No. 4 San Diego State needs overtime to beat No. 13 New Mexico State

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In the final minute of regulation West Region No. 4 San Diego State led No. 13 New Mexico State by seven points, looking to be well on their way to advancing to the Round of 32. However the Aztecs missed free throws, and when Xavier Thames fumbled a pass out of bounds with 15.6 seconds remaining SDSU led by just three points. That set the stage for Kevin Aronis’ game-tying three-pointer with 5.6 seconds to go, forcing overtime in a game San Diego State should have wrapped up.

Luckily for San Diego State the Mountain West Player of the Year would make up for his turnover, scoring six of his 23 points in the extra session to lead the Aztecs to a 73-69 victory. Thames did much of his damage from the foul line, making ten of his 12 attempts from the charity stripe to make up for a 6-for-17 night from the field. And regardless of what Thames was able to do from the foul line, when he struggles from the field San Diego State will struggle as a whole.

That’s what happened against New Mexico State, which used a variety of defenses throughout the night including a triangle-and-2 and a 2-3 matchup zone. After establishing some separation late in the first half the Aztecs struggled offensively for much of the second, with Dwayne Polee II providing needed production off the bench in the form of 15 points and six rebounds. Where would San Diego State be without the efforts of Polee? More than likely on their way home.

Perimeter shooting has been a concern for much of this season, however San Diego State has managed to win due to their ability to work the ball into the paint. New Mexico State was able to keep San Diego State out of that area at times, and once the Aztecs got in there 7-foot-5 center Sim Bhullar was waiting to challenge shots. However because of the playmaking ability of Thames and Polee, San Diego State managed to escape with the win.

But will that be the case Saturday against No. 12 North Dakota State? The Bison use the pack line defense, a system that aims to keep the opposition from getting into the paint. And given San Diego State’s perimeter shooting (6-for-17 3PT vs. New Mexico State and 23-for-71 over their last five games) of late, this could be a major concern for the Aztecs if they’re unable to penetrate that defense.

However in spite of this issue San Diego State has managed to win 30 games, with Polee and Matt Shrigley providing solid minutes off the bench. They’ll need to do so once again if SDSU is to advance to the Sweet 16.

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.