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Rui Hachimura keeps No. 1 Gonzaga undefeated with buzzer-beater

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Rui Hachimura scored 26 points and hit the game-winning jumper with 0.6 seconds left as No. 1 Gonzaga survived an upset bid from their in-state rival, Washington, 81-79 on Wednesday night.

Gonzaga held a 40-30 lead at the break, but the Huskies came storming out in the second half, using a 15-2 run to take the lead.

Jaylen Nowell led the way for Washington with 26 points and six assists.

For Gonzaga, Zach Norvell added 14 points, seven assists and six boards while Brandon Clarke chipped in with 10 points and 11 boards, eight of which came on the offensive end of the floor. While the Zags did have 21 assists on 27 made field goals, the second half was the first time that we could really see how much this team is missing Killian Tillie. His ability to be an initiator offensively and an outlet at the high post would have been a difference-maker against this Washington zone.

Luckily for the Zags, it didn’t matter.

Rui saved the day again.

If you recall, he also hit the game-winning shot against Duke in the Maui Invitational.

Washington evacuates team bus after it catches fire following loss to Auburn

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Washington’s bad road trip to Alabama got worse on Friday night when the team had to evacuate their bus.

Following an 88-66 road loss at Auburn earlier in the night, the Huskies boarded the team bus to take a charter flight home to Seattle. That’s when the team bus blew a tire about 15 miles outside of the airport in Montgomery.

The bus caught fire and the team had to evacuate. A Washington spokesperson told Percy Allen of the Seattle Times that no one was injured. Senior big man Noah Dickerson documented the experience on Twitter. The team had to wait for a second bus to arrive at 1:30 a.m. to get them to the airport to end a long night.

Thankfully, everybody seems to be okay after this incident. Washington doesn’t play again until hosting San Diego on Monday night, as they will hopefully have time to rest after a long night of travel.

Friday’s Things To Know: No. 11 Auburn cruises, No. 13 West Virginia loses, is No. 2 Kentucky good?

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There was one headline matchup on Friday night, and that ended up being a dud, the bluest blueblood in action looked pretty bad and we may have seen the single-best individual performance of the season. Here are Friday’s Things To Know:

1. C.J. MASSINBURG PUT ON THE PERFORMANCE OF THE SEASON

I’m sure that, at some point over the course of the next five months, we are going to see someone put on a show that was more impressive than what Massinburg did on Friday night in Morgantown, but it is not going to be something that is easy to do. The Buffalo star put up a career-high 43 points, adding 14 boards and three assists while shooting 9-for-15 from three as the Bulls beat No. 13 West Virginia, 99-94 in OT. He had nine points in an 11-3 run in the final three minutes of regulation, including a three with 14 seconds left that forced overtime. He scored nine of Buffalo’s 15 points in overtime.

It was incredible.

And this wasn’t against some run-of-the-mill low-major program that Buffalo was in position to steamroll. This came on the road against a top 15 team in the country in a game where Buffalo trailed by double-digits for most of the second half. This came against Press Virginia, and it gave the Bulls the kind of win that will put their resume in the mix for an at-large bid come Selection Sunday. It puts them in a position where it’s feasible that they might end up with single-digit seed.

Remember, this is the same program that smoked Arizona in the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament. Let’s see what happens when they play at Syracuse and at Marquette next month. That should be a lot of fun.

2. No. 11 AUBURN LOOKS LIKE A POWERHOUSE

The Tigers were really impressive in a season-opening win over South Alabama, but that was South Alabama.

On Friday night, the Tigers looked just as impressive, but instead of beating some overmatched in-state mid-major, Bruce Pearl’s club put a hurting on No. 25 Washington, the team many think will win the Pac-12 this season. Chuma Okeke once again led the way for Auburn with 19 points, 10 boards and two blocks while knocking down three more threes. On the season, he’s 6-for-8 from three with five blocks and seven assists in two games.

So he can protect the rim and space the floor while also attack a closeout and find shooters. Anfernee McLemore, who starts alongside Okeke in Auburn’s frontline, led the nation in block percentage a season ago while shooting 39.1 percent from three. So he can protect the rim and space the floor as well. Auburn presses. They play in transition. They have a point guard in Jared Harper who has been dominant and a combo-guard alongside him in Samir Doughty who is living up to the hype. Should I mention their best perimeter scorer, Bryce Brown, at some point, or that they are still waiting to get Danjel Purifoy eligible and Austin Wiley back to 100%?

Auburn, to me, looks like the best team in the SEC this season and possibly a top five team in the country. That also has a lot to do with the fact that …

3. … KENTUCKY JUST IS NOT VERY GOOD RIGHT NOW

The Wildcats knocked off a solid enough Southern Illinois team team on Friday night, winning by 12 points in a game they trailed in the second half. The final score was 71-59, but perhaps the most surprising part about all of this was that Kentucky’s best frontline might actually be Nick Richards and E.J. Montgomery. P.J. Washington was bad tonight. Reid Travis was a complete non-factor after putting up 22 points against Duke.

Richards finished with 19 boards (nine offensive) while Montgomery added 10 points and seven boards while not turning the ball over; Washington had five in 20 minutes. The other issue is that Kentucky’s guard rotation is quirky right now. Head coach John Calipari is going to realize pretty quickly that he team cannot function offensively right now unless both Quade Green and Immanuel Quickley are on the floor.

My opinion on Kentucky hasn’t changed much since this podcast was recorded, but it is worrisome that this appears to be an issue with their team, not just a function of playing Duke on Tuesday.

Okeke leads No. 11 Auburn past No. 25 Washington 88-66

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AUBURN, Ala. — Chuma Okeke had 19 points and 10 rebounds and Samir Doughty scored 18 to lead No. 11 Auburn to an 88-66 victory over No. 25 Washington on Friday night.

The Tigers (2-0) raced to an 18-point halftime lead and pushed it to 30 in their first home win over a ranked nonconference team in nearly 48 years.

Jared Harper and Bryce Brown both scored 13 points for the Tigers. Harper also had five assists.

Center Austin Wiley saw his first action in more than a season, scoring five points in 13 minutes. Wiley, who was forced to sit out last season as part of a federal probe into corruption in college basketball, missed the opener with a left foot injury. He entered with 16:56 left in the first half to a huge ovation at Auburn Arena.

Jaylen Nowell had 16 points for Washington on 7-of-9 shooting. Nahziah Carter also scored 16 off the bench.

Noah Dickerson, an Atlanta native, had 12 points before fouling out midway through the second half. He played just 17 minutes and drew a technical for his celebration of a first-half dunk.

David Crisp scored 10 points for the Huskies.

It was just the sixth time Auburn has hosted a ranked nonconference opponent and the first win over one since beating then-No. 19 North Carolina State on Dec. 5, 1970.

BIG PICTURE

Washington: Made 25 of 45 shots (55.6 percent) but was outrebounded 41-24.

Auburn: Got off to another fast start, scoring 14 straight after Washington hit the first basket. Tigers are 15-0 at Auburn Arena the past two seasons against nonconference opponents.

RARE OCCURRENCE

It was the first time since 2014 that a ranked Washington team played a Top 25 nonconference opponent. The game also marked the second Top 25 nonconference matchup in Auburn and first since 1987.

College Basketball’s Best Off Guards

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The off-guard position in college basketball has a lot of intriguing questions heading into the 2018-19 season.

While the group is headlined by some strong returning players and some five-star freshmen, it seems as though many of the players on this list still have something to prove. Whether that is perimeter shooting, becoming a more complete player or bringing more consistency, the off-guard spot in college hoops could be in a great place this season if many of these guys make standard improvements.

Here’s a look at 20 of the key off-guards to watch this season.



1. CALEB MARTIN, Nevada, Sr.

The reigning Mountain West Player of the Year nearly left for the NBA before deciding to return with his twin brother, Cody, at the 11th hour. With the Martin twins back in the fold, many are projecting Nevada as a top-ten preseason team. Caleb had a huge junior season as he put up 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game as he was the clear go-to player on a deep Wolf Pack team.

Also a 40 percent three-point shooter, Martin’s ability to score from all over the floor is what separates him from many of his peers and it helps make Nevada’s offense one of the best in the country. This season, Martin won’t have to do as much since he’s playing on a veteran team that should be significantly deeper. But don’t discount Martin having a huge year and potentially vaulting into All-American status.

2. QUENTIN GRIMES, Kansas, Fr.

The prized pledge of another solid Kansas recruiting class, the 6-foot-5 Grimes should have a huge impact on the Jayhawks this season. The former McDonald’s All-American really came into his own as a more complete guard during his senior season as some believed he was the best guard prospect in the Class of 2018.

Capable of playing the one, but more likely to play the two given the Kansas backcourt situation, Grimes is a tough-minded two-way player who can score or distribute. The key for the reigning MVP of the 2018 FIBA Americas will be perimeter shooting. If Grimes can consistently knock down three-pointers then the Jayhawks should have an incredibly dangerous offense.

Romeo Langford (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

3. ROMEO LANGFORD, Indiana, Fr.

Huge expectations will be lingering over Langford’s head all season, as the Hoosier faithful are hoping this in-state product can return Indiana basketball to glory. The former Mr. Basketball in Indiana is one of the most celebrated high school players to ever come out of the basketball-crazy state after putting up monster numbers.

At 6-foot-6, Langford is capable of 40-point outbursts where he’s scoring from all over the floor. Also a capable wing defender thanks to his length and athleticism, Langford is a likely one-and-done prospect if he lives up to his five-star billing. Consistency will be one of the keys to watch for with Langford. For as good as he can be, Langford had a tendency to disappear for minutes at a time for portions of his grassroots career. As long as Langford is engaged, he should be a force in the Big Ten.

4. LINDELL WIGGINTON, Iowa State, So.

After an impressive freshman season in which he was fifth in the Big 12 in scoring, Wigginton gets his chance to shine on a much deeper and more talented Iowa State team this season. Averaging 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game while shooting 40 percent from three-point range, the 6-foot-2 Wigginton showed natural ability as a scorer last season, as he’ll look to become more of a complete guard in his second season.

Testing the NBA waters this offseason, Wigginton can enhance his national reputation, and pro stock, by helping the Cyclones win games after the team finished only 13-18 last season. With another year to grow, and more help around him, Wigginton should be among the Big 12’s leading scorers once again.

Wigginton (J Pat Carter/Getty Images

5. JALEN HUDSON, Florida, Sr.

The leading scorer for the Gators last season, the 6-foot-6 Hudson will be counted on for points once again this season. It’s going to be the other things Hudson can give Florida that ultimately helps dictate how they might finish.

If Hudson can show more leadership, while also helping to set up teammates, then he’ll help offset the huge loss of point guard Chris Chiozza. The Gators don’t have an obvious replacement at lead guard for Chiozza, so Hudson’s impact in the backcourt beyond scoring will be something to keep an eye on. Even if Hudson is only trying to get buckets, he’s a 40 percent three-point shooter who put up 15.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season. The Gators just ideally need him to contribute a bit of everything.

6. KELLAN GRADY, Davidson, So.

Putting together the best freshman season at Davidson since Steph Curry, the 6-foot-5 Grady made his own mark for the Wildcats last season. Although not quite as gifted a perimeter shooter as Curry (but really, who is?) Grady is no slouch in that department after shooting 50 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range while averaging 18.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

With Davidson leading scorer Peyton Aldridge moving on from the program, the reigning A-10 Rookie of the Year is going to be the go-to guy for a Wildcats team with NCAA tournament aspirations. Since Davidson doesn’t have a lot of experienced pieces returning from last season’s tournament squad, then we could be seeing a lot of 20-point games from Grady.

Ky Bowman (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

7. KY BOWMAN, Boston College, Jr.

Although backcourt running mate and NBA first-round pick Jerome Robinson received much of the attention for Boston College last season, Bowman also had a monster campaign. As a sophomore, the 6-foot-1 Bowman averaged 17.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 36 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line.

A North Carolina native who seems to play at his best when facing the in-state teams that passed him over in the ACC, Bowman just missed a triple-double in a win over Duke last year. Now that Robinson is gone, Bowman will be asked to do even more this season, as the Eagles are going to be counting on Bowman for a potential All-American season. If Bowman can lift his three-point percentage closer to the 44 percent he shot as a freshman, then he could very well reach that status.

8. MUSTAPHA HERON, St. John’s, Jr.

Immediately eligible after the NCAA gave him a hardship waiver, the 6-foot-5 Heron is a monster addition for the Red Storm. Coupled with a potential All-American at point in Shamorie Ponds, St. John’s now has one of the best backcourt tandems in all of college basketball.

Spending his first two seasons at Auburn, Heron averaged 16.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game for the Tigers as a sophomore. The 220-pound Heron and his power and athleticism should pair well with Ponds’ slippery ability to get to the basket as the duo should be immensely fun to watch this season.

If Heron can find his three-point consistency like he showed during freshman season (42 percent from three-point range) then his perimeter shooting would also greatly open things up for Ponds as he attacks off the dribble.

Kris Wilkes (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

9. KRIS WILKES, UCLA, So.

Quietly putting up good numbers as a freshman last season, the 6-foot-8 Wilkes was second on the Bruins in scoring and rebounding at 13.7 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Now the versatile perimeter threat will be asked to become a team leader on a young, but talented, Bruins team.

Wilkes flirted with staying in the NBA Draft, but by coming back for another year in the Pac-12, he has a chance to improve his average 35 percent three-point shooting while displaying more overall leadership for an intriguing team. Potentially an All-Pac-12 player with a big season, Wilkes will get asked to take a lot of big shots at UCLA this season.

10. MATISSE THYBULLE, Washington, Sr.

The offensive numbers won’t jump out at you. That doesn’t mean this 6-foot-5 senior doesn’t make a giant impact on all of Washington’s games. The Pac-12’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Thybulle can make game-changing defensive plays on one end while contributing quite a bit to other facets of the game.

Thybulle scored 11.2 points per game while getting 2.9 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game last season. But getting 3.0 steals per game and 1.4 blocks per game had an immense impact on a Washington team that finally showed signs of life on the defensive end. Also a 36 percent three-point shooter, Thybulle is the perfect three-and-d wing for a Washington team with a sneaky amount of talent this season.

11. ZACH NORVELL, Gonzaga, So.

Gonzaga’s most consistent and versatile scorer has a chance to be a better all-around player as a sophomore. The 6-foot-5 Norvell put up 12.7 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game while shooting 37 percent from three-point range. If Norvell improves defensively, then he’ll be one of college basketball’s best two-way guards.

12. NICKEIL ALEXANDER-WALKER, Virginia Tech, So.

Consistency will be the key for this ultra-talented 6-foot-5 guard. There were times last season when Alexander-Walker looked like Virginia Tech’s best players and other games where he was barely contributing. If Alexander-Walker finds a better balance, he could be a force in the ACC this season.

13. KYLE GUY, Virginia, Jr.

A veteran scorer who acts as Virginia’s top perimeter shooter, the 6-foot-2 Guy would put up even bigger scoring numbers in a more uptempo offense. Guy averaged 14.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 39 percent from three-point range.

14. T.J. GIBBS, Notre Dame, Jr.

Coming on strong during his sophomore season, the 6-foot-3 Gibbs is going to be asked to do even more for a young Fighting Irish team. The good news is that Gibbs is already used to being the main scorer. Gibbs scored double-figures in 19 of 21 ACC games last season while averaging 15.3 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds per game.

15. D’MARCUS SIMONDS, Georgia State, Jr.

The reigning Sun Belt Player of the Year made a huge impression by putting up 21.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game last season. If Simonds can improve his woeful 29 percent three-point shooting then he’ll become one of the most complete scorers in the country.

Phil Booth (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

16. QUINNDARY WEATHERSPOON, Mississippi State, Sr.

The 6-foot-4 Weatherspoon saw his scoring numbers and three-point percentage dip from sophomore to junior season. But Weatherspoon also became a more well-rounded guard as he nearly doubled his assist total. If Weatherspoon lifts his perimeter shooting, then he could make this ranking look silly.

17. FLETCHER MAGEE, Wofford, Sr.

The SoCon Player of the Year is arguably the best pure shooter in college hoops. Just missing a 50/40/90 season as a junior, MaGee averaged 22.1 points per game while making 4.4 three-pointers per game at a 43 percent clip. Magee is perhaps most well-known for his 27 points in the Dean Dome last season when Wofford upset North Carolina.

18. PHIL BOOTH, Villanova, Sr.

It seems like Booth’s been with the Wildcats forever. This season the 6-foot-3 guard has more of a chance to shine. Already dropping 41 points, and nine three-pointers, on North Carolina in a preseason scrimmage, Booth appears to be ready to take a high number of shots in Villanova’s high-octane offense.

19. BRYCE BROWN, Auburn, Sr.

As dangerous as it gets from the perimeter, the 6-foot-3 Brown led the SEC with 107 made three-pointers last season. Auburn’s uptempo attack gives Brown a lot of makeable shots, as he averaged 15.9 points per game on 38 percent three-point shooting last season.

20. HERB JONES, Alabama, So.

Expectations are very high for the 6-foot-7 Jones to make a major leap this season. A potentially elite two-way guard who shows very strong defensive traits, Jones has the upside to make a leap to the pros. Jones has to expand on the modest minutes and numbers he put up last season, but he has major upside.

CBT Podcast: Breaking down our top 25, preseason All-Americans

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As the NBCSports.com College Basketball Talk podcast returns, Rob Dauster was joined by Raphielle Johnson to breakdown the NBC Sports preseason top 25 and the preseason All-American teams that were released this week.

Here is a full rundown of today’s podcast:

OPEN: Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and Gonzaga are the clear-cut preseason top four.

19:30: Which top ten team is the most likely to be a bust?

22:30: What should we do with Loyola-Chicago heading into 2018-19?

25:15: Washington vs. Oregon as the Pac-12’s best.

30:00: Which team outside the top 25 will get to the Final Four?

32:05: R.J. Barrett vs. Carsen Edwards for Preseason Player of the Year and Zion Williamson vs. Tyus Battle for 1st team All-America.

39:40: Kentucky is No. 2 but doesn’t have a player on our 1st, 2nd or 3rd team All-America.

43:30: Who are the National Player of the Year sleepers?