Miami lands four-star 2019 guard Isaiah Wong

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Miami received an important commitment on Wednesday as the Hurricanes landed four-star guard Isaiah Wong. A consensus top-100 player in the Class of 2019, the 6-foot-2 Wong is considered the No. 71 overall prospect in the Rivals national rankings.

More importantly than Wong’s ranking, he’s the first high school prospect to commit to Miami since they were linked in the FBI’s investigation last season. While other programs like Arizona and Louisville have recently started to land quality high school prospects, even in the midst of uncertainty, Miami didn’t land a high school prospect from the Class of 2018.

Wong, Miami’s first commitment since the Class of 2017 from the high school level, gets the Hurricanes back in the mix for top national talent as he should come in and be an immediate contributor. As a taller guard who can defend, handle, pass and score, Wong could be a nice fit alongside a smaller guard in Chris Lykes.

Elleby’s 25 points leads Washington State in upset of No. 8 Oregon

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PULLMAN, Wash. — CJ Elleby went 25 points as Kyle Smith led Washington State to a win over a Top-10 team for just the third time in program history, surprising No. 8 Oregon 72-61 on Thursday night.

Elleby, who was held to a season-low six points in his last game, helped Washington State (11-7, 2/3 Pac-12) to its first win over a Top-10 opponent since 2007.

Elleby shot 9 for 20, including 4 for 7 from 3-point range, and added a season-high 14 rebounds. Isaac Bonton finished with 12 points and six assists, and Jeff Pollard scored 11 for the Cougars.

Payton Pritchard had 22 points and five assists for Oregon (14-4, 3-2), which had its three-game winning streak halted. Chris Duarte had 15 points for the Ducks.

Trailing by five points with 3:24 left, Pritchard made a clutch jumper in the paint and then converted a free throw to make it 60-58.

On the ensuing possession, Elleby converted a three-point play to make the score 63-58.

Washington State then went on a 9-0 run that closed out Oregon.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The heavily favored Ducks were outplayed by the Cougars and are now 4-2 in the Pac-12.

Washington State: The Cougars get a much needed victory over a heavily favored Oregon squad.

UP NEXT:

Oregon: At Washington on Saturday

Washington State: Host Oregon State on Saturday

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Three Things To Know: No. 8 Oregon lost, the Pac-12 is dunk, Memphis won

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It’s a Thursday night, which obviously means that the Pac-12 got weird again.

These are the three things you need to know:

1. OREGON LOST AT WASHINGTON STATE

Kyle Smith landed his first big win as the head coach of the Cougars as he knocked off the 8th-ranked Ducks, 72-61, in Pullman.

C.J. Elleby scored 25 points to lead the way for Wazzu, who improves to 11-7 on the season and 2-3 in the Pac-12 with the win.

The loss is more relevant for Oregon, however, as they fall two games off the pace that Stanford has set in the Pac-12. The Cardinal are now sitting at 4-0 in league play after last night’s win over UCLA and have a one-game lead on Colorado and USC.

The three teams that were ranked in the preseason from the conference?

Arizona and Oregon are both two games out of first. Washington is three games off the pace, which is definitive proof that, once again, the Pac-12 looks like it may not actually be all that good.

And here I thought there would be at least one conference in college basketball that made any sort of sense.

2. COLORADO BEAT UP ON ARIZONA STATE; ARIZONA BEAT UP ON UTAH

While Oregon was struggling to put away the Fighting Klay Thompsons, Colorado and Arizona both took care of business against Arizona State and Utah, respectively, setting up a Saturday afternoon showdown in the desert.

No. 20 Colorado paying a visit to the McKale Center to take on Arizona and all their freshmen lottery picks.

That should be fun.

3. MEMPHIS KNOCKED OFF CINCINNATI

The No. 22 Tigers took care of business at home against Cincinnati on Thursday night, and while the final score ended up being 60-49, it wasn’t quite as easy as that would indicate.

Memphis held an 11 point lead at halftime, but the Bearcats used an 18-2 second half run to take the lead and trailed by only four with four minutes left on the clock.

The good news for Memphis fans is that Penny Hardaway has seemingly fully committed to the idea that he needs to start Alex Lomax alongside Lestor Quinones and D.J. Jeffries. What’s somewhat frustrating is that he still isn’t playing Precious Achiuwa at the five full-time, which is where I think that he is going to play at the next level and where he has been the most effective at this level.

But some of that is because Malcolm Dandridge showed up to play. He finished with seven rebounds, four blocks, three steals and four assists in 26 minutes.

CBT Podcast: Duke, Auburn, Butler and Kentucky all lose, so are we worried yet?

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In the last two nights, four top ten teams in the AP poll have lost. Duke fell at Clemson, Kentucky fell at South Carolina, Butler lost to Seton Hall and Auburn lost at Alabama. Rob Dauster and Bobby Reagan are here to talk through each of those four results and whether or not it is time to be worried about any of those four teams.

Why does San Francisco intentionally foul at the end of the first half?

Courtesy of USF Athletics: Christina Leung
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Something weird happened at the end of the first half of San Francisco’s win over Pacific over the weekend.

The Dons scored an and-one with just 12 seconds left in the half. They went up 45-33 after Jamaree Bouyea hit his free throw. The absolute worst-case scenario here is that they would be heading into halftime with a 45-37 lead, should someone on USF be silly enough to foul a three-point shooter.

But that’s not what happened.

Instead, USF … fouled Pacific?

Here’s the clip:

What you see there is USF head coach Todd Golden bringing in his best on-ball defender, Khalil Shabazz, to throw on Pacific’s freshman point guard, Pierre Crockrell.

The goal?

To try and get a steal, and if they can’t get a quick steal, foul.

Why?

Crockrell entered the game as a 36 percent free throw shooter. That number dropped all the way to 22 percent against Division I opponents, and the Dons were still in the 1-and-1. This was the perfect chance for San Francisco to steal a couple of points at the end of the half.

“The last possession of a half is less valuable than others by nature,” said Jonathan Safir, USF’s Director of Basketball Operations and the resident stat nerd on Golden’s bench. “It’s almost always against a set defense in a non-transition opportunity where you want to shoot in a specific time period. So we call that last possession 0.8 xPPP [expected points-per-possession].

“So if we don’t foul, they win the end of the half 0.8 to 0.0. By fouling a 22 percent free throw shooter, their xPPP becomes 0.27 points and we get the ball back for the 0.8 xPPP possession. So we win the final 12 seconds 0.8 to 0.27. That’s a swing of 1.33 xPPP.”

In theory.

In practice, this ended up earning the Dons two extra points on their lead. Instead of going into halftime with, at best, a 12 point lead, they entered the break up 48-34. And if Shabazz, who averages 1.6 steals per game, had picked Crockrell’s pocket, the process could have started all over again.

This was something that the coaching staff has had in their back pocket all season, and there are a few more tricks that they have left up their sleeve if the situation is right. In this case, the key was finding a player that shoots under 50 percent from the free throw line while being in the 1-and-1. If the shooters are better than that, or if the team is in the double-bonus, it’s not worth the risk.

We hear a lot about analytics in sports.

This is how analytics are implemented into a basketball game.

“College is definitely behind the NBA with the ways to evaluate and implement data analysis,” Golden said. “College is also different because of the tiers and hierarchy in Division I. Incremental advantages are not necessarily as important when there is a large talent disparity.”

There are also limitations given the talent level in college. Take, for example, big men. The best teams in college basketball still rely heavily on post touches and big men that play with their back to the basket — Filip Petrusev at Gonzaga, Udoka Azubuike at Kansas, Vernon Carey at Duke — and this is because the players that can create mismatches by defending in the paint and playing on the perimeter offensively don’t spend long in college.

What that means is that the statistical analysis San Francisco does has to be taken into context.

Put another way, the Moneyball era in baseball was based entirely on the math and the data. San Francisco calls themselves Astroball.

Well, called.

Past tense.

“We need a new name now,” Golden said, chuckling, before explaining how important it is to use more than just a spreadsheet to coach. “We maintain the human element, keep it involved in decision-making. Our scouting isn’t strictly based on statistical performance. You need to find a happy marriage between the two, to gain as much of a statistical advantage as possible while staying true to evaluating based on personal touch.”

That’s a long-winded way of saying that the edge for college basketball teams playing at the level USF is playing — they are a top 100 team on KenPom right now — isn’t necessarily to go all the way on shooting threes, layups and free throws.

It’s doing things like fouling bad free throw shooters to earn themselves a couple of extra points at the end of a half. It’s going all-in on 2-for-1’s at the end of halves. It’s playing guys that have two fouls in the first half instead of parking them on the bench. It’s studying lineup data to determine the most efficient way to play when specific players are on the floor together.

“It’s best when data is checked by eyeballs, which is checked by the human element,” Golden said.

Three Things To Know: Auburn lost, Seton Hall won, Kentucky choked

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Every night turns into utter insanity in college basketball these days, and Wednesday was certainly no different.

Here are the three things that you need to know from the night’s action.

1. SAN DIEGO STATE IS NOW THE ONLY UNBEATEN TEAM LEFT IN THE COUNTRY

No. 4 Auburn went into Tuscaloosa on Wednesday night and just got absolutely worked over by Alabama in the basketball version of the Iron Bowl.

Kira Lewis finished with 25 points, Herb Jones added 14 and 12 boards and the Crimson Tide cruised to an 83-64 win over a top five team that entered the night without a loss to their name.

The narrative here is going to be that Auburn lost their first game of the season, but the truth is that Auburn found a way to rig their schedule the way that teams have done in the past with the RPI. They loaded up on teams that they could and should beat but that were good enough to make their schedule look respectable. Think: Davidson, or New Mexico, or Richmond, or Furman, or Saint Louis. Those are all going to end up as top 100ish wins, and in total, it’s going to make Auburn’s strength of schedule computer numbers look delightful.

But the truth is that the Tigers hadn’t yet beaten anyone of note. Unless you think that N.C. State is getting to the NCAA tournament, there’s a very real chance that Auburn has yet to play a tournament team.

That, of course, may change after this game.

Because the real story here is that it looks like Nate Oats is getting this thing going in the right direction. Alabama has now won two of their last three, five of their last seven and seven of their last ten. They’ve covered the spread in all ten of those games. The three losses came by an average of 5.7 points, and all three were on the road against top 40 teams — Penn State, Florida and Kentucky.

Alabama really is an entertaining watch. They run as much as anyone in the country, they fire up shots as quickly as they can and they have a rule: Threes and layups. No deep twos, no mid-range. Get to the rim or bomb away.

Combine that with talent like Kira Lewis and John Petty, and if that’s not something you will have fun watching, then why are you even a basketball fan?

2. KENTUCKY BLOWS A LEAD AND LOSES AT SOUTH CAROLINA

Elsewhere in the SEC, Kentucky was up by 14 points in the second half and found a way to lose at South Carolina in a game where A.J. Lawson didn’t do all that much.

Ashton Hagans struggled late, Nate Sestina was played off the floor and the Wildcats were, overall, the team that we saw earlier in the season.

But hey, at least they had a great view of this buzzer-beater:

3. SETON HALL WON AT BUTLER

In what was the most entertaining and intense game of the night, No. 18 Seton Hall went into Hinkle Fieldhouse and knocked off No. 5 Butler despite trailing by 10 points at the half.

Myles Powell scored 19 of his 29 points in the second half, and the Pirates are now in sole possession of first place in the Big East.

Our Scott Phillips wrote a column on this game here.