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LATE NIGHT SNACKS: Patriot, A-Sun top seeds eliminated from conference tourneys

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Louisiana Tech 97, Marshall 94

Two of the top teams in Conference USA played right down to the wire in Huntington, with a Derric Jean three from half-court as time expired giving the Bulldogs the win. Alex Hamilton scored 38 points for Louisiana Tech, which is now in a second-place tie with Middle Tennessee with one game remaining. James Kelly led the Thundering Herd with 27 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 18 Arizona 64, No. 25 California 61: A Gabe York three-pointer with 17.4 seconds remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good as they finished the game on an 11-0 run. York scored all 19 of his points in the second half, and Ryan Anderson (18 points, ten rebounds) and Kaleb Tarczewski (ten points, 12 rebounds) both posted double-doubles for the Wildcats. Ivan Rabb led Cal with 15 points and 13 boards, but fellow freshman Jaylen Brown struggled with foul trouble for most of the night.

No. 24 SMU 80, Connecticut 54: The Mustangs capped the home portion of their schedule with a blowout win over UConn in Dallas. While the Mustangs can’t go to the NCAA tournament, the Huskies are trending in the wrong direction at the worst possible time. UConn shot 34 percent from the field and they struggled defensively as well, as SMU shot 51.6 percent with Sterling Brown leading four in double figures with 20 points.

Georgia 74, South Carolina: Also limping down the stretch is South Carolina, which has now lost four of its last six games. Kenny Gaines led the victorious Bulldogs with 20 points and J.J. Frazier added 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. Mindaugas Kacinas scored a game-high 21 for the Gamecocks, but as a team they shot just 34.2 percent from the field.

STARRED

Alex Hamilton, Louisiana Tech: Hamilton scored 38 points and dished out six assists in the Bulldogs’ 97-94 win at Marshall.

Tim Kempton, Lehigh: The two-time Patriot League POY finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds in the Mountain Hawks’ 65-63 win over Navy.

Phil Valenti, Canisius: Valenti scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed nine rebounds in the Golden Griffins’ 102-97 triple overtime win over Niagara.

Ethan Telfair, Idaho State: 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in the Bengals’ 75-71 win at Eastern Washington.

STRUGGLED

North Florida: The Ospreys, who score 43.5 percent of their points on three-pointers this season, shot 8-for-31 from distance in their 89-56 loss to FGCU.

Duane Notice, South Carolina: Three points on 1-for-7 shooting in the Gamecocks’ home loss to Georgia.

Amida Brimah, UConn: One point and four rebounds in the Huskies’ 80-54 loss at No. 24 SMU.

DJ Sylvester, UC Riverside: Sylvester shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring four points, in the Highlanders’ 81-55 loss at UCSB.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 14 Maryland took care of business on Senior Night, as they beat Illinois 81-55. Melo Trimble and Jake Layman scored 18 points apiece, and Jared Nickens and Robert Carter Jr. added 14 each for Mark Turgeon’s Terrapins. Illinois shot just 38.5 percent from the field.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Temple remained tied for first in the American with a 72-62 home win over Memphis. Josh Brown finished with 12 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and Jaylen Bond accounted for 15 points and ten boards for the Owls.
  • The top seed in the Patriot League fell, as nine-seed Holy Cross beat Bucknell 77-72 in double overtime. The Bison weren’t the only team to lose in the quarters, as three-seed American won at three-seed Boston University. Also advancing were two-seed Lehigh and four-seed Army West Point.
  • Defending Atlantic Sun champion picked a bad night to go cold from deep, as they shot 8-for-31 from three in an 89-56 loss to FGCU. The Eagles will host seven-seed Stetson in the championship game Sunday. Stetson, which beat Lipscomb 96-75, is ineligible for postseason play so if they win then North Florida goes to the NCAA tournament since they won the A-Sun regular season title.
  • In the first round of the Big South tournament, a DeSean Murray put-back as time expired gave ten-seed Presbyterian a 65-64 win over Radford. Also advancing were six-seed Gardner-Webb and eight-seed Longwood.
  • Stephen F. Austin extended its win streak to 17, as they whipped Northwestern State 95-55. Brad Underwood’s Lumberjacks have lost just one game to Southland competition since he took over in 2013.
  • Having already clinched the MEAC regular season title, Hampton fell 83-63 to Norfolk State. The Pirates, who played many of their key contributors limited minutes, had won their last five games.
  • Little Rock fell 69-63 at Appalachian State in their regular season finale. Chris Beard’s Trojans will be the top seed in next week’s Sun Belt tournament.
  • Keep an eye on Houston in the American tournament next week. The Cougars beat Cincinnati 69-56, finishing the regular season with six wins in their final seven games. Their non-conference schedule makes getting an at-large tough for Kelvin Sampson’s Cougars, but they have the talent needed to win the auto bid in Orlando.
  • Rider, Canisius and Manhattan advanced to the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament, with the Golden Griffins needing triple overtime to beat rival Niagara 102-97. Rider will take on top-seed Monmouth and Canisius gets two-seed Iona Friday, with Manhattan facing three-seed (and host) Siena Saturday.
  • Loyola-Chicago and Missouri State advanced at Arch Madness, with the Ramblers beating Bradley 74-66 and the Bears edging out Drake 69-67. Loyola will play top-seed Wichita State Friday, with Missouri State getting two-seed Evansville.
  • Eight-seed Austin Peay continued its run in the OVC tournament with a 74-72 win over four-seed Tennessee Tech. The Governors play top seed Belmont in Friday’s semifinals, with three-seed Morehead State (a winner of six-seed Murray State) facing two-seed UT Martin in the other matchup.
  • Montana and Weber State are once again tied atop the Big Sky, as Montana beat North Dakota 71-46 and Weber State lost 62-58 at Idaho. Weber State has the head-to-head tiebreaker going into the final day of regular season play (Saturday). The silver lining for Weber State in their loss: Joel Bolomboy returned after missing two games due to injury.
  • Hawai’i got off to a slow start at UC Davis but came back to pick up the 67-65 win. As a result Eran Ganot’s Rainbow Warriors clinched the outright Big West regular season title, with Quincy Smith and Sai Tummala combining to score 29 points.

Wichita State’s Landry Shamet out sick against Tulane

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Wichita State guard Landry Shamet will miss the Shockers’ game against Tulane on Wednesday night as he sits out due to illness.

Dressed in street clothes for the AAC conference clash, Shamet has put up All-American-caliber numbers for Wichita State this season as he’s putting up 14.7 points, 5.2 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Without Shamet in the lineup, it gives Samajae Haynes-Jones a potential shot at minutes as he’s fallen out of the rotation over the last several weeks. Wichita State is still heavily favored against Tulane at home on Wednesday but they have an important three-game stretch to close out the conference season. The Shockers have to go on the road to play SMU and UCF before closing out the conference slate with an important home game against Cincinnati.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley III out for the fourth straight game with knee injury

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Duke star freshman big man Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth consecutive game on Wednesday night as he continues to battle a knee injury.

The 6-foot-11 freshman suffered a mild knee sprain in his right knee in Duke’s game against North Carolina on Feb. 8 as he’s missed the Blue Devils’ last three games — all wins. Bagley will miss Duke’s contest against Louisville on Wednesday as he’s also missed games against Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and Clemson.

Duke still has three regular-season games after Wednesday before the ACC tournament starts as Bagley still has plenty of time to heal and recover before the postseason begins.

Bagley is putting up 21.2 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game for Duke this season as he’s a consensus top-five pick in most 2018 NBA mock drafts. Without Bagley in the lineup, Duke has continued to play well and win games as they’ve still had big man Wendell Carter to handle things on the interior.

 

Rick Pitino: ‘I had no knowledge’ of the violations that led to banner coming down

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Disgraced ex-Louisville head coach Rick Pitino spoke at a press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday afternoon and denied any knowledge of the violations that were committed by Andre McGee, any potential NCAA violations involving the recruitment of Brian Bowen and pushed for Louisville to file an injunction against the NCAA’s decision to remove the 2013 national title banner.

“I take full responsibility for everyone I hire,” Pitino said. “To say I’m disappointed with the NCAA ruling is a gross understatement.”

“I have apologized many times. I feel awful for what happened. I’ve run a clean program all my life. [Sitting where you are], I would agree with you. It looks bad. I’ve coached for 41 years. For 35, as a head coach, nothing has come up.”

Pitino went on to say that he “hired the wrong person” when he made the decision to bring McGee onto his staff. McGee is the one that was responsible for hosting the parties and bringing the strippers and sex workers to them.

“I had no knowledge of the reprehensible things that went on in that dormitory,” Pitino said. “Did a few of [my players] partake in parties they didn’t organize? Yes, they did. That had nothing to do with an extra benefit,” going on to add that attending these parties were not the reason that Louisville won the 2013 national title.

Pitino also denied any involvement in the recruit of Bowen, a five-star prospect that committed to Louisville in a deal that was supposed to get his family paid $100,000 from Adidas.

“In 40 years of coaching, I have never been involved, directly or indirectly, in any effort to pay any money or extend any improper benefit to any recruit or recruit’s family members or representatives,” he said.

Pitino said that he has not had any discussions about coaching again or looking for a job this spring, but he did say that he does “miss it.” He also urged the new University of Louisville administration to fight this decision in court, to file an injunction and do what they can to keep Louisville from having to sacrifice a national title banner.

No other Division I basketball program has ever had a national title vacated.

“The NCAA,” Pitino said, “cannot rewrite history by taking a banner down.

John Wall is heading back to school to get a business degree

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John Wall, the former Kentucky star that helped launch Coach Cal’s one-and-done movement in Lexington, is planning on using a piece of that $207 million contract extension that he signed last July for summer school.

“I’m going back to school this summer to get my business degree,” Wall told the Washington Post this week. “That’s what I’m focusing on. I promised my dad that.”

Wall’s dad died when he was eight years old, and anyone that knows his story knows that it hasn’t been the easiest path for Wall to get from that moment to this moment.

So good for John.

Seriously.

I do believe that it is important to educate yourself, even if that education is something as simple as learning how to run a business on your own.

But I also think that, in the larger context of basketball and, specifically, the one-and-done rule, this is important to note. Wall left school as a 19-year old, made a whole bunch of guaranteed money on his rookie deal, got more guaranteed money on his first contract extension and now is working under a contract that will pay him nine figures with a crooked number in front. Throw in endorsement deals, and by the time Wall hangs up his sneakers, he could end up banking close to half a billion dollars.

That’s more than enough money to be able to pay for three years worth of classes at Kentucky to finish his undergrad degree, get a master’s and become a PhD. For Wall, that financial hit would be like the financial hit you or I take for adding chips and guac at Chipotle. (But not queso. We pretend their queso doesn’t exist.)

My point is this: The time a person has to educate themselves never ends. The time that Wall, or any professional athlete, has to profit off of their ability does, and much sooner than most think.

So the next time you decide to criticize a player for leaving school early to chase their professional dreams or because they’re just looking to get paid or because they don’t care about education, just think about this.

USC guard to leave school, turn pro

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It appears that De’Anthony Melton’s college career has come to an end.

The 6-foot-3 shooting guard for the USC Trojans announced on Wednesday that he will be leaving school. Melton, a sophomore, was caught up in the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball and has not played in a game this season.

“I have reached a crossroads wherein I have decided to focus on honing my strengths and improving upon my weakness for competition at the next level,” Melton said in a statement.

And athletic wing with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Melton averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 boards, 3.5 assists and 1.9 steals as a freshman. He is considered a potential first round pick.