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Late Night Snacks: Saint Louis honors a special fan (VIDEO)

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In early June the Saint Louis basketball family lost its biggest fan, as 9-year old Joshua Brown passed away after a battle with glioblastoma multiforme, a rare form of brain tumor. SLU connected with Joshua through the Friends of Jaclyn program, which connects children suffering from brain tumors with college sports teams.

Prior to the Billikens’ 74-47 win over Bowling Green on Saturday evening the team gave the Brown family an Atlantic 10 championship ring in Joshua’s memory.

GAME OF THE DAY: Toledo 80, Detroit 78

Thanks to Julius “Juice” Brown the Rockets are still undefeated (5-0), as his three-point play with six seconds remaining capped a wild comeback at Calihan Hall. With 15:20 to go in the game the Titans led 58-39 following two Juwan Howard Jr. free throws. From that point forward Toledo outscored Detroit 41-20, with J.D. Weatherspoon (14 points) and Rian Pearson (16 points) figuring prominently in the rally. Howard led Detroit with a game-high 23 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES: 

1) No. 1 Michigan State 87, Oklahoma 76: Keith Appling may have finished the game with just two assists, but on this night the Spartans needed him to score in order to hold off the Sooners. Appling finished with 27 points, scoring eight of those in the final 3:04 of the game. Gary Harris added 21 points and Branden Dawson posted a double-double (18 points, ten rebounds) for the Spartans. Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark, who was close to unstoppable early on, finished with 32 points and seven rebounds to lead all scorers.

2) No. 24 North Carolina 82, Richmond 72: The Tar Heels didn’t get off to the best of starts at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut, but they were able to do enough in the second half to take care of Richmond. Marcus Paige (26 points) and Brice Johnson (24 points, 11 rebounds) led the way for UNC, who will play No. 3 Louisville in Sunday’s title game. Unfortunately for the Heels, the “P.J. Hairston Watch” continues.

3) No. 12 Wisconsin 76, Oral Roberts 67: Frank Kaminsky led five Badger starters in double figures with 21 points as Wisconsin held off the Golden Eagles in Madison. As for ORU, their chances of winning the Southland may have taken a hit with head coach Scott Sutton revealing after the game that sophomore guard Obi Egemano is out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL (suffered in the game prior at Saint Louis).

STARRED:

1) Doug McDermott (Creighton): While the underclassmen get the majority of the headlines McDermott simply continues to produce. In Creighton’s 82-72 win over Tulsa McDermott tallied 33 points and 15 rebounds.

2) Elijah Pittman (Marshall): 35 points (8-for-13 3PT), seven rebounds and two assists in the Thundering Herd’s 96-78 win over UNCW.

3) Keith Appling (Michigan State): Scored 27 points (8-for-12 FG), with 8 of those coming in the final 3:04 after Oklahoma pulled to within four, to lead the Spartans past the Sooners, 87-76.

STRUGGLED:

1) LIU-Brooklyn. The three-time defending NEC champions have taken two beatings during their three-game stop in southern California. After losing to UC Irvine by 20 Friday night the Blackbirds fell 102-70 to Eastern Washington on Saturday.

2) George Mason. The Patriots, who entered Saturday’s game at Iona 4-0, did not show up in New Rochelle ready to play. With 8:55 remaining in the first half George Mason trailed 34-5 in a game they’d go on to lose 89-73.

3) Rutgers. Leading William & Mary 33-24 at the half, the Scarlet Knights were outscored 48-29 in the second half of their 72-62 loss to the Tribe. And Rutgers shot 10-for-19 from three in the game as well.

TOP 25 SCORES: 

  • No. 1 Michigan State 87, Oklahoma 76
  • No. 3 Louisville 71, Fairfield 57
  • No. 11 Memphis 98, Nicholls 59
  • No. 12 Wisconsin 76, Oral Roberts 67
  • No. 23 Creighton 82, Tulsa 72
  • No. 24 North Carolina 82, Richmond 72

NOTABLES: 

  • No. 3 Louisville wasn’t particularly sharp on Saturday as they beat Fairfield 71-57 in the second game of the afternoon doubleheader at the Mohegan Sun Arena. Chris Jones scored 15 points and Montrezl Harrell added 14 (and 13 rebounds) to lead the way.
  • The proper tonic for No. 11 Memphis on the heels of their poor performance at No. 8 Oklahoma State: Nicholls. Austin Nicholls led five Tigers in double figures with 20 points as Memphis beat Nicholls (don’t call them Nicholls State) 98-59.
  • Doug McDermott wasn’t the only standout in No. 23 Creighton’s 82-72 win over Tulsa, as Austin Chatman accounted for 17 points and nine assists.
  • Preseason Patriot League favorite Boston University picked up a solid road victory, as they beat preseason Big West favorite UC Irvine 74-68. D.J. Irving (18 points, six rebounds) and Dom Morris (17 and eight) led the way for the Terriers.
  • Five players scored in double figures as Vanderbilt bounced back from a tough loss to Providence, beating Morgan State 75-66.
  • Speaking of bouncing back from tough losses, Seton Hall beat Virginia Tech 68-67 with Fuquan Edwin sealing the game at the foul line. Now 4-2, the Pirates won’t be a pushover in the Big East.
  • Joe Harris only scored nine points but it didn’t matter as Virginia beat Liberty, 75-53. Anthony Gill scored 13 off the bench, and the Cavaliers will need that kind of production from the South Carolina transfer when they take on tougher competition.
  • The lone Division I team without a conference, NJIT, moved to 4-2 on the season with a 91-88 overtime win over Lafayette. Not sure if (or when) the Highlanders find a home, but the best thing Jim Engles and company can do to help their cause is win games.
  • Mark Henniger led five Kent State players in double figures with 20 points as the Golden Flashes held off Niagara, 102-97.

UConn-Syracuse rivalry game brings back memories of the best of the Big East

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 05:  Rodney Purvis #15 of the Connecticut Huskies reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Syracuse Orange during the Tire Pros Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 5, 2016 in New York City. Connecticut defeated Syracuse 52-50  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
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The cliché ‘here, it just means more’ has never rang more true than it did on Monday night in Madison Square Garden.

A bad Syracuse team and a worse UConn team got together in New York City to play an awful basketball game, one where the two teams didn’t crack 100 points combined until there were 2.2 seconds left; where UConn won 52-50 despite shooting 31.4 percent from the floor because the Orange made just 25.9 percent of their field goals; where UConn did everything they could in the final minute to give the game to the Orange, including missing five free throws.

In a game between two teams that entered with a combined 8-6 record, Syracuse and UConn fans packed the Garden and created an environment that was just as rowdy, raucous and bi-partisan as a Big East tournament quarterfinal game that goes to six overtimes.

Businessmen in $5,000 suits were court side, going just as crazy as the UConn fans that packed their student section. Day-traders showed up in Orange t-shirts over their shirt and ties.

It didn’t matter that the Orange entered the game on a two-game losing streak. It didn’t matter UConn, a young team that has already lost two starters to season-ending injury, looks like a team that will be lucky to earn an invite to the NIT.

It never matters when these two former Big East rivals get together in the Basketball Mecca.

“It may be a slap in the face,” said Larry Avitabile, a Connecticut native that now calls Manhattan home, “but I hope UConn shows up as a bad loss when they show Syracuse’s NCAA tournament résumé.”


The rivalry between UConn and Syracuse is unlike any other rivalry in college basketball because of their proximity to New York City and Madison Square Garden, where the Big East has held their conference tournament since 1983.

Both fanbases claim the Big Apple as their own. Both schools consider themselves New York City’s college basketball team. None of the schools that left the Big East and none of the programs still in the conference traveled to the Garden the way that UConn and Syracuse travel to the Garden.

And the result is what you saw on Monday night.

Half of the Garden was blue.

The other half was Orange.

It simply does not get better than that.

Every season, one of the biggest talking points this time of the year is how neutral site games sterilize what makes college basketball special: the energy that comes with playing a game in front of a home crowd. The product on the court is never going to be as good as the product on the floor of any NBA game. That’s a fact of life when the best players at this level are 19 year olds a couple of years away from being able to impact an NBA game or 22 year olds that weren’t quite good enough to be able to make the jump to the pros.

And basketball at any level is never going to be a more popular than the NFL or college football. Unless you live in places like Lexington or Lawrence, college basketball probably isn’t even as important as the MLB or the NHL.

But those big, on-campus games are unparalleled in any sport at any level in this country. The experience of watching, say, UCLA’s visit to Rupp Arena on Saturday or North Carolina’s trip to Assembly Hall last week comes through on the television broadcasts.

When UConn and Syracuse square off in the Garden, it’s like two teams are playing a home game in the building.

“It’s New York City, it’s one of the best venues to play basketball in, it’s on everybody’s bucket list,” said Syracuse guard Andrew White. “Then, given the teams that were here, and the location, you’re dipping into history. This venue and this game is one of the tops all-time.”

White is a fifth-year senior that spent the last four seasons playing for Kansas in the Big 12 and Nebraska in the Big Ten. He’s seen it all. He’s played in the most electric college gyms. He knows what constitutes a great place to play a basketball game.

“I knew what to expect,” said White, who hails from southern Virginia. “I knew what I was getting into coming into this game. It’s Syracuse and UConn at the Garden. Say no more.”

College basketball needs all the games like this that it can get. It’s why those two programs would be doing a disservice to the sport if they decide to discontinue the series after the 2017 Jimmy V Classic, when they will play in the Garden for the second straight season.

Because UConn has too much talent and Kevin Ollie recruits at too high of a level to be down for that long. The Orange are just a year removed from getting to the Final Four and have plenty of young talent of their own on the roster.

Those programs will return to their rightful spots in the top 25 sooner rather than later.

And if those two fanbases can turn one of the ugliest games of the season into what we experienced in the arena on Monday night, imagine what it will be like in that building when those two teams are actually good.

 

Eastern Kentucky basketball player charged with rape

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) Authorities say an Eastern Kentucky basketball player has been arrested on a rape charge.

Records at Kentucky’s Madison County Detention Center show 23-year-old Jaylen Babb-Harrison was arrested Sunday in Richmond and charged with first-degree rape.

A statement from Eastern Kentucky says Babb-Harrison, a redshirt senior guard, has been suspended from the team. It says the school is cooperating with police.

Local media organizations cited an arrest citation in reporting that police were called to a Richmond hospital when a female reported she was at Babb-Harrison’s home and that he had sex with her against her will.

WKYT-TV reports Babb-Harrison declined to be interviewed at a jail. His first court appearance is set for Wednesday.

Online jail records didn’t list an attorney for the player.

Judge dismisses sex charges against ex-Michigan State star

3 Apr 2000: Mateen Cleaves #12 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates on the floor as he holds up the trophy after winning the NCAA Men''s Finals Four Game against the Florida Gators at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. The Spartans defeated the Gators 89-76.
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FLINT, Mich. (AP) A judge has dismissed all charges against former Michigan State basketball star Mateen Cleaves, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a charity golf event.

Judge Cathy Dowd in Flint, Michigan, said Monday there wasn’t enough evidence to send Cleaves to trial. Prosecutors can appeal.

A woman said she twice tried to get away from Cleaves but was pulled back into a motel room and sexually assaulted in September 2015. A witness confirmed that she saw the woman try to escape a room at the Knights Inn near Flint.

But a police officer said the woman never indicated that she was assaulted. Cleaves pleaded not guilty.

The Associated Press generally doesn’t name people who say they were sexually assaulted. Cleaves led Michigan State to the 2000 national championship.

Coaches Poll: Villanova takes the top spot

VILLANOVA, PA - DECEMBER 03: Kris Jenkins #2 of the Villanova Wildcats yells to his team in the first half against the Saint Joseph's Hawks at The Pavilion on December 3, 2016 in Villanova, Pennsylvania. The Villanova Wildcats defeated the Saint Joseph's Hawks 88-57. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
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Villanova has overtaken Kentucky as the new No. 1 in the Coaches Poll on Monday.

The defending champions also took No. 1 in the new AP poll thanks to an 8-0 start while UCLA beat Kentucky at Rupp Arena this weekend. The Bruins finished at No. 2 while Kansas and Duke are right behind them.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | NBC Sports Top 25

  1. Villanova (28)
  2. UCLA (1)
  3. Kansas (1)
  4. Duke (2)
  5. North Carolina
  6. Baylor
  7. Kentucky
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Saint Mary’s
  12. Virginia
  13. Louisville
  14. Xavier
  15. Butler
  16. West Virginia
  17. Wisconsin
  18. South Carolina
  19. Purdue
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Notre Dame
  23. Cincinnati
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State

AP Poll: Defending champion Villanova is the new No. 1

LOUISVILLE, KY - MARCH 26:  Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats reacts in the second half against the Kansas Jayhawks during the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at KFC YUM! Center on March 26, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Josh Hart
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The defending national champs are back at No. 1.

Villanova is atop the latest Associated Press top 25 poll this week as the 8-0 Wildcats are off to a hot start. With Kentucky’s loss to UCLA and North Carolina’s loss at Indiana there were some major shakeups in the polls this week.

  1. Villanova (57 first-place votes)
  2. UCLA (2)
  3. Kansas
  4. Baylor
  5. Duke
  6. Kentucky
  7. North Carolina
  8. Gonzaga
  9. Indiana
  10. Creighton
  11. Louisville
  12. Saint Mary’s
  13. Xavier
  14. Virginia
  15. West Virginia
  16. Butler
  17. Purdue
  18. Wisconsin
  19. South Carolina
  20. Arizona
  21. Florida
  22. Cincinnati
  23. Notre Dame
  24. Oregon
  25. Iowa State