UCLA grabbed more media attention Saturday, but in a good way.
In the days after an unflattering Sports Illustrated article was published, the Bruins posted their biggest win of the Pac-12 schedule and then denied Washington a chance at an outright league title. Not bad for a team “under fire.”
Click here for more on the UCLA report
The 75-69 win over the Huskies didn’t feature much defense – open looks were common, even if the teams only combined to shoot 45 percent from the field – until the second half when UCLA held UW to just 22 points. Even then, it was as much about Washington (21-9, 14-4 in Pac-12) missing shots. It had no fewer than four chances to tie the game in the final 30 seconds, but either missed or botched plays.
That opens the door for Cal (23-7, 13-4) to earn a share of the regular-season crown and the top seed in next week’s conference tournament with a win Sunday vs. Stanford.
Then there’s the Bruins.
The thought of UCLA (18-13, 11-7) winning four games and claiming the automatic bid used to be outrageous. But they’ll play in L.A. at the Staples Center, which isn’t their home court, but given that The Sports Arena – not Pauley Pavilion – served as their “home court” this season, it’s close enough.
Say the Bruins are the 6 seed. That puts them in line to face USC, Arizona and likely Washington to reach the title game. That’s improbable, but could happen.
That happens, the SI report will be a distant memory.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
Taylor University celebrated the 20th anniversary of its Silent Night Game on Friday night.
The Division III school in Upland, Indiana has one of the best traditions in college sports as Taylor has its fanbase stay completely silent until the team scores its 10th point of the game. Upon scoring the team’s 10th point, the Taylor students go ballistic as they storm the court and temporarily stop the game. Dressing up in all sorts of group costumes, the Taylor students bring out some of the best ideas you’ll see from any college fanbase in the country.
As for the game, Taylor jumped out to a 37-9 lead on Lincoln Christian University and never looked back as they won 99-68. The win moves Taylor’s record to 20-0 all-time in Silent Night games.
Jake Heggeland was the game’s high scorer with 18 points for Taylor while Evan Crowe broke the Taylor silence for the second consecutive year.
Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. was charged today with one count of battery.
According to a press release sent out by the Douglas County district attorney’s office, police received a call around 1 a.m. from a woman who said that “her boyfriend had struck her and pushed her down stairs during an argument.”
The DA also included a note in the statement that, essentially, said the only reason Bragg wasn’t charged with domestic violence – he was initially arrested on suspicion of domestic battery – was due to a technicality. Since the couple is only dating and not married, under Kansas law, the assault does not constitute domestic violence.
Battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.
Bragg, who was still in custody until an appearance in court on Friday afternoon, was held on bond of $500. Bragg plead not guilty.
“We are still trying to gather information,” head coach Bill Self told The Star. “But it is a charge which we take very seriously.”
Bragg is a 6-foot-8 sophomore that lost his spot in the starting lineup earlier this year. He is averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 boards in 16 minutes. No. 3 Kansas hosts Nebraska on Saturday.
Yankuba Sima will transfer out of the St. John’s program, the school announced on Friday.
“I want to thank the coaching staff and the administration for all of their support since I arrived at St. John’s,” said Sima. “I enjoyed my experience at St. John’s, but right now I feel it is best for me to explore options that will be a better fit for me as I work toward my goals.”
“We wish Yankuba the best of luck,” said head coach Chris Mullin. “I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him, but we respect and understand it. He’s a good basketball player and a good person with a bright future ahead.”
Sima started 26 of the 34 games he played with the Johnnies, including eight starts this season. He was averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 boards this year.
South Carolina head coach Frank Martin commented on Sindarius Thornwell’s suspension during his call-in show on Thursday.
Thornwell, who was the leading scorer for the 8-0 No. 19 Gamecocks, was suspended indefinitely last Sunday. Martin has yet to provide a reason for the suspension.
“He’s been with us at practice, he’ll travel with us, he’s excited about our team, his role on the team,” he said, according to South Carolina’s 247 site. “Sindarius is one of my favorite guys I’ve ever come across. He messed up and it is what it is. He’s like a son to me. He messed up and he’s owned up to his mess up.”
“Outside of that, I’m not going to get into anything else. He has my full support. Our job is to prepare our team to play, we don’t prepare individual players to play. It’s no different to someone rolling an ankle. We’re down because of a bad decision. We’ll be fine.”
Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.0 boards and 4.1 assists. The Gamecocks play Seton Hall in New York City on Monday night.
Sophomore guard B.J. Taylor is out indefinitely after suffering a hand injury, UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins confirmed at a press conference earlier today.
According to a report from 247 Sports’ UCF site, the injury is a broken thumb, which was suffered in Saturday’s win over UMass.
Taylor is not expected to miss the rest of the season but will be out for an extended amount of time. He missed all of 2015-16 season dealing with a foot injury.
On the season, Taylor, a 6-foot-2 point guard, was having an all-AAC caliber season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 boards.