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Late Night Snacks: Five ranked teams, including No. 10 Saint Louis, fall

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Oregon 87, UCLA 83 (2OT)

With UCLA playing without the suspended Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams, it seemed as if Oregon was well-positioned to earn a win that they needed to improve their NCAA tournament hopes. Of course the game supplied more drama than many anticipated, with Bryce Alford scoring 31 points and David Wear forcing overtime with a three-pointer as time expired. Oregon would eventually get the win with Mike Moser accounting for 12 points, 20 rebounds and five assists and Joseph Young scoring 26 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) Arkansas 71, No. 17 Kentucky 67 (OT)

The Razorbacks got themselves a quality road win on Thursday night, beating the Wildcats in Lexington with both teams struggling to execute down the stretch. But all that matters is the result, and the sweep of the regular season series could be what puts Mike Anderson’s team in the NCAA tournament. Kentucky’s starting perimeter of James Young and the Harrison twins shot a combined 11-for-39 from the field, and this was a big reason why Arkansas won despite committing 20 turnovers.

2) Indiana 93, No. 20 Iowa 86

For the third consecutive game the Hawkeyes struggled defensively, and as a result Fran McCaffery’s team has now lost three straight. Will Sheehey scored 19 of his 30 points in the first half to lead Indiana, and in the second half a 27-4 edge in bench points made the difference. How long Iowa stays in the NCAA tournament will depend on their ability to defend, something they must get better at in the coming weeks.

3) Duquesne 71, No. 10 Saint Louis 64

Micah Mason scored 22 points and Jerry Jones added 19 off the bench to lead the Dukes to the upset win at Saint Louis. The result ended the Billikens’ 19-game win streak two days ahead of their showdown at VCU, and it’s possible that Jim Crews’ team was caught looking ahead. SLU turned the ball over 16 times and shot 4-for-23 from beyond the arc, and they’ll need to be better in both areas on Saturday afternoon.

STARRED

1) Patrick Miller (Tennessee State) 

Miller scored 38 points and grabbed five rebounds in the Tigers’ 70-68 win at Morehead State. Miller’s final points of the night came on a three-pointer with two seconds remaining to give TSU the win.

2) Ledrick Eackles (McNeese State) 

31 points (10-for-17 FG), six rebounds and five assists in the Cowboys’ 87-72 win over Incarnate Word.

3) Jordan Reed (Binghamton) 

Reed accounted for 33 points (10-for-19 FG) and 13 rebounds in the Bearcats’ 89-83 overtime loss at Hartford.

STRUGGLED

1) Earl Brown and Greg Brown (St. Francis-PA)

The two starters (unrelated) combined to score two points on 0-for-14 shooting from the field in the Red Flash’s 74-45 loss at Wagner.

2) Middle Tennessee 

The Blue Raiders were on the wrong end of 55-39 loss at Louisiana Tech, shooting 35.4% from the field and finishing with more turnovers (19) than made field goals (17).

3) Memphis’ starting backcourt

Chris Crawford, Joe Jackson and Geron Johnson combined to shoot 4-for-15 in the Tigers’ 77-68 loss at Houston.

NOTABLES

  • D.J. Newbill scored 23 points and Tim Frazier added 16 as Penn State beat No. 22 Ohio State 65-63. The win gave the Nittany Lions a sweep of the season series.
  • There will be a new champion in the NEC as Central Connecticut State beat LIU Brooklyn 86-82 in overtime, eliminating the Blackbirds from contention for a spot in the conference tournament.
  • The top two teams in the Atlantic Sun both fell, with Lipscomb whipping FGCU 92-71 and Mercer dropping a 79-76 overtime decision to North Florida.
  • Wins by Southern Miss (beat FIU), Louisiana Tech (Middle Tennessee) and Tulsa (UTEP) forced a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA, with UTEP sitting a game behind the group.
  • VCU used a 51-point second half to pull away from Fordham, beating the Rams 85-66 in the Bronx. Juvonte Reddic led the way with 22 points and 12 rebounds.
  • Luke Apfeld led five players in double figures with 14 points as Vermont beat Stony Brook 69-53, wrapping up the America East regular season title.
  • Davidson also clinched a regular season title, wrapping up the SoCon crown with a 79-46 win over UNCG. Brian Sullivan and Tyler Kalinoski combined to score 33 points off the bench for the winners.
  • Green Bay wrapped up the Horizon League title with a 71-63 win at Oakland, outscoring the Golden Grizzlies 40-19 in the second half.
  • Siena upset Quinnipiac 72-70 in Hamden, moving into sole possession of fifth place in the MAAC and moving closer to earning the final first-round bye in the conference tournament.
  • UC Irvine grabbed sole possession of first place in the Big West with a 71-60 win over UCSB.
  • Gonzaga wrapped up the outright WCC regular season title with a 70-53 win over Pacific. Drew Barham scored 17 points for the Bulldogs.
  • Utah Valley took a step towards the WAC regular season title, beating New Mexico State 66-61 in overtime. However a post game fight has taken attention away from the result for the Wolverines.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 7 Louisville 88, Temple 66
  • Houston 77, No. 21 Memphis 68

Annual doubleheader featuring state of Iowa’s four schools ending after 2018

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One of college basketball’s distinctive events is coming to a close after this season.

The Hy-Vee Classic, formerly the Big Four Classic, which has put the state of Iowa’s four Division I programs under one roof for a doubleheader each season since 2012 will have its last edition this December with the University of Iowa electing to exercise its option to pull out of the event with the Big Ten’s move to 20 conference games.

“The addition of two conference games is good for our fans, the Big Ten Conference and our strength of schedule,” Iowa athletic director Gary Barta said in a statement, “but unfortunately it created some scheduling challenges that impacts this event.”

The event was unique as it pit the state’s two Power 5 institutions – Iowa and Iowa State – against its two Missouri Valley Conference programs – Northern Iowa and Drake – on a rotating basis each season in the state capital of Des Moines. One year Iowa State would play Drake while Iowa would face Northern Iowa with the following year featuring Iowa State vs. Northern Iowa and Iowa vs. Drake. And so on and so forth for the last six years and ending after one last go-round this December.

The event was a sort of compromise to keep the intrastate series alive after years of both the Hawkeyes and Cyclones playing home-and-homes with Drake and Northern Iowa most years, putting them on the road in hostile MVC arenas.

That went away in 2012 and doesn’t appear to be likely to return with the dissolution of the yearly doubleheader.

“Although we would certainly welcome continuing to play games against UNI or Drake in the future,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement, “our ability to do that will most likely depend on each of their institution’s willingness to play games in Hilton Coliseum.”

Needless to say, Drake and UNI were not pleased with Iowa’s decision to force the end of the event.

“What has made our state unique on the college basketball landscape was the willingness and cooperation between the state’s four Division I universities to play each other on a regular basis,” Drake athletic director Brian Hardin said in a statement. “I understand the position that Iowa and Iowa State believe they are in. However, it is a sad day for passionate basketball fans of all four programs who have enjoyed nearly a century of history and rivalries between these four schools that were played in various great venues in our state.”

When the event was initially announced, it always felt like it was intended to act as a wind-down for Iowa and Iowa State – who will continue to face each other in on-campus games every year –  of the mid-major games that were popular with fans but not always with Hawkeyes and Cyclones coaches. Given the option, few Power 5 coaches are going to be excited about facing a lower-tier in-state rival every year anywhere other than its home floor.

Still, it’s a major loss for a unique situation in a small-population state that is not home to professional sports, but four Division I men’s hoops programs. College athletics is the passion in Iowa, and depriving the state’s fans of what were – if not national marquee – fun and interesting matchups that carry with them pride and bragging rights is a step in the wrong direction.

Ultimately, these games are likely going to be replaced on the schedules for the Cyclones and Hawkeyes with low-major opponents that won’t move the needle either at the gate or on their NCAA tournament resumes. Instead of an innovative event that against a co-worker’s or neighbor’s alma mater, Iowa and Iowa State fans can say hello to a steady diet of games against Bryant, Campbell and Maryland Eastern Shore while Drake and UNI get relegated to even more pronounced second-class status.

The move isn’t surprising, but it is disappointing.

High-scoring White ready for shot at UNC point guard role

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WILSON, N.C. (AP) — No one questions whether Coby White is good enough to help North Carolina immediately as a freshman.

Rather, the pressing question as White heads to campus this week is this: can the instate McDonald’s All-American who scored more points than any high school player in state history help the Tar Heels replace departed point guard Joel Berry II?

“I want to play. Who doesn’t want to play?” White said in an interview with The Associated Press. “But I know it’s going to take a lot to learn the offense and defense of North Carolina. … I feel like I’m a quick learner and I have a high IQ for the game. Basketball is just reads to me. I think I always make the correct read.

“It’s going to be hard but I feel like it’s going to be a quick adjustment for me.”

The 6-foot-4 White is ranked as the nation’s No. 23 recruit by 247sports, joining McDonald’s game MVP Nassir White (a 6-7 small forward ranked third nationally) and four-star 6-8 guard Rechon “Leaky” Black.

The trio joins a team that returns three starters — including AP third-team All-American Luke Maye — but must replace Berry and swingman Theo Pinson, fixtures from a 2017 NCAA title run.

Berry’s absence could be the biggest void. He was a Final Four most outstanding player, floor leader and won’t-back-down competitor.

Rising junior Seventh Woods has struggled with injuries and inconsistency as Berry’s possible successor, while freshman Jalek Felton withdrew from school after being suspended at midseason by the university for an unspecified reason.

That leaves an opening for White, a scoring point guard with more than 3,500 career points for Greenfield School in Wilson before the school retired his jersey.

“Will he have to score 31 at Carolina next year? Absolutely not,” Greenfield coach Rob Salter said. “But when the opportunity is there for him to score, he can do it, and he can do it pretty naturally.”

UNC coach Roy Williams began recruiting White as a point guard and an “instinctive passer.” Of course, he’s not overlooking White’s scoring punch, either.

“If you’re the leading scorer in North Carolina history, it means you shot a hell of a lot,” Williams quipped. “He did, but he makes a bunch of them, too. … The one thing that will have to become more important to him is his field-goal percentage.

“But if he didn’t get 30 or 40 or whatever, they had a difficult time beating a good team. So if I was coaching him (in high school), I’d say, ‘If it feels like leather, shoot it.'”

To prepare for college basketball, White said he has worked to get stronger and is up to about 190 pounds. He’s honing off-ball skills to play on the wing, too.

His mother, Bonita, said it’s merely the latest example of how her son has always been “wired to work.” She pointed to his freshman year when he’d return from basketball workouts at Greenfield and then head to the YMCA near their Goldsboro home.

“I was like, ‘You just got home, why do you want to go to the Y?'” she said. “He said, ‘The ball never stops.’ That’s where I saw it became very, very serious for him. It became a goal, even as a kid at that age who in his mind knew that the only way he would get better is to continue to work. And that’s what he did.”

White is fresh off helping the United States claim the FIBA Americas under-18 championship Saturday night in Canada. By week’s end, he’ll be in Chapel Hill to begin summer classes and start prepping for an oncourt opportunity.

“I’m probably going to be more nervous about just going to school because I’ve always been (at Greenfield) and it’s a little school,” White said.

“But basketball, I’ve been playing basketball since I was 5. I’m not really nervous because it’s what I do. I practice it every day. I put 100 percent into it so I don’t see why I should be nervous about it.”

South Carolina’s Martin understands Bowen’s choice to leave

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina’s Frank Martin understood all along he might never get to coach Brian Bowen in a game and is just happy the 6-foot-7 forward whose name is part of the federal corruption case in college basketball had the chance to spend a few months with the Gamecocks.

Bowen gave up his college career to turn pro last month when the NCAA informed South Carolina he would miss at least all of next season — his second full year on the bench — because of his alleged involvement in the scandal.

“Am I surprised? No. I’m realistic enough to understand when we took him that this was a possibility,” Martin said. “Was I disappointed? Yes.”

Bowen, from Saginaw, Michigan, transferred to South Carolina following his suspension from Louisville amid the federal probe after news of an alleged payment involving the Cardinals and his father to get him to join that school. Bowen could not play for the Gamecocks until at least the middle of December next season because of NCAA transfer rules.

The governing body told the school the penalty for Bowen would at least include the rest of the next year, something Martin knew meant Bowen had little option other than to turn pro.

“The NCAA kind of pigeon-holed him into only one choice,” Martin said.

Martin said did not want to dissect the NCAA’s decision, saying he accepted it and worked with Bowen and his family on his future. Bowen has since withdrawn from this month’s NBA draft. Martin said he’ll play in a developmental league or play outside the country to preserve his eligibility for next year’s draft.

South Carolina brought in Bowen last January despite his involvement with the college corruption scandal. It was not the coaches only ties to the ongoing investigation. One of Martin’s former staff members, ex-Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, was arrested by federal authorities. Documents from the investigation showed former Gamecocks point guard PJ Dozier received $6,115 from the ASM Sports Agency while in school.

Martin has said he knew nothing about Dozier or his family dealing with agents and that he has always run a clean program.

Bowen has insisted he’s had no involvement with Christian Dawkins, the would-be agent who federal prosecutors say brokered and facilitated payments to players during their recruitments in exchange for them hiring him when they turned pro.

Martin is grateful for the time he’s had with Bowen, who had a 3.5 GPA this semester and was a model teammate who’d spend hours by himself in the gym shooting jumpers. He was also committed to South Carolina’s future, the coach said, which he proved after his time at the NBA draft combine last month.

Martin said Bowen spent six days working out at the combine and another five after that visiting NBA teams for workouts. When Bowen finally returned to Columbia, he drove to a restaurant where Gamecocks coaches were entertaining a recruit.

“He’s a real good kid,” Martin said.

The coach also believes he is a future NBA player, though obviously Bowen needs to improve areas of his game. Martin recalled an informal workout with past South Carolina stars including Los Angeles Clippers guard Sindarius Thornwell and Dozier, who spent much of this season in the G-League with the Oklahoma City Blue.

“I wasn’t sure Brian wasn’t the best player on the court when I walked out of there,” Martin said.

Bowen also made other South Carolina players better at practices. Martin cited an early January slump — the so-called “freshman wall” many newcomers hit — by first-year forward Justin Minaya. When Bowen arrived for practices, he was matched up most of the time against the 6-5 Minaya.

“Justin had no choice but to engage in that matchup with Brian because Brian’s such a talented kid,” Martin said.

As a result, Martin said Minaya recovered his form and was among the Gamecocks most consistent players in February and March.

“I know what I walked into. I knew the situation,” Martin said. “Do I regret it? Not one bit because of the person he is.”

North Carolina gets commitment from four-star 2020 forward

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North Carolina has its first piece in its 2020 recruiting class.

Day’Ron Sharpe, a 6-foot-9 forward, committed to the Tar Heels on Sunday, according to multiple reports.

The Winterville, N.C. native picked Roy Williams’ in-state program over offers from Florida, Georgetown and Virginia, among others, after a second visit to Chapel Hill recently.

“We weren’t expecting it, and it kind of came out of the blue,” his father, Derrick Sharpe, told 247 Sports about the commitment. “He told coach Williams and coach was just really excited about it.”

Sharpe averaged 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game during his sophomore season.

“He’s a very multi-talented player,” Dwayne West, executive director of the Garner Road Bulldogs told the Raleigh News & Observer. “He does several things very well at a high rate. He can obviously score the ball around the basket, has a solid shot and is actually a very good playmaker. Handles the ball very well.”

Sharpe is a four-star, consensus top-75 player in the 2020 class. Williams also has one commit in the 2019 class, top-50 point guard Jeremiah Francis, who, like Sharpe, committed to the Tar Heels the summer before his junior season.

Former Western Michigan basketball player cleared of murder

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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — A jury has acquitted a former Western Michigan basketball player of murder in the shooting death of a fellow student but convicted him of armed robbery and a weapons charge.

The Kalamazoo County jury deliberated two days before returning the verdict for Joeviair Kennedy. He faces a possible life sentence when he’s sentenced July 16.

Nineteen-year-old Jacob Jones was killed near the campus on Dec. 8, 2016.

Co-defendant Jordan Waire of Muskegon was convicted last month of felony murder, armed robbery and weapons charges.

Prosecutors said it was Waire who shot Jones. Kennedy has said they took marijuana and about $25.

Kennedy’s attorney, Eusebio Solis, said his client agreed to the robbery but not the killing.

Kennedy was arrested in 2016 at the start of his second basketball season.

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