Kenny Kadji

Late Night Snacks: Miami takes bad loss, A-10 proves to be entertaining

Leave a comment

Game of the Day: Georgia Tech 71, No. 6 Miami 69

Sometimes the outcome of a game can be as easy as who boxes out and who doesn’t. On Georgia Tech’s final possession, Miami was the team that did not get a body on every available Yellow Jacket, allowing Marcus Georges-Hunt to get free for a tip-in as time expired. Miami’s hopes for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament took a hit with the loss, especially considering the four bad losses they’ve amassed over the course of the season.

Important Outcomes

1. Villanova 67, No. 5 Georgetown 57

Villanova solidified its spot in the NCAA tournament by notching its third win of the season over a Top 5 team. With good RPI and SOS numbers, the Wildcats’ resume compares favorably to other bubble teams, especially those that have registered bad losses in the past few weeks.

2. Xavier 77, No. 16 Saint Louis 66 (OT)

The final score does not speak to how closely contested this game was. Xavier led by seven points with 4:40 remaining, but Saint Louis clawed back to force overtime. The Xavier wins kept the Billikens from claiming at least a share of the A-10 title Wednesday night and opens up a more interesting race for the top. La Salle and VCU are still in contention.

3. Iowa State 87, No. 13 Oklahoma State 76

In the same way that Villanova needed a big win Wednesday, Iowa State did too and it capitalized. The Cyclones are difficult to beat at home and now add this OSU win to wins over Kansas State and Oklahoma.


1. Trey Burke, Michigan (26 points, 7 assists, 5 rebounds)

If there was another night on the schedule where Trey Burke was to prove that he was worthy of a National Player of the Year award, this was it. He started out cold and Michigan’s offense followed suit, but he began to pick it up in the second half and ultimately led the Wolverines to victory in a tough road environment.

2. Travis Taylor, Xavier (19 points, 19 rebounds)

Xavier could continue to pick up steam and get stronger as we get closer to the conference tournament. For that reason and considering what we saw today from Taylor in a win over Saint Louis, I think Barclays Center is going to play host to one of the best tournaments in the country next week.

3. Will Clyburn, Iowa State (20 points, 7-of-10 FG)

Iowa State needed a win badly to help to solidify its NCAA tournament resume and Clyburn helped to that end. He was 2-of-4 from three-point range as well in the victory.


1. Reggie Johnson, Miami (2 points, 1-of-4 FG, 3 TOs)

Johnson has been out of his groove over the past two games, following up an 0-of-5 shooting game against Duke with another subpar performance Wednesday. He needs to be an interior presence for the Hurricanes if they want to make noise in the ACC tournament and make a run in March.

2. Shabazz Muhammad, UCLA (4-of-19 FG, 2-of-11 3pt FG)

Muhammad still managed to pull together 14 points, but he struggled to find his stroke from the field. He was part of a larger UCLA attack that was stagnant Wednesday night in a loss to Washington State.

3. Rob Loe, Saint Louis (0 points, 0-of-3 FG, Fouled Out)

Loe typically averages over seven points per game on the year, but was ineffective Wednesday night. His Saint Louis team was able to push the game to overtime, but he and three other teammates eventually fouled out and the Billikens took the loss.

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

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
Leave a comment

Less than a week after giving No. 2 Maryland all they could handle, Illinois State went into Lexington and gave No. 1 Kentucky fits.

The Redbirds never really threatened UK in the second half, but they went into the break tied and were within single digits down the stretch, eventually losing 75-63.

Kentucky was flustered. They turned the ball over 15 times compared to just eight assists, they shot 2-for-12 from three and just 29-for-46 (63 percent) from the charity stripe. They simply did not handle Illinois State’s pressure all that well.

And there was a reason for that.

Tyler Ulis didn’t play.

Sometimes it’s difficult to appreciate just what a player brings to a team until that player is not in the lineup, and that was precisely the case with Ulis on Monday night. It was crystal clear what he provides Kentucky. Beyond leadership and the ability to break a press without throwing the ball to the other team, he’s a calming presence. He doesn’t get rattled when a defender is harassing him and he doesn’t get overwhelmed by a situation like a mid-major threatening the No. 1 team in the country in their own gym.

He’s everything you look for in a pure point guard, and for as good as Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe have looked at times this season, it should be crystal clear who the most important player on this Kentucky team is.

LSU loses to Charleston, eliminates at-large bid margin for error

Ben Simmons
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
Leave a comment

Ben Simmons scored 15 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, the second time in his six-game career that the LSU freshman has collected that many caroms, but that wasn’t enough for the Tigers to avoid dropping a game on the road to the College of Charleston, 70-58. It was the third straight loss for Simmons’ crew, as they fell to Marquette and N.C. State at the Legends Classic last week.

But here’s the thing: LSU didn’t just lose.

The game really wasn’t close.

LSU was down by as many as 23 points. It was 39-17 at the half, and that was after Charleston had a shot at the buzzer called off upon review. They made a bit of a run in the second half but never got closer than seven. When LSU would cut into the lead, the Cougars would respond with a run of their own, killing LSU’s spirit while keeping them at arm’s length.

[RELATED: Ben Simmons’ one college year a waste?]

Now, there are quite a few things here to discuss. For starters, LSU’s effort was, at best, apathetic, and, at worst, regular old pathetic. The team has a serious lack of leadership that was plainly evident on Monday night; would Fred VanVleet let his team fold against a program picked to finish at the bottom of the SoCon? Would Tyler Ulis? For that matter, would Tom Izzo or Mike Krzyzewski or John Calipari?

Perhaps more importantly, does any of that change when Keith Hornsby and Craig Victor get back?

Simmons did show off his potential — 18 boards, four assists, he even made his first three of the year — but he also showed precisely why there are scouts that are trying to curtail the LeBron James comparisons. Simmons was 4-for-15 from the floor with seven turnovers against a mediocre mid-major team. There are so many things that Simmons does well, but scoring efficiently — particularly in half court setting — and shooting the ball consistently are not on that list.

But here’s the biggest issue: LSU may have put themselves in a situation where they aren’t a tournament team. As of today, they’re 3-3 on the season with losses to a pair of teams that, at best, seem destined to be in the bubble conversation on Selection Sunday in addition to this loss to Charleston. The rest of their non-conference schedule is ugly. The only game worth noting is at home against No. 6 Oklahoma at the end of January.

The NCAA factors in non-conference schedule strength when determining at-large teams. You need to at least try, and LSU didn’t try; they have one of the worst non-conference schedules in the country.

The great thing about being in the SEC — as opposed to, say, the Missouri Valley — is that the Tigers will have plenty of chances to earn marquee wins. Six, by my court: Kentucky twice, Texas A&M twice, Vanderbilt on the road and Oklahoma at home. They probably need to win at least two or three of those games to have a real chance, and that’s assuming they can avoid anymore horrid losses in the process.

The season isn’t over six games in, not by any stretch of the imagination.

But LSU has done a hell of a job eliminating their margin for error.