Dwayne Polee II’s play will be key for San Diego State on Thursday

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Of the eight Sweet 16 match-ups being played Thursday and Friday night, two are rematches of regular season games. Of course there’s No. 4 Louisville and No. 8 Kentucky, with those two teams playing every season, but there’s also No. 1 Arizona taking on No. 4 San Diego State in Anaheim. The Wildcats won the first meeting back on November 14, 69-60, with the game being a closer contest than the final margin would indicate.

How much can be taken from a game played that early in the season and applied to an NCAA tournament rematch is up for debate, with both teams being different (and better) outfits than they were in November. Arizona won’t have Brandon Ashley, who accounted for six points and six rebounds in the first meeting, but they’ve certainly adjusted to that personnel loss in recent weeks.

MORE: No. 1 Arizona vs. No. 4 San Diego State preview

 

Freshman Rondae Hollis-Jefferson has been one of the best sixth men in the country, and the starting lineup led by national Player of the Year candidate Nick Johnson, point guard T.J. McConnell and forward Aaron Gordon has continued to play well. As for the Aztecs there’s one major personnel difference that has received some much-deserved attention in the days leading up to this game.

That difference: the emergence of Dwayne Polee II as a capable scoring option off the bench.

How far has Polee come this season? The St. John’s transfer didn’t even leave the bench for the first meeting between these two teams. But instead of getting frustrated the St. John’s transfer remained positive and continued to work, earning the opportunity to join the rotation and the work has paid off in recent weeks.

“He never, ever did anything other than cheer for his teammates, and smile when he was in the locker room, the hardest thing in the world to do, especially when you’re that ballyhooed,” Fisher said during the team’s press conference Wednesday. “He was sensational. Then when he started to get significant minutes, he played well, and obviously he’s been crucial to the recent success of this team. He’s been terrific.”

Averaging 8.4 points and 3.3 rebounds in just over 17 minutes of action per game this season, Polee’s contributed 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds in San Diego State’s last five games with the Aztecs going 4-1 during this stretch. And in four of those games Polee’s played at least 27 minutes per game. Always a very good athlete with a high motor, Polee also looks more confident as a perimeter shooter and has shot 10-for-19 from beyond the arc.

Beating Arizona will be a tough task for San Diego State; there are a number of good reasons why the Wildcats received a one-seed and stand as one of the favorites to win the national title. But that doesn’t mean the goal’s an impossible one for the Aztecs. And if Polee can continue his solid play of late, thus supplementing the production of Xavier Thames, San Diego State is capable of advancing.

Albany suspends coaches 1 game for recruiting violation

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — University at Albany men’s basketball coach Will Brown and associate head coach John Iati have been suspended for one game for an NCAA recruiting violation.

The school said Iati would serve his suspension Friday night against Yale, and Brown will miss Monday’s game against Oneonta.

The Level III violation occurred when Iati staged the national letter of intent signing ceremony of a prospective student-athlete. The recruit and his family were photographed wearing team-issued apparel.

The university said the violation was reported to the NCAA.

VIDEO: Colorado’s McKinley Wright gets a friendly bounce with buzzer-beater to beat Quinnipiac

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The iron was kind to Colorado’s McKinley Wright, as he was able to get a game-winning three at the buzzer to drop as the Buffaloes avoided an embarrassing loss to Quinnipiac in the opener of the Paradise Jam:

https://twitter.com/FloHoops/status/931690797992472576/video/1

Colorado was down by as many as 13 points in the second half, using a 23-9 run to close the game and escape with the 70-69 win.

Guy’s 29 lead Virginia past VCU, 76-67

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy was never hesitant when Virginia needed a basket, and because he wasn’t, the Cavaliers were able to hold off VCU, 76-67 on Friday.

Guy scored a career-best 29 points and hit two 3-pointers in the final three minutes after the Rams closed to within three, bringing roars from a soldout crowd at the Seigel Center. The first 3-pointer gave the Cavaliers a 66-60 lead, and the next one pushed it to 74-67 with just 41 seconds remaining.

“It was a blast,” Guy said. “This is one of the better environments I’ve played in.”

The Cavaliers won by taking care of the ball, committing only five turnovers, and by cashing in on VCU’s mistakes. The Rams turned the ball over a dozen times, and Virginia outscored them 16-2 off turnovers and 18-0 on fast break points. Those advantages helped them overcome a 36-26 rebounding disadvantage.

The Cavaliers (3-0) also made 10 3-pointers, with Guy accounting for half of them.

“Any time you’ve got a guy like that, get him going early and he becomes a buzz-saw,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said of Guy.

“We got some good looks and then Kyle put on a heck of a shooting clinic with the shots he was making,” coach Tony Bennett said.

Ty Jerome also hit from long range in the closing minutes after VCU (2-1) closed to within 68-64 with just over 2 minutes remaining.

After Guy made it 66-60 with 2:55 to play, Issac Vann scored made it 66-62 with a driving basket, but Guy hit a pair of free throws and, after a driving basket by Williams, Jerome followed with his third 3-pointer of the game. Jerome added 13 points and seven assists for Virginia.

Vann led VCU with 19 points, Johnny Williams had 14 and Khris Lane 12.

“If you told me 48 hours ago, three days ago, four days ago it would be a 2-minute game, one-possession game, 2 minutes, I would have taken it,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades said. “… I want this to sting for about an hour. Make it hurt for an hour and let’s use this and get better.”

The Rams left after the game for Hawaii and the Maui Invitational.

“It’s a tough loss, a learning experience and we’ve got more basketball coming up this week,” Vann said.

THE BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers had little trouble with VCU’s pressure, turning the ball over just five times and outscoring the Rams 16-2 off turnovers. They also outscored the Rams 18-0 on fast break points, but they were beaten on the backboards 36-26. VCU had 10 offensive rebounds, but just six second-chance points.

VCU: The Rams averaged 94.5 points in their first two games, but are still working to integrate what first-year coach Mike Rhoades wants them to do on offense and defense. Johnny Williams can be a force driving to the basket, and transfer Vann gives them another quality 3-point shooter. They cam,e into the game forcing an average of 14 turnovers.

UP NEXT

Virginia is at home on Sunday against Monmouth.

VCU faces Marquette in the Maui Invitational on Monday.

Pro golfer, Wisconsin fan Steve Stricker does not like J.P. Macura

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Wisconsin resident, Badger fan and pro golfer Steve Stricker was not happy after UW lost to Xavier on Thursday night.

For starters, his team lost.

That sucks.

Then J.P. Macura went and rubbed it in everyone’s face, doing the Gator Chomp at the student section after he threw down an alley-oop with less than a minute left:

Stricker was not having any of it:

Me?

I loved it.

And maybe, just maybe, the fact that Wisconsin’s entire student section spent the game telling Macura that he’s an a****** had something to do with his reaction.

Also … how many middle fingers do you see in this picture?

Thank you Badger fans. What a hostile environment.. I appreciate the love

A post shared by Jp Macura (@jpmacura) on

Lonnie Walker hurt as No. 11 Hurricanes beat A&M 90-59

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CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Highly touted freshman Lonnie Walker IV twisted his left ankle Thursday night, and coach Jim Larranaga was sore himself after the latest lopsided win by the 11th-ranked Miami Hurricanes.

Larranaga said Walker wasn’t seriously hurt, and the coach seemed more concerned about his team’s effort and focus in a 90-59 victory over Florida A&M.

“I didn’t think we were very good from start to finish,” Larranaga said. “We need to play a whole lot harder, and better defensively. We looked sluggish. I told the team I was extremely disappointed in our effort.”

Walker was assisted to the locker room in the first half after stepping on another player. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play La Salle next Wednesday in Walker’s hometown of Reading, Pennsylvania.

“We won’t know for a couple of days, but I think he’s fine,” Larranaga said.

Is he likely to play in the next game?

“Oh, he’s going to play in Reading,” Larranaga said.