Olivier Hanlan

Sunday’s Pregame Shootaround: Triple-header in Boston highlights the day

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GAME OF THE DAY: UMass vs. Boston College, 3:00 p.m. (NESN)

Boston College is coming off of a disappointing overtime loss at Providence on Friday night. Facing a UMass team that will challenge for a spot in the NCAA tournament, the Eagles won’t have it easy on Sunday, either. The Minutemen are led by star point guard Chaz Williams, a dynamic, 5-foot-9 playmaker that nearly went pro this summer.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE DAY: Oral Roberts at Tulsa, 6:00 p.m. 

A battle for bragging rights in the city of Tulsa. Danny Manning’s club will have a chance to make some noise in Conference USA this season, but Oral Roberts has made a name for themselves as one of the best mid-major programs in the country.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 1 Kentucky plays their second game of the young season, taking on new Division I program Northern Kentucky a 4:00 p.m. (ESPN3). It’s the last tune-up for the Wildcats before they take on No. 2 Michigan State on Tuesday night.

2) UMass and Boston College is the highlight, but it is just one of the three games happening at the Coaches vs. Cancer event in Boston today. Things kick off with Northeastern and Boston U. at 12:30 p.m. and closes with Harvard and Holy Cross.

3) The only other ranked team in action on Sunday is No. 21 Notre Dame, who will host Stetson at 1:00 p.m.

4) Iowa State fans will get their first look at new point guard Deandre Kane when the Cyclones host UNC-Wilmington at 1:00 p.m.

5) The final of the Kennesaw State tournament will pit Eastern Kentucky against Youngstown State.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)

After blowout of South Carolina, is No. 22 Kentucky a Final Four contender?

Kentucky guard Tyler Ulis (3) guards the ball after a rebound during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Auburn, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
(AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
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It only took 2:26 for official Doug Sirmons to plant two technical fouls on Kentucky head coach John Calipari, and that may have been the worst thing that could have happened to South Carolina.

He poked the bear, and the result was that a ticked off No. 22 Wildcat team proceeded to run the Gamecocks out of their own gym, 89-62.

The star of the show was interim head coach Tyler Ulis, who put together as dominating of a performance as you’ll ever see out of a player that stands 5-foot-9. Ulis finished with 27 points and 12 assists, hitting 4-for-8 from three and turning the ball over just once.

Marcus Lee added 11 points and 13 boards, including six on the offensive end, and Jamal Murray had his customary 26 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but the story of this game was Ulis.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seed a player under 6-foot capable of dominating a game the way that Ulis can dominate. Murray can take over with the best of them — we saw it against Florida and Ohio State — but when it comes to the NCAA tournament, this Kentucky team will go as far as Ulis carries them.

And based on the way that he’s played in the last six weeks, that could end up being pretty far. In SEC play, Ulis is averaging 19.4 points and 7.6 assists. He’s scored at least 17 points in 12 of the last 14 games and has notched as least five assists in all 14. He just orchestrated a total mollywhopping of a Frank Martin-coached team that was tied for first place in the SEC while playing without his head coach and on the road.

The issue with Kentucky is the same today as it was a month ago. They’re a two-man team with an inconsistent supporting cast. When their two studs play like this, they can beat anyone in the country. When they don’t, they can struggle against anyone.

But here’s the thing: When Ulis is playing the way that he’s played of late, they don’t really need all that much from their supporting cast. Derek Willis needs to be able to space the floor. Lee and Skal Labissiere need to be able to hold their own against opposing big men.

And when that happens?

Kentucky is clearly the best team in the SEC and good enough to be able to win four straight in the Big Dance and get to a Final Four.