Gates doesn’t start, but gets rousing ovation in return

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The last three weeks weren’t easy for Yancy Gates.

Cincinnati’s senior center was the center of an ugly brawl with Xavier on Dec. 10, and with good reason. He lost his cool, slugged Kenny Frease and has spent most of his time since then apologizing and playing it cool while the Bearcats won six straight.

Gates’ suspension ended Wednesday, though he didn’t step back into the starting lineup against Notre Dame. But when he did enter the game, the season-high crowd of 10,142 made it worth his while with a standing ovation.

He scored all six of his points in 12 first-half minutes, and ended up playing 21 in all. He also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds and blocked six shots in Cincinnati’s 71-55 win, its seventh straight win. Perhaps this new role will work out.

“I like the offense the way it’s spread out,” Gates told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “The guards are attacking and the defense has to watch everybody. It’s way better. There were a couple of times when I was out of position, but it wasn’t as bad as I expected.”

At worst, it gives Bearcats coach Mick Cronin some lineup flexibility.

His four starting guards – Sean Kilpatrick, Dion Dixon, Cashmere Wright and Jaquon Parker – combined for 47 points, 12 assists, nine steals and just four turnovers Wednesday. (Cheikh Mbodj and Octavius Ellis also returned from suspensions, but Ellis didn’t play.)

Notre Dame was an ideal opponent for using four guards (the Irish do the same. It’ll be more of the same against St. John’s on Saturday. By the time Georgetown (and it’s slightly bigger lineup) rolls around on Jan. 9 the Bearcats will probably have it all worked out.

Who knew there was an upside to brawls?

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VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.