I’m not sure that No. 16 Iowa State could have played much better than they did on Wednesday night in Lawrence.
Georges Niang shook off a horrendous performance in the first game against No. 6 Kansas, finishing with 24 points on 10-for-17 shooting. DeAndre Kane added 22 points and Melvin Ejim finished with 18. The Cyclones handled a furious start from Kansas, where the Jayhawks seemed poised to turn this game into a rout, erasing what was at one point a 16 point first half lead and getting within 46-43 by the break.
It was much of the same in the second half, as Iowa State had an answer for just about every Jayhawk blow.
And it still wasn’t enough. Kansas pulled away down the stretch thanks to a career-high 29 points from Andrew Wiggins, who led five players in double figures. Embiid and Perry Ellis combined for 34 points and 17 boards while Naadir Tharpe had arguably the best game of his Kansas career, finishing with 12 points, 12 assists and just a single turnover.
In other words, Kansas looked like the best team in the country on Wednesday night.
And the Cyclones were right there with them. In Phog Allen Fieldhouse.
It’s hard to come away from that performance anything but impressed. Sure, you’d like to see that defense improve, but Iowa State could not possibly matchup more poorly with Kansas. And, quite frankly, the Jayhawks are not an easy team to stop when Wiggins, Ellis and Tharpe play like they did tonight.
This was the fourth loss in the last five games for the Cyclones, but three of those four came on the road and the home loss was against the Jayhawks. We know what this team is. As long as they win their home games and beat the teams they’re supposed to be on the road, they’ll be fine.
A valiant effort at the Phog only reinforced that notion.
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 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?