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Jarrett Culver’s big game leads No. 3 Texas Tech past No. 14 Northern Kentucky

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All-American Jarrett Culver had a monster outing as No. 3 seed Texas Tech cruised to a 72-57 win over No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky during a Friday afternoon NCAA tournament first-round game in the West Region.

Finishing with 29 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, Culver was efficient and dominant for the Red Raiders as they opened up the game in the second half. Only a 30-26 lead for Texas Tech at the break, the Red Raiders clamped down and used the offense of Culver and it’s No. 1 overall defense to break the game open.

The Big 12 Player of the Year had one of the best individual games of any player in the first round as he was 10-for-17 from the floor and 3-for-5 from three-point range. Big man Tariq Owens also finished in double-figures for Texas Tech with 12 points while Davide Moretti added 10 points.

Northern Kentucky (26-9) stayed in the game for a half thanks to the hot shooting of junior guard Tyler Sharpe as he finished with 23 points on 8-for-13 shooting. The Norse couldn’t generate much consistent offense outside of Sharpe, however, as Northern Kentucky shot 5-for-21 from the three-point line. Horizon League Player of the Year Drew McDonald was held to only five points on 2-for-12 shooting as he struggled to get going. Dantez Wilson (11 points) was the only other double-figure scorer for the Norse.

The Red Raiders advance to face either No. 6 seed Buffalo or No. 11 seed Arizona State in Tulsa on Sunday.

Introducing Cinderella: Northern Kentucky back in the Dance after winning Horizon League tourney

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Top-seed Wright State got the first bucket of the game…and never led again.

No. 2 Northern Kentucky got out in front early and never looked back, claiming its second Horizon League tournament title in three years with a 77-66 victory Tuesday over the Raiders.

The Norse had a dominant first half before Wright State battled back right before halftime and had the deficit cut to nine in the opening minutes of the second half, but then Northern Kentucky built its lead back to 19 points before the midway point of the second half and wasn’t threatened the rest of the way.

Northern Kentucky made 12 of 21 from 3 and shot 60.3 percent overall from the floor. Five Norse players scored in double figures, led by Jalen Tate’s 17 points. Dantez Walton had a double-double of 15 points and 14 rebounds. Wright State as done in not only by its porous defense but by an offense that couldn’t find its footing. The Raiders shot 7 of 24 (29.2 percent) from 3-point range.

CONFERENCE: Horizon

COACH: John Brannen

RECORD: 26-8, 13-5 Horizon

RATINGS:

  • KENPOM: 105
  • NET: 117

PROJECTED SEED: Given the lack of a signature win or two along with a number of tough Ls, the Norse are likely headed for a 15 seed. The relative strength of the Horizon should help Northern Kentucky avoid the dreaded 16-line and perhaps Dayton, but they’re going to be heavy underdogs in their return to the NCAA tournament since going one-and-done in 2017.

NAMES YOU NEED TO KNOW: Drew McDonald was named the Horizon League player of the year after averaging team-bests in scoring (19.3) and rebounds (9.5) while shooting 48.7 percent from the floor and 41.1 percent from 3-point range as a 6-foot-8 senior. Six-foot-6 sophomore Jalen Tate is one of the country’s top assist men at 4.1 per game at a rate of 31.6 percent while also averaging 13.9 points per game. Tyler Sharpe (14.2) and Dantez Walton (10.9) also average double-digit scoring.

BIG WINS, BAD LOSSES: Their defeat of Wright State (118 KenPom) was their second of the season with both those wins being the best on the Norse’s resume, though non-conference wins against Miami (OH) and Northern Illinois will help their cause some. Losses to Eastern Kentucky (237) and Cleveland State (281), the latter being at home, won’t, though.

STATS YOU NEED TO KNOW: McDonald was just a fraction shy of averaging 20-10, which is impressive enough, but it’s the Norse’s ability to share the ball that’s made them successful and their offense notable. Northern Kentucky assists on 61.6 percent of its baskets, which ranks as the ninth-highest percentage in the nation.

HOW DO I KNOW YOU?: Those of you who follow hoops closely in the Bluegrass State might remember the Norse’s Tyler Sharpe as a former Louisville player. The Mount Washington, Ky. native and Kentucky Mr. Basketball finalist walked-on with the Cardinals as a freshman in 2016-17 before joining the Norse.

FINAL THOUGHT: McDonald might be a tough cover for Horizon defenses, but it’ll be tougher for him to be a matchup problem against whatever Power 5 powerhouse the Norse are likely to draw in the first round. Northern Kentucky also surrenders a lot of 3-point attempts, which could spell trouble if they draw a skilled team. There’s enough experienced talent here that high seeds should be wary, but this team isn’t going to be a popular upset pick.

Horizon League filed a lawsuit against Valparaiso

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The Horizon League is looking to take Valparaiso to court, only this time it’s not on the hardwood of a college campus.

On Thursday, Jason Belzer of Forbes, reported that the league is suing the university for breach of contract. The Horizon League claims Valpo did not give the conference a year’s notice and owes $500,000 in exit fees.

Valparaiso left its conference home since 2007 in order to join the Missouri Valley Conference. The Crusaders were replacing Wichita State, which departed for the American Athletic Conference, as the Missouri Valley’s 10th member.

The Horizon League voted to up the exit fee from $50,000 to $500,000 in 2012. The change came following Butler’s back-to-back national championship game appearances in 2010 and 2011, which led to the university accepting an invitation to join the Atlantic 10 Conference. Valpo’s defense is that the exit fee was not part of the initial agreement the two sides reached in 2006. Belzer went on to note the several cases of exit fees as precedents that would go against Valpo’s defense.

This lawsuit was filed on June 27. A day later IUPUI was added to the Horizon League as Valparaiso’s replacement.

Army veteran leaves Oakland basketball program

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Oakland’s bid to remain atop the Horizon League standings took a hit on earlier this week.

On Wednesday, it was reported by Tony Paul of the Detroit News that rising sophomore forward Isaiah Brock had left the program.

Brock, a 23-year-old Army veteran, made headlines earlier in his collegiate career. In the fall, the 6-foot-8 forward who had done two tours overseas was ruled ineligible by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite earning dozens of credits online and during the summer at Oakland. Following an appeal and the backlash that came with the initial decision, the NCAA reversed the ruling.

According to the Detroit News, Brock is prioritizing academics over athletics and is still enrolled in the university as a student.

Brock went on to have a productive freshman campaign. He started 29 of 33 games for the Golden Grizzlies, averaging 6.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. He earned Horizon League all-defensive team honors.

Oakland finished 25-9, winning a share of the Horizon League regular season title. The Golden Grizzlies were upset in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, wrapping up the 2016-17 season in the NIT.

Oakland lands former Oklahoma State guard Clark

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When point guard Stevie Clark began his career at Oklahoma State in 2013, the Top 100 prospect was expected by many to be an impact player for the Cowboys. Things didn’t go as planned however, as off-court issues ultimately led to Clark’s dismissal from the program before his sophomore season. Add in a lawsuit filed by Clark in which he alleged that he was forced by the school to take psychotropic drugs, and it’s safe to say that his time in Stillwater was anything but smooth.

Clark ultimately landed at Arkansas Baptist College, and on Thursday it was reported by the Detroit Free Press that he’s committed to Oakland University to play for head coach Greg Kampe. Clark joins a program with an immediate need at the point, with All-American Kahlil Felder having entered the NBA Draft and hired an agent as well.

The obvious question regarding Clark is whether or not he’s managed to take care of business off the court, and in an interview with Mark Snyder of the Free Press the Oklahoma native made note of the benefits of getting away from home for college.

Playing in Rochester, far from his home, will serve him well, he said.

“Anywhere away from home is the best thing,” Clark said. “It’s just hard balancing everything being close to home.”

Clark will be one of the options Kampe has to choose from at the point, with incoming freshmen Brailen Neely and Billy Thomas also among the new arrivals, and sophomore Jaevin Cumberland looking to earn more playing time than the 5.6 minutes per contest he averaged as a freshman.

VIDEO: UIC’s Gabe Snider hits seated half-court shot

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One of the major trends of this college basketball offseason has been players attempting trick half-court shots that they get on tape.

While many players have opted to go with the blind, throw-it-over-your-head half-court shot, UIC senior guard Gabe Snyder decided to try a seated half-court shot.

Since Snyder also made the shot away from center court and more towards the sidelines, it makes it an even tougher shot.