Marshall Henderson struggled, bigger deal for Ole Miss is injuries

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All anyone is going to talk about after Ole Miss lost to Kentucky 87-74 on Tuesday night is how poorly Marshall Henderson played.

He was 5-19 from the floor and 2-11 from three. He took some deep, contested threes as well as some questionable, off-balance looks from inside the arc. After missing a couple of open looks in the first few minutes of the game, Kentucky was able to contest every shot that Henderson released by switching all of the screens set for him.

Henderson is going to get plenty of criticism after this game. Considering the flamboyant histrionics and the reputation that he developed thanks to a couple of twitpics and an unforgettable GIF, he had quite a bit of hype and expectation entering this game. He clearly failed to live up to those expectations. Some of it is because he had an off-night, but much of the credit has to be given to Kentucky’s defense. They knew they had the nation’s best shotblocker at the rim. They knew they could afford to gamble on Henderson, taking him out of the game and daring the rest of the Ole Miss roster to beat them.

And it worked.

Murphy Holloway struggled to score, Reginald Buckner couldn’t finish around the rim and Jarvis Summers matched Henderson with a 5-19 shooting time. If it wasn’t for the best game of Ladarius White’s career, the Rebels would have been blown out.

That said, I think the criticism of Henderson is too much. For starters, those that are calling him out for poor shot selection need to go back to watching GIFs and Sportscenter highlights. This is how Henderson plays. He takes some dumb shots and he fires away on some questionable threes because he can make dumb shots and questionable threes. He’s got range, and he’s not afraid to flaunt it.

In the second half of the game, however, Henderson stopped gunning. He took 14 shots and nine free throws in the first 20 minutes and just five shots and three free throws in the second half. He played the role of the decoy, running off of screens to favorable mismatches for the big men while burying himself in the corner to create driving lanes for White. That was just as important in the Ole Miss comeback as anything.

He also got to the free throw line 12 times — his second highest total on the season — and didn’t commit a single turnover.

Henderson had an off-night shooting the ball, but beyond that he played a fairly typical game by his standards and played a significant role in the 16-0.

To criticize him for poor shot selection or bad defense is to admit you haven’t watched him play this year. He’s become must-see TV this year because he’s lacks a conscience shooting the ball and is liable to do just about anything on the court, not because he’s an all-american or a future lottery pick. If anything, he showed a willingness to be a teammate and a piece in an offense on Tuesday night, although you won’t see that written anywhere else today.

There’s bigger issues for Ole Miss coming out of Tuesday’s game, however: injuries.

The Rebel’s two most important reserves — guard Nick Williams and big man Aaron Jones — both went down with what appear to be serious injuries. Jones suffered a non-contact knee injury when his right knee buckled as he was trying to plant. Williams has been dealing with plantar fasciitis, but his injury looks like it could be a snapped ligament in his foot.

That means that after losing to Kentucky at home, the only two relevant opponents the Rebels have in SEC play this season — road trips to Florida and Missouri — will come in the next 10 days and, in all likelihood, without their top two reserves.

For a team looking to convince the country that they aren’t overrated with an inflated record against mediocre competition, that’s bad news.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Arizona lands Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther

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Arizona landed a key addition for its frontcourt on Wednesday as Pitt transfer forward Ryan Luther pledged to the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-9 Luther is expected to receive a hardship waiver that would give him immediate eligibility, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com, as Arizona gets some much-needed help up front.

Playing in 10 games last season before a stress reaction in his right foot ended the season, Luther averaged 12.7 points and 10.1 rebounds per game for the Panthers. In his final game of the season, Luther went for 13 points and 12 rebounds in a Pitt loss to West Virginia. Luther shot 45 percent from the field and is a noted perimeter threat as he was 38 percent from behind the three-point line.

Luther hasn’t logged heavy minutes as a contributor through a full season. Mostly a role player at Pitt until last season, Luther was the team’s most productive player when he was on the floor. But that production also didn’t come during ACC play and through the course of a full season.

Thankfully at a program like Arizona, Luther should have a bit more help around him. He could be a nice addition to the Wildcats, particularly if he rebounds and spaces the floor in the frontcourt as he did at Pitt. Arizona needed someone like Luther to provide more stability after losing players like Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic.

In the last few weeks, Arizona has rebounded nicely to land three commitments for next season — including freshmen Devonaire Doutrive and Omar Thielemans. The group isn’t as heralded as some past Arizona recruiting efforts. Given where the Wildcats were in recruiting a few weeks ago, however, this isn’t a bad turnaround.

TCU extends Jamie Dixon’s contract by two more years

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TCU has given head coach Jamie Dixon a two-year contract extension through the 2023-24 season, according to a release from the school.

Dixon took the Horned Frogs to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 20 years this season as he’s done a great job of turning around his alma mater. The release also notes that TCU had the highest average attendance in program history this season. Fans are also taking notice of a revitalized team.

With back-to-back 20-win seasons and postseason appearances, Dixon and TCU have a lot of positive momentum going on right now. The two-year extension for Dixon should help a bit in recruiting when it comes to overall stability, as well, as he’s been able to attract some quality talent so far.

Report: Kevin Ollie claims UConn violated rights with firing

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Fired former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is claiming that the school violated his constitutional rights during his departure.

Ollie sent a letter to UConn school president Susan Herbst which was obtained by ESPN’s Myron Medcalf in a report released on Wednesday. Ollie’s lawyers are claiming the school proceeded with his firing before giving Ollie a proper chance to contest his termination — which was guaranteed in his contract and also the collective bargaining agreement with the University of Connecticut’s branch of the American Association of University Professors. Ollie was fired, with cause, in late March as the school mentioned an NCAA inquiry as the reason why. According to Medcalf’s report, the NCAA has not sent a notice of allegations to the school.

Ollie’s union membership includes thousands of faculty members around the country as the collective bargaining agreement demands a hearing process before any employee can be terminated for allegations of serious misconduct. Ollie claims he didn’t receive a letter he was supposed to get to begin the termination process.

“From our review of the facts and circumstances relating to Coach Ollie’s employment status, it is apparent that the University of Connecticut has already violated [Coach Ollie’s] rights under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by subverting Coach Ollie’s opportunity to respond to charges and evidence in a meaningful way in advance of the decision to terminate his employment,” said the letter dated April 3.

“The public record, action taken, and authorized communications by representatives of the University of Connecticut, demonstrate that the decision to terminate Coach Ollie has already been made and therefore the University of Connecticut has effectively negated Coach Ollie’s property right protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

This letter to UConn likely begins a long legal battle to try to get an eight-figure payout back as Ollie is going to do everything he can to clear his name.

South Carolina’s Brian Bowen, still ineligible, to declare for draft

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Former Louisville forward and current South Carolina Gamecock Brian Bowen will declare for the NBA draft without signing with an agent as a safety measure in case the NCAA does not clear him to play in the 2018-19 season.

Bowen is the former top 25 prospect that was forced to leave the Louisville program after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college hoops turned up evidence that his family had accepted the first payment of what was supposed to be a $100,000 fee to get him to be a Cardinal.

That investigation was ultimately what got Rick Pitino fired.

“I just felt that it was the right decision,” Bowen told ESPN. “My goal is still to play college basketball, but I felt as though it makes sense to cover my bases.”

Bowen is in a tough spot right now.

On the one hand, he has already missed an entire season of college basketball and there is no guarantee that he will be cleared to play next season, if at all.

On the other hand, the fact that he has not played in a year and that he has not played against any collegiate level competition is one of the reasons that NBA front offices are going to be hesitant to draft him, and that’s not a good thing for a player that was considered a second round pick before he spent a year on the sidelines.

North Carolina’s Cam Johnson undergoes hip surgery

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For the second time in the last six months, North Carolina wing Cam Johnson has undergone the knife.

On Wednesday, North Carolina announced that Johnson underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his hip on Monday, and that he is expected to make a full recovery and return to school in time for the start of the 2018-19 season.

The 6-foot-9 Johnson was UNC’s third-leading scorer a season ago, averaging 12.4 points while shooting 34.1 percent from three. He only played 26 games, however, after missing time due to a surgery to fix a torn meniscus.