Oregon beats No. 9 Utah, adding much-needed win to its NCAA tournament resume

Leave a comment

Five days ago with the team facing home games against Colorado and No. 9 Utah, Oregon senior guard Joseph Young guaranteed that the Ducks would wind up in the NCAA tournament. After beating the Buffaloes on Wednesday, Young and his teammates completed the home sweep with a 69-58 win over the Runnin’ Utes in Eugene, adding a much-needed quality win for their NCAA tournament resume.

Young didn’t shoot particularly well, scoring 14 points on 5-for-16 shooting (1-for-8 3PT), but he had plenty of help from his teammates. Freshman forward Dillon Brooks, who within the course of a year has gone from reclassifying from the Class of 2016 to being one of the Pac-12’s best freshmen, scored 19 points (two of which can be seen in the video above) and grabbed seven rebounds and Elgin Cook added 12 points.

Oregon shot 45.5% from the field on Sunday, but what really won the game for the Ducks was their matchup zone. Head coach Dana Altman made the move in the second half, and the zone successfully slowed down the Runnin’ Utes. Utah shot 36.5% from the field, and outside of the efficient Delon Wright (6-for-9 FG, 4-for-4 FT, 20 points) they struggled mightily from the field.

Brandon Taylor shot 2-for-10 from the field, with all of his shot attempts being three-pointers, and Jordan Loveridge shot 2-for-8. Outside of Wright, the lone player who had success penetrating the Oregon matchup zone, no Utah player scored more than seven points (Loveridge) on the day. Twenty-nine of Utah’s 52 field goal attempts were three-pointers, which is far too high a number when considering both the presence of Jakob Poeltl and Utah’s overall size advantage in the front court.

Oregon was able to use the zone looks to limit the post touches for Utah’s big men, and that resulted in the Ducks picking up their biggest win of the season to date.

Prior to Sunday, Oregon’s two RPI Top 50 wins came against Illinois (in Chicago) and UCLA (at home, and the Bruins were without Tony Parker) and their three KenPom Top 50 wins came against UCLA and Arizona State (twice). Regardless of which ratings system one prefers, there’s no denying the fact that this was a huge victory for Oregon as they look to return to the NCAA tournament.

With three road games and the Pac-12 tournament remaining on their schedule, Oregon may make a prophet out of their senior point guard.

Video credit: Fox Sports 1

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images
1 Comment

Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

David Becker/Getty Images
Leave a comment

One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

Chris Coduto/Getty Images

With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
1 Comment

Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.

N.C. State star to consider turning pro and transferring

Lance King/Getty Images
1 Comment

It appears as it Omer Yurtseven’s time as a member of the N.C. State Wolfpack will be coming to a close.

On Wednesday morning, the program issued a release announcing that Yurtseven has “expressed his intentions to either pursue a professional career or consider transferring.”

Yurtseven, who was initially recruited by Mark Gottfried, averaging 14.9 points in his first season under new Wolfpack head coach Kevin Keatts while also shooting 46 percent from three. Yurtseven is projected as a second round-at-best pick in the NBA Draft.

Keatts announced that he would grant Yurtseven a release if it comes to that.