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.

Top 2018 recruit R.J. Barrett names final five schools

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A top player in 2018 is down to five schools.

R.J. Barrett, a 6-foot-6 guard out of Monteverde Academy in Florida, announced Wednesday he’ll consider Arizona, Duke, Michigan, Oregon and Kentucky as his college destination.

Barrett is among those in the mix for the top spot in his class now with Marvin Bagley III reclassifying to 2017 this week and committing to Duke. He starred in Canada’s run to a gold medal at the FIBA U19 World Championships this summer, dropping 38 points on Team USA in a shocking semifinals win for the Canadians, who went on to defeat Italy in the finals. He averaged 21.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 4.6 rebounds per game during the event.

The schools to make the cut for certainly are of little surprise. They’re among the biggest brands in basketball and have been among the recruiting elites for years.

Barrett was originally part of the 2019 class, but decided to reclassify earlier this summer.”Really, it’s been a thought of mine for the last year,” Barrett wrote for USA TODAY, “but I wanted to wait and see how the season would go and how school would go and when everything went well it became more and more real so I made the decision to go ahead and do it.

“I’m right on track to graduate in 2018 and academically everything is great.”

 

Big Ten reveals conference schedule with early-December games

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We knew it was coming, but seeing it in black-and-white is still plenty jarring.
The Big Ten is going to play conference games in early December.

The league announced its full conference schedule Wednesday, unveiling 14 first-week-of-December games ahead of nearly a month-long hiatus before Big Ten play picks up again in January.

It’s a move that was forced after the Big Ten decided it needed to expand its east coast presence after its expansion to Rutgers and Maryland, and will be playing its conference tournament on the eastern seaboard for the second-consecutive year, this time at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

The problem with MSG is that the Big East hosts its annual conference tournament there, meaning the B1G will have to play its tournament a week early, March 1-4. That means a week less of January, February and March for the conference to play its 18 league games. Thus the early December start. NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster broke down the situation in even more detail – and bite – last spring here.

Every team in the league will play both a home and a road game during that league’s first week, a soft opening if you will. Whether teams like the change or not will likely come down to circumstance  – what players they have injured or suspended, what players their opponents have injured or suspended and any other host of issues, but it’s hard to believe with all things being equal, Big Ten coaches will like this move. They’re playing extremely meaningful league games less than three weeks into the season with other conferences getting nearly 2 months of preparation before facing their toughest slate of games.

The B1G, though, will have more favorable and interesting games – even if they’re programmed against college football championship games (including their own) – that week than any other conference can boast, which likely means some nice TV ratings. Given why this change is being made, that’s probably the priority anyway.

South Carolina adds Maine grad-transfer Myers

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South Carolina is adding some immediate help in its follow-up season to a Final Four run.

Wesley Myers, a graduate transfer from Maine, is joining the Gamecocks’ program, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

The 6-foot-2 guard gives Frank Martin’s team an instant infusion of scoring as they look to replace SEC player of the year Sindarius Thornwell and PJ Dozier. Myers 16.9 points per game last year on 43.7 percent shooting, including a 34.3 percent mark from 3-point range.

He’s the second grad-transfer Martin has picked up this offseason, joining Florida Atlantic’s Frank Booker. The pair should help ease the transition from last year’s success to a much less experienced team that returns just a pair of starters.

Myers, though, doesn’t arrive in Columbia without some notable history.

Last year, after transferring to Maine from Niagara, was suspended after an altercation with a teammate, according to reports. He and teammate Marko Pirovic argued over locker room music, and the alleged ensuing altercation left Pirovic with a broken jaw, according to reports. Three other Maine players were suspended after telling a team athletic trainer that Pirovic had injured himself in a fall in the shower. Pirovic declined to press charges.

Virginia head coach Tony Bennett: ‘We believe in diversity and unity to its fullest extent’

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Virginia’s Tony Bennett finally spoke out on last weekend’s clash between white supremacists protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and counter-protesters that resulted in the deaths of a 32-year old woman named Heather Heyer and two police officers involved in a helicopter crash:

Bennett does not exactly take a hard-line stance — the message is more about healing within the community and how much he loves his current hometown than it is about condemning what happened — but he does say “we believe in diversity and unity to its fullest extent.”

Kyle Guy, a sophomore on the Virginia roster, had this to say on Sunday:

UNC academic case finally reaches NCAA infractions hearing

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — It has taken more than two years for North Carolina to appear before an NCAA infractions committee panel since initially being charged with five top-level violations amid its long-running academic scandal.

The two-day hearing begins Wednesday in Nashville, Tennessee. The panel will ultimately determine whether the school faces penalties that could include fines, probation or vacated wins and championships, making this a major step toward resolution in an oft-delayed case filled with starts, stops and twice-rewritten charges.

“The hearing stage, no matter what size of a case, it’s a big deal to any university,” said Michael L. Buckner, a Florida-based attorney who has worked on infractions cases. “I’ve been a part of what you’d consider small cases, I’ve been a part of one of the largest cases. And trust me: The client feels the same anxiousness and apprehension no matter what size of a case it is.

“But I can definitely imagine with North Carolina, this is definitely a momentous occasion.”

The charges include lack of institutional control in a case tied to irregular courses in the formerly named African and Afro-American Studies (AFAM) department. The case is an offshoot of a 2010 football probe, with the NCAA reopening an investigation in summer 2014, filing charges in May 2015, revising them in April 2016 and then again in December.

The panel, which would typically issue a ruling weeks to months later, is chaired by Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey and includes former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

UNC’s representatives were seen arriving for the closed-door hearing at a Nashville hotel Wednesday morning. The contingent included athletic director Bubba Cunningham, men’s basketball coach Roy Williams, football coach Larry Fedora and women’s basketball coach Sylvia Hatchell. Jan Boxill and Deborah Crowder, two former UNC employees charged individually in the case, were also seen with their attorneys.

None of the coaches are charged with a violation. But football and men’s basketball are referenced in a broad-based improper benefits charge tied to athlete access to the irregular courses, while women’s basketball is tied to a charge focused on a former professor and academic counselor providing improper assistance on assignments.

Fedora wasn’t working at UNC during the time in question.

“There’s nothing that I can add to what happened before I ever got here,” Fedora said last week. “But I’m there for support. I think me being there is important — not only for the NCAA but the university — that it shows compliance is important to me and our program.”

The focus is independent study-style courses misidentified as lecture classes that didn’t meet and required a research paper or two for typically high grades. In a 2014 investigation, former U.S. Justice Department official Keorneth Wainstein estimated more than 3,100 students were affected between 1993 and 2011, with athletes making up roughly half the enrollments.

The NCAA has said UNC used those courses to help keep athletes eligible.

UNC has challenged the NCAA’s jurisdiction, saying its accreditation agency — which sanctioned the school with a year of probation — was the proper authority. In a May filing , the school stated it “fundamentally believes that the matters at issue here were of an academic nature” and don’t involve NCAA bylaws.

The NCAA enforcement staff countered in a July filing: “The issues at the heart of this case are clearly the NCAA’s business.”

UNC has argued non-athletes had access to the courses and athletes didn’t receive special treatment. It has also challenged Wainstein’s estimate of athlete enrollments, saying Wainstein counted athletes who were no longer team members and putting the figure at less than 30 percent.

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