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Ten Things To Know: Injuries pile up, Ohio State wins, No. 1 Kansas goes down

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It was, all things considered, just a terrific day of sports on Saturday, whether you are a football or basketball fan.

Here is everything you need to know to get yourself caught up on today’s college basketball action.

1. INJURIES HAVE TAKEN A TOLL ON KANSAS …

Kansas watched as starting guard Marcus Garrett had to be helped off the floor with an injured right ankle on Saturday afternoon. He did not return to the game in the second half.

“He’s our toughest kid. So if he says he can’t play, it’s probably not good,” Self said. “I don’t think that it is going go to be something that, hopefully, drags out to conference play, but we don’t know yet.”

Garrett is averaging 9.0 points, 4.5 assists and 4.0 boards for the Jayhawks this season and has developed into a critical piece for the Kansas rotation. He’s a secondary ball-handler that takes some of the pressure off of point guard Devon Dotson, he is shooting 38.9 percent from three, he is their best perimeter defender and, perhaps most importantly, he is the piece that allows them to play with four guards on the floor. It’s tough for the Kansas coaching staff to trust Ochai Agbaji, Tristan Enaruna and Isaiah Moss to be able to guard when one of them is forced onto a bigger player.

Should I mention that the Jayhawks, the No. 1 team in the country, lost as a result?

I probably should, right?

2. … AND TENNESSEE

Star point guard Lamonte’ Turner’s season is over.

After struggling to play through a shoulder issue for two years, Turner told reporters after Sunday’s win over Jacksonville State that he is going to get season-ending surgery. His season is done, and since he is a fifth-year senior that has already played in too many games for a medical redshirt, his Tennessee career is over, too.

That’s a terrible way to end a career.

3. … AND UTAH STATE

The health of Aggie center Neemias Queta has been a concern all season long. He injured his knee while playing with the Portuguese U-20 national team over the summer and had to sit out the first eight games. He only returned to the starting lineup two games ago. On Saturday, in a win over Florida in the state of Florida, Queta hurt his knee again and did not return after leaving the game.

He’s Utah State’s second-best player. He is a 7-foot defensive anchor with NBA potential. He cleans up a lot of mistakes at the rim for a team that is not great at keeping people out of the lane. I’m not sure just how good Utah State can be without him.

4. DID YOU EVER THINK A UCLA-UNC GAME WOULD BE AS IRRELEVANT AS TODAY’S WAS?

Be honest with me: Did you know that UCLA and UNC played today?

Because they did. They are part of the CBS Sports Classic. They played the opener in Vegas, the game that tipped off right before the Ohio State-Kentucky thriller. On a day where there were more than 100 college basketball games played, I’m not sure that this was even in the top 20.

It’s hard to believe that is possible.

These are two of college basketball’s bluebloods, and the 3 p.m. ET tip was completely overshadowed by Butler vs. Purdue and Utah State vs. Florida despite the fact that it was on network television.

And it’s understandable. UCLA is in the midst of another coaching change while North Carolina lost their top five players from last season and had their star freshman hurt his knee and get arthroscopic surgery. It happens.

I just didn’t think it could happen to these two programs, this badly, and at the same time.

5. DAYTON’S RESUME IS NOT AS GOOD AS YOU THINK

The Flyers lost a thriller to Colorado on a neutral court on Saturday, and while the Buffaloes are hardly a bad team – they currently sit at 40th in KenPom’s rankings – this is a tough loss to take.

The reason I say that is because Dayton’s resume doesn’t quite match what the eye test tells us. When you watch the Flyers, what you see is a team with a top ten pick surrounded by shooters and playmakers. They took Kansas to overtime. They took Colorado to overtime. No one is questioning whether or not this team is objectively good.

The problem is that they don’t necessarily have the wins to prove it.

As of today, the Flyers have three top 100 wins. Two are against Georgia and Virginia Tech, which are fine and came by an averaged of 23 points but those teams aren’t getting to the NCAA tournament. It’s like beating Rhode Island, at least in how it is going to look in the NET nitty gritty sheets. The win over Saint Mary’s is nice, especially if they somehow find a way to keep shooting 45.7 percent from three, but that’s really it.

And since they play in the Atlantic 10, not only are there going to be a limited number of quality wins available, they are going to play every single game as the targeted team. The way I figure it, there are six other teams in the league (VCU, Richmond, Duquesne, Saint Louis, Rhode Island and Davidson) that are going to have some chance of playing their way into the NCAA tournament with an at-large bid. Dayton plays those six teams ten times, and every one of those ten games are going to be make-or-break games for their opponent.

I trust the Flyers to get the job done, but I do think that there is a better chance than some realize that Dayton is going to end up with something of a disappointing seed on Selection Sunday.

6. SAINT LOUIS WINNING AT KANSAS STATE IS GOOD FOR THE ATLANTIC 10

Not for nothing, but it is worth noting that Saint Louis went into Bramlage Coliseum and landed themselves a nice win over a regional rival in Kansas State. I don’t think Kansas State is all that good, but given the way that Big 12 league play drives up the computer numbers of everyone in that conference, that’s a nice chip for Travis Ford’s team to have.

7. D.J. CARTON HAD HIS COMING-OF-AGE GAME

Carton scored a team-high 15 points and led No. 5 Ohio State to a win over No. 6 Kentucky on Saturday. Here is a column on how impressive he was and what makes that performance so important for Ohio State.

8. WHAT HAS ARIZONA DONE THAT SHOULD IMPRESS US?

Let me preface this by saying that I think No. 15 Arizona is a pretty good team. In theory, they should be. They have Nico Mannion and Josh Green and Zeke Nnaji. The talent is there.

But through the first seven weeks of the season, the results haven’t been. Arizona’s best win right now came at home against an Illinois team that is currently sitting at 8-4 on the season. They also beat Wake Forest on a neutral and picked off New Mexico State at home. The most impressive thing they’ve done is, what, hang with Baylor on the road? Rally to make a blowout home loss against Gonzaga look respectable?

After losing to St. John’s on a neutral court, the Wildcats are sitting at 10-3 on the season with as many sub-75 losses as top 75 wins.

That’s not a good place to be with league play starting.

9. BUTLER CAN WIN WHEN KAMAR BALDWIN STRUGGLES

Baldwin has been Butler’s best player this season, but he has not always played well for the Bulldogs.

Take Saturday, for example. He shot 2-for-9 from the floor, committed for fouls, turned the ball over five times and finished with just five points. The Bulldogs still won fairly easily. In their win over Florida earlier this season, Baldwin had just 12 points on 4-for-13 shooting. He has 13 points on 4-for-12 shooting in a win over Missouri.

That is a good sign for Lavall Jordan moving forward.

10. SAN DIEGO STATE WHIPPED UTAH

It was time to start taking San Diego State seriously a while ago. If you’re just now jumping on the bandwagon you’re probably jumping on a little bit late.

They’ve won at BYU. They beat Creighton by 31. They beat Iowa by ten. They’re now sitting at 11-0, one of just four teams left in college basketball without a loss to their name, after they went out and beat Utah, 80-52, on Saturday evening.

That’s the same Utah team that just beat Kentucky on Wednesday night.

So yeah.

You might want to start familiarizing yourself with these Aztecs.

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.