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Great early slate doesn’t disappoint

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No. 23 Louisville 79, No. 5 UConn 78, 2OT: Two weeks ago, Peyton Siva was being booed at home by Louisville fans. I think he’ll get a much nicer welcome when he gets back to Louisville today. Siva had 19 points, seven assists, four boards, three steals, and two blocks while helping to hold Kemba Walker to 20 points on 7-23 shooting as the Cardinals went into Gampel Pavilion and knocked off the Huskies in double overtime. As good as he was all game, Siva was at his best down the stretch. He made Shabazz Napier look silly, driving through the UConn defense for a dunk at the end of the first overtime to tie the game. Then in the second overtime, Siva had two big drives in the second overtime to help Louisville hold on to their lead.

UConn had their chances. Kemba missed a fall away over two defenders at the end of regulation, gave up the ball at the end of the first overtime to Jeremy Lamb who missed three at the buzzer of the first overtime, and had a 30 foot three go in and out at the end of the game. Louisville really focused their defense on Kemba the entire game, but particularly in the clutch. As good as Lamb (21 points, but none in the second half) and Napier (23 points) were, UConn is going to need them to become more confident in late game situations.

While this really is a great win for Louisville, who spent much of the second half down, it is far for a disastrous loss for UConn. More than anything, its just another example of how balanced the top six teams in the Big East are.

No. 21 Georgetown 69, No. 8 Villanova 66: Maybe Villanova’s win at Syracuse last Saturday was more a sign of the the Orange’s struggles than the Wildcat’s greatness. Georgetown went into the Wells-Fargo Center this afternoon and jumped out to a lead on Nova that eventually reached double digits. The Wildcats made a run down the stretch, getting to within a point, but Antonio Pena missed an NBA three that would have tied the game on the final possession.

Austin Freeman was terrific for the Hoyas. He had 30 points and hit a number of big shots down the stretch. Also of note was the performance of Henry Sims and Nate Lubick, who combined for 13 points, six boards, and three blocks, although they were bigger factor than their numbers indicate. Most important? Georgetown was able to go to Philly and win despite getting nothing — as in zero points — from Chris Wright.

For the Wildcats, the issue was shooting more than anything. It took them too long to finally start hitting their open shots.

Xavier 85, Richmond 62: Any list of the best coaching performances in America would be incomplete if it doesn’t include Chris Mack. With all of the injury and eligibility issues that the Musketeers have had this season, they went into the Robins Center and smacked the Spiders by 23 points. The win moved the Muskies to 7-0 in league play, thanks in large part to 33 points, seven boards, and five assists from Tu Holloway, who easily won the battle of the point guards. Kevin Anderson finished with just 10 points on 4-16 shooting.

As expected, Justin Harper was fantastic. He had 20 points, five boards, two steals, and two blocks. But his lack of strength inside was evident as Kenny Frease went for 19 points and Jamel McLean had seven points and 12 boards.

Clemson 62, No. 22 Florida State 44: Florida State is the most confusing team in the country. Most had chalked up their loss to Auburn as a bit of a fluke after they beat Duke. The Seminoles were making a solid case to be the second best team in the ACC … until today. The Seminoles were embarrassed by the Tigers, shooting just 32% from the field and finishing the game with 21 turnovers and just 16 field goals. No one on Florida State scored more than eight points. This team is way too inconsistent offensively.

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

Seton Hall’s Derrick Gordon won’t pursue pro basketball to become a firefighter

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 12:  Derrick Gordon #32 of the Seton Hall Pirates celebrates after hitting a basket against the Villanova Wildcats during the Big East Basketball Tournament Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2016 in New York City. Seton Hall Pirates defeated Villanova Wildcats 69-67.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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After a successful career that included stops at Western Kentucky, UMass and Seton Hall, Derrick Gordon, Division I college basketball’s first openly gay player, will not pursue professional opportunities and will instead become a firefighter.

The 6-foot-3 Gordon averaged 8.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game as a senior for the Pirates, helping the team reach the NCAA tournament during his graduate transfer year. By making the NCAA tournament with Seton Hall this past season, Gordon became the first college basketball player to reach the event with three different teams.

A tenacious perimeter defender who could have earned a pro contract if he stuck with basketball, Gordon will instead pursue a career as a firefighter in San Francisco.

“I’ve had an amazing basketball career and want to thank everybody who has always been there supporting me every step on the way,” Gordon said via his Instagram. “But I’m making a change in my career…I will now be working towards becoming a San Francisco Firefighter!! I’m excited about this and looking forward to having a long career!!”

While Gordon likely would have never made the NBA on talent alone, his defensive prowess would have likely given him a shot overseas or in the D League. It’s hard to say why Gordon is making this decision, but given what we saw with all of the attention surrounding Michael Sam when he tried to play in the NFL, Gordon was probably going to face a lot of scrutiny wherever he decided to play.

Hopefully Gordon finds his calling as a firefighter and brings the same energy and leadership that he brought on the floor to helping other people outside of basketball.

Washington guard Markelle Fultz pulls off sick spin and dunk at FIBA U18 Americas

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Kelly Kline/Under Armour
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Washington incoming freshman guard Markelle Fultz is going to be one of the premier players in the country next season as his unique game is going to be fascinating to watch.

The 6-foot-5 Fultz is currently playing with the USA U18 team in Chile for the FIBA U18 Americas as he’s second on the team in scoring and first in assists as the Americans play Canada for the title on Saturday.

Against the host country, Fultz had an electric spin move in the paint and finished with an easy dunk. If you’re not willing to stay up late to watch this dude play this year, then set your DVRs, because Fultz is going to have some fun moments during the season.

(H/t: Jonathan Wasserman, Bleacher Report)

POSTERIZED: Class of 2016 forward Chris Seeley has a massive dunk on defender

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The Las Vegas AAU events are all going on this week and it’s the final event for rising seniors.

At the Las Vegas Fab 48, forward Chris Seeley of the Splash City 17U team put down one of the best poster dunks of the summer as he skied over a defender for an emphatic finish.

The Class of 2016 forward attends Central High School in Fresno, California as he’s receiving plenty of buzz for his recent play.

 

 

 

Five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt cuts list to nine

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LAS VEGAS, NV — Five-star Class of 2017 forward Jarred Vanderbilt has been one of the most sought-after recruits in the country since he was a freshman in high school.

The 6-foot-8 native of Houston is beginning to wind things down in the recruiting process as he cut his list to nine schools on Friday. Vanderbilt’s list includes some of the most storied programs in college basketball and plenty of schools from his home state of Texas.

“I just followed my heart. Went with the schools I liked the most and who I have the best relationships with. Thear were the schools I could see myself playing for,” Vanderbilt told NBCSports.com.

Regarded as the No. 13 overall prospect in the Rivals.com national rankings, Vanderbilt is currently recovering from a broken fifth metatarsal in his left foot.

Vanderbilt will see a doctor in three-to-four weeks as he’s currently in a boot to help his foot heal.

Report: Michigan State and Penn State will play at the Palestra

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MARCH 10: Head coach Patrick Chambers of the Penn State Nittany Lions looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the second round of the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 10, 2016 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo has previously expressed a desire to coach a game at the legendary Palestra in Philadelphia and it appears he’ll get his chance in a Big Ten game this season.

According to a report from Brendan F. Quinn of MLive, Penn State will use the Palestra as its home gym for the Jan. 7, 2017 Big Ten game against Michigan State. It is the only time the two teams are scheduled to play during Big Ten season and Penn’s home gym will offer a unique setting for the game.

Since the capacity of the Palestra is 8,722, it should make for a fun atmosphere for both programs since this will be a game both fan bases will likely want to attend.

With Nittany Lions head coach Pat Chambers making Philadelphia a major recruiting priority for his program, a game like this in Philadelphia makes sense while Michigan State has always been open to playing games in unique settings such as aircraft carriers.

The Palestra has been a college basketball mainstay since it was built in 1927 as it hosts all Penn home games and, in the past, hosted a lot of Big 5 Philadelphia college games between La Salle, Penn, Saint Joseph’s, Temple and Villanova.

Overall, a fun idea that should make for an interesting experience for both programs. It’s not often that a team will change its home venue for a conference game, but it could be the start of something we see other schools look to do.