Report: Shareef O'Neal commits to UCLA
Three days after reopening his recruitment, 4-star power forward Shareef O’Neal has reportedly picked a new school. According to Josh Gershon of 247Sports, the son of Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has verbally committed to UCLA. The 6-foot-9 O’Neal attends Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California.
O’Neal’s pledge gives the Bruins six commits in the 2018 class, and Steve Alford will be welcoming a highly talented group to Westwood in the summer. Five-star center Moses Brown leads the way for what is at this point in time one of the top recruiting classes in college basketball.
UCLA’s gain is Arizona’s loss, with O’Neal reopening his recruitment in the aftermath of a report alleging wrongdoing on the part of Arizona head coach Sean Miller in the recruiting of current freshman DeAndre Ayton.
Tuesday’s game between Miami and No. 9 North Carolina was capped by one of the best finishes of the 2017-18 season. After two Ja’Quan Newton free throws gave Miami a three-point lead with 9.2 seconds remaining, North Carolina’s Joel Berry II made a three-pointer with 4.1 seconds remaining to tie the game at 88-all.
That turned out to be the second-biggest shot of the game-ending sequence, as Newton answered with a 40-footer to give the Hurricanes the 91-88 win.
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Tennessee stayed in the hunt for a Southeastern Conference title thanks to a stellar second-half performance on the road.
Admiral Schofield had 24 points, Lamonte Turner added 12 and the 16th-ranked Volunteers pulled away for a 76-54 victory over Mississippi State on Tuesday night.
Schofield also had seven rebounds and shot 9 of 18 from the field for the Volunteers (22-7, 12-5 SEC), who made 13 of their final 15 field goal attempts.
Quinndary Weatherspoon led Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8) with 17 points. Nick Weatherspoon had 11 points and Aric Holman finished with 10 for the Bulldogs.
“Mississippi State came out really locked in, defensively, and it was hard to run our offense the way we wanted to,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “They are difficult to guard but we stayed with it and figured out the best way to guard their ball screens. We started switching ball screens to keep them out of the lane.
“We were much better today on the offensive end, overall, and we had a lot of execution inside and out. When we move the ball we are capable of doing that.”
Tennessee turned a tight game into a blowout during the second half by shooting 68 percent from the field and out-rebounding the Bulldogs 18-8.
Mississippi State suffered just its second home loss of the season and finished the regular season 18-2 at Humphrey Coliseum.
“That was a very tough loss against a very good team,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said. “Tennessee is just so physical and they played smart offensively. We had some great opportunities in the first half but we got sped up with the excitement of the game. We had a 25-17 lead and didn’t handle that well.”
Mississippi State used a 9-2 run to lead 18-11 midway through the first half. The Bulldogs held their largest lead of the half at 25-17 following a 3-pointer by Quinndary Weatherspoon.
Tennessee quickly responded with eight straight points and tied the game at 25-25 after a 3-pointer by Jordan Bone. The Volunteers closed the half on a 15-6 run and led 40-34 at halftime.
Tennessee started the second half on a 16-8 run to grab complete control and led 56-42 with just under 14 minutes left in regulation. Mississippi State never got within 14 points the rest of the way.
“We just had a lot of breakdowns on defense in the second half,” Mississippi State’s Quinndary Weatherspoon said. “We didn’t defend well in the first 5 or 10 minutes of the second half. We started taking some quick shots and started being impatient.”
Tennessee shot 56.3 percent from the field for the game. Mississippi State shot 39.2 percent for the game, including just 28.6 percent in the second half. Tennessee was 18 of 23 at the free throw line and out-rebounded the Bulldogs 34-24.
Mississippi State made just 4 of 20 shots beyond the arc and had 13 turnovers.
Tennessee: The Volunteers kept their SEC regular-season title hopes alive and have won 10 of their last 12 games. Tennessee continues to use depth to its advantage – the Volunteers’ reserves scored 25 points compared to six for Mississippi State.
Mississippi State: The Bulldogs missed a big opportunity to boost their NCAA Tournament resume. Mississippi State will likely have to make serious noise in the SEC Tournament along with getting a road win at LSU on Saturday to stay in the conversation.
Tennessee concludes the regular season on Saturday when it hosts Georgia.
Mississippi State finishes regular-season action on Saturday when it visits LSU.
As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Monday.
It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:
- Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
- Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
- Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
- Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus
The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.
MISSOURI (RPI: 40, KenPom: 42, NBC seed: 9): Missouri had lost three in a row before they headed to Vanderbilt on Tuesday night, and thanks for a monster performance from Jontay Porter, the Tigers avoided what would have been a disastrous loss. At this point, I think that the Tigers are a lock for the dance.
FLORIDA (RPI: 47, KenPom: 25, NBC seed: 7): I’ve seen some talk about Florida being on the bubble this week. They may have 11 losses, but let me be very clear: They. Are. Not. On. The. Bubble. If they beat Kentucky at home and make a run in the SEC tournament, we could be looking at, what, a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament if they beat the right teams?
ALABAMA (RPI: 54, KenPom: 55, NBC seed: 8): So let’s talk about Alabama. The Crimson Tide lost their fourth straight game on Tuesday night. They are now 17-13 on the season and 8-9 in the SEC, and they still have to go play at Texas A&M on Saturday. But they also have five Quadrant 1 wins and an 11-12 record against the top two Quadrants. That’s a lot of games against good teams, and they’ve beaten some good teams: Rhode Island, Auburn, Tennessee. They need to win some more games — at Texas A&M and a first round game in the SEC tournament should do it — but even with all those losses, I think they are in decent shape.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (RPI: 68, KenPom: 59, NBC seed: First four out): The Bulldogs missed out on their best chance to add an elite win the rest of the season as they lost at home to Tennessee by 22 points. With just a trip to LSU left on their schedule, I think the Bulldogs — who only have two Quadrant 1 wins and just two road wins on the season — need to win three more games to really have a chance.
YET TO PLAY
Having already wrapped up the Atlantic 10 regular season title, Tuesday’s Senior Night matchup with Saint Joseph’s was expected to be one in which No. 17 Rhode Island was supposed to celebrate five seniors who have been important factors in Dan Hurley’s rebuild of the program. The pregame ceremony happened, but it was followed by one of the most surprising results of the 2017-18 season.
Rhode Island shot just 6-for-31 from the field in the first half, and they would go on to lose to the visiting Hawks by an 78-48 final score.
While Saint Joseph’s is just 14-15 on the season overall and 9-8 in Atlantic 10 play, the fact that Phil Martelli’s team won is not the surprise here. While the program has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, there’s no denying the fact that the Hawks have talent. Also, this is a group that has lost nine games by four points or less this season.
Simply put, if a few possessions throughout the course of the season go the other way Saint Joseph’s would be an even bigger player in the Atlantic 10 race.
James Demery scored 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field, and in forward Taylor Funk the Hawks have one of the Atlantic 10’s best freshmen. Funk finished the game 5-for-5 from the field and scored 17 points, and if not for Davidson’s Kellan Grady he would likely be the pick as the conference’s top freshman. Add in Shavar Newkirk putting forth an excellent performance with 14 points and seven assists, and Saint Joseph’s was able to put forth its best showing of the season.
Saint Joseph’s shot nearly 52 percent from the field, consistently attacking the Rams off the dribble in the half-court and keeping URI from turning turnovers into points on the other end.
Nothing went right for Rhode Island (23-5, 15-2) on either end of the floor. Offensively, the Rams did themselves no favors by settling for challenged perimeter shots instead of attacking the gaps in the zone defense that Saint Joseph’s threw at them for much of the night. Rhode Island finished the game having shot 28.1 percent from the field overall and 3-for-29 from three, and their 9-for-18 effort from the foul line didn’t help matters either.
Prior to Tuesday night just one of Rhode Island’s four losses was by double figures, with that being their 15-point defeat at the hands of top-ranked Virginia in the title game of the Preseason NIT. With just one loss since December 6, some may argue that Rhode Island was due for a stinker. And if that’s the case, it’s better for the Rams that it happened now as opposed to in a couple weeks time when a loss means that the season’s over.
A loss like this can refocus a team if that’s needed. The question is whether or not this 30-point loss is used as a reason to drop Rhode Island’s seed come Selection Sunday. Given the team’s results throughout the season, it’s reasonable to say that Tuesday’s blowout loss was a one-off performance for URI, a game in which everything that could go wrong did.
But one also has to credit Saint Joseph’s, as their efficient offense and zone defense made this beating possible as well.
Six days after he made his return to the practice floor, Notre Dame senior forward Bonzie Colson will play in the team’s home finale against Pittsburgh Wednesday night.
Colson, who’s been out of the lineup since breaking a bone in his left foot during a win over Georgia Tech on December 30, sent out a video via his Twitter account Tuesday afternoon to make the news of his return official.
Colson played 39 minutes against the Yellow Jackets despite suffering the injury, tallying 22 points and 17 rebounds. Notre Dame has been cautious in the handling of Colson’s recovery, and has said that the senior forward’s minutes will be “limited” for Senior Night.
At the time of his injury Colson was averaging 21.4 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, shooting 52.6 percent from the field. As a junior Colson averaged 17.8 points and 10.1 rebounds per contest, earning first team All-ACC honors.