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C.J. Leslie, No. 20 NC State hand No. 1 Duke first loss of season


At home against a No. 1 team that was without one of its biggest assets, this was No. 20 NC State’s best opportunity to make a statement, and it did.

The interior combination of Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie took control in the second half to hand No. 1 Duke its first loss of the season, 84-76, at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C.

Leslie finished with 25 points and six rebounds and Howell was a dominating force on the interior to tally 16 points and 18 rebounds.

On the perimeter, Lorenzo Brown outplayed Duke’s Quinn Cook at the point guard spot, scoring 12 points and dishing out 13 assists.

The win gives NC State its first win over a No. 1 team since it defeated Duke on Feb. 15, 2004.

Duke outrebounded NC State from the tip in the first half, exploiting the Wolfpack’s desire to get out in transition to beat them on the boards and get second-shot opportunities.

Player of the Year candidate Mason Plumlee was a big part of Duke’s early 14-4 advantage on the boards, which helped the Blue Devils take a 27-19 with 8:53 to play after a big Plumlee dunk.

On the following possession, NC State guard Scott Wood his a three-pointer and was fouled by Duke’s Tyler Thornton. The two exchanged words and were both charged with a technical foul.

That seemed to spark a fire under the Wolfpack, who ripped off a 14-2 run to take a four-point lead, 33-29, with 3:50 left in the first half.

Without sharpshooting forward Ryan Kelly in the lineup due to injury, Duke turned to freshman Amile Jefferson, who had seen limited minutes in his time with the Blue Devils. He came out hot against NC State.

Jefferson, a Philadelphia native, shot 4-of-5 from the floor in the first half for eight points and added three rebounds and two blocks. He finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

In the second half, NC State cleaned up the rebounding differential, translating into less second-chance opportunities for Duke.

Jefferson, so effective in the first half, picked up his fourth foul with just under 15 minutes to play and was forced to the bench. He came back into the game, but picked up his fifth with 8:07 to play.

NC State responded immediately with a basket from Purvis, plus the foul, which extended the lead to double digits, 67-57, the Wolfpack’s largest of the night.

A Seth Curry three-pointer pulled Duke within four points with 3:49 remaining, but that is as close as the Blue Devils would get.

Curry was injured in the final minutes after slipping under the basket and did not return.

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?