Joe Jackson

VIDEO: Bad news for Memphis: Joe Jackson is struggling

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There are really two keys to the game when it comes to beating VCU: protecting the ball and defending the three point line. If you can avoid turning the ball over against VCU’s pressure and you allow them to get into a rhythm from beyond the arc, they are going to be a very tough team to beat.

On Thursday evening, No. 19 Memphis turned the ball over 22 times and allowed VCU to shoot 13-22 from beyond the arc. It’s no wonder they lost to the Rams 78-65 in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.

VCU looked terrific, but I think that this game was more about the matchup with Memphis than anything else. The Tigers like to push the pace as well, but what they lack is a leader at the point guard spot that is capable of getting them into half court sets while preventing the transition game from getting out of control.

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Joe Jackson might have played his worst game as a Tiger. In just 20 minutes of action, he finished with two points on 1-3 shooting while turning the ball over seven times before fouling out.

Jackson’s performance was more worrying than simply an off-night. He entered Memphis with all kinds of expectations, but has had difficulty dealing with the pressure of being the savior for his basketball-mad hometown’s program.

And on Thursday, Jackson looked overwhelmed. By the moment, by VCU’s pressure, by his struggles. Memphis has quite a few problems — they look lost at times offensively, they don’t rebound the ball nearly well enough for a team with their size and athleticism, Josh Pastner has yet to prove he’s elite at anything other than amassing talent — but a struggling Jackson may be their biggest.

He needs to be strong-minded and steady-handed. He needs to be the tie that binds everyone together.

If he’s not, the Tigers have a much lower ceiling this season.

For VCU, this was a team effort, especially on the defensive end of the floor. But it was nice to see Treveon Graham go off for 26 points. The Rams will take on Duke tomorrow afternoon.

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

Henry Ellenson wins Marquette Madness dunk contest

Steve Wojciechowski
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Marquette freshman forward Henry Ellenson won the Marquette Madness slam dunk contest on Friday night with a between the legs dunk.

The 6-foot-10 Ellenson, the top recruit in Steve Wojciechowski’s freshmen class, defeated sophomore Sandy Cohen, fellow freshman Sacar Anim and Wally Ellenson, his older brother.

Ellenson joins the Golden Eagles as the No. 11 overall recruit in the Class of 2015.

Bill Self signs $10,000 check for KU student


Late Night in the Phog is typically a night to remember for Kansas fans. For Kansas student Jerrod Martin Castro, Friday night’s event is one he won’t forget.

Castro, a sophomore, was selected as a contestant for a $10,000 giveaway. The only thing standing in the way of a big payday was a half-court shot. Brennan Bechard, the Kansas director of basketball operations, attempted the long-distance shot and hit nothing but net.

Kansas head coach Bill Self signed a $10,000 check on the spot.