Kentucky Athletics

Kentucky loses final game of Bahamas tour, Jack Martinez hits game-winner for Dominican Republic (VIDEO)

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For the first time on the Big Blue Bahamas Tour, Kentucky was defeated, coughing up a double-digit lead in the final minutes. That lapse set up Jack Martinez’s last-second mid-range jumper to give the Dominican Republic national team a 63-62 win over the Wildcats on Sunday afternoon at the Sir Kendal Isaacs Gym in Nassau.

Martinez caught the ball just above the block with seven seconds remaining. Martinez had be physical up to that point, trying to force his way to the basket against players roughly 13 years his junior. On his initial dribble, it appeared he would look to do the same, but instead took a step-back fadeaway in the middle of the lane for the decisive bucket.

Kentucky had led by double figures for the majority of the half, holding a 59-46 advantage with under seven minutes to play. The Dominican Republic ended the game on a 17-3 run.

This result wasn’t shocking by any means. The Dominican Republic had given the Wildcats a competitive game just two days earlier. Kentucky was also feeling the effects of six games in eight days. In the second half, Alex Poythress, who through five games was the team’s leading scorer, went to the bench and did not return. John Calipari said in a post game interview his junior forward was “exhausted”.

MORE RECAPS: Game 1 Game 2 Game 3 Game 4 Game 5

Poythress resting on the bench shifted the Kentucky lineups. Mostly, the Wildcats had been using hockey-like lines — five guys in, five guys out. To close out the game, for the second day in a row, Kentucky went with a three-guard set with Tyler Ulis and the Harrison twins. Ulis came up big in Saturday’s win with a steal and fast break layup which secured the victory.

Ulis and the second unit — Dominique Hawkins, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, and Karl-Anthony Towns — outplayed the starters in the first half, giving Kentucky a 36-29 halftime lead.

Kentucky returns to Lexington with a 5-1 record on the summer trip, which is more impressive when you factor in Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles are still working their way back on to the floor.

Duke, Cincinnati lead Hall of Fame Tip-Off

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Durham, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) Duke and Cincinnati, 2016 NCAA Tournament teams, highlight the eight-team field for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament.

The participants for the Nov. 19-20 event were announced Wednesday.

Also in the field are Rhode Island, Penn State, Grand Canyon, Albany, Marist and Brown.

The teams, split into two four-team brackets, will play two doubleheaders at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Duke, Cincinnati, Penn State and Rhode Island will meet in the Naismith Bracket, while the others will play in the Springfield Bracket.

The teams will play two early round games at campus sites from Nov. 11 through Nov. 16.

Brandone Francis-Ramirez transferring out of Florida

Florida State center Jean Marc Christ Koumadje (21) fouls Florida guard Brandone Francis-Ramirez (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015, in Gainesville, Fla. (Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
(Matt Stamey, The Gainesville Sun via AP)
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Brandone Francis-Ramirez is transferring out of the Florida program, the school announced on Wednesday.

A former top 40 recruit, Francis-Ramirez had his two seasons in Gainesville ruined by an academic issues and a loss of confidence. He was academically ineligible in 2014-15, practicing with the team during the second semester. He was granted a redshirt for the year, but he struggled to find any kind of a rhythm this past season. There was a two-month stretch in the middle of the year where he shot 6-for-58 from the floor and 2-for-31 from three.

On the season, he shot 20.2 percent from the floor and 16.9 percent from three.

“I want it to work out for him,” Gators coach Mike White said in a release. “We really appreciate what Brandone did here and wish him the best.”

One of Villanova’s title game stars undergoes knee surgery

Phil Booth, Jack McVeigh
(AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson)
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The forgotten star of the national title game underwent an arthroscopic on his left knee on Wednesday.

Phil Booth, who scored a season-high 20 points in the 2016 National Title game, will be a junior next season and one of the guys called upon to help replace Ryan Arcidiacono, who graduated. He should be ready to go by the middle of the summer; according to a statement put out by the program, Booth will need 6-to-8 weeks to heal.

“Phil is as mentally tough a young man as we have had at Villanova,” head coach Jay Wright said in the release. “He continually impresses our coaching staff with his outstanding attitude. Phil will attack this recovery challenge with great determination, as he does everything in life.”

Booth averaged 7.0 points and 2.2 assists this past season.

Jennings becomes seventh player to transfer from Kentucky

Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell watches his team during the team's regional semifinal in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament against Washington in Lexington, Ky., Friday, March 25, 2016. Washington won 85-72. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell has announced that sophomore forward Alexis Jennings will transfer, the seventh Wildcat to leave the program since last fall.

Jennings’ departure comes a week after Mitchell publicly addressed the mass exodus of players and assistant coaches and stressed the need for building stability. Jennings figured to be part of that process and the coach said in a release Wednesday night that “it saddens us that Alexis did not see a path for her at Kentucky. … She felt it was in her best interest to finish her career elsewhere and we owe her that opportunity.”

The 6-foot-2 Jennings started 18 of 33 games last season and averaged 10 points and 7.1 rebounds.

DePaul adds 2018 commit

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Wisconsin guard John Diener has committed to DePaul, his grassroots program announced Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-4 Class of 2018 guard ends his recruitment rather early with offers also from instate schools Green Bay and Milwaukee. He’s known as a shooter and becomes the first commit for Dave Leitao in the 2018 class.

Diener, who plays with the Wisconsin Playground Warriors in the spring and summer, commits to the Blue Demons with them coming off a disappointing campaign, Leitao’s first in Chicago. DePaul went 9-22 overall and 3-15 in the Big East, finishing only ahead of St. John’s.

DePaul has been recruiting the Midwest hard with incoming 2016 recruits from La Lumiere School in Indiana, Sagninow, Mich. and locally in Chicago.