Mitch McGary

Nik Stauskas helps erase a 16-point second half deficit, Michigan tops Florida State in overtime

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Michigan trailed by 16 points in the second half as Florida State was looking to close in on its second top-15 win in as many days. But behind the play of Nik Stauskas, who scored 23 of his career-high 26 points from the second half on, the Wolverines rallied to defeat the Seminoles 82-80 in overtime for a spot in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game against Charlotte.

Off a timeout, Stauskas attacked the bucket to tie the score with eight seconds forcing, the extra five minutes. To start the overtime period, Glenn Robinson III hit a jumper that gave Michigan a 71-69 lead, the Wolverines’ first lead since 12-10, and one it would not give back.

Michigan started off with an early lead, sparked by 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc. But the Florida State defense, the same defense that held VCU to a 29 percent shooting the night before, limited the Wolverines to just one made three in their final 10 attempts in the first half, entering the break with a 10-point edge.

Stauskas, along with Mitch McGary, sparked the comeback when Stauskas drove to the bucket for a two-handed slam with 13:30 to go. Michigan continued to attack the rack while the threes began to fall. It seemed things were going Michigan’s way when McGary off all people led the break, when he got tangled up, throwing the ball around his back, which went cross-court to Stauskas for a 3-pointer, which cut the lead to 52-46 with under 11 to play.

Less than 10 minutes in regulation, the lead got cut to 55-51 off a Spike Albrecht triple, but Montay Brandon scored eight straight points to create some  separation for the Seminoles.

Late in the game, Michigan switched up its defense from a man-to-man to an extended 1-3-1 zone , which completely fooled the Florida State offense. Stauskas, Robinson and Caris Lavert — all 6-foot-6 or taller — caused chaos at the top of that extended zone, forcing five Florida State turnovers in the final four minutes of regulation, including one with 2.2 second, which gave Michigan as shot at the game-winner.

The Wolverines ended regulation on a 13-5 run.

Less than a week ago, the Wolverines suffered a 77-70 road loss in a tough environment to Iowa State. On Tuesday, No. 14 Michigan needed a second half comeback against an unranked, but talented Seminoles team. McGary, who is still coming back from that back condition, went for 16 points and 12 boards and Derrick Walton, the successor at point to Trey Burke, added 15 points, six assists and four boards, while taking a big charge at the bottom of that zone in overtime to go along with Stauskas’ big night.

Michigan and Charlotte meet in the final on Sunday at 6:30 p.m.

Syracuse receives mixed news on sanctions appeals

Jim Boeheim
Associated Press
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Wednesday the NCAA made its ruling on two appeals of sanctions made by Syracuse University, with the news being mixed for the men’s basketball program.

On the positive side the NCAA ruled that Syracuse will be docked two scholarships per season for the next four years, as opposed to the original ruling of three. As a result Jim Boeheim’s program only has to account for the loss of eight total scholarships, meaning that they’ll have 11 to fill in each of the next four seasons as opposed to ten.

One scholarship may not seem like a big deal, but in a sport where you only get 13 (when not dealing with sanctions) getting that grant-in-aid back really helps from a recruiting standpoint.

As for the negatives, they both concern Boeheim. Not only has there yet to be a ruling on Boeheim’s appeal of his nine-game suspension that goes into effect when ACC play begins in January (that appeal is being heard separately), but the appeal to reinstate the wins that were vacated as part of the sanctions was denied. As a result Boeheim officially has 868 wins instead of 969 (not counting today’s game against Charlotte).

And with Mike Hopkins set to take over as head coach in 2018, the denial means that college basketball will have to wait quite some time before anyone threatens to join Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski in the 1,000 wins club.

While not having the wins officially reinstated does hurt, getting a scholarship back for each of the next four seasons is a bigger deal when it comes to the long-term health of the Syracuse program. Also of great importance will be the ruling regarding Boeheim’s suspension, as a suspended coach is not allowed to have any contact with his players or coaching staff while serving the penalty.

And with the original ruling due to take up half of Syracuse’s league slate, not having Boeheim (or the chance to speak with him) is a big deal when it comes to this current team.

St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe cleared by NCAA

Chris Mullin
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer
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St. John’s forward Kassoum Yakwe has been cleared by the NCAA to play this season and will be eligible immediately, the school announced on Wednesday.

Yakwe is a 6-foot-8 forward that reclassified and enrolled at St. John’s this fall. He attended the same high school as Kansas forward Cheick Diallo, who was also cleared by the NCAA to play today.

St. John’s played in the Maui Invitational this week, and Yakwe did not take part. His first game with the Johnnies will be on Dec. 2nd against Fordham if the program plans to play his this season.

The question that must be asked, however, is whether or not he will suit up or simply redshirt. The Johnnies are in the midst of a serious rebuild and will be without their other elite recruit this season, Marcus Lovett. Lovett was ruled a partial qualifier. Would it make sense to burn a year of eligibility on what make amount to a wasted season, or will head coach Chris Mullin opt to save that year for down the road?