Ignore talk of the Kentucky-West Virginia ‘rematch’

Leave a comment

The Kentucky-West Virginia game Saturday is a rematch of last year’s East Regional final in name only.

The rosters don’t have any of the essential players from the Mountaineers’ 73-66 win.John Wall, gone. De’Sean Butler, gone. DeMarcus Cousins, Devin Ebanks, Patrick Patterson, Wellington Smith, Eric Bledsoe, all gone.

“It’s like they have a completely different team. I’m not sure they have that inside presence that they had from Cousins, even though Josh Harrellson does a pretty good job,” said West Virginia point guard Joe Mazzulla, one of the few holdovers.

“On our end, we’re a much different team. We kind of spread the load out as far as what we’re going to do offensively, and we really have to rely on defense and rebounding. So, I don’t really think it’s too much of a rematch.”

Different styles of play couldn’t be more true. When the Wildcats missed 24 of 28 shots from beyond the arc, it ended their season. This year, their 3-point shooting is one of their biggest strengths. That’s what 5-seed West Virginia (21-11) will focus on.

“A lot of their shots were contested, under duress from the 1-3-1. We got them off of the 3-point line and probably a few steps back,” Mazzulla said.

“That’s just what we’ve got to do (Saturday). We can’t let them get standstill shots and we can’t let them set their feet. If we can make them rush their 3-pointers, and if we can get a hand in their face, then hopefully it’ll be the same result.”

And Kentucky? The 4-seed Wildcats (26-8) will be focused on more consistent play so they can avoid another close game like Thursday’s 59-57 win over Princeton.

Also, they’re pumped for coach John Calipari, who’s just 1-8 vs. West Virginia’s Bob Huggins. “We’ll try to help Cal’s record,” freshman Doron Lamb told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Tip-off is 12:15 p.m. ET.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Wichita State’s Anton Grady improving after being hospitalized

James Woodard, Anton Grady, Ron Baker
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Wichita State senior forward Anton Grady received some positive news on Saturday as a neurosurgeon reviewed MRI results, which are negative for spinal cord trauma.

According to a release from Wichita State, doctors believed Grady suffered a spinal cord concussion during a collision on Friday after he was taken off the floor in a stretcher and taken to a hospital in an ambulance. CT and MRI scans on Friday both turned up negative, but the news of Saturday’s results are an even more encouraging sign for Grady.

The injury for Grady occurred during a Friday loss to Alabama during the AdvoCare Invitational as the senior’s condition has improved since the collision. Grady will receive physical therapy over the next few days and doctors will check his progress before he is released from the hospital.

Grady has been alert and responsive to questions and had feeling in his extremities on Friday, but the use of his arms and legs was limited. By Saturday morning, Grady had improved the use of his extremities.

The 6-foot-8 Grady has averaged 9 points and 6 rebounds per game this season in his first season with the Shockers. The Cleveland State transfer is shooting 39 percent from the field.

Colorado’s Tory Miller reprimanded by Pac-12 after biting opponent

Dusan Ristic, Tory Miller
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.

During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.

In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.

“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”

Miller also released his apology in the same release.

“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.

For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?