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

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?