Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Wichita State, No. 5 San Diego State grab road wins

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 5 San Diego State 67, Boise State 65

Boise State was in complete control at home, on the verge of snagging the kind of win that could launch them back into the bubble conversation, when Xavier Thames and SDSU took control. He scored 15 of his 23 points in the second half, sparked a game-changing 15-0 run that gave the Aztecs their first second half lead, and, on the final SDSU possession, found Dwayne Polee for the game-winning three.

In the last two games, the Broncos have blown a 15-point second half lead against SDSU and an 11-point lead in the final 3:29 at UNLV. If they end up on the wrong side of the bubble, those are the two losses that are going to hurt.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

1) West Virginia 91, No. 21 Oklahoma 86 OT: Try to wrap your head around this: West Virginia is currently sitting tied for third in the Big 12, what is probably the consensus toughest conference in the country. West Virginia! Juwan Staten, as of this moment, might actually be the Big 12 Player of the Year. Juwan Staten! He had 20 points, 10 boards and six assists against Oklahoma and it went largely unmentioned. Bob Huggins has done one heckuva coaching job in Morgantown.

2) No. 25 Pittsburgh 59, Miami 55 OT: Lamar Patterson finished with 25 points, but his supporting struggled in one of the uglier games you’ll see this season. With four minutes left in the second half, the two teams had combined to score 21 points on 9-for-39 shooting after halftime. The good news for the Panthers? They avoid an ugly loss that would do some damage to their tournament resume, which still needs work. The bad news? This certainly didn’t help the perception that Pitt is living off of a weak schedule and their brand.

3) No. 4 Wichita State 65, Indiana State 58: The Shockers cleared the biggest hurdle in their pursuit of perfection on Wednesday night, outlasting a tough Indiana State team in Terre Haute.

STARRED:

1) Arkansas center Bobby Portis set a school scoring record for a freshman as he went for 35 points, nine boards and six blocks while shooting 14-for-17 from the floor in a 65-58 win over Alabama. He had 29 of the first 35 points for the Razorbacks. The rest of the team shot 8-for-40 from the field.

2) Delaware erased a 20 point deficit in the final nine minutes to remain undefeated in CAA play, and it was Davon Usher that was the reason why. He scored 42 points on 14-for-20 shooting and had seven steals in the 67-64 win. He scored 27 of those 40 points in the final 8:30.

3) Malcolm Brogdon had 17 points, 11 boards and seven assists in a win over Boston College, the 10th straight games that Brogdon has scored in double figures.

STRUGGLED:

1) Langston Galloway was held to just 3-for-13 shooting, finishing with just six points as No. 13 Saint Louis smacked around St. Joe’s, 65-49.

2) Tennessee’s Jordan McRae was just 6-for-18 from the field as Tennessee lost at Vanderbilt, 64-60. The Vols seem destined for another March spent curled up on the bubble’s cut line.

3) Richard Solomon was 1-for-7 from the floor and committed four fouls while Dwight Powell finished with 22 points, 11 boards and six assists as Cal followed up their win over No. 1 Arizona with their fourth loss in five games, getting drubbed at home by Stanford.

NOTABLES:

  • Portland fought back from a 22-point deficit to take a second half lead in Spokane, but Sam Dower stepped up late to push Gonzaga to the 71-66 win. The Bulldogs, who visit Memphis on Saturday, remain three games up in WCC play.
  • No. 20 Virginia moved to 9-1 in ACC play with a 77-67 win over Boston College. Of their nine league wins, eight have been by double-digit margins.
  • No. 13 Saint Louis set a school record with its 15th consecutive win, a 65.49 conquest at Saint Joseph’s. The Billikens limited the Hawks to 31.9% shooting from the field.
  • New Mexico remained a game behind San Diego State in the loss column with a 66-61 overtime victory over Wyoming. The Lobos and Aztecs don’t meet for the first time in Mountain West play until February 22.
  • With Dylon Cormier done for the season, Loyola (MD) still managed to hand American its first Patriot League defeat in Baltimore. Tyler Hubbard scored 20 points in leading the Greyhounds to the 62-58 win.
  • Purdue survived some shoddy late-game foul shooting to outlast Minnesota 77-74 in triple overtime. The game is the longest ever played at Mackey Arena.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • No. 10 Michigan 79, Nebraska 50
  • No. 14 Louisville 77, Houston 62

Osun Osunniyi picks St. Bonaventure over Syracuse, Georgetown

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St. Bonaventure has made something of a late splash on the recruiting trail.

Osun Osunniyi, a 6-foot-10 from Putnam (Conn.) Science Academy, signed with the Bonnies, the school announced Monday.

It’s a bit of a recruiting coup for coach Mark Schmidt, who won the services of Osunniyi over offers from Syracuse and Georgetown, both of whom hosted the prospect on official visits this spring.

“Osun oozes with potential. His ceiling is extremely high. He has so much God-given ability,” Schmidt said in a statement. “And, he’s a great kid, a character kid who is level-headed. He has a great wingspan, he runs well, he has a natural talent for blocking shots and is a very good rebounder. He can score around the basket.

“Osun wants to get better, like all of our players. We saw how he developed at Putnam, which is a credit to coach Espinosa and the staff there. He’s come a long way to become a kid who was highly recruited. We’re thrilled to have him come to St. Bonaventure.”

Osunniyi, who previously committed to La Salle before taking a prep year, becomes the fourth member of the Bonnies’ 2018 freshman class. He averaged 10 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots per game while Putnam won a national prep championship.

The Bonnies made the NCAA tournament as an 11 seed last year after going 26-8.

Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.