Former NBA star and current television commentator Barkley arrives on a horse for Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference in Oklahoma City

Charles Barkley and Dick Vitale calling games together? It could happen

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As if March didn’t have enough madness, there’s the possibility that viewers could be in for even more of it this coming spring.

While Charles Barkley has worked the NCAA tournament for Turner/CBS the last two seasons as a studio analyst (and on location at the Final Four) he’s yet to do so as a color commentator.

According to Awful Announcing there’s a chance that Barkley could work games with Dick Vitale, which would make for an interesting pairing for viewers as well as for the play-by-play announcer chosen to work with them.

CBS has previously asked ESPN if it could use Vitale on its NCAA tournament coverage. ESPN has declined, saying, in effect, that Vitale is a franchise player.

But John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president for production, told USA TODAY Sports on Tuesday that “we are interested” in letting Vitale and Barkley call action together.

Both Barkley and Vitale have voiced their desire in the past to work together, with Sir Charles doing so in an interview with Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated. Barkley also voiced his need for something more, as the majority of his work for Turner has been done in studio as part of the Inside the NBA crew.

“I love my job. I love the people I work with. And I’m going to try to do things to keep me engaged,” Barkley said in the interview. “But I have four years left on my current deal and to be honest with you, it’s going to be a struggle for me to make it for the whole four years.

“I really don’t know how much longer I’m going to do this. I need something more, or something else to do to be honest with you.”

There are hurdles to leap over in regards to the television networks, but as Barkley said in a USA Today story on the possibility that they’re “all in the business of promoting college basketball.” CBS has approached ESPN in the past in regards to using Vitale for its NCAA tournament coverage but was turned down.

Could Wildhack’s comment, despite Turner/CBS issuing a statement that it was pleased with its current lineup of announcers, open the door for Dickie V to call the sport’s biggest games? We’ll see, and if it takes a partnership with Barkley to make that happen then so be it.

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

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.