Rob Dauster was joined by Myron Medcalf from ESPN.com on Friday morning to talk through all of the week’s biggest college basketball stories, from Jahvon Quinerly and the fake Instagram hack to Quade Green’s transfer to whether or not Kentucky can still recruit basketball players that matter.
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. scored 17 points and No. 5 Gonzaga used a stout defense to beat Loyola Marymount 73-55 on Thursday night, the eighth consecutive win for the Bulldogs since a pair of losses knocked them out of the top spot in The AP Top 25.
Brandon Clarke added 13 points, Corey Kispert 12 and Rui Hachimura 10 for Gonzaga (17-2, 4-0 West Coast), which beat Loyola Marymount for the 20th straight time. The Zags have won 18 straight games at home.
James Batemon led Loyola Marymount (13-5, 1-3) with 12 points.
Loyola used a slow-down offense and stingy defense to keep the scoring low, and it mostly accomplished that goal.
Gonzaga, which averages 92 points a game, led just 17-16 midway through the first half.
The Zags went on a 19-6 run the rest of the half to take a 36-22 lead at halftime. The Lions shot only 36 percent in the first and committed 11 turnovers.
A 3-pointer by Norvell highlighted a 14-2 Gonzaga run to open the second half that lifted the Bulldogs to a 50-24 lead. Meanwhile, the Lions were missing eight of their first 10 shots.
Loyola Marymount made just five of its first 20 shots in the second half, and fell behind 61-35 with less than 8 minutes left.
Loyola Marymount: The Lions opened the season 11-1, but have dropped off since … The Lions ranked 13th in the NCAA in defense at 61.2 points per game … Their last win in this lop-sided series was in 2010. They have not won in Spokane since 1991 … The Lions have already surpassed last season’s 11 wins.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are cruising toward another WCC title, outscoring conference foes by nearly 30 points per game… The Zags suffered back-to-back losses to No. 3 Tennessee and at No. 13 North Carolina in mid-December and have not lost since … They lead the nation in field goal shooting at 52.6 percent and are second in scoring at 92.2 points per game … Gonzaga and Marquette are the only programs with both men’s and women’s teams in the Top 15.
Loyola Marymount hosts Pepperdine on Saturday.
Gonzaga plays at last place Portland on Saturday.
LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Four nights after Tom Izzo called out Cassius Winston for his poor play in Michigan State’s previous game, the Spartans’ star point guard responded better than his coach would have expected.
Winston scored a career-high 29 points to go over 1,000 for his career, had six assists and played tough defense on Glynn Watson Jr. while leading No. 6 Michigan State past Nebraska 70-64 on Thursday night.
“I told him before the game, ‘You’re going to get measured on how you bounce back,’ ” Izzo said.
Winston more than passed the test.
“Cassius, the way he ran that whole thing, he was like a quarterback dissecting a defense,” Izzo said.
In a win at Penn State on Sunday, Winston had seven turnovers, and his 11 points were his fewest since Florida held him to 10 on Dec. 8. Izzo told reporters it was one of the worst games Winston had played in his three seasons.
Of the Spartans’ first 18 field goals against Nebraska, Winston scored eight of them and had assists on five others. He held Watson, the Huskers’ hottest player the last week, to 3-of-13 shooting from the field and eight points.
Izzo’s criticism motivated him, he said.
“Just get back on track, playing at the level I was playing at,” Winston said. “I want to play at the highest standard, my best ability. I’ve got to do that for this team and put us in the best situation.”
Michigan State (16-2, 7-0) won its 11th straight game overall and extended its school-record Big Ten winning streak to 19 games. The Cornhuskers (13-5, 3-4) had their school-record 20-game home win streak end.
Nick Ward added 15 points and 10 rebounds for his second straight double-double. He also made his first 3-pointer of the season and second of his career.
“That should keep him happy for a week or 10 days,” Izzo said.
The Spartans led by 12 points in the final 2 minutes, but Nebraska cut the lead to four twice before Matt McQuaid made a pair of free throws for his first points with 14.2 seconds to put the game away.
Nebraska shot a season-low 32.8 percent and was just 5 of 26 on 3-pointers, 1 of 12 in the second half.
“I wasn’t very pleased with our offense in any way, shape or form,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said.
James Palmer, who led Nebraska with 24 points, struggled mightily from the field, going 6 of 21, but he made all 11 of his free throws.
“Palmer’s a good player, and I feel like I did a pretty good job on him,” McQuaid said. “I just tried to do what I could. He’s a bigger, more physical guard. I tried to get a couple charges, but things weren’t going my way. So I had to figure out different ways to guard him.”
Nebraska had hoped to build off its win at No. 25 Indiana on Monday night but couldn’t get going. The Huskers were trying for their first win over a top-10 opponent in nine tries.
“You need to build and play from the front against these teams,” Miles said.
He found no consolation in playing the Spartans close for most of the game, which had 11 lead changes and six ties.
“There are no moral victories,” Miles said. “I’m utterly mad and disappointed.”
Michigan State: This was a gut-check win for the Spartans, who were without Joshua Langford (ankle) for a fifth straight game and Kyle Ahrens (back) for a second in a row.
Nebraska: The Huskers were feeling pretty good about themselves after an impressive win at No. 25 Indiana on Monday, and they had an amped standing-room crowd on hand. But they could never find rhythm until it was too late against the nation’s No. 3 team in field-goal defense.
HE SAID IT
“We were paranoid of this game. They didn’t make shots tonight. Those things happen sometimes. Tim’s got a great team that’s going to be an NCAA Tournament team, and I hope they keep on winning now.” — Izzo.
Michigan State hosts No. 19 Maryland on Monday.
Nebraska visits Rutgers on Monday.
The Ohio Valley Conference is just not equipped to deal with Ja Morant.
The Murray State guard just keeps dunking on anyone and everyone that stands in his way, the latest victim coming Thursday night at Eastern Illinois.
There’s just so much to love about this dunk. The athleticism. The explosiveness. The aggressiveness. The ferocity. It’s thunder meeting lightning at the rim.
If there’s someone who can stop Morant, a likely top-10 pick in June, it sure ain’t in the OVC.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fired coach. A transfer. Suspensions. Injuries. UCLA and Southern California have experienced it all barely halfway through the season.
Things began promisingly enough for the Bruins. They were an AP Top 25 team and were predicted to finish second in the Pac-12 before early consecutive losses to ranked Michigan State and North Carolina knocked them out. Then came stunning defeats at home to mid-majors Belmont and Liberty. Those precipitated the biggest shocker of all: coach Steve Alford’s firing on New Year’s Eve.
Murry Bartow was quickly tabbed as interim coach for the Bruins (10-7, 3-1 Pac-12). They’ve won three out of four games under him.
“We had a lot of ups and downs,” UCLA freshman Moses Brown said, “but I think we caught our stride and the sky is the limit for us.”
USC was predicted to finish fifth in a weakened Pac-12. The Trojans got off to a 5-2 start before dropping four in a row. They regrouped to reel off four straight wins, including a home sweep to open conference play. But they dropped a pair on the road, where freshman Kevin Porter Jr. got suspended last weekend.
In the midst of rocky seasons, the crosstown rivals meet Saturday at Galen Center. The Bruins have won four in a row in the series and are 8-4 at USC’s arena since it opened.
“Coming off a two-game losing streak, we’re kind of hoping this is a game that we can bounce back,” USC’s Nick Rakocevic said. “We want to be put in a good position for the rest of the Pac-12.”
Both teams would likely need to win the Pac-12 tournament title to earn a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Last March, the Bruins played in the First Four for the first time in school history and lost. The Trojans were snubbed by the selection committee despite finishing second in the Pac-12 for the first time in 25 years after losing twice to UCLA.
“We play UCLA twice, but there’s 16 other games. You have to do well the rest of the league,” USC coach Andy Enfield said. “Whether you win or lose these games, yes, it’s great for a rivalry, it’s great for another win in your conference, but it’s a long Pac-12 season. We try to keep that in perspective no matter who we play even if it’s UCLA.”
The Trojans (9-8, 2-2) have played over half their games with eight or fewer scholarship players because of injuries and the recent transfer of Jordan Usher, who was suspended before he left.
“Nothing surprises us at this point,” Enfield said. “The injuries and distractions have had a significant impact on our team.”
Porter was back practicing with the Trojans this week, but he hasn’t been cleared to play in games.
“He’s working on some things off the court. He has very clear expectations that he has to meet,” Enfield said. “As he progresses, we will reevaluate his status.”
Bartow said the Bruins will prepare as if Porter will play Saturday. Before his suspension, Porter missed time with a leg injury.
USC’s Bennie Boatwright, a local product who was recruited by UCLA, has been on an offensive tear in his last seven games. He scored a career-high 37 points in an overtime loss at Oregon State and is averaging a team-leading 17.1 points. The Bruins are led by Kris Wilkes at 17.3 points a game.
“Inside, they’ve got some really, really good players,” said Bartow, who has the Bruins playing at a faster pace and zipping the ball around.
One of the intriguing matchups on Saturday will be the 6-foot-11 Rakocevic and Brown, who at 7-1 is the tallest player at UCLA in decades. Rakocevic averages 14.9 points and a league-leading 9.5 rebounds. Brown averages 11.9 points and 9.0 rebounds
“It’s going to be fun going against somebody like that,” Rakocevic said.
A famous name associated with the rivalry won’t be on the court.
USC’s Chuck O’Bannon, the son of former UCLA star Charles O’Bannon, is expected to seek a medical redshirt. The sophomore broke his pinky finger in practice in November, had surgery, got the cast off in December and it hasn’t healed properly. He’s still has pain, too, Enfield said.
Duke may not be at full strength for its showdown with Virginia on Saturday, but the Blue Devils are on their way to that eventuality.
Cam Reddish is expected to play after missing Monday’s loss to Syracuse with an illness while Tre Jones will not miss an extended amount of time and is not initially ruled out for Saturday after suffering a shoulder injury, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told The Athletic on Thursday.
Reddish absence wasn’t expected to be a lengthy one, but there was fear that Jones’ might be after he suffered an AC sprain in a collision with Syracuse’s Frank Howard. Jones initially told coaches he thought he broke his collarbone, but x-rays revealed a sprain slightly more significant than a grade one.
“I don’t know if it’s for this game or the next game, but it’s not going to be long term, where it’s a month or something,” Krzyzewski told Dana O’Neil of The Athletic. “He’s going to be back.”
While Jones hasn’t been ruled out for Saturday, he is unlikely to play against the Cavaliers, Krzyzewski said. That will diminish some of the luster for a game that pits The Associated Press’ top-ranked team vs. the coaches’ poll top team, but it’s ultimately fantastic news for the Blue Devils.
Losing Jones for any significant length of time would have been a significant blow to Duke. While Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Reddish headline the highlight reels and mock drafts, Jones’ skill, leadership and tenacity at the point guard position plays no small part in allowing that trio – and Duke at large – flourish. Without him, the machine doesn’t run as smoothly, as evidenced by the overtime home loss to the Orange.