Avery Johnson

Southern to rename court in honor of Avery Johnson Saturday afternoon

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Southern University will honor one of the program’s greatest players on Saturday, renaming the F.G. Clark Activity Center court in honor of Avery Johnson during a ceremony at halftime of their game against Grambling State.

Johnson, most recently head coach of the Brooklyn Nets, played two seasons at the SWAC school and won conference Player of the Year honors in both 1987 and 1988. Johnson dished out 20 assists or more in a game four times during his two seasons at Southern after transferring in from Cameron University (an NAIA school located in Lawton, Oklahoma).

A native of New Orleans, the “Little General” would go on to play 16 seasons in the NBA with his most noteworthy years coming with the San Antonio Spurs. Johnson’s baseline jumper in Game 5 of the 1999 NBA Finals clinched the franchise’s first NBA title.

But even with his achievements at the professional level, Johnson remains grateful for his time at Southern and looks forward to Saturday’s ceremony.

“We (he and his wife Cassandra) are just really honored to be a part of what we’re looking at as a celebration of hard work,” Johnson said in the release. “We’ll be able to share in that celebration with a lot of friends and family.”

In some cases there’s a concern that the visiting team can spoil the fun on a day like this one, but with all due respect to Grambling State that won’t be an issue Saturday. Grambling State (0-18) is the lone Division I team yet to win a game this season, with inexperience and roster issues proving to been too much for a team that didn’t play its first home game until January 6.

On that day Southern beat Grambling State 82-43, with the Tigers scoring just 12 points in the first half. Averaging just over 20 turnovers per game, the 2012-13 campaign has been one those associated with the program will want to forget as soon as its over.

With that in mind, Saturday sets up to be a good day for Southern to welcome back one of its greatest players.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

VIDEO: Duke’s Grayson Allen beats No. 7 Virginia at the buzzer

Duke's Grayson Allen (3) and Marshall Plumlee (40) react during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Louisville in Durham, N.C., Monday, Feb. 8, 2016. Duke won 72-65. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia sparks come-from-behind win over No. 13 Louisville

Notre Dame’s Steve Vasturia (32) goes up for a shot over Boston College’s Idy Diallo (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
(AP Photo/Robert Franklin)
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Demetrius Jackson scored 20 of his 25 points in the first half and Steve Vasturia scored 15 of his 20 points in the final 20 minutes as Notre Dame landed a 71-66 win over No. 13 Louisville on Saturday afternoon.

The Fighting Irish trailed by as many as 11 points early in the second half, but Vasturia’s hot shooting combined with Notre Dame holding Louisville to just 15 points in the final 15 minutes made all the difference.

The Fighting Irish are not as good as they were last season, but they are built in a similar mold. Jackson, as we expected, as become one of the nation’s most dynamic point guards, impossible to slow-down in isolation and ball-screen actions. Steve Vasturia emerging as a legitimate secondary option offensively and Zach Auguste is one of the nation’s most underrated big men and one of the most dangerous as the roll-man in ball-screens.

Combine all of that with a handful of shooters creating space and Bonzie Colson’s emergence as a force on the offensive glass, and Mike Brey once again has one of the nation’s most lethal offensive attacks.

Where they struggle is on the defensive end of the floor, which is what makes the end of Saturday’s win so meaningful. The Irish entered the day ranked 232nd in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric, which more or less means they’re as good as a bad mid-major program at keeping their opponents from scoring.

But they don’t have to be great to be able to win games.

They have to be good enough and they have to get important stops.

That’s precisely what happened on Saturday.

Whether or not that actually becomes a trend for this group will be something to monitor — it happened for Duke during last year’s NCAA tournament — but the bottom-line is this: Notre Dame does something better than just about anyone else in college basketball, and that’s score the ball.

On the nights they are able to gets some stops, they are going to be able to win some games. In the last eight days, they’ve proven that, beating North Carolina, Clemson on the road and Louisville.

And that makes them dangerous in March.