The Daily Word: Wednesday, Nov. 15.
What you need to know in college basketball for Wednesday, Nov. 15:
1. NC State coach Kevin Keatts called Braxton Beverly at 5 p.m. Tuesday and simply said, "Get a uniform on." Keatts said Beverly was confused and didn't know what Keatts was talking about. "You're eligible!" Beverly got his shot against Bryant Tuesday night (a 95-72 win) and was understandably out of sync. He played 16 minutes and was 1 of 7 from the field. Keatts told NCAA.com on Wednesday Beverly wasn't mentally ready, but he wanted to play him. Beverly hadn't participated in the scrimmages or exhibitions due to initially being ruled ineligible. Beverly had taken summer classes at Ohio State but once Thad Matta was forced out he wanted to transfer. NC State was the destination but the transfer rule is the rule. If you attend classes and practice with the team, you are at the institution, thus needing to sit out a year.
Braxton Beverly— NC State Men's Bball (@PackMensBball) November 15, 2017
The Wolfpack are without Malik-Abdul Abu, a 6-8 senior, who averaged 11.8 points and seven boards. He's recovering from an MCL injury. And Keatts said he wasn't able to play the way he wanted to with limited numbers in the first few games. "I didn't have the bodies to play up-tempo, 94 feet of defensive pressure," Keatts said. "We were only at about 50 percent of the way we want to play."
The Wolfpack have a brutal stretch coming up at the Battle 4 Atlantis with an opening matchup against Arizona on Nov. 22. Keatts said he appreciated the way everything was handled in the Beverly case and now once Abu is back this team can start to become the one he envisioned.
2. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters after the 88-81 win over Michigan State Tuesday night that he expected freshman Marvin Bagley III to play Friday against Southern, after playing only 10 minutes and scoring four points due to the eye injury suffered vs. the Spartans. But the story from Tuesday night was the play of senior Grayson Allen and freshman point guard Trevon Duval.
How good has Allen been in the second half this season? He's shooting 64 percent on threes and 47 percent overall in his three second halves this season. Remember, it was Allen who was the closer in the championship game over Wisconsin in 2015. So maybe this can be his role again as a senior. His seven 3s was a career high en route to 37 points. Duval had his second straight double-double with 17 points and 10 assists. He's got 30 assists over three games, which, yes, means he's averaging 10 a game -- we can do the math here. Oh, and he also had six steals, for a total of 12 in three games, more than any other previous Duke player through three games since 1978.
3. Alabama freshman Collin Sexton had quite a debut for the Tide after serving a one-game suspension. He scored 17 points, making seven of 10 field goals, in 27 minutes in the Tide's 86-64 win over Lipscomb Tuesday. He was 3-of-5 on threes, had two steals, and just two turnovers. Alabama coach Avery Johnson told NCAA.com Wednesday Sexton will be a 90 percent free throw shooter, despite going just 41 percent in his first game. "He's a very explosive player," Johnson said. "He has great instincts and leadership potential. He will play on and off the ball." The Tide aren't whole yet. Braxton Key is out for another two to three weeks after suffering a meniscus tear. The 6-8 forward averaged 12 points and five boards a game last season. Alabama will be pushed in the coming weeks with games against the Sun Belt favorite UT Arlington and then BYU and Minnesota in Brooklyn.
4. Rhode Island's E.C. Matthews is a fighter and now has another hurdle after suffering a fractured left wrist in the 88-81 loss at Nevada Monday night. Matthews is out for a month, URI coach Danny Hurley told NCAA.com Wednesday. Matthews had already come back from an ACL injury in the first game of the 2015-16 season to lead the Rams to the NCAA tournament last season. Matthews took a hard fall late in the game against the Wolf Pack.
Hurley said the door is now open for freshman guard Fatts Russell (seven points in seven minutes) to play more minutes. But he'll need a combination of Jeff Dowtin (8 ppg), Jarvis Garrett (6 ppg) and Stan Robinson (10.5 ppg) to make up for Matthews' absence. Matthews was averaging a second-best 14 points per game through two games, second to Jared Terrell's 15 ppg. With games upcoming against Seton Hall, Providence, and at Alabama, the Rams will need all the help they can get without Matthews.
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5. Arizona State will be extremely tough to guard; at least, that's the word out of Tempe after the Sun Devils 90-68 win over San Diego State Tuesday night. Plus, Bobby Hurley has scorers. Tra Holder (21 ppg), Shannon Evans II (19.5 ppg) and De'Quon Lake (19.5 ppg) have been lighting it up through two games. And I love this from ASU: 6-8, 220-pound freshman Romello White looks like he belongs playing in the Big East circa 1984. Circle Dec. 10 at Kansas for a major barometer as to how far this team/program have come under Hurley.
6. Indiana at Seton Hall in the Gavitt Tipoff Games could be ugly early if the Hoosiers don't defend. The Pirates will be a force in the Big East this season. Myles Powell, Angel Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington will be going right at the Hoosiers. Indiana must try to keep the Pirates out of the paint and win the 50-50 plays. That's where the Pirates have excelled under Kevin Willard. This team finds the ball. Indiana saved face with the win over Howard on Sunday after giving up 90 to Indiana State in a season-opening loss in Bloomington. The good news for IU was the play of Justin Smith and Al Durham in the win over Howard. Freshmen will take time to develop and the fan base must be patient. Expect the Pirates to challenge Villanova for the Big East regular-season title (with Xavier, Providence and Creighton likely pushing at times, too).
OK let’s wrap up the night here on March madness after Kentucky-Kansas https://t.co/UbdHTKG0i6— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) November 15, 2017
7. BYU at Princeton is one of those hidden gem games. I love this one. The Cougars thrive on running under Dave Rose when they can. Well, they should be able to score this season and maybe finally not fade in late February. Elijah Bryant put up 27 points and Yoeli Childs had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars on Saturday against Mississippi Valley State. Now, will they be able to produce against Princeton? On the road? In a WCC-like gym? Harvard and a healthy Yale are projected to be the league favorites in the Ivy. But don't discount Princeton. The Tigers won 19 straight games last season. They were 14-0 in the Ivy and won the inaugural Ivy League tournament, pushing Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament. But the Tigers are in position to retool. Jerome Desrosiers, Sebastian Much and Ryan Schwieger -- freshmen -- will be major factors for the Tigers. Combine them with Amir Bell, Devin Cannady and Myles Stephens and the Tigers have the pieces to be serious pests to the supposed-favorites.
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8. Butler will need to be on to knock off Maryland on the road in the Gavitt Tipoff Games. The Bulldogs, under new coach but familiar Butler name LaVall Jordan, have a stud in Kelan Martin. He scored 20 and had 14 boards in a 10-point win over -- Princeton (see above). Martin lit up Kennesaw State for 20 in the season opener. Butler usually defends at a high clip. The Tigers were able to put up 75 on Butler. Maryland has the potential to light it up. The Terps are in that mix of Big Ten teams with Wisconsin, Iowa and Penn State, who could definitely push the projected top four of Michigan State, Purdue, Minnesota and Northwestern. Anthony Cowan and Kevin Huerter will be names to remember throughout the season. Once again, kudos to the Big East and Big Ten for creating big-time matchups in mid-November. Oh wait, there is one more tonight......
9. Creighton at Northwestern could be pretty, pretty, pretty good. The Bluejays can score at a high, high clip this season. Senior guard Marcus Foster is one of the main reasons why. He's only averaging 23 points in two games, granted one of them was against a depleted Yale team. Still, the Bluejays were relentless in both wins. Khyri Thomas and Mitchell Ballock will be solid contributors throughout the season. Creighton should feel familiar in Rosemont, Ill., since the Wildcats are playing in DePaul's former home while Welsh-Ryan is being redone. The Wildcats are done basking in the glow of the first-ever NCAA tournament berth. This season is anew and the Wildcats are ready to keep rolling. Not too many teams have four consistent starters like Northwestern does with Scottie Lindsey, Bryant McIntosh, Dererk Pardon and Vic Law. Just a hunch, but this game will go down to the last few possessions and have a round of 32 feel.
10. Central Arkansas at UCLA makes the list? Seriously. Well, why not, considering the Bruins are playing their first game since beating Georgia Tech in Shanghai, China last Friday night. The Bruins will have a news conference earlier in the day with the three players -- LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill -- who were being investigated for a theft and held for days in a Chinese hotel. They are expected to make statements and not take questions. How UCLA handles them today, tonight and going forward is still unknown. The Bruins clearly should coast to a win, but it will still be interesting to see how the Bruins handle the jet lag. Will Aaron Holiday and Thomas Welsh continue to ascend as leaders? Plenty of Bruins' questions remain.