Oregon State rolls past DePaul 90-59.

Robbins, Schaftenaar post career highs in Oregon State’s 90-59 victory over DePaul

      
 

 

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Diedhiou admitted to Minnesota, added to roster (Yahoo Sports)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota freshman forward Gaston Diedhiou (Gas-TOHN JAY’-joo) has been admitted to the university and added to the roster.

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MSU senior Branden Dawson has fractured wrist

MSU is calling it a “non-displaced fracture.”

      
 

 

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Sendek’s contract extension approved, with provisions (Yahoo Sports)

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Board of Regents has approved a contract extension for Arizona State basketball coach Herb Sendek, though added provisions to the original deal.

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Jones scores 21 to lead No. 2 Duke over UConn

Freshmen led the way as the Blue Devils remained undefeated.

      
 

 

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No. 13 Iowa State adds McKay (Yahoo Sports)

In this Dec. 14, 2014, photo Iowa State forward Jameel McKay sits on the bench during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Southern University in Ames, Iowa. McKay, who transferred to Iowa State from Marquette, becomes eligible to play when Iowa State faces Drake on Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

AMES, Iowa (AP) — College basketball fans have waited nearly two years to see Jameel McKay play.


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Depth a Growing Concern for Duke as Blue Devils Survive Scrappy UConn

Nothing came easily for either team on Thursday night in New Jersey as No. 2 Duke escaped with a 66-56 win over a Connecticut team that now has four losses on the season.

At the half, this was anyone’s game. Moreover, several times late in the second half, Connecticut fought back to within six points, but Duke was able to keep the Huskies at arm’s length.

Considering the external factors, though, it’s not much of a surprise that this game was this close.

From December 3-29, this was one of just two games on the Blue Devils’ schedule. As Jay Bilas and Dan Shulman noted on ESPN’s broadcast of the game, several players were going straight from this game to an 11-day holiday break with family. The Blue Devils looked very lethargic until early in the second half, apparently struggling to care about this last hurdle before a vacation.

Per Tom Canavan of The Associated Press, after the game head coach Mike Krzyzewski commented on his team’s lackadaisical effort, “We were out to lunch. I mean, we were in La-La land. I had to take the timeout (early in the second half) to get us back into it.”

Connecticut, on the other hand, desperately needed this win and played as such. Duke was sloppy, but Connecticut was scrappy, forcing 21 Duke turnovers. Had Amida Brimah been able to get any playing time without committing fouls, this likely would have been a different outcome.

But the end result was almost exactly as the odds makers expected. According to OddsShark.com, Duke was favored by 10.5 points.

However, it’s a fair assumption that nobody was expecting Duke’s bench to go scoreless in this one, and that could become a serious issue in due time.

Duke looks like a pretty deep team if you focus solely on the season averages, but a lot of that scoring came in “garbage time” against the likes of Presbyterian, Fairfield and Furman. Take a look at the games Duke has played against quality opponents, though, and it’s a different story.

Against Wisconsin, Jahlil Okafor dealt with foul trouble and Justise Winslow couldn’t get anything going, but fortunately for Duke, Rasheed Sulaimon stepped up to the plate in a big way that night. Even with that game included, though, Duke’s bench is scoring just 14.8 percent of its points in key gamesand that scoring has been contained almost entirely to Sulaimon and Matt Jones (40 of the 44 points).

Duke might have the most talented starting five in the country, but what happens when someone gets into foul trouble—especially if it’s Okafor or Amile Jefferson?

There are quite a few people out there who think that Duke is one of the teams best suited to beat Kentucky this year.

In an exchange between ESPN’s Jay Bilas and Jeff Goodman (Insider subscription required) from a little over a week ago, Goodman said, “I think it’s fairly cleareven though we’re less than a month into the seasonthat Kentucky and Duke are a notch above everyone else. The easy answer to which team can beat Kentucky is obviously Duke, and vice versa.”

Bilas responded, “Duke would give the Wildcats a hard time, because the Blue Devils can shoot it and spread the floor, and they have a very good passing team. Duke is vastly improved on the defensive end, as well.”

But can you even imagine what would happen if one of Duke’s bigs got into foul trouble and Marshall Plumlee had to play 15-20 minutes against Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Dakari Johnson?

(And that’s foolishly assuming Plumlee could play that many minutes against a quality opponent without fouling himself out.)

It’s either that or go with a four-guard lineup against the biggest, baddest lineup in the country, because the Blue Devils only have those three players on the roster taller than 6’6″ now that they lost Semi Ojeleye to the transfer market.

Heck, forget about Kentucky. How does Duke plan on dealing with Louisville or North Carolina if the referees are quick with the whistles on those nights? Even if Okafor and Jefferson are permitted by the refs to play 35 minutes per game, what could those guys possibly have left in the tank for the NCAA tournament after logging that much playing time against a grueling ACC slate?

Maybe the better question, though, is where in the world is Grayson Allen?

Allen played quite well in the first two games of the season, scoring 27 points in just 21 minutes. But in the four games mentioned above, Allen has played a total of three minutes.

In a week in which Duke already lost Ojeleye because of a lack of playing time, how is Mike Krzyzewski not giving any minutes to the guy who won the McDonald’s All-American slam dunk contest?

Andre Dawkins and Tyler Thornton played a combined 35.0 minutes per game last season alongside Jabari Parker and Rodney Hood, but Allen can’t even get on the court on most nights?

Really?

To be fair, Duke has never been one to rely heavily on its bench. For the past several years, Krzyzewski’s formula has more or less been to have four starters who can score, a starting power forward who defends well and grabs rebounds and a change-of-pace sixth man off the benchusually a stretch 4.

Two years ago, five Blue Devils averaged at least 11.6 points per game, but the sixth-best scorer topped out at 4.0. Last year, only seven Duke players averaged better than 9.5 minutes per game, and only five of them were in there to score.

But this yearwith charges being called at an outrageous ratedepth is more crucial than ever. You never know when you’ll need to lean heavily on a bench player because of a few egregious flops.

The thing is, though, Duke should be the primary team relying on its depth. 

We’re talking about a team with nine McDonald’s All-Americansthe most in the country, now that Alex Poythress is out for the year at Kentucky. Guys like Plumlee, Allen and Matt Jones would be playing 34 minutes per night at most schools.

There’s no shortage of talent on the bench. It’s basically a gold mine that isn’t being excavated.

Really, if anyone should be employing the platoon system these days, it’s Duke.

Obviously, Nick Pagliuca would be the weak link in there, but Coach K could cut him out of the mix with a modified platoon approach where he aims to get 30 minutes each for Okafor and Tyus Jones and then 20 minutes for the other seven guys.

It’s an extreme suggestion for sure, but Duke needs to do something to get those bench guys more involved.

And if you’ll recall, Coach K started employing a platoon approach in mid-January last season. After losses to Notre Dame and Clemson in a span of three games, Duke came out against Virginia and was subbing five-for-five early and often. In the following game against NC State, 10 guys played at least 12 minutes.

Plumlee was averaging 4.4 minutes per game through the first 16 games, but his playing time more than doubled to 9.7 MPG over the final 19 gamesand that’s hardly because he was suddenly an unstoppable force.

Mixing things up didn’t do much to help Duke out in the NCAA tournament, but the Blue Devils clearly improved from where they were in the first two months of the season.

It’s hard to argue that the No. 2 team in the country needs to do anything to improve, but a little more point distribution wouldn’t be a bad thing.

 

Kerry Miller covers college basketball for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter @kerrancejames.

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Tyus Jones scores 21 to lead No. 2 Duke over UConn

Freshmen led the way as the Blue Devils remained undefeated.

      
 

 

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Michigan State’s Dawson has fractured wrist (Yahoo Sports)

Michigan State's Branden Dawson lies on the court after going down with an injury between teammates Denzel Valentine (45) and Matt Costello during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Eastern Michigan, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in East Lansing, Mich. Michigan State won 66-46. (AP Photo/Al Goldis)

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State forward Branden Dawson has a non-displaced fracture on his left wrist and will miss the team’s next two games.


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Virginia Basketball: 5 Most Important Games Remaining for Cavaliers

The ACC in 2014-15 is loaded. Currently, the conference has six schools in the Top 25, including three of the top six teams in the country. That doesn’t include the University of Pittsburgh or Syracuse University, either. 

For the No. 6 Virginia Cavaliers, who improved to 10-0 on Thursday, repeating as ACC champs won’t be easy.

The Hoos have won nine of their 10 games by at least 11 points. Two teams that were supposed to challenge Virginia—Maryland and VCU—lost to the Cavaliers by 11 and 17 points, respectively. 

Things will pick up for the Hoos in January, though. ACC play will open, and it can be brutal. 

Here is a look at the five most important games remaining on Virginia’s 2014-15 schedule.

Begin Slideshow

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