Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore saves Kansas in thrilling overtime win against Iowa State

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Kansas needed a hero Wednesday night, locked in a tough conference opener against Iowa State.

The hero they got is a precocious 6-5 freshman who, judging by his performance against the Cyclones, has no reservations about stepping up in high-pressure situations on national television.

McLemore scored 33 points on an efficient 10-of-12 shooting, including 6-of-6 from three-point range, carrying the No. 6 Jayhawks to an 97-89 overtime win at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas struggled for an eight-minute stretch in the middle of the second half, breaking out of it with 8:34 to play. In the three minutes that would follow, McLemore scored 10 points, including a four-point play that pulled Kansas to within one point.

But his biggest shot came in the final seconds of regulation, banking a three-pointer with just over one second remaining to tie the game at 79-79 and force overtime.

Kansas dominated in overtime and sealed the victory.

The win preserves and extends Kansas’ home winning streak to 31 games and keeps Iowa State winless at Allen Fieldhouse since 2005.

It was a valiant effort for Iowa State, though, a team that has flown under the radar for much of the 2012-13 season. Despite a 10-4 start, the Cyclones boast one of the most high-powered offenses in the country, being in the nation’s Top 10 in both points and rebounds and the Top 20 in assists.

The key to staying in the game Wednesday was balance, with six players in double figures, including 15 points from guard Korie Lucious, who hit a few key three-pointers down the stretch for the Cyclones.

Kansas led by four points at the half, 42-38, but struggled through a nine-minute stretch that ended with 9:17 to play after a transition dunk from Travis Releford.

The Jayhawks traded baskets with the Cyclones through much of the middle of the second half, before Tyrus McGee sank a three from deep on the right wing with 4:02 left to extend the Iowa State lead to six points, 73-67.

Kansas pulled to within two points, 73-71, but forward Melvin Ejim owned the paint in the final minutes. He grabbed a big rebound off a missed three-pointer and laying it back up, then driving right at center Jeff Withey on the next possession and laying it up for two.

An Elijah Johnson floater got Kansas to within one point, 77-76, with 14.5 seconds to play. Iowa State hit two more free throws to extend the lead to three, which led to McLemore’s heroics.

For Kansas, Withey had a double-double of 15 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Young also had a double-double, tallying 10 points and 12 rebounds.

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

Stanford loses key veteran guard to stress fracture

Marcus Allen
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Stanford guard Marcus Allen will be out indefinitely after suffering a stress fracture in his right foot, the school announced on Monday evening.

“We want to make sure Marcus is fully healthy before returning to the court,” Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins said in a statement. “Marcus played at a high level during our summer exhibition competition in Italy, where he was one of our leading scorers. We will certainly miss him as we continue to prepare for the season, but we are fortunate that this happened now and he will be back before he knows it.”

The loss of Allen is a potentially brutal blow in an already-thin back court. The 6-foot-3 Allen started 23 games as a sophomore last season, averaging 6.4 points and 3.5 boards. But he averaged 11.4 points and 5.4 boards as the Cardinal made a run to the NIT championship and looked poised to be able to replace the departed Chasson Randle’s production this year.

What’s worse is that without Allen, Stanford does not return a single player in their back court that averaged more than 11.5 minutes. Sophomore Robert Cartwright looks poised to step into the starting point guard role, but neither Dorian Pickens nor Christian Sanders looked like they were ready for that kind of role in the Pac-12 last season. Dawkins does return Malcolm Allen, Marcus’ twin brother, who sat out last season with a broken wrist.

The good news is that Stanford’s front court is strong enough to carry the Cardinal until Marcus is healthy. Rosco Allen, Reid Travis and Michael Humphrey will be able to hold their own against any front line in the Pac-12, while Grant Verhoeven and freshman Josh Sharma will provide adequate depth.

Utah lands top-75 center Jayce Johnson

Larry Krystkowiak
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Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.

Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.

Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.