Arizona v Stanford

Stanford misses a golden opportunity to upset No. 1 Arizona

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Mark it down: Wednesday night may be the worst performance you see from No. 1 Arizona all season long.

The Wildcats were, quite simply, not good. Stanford’s size was bothering Arizona’s big front line in the paint, Aaron Gordon was forcing things on the offensive end of the floor and Stanford was doing just enough on the offensive end of the floor to open up a lead that grew to 49-42 with about 13 minutes left.

And that’s when the Wildcats decided to show why they’re one of the few teams this season that has the look of a national title contender.

On the road, playing in a raucous environment in what is the single biggest game of the year for Stanford, Arizona turned the screws down the stretch and absolutely shut down anything the Cardinal wanted to do offensively. After a Josh Huestis jumper game Stanford a 53-49 lead with 9:58 on the clock, Stanford wouldn’t score again until Dwight Powell tied the game at 55 with 1:28 left. They would never lead again, eventually losing 60-57.

That’s not impressive enough? How about this stat: After a pair of free throws put Stanford up 51-44 with 12:34 left, the Cardinal would score on three more possessions the rest of the game.


Arizona’s defense was simply too much when you throw in the two huge Nick Johnson jumpers late. And that was it. Perfect season intact with a trip to Cal on the horizon for the weekend.

As far as Stanford is concerned, this is a loss that they are going to regret come Selection Sunday. The Cardinal are tracking to, once again, end up entrenched firmly on the bubble, and there are few things that can make a resume pop like a win over the No. 1 team in the country. It’s a worse scenario for Johnny Dawkins, who has been somewhat of a disappointment in Palo Alto. There are quite a few people out there who think that he needs to make the tournament this season to save his job. If this group ends up back in the NIT, Dawkins will be haunted by a four minute stretch where Stanford had empty possession after empty possession while holding the Wildcats scoreless.

Stanford played about as well as you can play against the Wildcats. They were in a perfect position to snag a season-changing upset, and they blew it.

Much of the credit should belong to that Arizona defense of those two huge Nick Johnson buckets, but that won’t make this loss feel any better for Cardinal fans.

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?