Duke v Virginia

Late Night Snacks: Joe Harris leads Virginia past No. 3 Duke

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Game of the Night: Morehead State 101, Tennessee State 100 

There wasn’t much on the line in this one (besides seeding for next week’s OVC tournament) but the Eagles and Tigers played a classic in Nashville, with Morehead State needing to hang on despite shooting 61.7% from the field and 60.0% (15-of-25) from beyond the arc. Angelo Warner led five Morehead State players in double figures with 23 points, but the Eagles finished the game with as many turnovers (20) as assists (20). Kellen Thornton scored 29 points and Robert Covington added 23, eight rebounds and four steals for Tennessee State, who dropped into third place in the OVC East Division with the defeat.

Important Outcomes

1. Virginia 73, No. 3 Duke 68

The result is more about the Cavaliers than the Blue Devils, who didn’t play their best but Ryan Kelly was dressed (he did not play) and that could open the door to the possibility of him playing on Saturday against No. 5 Miami. Joe Harris scored 36 points and Akil Mitchell added 19 and 12 rebounds for Virginia, who picked up a much-needed win for their resume.

Virginia’s final three regular season games are against Boston College, Florida State and Maryland, which makes their win over Duke all the more important. Duke’s loss is the 19th time this season in which a team ranked in the Top 5 has lost to an unranked opponent this season.

2. Temple 83, Detroit 78 

Originally scheduled to be played on December 28 as part of the Gotham Classic (Detroit was unable to travel due to inclement weather), the Owls and Titans played one of the more entertaining games of the night in Philadelphia. Khalif Wyatt scored all 20 of his points in the second half and knocked down two huge three-pointers late to push Temple past Detroit.

An unsung hero for Temple on this night was forward Jake O’Brien, who scored 16 points off the bench to help keep the Owls afloat when Wyatt was struggling. Ray McCallum Jr. led Detroit with 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, but they would have been in need of the Horizon League’s automatic bid regardless of the outcome.

3. No. 2 Gonzaga 70, BYU 65 

Gonzaga is now just one win away from the fourth undefeated WCC campaign of the Mark Few era…and possibly the top spot in the national polls for the first time in school history. Kelly Olynyk scored 19 points and Gary Bell Jr. added 15, but if the Bulldogs are to be successful in March Kevin Pangos can’t shoot as poorly as he did in Provo (2-of-13 FG, 1-of-12 3PT).

Tyler Haws led four BYU players in double figures with 19 points, and they need a win at Loyola Marymount on Saturday night to clinch the three-seed in next weekend’s WCC tournament. A loss combined with a Santa Clara win would drop them to fourth, which would mean a possible meeting with Gonzaga in the semifinals as opposed to the title game.

Starred 

1. G Damion Lee (Drexel) 

Lee was hot in the Dragons’ 81-77 win at Old Dominion, scoring a career-high 34 points on 11-of-14 shooting and grabbing ten rebounds.

2. G/F Joe Harris (Virginia) 

No. 3 Duke had no answer for Harris, who scored a career-high 36 points (12-of-20 FG) and grabbed seven rebounds in the Cavaliers’ 73-68 victory.

3. G Omar Strong (Texas Southern)

Strong was part of CBT’s #shootmore campaign during non-conference play due to his ability to get hot from beyond the arc. In the Tigers’ 79-66 win over Southern, which gave them sole possession of first place in the SWAC, Strong shot 7-of-13 from three and scored 34 points.

Struggled

1. Grambling

The Tigers (0-27, 0-17 SWAC) are down to their final shot when it comes to picking up a regular season victory. Grambling shot 32.8% from the floor in a 74-47 loss to Alabama A&M.

2. G Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) 

Sulaimon had a tough night in Charlottesville, scoring four points on 2-of-10 shooting and committing three turnovers in the 73-68 loss to Virginia.

3. G Jarred DuBois and C Jason Washburn (Utah) 

If the Utes were to have any chance of beating California in Berkeley they needed their seniors to have good nights. That didn’t happen, as they combined to shoot 3-of-17 from the field and score 11 points in the 64-46 loss.

Three Facts

1. Three teams locked up the top seed in their respective conference tournaments and the automatic bid to the Postseason NIT (should they need it) that comes with the honor on Thursday: Stony Brook (America East), Robert Morris (Northeast) and South Dakota State (Summit League).

2. Dominic Artis returned to the floor for No. 24 Oregon after missing nine games due to a foot injury, playing 12 minutes and scoring six points in the Ducks’ 85-75 win over rival Oregon State. Oregon retains sole possession of first in the Pac-12, and Artis has a week of rest before the Ducks visit Colorado and Utah to end the regular season.

3. Florida Gulf Coast kept its hopes of winning a share of the Atlantic Sun title alive with a 60-57 win over first-place Mercer, and the win also guaranteed the Eagles of their first 20-win season as a Division I member. Mercer will look to win the regular season title outright on Saturday with a win at Stetson.

Top 25 Scores

No. 2 Gonzaga 70, BYU 65
Virginia 73, No. 3 Duke 68
No. 16 Ohio State 63, Northwestern 53
No. 24 Oregon 85, Oregon State 75
No. 25 Louisiana Tech 84, Utah State 61

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Hartford makes smart decision to allow ‘Pancake’ Thomas transfer

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Hartford coach John Gallagher, AP Photo
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Another talented graduate transfer has hit the market.

Cleveland ‘Pancake’ Thomas — that’s a helluva name, isn’t it? — has been granted a release by Hartford and will be allowed to transfer to another program for his fifth season.

“Our biggest priority for Cleveland was that he graduate from the University of Hartford with a valuable degree,” Hartford head coach John Gallagher said in a statement released to ESPN after some speculation that Thomas wasn’t going to be given a release. “That happened. Beyond wishing him the very best, we don’t comment on other program’s players. We are very excited about our group and the upcoming season.”

The term “release” is needed here because Thomas, a 6-foot-3 guard who averaged 18.9 points and shot 42.6 percent from three this past season, spent his first two years of eligibility at New Mexico. A graduate transfer exception is granted to any player making their first transfer after receiving an undergraduate degree. But since Pancake had already transferred once, he was only eligible to apply for a graduate transfer waiver, which the school he is leaving must support.

Remember the saga of Todd O’Brien? He tried to leave St. Joseph’s to spend his fifth-year at UAB but made headlines everywhere when Phil Martelli wouldn’t let it happen? That’s because O’Brien had started his career at Bucknell and needed Martelli to support the waiver.

Gallagher could have done the same to Pancake.

He made the right decision not to — Martelli has enough coaching cache to withstand the onslaught on criticism he received, I’m not sure that is true for Gallagher — even if it will result in Thomas playing elsewhere, hence the cold-hearted nature of that statement.

Anyway, Thomas never averaged more than 3.9 points at New Mexico, so while he’s a tantalizing prospect for programs that are dying for perimeter depth and shooting, this isn’t exactly a kid that’s going to launch himself into the NBA Draft’s first round by jumping up to a higher level.

Shawn Forrest named assistant coach for Jankovich at SMU

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22:  Head coach Larry Brown (L) and associate head coach Tim Jankovich of the Southern Methodist Mustangs look on during the team's game against the Kent State Golden Flashes during the 2015 Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena on December 22, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Southern Methodist won 90-74. The game marks Brown's return from a nine-game suspension.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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DALLAS (AP) Shawn Forrest has been named an assistant basketball coach at SMU, his third school since the end of last season.

Mustangs coach Tim Jankovich announced Forrest’s hiring Tuesday.

Forrest spent the past three seasons as an assistant at Western Kentucky before head coach Ray Harper resigned. Forrest was named a UTSA assistant in May, but two weeks later left for Louisiana Tech before the unexpected opening at SMU.

Jankovich was SMU’s associate head coach before the abrupt resignation last month of Hall of Fame coach Larry Brown. Forrest fills the open assistant spot created on the staff when Jankovich was promoted to head coach.

Before Western Kentucky, Forrest was an assistant coach at Louisiana-Lafayette, North Texas, Arkansas State and Florida A&M.

Jim Boeheim’s Melo comments are evidence of why athletes hate the media

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 21:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the United States poses with Team USA assistant coach Jim Boeheim after defeating Serbia in the Men's Gold medal game on Day 16 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at Carioca Arena 1 on August 21, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim has a habit of creating headlines that are not all that flattering, to himself or to the people that he’s commenting on, which is why it wasn’t much of a surprise that a quote he gave to Mike Waters of the Syracuse Post-Standard has been making the rounds this week.

The quote in question?

“He’s unlikely to win an NBA title,” Boeheim said of his former star and now three-time Olympic champion Carmelo Anthony. “He’s never been on a team that even had a remote chance of winning an NBA title.”

That sounds bad, doesn’t it?

But … I mean, he’s right, isn’t he?

Melo is 32 years old and title-less. He’s been to the conference finals once and gotten out of the first round of the playoffs just twice, and now he’s on the downside of his career. Athletes don’t get better as they exit their early 30s unless they’re taking whatever it was that turned Barry Bonds into a cyborg. Adding the remnants of Derrick Rose and a 31 year old Joakim Noah is helpful, but unless those contracts can teleport the Knicks back to 2011, Rose will be the only person calling this group a Super Team.

So yeah, Boeheim is right. You probably think so, too. Melo is probably never going to win an NBA title unless he finds a way to get to the Cavs.

But here’s the thing: focusing on that one line totally ignores the point that Boeheim was making in the interview. As always, context is critical, and if you read the story that Waters wrote, it’s pretty obvious the message that Boeheim was trying to get across. Melo is not going to leave a legacy in the NBA beyond being a guy that got a lot of buckets. It just didn’t work out for him that way. Ask Karl Malone how that feels.

But by going to Rio for the 2016 Olympics, by becoming the first men’s basketball player to win three Olympic gold medals, Melo did solidify himself a legacy.

He’s the most accomplished and, arguably, the best player that Team USA has ever had. That’s not going to make up for the rings that are missing on his fingers, but it does cement his place in the history of the game.

That was Boeheim’s point, and it was a salient, intelligent point, one that complimented Melo for the success that he had in international play.

But if you scroll through your favorite blogs and see that headline, it looks like he was taking a shot at the player that brought him his only national title.

And given how twisted that quote has gotten, is it any wonder why athletes and coaches hate the media?

UPDATE (1:30 p.m.): Boeheim has weighed in:

Oregon wins their opener on Spanish tour

Oregon forward Elgin Cook, from left, forward Dillon Brooks and guard Tyler Dorsey react after a play against Washington during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinal round of the Pac-12 men's tournament Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Las Vegas. Oregon won 83-77. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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Oregon won the opener of their tour in Spain 109-88 on Tuesday night, as the Ducks knocked off a team of all-stars in Madrid.

Tyler Dorsey had 19 points to lead the Ducks while Kavell Bigby-Williams and Dylan Ennis, who is coming off of a season derailed by foot injuries, both added 16 points. Chris Boucher, who was terrific at the Nike Skills Academy in July, had 12 points.

While Ennis’ health was noteworthy, it is also worth pointing out that Oregon’s star Dillon Brooks did not play on Monday and will not be playing on the trip. I know this because, in every photo posted by the official Oregon team accounts, Brooks is in a chair with a boot on his left foot.

The rising junior, a potential all-american, had surgery on the foot earlier this month.

VIDEO: University of New Orleans aids area flood victims

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After over 20 inches of rain fell over three days and over 60,000 homes were damaged in southeastern Louisiana, New Orleans coach Mark Slessinger called his acquaintance, John Derenbecker, in the area to check in. Derenbecker and his family were fine, Slessinger learned, but many in the area were not.

I told (Derenbecker) to figure out who needed the help the most,” Slessinger told the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “that I had my whole crew who could come help out on Saturday and Sunday.”

That led Slessinger and his team to the home of an elderly couple, Elbert and Ione Norred, whose house was ravaged by over four feet of flood water. The Privateers helped slog out debris, cut away wet insulation and whatever else needed removing from the soaked home.

“I appreciate everything you have done,” Ione Elbert told the Privateers. “Nobody knows how long it would have taken us to have done this.”

The Red Cross estimates that the relief effort for the flooding could cost upwards of $30 million in the region. To make a donation to the organization call 1-800-RED CROSS.

UNO’s baseball team also got in on the aid effort, heading to Baton Rouge over the weekend.

“We are proud to see our student-athletes, coaches and staff serve our fellow Louisianians in their time of need,” UNO Director of Athletics Derek Morel said in a statement. “The men and women of our program understand the importance of serving others and using our resources to help those in less-fortunate situations. We will continue to play for neighbors.”