Richard Pitino

Minnesota lands key win over No. 20 Iowa

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Charles Buggs entered Tuesday night’s game against No. 20 Iowa having scored five points the entire season, but he was ready when his name was called.

The 6-foot-9 freshman scored eight straight points to spark a 24-8 first half run, finishing with 13, as Minnesota took control early and hung on late in a thrilling, 95-89 win over the Hawkeyes.

Austin Hollins finished with 27 points and Dre Mathiue adding 19 and seven assists for the Gophers, who picked up a massive win for the NCAA tournament profile. The Gophers had lost three of their last four and six of their last eight entering the night, playing themselves out of the NCAA tournament in the process. A win over Iowa at home will help them turn things around, but it’s not going to be enough to change the fortunes of their season.

Richard Pitino’s club needs to win at Michigan and avoid a loss at home to Penn State in the season finale to feel comfortable about their chances entering the Big Ten tournament.

If they shoot like they did on Tuesday, that won’t be a problem.

But some of that credit (blame?) has to fall on the shoulders of the Hawkeyes. Iowa was just plain horrible defensively for a 20 minute stretch on Tuesday. Minnesota scored on 13 straight possessions, totaling 30 points, to close out the final 7:48 of the first half, extending their lead to 80-67 with 8:30 left in the game. In less than one half of basketball, Iowa gave up 59 points to a Minnesota team that isn’t exactly known as an offensive powerhouse. That came three days after Wisconsin carved the Hawkeyes up in Iowa City.

Clearly, Iowa has some defensive kinks they need to work out.

I’m just not buying this team at this point. They have the talent, they have the computer profile, but they can’t close out games and if they continue to play defense the way they have of late, they don’t have the firepower to win.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.