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Grinnell’s Jack Taylor suffers broken right wrist, likely done for season

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Earlier this season Grinnell sophomore guard Jack Taylor made national headlines with a 138-point performance that bordered on the absurd.

Even without that outburst Taylor would be averaging a more-than-adequate 28.7 points per contest, and for the season he’s averaging 36.3 ppg for the 9-3 Pioneers. But Taylor’s season came to a screeching halt on Wednesday night, as he suffered a broken right (shooting) wrist during the Pioneers’ 119-117 win over Cornell College.

Trailing by 11 points with just over six minutes remaining in the first half, an already shorthanded Grinnell squad lost Taylor as he fell while attempting a shot and most of his weight landed on top of the wrist.

Grinnell, who entered the game without multiple key contributors due to the flu, would eventually trail by as many as 21 points with Taylor out of the lineup.

But if the Pioneers’ style is good for anything other than entertainment it’s for comebacks, as the use of full-court pressure and quick shooting can make deficits disappear in minutes.

Cornell College led by 21 (62-41) with 2:25 remaining in the first half, a margin the Pioneers were able to cut to 12 by halftime. Grinnell would continue to plug along in the second half until a Luke Yeager three-pointer with 8:04 remaining gave the Pioneers a 95-94 lead.

From there the game would go back and forth until the final seconds, when a Yeager layup gave Grinnell the 119-117 victory.

“After I got the inbounds pass, I kind of saw that Cornell’s defense was a little unorganized,” Yeager said. “After I went around the first guy there wasn’t really anyone stepping up, so I just thought going for it would be a better shot.”

Yeager drove all the way down the court, through an uncluttered foul lane, and flipped the ball over the front of the rim and through the net with 1.7 seconds left. Cornell’s final fling fell nowhere near the basket, and the Pioneers had a 119-117 victory that was unorthodox even for them.

For those who like to check out stories from all levels of basketball how far Grinnell can go without Taylor will be something to check up on every so often. Sure it won’t be someone scoring 138 points, but moving on without the services of your star player will be an interesting test for the Grinnell system in the coming weeks.

Photo credit: Grinnell College

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

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.