe, Fordham: If you don’t know about this Fordham freshman, now you do. The 6-foot-3 Brooklyn native led Fordham over Manhattan with 30 points and five rebounds.

Metro State: The top team in Division II defeated its third Division I program during the NIT Season Tip-Off with an 83-69 win over MAAC contender Canisius. Mitch McCarron led the way with 28 points. He’s averaging 27.5 points per game against D1 teams this year.

Jordan Dykstra, South Dakota State: The Jackrabbits picked up their second straight win behind the senior forward’s 32-point, 13-rebound performance.

STRUGGLED

Tyler Haws, BYU: He scored 17 points, but he struggled, shooting 3-of-15 from the field in a loss to Wichita State.

Rutgers: Fairleigh Dickinson defeated Rutgers on Tuesday, the program’s first win over a Division I program in 21 games. The Knights lost to Division II Metro State earlier this season.

Rico Gathers’ celebration: Courtesy of Mark Titus:

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 13 Connecticut stayed undefeated with a 76-66 win over Loyola (Md.). Shabazz Napier only scored four points, but had seven points and seven assists along with three steals.

NOTABLES

  • Pittsburgh won the Legends Classic in Brooklyn in an 88-67 win over Stanford.
  • Boston College trailed at half, but defeated Sacred Heart behind Ryan Anderson’s 28 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Syracuse may have the best dunking team. Example A HERE. Example B HERE.
  • Gonzaga bounced back with a 113-81 win over Chaminade behind 18 points and seven assists from Kevin Pangos.
  • Marshall Henderson only logged 13 minutes, scoring eight points in an 84-50 win over North Carolina A&T.
  • Pendarvis Willaims scored 32 points, grabbed seven rebounds and five assists in Norfolk State’s win. OK, it was against against a D2 opponent, but the reigning MEAC Player of the Year is a legitimate pro prospect.
  • Elon bounced-back from a loss to Metro State with a 90-85 win over Georgia State. Kentucky transfer Ryan Harrow had 34 points for Georgia State.
  • Noah Vonleh connected on his first collegiate three. More importantly, he posted his fifth double-double in Indiana’s 77-46 win over Evansville.
  • Chris Obekpa had six of St. John’s 15 blocks in the Red Storm’s 65-47 win over Longwood.

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.