Duke Santa Clara

No. 1 Duke outlasts Santa Clara to avoid upset at Cameron Indoor

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After trailing by as many as four points in the second half, No. 1 Duke stormed back behind 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting from guard Seth Curry to stave off Santa Clara, 90-77, Saturday afternoon at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C.

The win gives Duke its 101st straight home win over a non-conference opponent at Cameron Indoor.

Duke used a 13-3 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half to pull ahead, aided by a focus on the transition game offensively and slowing the frantic Santa Clara pace that kept the game close in the first half.

Santa Clara was hurt by foul trouble, especially senior Kevin Foster, whose 18 points paced the Broncos in the first half. He picked up his third foul in the first 10 seconds of the second half and Duke was in the bonus by the 15-minute mark.

Foster was the key all afternoon for the Broncos, fighting through foul trouble to be the Broncos’ go-to scorer. He sat the final three minutes of the first half after matching his season average of 18 points in the first 20-minute period.

The first half was a game of runs, with Santa Clara beginning the game on a 5-0 run, only to see Duke rip off a 14-2 run and take the lead, 25-14, with 8:31 remaining in the half.

Santa Clara then answered with its own 16-4 run to pull ahead, 30-29, with 4:51 left in the first. The Broncos were able to hold the fort while Foster sat for the remaining minutes of the first half.

With toughness inside, Santa Clara came out of the gate in the second half on a 9-3 run to gain its biggest lead since the opening minutes, 45-41.

But then Duke took over.

The size advantage of the Blue Devils translated into the foul trouble that Santa Clara struggled with Saturday. Outside shooting also extended the SCU defense away from the basket, thanks in large part to Curry’s 4-of-7 shooting from deep.

Duke held Foster to just one field goal in the first 12 minutes of the second half. By effectively eliminating Santa Clara’s biggest threat, the Blue Devil run was possible.

Santa Clara made one more run late in the second half by pulling to within nine points, but could get no closer.

Mason Plumlee finished with another double-double of 21 points and 13 rebounds, and helped to widen the Duke advantage on the boards in the second half. The Blue Devils won the rebounding battle, 36-26.

Foster finished with 29 points for Santa Clara.

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

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.