Naadir Tharpe is the hero as No. 9 Kansas downs No. 14 Oklahoma State in double OT

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Kansas’ biggest weapon down the stretch Wednesday night against No. 14 Oklahoma State should have been freshman Ben McLemore, a blossoming star who showed earlier in the season against Iowa State that he can take a big shot in the clutch.

But it wasn’t McLemore this time. In fact, McLemore took just three shots in the final 14+ minutes of regulation and two overtimes in the Jayhawks’ 68-67 win on the road in Stillwater, Okla., Wednesday. He did not look confident with the ball on a number of possessions and the ball went elsewhere as a result. The question is, was that for the better?

Without McLemore as a go-to option, Naadir Tharpe took four shots in the overtime periods and only hit one. That one, though, was the most important. It was Kansas’ only field goal of the two five-minute extra periods and proved to be the game-winner with 0:20 to play in the second OT.

By the box score standard, Tharpe did not have a good night. He was 2-of-11 from the floor and 0-of-6 from three-point range with four turnovers. But with McLemore not stepping up and fellow guard Elijah Johnson fouling out with 2:34 to play in the first overtime, Tharpe needed to control the ball.

Even on the final possession where Tharpe ultimately hit the game-winner, McLemore fumbled the ball on the wing before handing it off to him.

And that brings up and important point.

McLemore did not assert himself after struggling for most of the night and finished with seven points on 3-of-12 FG. It was only the third time all season that he had failed to score in double figures and the other two times came in early season non-conference blowouts. He has proven that he can be clutch. Feel free to look back at his game against Iowa State at Allen Fieldhouse for proof of that.

But the real key will be, on nights when his shot is not falling, can he affect the game in other ways and have the confidence to be an option like Tharpe or Releford was on the final possession? He is young. It should come with time. We know that he can be that clear No. 1 option when he is hot, but it is the nights when he is not that will matter. In the mean time, he is still a sensational talent and a key to Kansas’ Final Four hopes this season.

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

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?