Josh Fortune, Chaz Williams

Late Night Snacks: UMass wins at the buzzer again

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Games of the Day

1. UMass 77, Providence 75: For the second time in three days, UMass came away with a solid win at the buzzer. On Tuesday, it was a three from Sampson Carter with one second left to beat Harvard. On Thursday, it was a last second tip-in from Terrell Vinson that locked things up for the Minutemen in the first round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. UMass head coach Derek Kellogg will take the wins, but I don’t think he would mind if UMass started collecting them in more dominating fashion. “I’m going to turn 80 before I turn 40 with these last second wins,” he told ESPN after the game.

2. Villanova 89, Purdue 81 OT: It was a back and forth affair in the semifinals of the 2KSports Classic at Madison Square Garden. Purdue put a 24-8 run on the Wildcats to erase a double digit deficit in the second half, but Villanova answered by outscoring Purdue 9-2 in the final minute of regulation to force the extra period. Purdue may have been hosed, however. A questionable Flagrant Foul called on DJ Byrd, which happened to be his fifth, game Nova two shots and the ball when they were down four with 43.8 seconds left.

3. Southern Miss 62, Georgia 60 OT: Georgia dug themselves a major hole early on, but managed to force overtime, where the Golden Eagles won the game on a breakaway layup from Dwayne Davis with 31 seconds left. It’s Georgia’s second loss this week to a team outside the BCS conferences; they lost to Youngstown State at home on Monday.

Important Outcomes

1. Illinois State 86, Drexel 84 OT: The Redbirds are looking more and more like a team that will be capable of sticking their nose in with Northern Iowa and Wichita State as a competitor to Creighton in the Missouri Valley, handing Drexel their second overtime loss in as many games. Jackie Carmichael followed up a 27 point performance in the opener with 21 on Thursday.

2. St. Mary’s 67, Utah State 58: Matthew Dellavedova and Stephen Holt combined to score 37 points as the Gaels went into the Spectrum and knocked off the Aggies. USU got just seven points from Preston Medlin on 3-11 shooting, but it was promising to see big man Jarrad Shaw go for 17 points and 15 boards.

3. No. 12 Arizona 72, UTEP 51: The Wildcats were impressive in knocking off a solid UTEP team at home. Mark Lyons went for 17, but the numbers to keep an eye on are Sean Miller’s three freshmen bigs — Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski — who combined for 24 points and 18 boards, nine of which came on the offensive end.

Starred

1. Pierre Jackson, Baylor, and Ryan Anderson, Boston College: Jackson had another terrific outing for the Bears, posting 31 points on 10-15 shooting to go along with seven assists, but the name to know coming out of this game is BC’s Ryan Anderson. He had 25 points and six boards against Baylor’s talented front line and looked like an all-ACC caliber performer. He may be able to make the Eagles relevant in the ACC this season.

2. Ben McLemore, Kansas: The final score of the Jayhawk’s 69-55 win over Chattanooga is deceiving; they were down eight at the half and needed a 27-4 run in the second half to pull away. But the important note to take out of this game is that Ben McLemore had 25 points, just a game after Bill Self essentially said that No. 7 Kansas needs him to learn how to be a star. His two dunks sparked the run. Oh, and he dislocated his finger twice in the second half.

3. Jordan Adams and Norman Powell, UCLA: A game after struggling to hold off UC-Irvine in overtime, the Bruins looked the part of being the No. 13 team in the country. They beat James Madison 100-70 and were up 63-29 at the half, so there’s plenty of love to go around, but Adams and Powell were the names to note. They combined for 52 points on 17-24 shooting and 8-11 from three. It was the third straight game that Adams went for 20, the first Bruin to do that since 2007. If Shabazz Muhammad doesn’t get cleared, than maybe UCLA will still have some scoring pop on the wing.

Struggled

1. Auburn: They lost 79-59 to Murray State, and the score doesn’t quite indicate the whipping the Tigers took. They were down 36-11 at one point.

2. Lorenzo Brown, NC State: The Wolfpack beat Penn State 72-55, but Brown was just 1-10 from the floor.

3. DePaul: Losing to Gardner-Webb at home by 12 is not something a Big East school should be doing.

Three Facts

1. Jud Dillard is good: There is a lot of star power in the OVC — Isaiah Canaan, Robert Covington, Kerron Johnson — so no one would blame you if you’ve never heard of Tennessee Tech’s Jud Dillard. You might want to remember the name, however. He had 34 points and 12 boards in a win over Coastal Carolina and is averaging 29.5 points and 10.5 boards this season.

2. Trevor Mbakwe hasn’t done much: Mbakwe has come off the bench three times this year. He’s yet to play more than 15 minutes in a game this season and has three game totals of 15 points and 12 boards. Oh, and Minnesota is 3-0 with every win coming by at least 26 points.

3a. JP Olukemi might be done for the year: After going through a long process to be given an extra semester of eligibility, Oklahoma State’s Olukemi crumpled in a heap after his knee buckled in an overtime win against Akron. It looked really, really bad.

3b. Larry Drew is actually good?: It’s three games into the season and he has 25 assists and just five turnovers. That’s, dare I say it, Kendall Marshall-like.

Other notable finals

– Nebraska 50, Valpo 48

– Colorado 67, Dayton 57

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

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