Aaron Harrison

One half of Kentucky’s Harrison twins broke out of their slump on Sunday

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After Kentucky’s lost to Michigan State in the Champions Classic, the strengths and flaws of a team that had been put on public display for the first time were picked through and analyzed endlessly.

The consensus?

Kentucky’s potential is through the roof, and that as long as a couple of things happens:

  • Julius Randle learns how to read when a double-team is coming and where it’s coming from, particularly when his go-to move is a spin-move that predictable.
  • Kentucky learns to hit free throws, because 20-for-36 isn’t going to cut it against good teams.
  • Their perimeter shooting gets more consistent.

All that said, the biggest point of emphasis was on the Kentucky back court. Specifically, the Harrison twins.

They did not play well in the loss to Michigan State. And they had not played all that well in the games leading up to that Tuesday night in Chicago, either. Without much in the way of perimeter depth, Coach Cal had put all of his eggs in their basket, hoping that they would be able to put together a strong enough season that the Wildcats would be able to ride Julius Randle and James Young to the Final Four and beyond.

On Sunday, steps were taken in the right direction for at least one of the Harrisons.

Aaron is the off-guard. He’s the guy that will be counted on to provide a scoring punch and an outside shooting touch from the perimeter, and on Sunday against Robert Morris, he did just that. Aaron popped off for 28 points while hitting 4-for-7 from three, a welcome site on a night when Randle and Young weren’t at their best at that end of the floor. As a shooter and a scorer, Aaron’s game centers around his confidence and aggressiveness, and while you must take the opponent into consideration, there’s nothing wrong with building up that confidence against a weaker opponent.

Andrew, the point guard, is still waiting for his breakthrough moment. He’s averaging 10.0 points and shooting the ball well this year, but he’s got just 12 assists to eight turnovers in four games and, more importantly, his body language, particularly against Michigan State, screamed everything but leadership.

If those two can get it going consistently, Kentucky will be the best team in the country come February.

Tom Izzo’s point is valid, but he’s wrong about the new fouling rules

Eron Harris, Tom Izzo
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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On Sunday night, after No. 3 Michigan State knocked off No. 23 Providence in the final of the Wooden Legacy, Spartans head coach Tom Izzo made sure to make his feelings known about the new college basketball officiating mandates.

He doesn’t like them.

At all.

“I just think we’re taking the flow of the game away,” Izzo said. “Maybe it’ll change. We’ll play by the same rules everybody else does. But I think I can voice my opinion to say that I don’t agree with it.”

Part of what frustrated Izzo was that, in a matchup between the two best players in college basketball, both Denzel Valentine and Kris Dunn were sent to the bench with foul trouble.

“I didn’t like it either way,” Izzo said. “I didn’t like having Denzel on the bench, and I didn’t even like watching Dunn on the bench.”

“Don’t tweet this now and leave out the officials,” he added, according to CBSSports.com. “It’s not their fault. Because that’s the way they’re mandated to call them. So I am really either blaming the rules committee, which ends up on the coaches somewhat. So I’m looking in the mirror and blaming myself because I should have argued it more maybe. I just don’t think it’s fun to have these guys sitting.”

This is nothing new for Izzo. This was calculated. He basically said the same thing after Michigan State, then No. 1 in the country, beat Oklahoma in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic two seasons ago, when the rules committee tried to implement these same rules. It was his pushback that started the campaign to get rid of the freedom of movement rules.

But here’s the thing: we all knew this was going to happen. We knew there was going to be an adjustment period, for coaches and players and referees alike. In the long run, freedom of movement is good for basketball. It’s part of the reason the NBA is so much fun to watch these days, as their emphasis on the freedom of movement got us out of the days where the Detroit Pistons were¬†winning titles without scoring 80 points.

Physicality is ingrained in college basketball. Coaches teach defense a certain way. Players play defense a certain way. The guys in the NBA are stronger, but the style of play is much more physical in the college game than the pro game. That doesn’t change overnight.

It changes when those rules are enforced and those fouls are called, and, as a result, the players and coaches learn to adjust to them.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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