Late Night Snacks: Traevon Jackson propels Wisconsin past No. 9 Michigan State

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GAME OF THE DAY: Wisconsin 60, No. 9 Michigan State 58

Wisconsin entered Sunday’s game in need of a second consecutive victory in order to keep the momentum gained from their win at Illinois on Tuesday night. They did that thanks to Traevon Jackson, whose jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Madison. Wisconsin had four players finish in double figures, with freshman Nigel Hayes scoring 14 points off the bench to lead the way. As for Michigan State, Adreian Payne scored 24 points and Travis Trice added 13, nearly resulting in the Spartans winning in spite of a 3-for-20 afternoon from Gary Harris.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) St. John’s 70, No. 12 Creighton 65

The Red Storm may have begun Big East play with five consecutive losses, but by no means was their season over. Steve Lavin’s Red Storm have now won six of their last seven games, and the late-game defending of Doug McDermott (25 points) by Jakarr Sampson was critical on Sunday night. McDermott failed to score at all in the final 8:40 of the game, and his teammates were unable to make the plays needed to leave Madison Square Garden with the win. D’Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm, who are looking to fight their way into the NCAA tournament picture, with 19 points.

2) No. 1 Syracuse 57, Clemson 44

The Orange limited Clemson to 34% shooting from the field in winning their 23rd consecutive game, moving to 10-0 in the ACC. This is the first such start to conference play in school history for Syracuse, with C.J. Fair scoring 19 points to lead the way offensively. Next up: a game at No. 25 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, but it remains to be seen if they’ll have center Baye Moussa Keita for that one. Keita left Sunday’s game after spraining his right knee in the first half.

3) No. 2 Arizona 76, Oregon State 54 

After squeaking out a two-point win on Thursday night against Oregon, the Wildcats took care of Oregon State in Tucson. Arizona shot 50% from the field, and defensively Nick Johnson and company limited Roberto Nelson to ten points on 3-for-12 shooting. Arizona will play its next three games on the road, beginning with a trip north to battle rival Arizona State on Valentine’s Day.

STARRED

1) A.J. English (Iona) 

English accounted for 32 points (10-for-17 FG), six assists and five rebounds in the Gaels’ 101-91 win at Canisius.

2) Xavier Johnson (Colorado)

Johnson scored 27 points (10-for-14 FG) and grabbed ten rebounds in the Buffaloes’ 91-65 beating of Washington. For the weekend Johnson averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

3) TaShawn Thomas (Houston) 

Thomas tallied 25 points (10-for-12 FG), nine rebounds and six blocked shots in the Cougars’ 88-74 win over Temple.

STRUGGLED

1) Gary Harris (Michigan State)

Harris scored just six points on 3-for-20 shooting in the Spartans’ 60-58 loss at Wisconsin.

2) UCF starters not named Isaiah Sykes

While Sykes shot 6-for-13 from the field in the Knights’ 75-55 loss to No. 22 UConn, his fellow starters combined to shoot 1-for-15 from the field.

3) C.J. Wilcox (Washington) 

Wilcox shot 2-for-10 from the field (0-for-7 3PT), scoring eight points in the Huskies’ 91-65 loss at Colorado. Wilcox is averaging 19.8 points per game this season.

NOTABLES

  • Iona took a two-game lead in the MAAC with a 101-91 win at Canisius. A.J. English scored 32 points to lead the way for the Gaels.
  • Manhattan also completed the difficult sweep of the Buffalo schools, with Rhamel Brown’s block as time expired preserving a 78-77 win at Niagara. Brown finished the game with 22 points and six blocked shots.
  • Holy Cross beat Bucknell 66-50, picking up its seventh win in the last eight games. Justin Burrell led the Crusaders with 19 points and four rebounds.
  • Jerrold Brooks scored 19 points and Michael Craig 14 to lead Southern Miss to an 81-64 win over Charlotte, keeping pace with UTEP atop Conference USA as a result. A point of concern for the Golden Eagles: senior guard Neil Watson leaving the game in the first half with a sprained ankle.
  • Indiana State rebounded from its loss to No. 4 Wichita State with a 60-56 win over Drake. Khristian Smith scored 19 points off the bench for the Sycamores, who are 9-3 in Missouri Valley play.
  • Chaz Williams scored 21 points and dished out seven assists to lead UMass to a 73-68 win at Rhode Island.
  • Quincy Diggs’ jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining gave Akron a 65-63 win at Bowling Green. The win keeps Akron a game ahead of Ohio and Buffalo in the MAC East standings.
  • DeAndre Daniels made his return to the court for No. 22 UConn after missing the last two games, scoring 14 points in the Huskies’ 75-55 win at UCF. Lasan Kromah and Shabazz Napier tallied 17 points and seven rebounds apiece.

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.