J.J. Mann hit three threes in the final minute to help erase a late eight-point deficit as Belmont went into the Dean Dome and knocked off North Carolina 83-80 on Sunday afternoon.
The junior guard finished with 28 points, but was just 5-for-18 from the floor and 2-for-11 from three before catching fire in the final minute. He was the only Bruin that couldn’t get things going, however. Belmont finished the night shooting 15-for-37 from beyond the arc, which, ironically, is a number eerily similar to UNC’s 22-for-48 from the free throw line.
Is there a more under-appreciated coach in the country than Rick Byrd?
Think about this Belmont team for a second. Last year, they won the Ohio Valley Conference in their first season in the league on the strength of their star back court, Kerron Johnson and Ian Clark. Both of those guys graduated, with Clark finding his way onto the Utah Jazz roster. That’s a tough loss for any program to handle, let alone a decidedly mid-major program from a town much more concerned with football and country music than college hoops.
Belmont hasn’t suffered one bit. It’s not just this win, either. This wasn’t a fluke. The Bruins also erased a 16-point deficit against Indiana State during the week. That’s the same Indiana State program that went into South Bend and put a whipping on No. 21 Notre Dame.
So Belmont can play and Byrd can coach.
We know this, and we’ve known this for years.
But there’s a reason that Belmont hasn’t been mentioned with the likes of Butler or VCU or Wichita State. There’s a reason that they’re a mostly-unknown powerhouse. There’s a reason that the general public may just be hearing about Belmont now that they’ve knocked off the Tar Heels.
That’s because they’ve yet to win an NCAA tournament game. And until they do, the Bruins will continue to operate in relative obscurity.
Nebraska forward Shavon Shields was stretchered off of the floor after a scary fall as the Huskers were taking on Rutgers.
Nebraska was up by 17 in the second half when Shields bit on a pump fake and tried to block a Rutgers player’s shot. But his momentum carried him over the player’s shoulder, and he landed on what appeared to be up upper back, neck and right shoulder.
Here is the video. Be warned: it’s a nasty fall:
According to the broadcast, Shields lost consciousness on the floor and was taken to a local hospital.
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.