Late Night Snacks: Virginia, Kentucky get big conference wins Tuesday

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Game of the Day: Virginia 58, No. 19 NC State 55

NC State thrives in the transition game and they were not able to shift into gear Tuesday. Credit goes to the Virginia defense and the fact that Wolfpack point guard Lorenzo Brown was forced out of the game after just ten minutes with an ankle injury. Without his, TJ Warren, Rodney Purvis, and Tyler Lewis all failed to find their groove. Even so, NC State had four possessions in the final three minutes with a chance to tie or take the lead, but could not capitalize.

Joe Harris and Akil Mitchell were the two biggest bright spots for Virginia, scoring 22 points and 14 points respectively.

Important Outcomes 

1. Kentucky 87, No. 16 Ole Miss 74

Kentucky needed a solid conference win on the road to boost its resume in an SEC that is weak this year. They got it Tuesday. Kyle Wiltjer led the way offensively, along with Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress. Defensively, though, Nerlens Noel showed how he can impact a gave when taking just one shot from the floor and going 2-of-8 at the free throw line. He blocked 12 shots, including four down the stretch when he had four fouls. He changed the game defensively in the same way Anthony Davis was able to last season.

2. No. 11 Ohio State 58, Wisconsin 49

Deshaun Thomas was once again the biggest offensive asset for the Buckeyes, but defense ruled the night. Ohio State held Wisconsin to 37 percent shooting and outrebounded the Badgers by six to move to 6-2 in the tough Big Ten.

3. Indiana State 68, No. 15 Wichita State 55 

The Missouri Valley race just got a whole ‘lot more interesting. Indiana State toppling Wichita State makes the Sycamores 7-3 in league play and moves them to third in the conference standings. They’re building a solid postseason resume, which also includes a non-conference victory over the now-surging Miami Hurricanes.

Starred

1. Kyle Wiltjer, Kentucky (26 points, 7 rebounds)

Wiltjer’s scoring was the most important part of Kentucky’s offensive gameplan Tuesday night. His career-high point total paced the Wildcats in the second half and gave enough of a cushion to help fend off a late Ole Miss run, giving Kentucky an important road win.

2. Deshaun Thomas, Ohio State (25 points, 10-of-17 FG)

Thomas is the go-to scorer for the Buckeyes and showed it again on Tuesday night. His 25 points accounted for nearly half of Ohio State’s total. Coach Thad Matta’s team focuses on defense, but Thomas having a big night is what gives the Buckeyes offensive fuel.

3. Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee (19 points, 11 rebounds)

Stokes had a big breakout game in his last outing against Alabama and continued that Tuesday night against Vanderbilt. He tallied his second straight double-double in a win over Vanderbilt.

Also of Note: Nerlens Noel, Kentucky (12 blocks)

Struggled 

1. Ryan Evans, Wisconsin (2 points, 1-of-10 FG, 3 TOs)

Evans was part of a Wisconsin attack that couldn’t reach the 50-point mark Tuesday vs. Ohio State. He fell significantly from his season average of 10.9 per game.He has been out of sync in three of his last four games, having shot 9-of-39 from the floor in his last four games.

2. Carl Hall, Wichita State (2 points, 0-of-2 FG, 4 fouls)

Wichita State struggled from the field as a team on Tuesday and was disrupted by Indiana State’s defensive sets. His foul trouble changed his game, as well, but the Sycamores did a good job of now allowing Hall to get to the free throw line, where he typically thrives.

3. NC State Backcourt/Wings (TJ Warren 3 points, 1-of-7 FG | Tyler Lewis, 1-of-3 FG | Rodney Purvis, 2-of-7  FG)

Point guard Lorenzo Brown played just 10 minutes after injuring his ankle, and this trio struggled in his absence. Virginia’s defense slowed the typically lethal transition attack of the Wolfpack and allowed the Cavaliers to get the win. Lewis was thrust into the role, playing more minutes than he has at any point during the conference season, which likely had a ripple effect.

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

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas dunks on 2 Butler defenders

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Creighton did not get off to the best of starts Tuesday night, trailing by as many as 20 points with Butler making eight of its first 12 three-pointers.

Junior guard Khyri Thomas did his best to provide a spark, driving the lane and then dunking on two Butler defenders.

Thomas’ dunk sparked a 12-4 run to end the half, trimming the Bluejays’ deficit to a slightly more manageable 12 points.

Rival fans fired up over placement of UNC national title signs

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When sports teams win championships, one of the benefits received is usually the placement of signs along major highways that honors said achievement. This is what the North Carolina Department of Transportation did in honor of North Carolina winning the national title. But according to the News & Observer some rival fans are none too pleased with the placement of two of these signs.

The two signs in question were placed on Interstate 40 in Raleigh, with one (which is visible to those driving east) being just three miles away from NC State’s home arena. For those driving westbound on I-40, there’s a visible sign at the Wake-Durham county line.

According to the News & Observer, the signs were placed at those spots in order to grab the attention of passengers deplaning at nearby Raleigh-Durham International Airport. But even with that being the case, someone had to know that the placement of the signs would not go over well with the fan base that calls Raleigh home.

In November, North Carolina’s request for eight signs to be erected across the state in acknowledgement of the men’s basketball team’s achievement was approved by the North Carolina Board of Transportation. A sign placed along I-85 also drew criticism, as some believed it to be too close to the Charlotte (formerly UNC Charlotte) campus. That sign would ultimately be moved to a spot close to the South Carolina state line.

And given the reactions to the signs along I-40, one has to wonder if the locations of those two signs will change as well.

The differences between the NCAA’s Louisville and North Carolina rulings

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One of the questions that I have been asked the most since news broke that the NCAA had upheld a ruling that Louisville would have to vacate four seasons worth of wins, including a trip to the Final Four and a National Title, was why what Louisville did was significantly worse than the two decades of academic fraud that had occurred at North Carolina.

UNC, if you’ve forgotten, was not punished at all by the NCAA for the scandal involving paper classes that helped keep football and basketball players eligible.

And the reason for that is really quite simple: The NCAA made an active decision that they would not be in the business of determining what does and what does not constitute academic fraud. In April of 2014, the Division I Legislative Council clarified academic misconduct rules, saying “academic standards and policies governing misconduct are the responsibility of individual schools and their accreditation body,” and that “the membership’s position that it is a school’s responsibility to decide whether or not misconduct involving current or future student-athletes or school staff has occurred.”

The thinking here makes sense.

The NCAA is not an organization that is designed to determine whether or classwork is legitimate. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of accrediting agencies. Those rules are bigger than the NCAA. What they couldn’t have predicted, however, was that a university as prominent and as well-respected as the University of North Carolina would a hit to their academic respectability to protect their athletic department. UNC said that the fraudulent classes weren’t, you know, fraudulent. That’s why the NCAA tried North Carolina as an extra benefits case.

Put another way, the Committee on Infractions for the UNC case could not determine that the “courses were solely created, offered and maintained as an orchestrated effort to benefit student-athletes,” because they weren’t. They were created by a rogue professor. The athletic department found out those classes existed. Student-athletes took advantage of a fake class the way the rest of the student body at-large did. The fake classes were not created specifically for those student-athletes.

That distinction is critical, because it represents the difference between the scandal falling under NCAA jurisdiction and the jurisdiction of the agency tasked with accrediting the University of North Carolina as something other than a diploma mill.

With Louisville, there really was no debate about whether or not this was an NCAA issue. A member of a college basketball team’s coaching staff was providing student-athletes and prospective recruits, some of whom were under the age of 18, with lap dances and sexual favors that he paid for. That is the definition of extra benefits in the NCAA rulebook, and the egregiousness of what occurred — strippers, hookers, underage recruits, etc. — is why Louisville was hit so hard.

The NCAA is stupid and illogical and I hate so much about it, but I find it hard to fault them for the way either of these cases played out.

Penny Hardaway acknowledges links to college programs

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One of the most fascinating subplots to this year’s college coaching carousel is what will happen with Penny Hardaway.

A Memphis basketball legend, Penny is currently the head coach of the powerhouse Memphis East high school while running a Nike-affiliated AAU program aptly named Team Penny. Combined, those rosters include an absolutely ridiculous amount of talent. James Wiseman, who may just be the best player in the Class of 2019, plays for both East and Team Penny. Another five-star prospect in the Class of 2019, D.J. Jeffries, also plays for Team Penny while his cousins — Jonathan and Chandler Lawson, the younger brothers of former Memphis and current Kansas players Dedric and K.J. — play for East.

There’s a real debate about whether or not those teams would be able to beat the Memphis Tigers basketball team.

As in the University of Memphis.

That’s where things are in that city.

Which is why Penny Hardaway has been linked to a job that isn’t even open yet. It’s why his name is mentioned when discussing whether or not Ole Miss should hire him to replace Andy Kennedy. We’re talking about a guy with more than a decade of experience in the NBA that can, in theory, bring with him the kind of talent that you would expect to see on a roster like Kentucky or Duke. It would only make sense for the likes of Memphis and Ole Miss to kick the tires.

What if he says yes?

And, according to an interview he gave to SEC Country, it sounds like Penny would, at the very least, listen.

“It’s a huge compliment for any college to even think about wanting me to come in. I feel like I bring a lot to the table even though I haven’t coached college,” he told the site on Monday. “I feel like my NBA experience and the coaches I’ve had over the years, I’ve learned enough to be a head coach in college. But I’m really enjoying this right now and coaching these guys.”

If Louisville vacates the 2013 national title, does Michigan win the national title?

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Louisville lost their appeal, meaning that for the first time in college basketball history, a Division I program is going to have to take down a national title banner.

The details are pretty straight-forward: If one of the three enrolled student-athletes or 15 recruits that the were determined by the NCAA to have received “adult entertainment and/or sex acts” from strippers and sex workers played in any game from Dec. 2010 through July 2014, when Louisville staffer Andre McGee was paying for girls to come around Louisville’s Billy Minardi Hall, then that game is to be vacated from the Louisville record books.

That includes 123 regular season games and 15 NCAA tournament wins.

That also includes the 2012 Final Four and the 2013 National Title.

What does that mean? How does a program vacate records and titles?

Well, they can no longer do anything to officially reference winning that title. Banners come down. Record books must be changed. For all intents and purposes, Louisville must never again acknowledge that their run to the national title — which included Kevin Ware breaking his leg in the Elite 8 against Duke, a marvelous comeback in the Final Four against Wichita State and one of the most exciting halves of basketball in NCAA tournament history as Luke Hancock and Spike Albrecht went shot-for-shot — took place.

It doesn’t, however, mean that Michigan, whom Louisville beat in the national title game, won the 2013 National Championship.

This not like the Olympics. A silver medal does not turn to gold when the official winner is ruled a cheat. Michigan still lost that game in the eyes of the NCAA. Louisville did not forfeit the win. They just … also lost.

There is no winner.

Officially speaking, as of today, no one won the 2013 national title.