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Should No. 3 Syracuse still be considered an elite team after loss to Temple?

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It’s rare for an A-10 team to walk into a virtual home game against the No. 3 team in the country and walk out with a victory. It’s even more rare when that team is fresh off of a loss to a school from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference.

But Saturday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, Temple outworked, outhustled, and ultimately outplayed Syracuse in the Owls’ 83-79 win in New York City.

There were a few areas of concern in Syracuse’s attack Saturday that are worth highlighting, some of which need to be corrected if the Orange want to make a run to a Big East title and a Final Four.

Temple Forced Michael Carter-Williams to Score

Carter-Williams is perhaps the best distribution-oriented point guard in the country. His 10.7 assists per game are a testament to that. But what Temple was able to do Saturday was force Carter-Williams away from distributing and facilitating and into scoring the basketball. In theory, it looked ok for Syracuse, but in practice it didn’t work out. He took 15 shots from the free throw line. As an 81 percent free throw shooter coming into the game, he shot just 7-of-15 from the stripe and 3-of-15 from the field. He had just four assists and three turnovers. There were times where he looked uncomfortable and frustrated. Having him out of sorts contributed to the Temple victory.

Zone Defense Breaking Down

Temple didn’t do anything fancy to break the Syracuse zone on Saturday. Anthony Lee was key down low as an option to work the ball into the middle of the defense and allow perimeter options like Khalif Wyatt and Jake O’Brien for a stretch of the game. Wyatt had a career-high 33 points, including 20 that carried the team in the first half. He was also unstoppable going to the basket, getting to the free throw stripe 15 times and hitting all 15 shots.

Toughness on the Interior

Lee bullied the No. 4 rebounding team in the country down low, plain and simple. He had nine rebounds on the afternoon, including five on the offensive boards. The Orange have depth down low, but no single one was effective in stopping Lee. Baye Keita and C.J. Fair each had eight rebounds, and James Southerland had nine, but Lee’s ability to get second-chance opportunities was key. Temple did not always capitalize on the second chances, but it gave them an opportunity to burn clock and control the tempo of the game.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Michigan State’s Tum Tum Nairn battling foot injury

Lourawls Nairn Jr.
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Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.

According to a report from Kyle Austin of, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.

The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.

If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.

Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: A few tournaments are still going on

Justin Jenifer, Charles Jackson
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GAME OF THE DAY: George Washington vs. No. 24 Cincinnati, 1:30 p.m.

Two 6-0 teams clash at the Barclays Center in what could be an important game for NCAA tournament resumes of both teams. The Bearcats picked up their most legitimate win over Nebraska, but the Colonials pose as a more real threat after they beat Virginia at home earlier this season. Cincinnati hasn’t shot the ball well in recent wins, but they’re beating up opponents on the glass and the defense has been solid. George Washington is coming off of a win over Tennessee in which they held off the Volunteers in the second half. The Colonials have lost 20 of their last 23 against ranked opponents, but another win over a top team would look great for them going forward.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 4 Iowa State vs. Illinois, 6:00 p.m. (CBSSN)

This game is apart of the Emerald Coast Classic in Niceville, Florida as the Illini could desperately use a win after a 3-3 start. Illinois head coach John Groce and his team are feeling the pressure for a big win on a neutral site after falling to North Florida, Providence and Chattanooga earlier in the season. The No. 4 Cyclones easily dispatched Virginia Tech earlier in the event and have found a nice balance on offense with the emergence of senior big man Jameel McKay inside.


  • N0. 2 Maryland has struggled to put away teams early at times this season and they’ll try to change that behavior when they host Cleveland State.
  • Staying in the Big Ten, No. 16 Purdue hosts Lehigh. With a game at Pitt and against New Mexico looming, could this be a trap game for the Boilers?
  • Nebraska and Tennessee take the floor in consolation action at the Barclays Center. The Huskers need someone besides Shavon Shields and Andrew White to step up in the scoring column while Tennessee is getting huge numbers from senior guard Kevin Punter.
  • Two 4-0 teams will meet in Brooklyn as Louisville takes on Saint Louis (7:00 p.m., ESPN3). Neither team has faced a significant test this season and this is the Cardinals’ first game away from home.
  • An intriguing night game to keep an eye on is Belmont traveling to BYU (8:00 p.m.). The Bruins are as well-coached as any team in the country and forward Evan Bradds has been playing great ball to start the season. The Cougars don’t have a high scorer like they did in the past, but Kyle Collinsworth is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the floor and BYU has a lot of weapons around him.
  • UAB and Virginia Tech battle in one of the more intriguing consolation games of the Emerald Coast Classic. Both teams are coming off of disappointing losses but have a shot to make things better on the trip with a solid win on Saturday.


  • Bryant at Georgetown, 11:00 a.m. (FS2)
  • Bucknell at Penn State , 12:00 p.m.
  • Tennessee-Martin vs. Mississippi State, 12:00 p.m. (SEC Network)
  • Ole Miss at Bradley, 1:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • Old Dominion at VCU, 3:00 p.m.
  • Hawaii at Texas Tech, 3:00 p.m.
  • Kent State at Pitt, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
  • SIU-Edwardsville at Butler, 4:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at Seton Hall, 6:30 p.m.
  • Western Illinois at Creigton, 7:00 p.m.
  • Colorado State vs UTEP, 7:30 p.m.