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North Carolina bounces back, beats No. 20 UNLV at home


With a more concerted defensive effort and double-figure scoring from five players, North Carolina upset No. 20 UNLV, 79-73, on Saturday afternoon at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

UNLV trailed by nine points at halftime, but worked back to pull even by the middle of the second half. A scoring drought late in the half gave North Carolina a chance to shut the door for good, but it was unable to do so.

That allowed the Rebels to pull within four points with under a minute to play before North Carolina sealed the game from the free throw line.

Without junior Reggie Bullock due to concussion, North Carolina was without one of its better perimeter defenders, but it didn’t seem to hurt the Tar Heels’ level of defensive pressure in the first half.

North Carolina forced 10 turnovers in the first 17 minutes.

Dribble penetration, which was nearly absent in the first half, was the engine of production in the second for the Rebels. Anthony Marshall, Bryce Dejean-Jones, and Anthony Bennett all worked to get to the basket, which opened up opportunities on the perimeter and scoring chances at the rim.

UNLV ripped off a 10-2 run to tie the game at 46 with 14:29 remaining.

North Carolina forward James Michael McAdoo was quiet in the first half, but went on his own personal 6-0 run to extend the Tar Heel lead to five.

With the game within one point, 64-63, the UNLV comeback bid was stopped by a cold streak from the floor.

After a Khem Birch layup with 7:33 to go, the Rebels did not score another field goal until the 2:16 mark. Added to that, UNLV struggled from the line, shooting just 11-of-21 on the game.

The offensive balance was important to North Carolina Saturday, with P.J Hairston, Marcus Paige, Dexter Strickland, Brice Johnson, and McAdoo scoring in double figures.

McAdoo finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. Strickland led all scorers with 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor.

The Tar Heels shot 51 percent from the floor on the afternoon.

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

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?