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GRUESOME INJURY ALERT!

Kentucky’s Nerlen Noel, the likely No.1 draft pick in the 2013 NBA Draft, suffered a gruesome knee injury last night.

Don’t worry. I made sure everything remains behind a link wall.

But to be honest, it’s not THAT gross. It’s not even close to being as bad as leg injury Texas A&M’s Derrick Roland suffered two years ago. Now THAT was gnarly.

But yeah, it’s still pretty bad.

Anyways, Let’s hit the links.

Wednesday’s Top games:
7:00 p.m. – Nebraska @ No. 1 Indiana
7:00 p.m. – No. 3 Miami @ Florida State
7:00 p.m. – No. 6 Syracuse @ UConn
7:00 p.m. – Charlotte @ No. 11 Butler
7:00 p.m. – No. 17 Oklahoma State @ Texas Tech
7:00 p.m. – DePaul @ No. 21 Notre Dame
7:00 p.m. – Delaware @ Northeastern
7:00 p.m. – Ole Miss @ Texas A&M
7:00 p.m. – La Salle @ St. Bonaventure
8:00 p.m. – Central Florida @ No. 22 Memphis
8:00 p.m. – Iowa State @ Texas
8:00 p.m. – Creighton @ Northern Iowa
9:00 p.m. – North Carolina @ No. 2 Duke
9:00 p.m. – West Virginia @ Baylor
9:00 p.m. – UNLV @ Air Force
10:00 p.m. – No. 19 New Mexico @ Fresno State
10:00 p.m. – San Diego State @ No. 24 Colorado State
11:00 p.m. – No. 23 Oregon @ Washington
11:00 p.m. – Cal State Fullerton @ Long Beach State
 
 
Read of the Day:
A powerful story about Chicago basketball icon Larry Butler and the murder that took place following the Simeon vs. Morgan Park high school game back in mid-January. Read this. (Chicago Side)

Read of the Day:
A fantastic profile on Ben McLemore’s older brother, who is serving a 15-year jail sentence for his role in a 2008 armed robbery. (Kansas City Star)
 
 
Top Stories:
VIDEO: Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel injures knee vs. Florida:The future first round draft pick went down in a heap of pain after his knee buckled in the wrong direction halfway through the second half of the Wildcats’ 69-52 loss at Florida.

What does it mean for Kentucky if Noel is out for a long time? 24 hours ago we were talking about a Kentucky team that nobody would want to face as a lower seed at-large NCAA Tournament team. But one knee injury later and the letters N.I.T. start to reappear.

Florida beat Kentucky, but it wasn’t exactly impressive: The Gators have been steamrolling SEC opponents at home this year, which is why you can understand why we might not think a 17-point win against Kentucky is that impressive.

No. 8 Michigan State claims sole possession of Big Ten with blowout win over No. 4 Michigan: The Spartans ran all over their in-state rivals, dismantling the Wolverines 75-72 in front of a raucous crowd at the Breslin Center. This is Tom Izzo doing work. Spartans don’t look like title contenders in November, but they do in February. That’s why Izzo is Izzo.

Is it time to reevaluate how we view Michigan? Nearly every marquee Big-Ten game this season has been decided by ten points or less. So we must at least reevaluate our stance on the Wolverines following their trip to the woodshed at the hands of Michigan State.

Maryland to honor ex-coach Lefty Driesell this month: Maryland will honor former coach Lefty Driesell at the Terrapins’ home game against Clemson on Feb. 23 and will unveil a bronze bas-relief to commemorate his time at the school later this year.

Georgetown’s ‘Stonewalls’ unveil soccer-style banner supporting Catholic 7: There is no denying that the Georgetown student section is sub-par. But the university’s young alumni section is growing in numbers, and showed off this phenomenal Catholic-7 banner on Monday night against Marquette.
 
 
Hoops Housekeeping:
– Texas sophomore Jonathan Holmes has been cleared to play tonight against Iowa State. The forward has been out of action since January 21st when he suffered a broken bone in his right hand against Oklahoma. (Sporting News)

– St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin is questionable to return to the sidelines tonight as he continues to mourn the loss of his father, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 83. (SNY.tv)

– Northwestern forward Jared Swopshire will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury over the weekend. Swopshire missed the entire 2011-2012 season with a groin injury while at Louisville. (Chicago Tribune)

– North Carolina freshman Joel James will miss tonight’s rivalry game against Duke due to a concussion he suffered against Wake Forest last week. (Fayetteville Observer)

– Oregon guard Dominic Artis has already missed five games due to a foot injury, and the dynamic freshman guard isn’t likely to return this week. The Ducks are 2-3 without Artis in the lineup. (Sporting News)

– Matthew White, a member of the 1979 UPenn team that made the Final Four, was stabbed to death by his wife early Monday morning. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

 
 
Observations & Insight:
– Nerlens Noel’s knee injury has people wondering if future NBA players even need to go to college. (Yahoo Sports)

– Michigan State big-man Derrick Nix told Trey Burke that he’s soft. (MLive.com)

– Only seven BCS-conference teams have won six or more road games this season. Miami is the only BCS-conference team to have won more than seven road games. (Eye on College Basketball)

– Copious amounts of sage advice for Golden Gopher fans starting to come around to the idea that maybe Tubby Smith should get fired. P.S. He’s not getting fired. (From The Barn)

– Carrick Felix for Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year? I’ll certainly buy it. He’s one of the most underrated players out west and has shut down nearly all the big time stars he has gone up against. (Pitchfork Posts)

– As long as we understand that “Running through March Madness” could mean different things for different teams, yes, this is a pretty solid list of five teams that could run through March Madness. (Sports Blitz)
 
 
Odds & Ends:
– I’m not exactly sure why this matters, but Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg has never smoked marijuana in his entire life. (Deadspin)

– Jay Williams contract at ESPN is up at the end of March. Will he leave? Does anybody really care? (The Big Lead)

– We want student sections to be creative, right? We all get upset when they chant “overrated” at the end of a big game, correct? Well, I think the Izzone got it right with this one. (The Dagger)

– “The Harlem Shake” is spreading like wildfire. The college basketball world could not avoid it. (ACC Sports Journal)

– I hate giving Jeff Borzello credit for anything, I really do. And while this isn’t exactly critical acclaim, for somebody like Jeff Borzello, this is as big as it gets: Ke$ha liked something he wrote. Yup, that Ke$ha. She approved of the Wisconsin Badgers’ use of her music for their postgame celebration. Borzello wrote about the celebration. In Jeff’s world, he’s now the most popular kid in high school, and that’s a big deal for him. (Madtown Badgers)
 
 
Photo of the Day:
Well done Izzone, Well done. (The Dagger)

source:
 
 
Video of the Day:
Well done Sparty. Well done. (H/T@WorldofIsaac)


 
 
Dunk of the Day:
Nice dunk. Better sequence. (H/T @RunTheFloor)

Dunk of the Day:
Come for the No. 1 dunk, stay for Ernie Kent’s analysis. (Pacific Takes)

 
 
Do you like the new Morning Mix? Hate it? Have a suggestion or want something featured? Troy Machir will take all your praise, insults and inquiries via Twitter (@TroyMachir)

UCLA to honor Kareem for Presidential Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 22:  U.S. President Barack Obama (C) pretends to 'skyhook' over National Basketball Association all-time leading scorer and social justice advocate Kareem Abdul-Jabbar before awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom to  during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House November 22, 2016 in Washington, DC. Obama presented the medal to 19 living and two posthumous pioneers in science, sports, public service, human rights, politics and the arts.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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UCLA announced on Wednesday that they will honor Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during Saturday’s game against Arizona in Pauley Pavilion.

Jabbar was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Barack Obama this past November, the highest honor that a civilian can receive. He was presented with the medal not only due to his ability on the floor, where he is still the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, but because of his contributions to society since he retired.

“The reason we honor Kareem is more than just a pair of goggles and the sky hook,” Obama said in November. “He stood up for his Muslim faith when it wasn’t easy and wasn’t popular. He’s as comfortable sparring with Bruce Lee as he is advocating on Capitol Hill or writing with extraordinary eloquence on patriotism.”

Specifically, the White House honored him for advocating for civil rights,social justice, cancer research and science education.

“Physically, intellectually, spiritually — Kareem is one-of-a-kind,” Obama said. “An American who both illuminates our most basic freedoms and our highest aspirations.”

Father of former Kansas forward Jamari Traylor receives clemency

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 11:  Jamari Traylor #31 of the Kansas Jayhawks shoots a free throw against the Baylor Bears the Baylor Bears during the semifinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 11, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The father of former Kansas forward Jamari Traylor has had a life sentence commuted by soon-to-be ex-President Barack Obama.

The story of Jessie Traylor has been told many times over. In 2008, he was arrested when he was caught with a kilo of cocaine in a backpack. He was working as a drug courier, taking the coke from Chicago to Decatur, Illinois, but since this was his third drug-related offense – he had already been arrested on two non-violent drug offenses – Jessie was sentenced to life in prison.

As the Kansas City Star detailed last week, Jessie had exhausted all of his appeals, but he reached out to the President from clemency. It took awhile for Obama to get to Traylor’s case, but eventually he had his life sentence reduced to 20 years. With time off for good behavior, Jessie could be out as soon as 2024.

Fox leads No. 5 Kentucky over Mississippi State 88-81

Mississippi State guard Quinndary Weatherspoon (11) gets into a scuffle with Kentucky'sp Isaiah Briscoe (13) and De'Aaron Fox (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Starkville, Miss., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. Weatherspoon and Fox were both charged with offsetting technical fouls. Kentucky won 88-81. (AP Photo/Jim Lytle)
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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Malik Monk, Kentucky’s leading scorer, was struggling and so was star guard Isaiah Briscoe. So when the Wildcats needed some clutch baskets late, coach John Calipari turned to freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox and gave him some simple instructions.

“We just said, `Here you go De’Aaron, go and do your thing,”‘ Calipari said.

Fox responded with two clutch baskets on drives to the basket in the final minutes to thwart a final Mississippi State rally and lead the fifth-ranked Wildcats over the Bulldogs 88-81 on Tuesday night.

Fox finished with 21 points while Monk had 14. Wenyen Gabriel and Derek Willis both scored 13 points and Briscoe added 12.

“A lot of teams have a go-to person, but we don’t have that right now,” Fox said. “So whoever has the hot hand that game is the one that does it.”

Kentucky (16-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference) looked like it would cruise to the win after building a 66-49 lead midway through the second half, but Mississippi State responded with 13 straight points to make things interesting down the stretch.

Calipari said he was frustrated with his team’s inattention to detail. He was especially irritated when Monk got a technical foul for hanging on the rim after a dunk on an alley-oop pass.

“We go into the AAU mode when we’re playing all freshmen and sophomores,” Calipari said. “There’s a point in the game where they just think `OK, watch this.’

“You’re never going to be that team if that’s what your mindset is.”

In the end, the Wildcats were too potent offensively. The 6-foot-3 Fox was especially impressive, shooting 8 of 15 from the field and adding five rebounds and five assists.

Kentucky also got plenty of production from its forwards. Willis scored all 13 of his points in the first half, stepping out to make three 3-pointers. Gabriel was 5 of 5 from the field, including 3 of 3 from 3-point range.

Mississippi State (12-5, 3-2) was led by freshman Lamar Peters, who scored a career-high 25 points. Quinndary Weatherspoon scored 15 points and Mario Kegler added 13 points and eight rebounds.

Mississippi State shot 32 of 59 (54.2 percent) from the field. The Bulldogs were hurt by 19 turnovers.

“You can’t knock Kentucky – they’re one of the best teams in the country,” Peters said. “But when you look at the talent on our team, I feel like we’re one of the best teams in the country, too. We can hang with anybody. And it’s frustrating because we knew we could have won that game.”

It was an emotional game that featured four technical fouls – two on each team.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats continue to put up big numbers on offense, scoring at least 87 points for the sixth straight game. Monk, who leads the team at nearly 22 points per game, wasn’t at his best on Tuesday, but his teammates were more than capable of picking up the slack.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs were able to hang with one of the nation’s best teams for most of the game, but an inability to stop Kentucky on the defensive end proved costly.

QUITE AN ATMOSPHERE

Mississippi State announced a crowd of 9,768, which was its largest of the season. The traffic was so bad before the game outside Humphrey Coliseum that the Bulldogs’ pep band barely made it to their seats on time because its bus was stuck on the road.

UP NEXT

Kentucky: The Wildcats return home to face No. 24 South Carolina on Saturday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs travel to face Tennessee on Saturday.

—–

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25 .

Motley powers No. 6 Baylor past Texas

Baylor forward Johnathan Motley (5) reacts to a play against Texas in first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, in Waco, Texas. Baylor won 74-64. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP)
Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP
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WACO, Texas (AP) — Johnathan Motley really couldn’t explain that feeling he had when he kept scoring points and grabbing rebounds. Baylor’s big forward just knew he wanted to play better than his last couple of games.

“You don’t really remember what you do, you’re just kind of out there going through it,” Motley said after career highs of 32 points and 20 rebounds in No. 6 Baylor’s 74-64 victory over Texas on Tuesday night. “I can’t really tell you the moves I made. I just forgot. It just goes away.”

Coach Scott Drew then smiled and said he liked that attitude of focusing on the next play.

“It’s just a crazy rhythm you get as a basketball player,” Motley added. “You can’t really explain it.”

Nuni Omot, the junior college transfer playing in only his eighth game for Baylor (17-1, 5-1 Big 12), had a season-high 14 points. He scored seven in the half-ending 16-4 run that put the Bears ahead to stay.

Texas (7-11, 1-5) led by as many as eight points early, and was still up by five before Omot’s dunk with just over 5 minutes left in the first half. Al Freeman , who finished with 10 points, and Jake Lindsey followed with consecutive 3-pointers to put Baylor ahead for the first time.

Jarrett Allen had 17 points for the Longhorns, while Andrew Jones had 15. Shaquille Cleare scored 14 before his fifth foul.

About halfway through the second half, the 6-foot-10 Motley had a one-handed putback dunk , though he got a technical foul after an elbow into a defender following the play.

With about 5 minutes left, Motley rebounded his own miss and made a tough jumper over the defender.

“The thing that he keeps getting better with is his motor, and that’s how he got a lot of those rebounds,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said.

In Baylor’s two road games last week, Motley was 6-of-18 shooting for 15 points and 14 rebounds combined. He fouled out after playing only 19 minutes Saturday at Kansas State.

“I wasn’t too happy with myself,” Motley said. “And I tried to do everything I could to be better than I was.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas: Without a true point guard, the Longhorns just can’t seem to get into any flow on offense. They do have impressive stretches during games that give them hope, but Smart’s team seems stuck in a down year that starts to look worse when playing in Big 12 games.

Baylor: The Bears have matched their best start at 17-1, which they also did in 2011-12 when they had a school-record 30 wins and an Elite Eight appearance. The 6-9 Omot could give Baylor a big boost. He sat out last season after transferring from a Minnesota junior college, then was academically ineligible to play in the fall semester.

30-20 RARIETY

Motley joined Jerry Mallett (1957), Darrell Hardy (1966) and Rico Gathers (2015) as the only Baylor players with 30-20 games. The last 30-20 game in a Big 12 game had been by Blake Griffin in 2009 with Oklahoma.

AND THEN IT WAS OVER

Smart liked the mentality his players had to start the game. “The way they were connected, the way they tried to guard was very, very good,” he said. “And then there was a point with about 6-8 minutes left (in the first half) where you could just kind of feel our defensive energy was not as good.” And they never got it back.

IMMORTAL TEN

Baylor players honored the 90th anniversary of the Immortal Ten team. The Bears were headed to Austin, Texas, for a game on Jan. 22, 1927, when 10 players, coaches and fans in the travel party were killed when the bus was hit by a train. There were 10 vacant chairs near the Baylor bench, and players had the names of the Immortal Ten on the back of their game jerseys.

UP NEXT

Texas will play its third consecutive Top 10 opponent, and second straight on the road when the Longhorns play at No. 2 Kansas on Saturday.

Baylor plays three of its next four games away from home, though the Bears only have to go about 100 miles Saturday to play at much-improved TCU.

No. 21 Purdue dominates Illinois

Illinois forward Michael Finke and Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) vie for a rebound during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in West Lafayette, Ind., Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — When Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas are in sync, it’s difficult trying to name a better power forward-center combination in college basketball.

No. 21 Purdue’s two interior players certainly were in sync on Tuesday night against outmanned Illinois.

Haas had 24 points and six rebounds, and power forward Swanigan added 22 points and 10 rebounds in the Boilermakers’ dominating 91-68 victory.

Haas scored 13 points in the second half when the Boilermakers (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) led by as many as 27. Swanigan had a four-point first half but was almost unstoppable during the second half, accounting for 18 points and five rebounds.

“It was Illinois’ game plan not to double us,” Swanigan said. “You could hear their coaches yelling to them to pressure the ball. That was their game plan, and we had success with it.”

Purdue placed five players in double figures, also getting 14 from freshman guard Carsen Edwards, 11 from forward Vince Edwards — no relation — and 10 from point guard P.J. Thompson.

“We have to have balance, and we did that tonight,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “When Isaac got the ball deep like he did tonight, that’s hard to stop. When Isaac is good and efficient, it really puts the other team in a bind.”

Illinois (12-7, 2-4) got 15 points from Maverick Morgan and 12 from Malcolm Hill but had no answer for the Boilermakers’ two post players, each of whom had his way around the basket.

With this victory, Purdue leads the all-time series with Illinois, 100-87.

Purdue made 9 of its first 14 field goal attempts, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, built a 19-5 lead with 13:01 to play in the first half and led 44-30 through 20 minutes, shooting 60 percent from the field (15 of 25).

“With that team, you kind of have to pick your poison,” Illinois coach John Groce said. “They have two great post players, and then they surround them with good shooters. We let them get loose from 3 early, and the 3-point line got them out front and eventually into a double-digit lead.”

Haas was grateful for the 3-point help.

“I don’t think the 3-point success made the game easy, but it gave us confidence and definitely let us get our heads up,” Haas said. “It wasn’t like we were taking contested 1-on-1 shots. We were moving the ball and getting open looks.”

Carsen Edwards had 12 first-half points for Purdue, and Haas had 11. The two were a combined 9 of 10 from the field before halftime. The Boilermakers outrebounded Illinois 20-13 during the opening 20 minutes, although they did not get a single offensive rebound.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini never recovered from the early 19-5 deficit and fell to 0-4 in games against Top 25 competition. Illinois had trouble coping with Purdue’s size and watched as the Boilermakers made five 3-pointers during the first 7 minutes. If Illinois loses Saturday at Michigan, it will be 2-5 in the Big Ten.

Purdue: As the Boilermakers have done every time after a regular-season loss in the past two seasons, they won the next game, getting a nice balance of perimeter play from Carsen Edwards and Haas.

DOUBLE YOUR PLEASURE

With 22 points and 10 rebounds, Swanigan has nine double-doubles in the past 10 games, missing only this past Thursday with 17 and eight in an 83-78 loss at Iowa.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

If the 21st-ranked Boilermakers beat Penn State on Saturday in Mackey Arena and improve to 16-4, 5-2, chances are solid that they will move up a bit in the AP Top 25.

ROAD WOES

Including Tuesday’s loss, Illinois is 0-3 in Big Ten road games, losing by 25 at Maryland, by 16 at Indiana and by 23 at Purdue.

“It’s a lot about being inconsistent,” Groce said.

UP NEXT

Illinois: The Illini travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday to play Michigan.

Purdue: The Boilermakers are at home again Saturday for a game with Penn State.