Erik Murphy

No. 8 Florida falls to 0-4 in close games this season


Florida went into Tuesday night’s game at Tennessee with just six healthy rotation players, a Will Yeguete is battling a knee injury and Michael Frazier out with a concussion.

They left with just five, as Casey Prather took a shot to the head that looked like it left him woozy and opened up a faucet of a cut over his left eye.

And Tennessee — a physical, veteran team that always plays well against Florida and is currently playing their best basketball of the season — came in desperate, playing for their NCAA tournament lives.

All of that played a significant role in Tennessee’s 64-58 win over No. 8 Florida, as did Jordan McRae’s performance — 27 points, seven boards, four assists, two steals and two blocks — and Jarnell Stokes’ physicality — 14 boards.

But all of that also belabors a larger point: Florida is still winless in close games.

Florida has played four close games this season, all of which came on the road, and lost all four of them.

– They blew a six-point lead in the final minutes at Arizona, losing 65-64.

– They lost a 67-61 dogfight to Kansas State in Kansas City two games later.

– They lost at Missouri last Tuesday, 63-60, after blowing a 13-point second half lead.

– And they lost at Tennessee on Tuesday, in a game where Florida’s execution down the stretch left much to be desired.

Should I mention the 11 point lead that Florida blew against Louisville in the Elite 8 last year?

That’s a trend. A problematic one, at that. And now it’s essentially cost the Gators a shot at getting a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.

At this point, it’s fair for us to start asking whether or not this Florida team is truly a national title contender, isn’t it? Unless you consider beating Missouri (without Laurence Bowers), Ole Miss or Kentucky (in the game that Nerlens Noel got injured) in Gainesville a quality win, the Gators have really done nothing of note since beating Marquette by 33 points (again, in Gainesville) back in late November.

Florida fattened up on mediocre SEC opponents, but do they know how to compete and win in close games against quality competition?

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Pressure is on new coach Steve Prohm at Iowa State

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AMES, Iowa (AP) Five months ago, Iowa State’s Steve Prohm was the coach at mid-major Murray State. Now he’s in charge of one of the big favorites in the Big 12.

Prohm officially began his first season in charge of the Cyclones on Tuesday with the team’s annual media day.

Iowa State has all the pieces to make a run at the league title and more – provided that Prohm can handle coaching college basketball at the highest level, of course.

In the minds of Prohm’s players, the Cyclones have nothing to worry about.

“Coach (Prohm) is in here earning our trust and our respect every day,” said senior forward Georges Niang. “Even though he’s not trying to cross any of our toes, he puts his foot down when he needs to and lets us know that stuff needs to get done. I think he has a great combination of how to keep us motivated…and still be stern and be able to get the most out of us.”

Fred Hoiberg’s departure for the Chicago Bulls after five mostly successful seasons gave Prohm a shot at a national title. The roster Hoiberg left behind for Prohm is loaded.

Niang, a likely preseason first-team All-American, second-team All-Big 12 point guard Monte Morris and league defensive player of the year Jameel McKay headline one of the nation’s most talented starting units. Throw in veterans like Naz Long, Matt Thomas, Abdel Nader and transfer Deonte Burton, and Prohm might just have the best roster a new Power Five coach has inherited since Bill Guthridge took over for Dean Smith at North Carolina in 1997.

Guthridge reached the Final Four with his first team.

Prohm isn’t shying away from the notion that Iowa State is among the handful of teams with serious national title aspirations.

“Yeah, they’re realistic,” Prohm said when asked about the sky-high expectations for this year’s team. “I think we have the opportunity to have a very special season.”

The similarities between what type of styles Prohm and Hoiberg use was cited as a big reason why Iowa State hired him. Hoiberg even lobbied for Prohm to athletic director Jamie Pollard during the hiring process.

To that end, Prohm is going to let his players have a ton of input on how they play. Prohm doesn’t plan many changes, just tweaks that mostly involve techniques to improve Iowa State’s somewhat inconsistent rebounding and defense.

“I don’t need to say, `This is the way we’re doing things guys because this is the way I did it.’ That’s stupid,” Prohm said. “I need to meet these guys halfway.”

Prohm also acknowledged that he’ll be doing quite a bit of learning himself this season. But Prohm said he intends to embrace the unique opportunity he’s been afforded.

“This is a great situation to walk into. No question,” Prohm said. “Is there pressure? Yeah. But who wants a job with no pressure?”

Lawyer: Pierre suspended due to ‘unfair and defective process’

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Dayton forward Dyshawn Pierre, who is suspended from school for the fall semester stemming from a sexual assault allegation, has sued the university over what his lawyer calls an “unfair and defective internal process”.

Peter R. Ginsberg, Pierre’s lawyer, released a statement to on Wednesday stating that his client intends to file suit over the ruling, saying that the school arrived at a suspension through “fundamentally unfair and defective internal process that deprived him of vital rights and protections and has resulted in a disruption in his education, a drastic blow to his reputation, and a potentially fatal interference” with basketball.

Pierre was suspended due to an incident that allegedly took place in mid-April and was reported in May, according to the Dayton Daily News. The prosecutor declined to press charges in the case due to a lack of evidence, the paper reported.

Pierre, a 6-foot-6 wing that averaged 12.7 points last season, is not currently enrolled at the school.

“What has been done to me has been grossly unfair. The allegations against me are false,” he said. “And now I find myself with my reputation tarnished, my schooling interrupted and my dream of helping the basketball team win a national championship being threatened. I want justice, and I want a return to my normal life.”

Ginsberg represented Dez Wells in a similar case. Wells, then at Xavier, was expelled by the university in 2012 following a sexual assault allegation, but he won a settlement from the school in 2014. The crux of Ginsberg’s claims regarding Pierre’s case is that the process by which Dayton reached this conclusion is fundamentally flawed.