Texas A&M’s Antwan Space foils Tennessee once again (VIDEO)

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For those who grew up watching basketball during the 1980s, the name Andrew Toney should be a familiar one. Toney was a good player during his eight-year professional career, averaging nearly 16 points per game and winning an NBA title with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983. But something funny seemed to happen when Toney played against the Boston Celtics, with his exploits in those games earning him the nickname “The Boston Strangler.”

This is by no means an attempt to place Texas A&M forward Antwan Space on Toney’s level, as Toney’s achievements against the Celtics weren’t limited to two games. But if Tennessee fails to reach the NCAA tournament, Space could require a nickname similar to Toney’s.

Space’s three-pointer with 2.4 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Aggies a 68-65 win over the Volunteers in College Station, the second time this season he’s beaten Tennessee with a shot from beyond the arc. In the first meeting between the teams, Space hit a three-pointer with 4.4 seconds remaining to give the Aggies a 57-56 win in Knoxville on January 11. Whatever it is, there’s something about Tennessee that brings out Space’s inner “marksman.”

Following Saturday’s win Space is 9-for-34 from beyond the arc this season. Against Tennessee: 4-for-7, with the Florida State transfer making two of his five attempts on Saturday afternoon. Just as big of an issue for Tennessee was the play of their bench, with three players combining to shoot 0-for-8 from the field and get outscored by Texas A&M’s reserves 21-2.

Yet they still had a chance to escape College Station with a win, beginning with two chances at the end of regulation. The first was lost when Cuonzo Martin decided to end a possession that seemed to be going nowhere by calling a timeout with 2.4 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Volunteers that decision came just before Antonio Barton hit a three-pointer that would have given them the lead. On the ensuing inbounds pass Jarnell Stokes scored at the rim and was fouled, but he missed the free throw that would’ve given Tennessee the lead with four tenths of a second remaining.

That seems to be Tennessee’s luck this season, and with four games remaining before the SEC tournament in Atlanta they have to find a way to turn that luck around in their favor. The problem for the Vols is that three of those four games will do nothing for their profile, with the exception being the regular season finale at Missouri.

As a result Tennessee will likely enter the SEC tournament, even with that impressive win over Virginia on their resume, in need of wins if they’re to reach the NCAA tournament. For their sake, hopefully they don’t run into the Aggies (and Antwan Space) in Atlanta.

Vine credit: gifdsports

Chimezie Metu cleared to play by USC

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USC has cleared junior forward Chimezie Metu as he’ll be allowed to play on Saturday against Utah, the school announced.

The 6-foot-11 Metu is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Trojans this season as he was one of the players named in the Friday reports that linked him to NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins.

The Trojans are the latest school to allow their player to play after the reports as they follow schools like Duke and Kentucky, as they also did the same with allowing Wendell Carter Jr. and Kevin Knox Jr. to play.

It’s also noted in the release that USC is reviewing Bennie Boatwright’s eligibility as well even though he’s out for the season with a knee injury.

On Friday, Yahoo Sports reported a wide-scale payment operation from Miller and Dawkins in order to recruit players for Miller’s agency. The records allege that Bennie Boatwright Sr. received about $2,000. The records also allege that Metu or his advisor, Johnnie Parker, also got $2,000.

Although the allegations look serious, Dawkins has also proven to be untrustworthy in many instances and it’s hard to tell what might be real and what might be a cover for another expense. It’s hard to prove a lot of these things presented in a business expenses spreadsheet. USC is backing Metu by saying he never received anything that would harm his eligibility as they try to make a final push at Arizona before the postseason.

Bubble Banter: There will be some NCAA tournament bids determined today

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Saturday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

MARQUETTE
PROVIDENCE
SETON HALL
BAYLOR
TCU
LOUISVILLE
VIRGINIA TECH
SMU
MIAMI
LSU
TEXAS
USC
UTAH
MISSISSIPPI STATE
TEXAS A&M
WASHINGTON
ALABAMA
KANSAS STATE
OKLAHOMA
MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE
ST. BONAVENTURE
FLORIDA

Marvin Bagley III returning to Duke lineup against Syracuse after knee injury

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Duke star freshman Marvin Bagley III will be available for the Blue Devils on Saturday when they play Syracuse in an ACC home game.

Bagley missed the past four games due to a knee strain that he suffered in the Feb. 8 game against North Carolina. During Bagley’s absence, the Blue Devils went 4-0 as their defense looked very good and senior Grayson Allen became an aggressive scorer.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of changes Duke makes with Bagley’s return. Watching Bagley’s health and seeing how many minutes he plays will be another subplot to watch against the Orange.

Kentucky responds to recent reports from FBI investigation

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Kentucky has officially responded to recent reports that some of its players, notably freshman Kevin Knox, could be involved in the fallout from NBA agent Andy Miller and Christian Dawkins’ FBI investigation.

Knox is one of the players mentioned in a Yahoo Sports report on Friday that included documents for how Miller and Dawkins recruited players to the agency. In the report that Dawkins sent to Miller, it is noted that Knox or a family member of Knox allegedly had a meal with Dawkins.

Kevin Knox Sr. said he didn’t know Miller or Dawkins in a report on Friday. Kentucky also seems to be backing Knox entering Saturday’s SEC clash with Missouri. The Wildcats haven’t found anything wrong while reviewing the matter internally as it looks like Knox will play.

Kentucky seems to be following Duke’s path with Wendell Carter Jr.

Both are still allowed to play, despite being listed in the report, because there are a lot of factors still at play here. It should be noted that the evidence against all of these players in the Dawkins case looks bad.  It’s also hard to prove whether an actual encounter occurred. Dawkins doesn’t have the greatest history of being honest as CBT’s Rob Dauster noted.

Dawkins could have been misleading about some of these encounters with his boss to make himself look good. It’s also difficult to tell who truly paid for the meal, as it is conceivable that some of these players or their families paid for themselves.

Regardless of the nuances of this case, Knox looks like he will continue to play for a recently resurgent Kentucky team that has won two straight games. It’ll be interesting to see if this case hovers over Knox and Kentucky or if they can continue to power through and play well.

Memphis guard Jeremiah Martin out for the season with broken left foot

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The University of Memphis announced on Friday that junior point guard Jeremiah Martin will miss the rest of the season with a broken left foot.

The leading scorer in the AAC this season, the 6-foot-3 Martin injured his foot in the first half of the Tigers’ win over Houston on Thursday night. Martin did not return to the game as he left the arena in a protective boot. Martin is expected to have surgery to repair the foot on Tuesday as he’s expected to miss four-to-six weeks with the injury.

While the Tigers will be significantly worse without its best offensive player, Memphis did come back to beat the Cougars without Martin on Thursday night, as they’ll still be a tough out in the American. Martin was putting up 18.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game as he was in the midst of a breakout junior campaign.

If Martin returns to school for his senior season, he’ll be under heavy consideration as one of the top 100 players in college basketball next season.