Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Two ACC teams as No. 1 seeds in the latest Genotology

Photo Credit: Chantel Shetler


* New entry in the field

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Boise State





Western Kentucky


Monday, January 15, 2018

No. 20 North Carolina 69, Notre Dame 68: Tar Heels escape an upset in South Bend

Photo Credit: Chantel Shetler

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

SOUTH BEND, Ind.— In an ACC battle which featured 24 lead changes and 12 ties, the No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels (14-4, 3-2 ACC) managed to avoid being upset on the road by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-5, 3-2 ACC). The Tar Heels’ Joel Berry II sunk two free throws with 7.1 seconds left to seal their 69-68 victory at Purcell Pavilion.

“I feel the luckiest maybe I’ve ever felt in my life at the end of a basketball game,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. “It was a frustrating game… Notre Dame played so hard.  I thought they played harder than us; I thought they played smarter than us.”

Notre Dame once again came into the contest without its two best players – Bonzie Colson and Matt Farrell. During pregame warmups, Farrell participated fully, but was once again held out of action. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said the goal is to have Farrell starting on Jan. 16 against Louisville.

The teams combined to start 0-of-5 from the field, but then combined to go 6-of-6 into the under-16 media timeout. 

Notre Dame had a stretch through the first half where it went 0-of-11 from the field before Elijah Burns got a layup to end the drought. The Irish got a defensive stop followed by a DJ Harvey bucket to take the lead and Purcell Pavilion almost erupted.

“Look at DJ Harvey— He can get you 8 or 9 rebounds. What a night for him. Did he play 37 minutes,” Brey said. “You feel when you downshift with him, he rebounds a little bit like [Pat] Connaughton did.” Harvey finished with 9 points and 8 rebounds for the Irish, with 4 rebounds coming on the offensive end.

With five minutes remaining in the first half, Luke Maye was 6-of-6 from the field to lead North Carolina, which highlighted an 18-point, 11-rebound night. The rest of the Tar Heels had a combined 2-of-17 shooting.

Cameron Johnson hit a last-second three-pointer to give North Carolina a 40-37 lead heading into the half. Maye led all scorers with 13 points, while adding nine rebounds in the first 20 minutes. 

The action remained a constant back-and-forth battle throughout the second half. The Irish used the three-ball to hang with the Tar Heels whenever North Carolina began to extend a lead.  On the evening, Notre Dame managed to sink ten triples.

TJ Gibbs was called for a foul with 7.1 seconds remaining to send Berry to the line. Berry sunk the game-tying and game-winning free throws and allowed the Tar Heels to go up 69-68.

Gibbs attempted to redeem himself with a shot before the buzzer and missed, but managed to grab his own rebound, but the second shot attempt also rimmed out.  On the evening, Gibbs lead all scorers with 19 points and added a game-high six assists as well. Martinas Geben paced the Irish with nine rebounds, including hauling in seven off of the offensive glass. Notre Dame managed to pull down 20 offensive rebounds in the contest.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Providence 71, DePaul 64: Friars' second half outburst caps an up and down night

Photo Credit: Geno Green

CHICAGO— Life can be a dose of ups and downs.

The Providence Friars (12-6, 3-2 Big East) played the role to a tee as a 22-0 second half run over an 8:17 stretch played a pivotal role in a 71-64 win over the DePaul Blue Demons (8-9, 1-4 Big East) at Wintrust Arena on Friday night.

Before responding in the second half, the Friars faced turbulence for more than a quarter of the game as they overcame a 12:02 scoring drought. The bland play on the court put Providence in a 46-34 deficit 3:20 into the second half after Marin Maric drained a three-pointer from the wing, which had the DePaul home crowd on cloud nine.

The energy turned into silence in a matter of moments as Alpha Diallo gave PC a much needed lift on offense by scoring eight of the next 10 points to highlight the massive run to retake the lead at 56-46. 14 of Diallo’s 16 points came in the second half after overcoming an 0-for-4 effort from the field in the first half.

“[Alpha] showed versatility, but was frustrated at halftime as he missed a couple of wide open shots, but you have to show confidence in your players,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “We as coaches tend to look at things from a negative perspective, but we as coaches have to be patient with 18-to-22 year olds and tell them it is okay to make a mistake, but grow up in the process and he was fortunate to have a big second half.”

When things looked comfortable for Providence with its largest lead at 66-53, DePaul put together one last surge on an 11-1 run, but would not be enough as Max Strus missed a potential game-tying three-pointer with 20 seconds left as Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock swarmed all over on the wing. Isaiah Jackson found an open Bullock on the other end for the layup to put the Friars up 69-64 and would not look back.

“Basketball is a game of runs and to try to keep players poised,” Cooley said. “DePaul showed resiliency fighting back and their guard play was phenomenal and we tried to limit Strus’s touches, which was Jalen [Lindsey] and Kyron [Cartwright]’s job and thought they did a really good job because Max is a phenomenal player.”

The suffocating Friars defense played a large part in Strus going of 3-of-13 from the field (eight points), which held the junior to his second-lowest scoring output of the season. Despite the struggles, Cooley gave credit to Strus’s play outside of the Providence game.

“Jalen [Lindsey] took it personal when it came to guarding Max Strus and he is supposed to given he is a senior. He’s been around and we depend on him," Cooley said. "If we had a newcomer of the year award, Strus would be my choice, which is something Val [Ackerman] should consider at some point."

Four Friar players finished in double figures scoring as Lindsey spearheaded the effort with a game-high 18 points, on 6-of-10 from the field in 37 minutes.

Game Recap:

Lindsey set the tone early for Providence on the back end of a crisp alley-oop pass from Kyron Cartwright and a triple from the wing for a 5-0 lead.

Maric countered with six straight points and a steal for the Blue Demons, but the Friars kept their composure by going on an 8-2 run, highlighted by a long range make from Lindsey.

Providence’s defense made life difficult for Strus early as it gave little to no room to create plays. Maric continued to benefit from the extra Friar pressure as he converted on open layups for the Blue Demons.

With any great shooter, silence can only go for so long and Strus responded with a layup in the paint over a contested Kalif Young and a three-pointer on the next possession to keep DePaul in range at 22-17 with 11:46 left in the first half.

The Friars responded with more firepower on offense as they went on a 7-0 run over a 1:38 stretch for their largest lead at 29-18. With Maric on the bench with two fouls at the 8:00 mark in the first half, the Blue Demons relied on Jaylen Butz and came through with eight straight points to keep them in range as the Friars clung to a 31-28 lead.

Providence did itself no favors by going without a field goal conversion over the final 8:42 of the first half, which witnessed DePaul erase an 11-point deficit. The Blue Demons dominated in the frontcourt with a combined 18 points from Butz and Maric as they took a 35-34 lead into the locker room.

Diallo’s lift on offense put Providence up 56-46 and led the rest of the way to propel them to its fourth win in the last five games.

Looking Ahead:

Both teams return to action on Jan. 15 as the Friars host the Butler Bulldogs for a 3:30 p.m. tip, while the Blue Demons head approximately 90 minutes north to Milwaukee to play regional rivals in the Marquette Golden Eagles at 8 p.m. Both games can be seen on FS1.

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Thursday, January 11, 2018

Iowa 104, Illinois 97 (OT): Hawkeyes overcome 20-point deficit behind Bohannon’s 29 points

Photo Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill.— Winning cures some things and for the Iowa Hawkeyes, adversity knocked on their front door at the State Farm Center.

The Hawkeyes (10-9, 1-5 Big Ten) fought back from a 20-point deficit with a 104-97 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini (10-8, 0-5 Big Ten) in overtime behind a 29-point performance from Jordan Bohannon.

Bohannon’s three-point make with 1:45 left in overtime helped put the dagger in any Illinois hopes of victory at 99-90.

“I thought [Jordan] was great all-game long,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “That was a huge shot, but kept his composure. They came after him last year and it didn’t go well, but he was ready this time.”

Despite 11 turnovers in the first half, the Hawkeyes cleaned up most of their mistakes and committed six errors in the final 25 minutes. On top of the reduction in turnovers, the Hawkeyes started the second half on 10-0 run to start the second half to pull within three points at 54-51.

“The zone activity in the first half was not what it needed to be and [Illinois] did a good job moving the ball and knocking down threes,” McCaffery said. “In the second half, I thought our activity level was way better with where players like [Aaron] Jordan and [Trent] Frazier were.”

Iowa center Luka Garza proved to be the unsung hero with 19 points and 11 rebounds, highlighted by scoring nine of the last 11 points in regulation. Hawkeyes’ leading scorer Tyler Cook added 21 points and 13 rebounds, which gave the Illini defense headaches throughout the game.

“You look at the rebound numbers and both players made the difference there, but they both can score the ball,” McCaffery said. “When you have bigs who can score, they can’t focus on Tyler Cook exclusively.”

Trent Frazier served as a worthy foe to Bohannon with a career-high 27 points, on 7-of-11 from long range, highlighted by a running three-pointer from the wing as time expired to send the game to overtime.

“Honestly, it should’ve never gotten to that point. We were up by 20 points. I got a good luck and it ended up going in,” Frazier said.

Despite an early jumper from Cook, the Illini asserted their presence in the paint as they went on a 15-2 run, which got the crowd of 11,326 buzzing.

The momentum would continue for Illinois as timely long range makes by Da’Monte Williams and Kipper Nichols kept the lead in the double-digit department.

Despite Black being benched early for foul trouble with two at the 11:10 left in the first half, the Illini continued to prosper from long range as their lead grew to 34-15 and would stay in front for the remainder of the half as they took a 54-41 lead into the locker room.

The Hawkeyes’ achilles heel proved to be their lack of ball control in the first 20 minutes with 11 turnovers, which led to 16 Illini points on the other end.

The run early in the second half lifted the Hawkeyes as they used timely shots from Bohannon to even the score at 66, 7:54 into the second half.

The Hawkeyes’ deficit would return to the single digit range, but Bohannon’s play from the perimeter kept things from getting out of hand, coupled with the Illini’s foul woes as Mark Alstork, Kipper Nichols and Black each had four with 8:00 left.

Foul trouble proved to be the climax to the many Illinois woes on a spring, turned winter night outside as Williams, Alstork, Nichols and Black fouled out in the second half and overtime periods.

Game Notes:

-       All five Hawkeye starters finished in double figures scoring.
-       Iowa’s 20-point comeback is the second largest in program history on the road.

Looking Ahead:

The Illini return to action on Jan. 15 as they travel to Lincoln to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers for an 8 p.m. tip, while the Hawkeyes go to Pascataway, N.J. on Jan. 17 as the Rutgers Scarlet Knights come calling for a 6 p.m. start.

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Irish look to return to form against a primed Tar Heels squad

Photo Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

When the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-4, 3-1 ACC) return home to Purcell Pavilion on Saturday, (6 p.m., ESPN) to take on the No. 20 North Carolina Tar Heels (13-4, 2-2 ACC), they will be looking to bounce back from a 60-53 road loss to Georgia Tech on Jan. 10.

In the seven-point defeat, the Irish were led by Martinas Geben, who poured in a career-high 16 points and pulled down an additional nine rebounds, while TJ Gibbs and Rex Pflueger both tied their career-highs in assists with seven and six, respectively. 

The Irish are in an adjustment period as they try reform after Bonzie Colson’s fractured foot injury, which will sideline him for the remainder of ACC regular season play sans the senior night game against Pittsburgh on Feb. 28.

With Colson out, sophomore big man John Mooney is trying to make the most of his new opportunities.  Mooney added a career-high 11 points and eight rebounds against Georgia Tech.

As of right now, Matt Farrell will also miss the North Carolina game with a sprained ankle.  Farrell injured the ankle in Notre Dame’s contest against NC State, and has missed the last two games due to injury. Farrell’s consistency in the backcourt has been missed as the Irish have looked for ways to make up for the team-high 5.1 assists per game this season.

The Tar Heels are coming off of a 96-66 blowout victory over Boston College on Jan. 9 as Luke Maye produced a career night with 32 points and 18 rebounds to help snap a two-game skid.

On the season, Maye has averaged 18.2 points, 10.8 rebounds and amassed nine double-doubles. Maye leads all North Carolina players on the season with 18 blocks as well.

Theo Pinson has proven to be straw that stirs the drink for the Tar Heels this season with a team-high 4.3 assists and dished out a team-high five assists in the win over the Eagles.

Barring another weather issue, this edition of the series will be played as scheduled as the Tar Heels defeated the Irish 83-76 at Greensboro Coliseum on Feb. 5 after the game was postponed a day due to a water shortage in the Chapel Hill area.

No. 20 North Carolina at Notre Dame

Tip-off: 6:00 p.m. ET

TV/Online: ESPN/WatchESPN

Commentators: Dan Shulman, Jay Bilas and Maria Taylor (sidelines)

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