Tim Hardaway, Jr.

Tim Hardaway, Jr., No. 3 Michigan outlast No. 10 Ohio State in overtime thriller

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Michigan junior Tim Hardaway, Jr. has spent much of the 2012-13 season proving that he has become more than just a three-point shooter in his third year in with the Wolverines.

But on Tuesday night, he leaned on that three-point shot again and led No. 3 Michigan to a grueling 76-74 overtime win against No. 10 Ohio State at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Over a two-minute stretch in the middle of the second half, Hardaway, Jr. hit threes on three straight possessions, pulling Michigan from five points down to two points up, 52-50, with 10:16 to play.

He hit another two threes in the half, finishing with 23 points on 7-of-14 from the floor, including 6-of-9 from distance.

The focus Tuesday, too, was the point guard matchup between Michigan’s Trey Burke and Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.

In no place was that better exemplified than on three straight possessions in overtime when Craft stripped Burke with 0:26 to play, only to be stripped by Burke on the fastbreak in the other direction.

Ohio State retained possession, but a jumpshot by Craft was blocked by Burke and grabbed by Michigan to preserve a 75-74 lead. Craft then fouled Glenn Robinson III, giving the Wolverines a chance to go up by three with free throws. Robinson III hit one of two free throws, allowing Ohio State one more possession.

Craft drove the length of the floor with Burke on his hip, going in for the layup before being blocked by Hardaway, Jr. Craft and the Ohio State bench were looking for a foul after what appeared to be a lot of contact around the rim, but there was no call as time expired, giving Michigan the victory.

Craft finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, and three steals, while Burke had 16 points and eight assists.

In the first half, Michigan’s hot shooting got the Wolverines out to a 13-4 start, thanks to aggressiveness in attacking the basket and three-pointers from Robinson III and Nik Stauskas.

Robinson III showed he could bounce back after an Indiana game where he looked to be more out of sorts than at any other point in the season. He finished with 10 points and four rebounds.

Ohio State then tightened up on defense with the help of Craft. That defensive effort allowed the Buckeyes to get out in transition.

Eight Buckeyes scored in the first half, led by Deshaun Thomas’ seven points. Though Ohio State spread the ball around, Thomas still had a similar percentage of the Buckeyes’ overall scoring with his team-high 17 points on the night.

The problem was, though, Thomas did not score and was not the focus of an offense that struggled to score just one basket in overtime. Craft was 1-of-4 from the floor in the extra period with a turnover.

To OSU’s credit, though, Thomas is typically counted on for the bulk of the scoring. Tuesday night, LaQuinton Ross had one of the best games of his career with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the floor. Craft and Lenzelle Smith, Jr. also scored in double figures.

Mitch McGary brought the interior toughness that Michigan needed, tallying 10 of his 14 points in the first half and adding six rebounds.

The Wolverines then began to find the hot-shooting Hardaway, Jr., though they struggled to get stops on the defensive end. He hit another two three-pointers to keep it close, but Ohio State exploited Michigan’s lack of size inside.

The Buckeyes worked the ball inside to Amir Williams on consecutive possessions, resulting in a layup and dunk to pull Ohio State ahead, 64-60, with 5:12 to play.

After trading baskets down the stretch, Lenzelle Smith, Jr. hit a jumper with a hand in his face to tie the game at 72-72 with 0:29 to play, ultimately forcing overtime.

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

Louisville backcourt struggles in first scrimmage

Quentin Snider, Jerian Grant
Associated Press
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While a few teams did manage to hold special events for the official start of practice this weekend, most simply went about their business with drills and conditioning. One team that was the exception to all of this was Louisville, which held the first of its two intersquad scrimmages on Saturday. The Cardinals had a head start of sorts on the season, as they played six exhibition games in Puerto Rico this summer.

One hope heading into Saturday’s scrimmage was that guards Trey Lewis and Quentin Snider would have better chemistry than they did in Puerto Rico. But according to Jeff Greer of the Louisville Courier-Journal, that remains a work in progress for the Cleveland State transfer (Lewis) and rising sophomore (Snider).

They struggled in Puerto Rico, and they struggled again in Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, the first public intrasquad practice since August. They played one half of the game together, paired with the presumed starting lineup with Mangok Mathiang out with an eye injury, a group that also included Damion Lee, Jaylen Johnson and Chinanu Onuaku.

That team lost the first half by 13 points to a younger group of Louisville players, and Lewis and Snider combined for eight points on 3-of-12 shooting, five turnovers, five steals, four assists and three rebounds.

“I thought (Snider) and (Lewis) did not play well together,” U of L coach Rick Pitino said. “They’ve got to get used to that. Neither guy made other guys better. That’s what they need to learn to do.”

As Greer also noted in his story the Cardinals have in recent years employed backcourt tandems in which both guards are capable of making plays for themselves and others. On the 2013 national champion team Peyton Siva and Russ Smith led the way, with Smith being joined by Terry Rozier or Chris Jones the following season and Rozier/Jones being the grouping last season before the latter was dismissed from the team.

Once Jones was dismissed Snider saw more time on the court, and his development was one of the keys for a Louisville team that fell one win short of the Final Four. Louisville needs him to take another step forward heading into the 2015-16 season, because even with Lewis’ experience at the Division I level Snider has more experience playing in Pitino’s system.

But while Saturday’s scrimmage didn’t go as well as anyone involved hoped, there’s still plenty of time for Louisville to work out the kinks before they open the season November 13 against Samford.

Knee injury sidelines Memphis assistant

Toronto Raptors vs Charlotte Hornets
Associated Press
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With practices beginning this weekend, not only are players looking to avoid the injury bug but their coaches are as well. And in the case of Memphis, the Tigers won’t have one of their assistants on the court for a little while due to a knee injury.

Assistant coach Damon Stoudamire, who returned to Josh Pastner’s staff this summer after a two-year stint at Arizona, suffered the injury during a recent workout according to L. Jason Smith of the Memphis Commercial-Appeal. And Stoudamire will require surgery, which will put him on the shelf for a little bit.

“He was working out himself and I think he thought he was in his rookie year,” Pastner said. “We think he’s got a torn meniscus, which will require surgery and put him out for a couple of days.”

Stoudamire isn’t the only assistant coach working through pain either. Syracuse’s Mike Hopkins, who is also Jim Boeheim’s heir apparent as head coach, suffered a neck injury body surfing during a family vacation last month. Hopkins spent some time in a neck brace while putting players through workouts as a result of the injury.

As for the Tigers, they’ll have a mixture of experience on the perimeter and youth in the front court as they look to get back to the NCAA tournament after missing out last season. Among the newcomers are talented forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson, with experienced guards such as Kedren Johnson, Trahson Burrell and Ricky Tarrant (grad transfer from Alabama) expected to be key contributors on the perimeter.