Late Night Snacks: Syracuse holds off Terps, Kansas wins Big 12 again

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GAME OF THE DAY: Syracuse 57, Maryland 55

The No. 4 Orange picked up a very close two-point road win on Monday night in ACC play as they held their breath as Seth Allen’s three-pointer to win at the buzzer rimmed out. Tyler Ennis (20 points) and C.J. Fair (17 points) led the scoring punch for Syracuse, who bounced back from back-to-back ACC losses last week.

I have more on Syracuse here while Rob Dauster has more on Maryland as well.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Kansas 83, Oklahoma 75

The Jayhawks earned their 10th consecutive regular season Big 12 crown on Monday as Joel Embiid had 12 points and 13 rebounds. All five Kansas starters finished with at least 11 points as the Jayhawks ran past Oklahoma in a tight second half.

Rob Dauster has more on the Jayhawks while I share some thoughts on Oklahoma.

2) Oklahoma State 76, TCU 54

The Cowboys continue to crawl back to their winning ways with a solid road win over TCU. Marcus Smart shot the ball pretty well from the perimeter in this one, as he hit for five three-pointers in the Big 12 win for Oklahoma State. Phil Forte led the Cowboys with 23 points.

3) Southern 87, Alabama State 64

The Jaguars opened up a three-game lead in the SWAC with a win over second-place Alabama State on Monday night. Southern will be the clear favorite to represent the SWAC in the NCAA Tournament and they gave No. 1 seed Gonzaga a scare as a 16-seed last season.

STARRED

1) Marcus Smart and Phil Forte were both dialed in from the perimeter on Monday night as the backcourt duo from Oklahoma State each had five three-pointers.

2) Joel Embiid certainly looked healthy during flashes of Kansas’ win over Oklahoma. Embiid had 12 points and 13 rebounds and had a few jaw-dropping plays, including an easy dunk to open the game and some scary open-court moves.

3) Syracuse’s C.J. Fair and Trevor Cooney each knocked in clutch shots with their team needing a bucket in the Orange’s road win over Maryland. Although Cooney struggled to find his shot with any consistency, his spinning free-throw line jumper was clutch.

STRUGGLED

1) Oklahoma’s leaky defense couldn’t get any stops at the end of its game against Kansas. Each time the Sooners got a bucket, they’d allow more points to Kansas down the stretch.

2) Samford fell 81-71 to The Citadel on Monday and helped snap the program’s 17-game losing streak.

3) Jake Layman and Evan Smotrycz combined for nine points on 2-for-10 shooting and 2-for-8 from beyond the arc. Smotrycz only played 19 minutes and fouled out due to foul trouble.

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.