Late Night Snacks: North Carolina beats No. 5 Duke

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Carolina 74, No. 5 Duke 66

North Carolina used the strategy of changing defenses in the second half to confuse Duke, and sure enough it worked. The Tar Heels used both 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones in addition to their man-to-man defense, and the Blue Devils went more than eight minutes without scoring a basket as a result. Add to that Marcus Paige scoring 13 second-half points and Leslie McDonald scoring 21, and North Carolina had its eighth straight victory. As for Duke, their inability to crack those different looks could be a concern for them moving forward.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) No. 13 Michigan State 94, Purdue 79

After putting forth their worst showing of the season on Sunday the Spartans bounced back in a big way, hitting a school-record 17 three-pointers in West Lafayette. Gary Harris scored 25 points and Adreian Payne 23 to lead the Spartans, who remain in a tie in the loss column for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan. The two in-state rivals meet on Sunday in Ann Arbor.

2) BYU 73, No. 25 Gonzaga 65

BYU picked up a valuable result for its resume, beating the Bulldogs by eight in Provo. Anson Winder made all ten of his free throws and scored a team-best 17 points for the Cougars, who had four players score in double figures. Neither team shot particularly well from three, but the difference was the play of BYU’s bench. Cougar reserves outscored Gonzaga’s bench 34-21 on the night. As for Gonzaga, they’ll have to wait to clinch the WCC outright after shooting 40.7% from the field.

3) Seton Hall 82, Georgetown 67

Being a bubble team in February is as much about avoiding losses that will hurt the resume as it is picking up quality wins. Georgetown’s 15-point loss in Newark qualifies as a result that will not help their cause, with Fuquan Edwin pacing Seton Hall with 21 points. As a team Seton Hall shot 55% from the field and assisted on 20 of its 27 made baskets, proving to be too much for the Hoyas to handle.

STARRED

1) Kendrick Perry (Youngstown State) 

Perry scored 35 points on 11-for-17 shooting from the field to go along with nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in the Penguins’ 88-83 overtime win over Milwaukee.

2) Jarvis Haywood (Jacksonville)

Accounted for 28 points on 11-for-14 shooting, eight rebounds and five assists in the Dolphins’ 91-86 win over East Tennessee State.

3) Stacy Davis (Pepperdine) 

27 points and 12 rebounds in the Waves’ 72-69 win at Loyola Marymount.

STRUGGLED

1) Jordan Sims (UTSA)

Sims shot 1-for-10 from beyond the arc in the Roadrunners’ 85-56 loss at Southern Miss.

2) LaVonte Dority (Valparaiso) 

Dority made just three of his 13 shots from the field, scoring nine points in the Crusaders’ 67-53 loss at Green Bay.

3) Myles Mack (Rutgers) 

Mack did account for seven assists, five rebounds and three steals in the Scarlet Knights’ 64-59 loss to Memphis, but he also shot 4-for-17 from the field.

NOTABLES

  • Terran Petteway scored 26 points to lead Nebraska to an 80-67 win over Penn State, building on the momentum gained in their win at Michigan State on Sunday.
  • East Carolina led by as much as 13 in the second half before holding on for a 75-68 win over Louisiana Tech. As a result of the loss the Bulldogs are now a game behind Middle Tennessee and UTEP for first place in Conference USA.
  • Robert Morris came back from a 10-point second half deficit to beat LIU Brooklyn, 73-64, moving to 12-1 in NEC play. Andy Toole’s Colonials are now 12-1 in league play.
  • Quinnipiac beat Canisius 88-81 in Buffalo to move into a second-place tie with Manhattan in the MAAC. And with the Bobcats having swept the season series, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker should those two teams finish the season tied.
  • Green Bay clinched the Horizon League regular season title with a 67-53 win over Valparaiso. As a result Brian Wardle’s team will host the quarterfinals and semifinals of the conference tournament, and should they advance to the title game they’ll host that as well.
  • Kareem Jamar scored 25 points to lead Montana to a 68-57 win over Weber State, shrinking the Wildcats’ lead in the Big Sky to a single game over Northern Colorado.
  • Josh Huestis became Stanford’s all-time leader in blocked shots while also accounting for 11 points and 18 rebounds in the Cardinal’s 80-59 win over USC.
  • UC Irvine picked up a 60-56 overtime win at Hawai’i, winning in spite of a 5-for-17 night from Luke Nelson. The win keeps the Anteaters on top of the Big West standings, one game ahead of UCSB and two ahead of Long Beach State.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 21 UConn 68, Temple 55
  • No. 22 Memphis 64, Rutgers 59

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.