Syracuse v Louisville

Michael Carter-Williams giveth and taketh away

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Plenty of praise will be heaped on Syracuse’s non-traditional point guard Michael Carter-Williams after the way he played down the stretch against Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

In just his fourth true road game as a collegian (we’ll go ahead and discount his freshman season that consisted of garbage time), the 6-foot-6 MCW scored 11 of the last 13 points for the Orange in their 70-68 win over No. 1 Louisville at the Yum! Center. The only bucket he didn’t score came off of a dazzling assist from MCW to Jerami Grant. In the final minute, he had two steals, one of which led to the game-winning dunk at the other end of the floor and the other clinched the win for the Orange.

All in all, it was an incredible way to close out the game.

But it also ignores a bigger point: MCW played a major role in the fact that Syracuse had to dig themselves out of a hole.

In the first half, MCW had six turnovers, which doesn’t include the shot clock violation that came when he didn’t realize how much time was left on the clock. By the time that Gorgui Dieng tipped in a missed Russ Smith jumper with 16:25 left in the game, Louisville was up 48-40 despite Brandon Triche playing like a lottery pick. MCW was 1-5 from the floor with five points and seven turnovers. Even while he was in the midst of winning the game down the stretch for the Orange, MCW still managed to find a way to go 1-2 from the free throw line twice in the last minute.

The thing that is concerning about MCW is that this was not an atypical performance from him. Blessed with the kind of length and athleticism that makes NBA scouts drool and the passing ability to justify comparisons to Jason Kidd, MCW is on the radar of every team drafting in the lottery. But he still shoots far too often for a players that, frankly, cannot shoot, he has a tendency to dominate possession of the ball in the half court, and there are times where he seems more concerned with making the sensational happen instead of simply making the right play.

It reminds this scribe of Russ Smith from last season. You could see the ability, if not the decision-making, was there last season, and once Smith became slightly less “Russdiculous”, he morphed into a first-team all-american this season.

Despite displaying every single concerning aspect how his game on Saturday in Louisville, MCW still managed to put the team on his back down the stretch and, quite literally, steal a victory from the Cardinals.

It begs the question: how good can MCW be if he can follow the same path as Smith and eliminate those negative parts of his game?

Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament chances take a major blow in loss to No. 16 SMU

SMU guard Nic Moore (11) shoots over Gonzaga forward Kyle Wiltjer (33) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
(AP Photo/Jim Cowsert)
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Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.

The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.

It wasn’t pretty.

And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.

Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.

The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.

But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.

POSTERIZED: Cal’s Jaylen Brown has his dunk contest entry

California's Jaylen Brown lays up a shot against Oregon State in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: