Maui Invitational

Kansas, Indiana on opposite sides of 2015 Maui Invitational bracket

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Kansas and Indiana will be on opposite side of the 2015 Maui Invitational bracket, Andy Katz of ESPN reported on Monday night.

The Maui Invitational field also includes UCLA, Vanderbilt, St. John’s, UNLV, Wake Forest and host school, Chaminade. The Bruins and Commodores are ranked in College Basketball Talk‘s Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 rankings at Nos. 22 and 25, respectively. Indiana and Kansas are both ranked in the top-20, with the Jayhawks checking in at No. 4.

According to ESPN, Kansas will play Chaminade in the opening round. UCLA and UNLV will be in the same half of the bracket.

Indiana drew Wake Forest in the first round. The winner of that matchup will advance to face the winner of Vanderbilt-St. John’s.

The 2015 Maui Invitational will take place Nov. 23-25 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Lahaina, Hawaii.

No. 8 Syracuse provides answers to key questions in Maui Invitational title run

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While No. 8 Syracuse was immediately considered to be a contender for the ACC title in their first season in the league, with the coaches picking them to finish second behind Duke in the preseason poll, there were still some questions for Jim Boeheim’s team to answer. How would they account for the loss of both Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche on the perimeter? And which player (or players) would add scoring punch to a rotation that also lost three-point marksman James Southerland?

Over the course of three days in Maui the Orange made significant strides when it comes to answering those questions, and the end result was a 74-67 win over No. 18 Baylor and the program’s third Maui Invitational title.

C.J. Fair, as expected when the season began, led the way with 24 points (14 in the second half) on 10-for-17 shooting and earned MVP honors as a result. Over the three-day event Fair was the player the Orange leaned on for big plays in crunch time, averaging 18.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game in wins over Minnesota, Cal and Baylor. Fair led four Syracuse players in double figures on Wednesday, with sophomore Jerami Grant having the look of a player capable of breaking out in 2013-14.

Grant scored 19 points off the bench against Baylor, following up on a very good outing against Cal on Tuesday night (19 points, 7-for-11 FG). With an increased number of opportunities to score Grant’s taken full advantage and he’s been efficient in doing so, as per kenpom.com he entered Wednesday with an offensive rating of 121.7 (5th in the ACC) and a turnover rate of 5.4% (4th in the ACC). It’s one thing for a bench player to be productive but it’s another for that player to be both productive and efficient, and thus far that would be a good way in which to describe Grant.

As for the guards, while freshman Tyler Ennis may not have scored as much as he did against Cal (28 points), but he took great care of the basketball to the tune of nine assists without a single turnover. Over the three games in Maui the freshman from Ontario committed just two turnovers, pushing his total for the entire season to eight. Ennis makes sound decisions with the basketball and he rarely, if ever, gets rushed while running the show. Add in a sidekick in Trevor Cooney who averaged 16.3 points per game in Maui, and Syracuse looks to be in good shape on the perimeter when it comes to accounting for those heavy personnel losses.

“Being young guards and we are playing against three really good teams and three different teams, every night was different for us,” said Cooney after the title game. “Every team was different, and all three were great challenges for us.  And I thought we stepped it up every night and brought it.  I thought that was great for us.”

Syracuse arrived in Maui with a lot of talent but also a couple questions that needed answering against stiffer competition. And the trophy that will accompany the Orange on the trip back to central New York is evidence that Jim Boeheim’s team is well on its way to being the team many expected them to be prior to the start of the season.

Impressive finale caps productive Maui trip for Dayton

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If performances in these early-season events are any indication of what to expect when conference play rolls around in January, the Atlantic 10 is in for a fun regular season race.

UMass won the Charleston Classic on Sunday (despite two losses in San Juan, VCU will be fine), and Dayton capped a good three days in Maui with a thorough 80-62 beating of California in the third-place game of the Maui Invitational. Dayton (6-1) was the tougher team, and by the end of the game it was clear that they were the better team as well with four players scoring in double figures.

Devin Oliver tallied 21 points to lead the way, with Jalen Robinson added 17 points and five rebounds off the bench. Dayton’s balance has been a strength thus far, and that was once again the case on Wednesday night. Entering Wednesday four players were averaging double figures, with Ohio State transfer Jordan Sibert leading the way with an average of 16.3 points per game. He was kept quiet by Cal, shooting 1-for-7 from the field and finishing with just three points.

But it didn’t matter, with guards Vee Sanford (14 points, three assists) and Kyle Davis (12 points) both stepping up. And despite scoring just two points, freshman Scoochie Smith dished out three assists and grabbed four rebounds on the night. If there are any two stats that illustrates the depth advantage Dayton enjoyed with Cal (5-2) missing starting center Richard Solomon (eye abrasion) it would be points in the paint and bench points.

Dayton outscored Cal 48-26 in the paint, and its reserves outscored Cal’s by a 52-8 margin (Jordan Mathews scored all eight bench points for Cal). The number of options at head coach Archie Miller’s disposal were on full display Wednesday night, and that bodes well down the line for a team that was picked to finish seventh in the Atlantic 10.

“Our bench was a big part of today’s game,” noted Robinson. “Last night Coach told us just to be ready and our depth would take us a long way.  Everybody who came in off the bench came in and was very productive and played together as a team.”

Although the fact that Dayton was one made shot against Baylor away from playing in the title game of the Maui Invitational may sting a bit, that shouldn’t take away from the progress made by the Flyers this week in wins over Cal and No. 11 Gonzaga. If Dayton can build on their play against the toughest competition on their schedule to date, they’re more than capable of exceeding those preseason expectations.

POSTERIZED: Jerami Grant’s putback slam caps career night in Syracuse’s win over Cal (VIDEO)

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Jerami Grant threw down a vicious two-handed putback slam in Tuesday night’s 92-81 win over Cal in Maui Invitational semifinals. That dunk capped off a career night for the Syracuse sophomore forward. Grant finished with a career-high 19 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists before fouling out with 3:01 to play.

Grant’s dunk came at a key point in the game for No. 8 Syracuse. The Golden Bears, who were already shorthanded without Richard Solomon in the lineup, had David Kravish head to the bench with his fourth foul as Cuse led 60-57 with 10 minutes to play. Immediately, Grant went at reserve center Kameron Rooks for a layup to make give the Orange a five-point edge. Two possessions later for the Orange, Trevor Cooney’s floater hit off the back iron, but Jabari Bird lost Grant on the box out, who came charging in for the tip slam. Grant’s dunk was part of an 11-2 run for Syracuse.

Syracuse plays No. 18 Baylor on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. in the Maui Invitational championship game.

Late Night Snacks: Arizona State earns big home win

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GAME OF THE DAY: Arizona State 79, Marquette 77

The Sun Devils earned a nice home win over a top-25 opponent as the No. 25 Golden Eagles lost a tough one after a second-half comeback. Jordan Bachynski had 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven blocks, as he swatted Derrick Walton’s runner at the end of the game to secure the victory for undefeated Arizona State (6-0).

The Sun Devils had 23 points from Jahii Carson and 21 points from Jermaine Marshall as well in the win.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 75, Minnesota 67

The Orange only led in this one by two points, 67-65 before pulling away at the end. Syracuse led most of this game despite a so-so effort from Tyler Ennis, who was 1-for-9 from the field, but 10-of-11 from the free throw line and had five assists and no turnovers and five steals.

C.J. Fair had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead Syracuse while Trevor Cooney contributed 15. The No. 8 Orange advance to the semifinals of the Maui Invitational, where they’ll face California.

THE UPSET?: Dayton 84, No. 11 Gonzaga 79

The Flyers scored 56 second half points to erase a Gonzaga lead and advance in the Maui Invitational. They will play Baylor on Tuesday. More importantly, this was a potentially disastrous loss for Gonzaga. Read why here.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) In the opening battle of undefeated teams in the Maui Invitational, Cal outlasted Arkansas 81-72 as the Bears showed that they have multiple scorers from multiple places on the floor. Senior guard Justin Cobbs is developed in the mid-range and in the post, senior Richard Soloman and junior David Kravish can both add some scoring punch. Kravish had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Cal and Bird was 3-for-4 behind the three-point for 15 points to lead five Golden Bears in double figures.

2) The No. 3 Kentucky Wildcats held on for a 68-61 win over Cleveland State despite not shooting the ball very well from deep. The Wildcats were only 21 percent from three and the Harrison twins struggled until the final minutes of the game. 

3) BYU held off Texas 86-82 and are off to a 5-1 start an advance to face Wichita State in the championship game of the CBE in Kansas City thanks to a 23-point second-half performance by Tyler Haws. Haws had 25 for the game and scored the go-ahead bucket with under two minutes remaining to give BYU a solid neutral site win against Texas. BYU will likely be the road team against a very pro Shockers crowd in the championship game.

STARRED

1) The N0. 17 Cyclones moved to 5-0 on the young season with a 110-51 thrashing of UMKC at home. Twelve different players scored for Iowa State and they all played at least six minutes in the balanced scoring attacking for the Cyclones.

2) No. 5 Oklahoma State cruised to a 93-67 road win over South Florida as Marcus Smart and Markel Brown each had 25 points.

3) The No. 7 Buckeyes pulled away from Wyoming for a 65-50 home win. Lenzelle Smith had 20 points and eight rebounds while Amir Williams had 12 points and 16 rebounds.

STRUGGLED

1) Elon, one of the preseason favorites for the Southern Conference, lost 75-74 at home to Division II Metro State. Metro State nearly beat Rhode Island earlier this season.

2) DePaul allowed No. 12 Wichita State to shoot 59 percent from the field and only had four assists total in a 90-72 loss in the CBE semifinals in Kansas City.

3) Providence shot 27 percent from the field and only 18 percent from three-point range as they struggled to score in their 56-52 loss to Maryland in the opening round of the Paradise Jam. The loss was the first for the Friars on the season.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  •  The No. 15 Gators had 27 points from Casey Prather as Florida cruised to an 86-60 win over Jacksonville.
  • In the Maui Invitational, the No. 18 Baylor Bears defeated Division II host Chaminade 93-77.

NOTABLES

  • Xavier cruised past Abilene Christian 93-65 as Semaj Christon had 17 points and six assists.
  • Missouri outlasted IUPUI 78-64 as Jabari Brown finished with 24 points for the 5-0 Tigers.
  • Kyle Fuller pumped in 20 points to lead Vanderbilt to a 77-68 win over St. Mary’s at the Paradise Jam.

#POSTERIZED: Syracuse’s C.J Fair destroys the rim against Minnesota

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[youtube=http://youtu.be/ebG4qWVYpuk]

C.J. Fair put down one of the better dunks of the year against Minnesota today in the quarterfinals of the Maui Invitational, and he took a shot in the face to prove it.

Fair was bloodied on the dunk — no foul was called — and he still finished in traffic to help Syracuse to a 75-67 win over Minnesota on Monday.