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Late Night Snacks: Kansas falls, Indiana triumphs, Florida continues to roll

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Game of the Day: No. 3 Indiana 81, No. 1 Michigan 73

We came into the weekend knowing that this was the marquee matchup on the Saturday slate and it didn’t disappoint. It was a game of runs in the first half, but Indiana never seemed out of control at any one point. Victor Oladipo continued to show how important he is to the championship hopes of this Indiana team, scoring 15 points and affecting the game on the defensive end of the floor.

Point guard Trey Burke did everything he could for the Wolverines with 25 points, five rebounds, and eight assists, but there wasn’t enough offensive firepower in the end to topple Indiana and retain the No.1 overall spot. Glenn Robinson III was disrupted on the offensive end and never seemed comfortable. Tim Hardaway, Jr., picked up his third foul early in the second half and that got him out of his rhythm for a stretch.

Indiana now takes sole possession of the Big Ten, but that conference race is far from over.

Important Outcomes 

1. Oklahoma State 85, No. 2 Kansas 80

It’s not every day you see a team come into Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence and walk out with a win. The key to Oklahoma State’s ability to do so Saturday was the play of its backcourt, Marcus Smart and Markel Brown. It is a signature win for Oklahoma State, which now finds itself right in the thick of the race in the Big 12. Kansas is still the overwhelming favorite, but coach Travis Ford’s team is building its postseason resume.

2. No. 4 Florida 78, No. 16 Ole Miss 64

The Gators continue to steamroll through the SEC schedule. In what is a down year for the conference, Florida has just Kentucky left to beat to prove that it undisputedly reigns supreme in the conference. The Gators continue to feed off their defense, holding Ole Miss to 38 percent shooting from the floor.

3. No. 14 Miami 78, No. 19 NC State 77

After trouncing then-No. 1 Duke, Miami continues to pick up steam in the ACC and is looking more and more like the team to beat. They needed a tip-in in the final seconds from Reggie Johnson to get a road win Saturday at NC State, but coach Jim Larranaga has the Hurricanes in business in the final month of the season.

Starred

1. Oklahoma State backcourt (Markel Brown 28 points | Marcus Smart 25 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals)

This one-two punch was the biggest reason that the Cowboys were able to get a big conference win on the road at Allen Fieldhouse over No. 2 Kansas on Saturday. Smart had nine points in the final 2:19 of regulation to help Oklahoma State score the upset.

2. Jack Cooley (26 points, 16 rebounds)

Cooley’s huge double-double helped Notre Dame avoid an upset loss on the road to DePaul. He was efficient, going 9-of-15 from the floor, and didn’t turn the ball over in the overtime victory.

3. Cody Zeller (19 points, 10 rebounds)

Rob Dauster calls him “the nation’s best role player“. Regardless of what his role was Saturday, he was a key to Indiana’s ability to outlast Michigan and get a key conference win. The Hoosiers are now in position to possibly regain the No. 1 overall spot that they held earlier in the season.

Also of Note: Trey Burke, Michigan (25 points, 8 assists) | R.J. Hunter, Georgia State (38 points, 12-of-18 FG, 10-of-15 3pt FG) | Mike Muscala, Bucknell (11 points, 19 rebounds) | Sim Bhullar, New Mexico State (17 points, 18 rebounds, 5 blocks)

Struggled 

1. Glenn Robinson III, Michigan (2 points, 1-of-6 FG)

Robinson III looked more like a true freshman than he has at perhaps any other point this season. He was never able to find his stride on the offensive end and had just one dunk in transition on the night. Without his production, Trey Burke was forced to shoulder more of the load offensively, along with Tim Hardaway, Jr.

2. D’Angelo Harrison, St. John’s (2 points, 0-of-10 FG)

St. John’s came into the game hot, but Harrison was cold. Georgetown was able to disrupt him on the offensive end and take the biggest asset out of the game for the Red Storm.

3. Chase Tapley, San Diego State (2 points, 1-of-7 FG)

Tapley was shaken up early in San Diego State’s loss Air Force Saturday, which perhaps contributed to his poor shooting afternoon and his low production in 35 minutes on the floor. Without him, Jamaal Franklin and James Rahon combined for 30 shots in the loss.

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

UConn-Syracuse rivalry game brings back memories of the best of the Big East

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Rodney Purvis #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City. Connecticut defeated Syracuse 52-50  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The cliché ‘here, it just means more’ has never rang more true than it did on Monday night in Madison Square Garden.

A bad Syracuse team and a worse UConn team got together in New York City to play an awful basketball game, one where the two teams didn’t crack 100 points combined until there were 2.2 seconds left; where UConn won 52-50 despite shooting 31.4 percent from the floor because the Orange made just 25.9 percent of their field goals; where UConn did everything they could in the final minute to give the game to the Orange, including missing five free throws.

In a game between two teams that entered with a combined 8-6 record, Syracuse and UConn fans packed the Garden and created an environment that was just as rowdy, raucous and bi-partisan as a Big East tournament quarterfinal game that goes to six overtimes.

Businessmen in $5,000 suits were court side, going just as crazy as the UConn fans that packed their student section. Day-traders showed up in Orange t-shirts over their shirt and ties.

It didn’t matter that the Orange entered the game on a two-game losing streak. It didn’t matter UConn, a young team that has already lost two starters to season-ending injury, looks like a team that will be lucky to earn an invite to the NIT.

It never matters when these two former Big East rivals get together in the Basketball Mecca.

“It may be a slap in the face,” said Larry Avitabile, a Connecticut native that now calls Manhattan home, “but I hope UConn shows up as a bad loss when they show Syracuse’s NCAA tournament résumé.”


The rivalry between UConn and Syracuse is unlike any other rivalry in college basketball because of their proximity to New York City and Madison Square Garden, where the Big East has held their conference tournament since 1983.

Both fanbases claim the Big Apple as their own. Both schools consider themselves New York City’s college basketball team. None of the schools that left the Big East and none of the programs still in the conference traveled to the Garden the way that UConn and Syracuse travel to the Garden.

And the result is what you saw on Monday night.

Half of the Garden was blue.

The other half was Orange.

It simply does not get better than that.

Every season, one of the biggest talking points this time of the year is how neutral site games sterilize what makes college basketball special: the energy that comes with playing a game in front of a home crowd. The product on the court is never going to be as good as the product on the floor of any NBA game. That’s a fact of life when the best players at this level are 19 year olds a couple of years away from being able to impact an NBA game or 22 year olds that weren’t quite good enough to be able to make the jump to the pros.

And basketball at any level is never going to be a more popular than the NFL or college football. Unless you live in places like Lexington or Lawrence, college basketball probably isn’t even as important as the MLB or the NHL.

But those big, on-campus games are unparalleled in any sport at any level in this country. The experience of watching, say, UCLA’s visit to Rupp Arena on Saturday or North Carolina’s trip to Assembly Hall last week comes through on the television broadcasts.

When UConn and Syracuse square off in the Garden, it’s like two teams are playing a home game in the building.

“It’s New York City, it’s one of the best venues to play basketball in, it’s on everybody’s bucket list,” said Syracuse guard Andrew White. “Then, given the teams that were here, and the location, you’re dipping into history. This venue and this game is one of the tops all-time.”

White is a fifth-year senior that spent the last four seasons playing for Kansas in the Big 12 and Nebraska in the Big Ten. He’s seen it all. He’s played in the most electric college gyms. He knows what constitutes a great place to play a basketball game.

“I knew what to expect,” said White, who hails from southern Virginia. “I knew what I was getting into coming into this game. It’s Syracuse and UConn at the Garden. Say no more.”

College basketball needs all the games like this that it can get. It’s why those two programs would be doing a disservice to the sport if they decide to discontinue the series after the 2017 Jimmy V Classic, when they will play in the Garden for the second straight season.

Because UConn has too much talent and Kevin Ollie recruits at too high of a level to be down for that long. The Orange are just a year removed from getting to the Final Four and have plenty of young talent of their own on the roster.

Those programs will return to their rightful spots in the top 25 sooner rather than later.

And if those two fanbases can turn one of the ugliest games of the season into what we experienced in the arena on Monday night, imagine what it will be like in that building when those two teams are actually good.

 

Eastern Kentucky basketball player charged with rape

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) Authorities say an Eastern Kentucky basketball player has been arrested on a rape charge.

Records at Kentucky’s Madison County Detention Center show 23-year-old Jaylen Babb-Harrison was arrested Sunday in Richmond and charged with first-degree rape.

A statement from Eastern Kentucky says Babb-Harrison, a redshirt senior guard, has been suspended from the team. It says the school is cooperating with police.

Local media organizations cited an arrest citation in reporting that police were called to a Richmond hospital when a female reported she was at Babb-Harrison’s home and that he had sex with her against her will.

WKYT-TV reports Babb-Harrison declined to be interviewed at a jail. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Online jail records didn’t list an attorney for the player.

Judge dismisses sex charges against ex-Michigan State star

3 Apr 2000: Mateen Cleaves #12 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates on the floor as he holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA Men''s Finals Four Game against the Florida Gators at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Spartans defeated the Gators 89-76.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) A judge has dismissed all charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a charity golf event.

Judge Cathy Dowd in Flint, Michigan, said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to send Cleaves to trial. Prosecutors can appeal.

A woman said she twice tried to get away from Cleaves but was pulled back into a motel room and sexually assaulted in September 2015. A witness confirmed that she saw the woman try to escape a room at the Knights Inn near Flint.

But a police officer said the woman never indicated that she was assaulted. Cleaves pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted. Cleaves led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship.

Coaches Poll: Villanova takes the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats yells to his team in the first half against the Saint Joseph's Hawks at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova has overtaken Kentucky as the new No. 1 in the Coaches Poll on Monday.

The defending champions also took No. 1 in the new AP poll thanks to an 8-0 start while UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena this weekend. The Bruins finished at No. 2 while Kansas and Duke are right behind them.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

  1. Villanova (28)
  2. UCLA (1)
  3. Kansas (1)
  4. Duke (2)
  5. North Carolina
  6. Baylor
  7. Kentucky
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Saint Mary’s
  12. Virginia
  13. Louisville
  14. Xavier
  15. Butler
  16. West Virginia
  17. Wisconsin
  18. South Carolina
  19. Purdue
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

AP Poll: Defending champion Villanova is the new No. 1

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Hart
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The defending national champs are back at No. 1.

Villanova is atop the latest Associated Press top 25 poll this week as the 8-0 Wildcats are off to a hot start. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA and North Carolina’s loss at Indiana there were some major shakeups in the polls this week.

  1. Villanova (57 first-place votes)
  2. UCLA (2)
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Duke
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Louisville
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Xavier
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Butler
  17. Purdue
  18. Wisconsin
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Notre Dame
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State