Controversy? No. 1 Syracuse avoids infamy vs. 16-seed UNC-Asheville


Syracuse survives.

The No. 1 seed Orange, playing without Big East Defensive Player of the Year Fab Melo, got 15 points and eight boards from James Southerland off the bench as they hung on to beat a feisty UNC-Asheville team, 72-65.

Never before, in the history on the NCAA tournament on the men’s side has a No. 16 seed beaten a No. 1 seed (it happened once in the women’s tournament), and for a while it looked like the Bulldogs could end up being the first. They took a four point lead into the halftime break, but after a trio of clutch jumpers from Southerland in the second half, UNCA found themselves down 62-54 with just 2:24 left in the game.

How game compares to other 16-1 close calls

This is where the conspiracy theorists are going to make an appearance.

After a pair of buckets from the Bulldogs, cut the lead to four, Scoop Jardine made his way to the free throw line for a one-and-one. He missed the first, but JP Primm was called for a lane violation. It was a weird call, not one that you often see, but it was also the correct call. Jardine proceeded to knock down both free throws and push the lead to six.

The resilient Bulldogs weren’t done yet, however. On the ensuing possession, Jaron Lane buried a three to cut the lead to three with just over a minute left. On the inbounds, Brandon Triche had the ball clearly bounce off his hands, but the referees awarded the ball to the Orange. The presumption? They didn’t want to call a foul on UNCA (which would have been just as bad of a call) and instead gave possession to Syracuse.

UNC-Asheville player says: ‘Refs need it call, that’s it.’

(For what it’s worth, NCAA coordinator of officials said he would have given the ball to UNC-Asheville on the play in question.)

The Orange would go on to hit their next six free throws and the Bulldogs never would get another possession with the ball and a chance to tie the game.

It is a devastating way for the Bulldogs to lose, particularly for Matt Dickey. One half of UNCA’s talented senior back court — the other being JP Primm — Dickey went just 1-13 in the game. He came in as the Bulldog’s leading scorer. That hurts.

As far as I’m concerned, this performance from Syracuse had nothing to do with Fab Melo’s absence from the lineup and everything to do the presence of his distraction. Defense wasn’t the issue. Effort and focus was. And if that doesn’t change, the Orange are going to lose to Kansas State on Saturday.

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

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.