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No. 2 Florida survives thanks to Auburn’s disastrous 20 seconds (VIDEO)


It’s a good thing that No. 2 Florida decided to throw up their stinker on Wednesday night.

The Gators survived Auburn in Gainesville — and I stress survived, but I’ll get to that in a second — 71-66, and if they played the way they did against Auburn last Saturday against Kentucky, they would have lost by 20. If they play this was this coming Saturday at Ole Miss, they’ll lose.

I don’t want to take the credit away from Auburn, because for 39 minutes and 40 seconds, they were absolutely tremendous, but this was not a promising performance from Florida. All those concerns we have about their inconsistencies on the offensive end of the floor? The question marks about the number of guys that are able to create their own look? That was all on display on Wednesday.

This shouldn’t exactly be surprising, either.

At this point in the season, these kids are tired. Physically and mentally. They’ve been practicing — some teams for three hours a day — since late September, their schedules loaded with travel and, for some, more than enough schoolwork to keep them busy. The season is a grind, and, at this point, many of the teams that already have locked up tournament bids can easily overlook a game against a team like Auburn.

It’s hard to get up for a game against a team in the bottom of the league, particularly in a situation like Florida, where they’re just three days removed from the biggest win of their season.

And on the nights where that opponents comes to play, as Auburn did, that’s when upsets can happen.

Now let’s get to Auburn: the Tigers were awesome. For the most part, they played well defensively, holding Wilbekin and Michael Frazier II to just 7-for-24 shooting from the floor. They shot 47.8% from the field, 10-for-19 from three and committed just nine turnovers against one of the nation’s best defenses. Think about it like this: they had a chance to take the lead with 20 seconds left at Florida.

And that’s when it all went up in flames. Watch:

Chris Denson missed the go-ahead free throw. On the rebound, with the game tied, Asauhn Dixon-Tatum fouled Patric Young because he didn’t know what the score was. After Young hit both free throws, Allen Payne threw the ball away because A) Auburn didn’t have any timeouts left and B) they didn’t have a play drawn up for the final possession.

That’s as disastrous as a final 20 seconds as you will ever see.

Part of that is coaching. You have to make sure your team knows time and score in that situation, and it’s inexcusable for them to be unprepared for a last second possession even without the benefit of a timeout. That should be worked on every day during practice.

Part of the blame falls on the players, as well. Dixon-Tatum cannot rely on his coach telling him what the score is every possession, and there has to be at least one person bright enough on the floor to run back to the inbounder and get the ball.

Auburn has to be better.

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?