scott

Sophomore forward Josh Scott continues to make strides for No. 20 Colorado

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. — When it was announced that Andre Roberson would forgo his senior season and enter the 2013 NBA Draft, it was known immediately that No. 20 Colorado’s returning front court contributors would need to raise their production. Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott were both quality players as freshmen, and in redshirt freshman Wesley Gordon the Buffaloes were adding a player who many expect to blossom into a key figure as he gains both experience and maturity.

The process of accounting for the departure of a player as valuable as Roberson can be a difficult one, but through 12 games it appears evident that Scott has taken the steps needed to be one of the Pac-12’s better interior players. In the Buffaloes’ 78-73 loss to No. 7 Oklahoma State on Saturday night Scott accounted for 20 points and 12 rebounds, tallying his fifth double-double of the season.

“[Oklahoma State] didn’t double him tonight, and when teams don’t double Josh we have to go to him because he’s an effective scorer on the low block,” Colorado head coach Tad Boyle said after the game, but he also lamented the lack of interior touches in the game’s first 20 minutes.

“We had 17 paint touches in the first half, and we want 50 for the game,” continued Boyle. “We weren’t getting the ball inside enough. We need to and we want to, and it was something we talked about at halftime. We did a better job of that in the second half, and we were more effective.”

It’s been said many times in basketball that the best thing about freshmen is that they become sophomores, but in this current period in which the best freshmen are being fitted for suits once their debut season ends that can be forgotten. Scott’s benefitted from an offseason to work on his game and strength, and the effects have been positive for him individually and for the Buffaloes as a team.

Last season Colorado ranked fifth in the Pac-12 in offensive rebounding percentage (33.6%) and seventh in defensive rebounding percentage (69.6%), with the youth of Scott and Johnson being one reason why. Through 12 games this season the Buffaloes are third in the conference in offensive rebounding percentage (36.3%) and first in defensive rebounding percentage (78.0), with the latter percentage ranking second nationally.

Against Oklahoma State both Johnson (three points, five rebounds) and Gordon (two points, six rebounds) struggled, leaving Scott to do much of the work against the Cowboys’ big men. And if not for his performance as both a scorer and rebounder (five of his 12 rebounds came on the offensive end), it’s difficult to see a way in which Colorado would have gotten to the latter stages of the game with a chance to win.

Maybe the fact that Scott isn’t the most outwardly demonstrative player has impacted the way in which he’s been viewed this season. But if people were paying attention on Saturday night, they saw even more evidence that the sophomore big man has made significant progress in his second season in Boulder.

Auburn suspends leading scorer Canty indefinitely

Auburn guard Kareem Canty (1) screams in pain after being fouled during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Auburn, Ala. Auburn won 75-70.  (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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Prior to Auburn’s game at Georgia Saturday evening, head coach Bruce Pearl announced that leading scorer and starting point guard Kareem Canty has been suspended indefinitely.

Canty’s currently averaging 18.3 points per game and his abilities as a scorer and distributor have been key for the Tigers offensively. When Canty returns to the court remains to be seen, with Pearl noting that Canty may be able to return before the end of the season.

“Kareem has had some strong moments for our team this season,” Pearl said. “He has demonstrated that at the highest level of competition, he can win his matchup.

“However, his effort and attitude have been extremely inconsistent, which led to actions and behavior that are unacceptable. He will step away from the team for a while and may return later in the season. He is suspended indefinitely.”

According to the release Cinmeon Bowers will move into the starting lineup for Auburn, which is now 9-13 overall and 3-7 in SEC play. Auburn’s lost five straight and eight of their last ten games after losing by ten at Georgia Saturday night.

Without him more minutes are available to freshman New Williams, who played 22 minutes against Georgia. Bryce Brown started and played 18 minutes, with Devin Waddell playing 12 minutes off the bench.

Jamal Murray, Tyler Ulis go crazy, No. 20 Kentucky beats Florida by 19

Kentucky's Jamal Murray (23) shoots near Missouri's Ryan Rosburg during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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Jamal Murray scored a career-high 35 points and became the first Kentucky player to hit eight threes in a game since 2010.

Tyler Ulis had 18 points and 11 assists.

As a result, No. 20 Kentucky bounced back Tuesday’s loss to Tennessee — when the Wildcats blew a 21-point lead — as they blew out a good Florida team, 80-61. The final score doesn’t really do the beat down justice, either. Kentucky was up 24-5 seven minutes into the game. The Gators, who look like they may end up being seeded as high as the No. 6 line on Selection Sunday, never had a chance.

If Kentucky was trying to prove a point, they did. I’m not sure if Murray and Ulis make up the nation’s best back court in college basketball, but on Saturday, they looked like the best back court in the entire world. They were awesome.

So awesome, in fact, that they were responsible for 64 of Kentucky’s 80 points tonight.

And that’s where this win can be a bit concerning.

Look, the issue with Kentucky is that they don’t get near enough production out of their front court, and if the knee injury that kept Alex Poythress out of the lineup on Saturday ends up being at all serious, than UK’s most productive big will be out of commission. On Saturday, Kentucky’s front court — minus Derek Willis, who is more of a wing that’s been slotted at the four — finished with a grand total of 10 points, 15 boards and 12 fouls.

That issue isn’t going away just because Ulis and Murray played an unbelievable game against one of the nation’s top five defenses, according to KenPom.com. You don’t buy a house with termites just because you love the way that it’s furnished.

But what this performance shows you is what Kentucky’s ceiling is, what they are capable of on the night’s when their two stars play like stars.

If they get hot at the right time, they can beat anyone in March. Hell, this could be enough to carry them to the Elite 8, maybe further.

When those two can play that well in a season where there is no dominant team, you can’t really count anything out.

But it also means that Kentucky is capable of losing to anyone on any given night, and all it takes is one cold shooting night for Kentucky’s run in March to come to an early end.