Khalif Wyatt

Temple in good NCAA tournament position after win over No. 21 VCU

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Early on, it looked like VCU’s patented “Havoc” defense would dominate Saturday against Temple. The Rams ripped off an 18-0 run to take a commanding 21-12 lead just 10 minutes into the game. That lead would grow to as many as 16 points, a combination of rushed Temple shots and Owl turnovers, before something clicked.

Temple broke off an 11-0 run to end the half and continued to turn it around in the second half on its way  to an 84-76 victory, denying VCU a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title and boosting its own NCAA tournament hopes in the process.

Khalif Wyatt scored 30 points, the fifth time this season that he has reached that mark, and now has Temple solidly on the favorable side of the bubble. The Owls have quality wins over Saint Louis, La Salle, and Syracuse, on their way to going 11-5 in conference and 23-8 overall. Despite having lost to Canisius, St. Bonaventure, and Duquesne, Temple is 44th in RPI and 71st in strength of schedule.

Of course, a win or two in the A-10 tournament at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn next week wouldn’t hurt their cause, but they should make their way in regardless. Especially with bubbles teams losing left and right around them, Temple rides into the conference tournament on a seven-game winning streak.

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?