Olaf Schaftenaar

Oregon State freshman gets technical for dunking pregame, Beavers lose by 1 to Cal

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Olaf Schaftenaar was making the first start of his career Saturday for Oregon State after averaging 4.0 points and 1.2 rebounds per game off the bench to begin the year. But before his day against Cal could officially start, he made a mistake.

In pregame layup lines, Schaftenaar dunked which, as harmless as it may sound, is a technical foul. Cal’s Allen Crabbe was given two free throws and he hit one of two. That made the score 1-0 when the game tipped off moments later.

For much of the game, the miscue did not seem to matter. Cal led by nine points at halftime and pushed the lead to as much as 13 in the second half. But then the Beavers came back.

Ahmad Starks and Joe Burton led an Oregon State comeback that gave the Beavers a chance to win, down 60-59 with possession of the ball and four seconds remaining. OSU inbounded to Starks, who had to dribble the length of the floor and fire a three from the left wing that was no good. One point loss, 60-59.

Is it entirely Schaftenaar’s fault? Of course not. There are too many factors going into a basketball game to pinpoint a small pregame technical and make it the scapegoat. Oregon State could have just as easily converted one more free throw (15-of-23 on the night) and hypothetically tied the game, as well.

But it is the type of play that underscores the problem. It was a small mistake that could have determined the outcome and a series of those does not help a team that finds itself 3-12 in the Pac-12. The accumulation of these small mistakes could have turned the tide in previous three-point losses to Cal and Washington State, as well as one-point losses to USC and Towson.

It’s all theoretical, but it could mean the difference between the bottom of the conference and an NIT berth.

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

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.