No. 1 Villanova loses Phil Booth indefinitely with hand injury

An examination Wednesday revealed that redshirt junior guard Phil Booth suffered a fractured bone in his right (shooting) hand during the second half of top-ranked Villanova’s 89-69 win over Providence on Tuesday night.

According to a news release from Villanova, the injury will sideline Booth – who missed all but three games of the 2016-17 season due to a knee injury – indefinitely.

Booth ranks second in the Big East to teammate Jalen Brunson in assist-to-turnover ratio (64 assists, 26 turnovers, 2.5 ratio) and averages 11.6 points per game.

He has started all 20 games for the Wildcats, averaging 28.3 minutes per outing. He is 40-of-93 from beyond the 3-point arc (.430).

The Wildcats travel to Milwaukee to meet Marquette Sunday at 1 p.m.

Booth emerged in the national spotlight two years ago in Houston when he scored 20 points in 25 minutes off the bench in Villanova’s 77-74, NCAA championship-clinching victory over North Carolina.

Clutch shooting lifts OU past Kansas, 85-80

Christian James and Brady Manek knocked down clutch three pointers in the final 69 seconds Tuesday night as 12th-ranked Oklahoma rallied for an 85-80 victory in Big 12 men’s basketball over No. 5 Kansas.

National player of the year candidate Trae Young, a freshman, assisted on both baskets.

Playing at home before an energized crowd, Oklahoma (15-4, 5-3) led for much of the first half and held a two-point edge at halftime.

But first-place Kansas (16-4, 6-2) started to click after intermission, surging into a 10-point advantage with nine minutes left.

When guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk buried a three pointer with 9:26 remaining, the Jayhawks had a 72-62 lead.

At the end, Kansas seemed to have control when Lagerald Vick followed a Devonte’ Graham miss.

The basket silenced the crowd and put the Jayhawks up 80-77 with 2:33 left.

From there, the Sooners went on an 8-0 run to the final buzzer.

Young hit a couple of free throws and then created plays for James and Manek.

On the first play, Young drove baseline and, from under the goal, he passed outside to James on the wing.

James, who was 0-for-6 from three-point range in his last game, swished the shot with 1:09 remaining to give the Sooners an 82-80 lead.

After Mykhailiuk missed a three on the other end for Kansas, Young got the ball in his hands again, and he punished the visitors.

Dribbling at the top of the three-point circle, Young drove to his right. With his head down, he hooked a no-look pass to Manek on the right wing.

Manek swished it with 27 seconds left for the final points.

Young, who ranks No.1 in the nation in scoring and assists, finished with 26 points and nine assists. James scored 15 points and Manek had 14.

Mykhailiuk scored 24 to lead the Jayhawks, while Malik Newman added 20.

Graham, Kansas’ leading scorer at 18 points per game, had a rough night shooting the ball, hitting only 4 of 19 from the field.

He finished with 11 points and nine assists.

Around the Big 12

Down by 15 points in the second half, 14th-ranked Texas Tech came from behind to stun Oklahoma State, 75-70, in Lubbock…

The conference race has tightened considerably, with Kansas (6-2) leading by a game over Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas State (all 5-3). Texas (4-4) is two games back …

Kansas leads Big 12 basketball race by two games

The first-place Kansas Jayhawks might be hard to catch in the Big 12 basketball race if they can win at Oklahoma Tuesday night.

Kansas will take a two-game lead in the loss column on four different ball clubs leading into a game against OU at the Lloyd Noble Center.

West Virginia trailed Kansas by a game until Monday night, when it got beat 82-73 at TCU.

Now, Kansas (16-3, 6-1) leads by a game and a half and two in the loss column over both West Virginia (16-4, 5-3) and surging Kansas State.

Kansas State (15-5, 5-3) won on the road Monday night, knocking off Baylor, 90-83.

OU (14-4, 4-3) and Texas Tech (15-4, 4-3) both are two full games back with a little more than a third of the conference schedule in the books.

In Fort Worth, TCU started its day getting dropped from the AP Top 25 rankings.

But it finished with authority, recording a victory at home over a Top 10 team for the first time in nearly five years.

Guard Alex Robinson produced 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds to lead the Frogs, who are playing without injured standout Jaylen Fisher.

Fisher was lost for the season last week after right knee surgery.

West Virginia came into Fort Worth on a roll, having blown out Texas 86-51 at home on Saturday, only to follow it up with a 33 percent shooting performance at TCU.

Jevon Carter had 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Mountaineers.

Bamba scores 24 as Texas throttles Iowa State, 73-57

The Texas Longhorns refused to let a lost weekend in West Virginia keep them down for long.

Playing at home in Austin, UT hammered Iowa State 73-57 Monday night behind freshman center Mo Bamba’s career-high 24 points.

Two days ago, the seventh-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers crushed the Longhorns, 86-51.

After an attitude check and a road trip back home, UT (13-7, 4-4 in the Big 12) spanked Iowa State, leading for the entire 40 minutes.

Referencing the game in Morgantown, Bamba told reporters Monday night, “It was obviously a tough loss. It was a quick turnaround, and we kind of had to go into self-reflection mode and just build off of what we could have done better.”

Added Bamba, in comments posted on UT’s website, “Our motto coming into this was ‘Someone has to pay for it.’ Unfortunately for Iowa State, it was them, but the league is very competitive, and you don’t want to go on a losing streak.”

Iowa State (11-8, 2-6) fell behind by 11 at intermission, regrouped over the first seven minutes of the second half to pull within six, then faded.

Nick Weiler-Babb’s three-point shot for Iowa State made it 49-43 with 12:53 remaining.

At that point, Texas responded with a dunk from Kerwin Roach II, a three from the 6-11 Bamba and jumper by Eric Davis Jr., pushing the lead to 13.

The Cyclones never got closer than eight the rest of the way.

Texas entered Monday night’s game projected by at least one statistical analysis as a low-seed in NCAA tournament.

If the Longhorns make the NCAA field, it will be because of their defense, as they have held nine foes to fewer than 60 points.

Of course, without guard Andrew Jones, who is stricken with leukemia, the Longhorns will need higher-level performances from everyone.

Bamba seems to be playing harder and with better efficiency.

“I thought tonight was about as clean of a game as he’s played in terms of efficiency,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “For those of you guys who were giving me a hard time about his threes, he was 2-for-2. He can make the shot. It’s a weapon for us if teams are going to leave him wide open.

Next up for Texas is a non-conference home game Saturday against Ole Miss.

Next week, the Longhorns travel to play at 14th-ranked Texas Tech and return home to face No. 12 Oklahoma.

The OU game is set for 5 p.m. on Feb. 3 in Austin.

Villanova, Virginia, Purdue remain 1-2-3 in AP Top 25

Villanova, Virginia and Purdue remained 1-2-3 in the Associated Press Top 25, according to the wire service’s weekly college basketball poll released Monday.

In a resurgence for traditional programs, Duke and Kansas moved up to the 4-5 spots, respectively.

The AP is reporting that Kentucky has fallen out of the Top 25 for the first time since 2014.

Three games will be played tonight in the Big 12, including a feature match on ESPN between TCU (14-5, 2-5) and seventh-ranked West Virginia (16-3, 5-2) in Fort Worth.

The injury-scarred Frogs fell out of the Top 25 in the wake of a 1-1 week with a home victory over Iowa State and a road loss at Kansas State.

TCU has lost standout guard Jaylen Fisher to a knee injury that he suffered in practice last Tuesday.

Fisher had surgery on Thursday, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Also tonight, Texas hosts Iowa State and Baylor hosts Kansas State.

AP Top 25

1 Villanova 18-1 Big East
2 Virginia 18-1 ACC
3 Purdue 19-2 Big Ten
4 Duke 17-2 ACC
5 Kansas 16-3 Big 12
6 Michigan State 17-3 Big Ten
7 West Virginia 16-3 Big 12
8 Xavier 18-3 Big East
9 Cincinnati 17-2 American
10 North Carolina 16-4 ACC
11 Arizona 16-4 Pac 12
12 Oklahoma 14-4 Big 12
13 Ohio State 17-4 Big Ten
14 Texas Tech 15-4 Big 12
15 Gonzaga 17-4 West Coast
16 Saint Mary’s 19-2 West Coast
17 Wichita State 15-4 American
18 Clemson 16-3 ACC
19 Auburn 17-2 SEC
20 Florida 14-5 SEC
21 Arizona State 15-4 Pac 12
22 Tennessee 13-5 SEC
23 Nevada 18-3 Mountain West
24 Rhode Island 15-3 Atlantic 10
25 Michigan 17-5 Big Ten

UTSA ends skid by rallying past UTEP, 65-61

UTSA’s Jhivvan Jackson strips Omega Harris and races for a layup, giving the Roadrunners a three-point lead with 12 seconds left.

Freshman guard Keaton Wallace broke out of a scoring slump with 20 points, and the UTSA Roadrunners ended a three-game losing streak with a 65-61 victory Saturday night over the UTEP Miners.

The lead changed hands three times in the final minute of a tense contest played before a season-high crowd of 2,210 at the UTSA Convocation Center.

Forward forward Nick Allen hit a short runner in the lane with 24 seconds left as the Roadrunners took the lead for good, 62-61, with 24 seconds remaining.

On UTEP’s next possession, UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson picked up a steal and drove three quarters of the court for a layup, making it a three-point game.

In response, UTEP went to Isiah Osborne, who hit five three-pointers in the game.

But Osborne missed a three from the top of the key with four seconds left, effectively sealing UTSA’s first victory since Jan. 4.

UTSA made a free throw on the other end for the last point and then celebrated.

“It feels good,” UTSA guard Giovanni De Nicolao said. “It feels good, because we needed it. When we were minus one with two minutes (left), we were talking on the bench (saying) we got to win this.

“We can’t keep losing close games.”

UTSA junior forward Nick Allen weaves through traffic to hit a short runner as the Roadrunners take the lead, 62-61, with 24 seconds left.

With the Conference USA regular season a little more than a third of the way complete, UTSA (10-10, 3-4) tinkered with its rotation.

Coach Steve Henson elected to insert Jackson into the starting five for the first time and bring Wallace off the bench.

The Miners (7-12, 2-5) seemed to have the answers to anything Roadrunners threw at them early, jumping out to a 21-5 lead after the first eight minutes.

But when Wallace entered the game and teamed with Jackson and Deon Lyle to spread out the UTEP defense, the momentum shifted.

Wallace scored 12 in the first half as the Roadrunners rallied to make it a four-point game, with UTEP leading 42-38 at intermission.

The Miners surged again after intermission, scoring seven in a row to boost their lead to 49-40.

Not to be denied, UTSA answered by slugging it out in a slow, methodical push for a 14-4 run.

De Nicolao capped the streak with back-to-back driving layups that pushed the Roadrunners back out front, 54-53, including a nifty, go-ahead bucket when he sliced into the paint and twisted a reverse off the glass.

UTSA sophomore Giovanni De Nicolao seemingly made all the right moves down the stretch. Here, he twists a reverse layup off the glass to give UTSA a 54-53 lead.

The story of the game might have been Wallace, the talented lefty from Richardson who had shot 3 for 25 from the field over his last three games.

Extended back to his last six, he had been 16 of 60.

Wallace put all that behind him against the Miners, nailing 7 of 12 from the field and 3 of 7 from three.

UTSA freshman Keaton Wallace gets open and sinks a foul-line jumper in the first half against UTEP.

Louisiana hits 13 threes, downs Texas State, 80-55

Guard Malik Marquetti knocked down five of his team’s 13 three-point field goals Saturday afternoon, lifting the streaking Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns to an 80-55 victory over Texas State.

Playing a game for the Sun Belt Conference lead at Texas State’s Strahan Coliseum, the Cajuns (17-3, 7-0) won their seventh in a row by smothering Bobcats, who shot only 32 percent shooting from the field.

As a result, Texas State (13-8, 6-2) had its six-game winning streak snapped.

Marquetti and Justin Miller hurt Texas State badly with perimeter shooting.

A transfer from Southern Cal, Marquetti hit 5 of 6 from three-point range. Miller knocked down 4 of 7.

Miller and starting guard Frank Bartley IV scored 14 apiece for the Cajuns, from Lafayette, La.

Judson grad Shelby Adams led the Bobcats with 10 points off the bench. But the Bobcats’ leading scorers — Nijal Pearson and Tre Nottingham — were held in check with five apiece.

Pearson was limited to 2 of 13 shooting.

The Bobcats entered the match-up with high hopes, having knocked off their last six foes, including Coastal Carolina, South Alabama, Troy, Arkansas State, Arkansas-Little Rock and Louisiana-Monroe.

UTSA needs to rediscover that winning feeling

UTSA guard Austin Karrer knocks down a three from the corner last Saturday against Florida Atlantic.

Whatever happened to the free-wheeling, fun-loving, high-scoring UTSA Roadrunners?

You know, the team that started the season 8-6 and 1-0 in Conference USA?

Well, that’s a good question, considering that UTSA (9-10, 2-4) now faces a pivotal home-game test Saturday night against the UTEP Miners.

It seems weird to call any game in mid-January as pivotal or critical.

But with UTSA slumping so badly, and with state-rival UTEP (7-11, 2-4) in the house threatening to pile on the misery, it certainly has that feel.

To recap recent events, UTSA has lost three in a row and four of five.

During that skid, the Roadrunners have also lost three straight at home by a combined total of eight points.

As UTSA coach Steve Henson said following the team’s last game, a 73-69 loss to Florida Atlantic, the Roadrunners need to find some answers fast “because it doesn’t get any easier.”

On Saturday, UTEP comes in with its own track record of adversity, having undergone a mid-season coaching change and a spate of injuries.

So, for those reasons alone, the Roadrunners can’t afford another letdown at home.

Especially against the Miners, who always show up at the Convocation Center with some of their own supportive fans.

This time, though, UTSA also needs to play well because of what comes next.

Namely, four straight games against teams regarded as the most talented in the conference.

Next week, the Roadrunners hit the road to play Middle Tennessee and Alabama-Birmingham.

After that, they return home to face Marshall and Western Kentucky.

By the time that set of challenges ends on Feb. 3, only seven games remain before the C-USA tournament.

Only two teams out of 14 in the C-USA do not make the tournament, which means it’s nearly inconceivable that UTSA would be left at home when the conference congregates in Frisco from March 7-10.

But the more games a team can win between now and then, obviously, the higher seed it can expect.

And with the higher seed comes an easier path, theoretically, to the tournament title.

Making a run for the C-USA trophy and the NCAA automatic bid, presumably, remains as the long-term goal for the Roadrunners.

All the more reason for UTSA to summon some urgency, to play well for the home fans, to rediscover that winning feeling.

A pivotal game in January?

In this case, I’d say, yes.

UTSA freshman guard Jhivvan Jackson hits from long distance against FAU. Jackson scored 28 on the Owls, boosting his scoring average to 18.9.

Texas State extends winning streak to six games

Nijal Pearson scored 17 points and Tre Nottingham had 16 Thursday night as the Texas State Bobcats held off the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks, 55-52, for their sixth straight victory.

Texas State (13-7, 6-1 Sun Belt Conference) had a 14-point lead in the second half, struggled through a scoring drought and then held on at the end to secure the win.

The Bobcats host the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (16-3, 6-0) on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for the conference lead.

The Cajuns rallied for a 77-65 win in Arlington against the UT Arlington Mavericks. It was the sixth straight win for Louisiana, winners of 13 out of 14 overall.

Shake Milton boosts SMU’s NCAA tournament stock

Just when you thought the SMU Mustangs might be back-sliding out of NCAA tournament at-large consideration, guard Shake Milton has answered with a phenomenal performance.

Milton scored 33 points on the road Wednesday night as SMU stunned seventh-ranked Wichita State, 83-78.

SMU (13-6, 3-3 American Athletic Conference) had lost to Tulane, Cincinnati and Temple coming in against the powerful Shockers.

A 66-64 loss to Temple on Jan. 10 stung the most as it snapped SMU’s 33-game, home-court winning streak.

With a week off to soul search, the Mustangs responded with their best effort since they beat Arizona and Southern Cal in late-November, early-December.

Milton was on fire with 11-of-14 shooting, including five three-pointers.

A few of those threes came from very long distance as video from the AAC attests.

As a result, SMU broke Wichita State’s 27-game win streak at Koch Arena. In all, the Shockers had won 67 of 68 at home before the Mustangs arrived.

SMU coach Tim Jankovich said in the days leading into the game that his team might need a “near perfect” performance to win.

“Might have been better than perfect,’ he told reporters after the Mustangs shot 63.8 percent from the field and committed only eight turnovers in front of a hostile crowd.

Before the game, Wichita State and Cincinnati had been pegged in various bracket projections as solid NCAA picks out of the American Athletic Conference even without an automatic bid.

In addition, Houston had been showing up in bracket forecasts, as well.

But after the Cougars (14-4, 4-2) lost by nine at Tulane Wednesday night, who knows what the next round of predictions will show?

What about SMU? What about Memphis (13-6, 4-2)?

The Tigers, after all, have won four in a row. Memphis on Tuesday night continued to raise eyebrows, hammering Connecticut at home by 24 points.

Furthermore, are we overlooking coach Mike Dunleavy’s Green Wave at Tulane (12-6, 3-3), with victories over both SMU and Houston of late?

All of which means that middle-of-the-road programs from the five big-money football conferences had better keep a close eye on the American.

The AAC is stating its case about sending four teams into the NCAA field of 68, especially if both Cincinnati (16-2, 5-0) or Wichita State (15-3, 5-1) fail to secure the automatic bid.

Or, perhaps, if teams can’t figure out how to stop Shake Milton.