Illinois State v Louisville

Illinois State, VCU agree to home-and-home series

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The summer months are important ones for college programs, and not only because of the skill development of players in the program and the need to hit the recruiting trail.

There’s also the act of completing the non-conference schedule for the upcoming season, a task that can be tougher for some schools than others. Wednesday evening Illinois State announced that the school has reached an agreement with VCU for a home-and-home series, with the first game being played in Richmond on Friday, November 8, 2013.

The Redbirds will host the Rams during the 2014-15 season, but a date for that matchup has not been determined.

“I am very excited about starting this series with VCU,” Illinois State head coach Dan Muller said in a statement released by the school. “They are well-coached, play extremely hard and have had a lot of success recently.

“Playing at VCU gives us a chance to play in a hostile environment this year, which is a goal for me in scheduling. (VCU head coach) Shaka Smart’s teams are always going to compete and be prepared, and bringing them back the following year should be very exciting for our fan base.”

An interesting fact about this series is that Muller played in last two meetings between the programs, with VCU currently holding a 3-1 edge.

The last time the Redbirds faced VCU, Muller was a sophomore on the court. In fact, he led all scorers with 19 points and seven rebounds to help ISU in a narrow, 74-72, loss at VCU, Dec. 23, 1995. Muller was also in uniform during VCU’s only trip to Redbird Arena. As a freshman, he netted 15 points with nine rebounds to lift Illinois State to its lone win against the Rams, 77-68, Dec. 18, 1994.

Last season Illinois State did a solid job of taking care of the basketball, as they averaged just over 13 turnovers per game. That will be a key for the Redbirds at the Siegel Center in November, as VCU forced an average of 19.7 turnovers per game in 2012-13.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Auburn suspends leading scorer Canty indefinitely

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Prior to Auburn’s game at Georgia Saturday evening, head coach Bruce Pearl announced that leading scorer and starting point guard Kareem Canty has been suspended indefinitely.

Canty’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game and his abilities as a scorer and distributor have been key for the Tigers offensively. When Canty returns to the court remains to be seen, with Pearl noting that Canty may be able to return before the end of the season.

“Kareem has had some strong moments for our team this season,” Pearl said. “He has demonstrated that at the highest level of competition, he can win his matchup.

“However, his effort and attitude have been extremely inconsistent, which led to actions and behavior that are unacceptable. He will step away from the team for a while and may return later in the season. He is suspended indefinitely.”

According to the release Cinmeon Bowers will move into the starting lineup for Auburn, which is now 9-13 overall and 3-7 in SEC play. Auburn’s lost five straight and eight of their last ten games after losing by ten at Georgia Saturday night.

Without him more minutes are available to freshman New Williams, who played 22 minutes against Georgia. Bryce Brown started and played 18 minutes, with Devin Waddell playing 12 minutes off the bench.

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis go crazy, No. 20 Kentucky beats Florida by 19

Kentucky's Jamal Murray (23) shoots near Missouri's Ryan Rosburg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Jamal Murray scored a career-high 35 points and became the first Kentucky player to hit eight threes in a game since 2010.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points and 11 assists.

As a result, No. 20 Kentucky bounced back Tuesday’s loss to Tennessee — when the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead — as they blew out a good Florida team, 80-61. The final score doesn’t really do the beat down justice, either. Kentucky was up 24-5 seven minutes into the game. The Gators, who look like they may end up being seeded as high as the No. 6 line on Selection Sunday, never had a chance.

If Kentucky was trying to prove a point, they did. I’m not sure if Murray and Ulis make up the nation’s best back court in college basketball, but on Saturday, they looked like the best back court in the entire world. They were awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that they were responsible for 64 of Kentucky’s 80 points tonight.

And that’s where this win can be a bit concerning.

Look, the issue with Kentucky is that they don’t get near enough production out of their front court, and if the knee injury that kept Alex Poythress out of the lineup on Saturday ends up being at all serious, than UK’s most productive big will be out of commission. On Saturday, Kentucky’s front court — minus Derek Willis, who is more of a wing that’s been slotted at the four — finished with a grand total of 10 points, 15 boards and 12 fouls.

That issue isn’t going away just because Ulis and Murray played an unbelievable game against one of the nation’s top five defenses, according to KenPom.com. You don’t buy a house with termites just because you love the way that it’s furnished.

But what this performance shows you is what Kentucky’s ceiling is, what they are capable of on the night’s when their two stars play like stars.

If they get hot at the right time, they can beat anyone in March. Hell, this could be enough to carry them to the Elite 8, maybe further.

When those two can play that well in a season where there is no dominant team, you can’t really count anything out.

But it also means that Kentucky is capable of losing to anyone on any given night, and all it takes is one cold shooting night for Kentucky’s run in March to come to an early end.