Marquette Sweet 16-bound after holding off Butler in tournament’s best game

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Around this time last season, Marquette was on its way to the Sweet 16 with Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder and his right-hand man, Darius Johnson-Odom. Three different Marquette assistants sat on the sidelines and guard Vander Blue was a solid producer on a solid Big East team.

One year later, Crowder and Johnson-Odom are gone. Those three Marquette assistants have moved on. And perhaps most importantly Vander Blue is at the center of a Golden Eagle run that once again finds them in the Sweet 16 after a 74-72 win over No. 6-seed Butler at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday night.

After two Davante Gardner free throws with four seconds left to play gave Marquette a four-point lead, 74-70, Butler launched an inbounds pass the length of the court where center Andrew Smith grabbed it and laid it in for two. That pulled the game within one possession, 74-72. A botched inbounds play by Marquette and perhaps a missed foul call allowed the ball to go out of bounds with two seconds remaining, giving Butler one final opportunity to tie.

The subsequent pass was thrown to Smith at the top of the key, but he stumbled and missed a three-pointer that would have given Butler the win.

Blue had 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including a big three-pointer from the right corner with 1:29 to play that tied the game at 69. His major performance followed a game-saving layup in the Round of 64 that allowed Marquette to survive and advance past Davidson.

With all the change that has come to this program over the past year, there has remained one constant: head coach Buzz Williams. Williams did not win Big East Coach of the Year, but he very well could have. Considering the assets that he lost, the development of the players he had returning, and the production that he has been able to help them unlock, this Marquette run to the Sweet 16 is remarkable.

Marquette now moves on to play the winner of Miami-Illinois for a chance to punch its ticket to the Elite Eight.

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

Florida Gulf Coast’s Demetris Morant out 3-4 months

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Florida Gulf Coast redshirt junior forward Demetris Morant is expected to miss the next 3-4 months after undergoing surgery last week to repair a stress fracture in his right shin, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-9 forward averaged 4.5 points, 4.4 blocks and 1.3 blocks per game in 33 appearances (18 starts) for the Eagles during the 2014-15 season.

“This is obviously an unfortunate setback for Demetris, but it was a procedure that needed to be done,” Florida Gulf Coast head coach Dooley said in a statement. “We decided it would be best to have it completed now to hopefully get him back for A-Sun play. It’s an opportunity now for other guys to step up in his absence, and I have confidence they’ll get the job done.”

The Eagles have the top frontline in the Atlantic Sun, one that returns Marc-Eddy Norelia and Filip Cvjeticanin, a 3-point shooter who missed all of last season recovering from back surgery. VCU transfer Antravious Simmons becomes eligible in the second semester.

Florida Gulf Coast begins the 2015-16 season on Nov. 14 against Ohio.

Bill Self on Cheick Diallo: ‘It may be a couple of more weeks’

2015 McDonald's All American Game
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Cheick Diallo is currently practicing with Kansas, but his eligibility still remains in question.

On Monday, Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on “The Border Patrol” on WHB-AM 810 and was asked to update the status of his freshman big man.

“He’s been cleared to practice,” Self told hosts Steven St. John and Nate Bukaty. “(His status) is depending on what they find throughout from the information we submit to them whenever we get it all together.

“A lot of people think, ‘Well, why wouldn’t it all be together?’ Well there’s a lot of reasons why. It’s because they told us recently some things that they just wanted. Instead of just throwing it to them piece by piece, they requested we to just submit it all together, so it may be a couple of more weeks before we’re able to submit everything when you’re talking about getting information from schools in Mali and everything like that.

“But we hope in two weeks, maybe three weeks, before we have a definite answer. But right now, Cheick is like everybody else. He’s practicing.”

Diallo, a 6-foot-9 forward from Mali is allowed to practice with the Jayhawks, but has been waiting to be cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center despite enrolling in classes over the summer and earning six credits. Self anticipated this would be a long process, but has remained confident Diallo, the top-5 recruit in Class of 2015, will eventually be cleared to play this season.

For three years, Diallo attended Our Savior New American School in Centereach, New York, which is currently under NCAA review. In September, Pitt freshman Damon Wilson, Diallo’s teammate at OSNA, was cleared to play.

Kansas opens the season on Nov. 13 against Northern Colorado.