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Ten Things to Know: Long road losing streaks end during wild day of college hoops

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College basketball was all about big road wins.

The Big 12 and ACC saw two huge road losing streaks end. The rest of the day saw some upsets along with an injury to keep tabs on.

BAYLOR GOT ITS FIRST-EVER WIN IN PHOG ALLEN FIELDHOUSE

Everything you need to know about the biggest game of the day can be found right here.

CLEMSON GOT ITS FIRST-EVER WIN (IN 60 TRIES!) IN CHAPEL HILL

Clemson basketball kicked off a big sports weekend for the school. The Tigers snapped their 0-59 mark in Chapel Hill with a 79-76 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

Brad Brownell’s team celebrated in euphoric fashion.

This isn’t your typical ACC road win. It was one of the premier streaks in college basketball. Clemson and North Carolina first played men’s basketball during the 1925-26 season. Both programs are founding members of the ACC.

Same conference.

Since 1953.

So for the Tigers to FINALLY earn a win in Chapel Hill, even if North Carolina happens to be down right now, is a monumental accomplishment.

For North Carolina, the recent freefall continues. The Tar Heels have lost three straight and dropped to 1-4 in ACC play. Following the loss, North Carolina head coach Roy Williams made some emotional remarks blaming himself.

Even though North Carolina is well outside of the top 25, they remain one of the most compelling teams in college hoops.

WEST VIRGINIA SHUTS DOWN TEXAS TECH

Things weren’t particularly pretty in Morgantown on Saturday night. Using seemingly its whole roster to wear down the Red Raiders, West Virginia earned an impressive Big 12 home win.

Despite only making three shots from three-point range on the night, West Virginia held a comfortable advantage thanks to one of the nation’s best defenses. The Mountaineers held Texas Tech to 28 percent shooting. The Red Raiders simply had no answer for the swarm of West Virginia defenders.

While West Virginia has continued to climb up the national rankings with an underrated array of quad one wins, this is one of the program’s best wins this season. The Mountaineers are surely a contender in the Big 12. The major question becomes if they are more than just a conference title contender. And more of a potential national title contender.

NICK RICHARDS IS THE KEY TO KENTUCKY’S SEASON

Over the course of the last four games, No. 14 Kentucky has asserted themselves as one of the best teams in college basketball once again. They’ve knocked off Louisville, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama during that run, and it should come as no coincidence that the best stretch of Kentucky’s season has come at the same time that Nick Richards has played the best basketball of his career.

In those four games, Richards is averaging 16.0 points, 10.0 boards and 2.5 blocks, but more importantly, he’s staying on the floor for more than 29 minutes per game. He’s starting to figure things out, and that, in turn, has helped build his confidence, his belief in himself.

“You can’t coach a kid’s confidence,” a source close to Kentucky said. “He needs to build it himself.”

He’s posting harder, he’s demanding the ball, he’s doing all of the things that Kentucky has been waiting for him to two do two-and-a-half years. And it hasn’t only helped Richards, the guards that feed him the rock have confidence in him as well. If you’re a point guard and you know Richards doesn’t want the ball, are you going to give him a post touch? Are you going to throw a post entry when you don’t think anything good will happen?

Saturday proved my point.

In the first half against Alabama, Richards had 11 points, six boards and four blocks, and Kentucky went into the break with a 45-35 lead. He finished with just two points in the second half, and Alabama cut the lead to one in the final two minutes.

OHIO STATE HAS NOW LOST FOUR STRAIGHT GAMES

The 12th-ranked Buckeyes dropped to 11-5 on the season and 1-4 in the Big Ten after losing their fourth straight game on Saturday, 66-54, to Indiana.

During that four game losing streak, Ohio State has shot 28-for-97 from three, a cool 28.9 percent. Prior to the start of this losing streak, after they beat Kentucky in Las Vegas and when they were sitting at No. 1 in KenPom and splitting votes with Gonzaga for No. 1 in the AP poll, the Buckeyes were shooting 41.5 percent from three as a team.

The reason why they are struggling from beyond the arc is a bigger question. Part of it is just regression — water eventually finds itself — and part of it is that as D.J. Carton has struggled, who had seven turnovers on Saturday, Ohio State’s offense has struggled. They don’t have the individual playmakers to create offense for themselves, and if Carton (and C.J. Walker) are struggling to create easy shots for their teammates, Ohio State becomes really limited offensively.

Oh, and should I mention that Ohio State’s second-leading scorer, Duane Washington, didn’t take a single shot and was benched for the final 30 minutes. He’s either hurt or Chris Holtmann is fed up with his defensive lapses.

Either way, what was clicking for the first month of the season is clearly no longer working.

AUBURN AND SAN DIEGO STATE ARE STILL UNDEFEATED

The No. 5 Tigers cruised past Georgia at home, winning 82-60, while the No. 7 Aztecs took care of business against Boise State at home, 83-65.

Auburn’s biggest tests of the season to date will come next week, as they travel to take on Alabama and Florida. SDSU heads to Fresno State on Tuesday and then will host Nevada next weekend.

OBI TOPPIN ROLLED HIS ANKLE

The star big man for No. 15 Dayton stepped on someone’s foot early in the second half of an 88-60 win over UMass and had to leave the game. He ended up leaving the game and returning to his team’s bench with a boot on his left foot.

Toppin told reporters after the game that, “it’s good.” Head coach Anthony Grant, speaking in his press conference after the game, said that he thought it was a sprained ankle and that the team would know more in the next 24 hours, but he did not sound overly concerned.

VIRGINIA DROPS SECOND STRAIGHT TO UNRANKED OPPONENT

It’s looking like defending national champion Virginia will fall out of the top 25 next week. A second consecutive loss to an unranked team on Saturday likely sealed the Cavaliers’ new fate.

After falling on the road at Boston College last game, Virginia fell to Syracuse at home.  The Orange earned an unlikely overtime win while also avenging its season-opening home loss to the ‘Hoos.

Hitting some massive three-pointers once overtime started, the Orange played completely free and with a lot of confidence once the extra session started. It also pointed to a continuing glaring issue Virginia has faced. Who is this team’s go-to player when they need a bucket?

Things don’t get easier for Virginia when they head on the road to Florida State next game. With three of their next four coming on the road, the Cavaliers have some work to do to stay with the ACC’s best.

GONZAGA AND DUKE CRUISE TO VICTORY

Easy day for No. 1 and No. 2 on Saturday.

Gonzaga made quick work of Loyola Marymount. The Bulldogs won by 25 on the road.

In the ACC, Duke ran past Wake Forest. The Blue Devils were fueled by Tre Jones in a 31-point victory.

MYLES POWELL, SETON HALL OUTDUEL MARKUS HOWARD, MARQUETTE

CBT’s Preseason All-America Team featured Myles Powell and Markus Howard both on the first team.

So Saturday’s Big East clash between Seton Hall and Marquette was must-see TV. Both stars finished an identical 8-for-22 from the field as Howard dropped 27 points and Powell delivered 23 points.

Most importantly, however, was the Pirates claiming the 69-55 Big East win. Seton Hall has six straight wins since Powell returned to the lineup from a concussion. Saturday’s win gives the Pirates a leg up on the rest of the league and Powell a leg up on Howard with one matchup to go.

Not many people seem to be talking about Seton Hall. That’s a mistake. This team is playing really well over the last several weeks and look like the possible team to beat in the Big East.

Roy Williams calls North Carolina ‘least gifted team I’ve ever coached’

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Roy Williams did not mince words, calling this North Carolina team the “least gifted” he’s ever coached on his radio show Monday night.

In the midst of a difficult 8-6 start, the Tar Heels haven’t looked like an NCAA tournament-caliber team. That point was further evidenced by North Carolina’s recent home loss to Georgia Tech.

Williams gave his take during his weekly radio show “Roy Williams Live” on Monday, calling his team, “the least gifted team I’ve ever coached in the time that I’ve been back here.”

The Yellow Jackets jumped out to 27-4 lead as North Carolina missed its first 15 field-goal attempts. It was jarring to see the way North Carolina was dominated in the Dean Dome. They trailed by 20 points at halftime, which is the biggest deficit that the Tar Heels have ever dealt with at home at the half, and after the game Williams had plenty to say.

“I want to apologize to all the North Carolina fans, the people that care about our basketball program, former players, everyone that cares about us,” Williams said after the game. “We stunk it up tonight, and it’s got to me my responsibility. It’s the most negative I’ve ever felt about myself. The most negative I’ve ever felt about any team. We weren’t ready to play.”

“We stunk, OK. We were not very good,” Williams continued on Monday night. “The crazy thing about it is, our team, and we’ve had some very gifted teams, this is not a very gifted team. It’s just not.”

North Carolina is already facing a talent drain facing much of college basketball thanks to draft losses to Coby White and Nassir Little. Freshmen guards Cole Anthony and Anthony Harris are also out with injury.

The Tar Heels have to turn things around quickly if they hope to make the NCAA tournament.  ACC play continues as North Carolina hosts Pitt and Clemson the next two games.

No. 2 Gonzaga leaves North Carolina blue after 94-81 Victory

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SPOKANE, Wash. — Corey Kispert scored 26 points, Filip Petrusev added 20 and No. 2 Gonzaga rolled past North Carolina 94-81 on Wednesday night, handing the Tar Heels their fourth straight loss.

One of the most highly anticipated games ever inside Gonzaga’s gym was a party for most of the night for the home team. The Bulldogs (12-1) won their fourth straight since suffering their only loss of the season against Michigan in the final of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

More importantly, the Zags finished off an unbeaten stretch of three marquee games at Washington, at Arizona and against the Tar Heels.

Garrison Brooks led North Carolina (6-5) with 16 points, but the Tar Heels have dropped four straight for the first time since the 2009-10 season. It’s been a brutal stretch for the Tar Heels with the Zags the fifth opponent ranked in the top 10 in North Carolina’s past six games.

Then there’s the injuries. North Carolina learned Monday it would be without star point guard Cole Anthony for four-to-six weeks following surgery to repair a partially torn meniscus in his right knee. Anthony sat during Sunday’s loss to Wofford as did guard Leaky Black. Black returned Wednesday and had six points in nine minutes.

North Carolina also played the second half without Brandon Robinson, who was feeling ill. He played 16 minutes of the first half and didn’t score.

Having Anthony and a completely healthy roster might not have mattered.

Kispert and the Zags were ready from the start to put on a show for maybe the toughest ticket in school history. Kispert was nearly perfect in the first half, hitting 6 of 8 shots including a trio of 3-pointers. It was his fourth straight game in double-figures after being quieted by Michigan.

Kispert made 10 of 12 shots overall, at one point during the second half turning with his hands out and a slight shrug after knocking down his fifth 3-pointer.

Gonzaga shot 59% and five players in double figures. Joel Ayayi, Ryan Woolridge and Admon Gilder all finished with 11 points.

NO ANTHONY

While Anthony didn’t play in the loss to Wofford, the Tar Heels now know they need to make up for his scoring for at least a month. Anthony is averaging 19.1 points to rank second nationally among freshmen and has been the Tar Heels’ best player at creating his own shot. He led the team in scoring in six of his nine games this season, starting when he had 34 points against Notre Dame for the most points ever by an Atlantic Coast Conference freshman in his first game.

BIG PICTURE

North Carolina: In an effort to make up for the loss of Anthony, Williams went deep into his bench. North Carolina played 11 players in the first half alone trying to overcome foul trouble and find a grouping that could add some punch on the offensive end.

Gonzaga: The Zags are 6-4 in their past 10 games against ACC teams. Their last three wins over ACC foes are Duke, Florida State and now North Carolina.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: Face UCLA on Saturday in Las Vegas.

Gonzaga: Host Eastern Washington on Saturday.

Cole Anthony stars in North Carolina debut

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As Cole Anthony took the floor Wednesday in his collegiate debut, it looked as though the potential top pick in the 2020 NBA draft was going to make a fashion statement.

Ultimately, though, the Mikan-esque corrective lenses he wore – and later ditched – weren’t what left the biggest impression of the night. It was his game.

The son of UNLV great and 11-year NBA vet Greg Anthony, the North Carolina freshman exploded for 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the Tar Heels’ season-opening 76-65 win over Notre Dame to start both the season and ACC play 1-0.

It was a virtuoso performance for a player that was in the mix for being the top-rated prospect in the 2019 class, but has found himself less a part of the national conversation this preseason than his counterparts like James Wiseman at Memphis or RJ Hampton, who opted not to even play college basketball.

Anthony’s entire repertoire was on display against the Irish, who could do little to contain him all evening. He was 12 of 24 overall from the floor and 6 of 11 from 3-point range. He created for others. He got the Tar Heels going in transition with 11 defensive boards.

Simply put, he was dynamic.

The only issue for Anthony was his four turnovers, but given how much responsibility there is on him offensively to initiate the offense, get others involved and score it himself, that’s not that bad of number in 37 minutes. Especially when it’s the first 37 minutes of his career.

It was a game reminiscent of some of the breakout games we’ve seen from the best freshmen in recent years. Remember Trae Young’s 43 against Oregon two years ago or Zion Williamson’s 28 and seven in his debut against Kentucky last year? It’s not much of a leap of faith to think we’ll be talking about Anthony’s first-ever college game in that same vein.

It was a declaration of intent.

Cole Anthony is here, and he’s coming for the ACC. Along with the rest of college basketball.

He’s uniquely situated as a 6-foot-3, playmaking lead guard for a top-10 team to make a dent in college basketball. Maybe he’s not going to be the cultural phenomenon that both Young and Williamson were, but going for 34, 11 and five in your first-ever college game against a strong ACC program is a pretty good indication that Anthony is going to be awesome this season.

Honestly, it’s too bad he decided to toss the glasses he started the game wearing. Making rec specs cool might have been the true test of Anthony’s talent and appeal.

Although, there’s a notable precedence for a guy flipping of his glasses and becoming super.

North Carolina adds commitment from five-star 2020 guard Caleb Love

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North Carolina added its third five-star commitment in the Class of 2020 with guard Caleb Love’s pledge to the Tar Heels with a public announcement.

The 6-foot-3 Love can play either guard spot as he’s an attacking guard with a lot of upside on defense. Giving North Carolina stability at guard with the expected one-and-done departure of freshman point guard Cole Anthony, Love’s commitment is a big one for the Tar Heels.

Joining five-star big men Walker Kessler and Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina has its first ball handler in the 2020 class as Love should join a backcourt that includes Anthony Harris and Jeremiah Francis in the future plans. Love’s ability to play point guard at the college level will be something to watch for as he’s transitioned to the position from being more of a shooting guard.

North Carolina found success with that formula with Coby White before he became a top-ten pick, so Love was clearly sold on the idea of playing in the Tar Heels’ offense and having a chance to potentially play right away. The St. Louis native is regarded as the No. 21 overall prospect in the nation, according to Rivals, as Love picked North Carolina over his other finalist of Missouri.

The Tar Heels are also working hard to get commitments from other five star targets such as Cade Cunningham and Ziare Williams. So far, North Carolina has the makings of another monster class as head coach Roy Williams continues to be a major factor on the trail late in his legendary run.

North Carolina to host game at former home Carmichael Arena

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North Carolina is heading back home. In a specific sort of way.

The Tar Heels are returning to their former home gym of Carmichael Arena for a one-night engagement thanks to a scheduling conflict with Wofford and the Dean Dome, the school announced Thursday.

Wofford’s schedule and UNC’s need to head west to face Gonzaga later in the week made moving the date unworkable while the Dean Dome is hosting commencement that day, Dec. 15.

“Due to Wofford’s playing schedule and Carolina’s travel schedule to Gonzaga, it was necessary to play the game on the 15th, but of course we knew that is the date of Commencement,” said senior associate director of athletics Clint Gwaltney. “We appreciate both coach (Roy) Williams’ and Wofford’s flexibility in agreeing to move the game to another venue. It should be an outstanding environment in which to play that game.”

Carmichael hasn’t hosted a regular season game since 1986, though the Tar Heels did play an NIT game there in 2010.

“Carmichael brings back great memories of my first eight years as an assistant to coach (Dean) Smith and the exciting game we played against William and Mary in 2010,” Roy Williams said in a statement. “Wofford will bring an outstanding team and the environment will be electric. I’m sure it will be a tough ticket to get and a special day for everyone who is lucky enough to be there for that game.”

The 6,800-seat venue will make for a cool and memorable environment as the former home to the likes of Dean Smith, James Worthy and Michael Jordan.