Western Kentucky mascot Big Red

Western Kentucky will reportedly join Conference USA in 2014

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Western Kentucky will no longer be a member of the Sun Belt Conference and will instead move to Conference USA in 2014, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com is reporting.

The Hilltoppers will reportedly take the place of Tulsa, which is reportedly set to move to the soon-to-be-renamed Big East. The addition of Western Kentucky adds to the list of schools that have joined Conference USA recently, including Florida Atlantic and Middle Tennessee.

Western Kentucky men’s basketball finished 20-16 overall this past season and 10-10 in the Sun Belt. The Hilltoppers won the conference tournament, which earned it an automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. Once in, WKU gave No. 1-seeded Kansas a scare before ultimately falling to the Jayhawks, 64-57, in the Round of 64.

Ray Harper has served as the team’s head coach the past two seasons and led the Hilltoppers to two straight NCAA tournament berths.

With realignment continuing, Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com is reporting that Liberty and James Madison top the list of possible schools that could fill the void that has been left vacant in the Sun Belt by Western Kentucky’s move.

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

Rick Pitino: ‘We should be penalized … but not this team’

Rick Pitino
(AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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One of the biggest storylines of Saturday’s college basketball schedule had everything to do with a team that no longer matters in the championship picture.

Less than 24 hours after being informed that the school would be imposing a postseason ban that will leave the Cardinals out of the ACC and NCAA tournaments, No. 19 Louisville tipped off against Boston College, and they did so without leading scorer Damion Lee, who is battling a knee issue.

How would the team respond to the decision — the despicable, shameful decision — that the university’s president made?

Well, it seems.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 19-2 lead in the first eight minutes and cruised to a 79-47 win over an overmatched Boston College team in the Yum! Center.

And head coach Rick Pitino, after the quote, said exactly what everyone is thinking.

“We should be penalized, no question about it,” he said. “But not this team. But the NCAA didn’t make that decision. We made that decision.”

He’s totally right. The school sacrificed the season — and the only shot that a pair of fifth-year seniors would get to play in the NCAA tournament — to protect the school, the brand and the bottom-line moving forward. Like I said earlier, it’s despicable.

But credit the Cardinals for responding.

Because they still have something on the line. They’re just a game out of first place in the ACC, and while an ACC regular season title isn’t a shot to play in the ACC or NCAA tournament, it’s still a banner that would probably mean more to Damion Lee and Trey Lewis than any league title has meant to a Louisville player before.

Oklahoma State without Jawun Evans, questionable moving forward

Oklahoma State guard Jawun Evans (1) goes up for a shot between Kansas forward Jamari Traylor (31) and forward Perry Ellis (34) in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Stillwater, Okla., Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016. Oklahoma State won 86-67. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
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Oklahoma State’s star point guard was not in the lineup on Saturday against No. 13 Iowa State.

Evans injured his shoulder in the Cowboys’ loss at Texas Tech on Wednesday and was ruled out of Saturday’s game.

According to the school, his official status moving forward is questionable. The Pokes are just 11-11 on the season and likely need to earn the Big 12’s at-large bid to get into the NCAA tournament. It makes sense to let him get healthy.

Evans was averaging 12.9 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 boards this season, but he had been arguably the best point guard in the Big 12 during league play, averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 assists.