North Carolina loses its first game in the Bahamas

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Kentucky isn’t the only team to visit the Bahamas this month.

While Kentucky has moved to 4-0 on its tour, North Carolina, another projected top 10 team, began its trip with an 84-83 loss to the Providence Storm on Friday night in Nassau.

Unfortunately, problems with Internet connection inside the Sir Kendal Isaacs Gymnasium led to no live stats for the contest, however, Greg Barnes of Scout affiliate, InsideCarolina.com was there to live tweet and post a game recap.

The Tar Heels led, 76-68, with four minutes to play, but the Storm were able to climb back into the game with its shooting, aided by UNC’s missed free throws. Providence took the lead off a 3-pointer with under 20 seconds to play. Barnes broke down the final moments:

Ernest Saunders connected on a 3-pointer from the right wing with 18.1 seconds to electrify the local crowd of 200 and finalize the scoring. On UNC’s final possession, junior guard Marcus Paige broke his man down off the dribble and drove down the left side of the lane, but his driving shot was off the mark. A pair of offensive rebounds and attempted putbacks off the right side failed to fall for the Tar Heels.

For the final minutes, Roy Williams went with the lineup of Marcus Paige, Kennedy Meeks, and his three freshmen, Theo Pinson, Justin Jackson and Joel Berry. Isaiah Hicks led UNC in scoring with 13. Meeks and Jackson followed with 10 points. Paige shot 3-for-15 for nine points.

Shooting was not a bright spot for the Tar Heels, connecting on only 3-of-25 from beyond the arc.

Friday night’s result was much different than other high-major teams down in the Bahamas. Kentucky has won all four games by at least a dozen points, and last week Ohio State defeated the Providence Storm, 115-63. But it’s obvious, given the lineup for the final minutes, that Williams was looking to get his freshmen some late-game experience. Although, a loss in the summer is no indication of what a team will accomplish during the season, with Wisconsin’s loss to a Canadian powerhouse in 2013 as the prime example.

North Carolina looks to bounce back from its disappointing performance in its second and final game in the Bahamas on Saturday evening at 5 p.m. against the Bahamas All-Stars.

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?