Fresno State forces decisive game three in CBI championship series

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Despite shooting just 33.3% from the field on Monday night, Siena was able to knock off Fresno State in the first game of the CBI championship series due to their ability to hit the offensive glass and force turnovers. Jimmy Patsos’ Saints rebounded 41.5% of its missed shots, scoring 11 second-chance points, and they also scored 13 points off of 16 Bulldog turnovers. Those aren’t incredibly high numbers, but they were enough to give Siena the 61-57 victory.

However on Wednesday night the Bulldogs were able to clean things up in those areas, and that combined with hot shooting led to an 89-75 Fresno State victory in game two of the championship series. The two teams will meet in game three Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. EST, with the game being played at Siena’s on-campus facility.

Fresno State committed 15 turnovers but they did a better job on the boards, limiting Siena to eight offensive rebounds, and their 63.9% shooting from the field proved to be too much for the Saints to overcome. Rodney Terry’s team held a 43-24 lead at the half, and Allen Huddleston led five Fresno State players in double figures with 20 points off the bench.

Outside of one second half stretch in which the Bulldogs allowed Siena to fight back to within 13 points, they did a much better job with their spacing against the Siena pressure. That led to better scoring opportunities, with guards Huddleston, Tyler Johnson (19 points) and Cezar Guerrero (13 points, four assists) taking advantage throughout the night.

Brett Bisping led Siena with 20 points and Marquis Wright added 14, yet while Siena shot better than they did Monday night in Fresno the defense wasn’t as effective. That will need to change if they’re to win the rubber match on Saturday.

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 NBCSports.com, 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.