Josh Pastner

The Memphis-Tennessee rivalry may be back on … that was quick

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Remember all that talk about Memphis ending their rivalry with Tennessee?

We wrote about it this morning. We would have written about it again tomorrow. Memphis talk radio has been dominated by the subject the past couple of days.

Why was it ending?

Because Josh Pastner finally had an athletic director that sided with him, that believed playing Tennessee was not in the best interest of the Memphis basketball program.

Apparently not:

University of Memphis athletic director Tom Bowen said Thursday he and Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart are in discussions about continuing the basketball series between the programs. The contract ends with Friday night’s game in Knoxville.

“We are re-evaluating everything,” Bowen said, calling it “important” to play the Volunteers.

Bowen’s plan must have been a surprise to Tigers basketball coach Josh Pastner. On Wednesday, Pastner said that he and Bowen “both see eye to eye” on ending the Memphis-UT series.

In case that’s unclear, the Memphis AD let his head coach go on and on and on about how a series with an in-state rival was going to end only to go behind his back and try to renegotiate a deal with the school to keep them on the schedule. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, either.

Pastner, to his credit, has apparently bought in, saying on the Gary Parrish Show that he “believes in chain of command. I will always back my boss.” That’s smart. You don’t want to bash the guy that signs your paychecks publicly.

“I have probably evolved from that,” Pastner said of the theory that playing Tennessee could hurt the Tiger’s recruiting in the city of Memphis. “Early on I took the same stance as Calipari. The facts are that I’ve been a head coach here for four years. Two of my classes were top five in the country. The other two, we only needed to get a couple guys. … We’re recruiting at the very very highest level. I think through time, that’s evolved, and I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.”

“Recruiting’s cutthroat. You don’t want to give anyone any leg up.”

But you have to figure that next time, Pastner would appreciate a heads-up from his boss that he will be going over his head.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

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, 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.