Expert Cappers Picks
Men's College Basketball
NCAAB News Wire
  • Ball brothers sign with Lithuanian club
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    Lavar Ball is taking two of his sons to play overseas in Lithuania.

    • LiAngelo Ball, who left UCLA earlier this month without ever playing a game, and LaMelo Ball, who withdrew from high school in his junior season, signed one-year deals to play with the Lithuanian club Vytautas Prienai, multiple media outlets reported.

      The reported signings come days after Lavar Ball told ESPN that his two sons signed with an agent -- Harrison Gaines of Slash Sports Entertainment -- to work out a deal to play abroad.

      The younger brothers of Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, LiAngelo, 19, and LaMelo, 16, will join Vytautas in January, Yahoo Sports reported, citing sources.

      ESPN reported that the team and the Ball family were involved in negotiations Monday before finalizing an agreement later in the day.

      Vytautas fields teams in both the Lithuanian and Baltic leagues, with the latter the lesser competitive of the two circuits. The Ball brothers are expected to play in the Baltic League.

      "I don't care about the money," LaVar Ball said Thursday when explaining why his sons signed with an agent. "I want them to go somewhere where they will play them together on the court at the same time. The priority is for the boys to play on the same team."

      Gaines told Yahoo Sports that he was engaged in talks with a number of clubs, but said it made the most sense to sign with Vytautas.

      "It was critical to find a situation in a competitive league that works with both of their short- and long-term goals," Gaines told the website.

      LaVar Ball pulled LiAngelo from UCLA earlier this month, telling ESPN that he was frustrated that the school hadn't made a determination on the length of his son's suspension following an arrest for shoplifting while in China last month.

      LiAngelo Ball and fellow freshmen basketball players Cody Riley and Jalen Hill created an international incident that eventually involved President Donald Trump. While visiting Beijing as part of a five-nation Asia tour, Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case.

      LaMelo Ball initially was targeted to play at UCLA in two years by his father, but that plan changed. He was taken out of Chino Hills (Calif.) High to be home-schooled for his junior year.

  • Seton Hall puts No. 15 ranking on line vs. St. Peter's
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. -- Seton Hall will take the court on Tuesday with its highest ranking in almost 17 years when it hosts Saint Peter's at Walsh Gym on its campus.

    • The No. 15 Pirates (8-1) were last ranked this high in January 2001. They have won four straight, including victories over previously ranked Louisville and No. 24 Texas Tech.

      This is the first meeting with Saint Peter's (4-4) since Dec. 13, 2015, when the Pirates won 72-46 at Prudential Center. Seton Hall held the Peacocks to 32.7 percent shooting and did not allow a double-digit scorer.

      The Pirates are 45-7 at home and 63-24 in the all-time series with Saint Peter's.

      Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard has done a good job keeping his veteran team grounded during the first month of the season.

      "When we got ranked, we talked about protecting it, and I talked to them for about an hour about things given and things earned," said Willard, "and in life, you're really going to appreciate things that are earned more than things that are given. What I talked to them about was they have earned this ranking. They weren't given it to them. We've played a tough schedule and had some big wins. We've earned the right to get ranked.

      "When you earn something, you want to take care of it. I'm trying to -- I always try to teach my guys, in life, people are going to give you stuff, and you're going to take that and chuck it in the back of your closet," Willard added. "But the things that you've earned with your paycheck and you go out and buy, you're really going to appreciate. I think these guys have really appreciated the fact that they have worked very hard. They have sacrificed a lot to get this, and they don't now want to give it away."

      Seton Hall is 164-60 (.732) against teams from New Jersey. The Pirates have won each of their previous nine meetings against teams from the state, including victories over Monmouth, Fairleigh Dickinson and NJIT this season. During the Willard era, Seton Hall is 18-7 against New Jersey programs.

      Desi Rodriguez is averaging 19.7 points and 5.1 rebounds while shooting 54.5 percent from the field and 35.7 from 3-point range for Seton Hall. The team is 7-0 when he is the leading scorer, and the Pirates are 28-8 all-time when he scores 15 or more points.

      Saint Peter's coach John Dunne is very familiar with the Seton Hall program. He was an assistant coach with the Pirates from 2001-06 before arriving at Saint Peter's. He helped guide the Pirates to two NCAA Tournaments and one NIT appearance.

      "Kevin's teams have always played hard," Dunne said. "They play with an attitude and a lot of confidence and are very unselfish."

      The Peacocks have six new players who weren't a part of their 23-win season last year. Saint Peter's claimed the Tournament last spring.

      "Of course they're (Saint Peter's) going to get up for this game," Dunne said. "We have a lot of new guys and when that happens you worry about will they stay focused? And will they share the ball?

      "I'm pleased on both fronts. The entire team has been very unselfish."

      The Peacocks lead the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in scoring defense, field goal percentage defense, 3-point field goal defense and turnover margin.

      Nick Griffin ranks among the top 15 in the conference in scoring (fourth), field goal percentage (12th), free-throw percentage (13th), 3-point percentage (14th), 3 field goals made (fifth), and minutes played (fourth).

      Quinn Taylor ranks fifth in rebounds, seventh in offensive rebounds, fourth in defensive rebounds and seventh in steals.

  • Wisconsin G King (knee) to miss rest of season
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    Wisconsin freshman guard Kobe King will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, the team announced Monday.

    • King joins sophomore point guard D'Mitrik Trice in having their respective surgeries on Monday. Trice is nursing a foot injury and is not expected to return until mid-January at the earliest.

      King sat out Saturday's 82-63 loss to Marquette after averaging 5.2 points and 19.0 minutes in the previous 10 games for the Badgers (4-7).

      "I'm disappointed that I'm not able to finish the season with my teammates," King said in a statement. "But following my surgery, I plan to attack my rehab as aggressively as possible and come back stronger than ever.

      "While I'm out, I'm going to help my teammates in any way possible and look forward to watching our team continue to grow this season."

      Trice was averaging 9.4 points per game while starting at point guard for the struggling Badgers before his injury last week.

      "You feel awful for Kobe and D'Mitrik, especially when you have one like Kobe's that is season-ending," Badgers coach Greg Gard said Monday during the Big Ten coaches' teleconference. "Fortunately there is a silver lining. We were right at the minimum number of games that could be played so he is eligible to apply at the end of the year for it."

  • Arizona State leaps to No. 5 after upset of Kansas
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    Arizona State, unbeaten and coming off Sunday's win at then-No. 2 Kansas, has moved into the Associated Press college basketball top 10 for the first time since 1981.

    • Meanwhile, Villanova is the new No. 1 after Duke lost at unranked Boston College on Saturday. The Blue Devils were a unanimous pick at the top spot last week.

      Villanova, which received 41 of 65 first-place votes, is followed in the Top 25 by Michigan State, Wichita State, Duke and Arizona State.

      The Sun Devils, under third-year coach Bobby Hurley, received five first-place votes. The other 19 went to Michigan State.

      Arizona State, which also holds a neutral-court win over Xavier, jumped 11 spots in this week's AP poll. The last time the Sun Devils were in the top 10 was in the final regular-season poll of the 1980-81 season. That team, which featured future NBA standouts Fat Lever, Byron Scott and Alton Lister, finished the regular season by winning at Oregon State, which was No. 1 and undefeated.

      Rounding out this week's top 10 are Miami, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Xavier.

      West Virginia is at No. 11, followed by Gonzaga, Kansas, TCU, Seton Hall, Virginia, Purdue, Notre Dame, Florida State and Tennessee.

      The final five are No. 21 Baylor and then Florida, Arizona, Texas Tech and Cincinnati.

      Arizona State improved to 9-0 with a 95-85 win at Kansas in which the fast-paced, hot-shooting Sun Devils scored 58 points after halftime and finished with the most points by an opponent in Allen Fieldhouse in a regulation game since Kentucky had 95 on Dec. 9, 1989.

      "It's a blur to me right now," Hurley said after the game. "I just remember us generating more stops."

      Mostly, though, ASU is about guard-heavy offense. Arizona State is fourth nationally with 91.8 points per game. Guards Tra Holder (21.2 points per game) and Shannon Evans II (19.0) lead the attack.

      "You've got to be really turned up in order to keep up with them from a speed standpoint," said Kansas coach Bill Self. "They basically played six guys and had all the energy."

      Kansas is on a two-game skid, also having lost last week to another Pac-12 school, Washington, in Kansas City.

      Minnesota, Nevada and USC fell out of this week's poll.

      Arizona is back in the rankings at No. 23 after a two-week absence after the Wildcats fell from No. 2 to unranked after losing three consecutive games at the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. Florida State and Texas Tech are the other additions this week.

  • No. 14 Minnesota opens home stretch vs. Drake
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, December 11, 2017

    MINNEAPOLIS -- The No. 14 Minnesota Golden Gophers host Drake on Monday to begin a stretch of six straight home games, the first four coming against non-conference opponents.

    • It might have been looked at as a stretch to pad Minnesota's record before the beef of the Big Ten schedule begins. Perception now is much different than a week ago when the Gophers recovered from their first loss of the season to No. 10 Miami by beating Rutgers at home.

      Minnesota (8-3) returns home after two road losses to non-ranked teams, including Saturday's 95-79 loss at Arkansas. The Gophers, having lost three of their past four, could fall out of the top-25 rankings for the first time this season.

      "We're not pressing the panic button right now," Minnesota guard Dupree McBrayer told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "But we've got to go back to being hungry on defense when nobody was talking about us. That's what has got to be our identity."

      The Gophers' defense has faltered in recent losses. Arkansas shot 57.4 percent from the field on Saturday and hit 10 of 23 from 3-point territory.

      "People are telling us we're good. So the illusion of people telling us that we're good should not mean that we're good," Minnesota coach Richard Pitino told the Star Tribune last week. "We can't fall into the trap of the illusion that just because people tell us we're going to beat Miami at home because it's a great atmosphere. That's not really why you're going to win. So it is a challenge. I found it a lot easier when people told us we were going to stink to get everyone to band together."

      Pitino and Minnesota are facing different expectations last year. By returning five starters, the Gophers were ranked from the beginning of the season after reaching the NCAA tournament last year. This year's team is strong with its starting group, but doesn't have the depth it had last season.

      Minnesota was scoreless off the bench in the loss to Miami and had 13 points from reserves against Arkansas, eight coming from freshman Isaiah Washington.

      "I'm not lowering expectations, but we are a different team than last year," Pitino told the paper. "Our bench is totally different. My first two subs were either Dupree or Akeem (Springs) or Eric Curry last year. We don't have those."

      While the Gophers try to recover, Drake (5-4) ended a three-game losing streak with a 93-74 win against Omaha on Saturday.

      Reed Timmer scored 27 points for the Bulldogs. It was Timmer's fifth game with 25 or more points this season and he's sixth on the school's all-time scoring list. More importantly for coach Niko Medved, his team had supplementary scoring against Omaha as freshman Jalen Gibbs scored a season-high 16.

      C.J. Rivers had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.

      "We've always said we are a really good team when we share the ball," Medved told the team's website. "I thought a lot of guys played really, really well tonight. Obviously, Reed and C.J. played well and I think the freshmen are really coming on. Jalen and Noah [Thomas] are doing really well in practice and Jalen has been coming on defensively. It's nice to get a lift from those young guys."

  • Top 25 roundup: No. 16 Arizona St. jolts No. 2 Kansas
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, December 10, 2017

    LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Senior guard Tra Holder scored a game-high 29 points Sunday and sparked a 15-0 second-half run that No. 16 Arizona State used to topple No. 2 Kansas 95-85 in Allen Fieldhouse.

    • Holder, who came in averaging 20.3 points and had a 40-point effort earlier this season against Xavier, was not the only guard to help the Sun Devils (9-0) remain undefeated.

      Senior Shannon Evans added 22 points and freshman Remy Martin chipped in 21. Arizona State scored at least 90 points for the seventh time.

      Kansas (7-2) had won 37 consecutive games at home coming off a loss, but could not bounce back from an upset defeat four days earlier against another Pac-12 opponent, Washington.

      No. 4 Villanova 77, La Salle 68

      PHILADELPHIA -- Phil Booth and Donte DiVincenzo scored 18 points each and the No. 4 Wildcats pulled away from their gritty Big 5 rival for a victory.

      Jalen Brunson contributed 17 points and Mikal Bridges had 10 for the Wildcats, who improved to 10-0 for the second straight season and won their 21st consecutive Big 5 game.

      La Salle (5-6) was led by B.J. Johnson with 21 points. Amar Stukes added 16 and Pookie Powell had 12 for the Explorers, who dropped their second in a row. Powell missed all seven of his 3-pointers and fouled out.

      No. 12 Gonzaga 97, Washington 70

      SEATTLE -- Johnathan Williams had 23 points and 12 rebounds and Zach Norvell Jr. added 21 points as 12th-ranked Gonzaga rolled past in-state rival Washington.

      The Bulldogs opened a double-digit lead midway through the first half and extended it to 47-33 at the break. Gonzaga's lead ballooned to 82-57 with 8:44 remaining. Gonzaga (8-2) was coming off an 88-72 loss at fourth-ranked Villanova on Tuesday, while Washington (7-3) was fresh off a stunning 74-65 road upset of No. 2 Kansas on Wednesday.

      Noah Dickerson had 18 points and David Crisp 16 for the Huskies. Dickerson, averaging a team-high 8.7 rebounds, managed just four as Gonzaga finished with a 42-27 advantage on the boards.

      No. 21 Purdue 86, IUPUI 61

      WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Carsen Edwards scored a career-high 27 points, helped No. 21 Purdue overcome an early deficit and cruise past IUPUI in coach Matt Painter's 300th career victory.

      Vince Edwards had 12 points and 12 rebounds, his eighth career double-double, for the Boilermakers (10-2). Painter became one of 10 active head coaches to reach 300 victories within 14 seasons and improved to 275-144 at Purdue.

      Maurice Kirby led the Jaguars (2-6) with 16 points and four rebounds, shooting 8 of 12 from the field. Jaylen Minnett had 12 points and T.J. Henderson added 10.

  • Top 25 roundup: Boston College shocks No. 1 Duke
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 9, 2017

    BOSTON -- Boston College stunned No. 1 Duke on Saturday.

    • Jerome Robinson hit two straight 3-pointers late and the unranked Eagles, who blew a 10-point second-half lead, held off the Blue Devils 89-84, triggering a mob scene on the court after the game.

      Duke (11-1) lost for only the third time in 23 all-time games against BC. Both teams were playing their ACC openers.

      The Eagles (7-3) were down by four before Robinson hit his two straight treys to give his team the lead for good with 1:16 remaining.

      Ky Bowman scored a season-high 30 points and had nine rebounds and nine assists, Robinson had 24 and Jordan Chatman a season-high 22. Chatman hit four straight free throws and Robinson two in the final 15.3 seconds.

      No. 3 Michigan State 88, Southern Utah 63

      EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Miles Bridges racked up 17 points, 11 rebounds and six assists and No. 3 Michigan State stretched its winning streak to eight games after beating pesky Southern Utah at the Breslin Center.

      Jaren Jackson supplied 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Nick Ward also scored 17 points for the Spartans (9-1). Cassius Winston contributed 15 points and five assists.

      Jadon Cohee, Dre Marin and Jacob Calloway each had 12 points for Southern Utah (5-4).

      No. 5 Florida 66, No. 17 Cincinnati 60

      NEWARK, N.J. -- Florida halted its three-game losing streak with a win over Cincinnati in the Never Forget Tribute Classic.

      Chris Chiozza scored the last six points for the Gators (6-3), including a floater that gave them a 62-60 edge with 1:10 left. Egor Koulechov led Florida with 21 points and seven rebounds, Jalen Hudson added 17 points and Chiozza had 15.

      Cane Broome topped Cincinnati (7-2) with 15 points.

      No. 6 Wichita State 78, Oklahoma State 66

      STILLWATER, Okla. -- Guard Landry Shamet scored 23 of his career-high 30 points in the second half to lift the Shockers over the Cowboys.

      In a series that dates back 83 years, Wichita State won in Stillwater for the first time since 1957 and emerged victorious for only the third time in 18 tries at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

      Wichita State (8-1) scored the road win, prevailing in a defensive clash that involved a combined 34 turnovers, including 19 by the Shockers, matching a high during the Gregg Marshall coaching era.

      Guard Tavarius Shine led the Cowboys (7-2) with 20 points, while forward Mitchell Solomon added 17 points and eight rebounds.

      No. 7 Texas A&M 73, Prairie View A&M 53

      Admon Gilder scored 14 points and Tyler Davis reached a career milestone as the Aggies pulled away in the second half at Reed Arena in College Station, Texas.

      Davis finished with eight points, five rebounds and four blocks, becoming the 26th Aggie to have 500 rebounds for his career.

      Zachary Hamilton scored 18 points and Gary Blackston added 17 points for the Panthers (2-7), who dropped their fourth straight game. Texas A&M improves to 8-1.

      No. 8 Kentucky 93, Monmouth 76

      NEW YORK -- The Wildcats got career-high scoring efforts from three freshmen in the rout at Madison Square Garden.

      Hamidou Diallo scored 23 points, P.J. Washington scored 20 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 15 for Kentucky (8-1), which won for the sixth straight time.

      Monmouth (3-7) shot 35.7 percent and has lost three in a row. Freshman guard Deion Hammond came off the bench to lead the Hawks with 19 points.

      No. 9 Notre Dame 92, Delaware 68

      NEWARK, Del. -- Matt Farrell scored 24 points and Notre Dame sailed past Delaware.

      Bonzie Colson posted a double-double with 19 points and 12 rebounds for the Fighting Irish. T.J. Gibbs added 21 points.

      Notre Dame (8-2) bounced back from a stunning loss four nights earlier against Ball State. Saturday's game marked the first time in 17 years that Mike Brey returned to coach the Irish at Delaware, where he was from 1995 to 2000 before leaving to take the job at Notre Dame.

      Kevin Anderson had 23 points and seven assists to lead the Blue Hens (4-6), who lost their fourth game in a row.

      No. 13 Xavier 96, Colorado 69

      CINCINNATI -- Trevon Bluiett scored 25 points and J.P. Macura added 17, lifting the Musketeers to a victory at Cintas Center.

      Tyrique Jones scored 11 points and had seven rebounds for the Musketeers (9-1), who got revenge for a 68-66 loss to the Buffaloes last season in Boulder.

      Namon Wright scored 18 points and McKinley Wright IV had 16 for Colorado (7-2).

      Arkansas 95, No. 14 Minnesota 79

      FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Five players scored in double figures, led by 22 points from Jaylen Barford, as Arkansas defeated No. 14 Minnesota at Bud Walton Arena.

      C.J. Jones came off the bench to score 15 points, making five 3-pointers, as the Razorbacks (7-2) handed the Gophers (8-3) their second consecutive road loss.

      Minnesota's Jordan Murphy had his 11th consecutive double-double to start the season with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to hold off an Arkansas team that shot 57.4 percent from the field (39 for 68).

      No. 18 West Virginia 69, Pittsburgh 60

      PITTSBURGH -- Jevon Carter didn't let early foul trouble curb his playmaking aggression, but his absence for a second-half stretch made West Virginia vulnerable during a win at Pittsburgh.

      Rekindling the Backyard Brawl for the first time in six seasons, Carter poured in 17 of his 19 points during the first half when the Mountaineers (9-1) built a 20-point lead.

      Most of that was gone when the Panthers (5-5) drew within 61-59 on Marcus Carr's four-point play -- a comeback launched when Carter went to the bench with 13:54 left after picking up his third and fourth fouls on back-to-back possessions.

      Daxter Miles Jr. finished with 15 points for West Virginia.

      No. 19 Seton Hall 90, Virginia Commonwealth 67

      NEWARK, N.J. -- The Pirates (7-1) earned their fourth straight win by dominating Virginia Commonwealth in the first game of the Never Forget Tribute Classic at the Prudential Center.

      Desi Rodriguez led five Seton Hall starters in double figures with 17 points as the Pirates won their 21st straight game against non-Big East opponents at the Prudential Center.

      Justin Tillman led VCU (5-5) with 20 points and seven rebounds.

      No. 23 Baylor 105, Randall 82

      Nuni Omot scored 30 points and Jo Lual-Acuil had a double-double as Baylor beat Randall in Abrams Gym at Ford Hood, Texas.

      Lual-Acuil finished with 19 points and 16 rebounds, and King McClure added 23 points for the Bears (7-2), who have bounced back from losses to Xavier and Wichita State with two straight wins. Trey Sneed led Randall (5-9) with 28 points.

      The game inside Fort Hood's 2,400-seat gym marked the third straight year Baylor has played on the base.

      No. 24 Tennessee 81, Lipscomb 71

      Grant Williams scored 19 points, falling one point shy of his fourth 20-point outing of the season, and also contributed eight rebounds and three blocked shots to help the Volunteers win at Knoxville, Tenn.

      Tennessee (7-1) is nationally ranked for the first time since December 2010 and received a tougher test than expected from a Lipscomb squad that lost by 22 points to Alabama and 23 to Texas earlier this season.

      Junior guard Garrison Mathews scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half for Lipscomb (6-4).

  • No. 12 Gonzaga, Washington in battle of 7-2 teams
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 9, 2017

    Washington has gone from uncertainty to beating No. 2 Kansas to feeling confident facing in-state rival No. 12 Gonzaga, which is in need of a morale boost after losing big to Villanova.

    • The Huskies (7-2) face the Bulldogs (7-2) for the 46th time when meet in Seattle on Sunday. It is Gonzaga's first true road game of the season.

      Washington is coming off a convincing 74-65 win over the Jayhawks in Kansas City, while Gonzaga is smarting from an 82-66 loss to No. 4 Villanova in New York City.

      "When you schedule like this and play games like this, you, for lack of a better term, expose your guys," Few said. "And we learned some things. I told them after the game, we have to start valuing the little things.

      "The (19) turnovers, literally, came in every way, shape and form. It was foot faults, it was putting your head down and running a guy over, it was three seconds in the key, it was not being strong with the ball, a bad screen, you name it. It's not just one thing you can drill out. But we have to value those things because they go a long ways toward winning."

      Few is adjusting to life without experienced point guard Nigel Williams-Goss, who turned pro after his junior season a year ago. Williams-Goss scored 23 points to lead Gonzaga to a 98-71 victory over Washington last year in Spokane, Wash.

      Washington's experienced junior backcourt of David Crisp and Matisse Thybulle are essential to the Huskies' development under new coach Mike Hopkins, whose team lost by 24 to Virginia Tech in New York City earlier this season.

      Against Kansas, Crisp had one of his best games. He finished with a season-high seven assists in 37 minutes. He made two 3-pointers, including a dagger following a loose-ball scramble with 2:16 left that put Washington ahead 73-59.

      Noah Dickerson, a 6-foot-8 forward, had 13 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in 31 minutes against Kansas. Thybulle connected on 5 of 8 3-pointers with a season-high 19 points. He also had a block and two steals.

      "From the beginning of the season it was on us, we knew it was going to be on us to believe in us and we weren't going to have a lot of help on our side," Thybulle said. "We realized from the jump, at Pac-12 media day, they had us selected 10th and people didn't believe we couldn't do anything this season."

      Washington leads 29-16 in the series with Gonzaga, but the Bulldogs have won 10 of the past 11 matchups. The Huskies have won 18 of the 23 meetings in Seattle, including the most recent matchup, a 99-95 win on Dec. 4, 2005. Gonzaga's last win at Alaska Airlines Arena (then Hec Edmundson Pavilion) was Dec. 3, 2003.

      Senior forward Johnathan Williams leads Gonzaga with 14.7 points per game. Josh Perkins, a redshirt junior guard, is 19th in the nation with 30 made 3-pointers. He averages 14.4 points per game.

      Zach Norvell is averaging 20 points over the last three games while shooting 22 of 35 (62.8 percent) from the field in that span. He scored a career-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, including 4 of 8 from behind the arc in the loss to Villanova.

  • No. 2 Kansas braces for unbeaten No. 16 Arizona State
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 9, 2017

    LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Congeniality is not necessarily a bad trait, but it portrays a lack of toughness when reflected on a basketball court.

    • That was something Kansas coach Bill Self noticed when his No. 2-ranked Jayhawks were upset Wednesday by unranked and unheralded Washington.

      With a more acclaimed Pac-12 team, No. 16 Arizona State (8-0), scheduled to meet Kansas (7-1) on Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse, the Jayhawks' disposition poses a concern.

      The issue stems from the loss of Frank Mason, who often willed Kansas to victories last season with forceful consistency that made him the national player of the year. In addition, Josh Jackson, the fourth pick in the NBA Draft, was a steely freshman who readily accepted challenges for a 2016-17 squad that advanced to the Elite Eight and finished 31-5.

      "Bad play wasn't a big deal, because the goal every night was to make the other teams play bad,' Self said.

      "This team, right now, the mindset is a little different. We don't approach it as we need to make somebody else play bad. We approach it as we need to play better than them. Well, you're not always going to play well."

      The impression left by the Jayhawks, and particularly their affable leader, point guard Devonte' Graham, does not project a level of toughness Self typically demands of his teams.

      Even though the Jayhawks are supremely talented -- and this year's team has shown the capacity to shoot lights out -- defense and rebounding might be lacking for now.

      "You look at the personalities or whatnot, we've got some really nice young men," Self said.

      "I don't know that anybody ever, first thing they (said) after playing Frank or Josh was, 'Hey, those were some nice young men.' ... But that's probably how people look at us now."

      Kansas trailed the entire second half against Washington, drawing within one before the Huskies called timeout, answered with a 7-0 run and were never threatened again at Kansas City's Sprint Center.

      The Jayhawks return home where they stand 44-1 under Self, who is in his 15th season, coming off a defeat. The only blemish was in 2005 against Iowa State.

      Arizona State figures to present a difficult test with a fast-paced attack that ranks among the nation's leaders with a 91.4-point average. The Sun Devils shoot 52.2 percent, which is comparable to the Jayhawks' 52.5 percent mark.

      On Friday, 23-for-27 shooting from the foul line enabled Arizona State to outlast St. John's 82-70 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic in Los Angeles. The Sun Devils made their final eight free throw attempts.

      "There was an opportunity late in the (first) half, if we made a few more plays on offense, to maybe make it a different game and not the struggle it became," Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said. "Hopefully, moving forward, we'll finish halves better."

      The Sun Devils are off to their best start since going 9-0 in 1974-75.

      Senior guards Tra Holder and Shannon Evans average 20.3 and 18.6 points, respectively, while freshman forward Romello White averages 15.6 points and leads Arizona State on the boards with 9.3 rebounds per game.

      ASU small forward Mickey Mitchell, a transfer from Ohio State, is eligible and is expected to make his Sun Devils debut Sunday.

  • Wisconsin G Trice to undergo foot surgery
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, December 9, 2017

    The Wisconsin Badgers were without sophomore starting point guard D'Mitrik Trice for Saturday's game against Marquette due to a right foot injury.

    • Trice, who is averaging 9.3 points this season, will have surgery on Monday and expected to miss at least four weeks.

      It is unknown how Trice was injured as he played 30 minutes in the Badgers' 59-55 loss at Temple on Wednesday night and finished the game.

      In addition, Badgers freshman guard Kobe King is out indefinitely with a left knee injury. King, a reserve who averaged 5.2 points per game, scored a career-high 10 points in the Badgers' loss to Ohio State on Dec. 2.

      Walt McGrory, a walk-on freshman guard from Minneapolis who was planning to redshirt, suited up and was on the bench for the Badgers against Marquette.

  • Baylor to face overmatched Randall at Fort Hood
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    WACO, Texas -- Earlier this week, No. 23 Bears got back on its feet after dropping a couple of non-conference games against tough competition and losing an important bench player to injury.

    • Baylor posted a 28-point victory over Sam Houston State on Monday night, bouncing back from losses at then-No. 21 Xavier and at home against then-No. 8 Wichita State.

      In defeating the Bearkats, the Bears (6-2) started to figure out how to replace forward Terry Maston, who suffered a broken hand against Xavier and is expected to be out until January.

      "We're getting better every day, just trying to fit (forward Nuni Omot) at the 4, fit (forward Mark Vital) at the 4," Baylor's King McClure said Thursday. "We're finding out the different lineups, going small. So, we're getting better. And Coach (Scott) Drew is preparing us for down the road, a few games in conference we're going to miss without (Maston). So, I think we'll be ready."

      The next opportunity for Baylor to settle into its new lineup comes Saturday when it hosts a home game in Fort Hood, Texas, and faces Randall University of the National Christian College Athletic Association. Randall, located in Moore, Okla., is 4-9 with a notable 116-113 overtime victory against Oklahoma City University on Nov. 29.

      Baylor has established a tradition of scheduling home games in each of the last three seasons in Fort Hood's Abrams Gym. Last season, the Bears defeated Jackson State 82-57 on the Army base and notched a 104-59 win over NCAA Division III school Hardin-Simmons the previous season.

      The 200,000-acre Fort Hood is located about 60 miles from Baylor's campus. Drew's Baylor program initially scheduled a game at Fort Hood to show appreciation after the team participated in a "Weekend as a Wrangler" program on the base in 2012.

      "I didn't really realize how big of a fan base was there until we played there the first time two years ago," Baylor's Jake Lindsey, now a junior, said. "It's kind of a neat experience. Every year, it gives you a different perspective."

      When asked about Randall on Thursday, Drew skipped the usual drill of building up an opponent's strengths.

      "This game (at Fort Hood) has always been about us and making sure we play with effort, passion, energy and give the fans a lot of things to be excited about from a standpoint this game is really for them," Drew said. "As far as Randall goes, any time you're playing a non-Division I, the biggest difference is the size and normally teams like that tend to shoot a lot of threes. So you want to extend and make sure you take away the three, and that's a great equalizer in college basketball."

      Baylor's game against Randall begins a stretch in which it also plays Southwestern Athletic Conference programs Southern and Texas Southern, and Savannah State of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

      "One thing coach Drew says is that we can never take anybody for granted," McClure said. "So, these next few games are pretty critical. We play Randall and Texas Southern and Southern and Savannah State. Notre Dame just lost to Ball State at home by a buzzer-beater. You can lose any game if you don't come out there and bring your 'A' game."

  • Back to the Hen house: No. 9 Notre Dame visits Delaware
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    Coach Mike Brey will return to his old stomping grounds for the first time in 17 years when No. 9 Notre Dame visits Delaware on Saturday night at the Bob Carpenter Center.

    • Brey guided Delaware to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances and an NIT appearance in five seasons from 1995 to 2000. He left for Notre Dame before the start of the 2000-01 season and has not returned to coach at Newark, Del. -- until now.

      "It'll be a little weird, quite frankly, walking in that other door and sitting on that other bench," Brey said to the Delaware News Journal.

      But Brey will not have much time to relax during his return to Delaware. He is focused on fixing recent flaws at Notre Dame (7-2), which is coming off of a stunning 80-77 loss at home against Ball State on Tuesday night. It marked the first time Ball State has knocked off a ranked opponent since 2001.

      The Fighting Irish have lost two of their past three games and are almost certain to slide when the next rankings are revealed.

      Delaware (4-5) also is in a funk after losing its past three games against Yale, Navy and Buffalo. The Blue Hens are coached by Martin Ingelsby, a former Fighting Irish point guard and a longtime assistant under Brey at Notre Dame.

      Ingelsby remains close with Brey, his former coach and mentor.

      "I kind of reflect back on my time with him and how Mike would handle situations," Ingelsby said to the Delaware News Journal. "I always say, 'What would his tone be? What is my tone with our group? Positive? Negative?' You've got to keep teaching and coaching. I'll shoot him a text, I'll give him a call. 'Hey, what do you think? Our guys are doing this. How can we handle this? How can I motivate them a little better?'"

      Delaware will have its hands full trying to stop Notre Dame power forward Bonzie Colson, who leads the team with 19.6 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. Colson has scored in double figures in 26 straight contests.

      Guards Matt Farrell (15.7 points) and T.J. Gibbs (13.6 points) also are averaging in double figures for the Fighting Irish. Gibbs has been particularly dangerous from 3-point range, where he is shooting 52.5 percent (21 of 40).

      The Blue Hens are led in scoring by guard Ryan Daly, who is averaging 17.0 points. Guard Ryan Allen is next on the team with 12.3 points while guard Kevin Anderson is averaging 11.8 points.

      This is the second all-time meeting between the schools. In 2013, Delaware visited South Bend and lost 80-75.

      Brey's move from Delaware to Notre Dame has proved to be a huge success. He has amassed 389 career victories with the Fighting Irish and is five wins shy of moving past Digger Phelps as the program's all-time winningest coach.

      "You take the job and you're just hoping you can survive," Brey said to the Delaware News Journal. "And to be here as long as we've been here and the chance to be the all-time winningest guy, it's really powerful, man. I'm really lucky. I've had really good players and really good assistants."

  • No. 7 Texas A&M looks to bounce back vs. Prairie Vew A&M
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    The Texas A&M and Prairie View A&M will both, in a sense, be coming home from long journeys when they meet on Saturday afternoon in College Station, Texas.

    • No. 7 Texas A&M (7-1) has played in Germany, Brooklyn, Los Angeles and Phoenix already this season along with three contests in their Reed Arena home.

      On Tuesday, Arizona handed the Aggies their first loss 67-64 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena. Although it was technically a neutral site, the Wildcats were in their backyard in Phoenix compared to Texas A&M.

      "It'll be good to be home," Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said immediately following the loss at Arizona. "We survived traveling all over the road and to play well and give ourselves a chance tonight, I'm proud of that fact. But I thought we didn't do enough things in the second half defensively."

      The Aggies were playing just down the street in Arizona relative to Prairie View A&M's recent road trip.

      The Panthers (2-6) are currently on a three-game losing streak after losing at UC Santa Barbara in late November, then at New Mexico State and at Hawaii already this week.

      Panthers head coach Byron Smith knows his team will have its hands full against Texas A&M.

      "I believe they are an Elite Eight maybe even a Final Four team with what they have," said Smith of the Aggies, according to the Prairie View A&M website. "The thing about those guys is they have pros all over the floor, and they play so hard, and that's kind of rare. A lot of times when you have a lot of talent, you tend to pick and choose the spots when you play hard or when you have to. Those guys play hard from the jump, from the opening tip to the final horn."

      While Prairie View A&M's challenge gets tougher against the Aggies, at least the Panthers don't have to travel very far for this one. The Prairie View A&M and Texas A&M campuses are just 50 miles apart.

      Texas A&M leads the series against Prairie View A&M 12-0, including a win in their most recent meeting when the Aggies claimed a 75-65 victory on Nov. 19, 2013.

      Texas A&M's size will likely be difficult for Prairie View A&M to defend. The Panthers have just one player, 6-foot-9 forward J.D. Wallace, who has played significant minutes and is taller than 6-8. The Aggies' probable starters include 6-9 forward D.J. Hogg, 6-10 forward Robert Williams and 6-10 center Tyler Davis.

      Williams was suspended for the first two games of the season, but has found his stride since then as he is averaging 8.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.5 blocks. He came off the bench in his season debut against Oklahoma State last month and scored 11 points with 11 rebounds and two blocks. Since then, he has settled into the starting lineup.

      Texas A&M will be starting a four-game home stand, with games against Savannah State, Northern Kentucky and Buffalo following the Prairie View A&M contest. The Aggies will then travel to open Southeastern Conference play at Alabama on Dec. 30.

      Although the schedule has caused the Aggies to log a huge number of miles already this season, it might have sharpened Texas A&M for the road to come.

      "We have a great group of guys and just being on the road a lot has been good for us," Davis said. "We learned a lot of lessons and we had some challenging games."

      Prairie View A&M will hit the road again next week following the close-to-home game versus the Aggies.

      The Panthers travel to Tulsa, Ohio and New Mexico along with a game at nearby Houston in the next two weeks. Prairie View A&M begins SWAC play at home against Alcorn State on Jan. 1.

  • No. 5 Florida looks to halt skid vs. No. 17 Cincinnati
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    NEWARK, N.J. -- Reeling No. 5 Florida will attempt to get back on track Saturday when it faces No. 17 Cincinnati in the second game of the Never Forget Tournament at the Prudential Center.

    • It's the first meeting between Florida and Cincinnati (7-1).

      The Gators (5-3) have lost three straight games, including a surprising 65-59 home loss to Loyola-Chicago on Wednesday. Prior to that, Florida was upset 83-66 by Florida State on Monday. The slide began with an 87-84 loss to No. 1 Duke on Nov. 26, when Florida blew a 17-point lead in the second half.

      During that span, Florida is shooting just 36.6 percent from the field (45 of 123) and 18.2 percent from 3-point range (8 of 44), with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 14 to 25.

      "We have to get in the gym," Florida coach Mike White told "We have to take better (ones), we have to help each other get open. If we start out 0-for-5, we have to have more mental toughness to be able to make sure we continue to keep taking good ones and continue to have confidence in ourselves.

      "We've proven we can shoot at a high level, and it's right there in front of us -- step up and make shots."

      Despite the rough stretch, the Gators still have the SEC's highest-scoring offense (90.2) and also lead the league in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.6) and free-throw percentage (.765). Chris Chiozza leads the SEC with 6.1 assists per game, while Egor Koulechov's .958 free-throw percentage tops the league.

      Florida's four 100-point games are tied for third-most in a season in school history. The Gators had five such games twice previously (2000-01, 2001-02) and also had two prior seasons with four (1986-87, 2003-04).

      Bearcats coach Mick Cronin is downplaying the Gators' recent struggles.

      "Any opponent, you've got to look at them at their best and be prepared for their best shot," Cronin told "We expect Florida to shoot a lot better than 2-for-19 from the 3-point line."

      Florida was 2-for-19 from 3-point range in the loss to Loyola.

      "They've had their struggles here recently, but I think you're seeing it across the country," Cronin said.

      The Bearcats are coming off an 89-76 loss to crosstown rival and No. 13 Xavier.

      "It's getting harder to win," Cronin said. "It gets harder to win in December and a lot harder in January. We've got our own problems. Last time we played, we played awful. If you tell me my team would ever play that bad defensively as we played in our last game, I wouldn't have believed it."

      Xavier shot 47.4 percent from the field and outrebounded Cincinnati 44-27.

      "We'll approach Florida like they're gonna be at their best, but we've got our own issues to resolve," Cronin said. "Especially on the defensive end."

      The Bearcats rank among the nation's top 10 in scoring margin (second at plus-25.1), rebound margin (ninth at plus-11.4) and field-goal percentage defense (ninth at .362). They are also among the top 25 in total rebounds per game (12th with 43.1), scoring defense (15th at 61.3); total blocks (15th with 48), blocked shots per game (19th at 6.0) and assists per game (24th at 18.4).

      Cincinnati has won 35 of its last 40 regular-season games dating to a 61-54 win over SMU in March 2016.

      Bearcats senior forward Gary Clark ranks third in the nation with 883 career rebounds. His 20 career double-doubles are the most among all active players in the American Athletic Conference.

  • No. 18 West Virginia, Pitt resume rivalry
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- None of the players for No. 18 West Virginia has ever faced Pittsburgh. In fact, none had yet been recruited by the Mountaineers at the time of the last Backyard Brawl, which occurred five years, nine months and 23 days ago.

    • And yet, all the West Virginia players comprehend the commotion around Saturday's renewal of the rivalry. The vulgar T-shirts in the student section still advise Pitt what to eat, and chants to the same effect still arise regardless who the Mountaineers are playing.

      Conference realignment stopped the games but it hasn't diminished the lingering distaste between campuses that sit 76 miles apart. So, West Virginia coach Bob Huggins needn't give a history lesson.

      "I don't think I have to because they're going to hear it all week," he said. "When the word 'Pitt' comes out of anywhere, you know what happens. They're not immune to hearing that."

      The Brawl reconvenes with its adversaries in disparate conditions. West Virginia (8-1) looks every bit like a contender for the Big 12 title, while inexperienced Pitt (5-4) is living down to expectations of a team picked to finish last in the ACC.

      The Panthers opened the season with losses to Navy and Montana and were crushed by Penn State 85-54. Average attendance for five games at the Petersen Events Center is only 2,767, about one-fifth of capacity.

      A four-game winning streak hasn't reinvigorated the fan base, considering the victories came at the expense of Lehigh, High Point, Duquesne and Mount St. Mary's -- teams with a combined 10-19 record in Division I games.

      Second-year coach Kevin Stallings faces pressure to rebuild Pitt to the status it enjoyed under predecessors Ben Howland and Jamie Dixon. That's a massive task with only two scholarship players returning, and the dysfunction showed Tuesday night when the Panthers blew a 13-point lead before surviving Mount St. Mary's 82-78 in overtime.

      "I thought we did do well defensively in stretches, but I thought the second half was abysmal," Stallings said. "We just weren't locked in defensively in the second half, and I take responsibility for that."

      While Stallings grapples with "a young team that's trying to figure it out," Huggins can lean on two veteran guards to stabilize the Mountaineers.

      All-American candidate Jevon Carter (19.4 points, 5.7 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 4.7 steals) is filling box scores and frustrating opponents with relentless play on both ends of the court, and fellow senior Daxter Miles (14.6 points, 3.1 assists) seems to be realizing his potential.

      They combined with sophomore Lamont West to score 57 points in Tuesday's 68-61 win over No. 15 Virginia. That made eight consecutive wins since a poor season-opening effort against Texas A&M, which Huggins called West Virginia's only mulligan entering the Big 12 round-robin.

      "I have told the players all along after the Texas A&M game that we can't afford to lose another one -- not going into the league we're going into. You think about the 18 games we've got to play in that league and Kentucky" in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

      Pitt's roster features seven freshmen, two of whom start -- guard Marcus Carr (12. 0 points, 3.8 assists) and small forward Shamiel Stevenson (10.7 points, 5.2 rebounds)

      Forward Ryan Luther, a 6-foot-9 senior, has evolved into a key component for the Panthers after making only two starts over his first three seasons. He's averaging 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds while combining with junior college transfer Jared Wilson-Frame (12.9 points) to stretch the floor from 3-point range.

  • No. 24 Tennessee aims for fourth straight win vs. Lipscomb
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    Rick Barnes wants his Tennessee players to appreciate their hot start.

    • But the veteran coach doesn't want any of the Volunteers to rest on their laurels.

      No. 24 Tennessee (6-1) aims to continue its early season resurgence and seeks its fourth consecutive victory when it hosts Lipscomb on Saturday.

      The Volunteers' only setback came against now-No. 4 Villanova and the list of victims include Purdue (currently No. 21), North Carolina State and Georgia Tech.

      "Our guys have worked hard and they've deserved to have some good things happen," Barnes said. "I mean, I want people talking about us but we've got a lot of work to do. I think our guys know that, where a year ago I'm not sure they knew that."

      Tennessee went 16-16 in Barnes' first season at the school as the players learned the way the former Texas coach wanted things done.

      Now optimism is high with the Volunteers nationally ranked for the first time since December 2010. It was that same season, with Bruce Pearl as coach, that also marks the most recent time Tennessee started 6-1.

      The players are receiving Barnes' message about it being way too early to feel giddy about accomplishments.

      "You can't get complacent," sophomore guard Lamonte Turner said. "It's a long season. It's early and we have to come back to practice ready to grow and get better."

      Hard to say how much of a test Lipscomb (6-3) can provide as the Bisons were routed in both their games against power-conference schools.

      Lipscomb lost 86-64 at Alabama on Nov. 14 and fell 80-57 at Texas four days later.

      The Bisons have since won four of their last five games, including a 69-54 home victory over Belmont on Monday. Junior guard Garrison Mathews fueled that triumph by scoring 20 of his 26 points in the second half.

      "The team really played well but Garrison seemed to be in the right place at the right time to execute and deliver," Lipscomb coach Casey Alexander said afterward. "Every time we needed something good to happen, he found a way to be in the right place."

      Mathews leads the Bisons in scoring (19.6) and 3-pointers (23) and topped 20 points four times this season. Junior forward Rob Marberry averages 13.8 points and team-best 7.4 rebounds while sophomore guard Kenny Cooper averages 10.4 points.

      Lipscomb held Belmont to 34- percent shooting from the field and 6-of-31 from 3-point range while allowing its fewest points of the campaign.

      . "Our guys have really followed the game plan well and are dialed in," Alexander said. "They've communicated great on the actions that we're supposed to talk about."

      Their next task is trying to slow the Volunteers, who average 79.1 points and have scored fewer than 70 points just once.

      Sophomore forward Grant Williams is averaging 15.7 points and 7.1 rebounds as one of four players scoring in double digits. The others are junior forward Admiral Schofield (11.7), Turner (10.7) and sophomore guard Jordan Bowden (10.6).

      Turner provides firepower off the bench and matched his career high of 24 points in Sunday's 77-70 win over Georgia Tech.

      "He had that look where I thought he was in great command of himself and what we needed to get done," Barnes said of Turner.

      Another key player against the Yellow Jackets was junior forward Kyle Alexander, who collected 11 rebounds for his third double-digit outing on the boards. Alexander averages 5.7 points and a team-best 8.0 rebounds.

      "When Kyle is rebounding and doing what he does, he's very much underrated and underappreciated with outside people," Barnes said. "We all know what he can mean to us. He has to do the dirty work for us."

  • No. 6 Wichita State looking for revenge vs. Oklahoma State
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    STILLWATER, Okla. -- Wichita State may not talk about revenge, at least not openly. Still, when it comes to Saturday's game at Oklahoma State, the No. 6-ranked Shockers at least want to play home wreckers.

    • That's what the Cowboys did to them a year ago, rolling 93-76 in Wichita, becoming just the second nonc-onference team to beat the Shockers at home since 2008. The rout was Wichita State's worst loss of the season.

      Now the teams meet again in the series return game, this time at Oklahoma State's Gallagher-Iba Arena, with both entering with a 7-1 record, although amid drastically different storylines.

      The Shockers loom as a Final Four contender, returning almost everyone from a year ago. They lead the nation in rebounding margin and boast a scoring margin of plus-19.5. Wichita State lost to Notre Dame, but won at then-No. 16 Baylor and also owns quality wins over California and Marquette.

      The Cowboys, who lost three starters and key scorers from a year ago, have faced but one ranked team, and it didn't go well, as they lost 72-55 to Texas A&M in Brooklyn. Otherwise, Oklahoma State has pounded a list of overmatched teams. So, the Shockers represent an opportunity to make a statement of sorts.

      "I don't think about making a statement," said Cowboys coach Mike Boynton. "We want to play good people. That's part of my philosophy, to prepare for Big 12 competition. We certainly want to play good competition before you get there, so you're not shocked the first time you play a team with a lot of experience, size and depth, like we're going to play most of January, February and March.

      "It's a good opportunity, and no better chance to do that than against a team that's in the top 10."

      For Wichita State, it's a different chance, the first of back-to-back games against the Big 12 teams residing across the state's southern border. After facing the Cowboys on Saturday, the Shockers get Oklahoma back at home a week later. Beating both would send them charging forward to their fast-approaching first run in the American Athletic Conference.

      Wichita State is again playing to the profile of coach Gregg Marshall, winning with solid defense. The Shockers have let a few individual scorers go off -- giving up 25 or more to five players so far -- yet have slowed teams overall, with even the loss to No. 9 Notre Dame a tight 67-66 setback.

      So, Marshall isn't concerned with the individual opponent outbursts.

      "Not as long as we have more points at the end of the game," he told reporters this week. "It's a team game. It's not an individual game. I don't care who scores the points, as long as we have more points than they do. That's what's important."

      The series dates back 83 years, with Oklahoma State leading 30-8 all-time. The Shockers are 2-15 in Stillwater and haven't won there since 1957, although that represents a stretch of only four games.

      Last year's meeting may be more relevant, for both teams. Wichita State surely hasn't forgotten the lopsided loss that halted its 42-game non-conference home winning streak. And the Cowboys remember what that game meant in delivering confidence going forward.

      "It was really important," said Oklahoma State point guard Brandon Averette. "It showed us how good we were. It boosted everybody's confidence on the team."

  • No. 14 Minnesota expects offensive showdown at Arkansas
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    Minnesota has hit a bit of a stumbling block, losing two of its past three games after a 7-0 start.

    • On Saturday, the 14th-ranked Golden Gophers face a difficult test on the road against unranked Arkansas.

      The Razorbacks (6-2) will be looking for payback after losing at Minnesota 85-71 in 2016.

      Minnesota lost a Big Ten game at Nebraska 78-68 on Tuesday. Gophers coach Richard Pitino said his team didn't have time to dwell on that loss.

      "We've got to learn from it, and then we've got to go play another tough one on Saturday," Pitino said.

      Both teams feature prolific offenses. Minnesota averages 87 points while Arkansas scores 87.3 points per game.

      "It should be a fun game," Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. "It's two teams that like to score."

      Four players average at least 11.6 points for Minnesota, led by 19.9 points from junior forward Jordan Murphy.

      Murphy struggled a bit in the loss to Nebraska, scoring 10 points on 4-for-12 shooting. He missed nine of his first 10 shots.

      Senior guard Nate Mason averages 15.7 points for the Gophers. Sophomore guard Amir Coffey, who averages 13.8 points, scored 19 in Minnesota's victory over Arkansas in 2016.

      "They're a very, very good basketball team," Anderson said. "We're going to have to play some really good basketball."

      Arkansas is led by a pair of senior guards in Jaylen Barford and Daryl Macon. Barford averages 19.6 points per game and has made 46.2 percent of his three-point shots this season. Macon averages 14.6 points and has shot 43.9 percent from three-point range.

      True freshman forward Daniel Gafford has been an impact player at times for Arkansas, averaging 12.0 points and 5.8 rebounds, but he also has been plagued by foul trouble that has limited him to 18.9 minutes a game.

      Gafford's rebounding ability could be critical against a Minnesota team that has outrebounded its opponents by an average of six per game.

      Murphy averages 12.8 rebounds and already has 56 offensive rebounds this season.

      "We've got to match their energy on the boards," Anderson said.

      Minnesota has forced its opponents into 14 turnovers a game this season. In their victory over Arkansas last year, the Gophers took advantage of 21 Razorback turnovers -- a number that Anderson said has to improve if Arkansas has a chance to win this time around.

      "I know that's something we've got to be better at in terms of taking care of the basketball," he said.

      Anderson said he expects Minnesota to play well.

      "We'll get a team that will be charged up to play and we've got to be ready and charged up as well," Anderson said.

  • No. 3 Michigan State looks to improve vs. Southern Utah
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    Red-hot Michigan State deposited a couple of Big Ten victories to its win-loss total before the holidays. Now the No.3 Spartans return to their usual December schedule, hosting a handful of unheralded non-conference opponents.

    • Michigan State carries a seven-game winning streak into its home game against Southern Utah on Saturday. The Spartans play five of their remaining six games before New Year's Day at their Breslin Center. The other game will be played in Detroit against an in-state team, Oakland.

      Following blowouts over two ranked teams, North Carolina and Notre Dame, the Spartans (8-1) cruised past Nebraska before running into some difficulty at Rutgers on Tuesday. They didn't pull away until the late going of a 62-52 victory.

      "In general, we played sluggish from the beginning," coach Tom Izzo said.

      Izzo believes a rugged schedule and overconfidence led to the tougher-than-expected win. All Big Ten teams played two early conference games because their postseason tournament will be held a week earlier than normal at New York's Madison Square Garden.

      While the Spartans are considered co-favorites with Duke by oddsmakers to win the national championship, Izzo is trying to downplay expectations.

      "We're not perfect. We're not as good as you guys write," he said. "We're a good basketball team that's got a chance to be a great one. You can't turn it over like we've been turning it over and you can't get those number of offensive fouls like we do. We're trying to break some bad habits."

      Izzo would like to see Jaren Jackson's penchant for blocking shots remain in place. The 6-foot-11 freshman tied the school record with eight blocks against the Scarlet Knights. Jackson knows his interior presence will play a major role in how the team fares the rest of the way.

      "When you're ranked as high as we are and you have a bull's-eye on your back, everywhere we go, we're going to get the team's best shot," he said. "They're going to hit shots they won't normally hit against other teams. We've got to be ready for that punch out of the gate."

      Jackson's frontcourt partner, sophomore Nick Ward, was benched most of the second half against Rutgers. Izzo said Ward, who led the team in scoring with 22 points against Nebraska, needs to play with a more level head.

      "The double-team thing bothers him," Izzo said. "I don't know why it bothers him, but it frustrates him and we've got do a better job getting him the ball, too."

      The Thunderbirds (5-3) are led by junior guard Jadon Cohee (18.0 points, 3.9 assists) and senior forward Jamal Aytes (14.6 points, 7.0 rebounds). They have won five of their last six, including a 94-89 triumph over Long Beach State on Wednesday. Junior guard Brandon Better scored a career-high 26 points.

      "We want to have so many options out there, and you're going to have to guard all five guys for us this year, and guys move the ball and they share," head coach Todd Simon said. "I think one of our biggest strengths is our chemistry. This group gets along off the floor so well, on the floor they share the ball and they make the right play."

      They'll have to play a near-perfect game to upset the Spartans. Simon believes his club will need to break the game into 10 parts.

      "It's four minutes at a time," he said. "We've got to stay within our process, execute our game plan and let the chips fall where they may."

  • Bagley, No. 1 Duke open ACC play at BC
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    BOSTON -- It is all about milestones and numbers when No. 1 Duke visits Boston College for an early ACC game Saturday afternoon.

    • Saturday's game will be the 3,000th in the proud history of the Blue Devils program.

      It is also coach Mike Krzyzewski's first crack at recording his 500th victory away from Cameron Indoor Stadium as the Duke coach, something that figures to happen against the Eagles (6-3).

      More numbers? This is the 134th week Duke has been ranked No. 1 -- and Krzyzewski is 205-29 when coaching a No. 1 team.

      More? OK, the Blue Devils won 11 straight to start the season, the program has won 11 straight against BC and leads the Eagles 20-2 all-time. The Devils are 8-1 at Boston College.

      Freshman big man Marvin Bagley III is leading the ACC in scoring (21.9 points) and rebounding (11.2).

      Krzyzewski's players ripped through 11 games in 26 days before a bit of a break in the schedule this week -- a chance to catch their breath.

      "We're 11-0," Krzyzewski said after Duke hammered Saint Francis (Pa.) 124-67 on Tuesday night. "Now, we're 0 and 0."

      Included in their wins were three all the way out in Portland, Ore., where the Devils won the PK 80 tournament (coming from 16 points down in the second half of one of the wins). They have also won in Chicago and Bloomington, Ind., and the mileage piles up with this visit to Chestnut Hill.

      On Tuesday night, Duke scored 71 points in the first half, the fourth 70-point half in program history. The Blue Devils amassed 34 assists on 48 baskets.

      "It shows that we're sharing the ball more, we're playing more as a team, trying to find each other," said freshman point guard Trevon Duval, who had 11 assists in the win and is averaging 10 per game on the season. "And it also means guys are making shots."

      BC, picked to finish next to last in the ACC (Duke was No. 1), opened the season with the program's first 5-1 start in almost a decade but ran into a wall since -- and also lost one of its best players.

      Teddy Hawkins, a graduate senior transfer from Illinois State, suffered a season-ending knee injury in a loss at Nebraska and finishes his brief BC career averaging 12.7 points and 10.0 rebounds, posting four double-doubles in eight games.

      Hawkins would have had his hands full with Bagley and Co., but he would have been right in the middle of everything.

      "Teddy means so much to everyone in our program and he made a big impact in his time here," Boston College coach Jim Christian said in a statement. "He brought maximum effort to every practice and game and was a positive influence on both our veterans and our younger players. His leadership on and off the court will be missed."

      The loss of Hawkins puts even more pressure on the talented backcourt of Jerome Robinson and Ky Bowman.

      Robinson became the program's 42nd 1,000-point scorer in a win at Hartford last weekend. According to BC, Bowman is the only player in the country averaging at least 15.8 points, 6.0 rebounds and 5.4 assists to this point in the season.

  • Revenge tour continues for No. 13 Xavier versus Colorado
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    CINCINNATI -- Just call it Xavier's revenge tour 2017.

    • Already this season, the No. 13 Musketeers have avenged losses from last season to Baylor and crosstown rival Cincinnati, and a loss at the buzzer in the NCAA Tournament to Wisconsin two years ago.

      Next up: Colorado.

      "We got Wisconsin already, we got Baylor already, we got Cincinnati already," Xavier forward Sean O'Mara said. "They're next on that list. We're checking them off."

      The Musketeers (8-1) started last season 7-0 before losing at No. 9 Baylor. Four days later, the Buffaloes pulled off a surprising 68-66 victory over Xavier in Boulder. Coincidentally, Xavier also was ranked 13th at the time.

      The Musketeers had one of the best weeks in program history last week with wins over No. 23 Baylor and No. 17 Cincinnati.

      Xavier has won 36 straight non-conference games at home dating to the 2012 season, and coach Chris Mack made sure this week that his players were aware of what has transpired around college basketball in recent days, with No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 5 Florida both being upset on their home courts to lesser opponents, and No. 2 Kansas losing to Washington in Kansas City, Mo.

      "You can't shield your guys from people asking about a letdown," Mack said. "You watch a game like Ball State and Notre Dame and it really sends a message to our guys. I texted them (Tuesday night after the Irish loss) and said I didn't want it to happen to us."

      Colorado (7-1) suffered its only loss at Colorado State last Saturday. The top scorers in last year's win over Xavier are gone. McKinley Wright leads the Buffs with 15.6 points per game. He's among three players in double-figures. Wright and George King, who scores 14.4 points per game, are their top 3-point threats.

      Colorado outrebounds its opponents by 8.9 per game. The Buffaloes had a 58-30 rebounding advantage in Wednesday's win over New Mexico, helping them overcome 23 turnovers.

      "It certainly was not a thing of beauty," Colorado coach Tad Boyle told the Daily Camera. "We did what we had to do to get a win. The turnovers were something we knew coming into this game was going to be an issue. We talked about it, we practiced, we prepared for it, but we didn't handle it real well."

      Xavier forces more than 11 turnovers per game, but also commits more than 12.

      The Musketeers were a little better in that regard in Wednesday's 96-70 victory over Kent State with nine turnovers, five of which came in the final nine minutes.

      "The only turnovers we made against Kent were being lazy with the ball, or too aggressive throwing passes that aren't necessarily open," Mack said.

      One thing to look out for on Saturday is a breakout game for Xavier guard J.P. Macura.

      Macura, known for his constant chatter and assertiveness on the court, is averaging 12.6 points but has only 11 combined over the past two games, while contributing in other ways. Wednesday night against Kent State, Macura had four points, but had five assists, four rebounds and a block.

      "He'll have games where he gets 20, and games where he gets more '3' attempts," Mack said. "J.P. is a very unselfish player. He's a big part of our offense whether he's scoring or not."

  • No. 8 Wildcats leave old Kentucky home to meet Monmouth
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, December 8, 2017

    LEXNGTON, Ky. -- Eighth-ranked Kentucky leaves the Bluegrass State for only the second time in nine games as the Wildcats travel to New York on Saturday to face Monmouth at Madison Square Garden.

    • It will be the fourth time in five years that Kentucky has made the trip to New York, with the previous games being played at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn.

      "We always like to go up there and travel, get away from here," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "It's a good trip. We have guys from there on the team, whether they're bringing family from up in New England or Philadelphia or New York area, they get to be with family."

      Freshmen Nick Richards and Hamidou Diallo are from New York while freshman Quade Green is from Philadelphia.

      Calipari also loves going back to Madison Square Garden, the site of several huge coaching wins in his career.

      "Madison Square Garden is the Mecca," Calipari said. "It still, it brings back great memories when I was coaching. We played there when I was at UMass. Beat North Carolina in there. We beat Syracuse there when they won the national title with Carmelo Anthony. Oh, we beat Kansas, didn't we? Michigan State?"

      Monmouth is 3-6, but battle tested with two of the losses coming in overtime on top of another one-point loss to Hofstra in its last game. The Hawks also lost 84-81 at UConn in overtime and 101-96 to Penn in four overtimes.

      "We have to practice more late-game situations, and we just have to understand staying together is the way that you have success,'' Monmouth coach King Rice told reporters Wednesday. "Hopefully, this (loss) is going to help us later."

      The Hawks have wins over Bucknell 79-78, Lehigh 80-72 and Albany 81-73. Monmouth shoots 46.2 percent from the field, 38 percent from 3-point range and 64.2 percent from the foul line. They have 97 assists versus 157 turnovers.

      Monmouth is led by junior guard Micah Seaborn, the only player averaging double figures at 16.7 points per game. Next comes senior guard Austin Tilghman at 9.7, freshman guard Deion Hammond at 9.1 and redshirt freshman guard Ray Salnave at 8.2.

      "This team had Hofstra beat, it was a tip-out play, can't believe they lost the game," Calipari said. "They had Connecticut beat, up at Connecticut, had a chance to beat them so they've got good guard play. Really big and physical inside, and we better show up and play.

      "It's a noon game. Hard to play at noon. Normally at noon whoever shows up to play wins the game. So let's just hope we're showing up to play, and we have a chance to do what we need to do."

      Kentucky (7-1) is shooting 50.2 percent from the field, including 34.3 percent from 3-point range. They are hitting 66.8 percent from the free throw line. The Wildcats outrebound opponents by an average 7.7 per game and have 128 assists versus 121 turnovers.

      Freshman forward Kevin Knox leads in scoring at 16.6 points per game. Next comes Diallo at 13.6 and Green at 10.5.

      For Kentucky, with six freshmen as the six top scorers, every day in December is about improvement and consistency.

      "I just think it's going to be day-to-day," Calipari said. "Yesterday I told them, 'I feel encouraged right now.' They were like, 'Wow, really?!' Today I'll probably say, 'I really feel discouraged right now.' That's how this has been.

      "I just gotta stay focused. I don't want to have anxiety about, 'Well we've got to do more, be more of that.' We are who we are right now. But the message is really simple: As everyone buys in, this team will start taking off. But we all gotta buy in."

  • No. 20 TCU looks to stay unbeaten vs. No. 22 Nevada
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- Friday's nightcap in the 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic tripleheader at Staples Center features a pair of Top 25 teams in No. 20 TCU and No. 22 Nevada that are somewhat new to the poll scene.

    • TCU (9-0) joined the Top 25 on Nov. 27, the program's first ranking since having a cup of coffee in the poll in December 2014. The Horned Frogs' current No. 20 standing is TCU's best since reaching No. 21 in 1999.

      "Coach (Jamie Dixon) really stresses that nobody can do it alone. It's a whole team thing, and we've just been able to come together as a group and string some wins together," TCU's Desmond Bane said.

      TCU has won more than just a few games; its 9-0 start extends the program's winning streak to 14, after it concluded the 2016-17 campaign with five straight victories to win the National Invitational Tournament.

      The Horned Frogs' most recent win -- a 94-83 defeat of nearby rival SMU on Dec. 5 -- started this important week for TCU off with a bang.

      "It was a big win for us," Bane said. "I know Kenrich (Williams) really wanted this one; he never beat SMU before in his career...It was good to see us defend, get stops when we needed to, and score."

      Scoring has not been much of a problem for TCU early in the season, which ranks 12th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per metrics. Five Horned Frogs also average in double-figures scoring.

      Williams' 27 points led the Horned Frogs past SMU, a milestone win for TCU seniors such as himself. It marked another step in the progress of this program under second-year coach Dixon.

      "It's huge for our program, even after I graduate," Williams said in the postgame press conference. "

      Nevada (8-1) has enjoyed a similar resurgence under its own second-year coach, Eric Musselman. The Wolf Pack won the Mountain West Conference for the first time a season ago, reaching the program's first NCAA Tournament since 2007.

      The 2006-07 season also marked the last time Nevada played a Top 25 team while also ranked. It also occurred in the regular season in the 2005-06 campaign.

      The Wolf Pack may need a win Friday to remain in the poll, coming off an 82-76 loss in overtime Dec. 5 at Texas Tech.

      "The difference in the game was free throws attempted," Musselman told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. "We're not an overly physical team, and I think Texas Tech's a really physical team, does a great job."

      Texas Tech shot 38 foul shots to Nevada's 17. The Wolf Pack missed just three, but one came from Jordan Caroline in the waning minutes, which would have put Nevada ahead by three points in regulation.

      Caroline, one of Nevada's leading scorers at 17 points per game, managed just six at Texas Tech. The Wolf Pack does, however, feature a multifaceted offensive attack. Brothers Caleb and Cody Martin are averaging 20 and 15 points per game, respectively.

      Transfer Kendall Stephens is averaging 9.7 points per game. He is a familiar face for Bane, who said he got to know the former Purdue guard on recruiting trips.

  • SC State's Solomon released from hospital after collapse
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    South Carolina State guard Tyvoris Solomon was released from a hospital on Thursday, five days after collapsing during a game against North Carolina State.

    • Solomon was rushed to a hospital in Raleigh, N.C., after his heart stopped beating in the first half of the contest.

      Solomon's family thanked South Carolina State athletic trainer Tyler Long and first responders for saving the player's life in a statement released through Rex Hospital on Thursday.

      "We've also heard from so many well-wishers throughout the Carolinas and the country. The outpouring of love from N.C. State fans has been especially welcome. Thank you for your prayers and support," Solomon's family said.

      The family statement indicated the plan is for Solomon to "rest and recover" at home.

      Solomon's collapse occurred with 13:08 to play in the first half of a 103-71 loss to the Wolfpack. He was taken from the arena on a stretcher and play resumed after a 40-minute delay.

  • Oklahoma embraces marquee matchup with No. 25 USC
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, December 7, 2017

    LOS ANGELES -- Since it opened in 1999, Staples Center has hosted countless great basketball games, a legacy not lost on the participants of Friday's 2017 Basketball Hall of Fame Classic matchup between No. 25 USC and Oklahoma.

    • "That's a legendary place to play. I've only seen the outside and all the statues," Oklahoma freshman Trae Young said following the Sooners' 97-85 win over UTSA on Dec. 4. Young referred to the monuments to such Los Angeles Lakers legends as Shaquille O'Neal, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson that stand outside the venue.

      "It's crazy because I'm still a freshman and getting to do all this so it's going to be fun. I can't wait for it."

      On the same floor Kobe Bryant scored 60-plus points on four occasions, the ballyhooed first-year phenom Young leads Oklahoma (6-1) into a potentially pivotal matchup.

      Young comes in leading the nation in scoring at 28.7 points per game, and third in assists with 8.7 per game. The Basketball Hall of Fame Classic is a premier platform for one of the nation's most impressive players early in the season.

      Oklahoma is making a trek of about 1,400 miles for Friday's contest -- roughly 1,397 more than USC, which sits just south of Staples Center. The Sooners' ultimate goal on this trip is not to take in the sights of a "legendary" venue, but rather to extend the woes of a Trojans team that recently fell out of the Top 10.

      USC (4-2) dropped its second straight game on Dec. 2, losing at SMU, 72-55. That unfolded quite similarly to the Trojans' Nov. 26 loss to Texas A&M, as coach Andy Enfield explained to reporters postgame.

      "We had trouble making shots again in the second half," he said.

      The Trojans shot just 8-of-22 from the floor after halftime, and a three-point Trojans' lead at intermission quickly became a double-digit SMU advantage. Against Texas A&M, USC went ice cold from the floor after forcing a 42-42 tie, surrendering a 19-3 run that was essentially the difference in the final result.

      Oklahoma comes in allowing opponents to connect on 38.8 percent of 3-point attempts, ranking 292nd in the nation. That could be a difference for USC this time around, after two games in which the Trojans failed to make on 30 percent of their attempts.

      Meanwhile, UTSA was the fourth opponent to score at least 80 points against the Sooners in seven games this season. Friday's game may well provide the catalyst USC needs to reinvigorate its offense -- but the Trojans may also have to keep up with the torrent pace at which Oklahoma is playing.

      "They're very skilled, very talented," Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said of USC. "Their inside guys are very talented. They've got a ton of guys who are very good."

      Jump-starting its offense begins with Chimezie Metu and Bennie Boatwright finding their groove. Metu went just 5 of 14 from the floor against Texas A&M. He was better against SMU -- 4-of-7 -- but Boatwright is just 6-of-22 over the past two games.

      USC will have a size advantage over Oklahoma, but the Sooners' backcourt of Young and Christian James promises to test the Trojans' perimeter defense.