The big news out of Charlottesville last night wasn’t that Virginia knocked off No. 19 NC State last night — although that does matter — or that NC State has now lost three straight road games to opponents that they shouldn’t be losing to.
The bigger issue is the ankle of Lorenzo Brown.
NC State’s starting point guard, who was averaging 14.7 points and 8.7 assists in ACC play, rolled his ankle midway through the first half on Tuesday night and never returned to the game. He’s currently listed as questionable for Saturday’s showdown with Miami. A loss to the Hurricanes would all but end any chance that the Wolfpack has of winning the ACC regular season title.
The issue for Mark Gottfried is that he had essentially gone to a six-man rotation this season, as back-up point guard Tyler Lewis had logged just 21 minutes in ACC play heading into Tuesday night. Lewis played 15 minutes in Brown’s place, finishing with three points and two assists without a turnovers, while Rodney Purvis also slid over to the point guard spot for a chunk of the second half.
CJ Leslie played great, looking dominant in the second half, demanding the ball on his way to a 20-point, 14-rebound performance. But, for the second time on the road in the last two weeks, Leslie struggled down the stretch, missing a layup and dropping a pass on a would-be dunk in the final minutes.
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Colorado sophomore forward Tory Miller has been reprimanded by the Pac-12 and he also apologized for biting Air Force’s Hayden Graham earlier this week.
During Colorado’s win over Air Force on Wednesday, Miller was assessed a Flagrant 2 Dead Ball Technical Foul and ejected with 12:25 left in the second half after biting Graham during a loose ball.
In a release from the Pac-12, they announced reprimanding Miller, but he will not be suspended.
“All of our student-athletes must adhere to the Pac-12’s Standards of Conduct and Sportsman-ship,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in the release. “Regardless of Mr. Miller’s frustration and emotion, such behavior is unacceptable and he is being appropriately reprimanded.”
Miller also released his apology in the same release.
“I would like to apologize for my actions during the Air Force game. I would like to apologize to Hayden Graham, Air Force, my teammates and fans. It was a heat of the moment thing. I’m an emotional player, but I let my emotions get the best of me. I will use this as a learning experience and focus on helping my teammates and respecting my opponents for the rest of the season and beyond,” Miller said.
For Miller to not be suspended for this is good news for him and Colorado since he won’t miss any additional action, but did the Pac-12 make the right decision on this?
Michigan State has climbed on the back of star senior wing Denzel Valentine early in the season but they’ll undoubtedly need more help as the season goes on if they want to sustain their current top-5 ranking. One of the keys to the Spartans could be the on-going health of sophomore point guard Lourawls ‘Tum Tum’ Nairn, who is battling a foot injury.
According to a report from Kyle Austin of MLive.com, Nairn has been putting on a protective boot the last few months to help battle plantar fasciitis as the guard has been playing in practices and hasn’t had his minutes reduced in games.
The injury looked like it was hurting Nairn’s early-season play, but he’s been very good in two games at the Wooden Legacy in California this week, so it could be that he’s getting more used to playing through the pain of the injury.
If Nairn is healthy and capable of contributing, he’s a huge boost to Michigan State because he’s one of the fastest players in college basketball and an additional ball handler on the floor. Through six games so far this season, Nairn is averaging 5.3 points and 4.7 assists per game as he’s been one of the team’s best distributors.
Plantar fasciitis can be a tough injury to fight through, so we’ll have to see if this affects Nairn as the season goes along.