Junior forward Nick Jacobs won’t return to Alabama program

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Following a stretch in which Alabama dropped seven of nine games in the middle of SEC play, it was announced by head coach Anthony Grant that junior forward Nick Jacobs was taking a leave of absence from the program. Grant’s words cast some doubt as to whether or not Jacobs would play another game in an Alabama uniform, and sure enough the forward did not return to the team before the end of the season.

And on Tuesday it was announced by the school that Jacobs has been released from his scholarship and will no longer be a member of the program. Jacobs will have one season of eligibility remaining at his next school.

“We want to thank Nick for his contributions to our program the past three seasons,” Grant said in the school release. “We wish him success with the next chapter of his career.”

Jacobs averaged 8.4 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 25 contests last season, and for his career the 6-foot-8 forward posted averages of 7.3 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Alabama returns leading rebounder Rodney Cooper (7.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg) and fellow forwards Shannon Hale (8.8, 3.6) and Jimmie Taylor (3.0, 3.3) from last season’s team, which finished with a 13-19 record (7-11 SEC).

As part of its incoming recruiting class Alabama will add freshmen Jeff Garrett and Riley Norris in the front court, and they’ll also have the services of Longwood transfer Michael Kessens. Kessens averaged 13.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game in his lone season at Longwood, where he earned Big South All-Freshman Team honors.

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

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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.