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LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 9 Iowa, No. 23 Kentucky pick up road wins

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Hofstra 96, Northeastern 92 (3OT)

The Pride and Huskies needed 15 extra minutes to determine a winner, with Hofstra coming out on top in the end. Juan’ya Green accounted for 23 points and 14 assists in the win, with Rokas Gustys scoring 23 and grabbing 20 rebounds. Quincy Ford and Zach Stahl scored 19 apiece for the Huskies, with Stahl also grabbing 11 boards. With the win Hofstra moves into a four-way tie for first in the CAA with William & Mary, James Madison and UNCW.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Saint Mary’s 70, Gonzaga 67: The Gaels took over sole possession of first place in the WCC, as they came back from a 15-point second half deficit to end Gonzaga’s 13-game road win streak. Evan Fitzner scored 20 points and Joe Rahon added 13 and three assists for Saint Mary’s, which shot 63 percent from the field in the second half. Eric McClellan scored 23 points for Gonzaga, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1 in the game’s final seconds after being fouled by Rahon.

No. 23 Kentucky 80, Arkansas 66: Tyler Ulis scored 24 points and Jamal Murray added 19 for the Wildcats, who got back on the right track with a win in Fayetteville. But the biggest takeaways are the play of Derek Willis and Skal Labissiere, with the former scoring 12 points for the second straight game and Labissiere scoring 11 points. If Kentucky can get some consistency in the front court, the equation changes for John Calipari’s team. But it’s better to be cautious with this group moving forward.

Cincinnati 76, Memphis 72: In a matchup of two teams looking to strengthen their respective résumés, the Bearcats held serve at home. Troy Caupain scored 25 points and Shaq Thomas added 18 for Cincinnati, which shot 50 percent from the field and converted 15 Memphis turnovers into 16 points. Trahson Burrell and Avery Woodson combined to score 42 points off the bench for the Tigers, who made just two of their last ten shots from the field.

Oregon 89, No. 21 USC 81: USC played its first game as a ranked team since the 2008-09 season, and they didn’t get the ending they wanted in Eugene. Elgin Cook led four Oregon players in double figures with 26 points, with Bennie Boatwright pacing USC with 23. If anything, the game served as a reminder that Oregon’s figured out its rotation and is a conference title contender themselves.

STARRED

Iowa’s Peter Jok: Hovering just under 40 percent from the field for most of the season, Jok’s shot better than 50 percent from the field in each of the last three games. Thursday, he scored 29 points on 10-for-19 shooting in a win at Rutgers.

Hofstra’s Rokas Gustys: Scored 23 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in Hofstra’s triple-overtime win at Northeastern.

BYU’s Kyle Collinsworth: The senior guard tallied the tenth triple-double of his BYU career, racking up ten points, 13 rebounds, 15 assists and five steals in the Cougars’ 91-80 comeback win at Loyola Marymount.

STRUGGLED

Towson: Just two Tigers managed to make multiple field goals in their 40-37 loss to the College of Charleston. As a team the Tigers shot 23.9 percent from the field.

Stanford’s Rosco Allen: Allen scored four points on 1-for-12 shooting in a loss to No. 12 Arizona.

San Diego’s Duda Sanadze: Shot 1-for-13 from the field, scoring two points in the Toreros’ 76-58 loss at Pepperdine.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 9 Iowa moved to 6-0 in the Big Ten with a 90-76 win at Rutgers. Peter Jok scored 29 points, and Jarrod Uthoff and Anthony Clemmons added 20 apiece for the Hawkeyes.
  • No. 12 Arizona pulled away down the stretch as they won 71-57 at Stanford. Gabe York scored 19 points and Ryan Anderson 18 for Sean Miller’s Wildcats.

OTHER NOTABLE OUTCOMES

  • T.J. Cromer scored 20 points on the night, leading East Tennessee State to a 65-63 overtime win over Mercer.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson scored 62 second half points as they came back to beat LIU Brooklyn 101-95. Darian Anderson led five Knights in double figures with 32 points.
  • Charlotte handed Marshall its first loss on Conference USA play, beating the Thundering Herd 103-95. Mark Price’s 49ers were led offensively by Andrien White, who scored 30 points on the night.
  • Both James Madison and William & Mary picked up wins to remain part of a four-way tie for first in the CAA, with the Dukes blowing out Drexel 68-45 and the Tribe doing the same to Elon (89-67). The two teams meet for the first time this season January 31.
  • North Florida moved to 5-0 in the Atlantic Sun with a 78-62 win at USC Upstate. Nick Malonga and Dallas Moore led six Ospreys in double figures with 16 points apiece.
  • Chattanooga moved to 6-1 in the SoCon with a 73-60 win over UNC Greensboro. Eric Robertson scored 22 points and Justin Tuoyo added 18 for the 17-3 Mocs.
  • Manhattan handed Monmouth its second conference loss, beating the Hawks 78-71 in Riverdale. Next up for the two-time defending MAAC tournament champion Jaspers are Saint Peter’s (6-1 MAAC) and Iona (6-2).
  • Ethan Happ scored 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as Wisconsin won 66-60 at Penn State.
  • UT-Arlington moved to 5-1 in the Sun Belt with a 91-64 win over Arkansas State. Kennedy Eubanks scored 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the win.
  • Playing their first game without injured guard Tyrone Wallace, California held off Arizona State 75-70. Ivan Rabb scored 20 points, grabbed eight rebounds and dished out six assists for the Golden Bears.
  • Idaho knocked off Montana 63-58 in Missoula, handing the Grizzlies their first loss in Big Sky play. Victor Sanders scored a game-high 27 for the winners.
  • Belmont moved to 6-0 in the OVC with an 82-72 win at UT-Martin. Amanze Egekeze scored 20 points, Craig Bradshaw 19 and Evan Bradds 18 for the Bruins, who shot 14-for-45 from three on the night.
  • UAB moved to 6-0 in Conference USA with an 82-70 win over Rice. Robert Brown scored 19 points and Nick Norton 18 to lead the way for the Blazers.
  • New Mexico State remained a game behind Grand Canyon and CSU Bakersfield in the loss column in the WAC with a 68-60 win at Seattle. Pascal Siakam posted another double-double, finishing with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
  • Nick Emery scored 24 points and Chase Fischer 20 in BYU’s 91-80 win at Loyola Marymount. Despite winning the Cougars had no answer for Adom Jacko, who went for 26 points and 12 boards.
  • Jordan Loveridge scored 22 points and Brandon Taylor 21 as Utah beat Washington State 92-71 in Pullman.

John Petty Jr. returns to Alabama for senior season

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama guard John Petty Jr. is staying in school instead of entering the NBA draft.

The Crimson Tide junior announced his decision to return for his senior season Monday on Twitter, proclaiming: “I’m back.”

Petty, the Tide’s top 3-point shooter, averaged 14.5 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds rebounds last season. He was second on the team in assists.

Petty made 85 3-pointers in 29 games, shooting at a 44% clip.

Alabama coach Nate Oats called him “one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal,” Oats said.

Fellow Tide guard Kira Lewis Jr. is regarded as a likely first-round draft pick.

McKinley Wright IV returns to Colorado

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McKinley Wright IV will be back for season No. 4 with the Colorado Buffaloes.

The point guard tested the NBA draft process before announcing a return for his senior year. It’s a big boost for a Buffaloes team that’s coming off a 21-11 mark in 2019-20 and was potentially looking at an NCAA Tournament bid before the season was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wright was an All-Pac-12 first team selection a season ago, along with an all-defensive team pick. He and athletic forward Tyler Bey declared for the draft in late March. Bey remains in the draft.

“We’ve got unfinished business,” said Wright, who averaged 14.4 points and 5.0 assists per game last season.

Midway through the season, the Buffaloes were looking like a lock for their first NCAA Tournament appearance since ’15-16. Then, the team hit a five-game skid, including a loss to Washington State in the Pac-12 tournament. Simply put, they hit a defensive rut they just couldn’t shake out of, Wright said. It drove him to work that much harder in the offseason.

“This is my last go-around and I’ve got big dreams,” the 6-footer from Minnesota said. “I want to take CU to a place they haven’t been in a while. We want to go back to the tournament and win high-level games.”

The feedback from NBA scouts was reaffirming for Wright. He said they appreciated his transition game, movement away from the ball and his defensive intangibles. They also gave Wright areas he needed to shore up such as assist-to-turnover ratio and shooting the 3-pointer with more consistency.

He took it to heart while training in Arizona during the pandemic. He recently returned to Boulder, Colorado, where he’s going through quarantine before joining his teammates for workouts.

“The work I put in and the time I spent in the gym compared to all my other offseasons, it’s a big gap,” Wright said. “Last offseason, I thought I worked hard. But it was nothing compared to the time and different type of mindset I put myself in this year.”

Another motivating factor for his return was this: a chance to be the first in his family to earn his college degree. He’s majoring in ethnic studies with a minor in communications.

“My grandparents are excited about that. My parents are excited about that,” Wright said. “I’m excited about that as well.”

Wright also has an opportunity to take over the top spot on the school’s all-time assists list. His 501 career assists trail only Jay Humphries, who had 562 from 1980-84. Wright also ranks 13th all-time with 1,370 career points.

NOTES: Colorado announced the death of 95-year-old fan Betty Hoover, who along with her twin sister, Peggy Coppom, became fixtures at Buffs sporting events and were season ticket holders since 1958. Wright used to run into them not only on the court, but at the local bank. “I’ve never met anyone as loving and supporting and caring as those two,” Wright said. “They hold a special place in my heart. It sucks that Betty won’t be at any games this year. Maybe we can do something, put her name on our jersey. They’re two of the biggest fans in CU history.”

Jared Butler returns to Baylor

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Baylor got some huge news on Monday as potential All-American Jared Butler announced that he will be returning to school for his junior season, joining MaCio Teague is pulling his name out of the 2020 NBA Draft to get the band back together.

Butler was Baylor’s leading scorer a season ago, averaging 16.0 points and 3.1 assists for a team that went 26-4, spent a portion of the season as the No. 1 team in the country and was in line to receive a 1-seed had the 2020 NCAA Tournament taken place.

With Butler and Teague coming back to school, the Bears will return four starters from last season’s squad. Starting center Freddie Gillespie is gone, as is backup guard Devonte Bandoo, but those are holes that can be filled. Tristan Clark, who was Baylor’s best player during the 2018-19 season before suffering a knee injury that lingered through last year, will be back, and there is more than enough talent in the program to replace the scoring pop of Bandoo. Matthew Mayer will be in line for more minutes, while transfer Adam Flagler will be eligible this season.

Baylor will enter this season as a consensus top three team in the country. They will receive plenty of votes as the No. 1 team in the sport, making them not only a very real contender for the Big 12 regular season crown but one of the favorites to win the national title.

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As MaCio Teague returns, Baylor now awaits Jared Butler’s NBA draft decision

Butler is the key.

Baylor was one of college basketball’s best defensive teams last year. They finished fourth nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric, a ranking that dropped after they Bears lost two of their last three games to TCU and West Virginia. Where they struggled was on the offensive end of the floor. The Bears would go through droughts were points were at a premium and their best offense was a missed shot. Butler’s intrigue for NBA teams was his ability to shoot and to create space in isolation. He’s the one guy on the roster that can create something out of nothing for himself.

And now he is back to try and lead Baylor to a Final Four.

Arizona State’s Martin to return for senior season

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TEMPE, Ariz. (–Arizona State guard Remy Martin is withdrawing from the NBA draft and will return for his senior season in the desert.

“I’m blessed to have the opportunity to coach Remy Martin for one more season,” Sun Devils coach Bobby Hurley said in a statement Sunday. “Remy will be one of the best players in college basketball this year and will be on a mission to lead Arizona State basketball in its pursuit of championships.”

A 6-foot guard, Martin is the Pac-12’s leading returning scorer after averaging 19.1 points in 2019-20. He also averaged 4.1 assists per game and helped put the Sun Devils in position to reach the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year before the season was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Martin’s return should put Arizona State among the favorites to win the Pac-12 next season.

Martin joins fellow guard Alonzo Verge Jr. in returning to the Sun Devils after testing the NBA waters. Big man Romello White declared for the draft and later entered the transfer portal.

Hurley has signed one of the program’s best recruiting classes for next season, headed by five-star guard Josh Christopher.

Michigan State forward Xavier Tillman will remain in the 2020 NBA Draft

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In the end, Xavier Tillman Sr.’s decision whether or not to return to remain in the 2020 NBA Draft for his senior season came down to security.

A 6-foot-8 forward that averaged 13.7 points, 10.3 boards, 3.0 assists and 2.1 blocks this past season, Tillman was an NBC Sports third-team All-American a season ago. He’s projected as the No. 23 pick in the latest NBC Sports mock draft. He was the best NBA prospect that had yet to make a decision on his future until Sunday.

That’s when Tillman announced that he will be foregoing his final season of college eligibility to head to the NBA.

In the end, it’s probably the right decision, but it’s not one that the big fella made easily.

Tillman is unlike most college basketball players forced to make a decision on their basketball future. He is married. He has two kids, a three-year old daughter and a six-month old son. This is not a situation where he can bet on himself, head to the pro ranks and figure it out later on.

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He needs something stable, particularly given the fact that we are living in the midst of a pandemic that has put the future of sports in doubt, at least for the short term.

He needs security.

He needed to know that there would be a job for him in the NBA. Not a two-way contract. Not a spot on a camp roster or a chance to develop in the G League. Hell, there might not even be a G League next season. That was an option at Michigan State. He was living in an apartment with his family that was covered by his scholarship and stipend. He had meals paid for. He was able to take food from the training room home and have dinner with his family. He was able to get to class, to the gym, to practice and back home in time to do the dishes at night. He told NBC Sports in March that the school was able to provide him with $1,200-a-month to help pay for things like diapers high chairs. That was all going to be there if he returned to school. It was a great situation, one that lacked the uncertainty that comes with the professional level.

Because as much as I love Tillman as a role player at the next level, NBA teams do not all feel the same. The tricky thing about the draft is that it makes sense to swing for the fences on the guys that can be locked into salaries for the first four years of a contract. The Toronto Raptors took Pascal Siakam with the 27th pick and have paid less than $7 million in total salary in his first four years for a player that made an all-star team. Kyle Kuzma is averaging 16.0 points through three seasons and is on the books for $3.5 million in year four.

Tillman’s ability to defend, his basketball IQ, his play-making and his professional demeanor means that he can step into the modern NBA and do a job as a rotation player for just about any team in the league. But he doesn’t have the upside that other bigs in the same projected range have — Jalen Smith, Daniel Oturu, Jaden McDaniels, Zeke Nnaji — so there are teams that are scared off.

I don’t get it.

But Tillman’s decision to head to the professional ranks indicates that he does, indeed, feel confident in the fact that he will have gainful and steady employment next season. Since he would have walked at Michigan State’s graduation in May had it been held, that doesn’t leave much to return to school for.

The Spartans will now be left in a tough spot. There are quite a few pieces to like on this roster. Rocket Watts had promising moments as a freshman, as did Malik Hall. Gabe Brown and Marcus Bingham are both talented players. Joey Hauser had a good season at Marquette, and the early returns on freshman Mady Sissoko are promising. But this is going to be a young and unproven group.

Izzo has had less at his disposal before, but this is certainly not an ideal situation for Michigan State.