Barclays Center Classic - Kentucky v Maryland

Late-night snacks: a recap of Friday’s action

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The first day of the college basketball season offered up a wide array of contests, from your standard “sacrificial lambs” visiting power conference teams to made for TV showdowns in unconventional environments.

Here’s a rundown of what happened on Friday for those of you who may have missed anything. And since it isn’t mentioned below congratulations to VCU guard Briante Weber, who racked up 13 points and ten steals in 18 minutes of action in the Rams’ 80-57 win over Florida Gulf Coast.

Games of the Night

1. No. 3 Kentucky 72, Maryland 69
The Wildcats jumped out to a big lead early, only to need to hold on against a Maryland team that played a lot better after relaxing and taking better shots. Kyle Wiltjer scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds in 24 minutes of action and freshman guard Archie Goodwin added 16 points. The unsung hero: Jarrod Polson, who contributed ten points and three assists with starting point guard Ryan Harrow dealing with the flu.

2. Alabama 70, South Dakota State 67
Trevor Lacey’s three-pointer as time expired lifted the Crimson Tide past the Jackrabbits in Tuscaloosa. Nate Wolters led SDSU with 30 points and Jordan Dykstra added 16 and nine rebounds, but the other Jackrabbits combined to shoot just 8-of-23 from the field. Trevor Releford led Alabama with 18 points and Rodney Green added 17.

3. Northeastern 65, Boston University 64
Demetrius Pollard’s three-pointer, his lone field goal of the night, with just over a second remaining gave the Huskies the win over their city rival. Joel Smith led the Huskies with 20 points, while D.J. Irving finished with 18 to pace the Terriers.

Important Outcomes

1. South Alabama 76, No. 25 Florida State 71
The Seminoles shot 5-of-21 from beyond the arc and Michael Snaer made just two of his eleven shots from the field in a surprising home loss to the Jaguars. For a team some believe can contend in the ACC, this isn’t the best way to begin the season.

2. No. 16 Creighton 71, North Texas 51
The Bluejays’ ability on the offensive end of the floor can’t be questioned, but it’s what they did on the defensive end against the Mean Green that stood out. Tony Mitchell got his 18 points (8-of-15 FG) and seven rebounds, but his teammates shot 14-of-54 from the field. Doug McDermott finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but the story has to be Creighton’s work defensively.

3. Connecticut 66, No. 14 Michigan State 62
Will one game result in head coach Kevin Ollie getting a long-term deal? No, nor should it. But this is a step in the right direction for the Huskies, who came out of the gates firing then did enough down the stretch to hold off the Spartans. Shabazz Napier led the way with 25 points, and the postgame happenings displayed how much the players think of their coach. Definitely a win the program can build on.

Starred 

1. Cory Jefferson (Baylor)- 26 points and 13 rebounds in the Bears’ 99-77 win over Lehigh in Waco.

2. Dee Davis (Xavier)- 22 points and 15 assists in the Musketeers’ 117-75 thrashing of Fairleigh Dickinson.

3. C.J. McCollum (Lehigh)- Baylor may have exploited Lehigh’s lack of interior size but they weren’t as lucky with McCollum, who finished with 36 points and eight rebounds in the 99-77 loss.

Stunk

1. The idea of playing games outside at night. Both games played on aircraft carriers, Ohio State/Marquette and Georgetown/Florida, were canceled (the Hoyas and Gators played a half before stopping) due to condensation on the court. Playing outside during the summer? Cool. November? Not so much, even if last year’s game in San Diego worked out.

2. Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights out-rebounded Saint Peter’s 40-19 but still lost by the final score of 56-52. Why? They couldn’t shoot, hitting just 35.8% of their shots from the field and 2-of-13 from beyond the arc.

3. Fairleigh Dickinson’s defense. Yes the Knights were shorthanded with just seven players making the trip to Xavier, but so were the Musketeers. Xavier shot 70.5% from the field and 61.9% from deep, scoring 117 points (their highest total since dropping 118 on Loyola Marymount during the 1989-90 season).

Three Facts

1. No. 7 Kansas won it’s home opener for the 40th consecutive season on Friday night, beating Southeast Missouri State 74-55 at Allen Fieldhouse.

2. Per Creighton SID Rob Anderson the Bluejays haven’t lost a Friday home game since 1975, and they’ve won every Friday home game since December 2, 1989 by double digits.

3. Per the ESPN stats department, Duke tied a school record with its 95th consecutive non-conference home victory. The last time Duke lost a non-conference home game: February 26, 2000, as a Bootsy Thornton jumper gave St. John’s an 83-82 victory at Cameron.

Other Top 25 scores of note

1. No. 13 UCLA 86, Indiana State 59
The Bruins celebrated the reopening of Pauley Pavilion with a beating of the Sycamores. Kyle Anderson (ten points, nine rebounds and five assists) was all over the stat sheet, Jordan Adams went for 21 and eight rebounds off the bench and the Wear twins combined for 30 points and 16 rebounds.

2. No. 1 Indiana 97, Bryant 54
Hours after Tom Crean’s contract extension was made official the nation’s top-ranked team took care of business in their season opener. Cody Zeller led six Hoosiers in double figures with 18 points (and ten rebounds), and freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell finished with ten points, seven assists and five rebounds.

3. No. 8 Duke 74, Georgia State 55
NC State and Kansas won their games by larger margins, but the Blue Devils’ victory stands out because of who didn’t play. Alex Murphy, a player some expected to be a starter this season, didn’t play a single second despite being healthy. Mike Krzyzewski said following the game that “we didn’t get to where Alex would play” according to the Associated Press. What does this mean for Tuesday’s game against Kentucky? Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

Lastly, here’s Marquette freshman Steve Taylor displaying exactly why their game against Ohio State was canceled.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej. 

UConn-Syracuse rivalry game brings back memories of the best of the Big East

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Rodney Purvis #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City. Connecticut defeated Syracuse 52-50  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The cliché ‘here, it just means more’ has never rang more true than it did on Monday night in Madison Square Garden.

A bad Syracuse team and a worse UConn team got together in New York City to play an awful basketball game, one where the two teams didn’t crack 100 points combined until there were 2.2 seconds left; where UConn won 52-50 despite shooting 31.4 percent from the floor because the Orange made just 25.9 percent of their field goals; where UConn did everything they could in the final minute to give the game to the Orange, including missing five free throws.

In a game between two teams that entered with a combined 8-6 record, Syracuse and UConn fans packed the Garden and created an environment that was just as rowdy, raucous and bi-partisan as a Big East tournament quarterfinal game that goes to six overtimes.

Businessmen in $5,000 suits were court side, going just as crazy as the UConn fans that packed their student section. Day-traders showed up in Orange t-shirts over their shirt and ties.

It didn’t matter that the Orange entered the game on a two-game losing streak. It didn’t matter UConn, a young team that has already lost two starters to season-ending injury, looks like a team that will be lucky to earn an invite to the NIT.

It never matters when these two former Big East rivals get together in the Basketball Mecca.

“It may be a slap in the face,” said Larry Avitabile, a Connecticut native that now calls Manhattan home, “but I hope UConn shows up as a bad loss when they show Syracuse’s NCAA tournament résumé.”


The rivalry between UConn and Syracuse is unlike any other rivalry in college basketball because of their proximity to New York City and Madison Square Garden, where the Big East has held their conference tournament since 1983.

Both fanbases claim the Big Apple as their own. Both schools consider themselves New York City’s college basketball team. None of the schools that left the Big East and none of the programs still in the conference traveled to the Garden the way that UConn and Syracuse travel to the Garden.

And the result is what you saw on Monday night.

Half of the Garden was blue.

The other half was Orange.

It simply does not get better than that.

Every season, one of the biggest talking points this time of the year is how neutral site games sterilize what makes college basketball special: the energy that comes with playing a game in front of a home crowd. The product on the court is never going to be as good as the product on the floor of any NBA game. That’s a fact of life when the best players at this level are 19 year olds a couple of years away from being able to impact an NBA game or 22 year olds that weren’t quite good enough to be able to make the jump to the pros.

And basketball at any level is never going to be a more popular than the NFL or college football. Unless you live in places like Lexington or Lawrence, college basketball probably isn’t even as important as the MLB or the NHL.

But those big, on-campus games are unparalleled in any sport at any level in this country. The experience of watching, say, UCLA’s visit to Rupp Arena on Saturday or North Carolina’s trip to Assembly Hall last week comes through on the television broadcasts.

When UConn and Syracuse square off in the Garden, it’s like two teams are playing a home game in the building.

“It’s New York City, it’s one of the best venues to play basketball in, it’s on everybody’s bucket list,” said Syracuse guard Andrew White. “Then, given the teams that were here, and the location, you’re dipping into history. This venue and this game is one of the tops all-time.”

White is a fifth-year senior that spent the last four seasons playing for Kansas in the Big 12 and Nebraska in the Big Ten. He’s seen it all. He’s played in the most electric college gyms. He knows what constitutes a great place to play a basketball game.

“I knew what to expect,” said White, who hails from southern Virginia. “I knew what I was getting into coming into this game. It’s Syracuse and UConn at the Garden. Say no more.”

College basketball needs all the games like this that it can get. It’s why those two programs would be doing a disservice to the sport if they decide to discontinue the series after the 2017 Jimmy V Classic, when they will play in the Garden for the second straight season.

Because UConn has too much talent and Kevin Ollie recruits at too high of a level to be down for that long. The Orange are just a year removed from getting to the Final Four and have plenty of young talent of their own on the roster.

Those programs will return to their rightful spots in the top 25 sooner rather than later.

And if those two fanbases can turn one of the ugliest games of the season into what we experienced in the arena on Monday night, imagine what it will be like in that building when those two teams are actually good.

 

Eastern Kentucky basketball player charged with rape

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) Authorities say an Eastern Kentucky basketball player has been arrested on a rape charge.

Records at Kentucky’s Madison County Detention Center show 23-year-old Jaylen Babb-Harrison was arrested Sunday in Richmond and charged with first-degree rape.

A statement from Eastern Kentucky says Babb-Harrison, a redshirt senior guard, has been suspended from the team. It says the school is cooperating with police.

Local media organizations cited an arrest citation in reporting that police were called to a Richmond hospital when a female reported she was at Babb-Harrison’s home and that he had sex with her against her will.

WKYT-TV reports Babb-Harrison declined to be interviewed at a jail. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Online jail records didn’t list an attorney for the player.

Judge dismisses sex charges against ex-Michigan State star

3 Apr 2000: Mateen Cleaves #12 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates on the floor as he holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA Men''s Finals Four Game against the Florida Gators at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Spartans defeated the Gators 89-76.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) A judge has dismissed all charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a charity golf event.

Judge Cathy Dowd in Flint, Michigan, said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to send Cleaves to trial. Prosecutors can appeal.

A woman said she twice tried to get away from Cleaves but was pulled back into a motel room and sexually assaulted in September 2015. A witness confirmed that she saw the woman try to escape a room at the Knights Inn near Flint.

But a police officer said the woman never indicated that she was assaulted. Cleaves pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted. Cleaves led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship.

Coaches Poll: Villanova takes the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats yells to his team in the first half against the Saint Joseph's Hawks at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova has overtaken Kentucky as the new No. 1 in the Coaches Poll on Monday.

The defending champions also took No. 1 in the new AP poll thanks to an 8-0 start while UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena this weekend. The Bruins finished at No. 2 while Kansas and Duke are right behind them.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

  1. Villanova (28)
  2. UCLA (1)
  3. Kansas (1)
  4. Duke (2)
  5. North Carolina
  6. Baylor
  7. Kentucky
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Saint Mary’s
  12. Virginia
  13. Louisville
  14. Xavier
  15. Butler
  16. West Virginia
  17. Wisconsin
  18. South Carolina
  19. Purdue
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

AP Poll: Defending champion Villanova is the new No. 1

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Hart
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The defending national champs are back at No. 1.

Villanova is atop the latest Associated Press top 25 poll this week as the 8-0 Wildcats are off to a hot start. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA and North Carolina’s loss at Indiana there were some major shakeups in the polls this week.

  1. Villanova (57 first-place votes)
  2. UCLA (2)
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Duke
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Louisville
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Xavier
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Butler
  17. Purdue
  18. Wisconsin
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Notre Dame
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State