Arizona v Weber State

Wildcats clash, No. 1 Arizona victorious over Weber State

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Both the Wildcats of Arizona and Weber State clawed their way to the final buzzer, but Arizona was able to outlast a scrappy Weber State team 68-59 Friday in San Diego.

Despite a sluggish start for Arizona and a late-game run by Weber State, the Wildcats of Arizona held on behind a stellar performance from junior guard Nick Johnson who went for 18 points on the afternoon.

“[Weber State has] tremendous scorers,” Johnson told CBS following his team’s win. “We knew it was going to be a tough game…. We just had to punch back when they gave us punches. They are a good team and gave us a hard fight, but we pulled it out.”

Star freshman Aaron Gordon also chipped in 16 points to go along with four blocks and sophomore Kaleb Tarczewski added 10 points and five blocks for Arizona.

Weber State was led by Davion Berry who went 5-for-18 from the field and shot a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, amassing 24 points against the No. 1-seeded Wildcats. Arizona head coach Sean Miller praised Weber State and Berry in particular.

“Weber State is one of the best teams we’ve played all year,” Miller told CBS. “[Berry] is a tremendous guard. We couldn’t keep them off the glass. I’m glad we were able to advance and play on Sunday. You really have to enjoy the tournament. All of us do this for March…. We have to be a team that plays to win and enjoys being out here.”

Arizona avoided becoming the latest victim of upset on Friday after Duke was upended by Mercer and the Stanford Cardinal took down the Lobos of New Mexico. Aaron Gordon and his Arizona Wildcats found themselves with an eight-point deficit within the first six minutes of play, but his team was able to outrun the quick-trigger three-point shooting of Weber State to go into the half with a 32-20 lead.

Weber State proved they were not intimidated by a much larger Arizona team as the Wildcats in purple were able to outscore Arizona 39-36 in the second half behind Berry and sophomore forward Joel Bolomboy’s game-high 16 rebounds.

Arizona came into this game at 30-4 and Weber State was 19-11. Coach Miller’s squad will take on the winner of this afternoon’s Gonzaga-Oklahoma State game on Sunday.

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?