Temple v North Carolina State

Khalif Wyatt, Temple hang on to beat N.C. State

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Leading 38-22 at the half, East Region 9-seed Temple looked poised to put 8-seed N.C. State away with relative ease and pick up the program’s second NCAA tournament victory since reaching the Sweet 16 in 2001 (they beat Penn State in the 2011 tournament).

The Wolfpack would make things interesting in the second half, cutting Temple’s lead to two in the final seconds but they could not get over the hump. The end result is a 76-72 victory for the Owls, who will take on either top-seed Indiana or 16-seed James Madison on Sunday.

Khalif Wyatt scored 31 points (9-of-22 FG) and dished out five assists to lead Temple, but just as important were the 18 points scored by Jake O’Brien. O’Brien scored 13 of those points in the first half, with N.C. State failing on multiple occasions to identify the Boston University transfer.

Temple shot 53.3% in the first half, due to a combination of solid offensive execution and the Wolfpack’s defensive “indifference.”

N.C. State shot 70.4% from the field in the second half (55.8% for the game), with Scott Wood (ten points) finally getting going down the stretch after going scoreless in the first 20 minutes. Lorenzo Brown scored 22 points and handed out nine assist to lead the way offensively for N.C. State, with C.J. Leslie adding 20 points and Richard Howell posting a double-double (14 points, 15 rebounds).

But the Wolfpack’s lethargic start could not be overcome. And with that a season that began with such high expectations for Mark Gottfried’s team ends with a relative whimper, as the preseason pick to win the ACC heads home after just one NCAA tournament game.

As for Temple’s chances on Sunday (against in all likelihood Indiana), they’ll need to take care of the basketball as they did on Friday. Fran Dunphy’s team turned the ball over just five times, converting 13 N.C. State turnovers into 17 points. And getting outscored 48-24 as they did is something the Owls can’t afford to have happen against the Hoosiers.

But when you have a player like Wyatt, who has arguably the best “old man game” in college basketball, you’ve got a puncher’s chance at the upset.

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

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?