Saul Smith

Minnesota’s Saul Smith will return to the team in November

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Saul Smith, son of head coach Tubby Smith, will not be fired as an assistant coach following a drunken-driving arrest earlier this week and will return to the Golden Gopher sideline Nov. 13.

Smith spent the last five days on unpaid leave. Since then, he has been put back on the payroll by the university according to Athletic Director Norwood Teague, but will remain on administrative leave until mid-November, which means the Minnesota assistant coach will miss two exhibition and two regular season games, before rejoining the team.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Teague didn’t consider firing Smith and felt the punishment was suitable for a first time offender.

“Certainly we don’t always want to copy what other people do, but rarely have I seen a coach fired for something like this,” Teague said.

“We don’t take this lightly,” Teague later stated.

Smith was pulled over on a highway after leaving downtown when a state trooper saw his vehicle driving on the shoulder between 70 mph and 80 mph in a 55 mph zone. Smith’s breath test registered a 0.18 blood-alcohol concentration, more than twice the state limit of 0.08.

Teague said Smith’s behavior was embarrassing and intolerable for the university and that a repeat could result in termination of his employment. Smith also agreed to participate in alcohol counseling and education and to apologize to the team and share with the players what he’s learned.

This has been a difficult few months with the Golden Gophers program. In early September, Trevor Mbakwe pleaded guilty to a summer DWI.

The sixth-year senior’s recent trouble with the law was still not enough for Minnesota to dismiss him from the program.

Minnesota has been criticized for the way they have handled the cases with Smith and Mbakwe, but Teague – quoted in a piece by Ameila Rayno of the Star Tribune – feels the university has handled each one correctly:

“If we do our due diligent and make good decisions … I have a peace about what we’re doing, even if it gets criticized. Because there are so many layers and paths that you have to take when you think about something like this.

“We looked around the country at what others have done and their practices, and we are at least in line with them or have done even more … so I feel good about how firm we’re being … I’m sure it will get criticized, but we’ve done the right thing.”

Smith’s court date has been moved up from Dec. 3 to Nov.9. He will join the game for the game against Tennessee State on Nov. 15

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

Auburn suspends leading scorer Canty indefinitely

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Prior to Auburn’s game at Georgia Saturday evening, head coach Bruce Pearl announced that leading scorer and starting point guard Kareem Canty has been suspended indefinitely.

Canty’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game and his abilities as a scorer and distributor have been key for the Tigers offensively. When Canty returns to the court remains to be seen, with Pearl noting that Canty may be able to return before the end of the season.

“Kareem has had some strong moments for our team this season,” Pearl said. “He has demonstrated that at the highest level of competition, he can win his matchup.

“However, his effort and attitude have been extremely inconsistent, which led to actions and behavior that are unacceptable. He will step away from the team for a while and may return later in the season. He is suspended indefinitely.”

According to the release Cinmeon Bowers will move into the starting lineup for Auburn, which is now 9-13 overall and 3-7 in SEC play. Auburn’s lost five straight and eight of their last ten games after losing by ten at Georgia Saturday night.

Without him more minutes are available to freshman New Williams, who played 22 minutes against Georgia. Bryce Brown started and played 18 minutes, with Devin Waddell playing 12 minutes off the bench.

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis go crazy, No. 20 Kentucky beats Florida by 19

Kentucky's Jamal Murray (23) shoots near Missouri's Ryan Rosburg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Jamal Murray scored a career-high 35 points and became the first Kentucky player to hit eight threes in a game since 2010.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points and 11 assists.

As a result, No. 20 Kentucky bounced back Tuesday’s loss to Tennessee — when the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead — as they blew out a good Florida team, 80-61. The final score doesn’t really do the beat down justice, either. Kentucky was up 24-5 seven minutes into the game. The Gators, who look like they may end up being seeded as high as the No. 6 line on Selection Sunday, never had a chance.

If Kentucky was trying to prove a point, they did. I’m not sure if Murray and Ulis make up the nation’s best back court in college basketball, but on Saturday, they looked like the best back court in the entire world. They were awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that they were responsible for 64 of Kentucky’s 80 points tonight.

And that’s where this win can be a bit concerning.

Look, the issue with Kentucky is that they don’t get near enough production out of their front court, and if the knee injury that kept Alex Poythress out of the lineup on Saturday ends up being at all serious, than UK’s most productive big will be out of commission. On Saturday, Kentucky’s front court — minus Derek Willis, who is more of a wing that’s been slotted at the four — finished with a grand total of 10 points, 15 boards and 12 fouls.

That issue isn’t going away just because Ulis and Murray played an unbelievable game against one of the nation’s top five defenses, according to KenPom.com. You don’t buy a house with termites just because you love the way that it’s furnished.

But what this performance shows you is what Kentucky’s ceiling is, what they are capable of on the night’s when their two stars play like stars.

If they get hot at the right time, they can beat anyone in March. Hell, this could be enough to carry them to the Elite 8, maybe further.

When those two can play that well in a season where there is no dominant team, you can’t really count anything out.

But it also means that Kentucky is capable of losing to anyone on any given night, and all it takes is one cold shooting night for Kentucky’s run in March to come to an early end.