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Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart suspended three games for shoving fan

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With 6.2 seconds remaining in Oklahoma State’s 65-61 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday night, sophomore guard Marcus Smart shoved Texas Tech fan Jeff Orr after being taunted by Orr. Smart, who wound up close to the stands as a result of his challenging a Texas Tech layup attempt, was assessed a technical foul and removed from the game by head coach Travis Ford.

Smart apologized for his actions during a press conference on Sunday evening, and the Big 12 announced that he will be suspended for the Cowboys’ next three games. The first game Smart will miss is on Tuesday night, when the Cowboys visit No. 15 Texas.

“Mr. Smart’s actions were a clear violation of the Big 12 Conference’s Sportsmanship and Ethical Conduct Policy,” Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in the release.  “Such behavior has no place in athletics, and will not be tolerated.  I appreciate the efforts of Oklahoma State University athletics director Mike Holder in addressing this matter, and believe this is an appropriate response to an inappropriate action.”

Smart will also miss games against Oklahoma and Baylor, with the first game he can play upon his return being the Cowboys’ home game against Texas Tech on February 22. There’s never a good time for a situation like this, and the fact that Oklahoma State is already down one guard (Stevie Clark, who was dismissed from the program) makes the loss of Smart even bigger.

Without Smart in the fold for the next three games it’s likely that fellow sophomore Phil Forte III moves into the starting lineup. However the next best playmaker for the Cowboys has been Markel Brown, who’s second on the team with an average of 2.6 assists per game. Forte’s averaging just 1.1 assists per game, with much of his work being done off the ball prior to this point.

Any way you slice it, this is a major personnel loss for a team that’s lost four in a row and five of its last six games. And without their best playmaker, Oklahoma State’s in serious danger of going from being ranked in the Top 10 to not even making the NCAA tournament. How well the Cowboys perform in Smart’s absence will determine their fate.

USC athletic director Pat Haden to step down in June

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LOS ANGELES (AP) University of Southern California athletic director Pat Haden says he will retire on June 30.

USC President Max Nikias made the announcement Friday.

Haden has run the athletic department for 5 1/2 years, leading the Trojans through a multiyear stretch of NCAA sanctions against its vaunted football program. He created a large NCAA compliance program and improved graduation rates and grade point averages across the athletic department.

The former USC quarterback also received criticism for the football program’s relative underachievement and for his handling of coach Steve Sarkisian, who has sued the school over his termination last year.

Nikias says Haden’s department also raised over $400 million during his tenure.

Nikias says Haden will start a one-year job guiding the renovation of the Coliseum after he retires.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Ivy League’s best meet in New Haven

Columbia guard Maodo Lo, right, steals the ball from Northwestern forward Aaron Falzon, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, in Evanston, Ill.  (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Columbia at Yale, 5:00 p.m.

The two best teams in the Ivy League, with matching 4-0 league records, meet for the first time this season. The Lions were close to suffering their first loss last weekend, but an Alex Rosenberg jumper as time expired gave the Lions the win at reigning champion Harvard. Rosenberg’s one of four players averaging at least 12.2 points per game for Kyle Smith’s team, with senior guard Maodo Lo leading the way at 15.8 per contest.

They’ll face a Yale rotation led offensively by point guard Makai Mason (15.7 ppg, 4.1 apg), and the front court tandem of Justin Sears and Brandon Sherrod has been outstanding. The winner get a leg up in the Ivy race, with the rematch scheduled for March 5 in New York City (regular season finale).

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: Central Michigan at Akron, 8:00 p.m.

Two of the top teams in the Mid-American Conference meet at the JAR, as Akron looks to extend its win streak to six straight. The Zips’ balanced offensive attack has been led by forward Isaiah Johnson (12.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg), who currently leads the team in both scoring and rebounding. As for the visiting Chippewas, guards Braylon Rayson and Chris Fowler combine to average 32.7 points per game, with Fowler also responsible for a MAC-best 6.3 assists per contest. CMU’s had some struggles on the defensive glass in league play, ranking 11th in that category, but they’ve done a better job defensively than they did in non-conference play.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • MAAC leader Monmouth is back in action, as they host a Fairfield team led by one of the conference’s best players in senior forward Marcus Gilbert. The Hawks have a deep lineup led by junior guard Justin Robinson, who at this point in time is the likely frontrunner for MAAC Player of the Year honors.
  • Looking to catch Monmouth is Iona, which is a game behind the Hawks at 9-3. A.J. English and the Gaels visit Canisius in a matchup that should not lack for offense. Iona’s more inclined to run, but Canisius doesn’t lack scorers either with guard Malcolm McMillan leading four players averaging double figures.
  • Given the fact that they’re 1-3 in Ivy League play, Harvard’s essentially in the spoiler role unless some chaos breaks out at the top end of the standings. The Crimson can help in that regard with a win at Princeton, with the Tigers (2-1) a game behind Columbia and Yale in the loss column. Princeton’s been the better offensive team this season, thanks in large part to junior forward Henry Caruso who leads the team in both scoring and rebounding.