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Thursday’s Things To Know: UConn impresses, 3-point record falls and Oregon falters

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We’re closing in on one of the more entertaining stretches of the college basketball season with Thanksgiving tournaments giving us all-day hoops and really interesting non-conference matchups. It’s still early, and the best is yet to come, but Thursday night provided some quality hoops. Oh, and one guy shooting a ton of 3s. Literally more 3s than anyone has ever shot before. Here’s what you need to know:

1. UConn asserts itself against Syracuse.

It’s been a tough few years at UConn. It’s been two really bad years, but it’s mostly been not-great for the Huskies since that 2014 national title. It’s Dan Hurley’s job to change that. His first Big East throwback game certainly looked like it’s one he’ll be up for.

UConn’s quest to change the outlook of its locker room and the culture of its program was evident in the Huskies’ 83-76 win against Syracuse at Madison Square Garden.

Changing the culture has become The Thing New Coaches Simply Have To Talk About, but there’s no doubting it needed to happen in Storrs as a program that’s used to winning national titles began to languish in a league that’s simply second tier. UConn in the AAC is a different challenge for a coach than UConn in the Big East. It’s tougher. Hurley has a long way to go, but getting a team to buy in from the outset is a positive signal.

2. Jordan Lyons goes berserk

On Wednesday night, Josh Williams of Robert Morris tied a 23-year-old NCAA record by making 15 3-pointers. It took about 24 hours for that number to be matched again.

Jordan Lyons matched Williams’ 15 makes from distance, but broke an NCAA record with 34 attempts from 3-point range in the Paladins’ win against a Division II opponent on Thursday.

As teams continue to hoist shots from 3-point range at an ever-increasing rate, these types of nights are going to become more typical, but to see two guys tie a record that’s stood for more than two decades on back-to-back nights? I mean, c’mon, that’s a little crazy.

3. Oregon goes down

Give Iowa credit. The Hawkeyes shot just 35.7 percent from the floor, but got to the line 33 times, making 29 of their attempts (87.9 percent) and grabbed 13 offensive rebounds to keep the offense afloat. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a 77-69 neutral site win against a ranked opponent, which will certainly come in handy for a team looking to get back to the NCAA tournament after a two-year drought.

Also, the Big Ten looks like it might be pretty good. Michigan stomped all over Villanova, Indiana blasted Marquette, Wisconsin handled Xavier and now the Hawkeyes bested Oregon. That’s a pretty good week for a league that has been stuck in something of a malaise the last few seasons.

The overwhelming feeling from watching the nightcap at Madison Square Garden, though, was just how underwhelming Oregon looked. There just wasn’t a lot of there there for the Ducks. That’s problematic for a top-15 team that is the heavy favorite to win the Pac-12 this season. They just lost a game to what many would pick to be a middle-of-the-pac B1G while holding them to under 40 percent shooting while only committing eight turnovers themselves. Getting 25 points from Ehab Amin is nice, but otherwise an all around uninspiring performance from Dana Altman’s group.

Oregon lands four-star 2019 wing Chandler Lawson

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Oregon received a nice Signing Day addition on Wednesday afternoon as the Ducks landed four-star Class of 2019 wing Chandler Lawson.

The 6-foot-8 Lawson is a native of Memphis as he’s the younger brother of Kansas forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson. With upside to become a solid wing forward at the college level, Lawson should be a good addition for an Oregon staff that has done a great job of developing players in a similar position. Lawson can be inconsistent at times, but he’s also athletic and skilled enough to be an eventual difference-maker in the Pac-12.

Oregon has done a quality job of once again loading up on top 100 prospects as Lawson joins four-star center Isaac Johnson and four-star guard Christopher Duarte.

Things To Know: Buffalo notches another road win, North Carolina routs Stanford, Lagerald Vick goes wild

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We’ve entered the second week of the college basketball season after an eventful first few days. The week didn’t get off to exactly a rousing start, but there were some notable results – and performances – on Monday evening across the country.

1. Buffalo outlasts Southern Illinois

Kentucky isn’t the only team to have a little trouble with the Salukis. Just a weekend removed from its overtime win at West Virginia, 25th-ranked Buffalo could never get great separation from Southern Illinois but claimed a 62-53 win in Carbondale on Monday.

It was a second-straight impressive road win for the Bulls, who won despite shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. They did it with a defense that forced 19 turnovers and held the Salukis to a 3 of 13 mark from distance. CJ Massinburg came back to earth after scoring 43 against the Mountaineers, being held to just seven points on 3 of 9 shooting. Montell McRae and Jeremy Harris both had 11 to lead the Bulls. It may not have been a pretty win for Nate Oats’ team, but against a feisty opponent on the road coming off an emotional victory, it’s undoubtedly a welcome one.

For Southern Illinois, it was a second close-but-no-cigar effort after it pushed Kentucky to the limit in a 12-point loss last week. Kavion Pippen had 18 points to lead the Salukis in scoring. The Bulls and Salukis will have a rematch Dec. 15 in Buffalo.

2. North Carolina stomped Stanford

In what was really the marquee matchup of the night, the Tar Heels had little trouble dispatching Stanford in Chapel Hill, 90-72. Luke Maye had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Cameron Johnson continued impressive play as the former Pitt transfer put up 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting while also grabbing seven rebounds. The 6-foot-9 senior has scored at least 17 points in all three of UNC’s games this season.

After putting up 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting against Elon on Friday, freshman Nassir Little struggled, making just 4 of 10 shots (0 of 3 from deep), though he did play a season-high 24 minutes off the bench. North Carolina’s start t the season isn’t likely to get much tougher in the near-term with games against Tennessee Tech and St. Francis up next before the Las Vegas Invitational pits them against Texas and then either Michigan State or UCLA before tilts with Michigan (Nov. 28) and Gonzaga (Dec. 15) really test them.

3. Lagerald Vick perfect from distance as Kansas overcomes early troubles

A cascade of 3s put Vermont up early, but an 8 of 8 performance from Lagerald Vick from behind the line helped propel Kansas past the Catamounts. 84-68. Vick finished with a career high 32 points while going 12 of 14 overall from the floor. Pretty good for a guy who wasn’t even going to be a member of the Jayhawks program after three years in Lawrence not too long ago.

An early 18-4 run staked Vermont to an early lead, but the Catamounts couldn’t keep pace as Vick went wild and Udoka Azubuike produced inside to the tune of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman point guard Quentin Grimes had 10 points and 10 assists. The game proved to be a pretty solid encapsulation of the depth and weapons that Bill Self has at his disposal this season as Dedric Lawson, a popular first-team All-American pick, went scoreless with an 0 for 6 night, yet the Jayhawks had two seniors put up monster numbers and a rookie drop 10 dimes. Kansas can beat you in a variety of ways with a variety of players.

Anthony Lamb had 24 points while Ernie Duncan added 17 and Stef Smith 13 for the Catamounts, who face Louisville on Friday.

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.

Battey returns to court for Colorado after suffering stroke

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Just the other day, the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman quietly slipped on his Colorado basketball jersey for a photo shoot.

Instant tears. A simple task he doesn’t take for granted .

Last December, Evan Battey was playing hoops with his buddies when his right leg went numb. Then, his right arm. He tried to speak but couldn’t. Battey suffered a stroke that day along with two seizures.

Nearly 11 months later, the 20-year-old forward from California will make his Buffaloes debut — with feeling back and his speech constantly improving.

“I’m thankful to be out here,” said Battey, whose team opens the season next Tuesday against Drake. “I’m thankful just to be alive today.”

Looking back, there were signs for Battey, who redshirted last season due to NCAA eligibility requirements. Like how two months before his stroke he was unable to pronounce words following a weightlifting session. He texted his mom, Rosalind Lewis, that he felt funny.

But his speech soon returned. He pushed the episode from his mind, because “I was in the best shape of my life at the time,” Battey explained .

The day after Christmas, Battey and his buddies were playing basketball at a Los Angeles gym when he experienced numbness from head-to-toe. His friends called his mom, who happened to be a few minutes away and quickly drove over. By the time she arrived, he was walking on his own but his speech appeared weakened. She took him to the emergency room where doctors performed a scan and discovered a blood clot. He was given a drug to break up the clot and transported to another facility specializing in strokes. While in the ambulance, Battey suffered a seizure. At the facility, he had another.

After four days in the hospital going through a battery of neurological and cardiology exams, the doctors had no explanation for what caused his stroke. It remains unknown.

“The good news was the tests came back as, ‘Hey, we don’t feel like there’s going to be long-term effects,'” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.

At first, Battey’s balance was off. He struggled to make a fist with his right hand. His smile was uneven. But everything gradually returned through physical therapy. His speech remains a work in progress.

Two weeks after his stroke, the Buffaloes were playing at Southern California and Battey attended morning practice. For the first time — and with his right arm still feeling weak — he shot a few 3-pointers.

He made one. Then another. And another.

“I was feeling it,” he said. “I was making them all from muscle memory. It was a good sign for my teammates to see that I’m shooting again.”

Battey returned to Boulder in time for January classes, diligently going through physical rehab (he struggled to write) and speech therapy (he recited song lyrics to progress enunciation). He attended home games to cheer on his teammates.

“It was hard, because I couldn’t be that vocal guy on the sideline,” he said. “Because when you have a stroke, you know what you want to say, you just can’t articulate it.”

By early May, he had most of the feeling back on his right side and returned to practice. At first, he was a little hesitant: What if it happened again?

Take his time. No rush. That was Boyle’s message. It’s been his message.

Boyle had a conversation with Battey soon after his stroke: His scholarship was good even if he didn’t play a minute with the Buffaloes. All he wanted was Battey to be healthy.

But his desire to play was burning. He hadn’t played for a school team in quite a while.

Battey missed his senior season at Villa Park High School in Orange County because of an eligibility rule stemming from him repeating the ninth grade. Instead, the affable Battey served as a coach for the big men and the team’s JV squad that season.

His academic issues followed him to Boulder with the NCAA ruling him out since he did not meet the initial eligibility requirement of graduation from high school in four years.

Steadily, he’s getting back into a rhythm again.

“I sometimes think about my health when I’m sitting in class or lying in bed, but not when I’m on the floor,” said Battey , who played 27 minutes and had seven points in an exhibition game against Colorado School of Mines over the weekend. “I just love the game so much.”

At practice, Battey wears a heart monitor (the entire team does). If his soars too high, he rests. He will be closely monitored in games by the Colorado training staff.

“We know what’s normal and when things become abnormal, we’ll be quick to shut him down,” Boyle said. “Up to this point, he’s been fine.”

This summer went a long way toward alleviating any lingering doubt. He traveled with the USA East Coast team on a four-game trip to Italy. Along for the excursion were his mom and sister.

“I needed to be there,” his mom said, “to see how he was doing and see him in that environment. It was wonderful.”

Last week, Battey stayed after practice to hone the foot work on his jumper.

On the far end, Boyle just watched.

“I’m not sure I’ve had as much respect for a player I’ve coached, in terms of what they’ve been through off the court, as I have been for Evan Battey,” Boyle said. “My expectation level of Evan is so high, because I think he has an opportunity to be such a good player.”

For Battey, the excitement is already building for opening night. His mom will be there. Same with his dad, Earl.

“I don’t know how I’m going to control my emotions,” Battey said. “But I’m ready. I’m ready.”

___

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Follow Pat Graham on Twitter @pgraham34

Another injury at UCLA as forward Cody Riley sidelined after hurting jaw

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UCLA will have to deal with another injury to its roster as the school confirmed an Associated Press report that forward Cody Riley will miss time with an injured jaw.

The 6-foot-9 Riley is expected to miss at least the first three weeks of the season after suffering the injury during Wednesday’s practice. A redshirt freshman who missed all of last season after being involved in UCLA’s Chinese shoplifting scandal, Riley is expected to be a key frontcourt piece for the Bruins this season.

UCLA is already dealing with season-ending dilemmas with freshman big man Shareef O’Neal and freshman guard Tyger Campbell while junior forward Alex Olesinski is also out after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot in late September.

With Riley now being sidelined as well, UCLA’s frontcourt — which at one point looked like it might be a deep group this season — is starting to look thin. Now that Riley, Olesinski and O’Neal are out, the Bruins will turn to freshmen big men like Moses Brown and Jalen Hill while another freshman, Kenneth Nwuba, might also be forced into early action. Sophomore wings like Kris Wilkes and Chris Smith could also slide to the four if UCLA wants to throw some smaller and quicker guard-oriented lineups on the floor.

Riley (and also Olesinski) should be able to make a full recovery before conference season begins as UCLA opens its regular season with four straight mid-major programs. The Bruins face their first major test of the season on Nov. 22 when they face Michigan State in Las Vegas in the opener of the two-game Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational.