The preseason favorites to win the West Division of the Ohio Valley Conference will be shorthanded when they open their season on Friday night at Saint Louis due to a violation of team rules.
On Wednesday Southeast Missouri State head coach Dickey Nutt announced that forwards Nino Johnson and Tyler Stone, his two best players, have both been suspended for two games due to their breaking of an unspecified team rule. Stone (15.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg in 2012-13), a second-team All-OVC selection last season, was the preseason pick to win OVC Player of the Year this season with Johnson (11.1, 8.8) being a preseason All-OVC selection.
“I am disappointed to announce that Tyler and Nino will be suspended for the first two games,” said Nutt according to Catlin Bogard of OVCball.net. “No one is bigger than this program. We have rules and consequences in place and our players are held accountable.”
With Stone and Johnson out of the lineup the Redhawks’ chances of upsetting the reigning Atlantic 10 champions took a significant hit, and the task would have been difficult even if those two were able to play. Stone and Johnson will also miss the Redhawks’ game against Central Baptist on November 11, and they’ll be eligible to return when SEMO visits IUPUI on November 16.
Nic Moore scored 18 of his 25 points in the second half and added 11 assists as No. 16 SMU knocked off Gonzaga in Moody Coliseum on Saturday night, 69-60.
The Zags got 20 points and 16 boards from Domantas Sabonis, but Kyle Wiltjer scored just four points and shot 2-for-17 from the floor.
It wasn’t pretty.
And it may have been the end of Gonzaga’s NCAA tournament hopes.
Entering Saturday, the Zags had an RPI in the mid-60s, enough to keep them in the bubble conversation but not enough to make them anything more than a team that will be projected to end up on the cut-line.
The issue is a complete lack of quality wins on their résumé. Gonzaga beat UConn in the Bahamas. That’s a borderline top 50 win. They beat Washington, another borderline top 50 win. Beyond that? They swept Pepperdine, beat Tennessee and own a win over Montana. None of those are top 100 wins, and that’s why the SMU game was such a big deal. The Mustangs are a top 25 team. This was a road game. This win was the kind of thing that the Zags could pin at the top of their profile.
But Wiltjer didn’t show up, the Zags had no answer for Moore and they’ll head back to Spokane needing, in all likelihood, to win the WCC’s automatic bid if they want to dance.
Cal picked up a big win over Oregon State in Haas Pavilion on Saturday night, and the exclamation point was this emphatic dunk from Jaylen Brown: