Askia Booker

Colorado’s late-game execution left door open for last night’s ‘heist’

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Cheated. Jobbed. Robbed. Swindled. And some profane words that can’t be used here.

Those were some of the things being said by Colorado (and even neutral) fans in regards to the end of regulation in the Buffaloes’ 92-83 overtime loss at No. 3 Arizona on Thursday night.

But regardless of where one’s allegiances may lie this much is certain: had Colorado executed better down the stretch and made their free throws Arizona would have had no shot at pulling off the comeback.

Colorado finished the game 17-of-29 from the foul line, and after Spencer Dinwiddie split a pair of free throws to make the score 78-70 with 1:44 remaining the Buffaloes would miss four of their final six foul shots to end regulation.

This opened the door for the Wildcats to close regulation on a 10-2 run, and Andre Roberson’s fifth foul with 1:15 remaining put the Buffaloes at a disadvantage in the extra session.

“That’s a big reason why we lost tonight,” said sophomore guard Askia Booker, who finished with a team-high 19 points. “Coach emphasizes free throw shooting every day and we practice them every day, but under pressure and playing in a hectic environment it’s hard to make free throws.”

This isn’t the first time that Colorado has been down this path from the charity stripe either. In their Charleston Classic semifinal win over then-No. 17 Baylor the Buffaloes missed five straight free throws in the final 1:01 but ultimately hung on for the 60-58 victory.

On the season Colorado is shooting 65.7% from the foul line, a number that ranks 11th in the Pac-12.

There were also two key turnovers, one of which being Roberson’s that led to his fouling Nick Johnson to prevent what would have been a breakaway dunk (imagine if that had been ruled an intentional foul).

Without Roberson on the floor Colorado played overtime without a key cog in its attack, and after an Xavier Johnson free throw with 3:49 remaining to tie the score at 83 they wouldn’t score another point.

There are positives to be taken out of this game, most notably Johnson’s (13 points, six rebounds) performance in the first start of his career and coming off the bench Sabatino Chen (15 points) playing the best game of his career.

Many may see the officials ruling that Chen’s shot was late cost Colorado the game, but the Buffaloes didn’t do themselves any favors with their play in the moments leading up to that shot.

“It hurts because before that shot, we should have had that game early on,” said Chen. “We had a huge lead and should have finished it then.”

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.