Oregon's Dotson and Kazemi celebrate in the closing moments of the Ducks' win over Saint Louis during their NCAA basketball tournament third round game in San Jose

Report: Racial discrimination led to Arsalan Kazemi leaving Rice for Oregon

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In the months following the 2011-12 season there was a mass exodus of sorts from the Rice basketball program, as multiple players decided that they would be better off finishing their respective careers elsewhere.

Originally the thought of many was that the school’s decision to not renew the contract of assistant coach Marco Morcos as the reason why players such as Oregon’s Arsalan Kazemi and USC’s Omar Oraby decided to leave. But according to a report from Thayer Evans of SI.com there was more at play than the simple decision to not bring back Morcos.

In Evans’ story it is alleged that Rice athletics director Rick Greenspan directed insulting and discriminatory remarks towards Morcos, Kazemi, Oraby and Ahmad Ibrahim on multiple occasions, with the remarks focusing on their respective religions and ethnicities.

Ibrahim, unlike Kazemi and Oraby, decided to play professionally in Lebanon instead of transferring to another four-year institution.

On Thursday, Kazemi, who is Muslim, declined to answer questions about the allegations he made against Greenspan in his hardship waiver request. “I won’t talk about that,” Kazemi said.

Greenspan, who was hired as Rice’s athletic director in March 2010, denied all of Kazemi’s allegations. “I’m glad he’s having success in the postseason, but we at the university categorically deny any allegations of discriminatory treatment that might be claimed during his time at Rice,” said Greenspan, who was previously the athletic director at Indiana and Army.

Morcos, who is of Egyptian descent and was responsible for a number of the foreign recruits who joined head coach Ben Braun’s program, filed a complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in regards to the discrimination he encountered and the hostile work environment at Rice.

In Kazemi’s request for a hardship waiver, which was granted by the NCAA after he missed Oregon’s first two games of the season, he noted multiple situations in which Greenspan directed such comments towards the players.

Kazemi also accused Greenspan of telling him and other players in January 2012, “We only need one more guy to complete the Axis of Evil.”

Another time, Kazemi alleged he was talking in a foreign language to another player and Morcos when Greenspan walked by and told them, “Stop speaking in this language because you could be plotting against us.”

In his one season in Eugene Kazemi is averaging 9.4 points and 9.9 rebounds per game for the Ducks, who take on Midwest Region 1-seed Louisville Friday night in Indianapolis. Leaving Rice worked out for Kazemi, who was one of Conference USA’s best front court players during his three seasons at the school.

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

Brooks’ big game leads No. 15 Oregon over Fresno State 78-73

Dillon Brooks, Torren Jones
AP Photo/Chris Pietsch
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Dillon Brooks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 15 Oregon staved off a late rally by Fresno State for a 78-73 victory Monday night.

Chris Boucher and Elgin Cook added 14 points each for the Ducks (6-0), who led 70-52 with 6:35 to play before Marvelle Harris scored 13 points in a 16-2 run by the Bulldogs (5-1) that cut the deficit to four.

A driving layup by Brooks put Oregon up 74-68 with 1:20 left, and the Ducks held on by making four of six free throws in the final 45 seconds.

Harris, who didn’t score until the 12:04 mark of the second half, led Fresno State with 18 points, while Paul Watson added 11 and Torren Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Bulldogs won the rebounding battle 41-32 behind Jones and Karachi Edo, who had nine rebounds and 10 points.

Freshman Tyler Dorsey, Oregon’s leading scorer at 15.2 points per game, finished with 12.

The Ducks scored the game’s first 11 points, went up by as many as 14 and took a 37-25 halftime lead. The Ducks did most of the damage from inside the 3-point arc (9 of 10) and at the free throw line, outscoring the Bulldogs 13-5.

Fresno State, meanwhile, missed its first six shots from the field, shot 29.0 percent (9 of 31) and saw its top two scorers, Harris and Cezar Guerrero, held scoreless for the first 20 minutes.

The senior guards came in averaging 20.2 and 13.2 points per game, respectively.


Fresno State: Harris, the preseason choice for Mountain West Conference player of the year, needed one point to crack the Bulldog’s all-time top 10 in scoring. After going scoreless in the first half, he finished with 18 to rank 10th with 1,425, one behind Tod Bernard in ninth place, in 107 career games. . The Bulldogs fell to 2-10 all-time against Oregon. They last time they beat the Ducks, who have won the last five meetings, was in 1995. . Fresno State hasn’t beaten a Top 25 team on the road since 2000.

Oregon: The double-double was the second of the season Brooks and fourth of his career. . The Ducks are 40-2 against nonconference opponents since moving into Matthew Knight Arena five years ago. . The 6-0 start is Oregon’s second in the last nine years. The Ducks started 13-0 two seasons ago.

No. 1 Kentucky survives without Tyler Ulis in lineup

Tyler Ulis
AP Photo/Chuck Burton
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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.