Rodney McGruder

Late Night Snacks: Gators go cold again; unbeatens fall


Game of the Night

No. 12 Missouri 82, No. 10 Illinois 73: Phil Pressey shot 2-18 and still led the Tigers to their fourth straight victory in the annual Braggin’ Rights game. His eleven assists found the hot hands, which belonged largely to Laurence Bowers (23 points, 10 rebounds) and Alex Oriakhi (13 and 14). Jabari Brown logged his first start of the year, putting up 18 points. The Illini lost their first game of the season, falling to 12-1.

Meaningful Results

Kansas State 67, No. 8 Florida 61: Poor shooting from the backcourt kept the Gators on the slide began at Arizona last weekend. Starters Mike Rosario, Kenny Boynton and Scotty Wilbekin combined to shoot 10 of 31 from the floor and 2 of 12 from deep in a game that Florida never led in the second half.

Indiana State 87, Ole Miss 85 (OT): Ole Miss isn’t exactly a powerhouse right now, but they came to Hawaii sporting an 8-1 record and reasonable expectations of being able to handle a middle-of-the-pack MVC team. That didn’t happen, as Manny Arop (27 points) led five Sycamore starters into double figures. Junior Marshall Henderson had a 27 point night for the losing team.

No. 11 Cincinnati 68, Wright State 58: Wright State led this game 28-22 at the half, and Cincy looked like it might be vulnerable to the malaise that hit other undefeated teams like Syracuse and Illinois today. But the Bearcats clawed their way back into the game in spite of terrible shooting from the floor, riding JaQuon Parker’s 21 points to a 12-0 mark.

Virginia Tech 66, Bradley 65 (OT): Erick Green scored 31 points — a new career high — including the game-winner in this tight contest.


Kalif Wyatt, Temple: Hard to argue with 33 points, 15-15 from the line, and an upset of the previously undefeated No. 3 team in the country.

Ben McLemore, Kansas: DeShaun Thomas got all the ink at the beginning of the season, but McLemore proved to be the best player on the floor when Kansas visited Columbus. The freshman went home with 22 points, 6 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal and a block, as well as a couple more of the above-the-rim dunks that are becoming his calling card.

D.J. Cooper, Ohio: The Bobcats were facing one of the worst teams in Division I, so Cooper didn’t have to do much scoring. Instead, he decided to indulge in the spirit of the season and gave out gifts to his teammates in the form of 14 assists, tying his season high. And he did it in just 23 minutes of floor time.


Luke Hancock, Louisville: At the beginning of the season, Hancock was generally regarded as the missing piece in a possible national title picture for the Cards, thanks to the 50% shooting mark he brought with him as a transfer from George Mason. Forget about being a missing piece, Hancock is just missing this season: missing the basket, missing in action, you name it, he’s missing it. In a 78-55 rout of Western Kentucky, Hancock tallied zero points, one assist and two turnovers in 16 minutes of play.

Florida’s gunners: Last week, the Gator shooters confined their worst shooting to the ends of halves. Against K-State, they couldn’t find the range all night, not that it stopped them from banging away. As a team, the Gators were 5 of 19 from behind the arc; a tidy 26.3%.

Houston’s Health & PE Center: The bucolically-named venue played host to the worst game of the night. Florida International put up 48 points and Texas Southern managed just 45. Texas Southern’s 83% from the free throw line would have been the stat of the night, except that closer inspection reveals that the Tigers were only awarded six charities all night long, making five.

Skal Labissiere has not been cleared by the NCAA

Kelly Kline/Under Armour
Kelly Kline/Under Armor
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While the timeline surrounding Cheick Diallo’s eligibility has made headlines for months now, another elite recruit at a blue blood program is still awaiting word on whether or not he will be allowed to play college basketball this season.

Kentucky center Skal Labissiere, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2015 and a potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft, has not yet been cleared to play this season. His guard, Gerald Hamilton, confirmed as much to ESPN earlier today.

“Not yet,” Hamilton said. “We’re just trying to get everything squared away. They are asking a few questions.

“They haven’t cleared him, but we’re sticking with our faith. There’s no real concern about anything from the Kentucky compliance people.”

Labissiere has more red flags than you can count, almost all of them pertaining to Hamilton. It was the worst kept secret in high school basketball that Hamilton more or less had Labissiere for sale. It’s why he played three different AAU programs and two different high schools in four years. Hamilton runs a non-profit called Reach Your Dream and, after a transfer rendered him ineligible for his senior high school season, Labissiere played for a team called ‘Reach Your Dream Prep’, which Hamilton founded simply to ensure Labissiere had a place to play.

Here’s how summarized things back in November:

Multiple coaches who have recruited Labissiere told Hamilton either directly indicated or strongly suggested pursuing Labissiere would mostly be a waste of time if they couldn’t offer assistance in helping fund his foundation. One coach from a prominent staff said: “We couldn’t even get in the door.” Another added: “We recognized what it was about early on and decided not to get involved.”

In other words, no one is surprised that the NCAA is looking into Labissiere’s situation, and it’s not hard to look at Kentucky bringing in Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard as a sign that they’re not completely certain that Labissiere will make it through this. The surprise is in how quiet that investigation has been over the course of the last few months.

The shame in all of this is that Labissiere is a sweet kid with an incredible back-story. He survived the devastating earthquake in Haiti despite having a house collapse on him. If he can get through this investigation, he’ll easily be one of the biggest and most likeable stars in the sport this season.

Xavier commit to enroll early, redshirt

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Xavier landed a commitment on Wednesday from four-star big man Eddie Ekiyor, a source confirmed to

Ekiyor, who picked the Musketeers over Miami and Florida, is a borderline top 100 recruit. He’s an athletic, 6-foot-8 post that shouldn’t have an issue adjusting to the pace and physicality of the game, although he needs to continue to develop offensively to be more than a catch-and-dunk big man down the road.

In other words, on paper, Ekiyor isn’t much different from the majority of high major big men. But what’s different about this situation is that Ekiyor will be enrolling at Xavier for the start of the spring semester, technically making him a member of the Class of 2015. Xavier won’t be rushing him through the process — he’ll redshirt the second half of the 2015-16 season — but getting him on campus early will allow him an extra six months of learning the Xavier system, developing in collegiate practices and working out with the Xavier strength coaches.

That should help him limit the adjustment phase as he transitions from high school. That’s important for the Musketeers, because there’s a chance that they could lose their starting front line — James Farr (graduation) and Jalen Reynolds (early entry) — after this season.