Michael Qualls

Michael Qualls tip-slam lifts Arkansas over Kentucky in overtime (VIDEO)

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James Young tied the score at 85-all with 12 second remaining in overtime. Rashad Madden brought the ball up the right sideline and instead of driving to the bucket, looking to draw the game’s 61st foul of the night, he settled for a bad 3-point shot. Luckily for Arkansas, he heaved the shot with two-plus seconds left on the clock.

As the shot went up, no one in a blue jersey located Michael Qualls, who came streaking down the baseline, and threw down a last-second tip-slam, putting the Razorbacks up two with 0.2 seconds remaining. Arkansas ended a long, foul-filled Tuesday night game against No. 13 Kentucky with a huge 87-85 win at Bud Walton Arena.

The game went to overtime after the Arkansas defense had a massive breakdown. A pair of Razorback defenders followed Young on the play, which left Andrew Harrison open on the wing, who drilled his first shot of the game with three seconds remaining in regulation.

For Arkansas, a collapse in overtime could have dashed any hope of the Razorbacks getting an NCAA tournament bid. And yes, it is only January. But Arkansas had lost games in Maui to Cal and Gonzaga, ranked No. 11 at the time. The Razorbacks then began SEC play with a 16-point loss at Texas A&M. That was followed by a home loss in overtime to then No. 10 Florida, which was without leading scorer Casey Prather.

Instead of heading to double-overtime and potentially falling to 0-3 in conference play, Arkansas picked up a quality win it was in need of this season.

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?