Being ranked doesn’t guarantee a win

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If you love upsets, you loved Saturday.

No. 5 UConn lost to No. 19 Louisville at home. No. 7 Villanova fell to No. 20 Georgetown in Philly. No. 23 Florida lost their second SEC game on the season to Mississippi State. And, of course, the No. 9 BYU Fighting Fredettes lost to New Mexico at the Pit.

Busy day, right?

Well, that is far from it.

Penn State 56, No. 15 Wisconsin 52: The Bryce Jordan Center might be the toughest place to play in the Big Ten this season. Don’t believe me? Ask Michigan State, Illinois, and now Wisconsin. All three have lost to the Nittany Lions there. Today, Talor Battle scored 20 of his 22 points in the second half as the Nits overcame an 29-20 halftime deficit. Jeff Brooks added 12 points and Andrew Jones had 14 rebounds.

But Battle was the star. He was the guy that made all the big plays for Penn State. He capped off a 12-2 run midway through the second half that made the score 38-35, Penn State’s first lead of the game. He hit another three with five minutes left that put Penn State up for good 43-42. He also hit 5-6 from the line down the stretch to ice the game.

Marquette 76, No. 10 Syracuse 70: This may not have actually been an upset, but based on the rankings of both teams, we’ll go with it. If you remember, last season Marquette knocked off UConn on January 29th on a Jimmy Butler bucket on the road that turned around their season. Up until that point in the year, they had lost seemingly every close game they had played. From then on, the Golden Eagles won their close games and proceeded to earn a six seed in the NCAA Tournament.

This season, Marquette again hasn’t able to close out their close games. They have eight losses on the year, but none have been by more than eight points. Things went differently this afternoon, as Jimmy Butler and Darius Johnson-Odom both hit big threes in the last two minutes that sealed the win. While this could be a turning point for Marquette, it is the fourth straight loss for Syracuse, who have apparently forgotten how to defend in their 2-3 zone. Could Syracuse be headed for a Texas-like collapse? (We’ll get to that later this weekend.)

Nebraska 57, No. 11 Texas A&M 48: Nebraska came into this game 13-0 at home, and thanks to a late 10-1 run, the Cornhuskers remained undefeated at home. Jorge Brian Diaz, who hopped on a plane back to his native Puerto Rico to attend a funeral after the game, had 16 points to lead the way while Lance Jeter and Brandon Richardson both added 10 points. But it was a three point play from Eshaunte Jones with a minute left in the game, making the score 49-43, that sealed it for Nebraska.

Arkansas 89, No. 22 Vanderbilt 78: Rotnei Clarke caught fire, going for 36 points on 12-16 shooting, and Michael Sanchez added 20 points on the bench as the Razorbacks jumped out to an early lead and knocked off Vanderbilt in Nashville. The Commodores didn’t play poorly on the offensive end of the floor, but they simply could not string together the stops they needed to come back.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Iowa State lands three-star SG Jakolby Long

Steve Prohm
Associated Press
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Iowa State received its fourth verbal commitment in the Class of 2016 Friday morning, as 6-foot-4 shooting guard Jakolby Long made his pledge to Steve Prohm’s program. A native of Mustang, Oklahoma, Long attends Mustang HS and played for the Athletes First grassroots program this summer.

In Nike EYBL play for Athletes First, Long averaged 16.2 points and 5.0 rebounds per game.

According to Cyclone Fanatic, Long was also considering Georgia, Texas and Utah before deciding that he’ll play his college basketball at Iowa State. Long will join junior Matt Thomas, sophomore Hallice Cooke and transfer Nick Babb in the competition for minutes off the ball when he arrives on campus next year. According to Travis Hines of the Ames Tribune, Long could be a in a position where he sees solid playing time immediately.

Long joins junior college products Donovan Jackson and Emmanuel Malou, and 2016 forward Solomon Young in Iowa State’s 2016 class to date. And the Cyclones, who won’t use all 13 scholarships this season, still have room for a couple more additions for next season.

Iowa State has four seniors (Naz Long, Abdel Nader, Georges Niang and Jameel McKay), and junior point guard Monte’ Morris is considered by some to be a candidate to enter the 2016 NBA Draft.

UofL foundation hires firm to review escort allegations

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An independent Louisville affiliate has hired a law firm to review an escort’s allegations that former men’s basketball staffer Andre McGee hired dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

The University of Louisville Foundation announced the hiring Thursday of the Stites & Harbison law firm. The foundation does fundraising for the university.

Louisville President James Ramsey also said Thursday he “fully” supports athletic director Tom Jurich “as we work to identify the facts in this situation.” Ramsey reiterated the school has hired former NCAA enforcement official Chuck Smrt to lead the athletic department’s investigation.

Men’s basketball spokesman Kenny Klein had no comment on a CBS Sports report that former Cardinals recruit JaQuan Lyle, now an Ohio State freshman, confirmed the “gist of allegations” detailed in Katina Powell’s book during a meeting Tuesday with the NCAA.

Lyle originally signed with Louisville before de-committing and eventually landing with the Buckeyes. OSU spokesman Dan Wallenberg confirmed the NCAA meeting via email on Wednesday but said there were no issues with Ohio State. He did not mention Louisville.

Powell’s book, “Breaking Cardinal Rules: Basketball and the Escort Queen” was released online last weekend by a publishing affiliate of the Indianapolis Business Journal. A hardcover version of the 104-page book is scheduled for release on Monday.

The book states that McGee hired Powell and other dancers, including three of her daughters, for 22 shows allegedly performed from 2010 to 2014 at the players’ Billy Minardi Hall dormitory.

McGee left Louisville in 2014 for Missouri-Kansas City, which placed him on paid leave Friday. A message left Thursday with his Louisville attorney, Scott C. Cox, was not immediately returned. A spokeswoman for IBJ’s publishing arm could not be reached either.

Louisville coach Rick Pitino has said McGee denied Powell’s allegations. In a radio interview Tuesday he denied knowledge of what took place and said last week that others he talked to didn’t know about the activities described in the book.

“I’m going through 15 people who worked here, and not one person even had a premonition of something wrong,” Pitino said Friday. “Not one person living in the dorm had even the slightest premonition. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

The Hall of Fame coach wasn’t mentioned in Ramsey’s statement in which the chancellor praised Jurich’s athletic program as “exemplary” at the school.

“It is important that the university – all of us – stay focused on our day-to-day work of providing our outstanding students with a world-class education,” Ramsey said. “The investigation of the allegations may take time and we must, as one university, continue doing the work we do to move our university and our community forward.”