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VIDEO: Desi Rodriguez caps Seton Hall comeback win at No. 17 Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Desi Rodriguez scored most every time he had the ball against No. 17 Louisville, so it wasn’t shocking for the Seton Hall senior guard to convert a final opportunity with the game on the line.

Other than the degree of difficulty in firing a winning shot over Cardinals 7-footer Anas Mahmoud, that is.

“I just wanted to be aggressive,” Rodriguez said after his off-balance banker with 8 seconds remaining gave Seton Hall a hard-fought 79-77 victory “I knew I had to make a strong move, and I was just happy and excited that I finished strong.”

Rodriguez had a season-high 29 points on 12-of-18 shooting with two 3-pointers. His basket was the last of seven consecutive for the Pirates (7-1), who overcame a 59-52 deficit with 11:33 left to cap a thrilling finish featuring three ties and four lead changes in the final 5:21.

That set the stage for the final possession where Rodriguez delivered in the reunion of former Big East Conference rivals.

After Deng Adel’s leaner tied it at 77 with 29 seconds left, the Pirates ran the clock down before Rodriguez got the ball and dribbled left. He fired a hard shot off the glass for the lead, though the Cardinals (4-2) had one final chance.

Quentin Snider’s 3-point attempt for the winner missed with 4 seconds left, Rodriguez grabbed his eighth rebound and the Pirates happily celebrated their second straight win over a ranked opponent.

“Last week against Rhode Island (a 75-74 loss), I didn’t put it in his (Rodriguez’s) hands,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, a former Louisville assistant under Rick Pitino from 2001-07. “I made sure the rest of the year it would get in his hands at the end of the game.”

Seton Hall’s victory adds to an impressive start featuring victories over Power Five conference schools such as Indiana (Big Ten), Vanderbilt (Southeastern) and No. 22 Texas Tech (Big 12) on Thursday.

Khadeen Carrington had 18 points, Myles Powell had 13 including a key 3-pointer with 1:40 left and Angel Delgado had 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Pirates.

Adel had 20 points and Snider 15 for Louisville, which committed 16 turnovers and lost its second straight.

“We’ve just got to take better care of the basketball,” Cardinals interim coach David Padgett said. “Sixteen turnovers is too many for us. … We’ve got to turn this around.”

BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall: The Pirates won by showing poise down the stretch. Timely plays on both ends helped and Rodriguez didn’t have to do it himself as teammates contributed. The Pirates finished nearly even with Louisville on the boards (36-35), shot 46 percent and most importantly, outscored the taller Cardinals 40-26 inside.

“That’s our DNA,” Willard added. “We’re going to scrap, we’re going to fight. … They’re not physically imposing, but they’re long. We weren’t going to change the fact that we’re going to attack the rim.”

Louisville: The Cardinals overcame a slow start and seemed to be in gear behind a 20-7 run for a 59-52 lead before faltering. Lazy passes led to turnovers and easy Seton Hall baskets, and they had no answer defensively for Rodriguez. Their bench outscored Seton Hall 26-3 but looked out of sync and rushed at critical moments.

“We were rusty with the ball,” Adel said. “We were moving too fast. I turned the ball over way too many times. Our advantage was pick and rolls, and guys were getting open in the lane. The second half we did good job, but our turnovers killed us.”

WISE CHOICE

Willard coached Louisville counterpart Padgett for a couple of seasons and said he talked with the former Cardinals player after he was promoted to the interim job following Pitino’s October firing in the wake of the school’s acknowledgment that it was being investigated in a federal bribery probe of college basketball.

The Seton Hall coach believes Padgett is the right man for a difficult situation.

“I think David has done a phenomenal job and will continue to do a phenomenal job with this program,” Willard said. “For what the city has gone through, what the university has gone through and most importantly what the players have gone through, David’s the right guy.”

UP NEXT

Seton Hall hosts Virginia Commonwealth on Saturday.

Louisville hosts Siena on Wednesday in preparation for its meeting against neighboring Indiana on Saturday.

Rutgers lands upset win over No. 15 Seton Hall

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Corey Sanders scored 22 points and Deshawn Freeman added 12 points and 16 boards as Rutgers landed the biggest win of the Steve Pikiell era to date, erasing a 13-point deficit to knock off in-state rival No. 15 Seton Hall, 71-65.

The Scarlet Knights finished the game on a 17-2 run over the final six minutes of the game, answering a 9-0 Seton Hall run that put the Pirates up 63-54. Rutgers did not lead until a free throw from Sanders with 2:22 left put them up 64-63.

The win was the first for Rutgers over Seton Hall in four tries, roughly the time frame that the Pirates have been relevant nationally, and it is precisely what Pikiell needed to continue building a program in Piscataway. Rutgers is now 10-3 on the season, but their three losses have all come to teams are in – or getting votes in – the top 25: Florida State, at Minnesota and Michigan State. As the saying goes, it isn’t really a rivalry until both teams have a chance to win the game, and this win proves just that.

But that’s not the only reason to be bullish on this program. Rutgers is also starting to recruit a little bit better. They sold out the RAC for this game.

He still has a long way to go, and building something out of nothing in the Big Ten is never going to be simple, but Pikiell has this thing going in the right direction.

As far as the Pirates are concerned, there is some reason to be worried here. A team with this kind of veteran presence should not be getting rattled and blowing leads down the stretch. Khadeen Carrington, who is making the adjustment to playing the point this season, was 4-for-17 from the floor with five turnovers, and he struggled to make plays when Seton Hall needed them in the final minutes. Angel Delgado finished just 3-for-9 from the floor.

I’m not sure this is the kind of situation where you need to be worried about their long-term prospects, but it is something to monitor.

No. 17 Purdue takes down Butler in Crossroads Classic

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The annual Crossroads Classic opened with No. 17 Purdue running past Butler for a solid 82-67 win on Saturday afternoon. The Boilermakers continued a recent strong stretch of play with another road or neutral win against a power-conference opponent.

Here are three takeaways from this one.

1. Purdue is the second best team in the Big Ten (and the gap might be growing).

The Big Ten is a mess so far. Only Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State are 2-0 in league play. The Buckeyes aren’t expected to maintain their surprising hot start. Obviously, others in the Big Ten like Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern could all be dangerous. But those four teams have also been underwhelming and have a lot of glaring holes.

For the current moment, Purdue (11-2) clearly looks like the second best team in the Big Ten. And the gap seems to be getting wider during a seven-game winning streak. Outside of a weird two-game stretch at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Boilermakers have put together a solid stretch that now includes road or neutral wins over Arizona, Maryland and Butler in the last few weeks.

Purdue has experience, unique size with 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas and 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms, and capable perimeter shooters who can space the floor. The Boilermakers have good defenders at multiple positions. They outplayed Butler in nearly every facet of the game during a solid win on Saturday. Carsen Edwards (18 points) has matured as a solid leading scorer and plenty of players around him are double-figure scorers.

Butler isn’t likely to be a second-weekend NCAA tournament team, but they’re a solid postseason-caliber group that the Boilermakers made look silly for much of the game. Purdue knows itself. The Boilermakers know their personnel and they’re a veteran group. There’s a lot to like about Purdue at this point in the season.

2. Butler struggles mightily against length

Butler’s offense couldn’t get much of anything going on Saturday. The Bulldogs were ice-cold from the perimeter (7-for-22 from three-point range) and they didn’t fare much better when they tried to go inside (26-for-69).

The Bulldogs haven’t been a very good perimeter team in general this season — entering Saturday’s game with only 31 percent three-point shooting — and those problems were very apparent against Purdue. Without an ability to space the floor, attackers like Kelan Martin (15 points) and Kamar Baldwin (13 points) struggled to get anything going with the drive as the Boilermakers had a great defensive game plan to limit Butler’s looks. Senior big man Tyler Wideman (seven points) also had a hard time finishing over the length of players like Haas and Haarms at the rim.

Paul Jorgenson (15 points) had a big second half and he has been solid at times this season as a floor-spacing threat. The Bulldogs need more help for him on the outside. Sean McDermott has been labeled as a perimeter specialist, but he’s also returning from a recent injury and the Bulldogs are slowly bringing him back.

Butler’s offense is at its best when they can rely on Martin and Baldwin to attack. That wasn’t even close to the case on Saturday as both struggled to get going. It meant Butler didn’t stand much of a chance.

3. Purdue has some late-game turnover issues

Purdue has been generally solid with closing out games this season but they weren’t able to do so against Butler on Saturday.

It looked like the Boilermakers were going to cruise to an easy win before turnovers became an issue and Butler crept back in this one. While Purdue maintained most of its defensive intensity, its offense took a foot off the gas as Butler’s aggressiveness defending on the perimeter led to 18 Boilermaker turnovers.

Purdue is great at closing out games from the free-throw line if they need to. But their ball handlers need to limit turnovers and continue to run good offense if they build up a lead.

Purdue had trouble at times defending late leads last season. They’re now 10-0 this season when they have a halftime lead. Could this be an issue that comes back once again? It doesn’t seem likely but the second half on Saturday brought some ugly flashbacks.

VIDEO: Miami’s Lonnie Walker skies for ridiculous putback dunk

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Miami freshman guard Lonnie Walker timed this one perfectly.

The 6-foot-4 McDonald’s All-American came from across the floor to hammer home a left-handed putback on Saturday as Walker showed why many consider him to be a potential one-and-done prospect.

After a career-high 26 points in a win over Boston on Tuesday, it appears that Walker might be gaining confidence as ACC season approaches.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Jimario Rivers catches lob on Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud

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Memphis senior forward Jimario Rivers caught a tough one-handed alley-oop on Saturday as Louisville senior big man Anas Mahmoud found himself on the receiving end.

This is one of the better lobs we’ve seen this season. Rivers got way up there for this one.

Northern Colorado basketball placed on probation by NCAA

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA placed the University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball program on three years’ probation among other sanctions Friday after finding academic fraud and recruiting violations by ex-coach B.J. Hill and some of his assistants.

The violations by Hill and eight members of his staff over a four-year span included completing coursework for prospects, paying for classes prospects needed to become academically eligible and arranging off-campus practice sessions with an academically ineligible student-athlete.

In addition to probation, penalties in the case include a one-year postseason ban (already served) for the men’s basketball team; a financial penalty; scholarship and recruiting restrictions; and a vacation of records.

Seven coaches received “show cause” orders, including a six-year penalty for the head coach, five years for two assistant coaches, four years for another assistant coach and three years for two assistant coaches and the graduate assistant. During the show cause periods, if an NCAA school hires the coach, that school must demonstrate why restrictions on the coach’s athletically related duties should not apply.

The NCAA concurred with the university’s self-imposed one-year postseason ban last season, a reduction of three scholarships and recruiting restrictions. Also, the school must return all proceeds from its 2011 NCAA Tournament appearance.

The rules violations spanned four years under Hill, a first-time head coach who personally completed coursework for a prospect and enlisted an athletic director to do the same, the NCAA found.

The NCAA said Hill recruited ineligible players, then broke rules to get them on the court.

Hill was fired last year when the NCAA began looking into the violations. He had gone 86-98 with two postseason appearances in six seasons after taking over the program in 2010 following a stint as an assistant in Greeley to current Colorado coach Tad Boyle.

The NCAA commended the university for its “exemplary cooperation” in the case and said Hill “admitted that he failed in his responsibilities to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his staff.”

The panel said two assistant coaches violated ethical conduct rules for lying to investigators and a third failed to cooperate with the probe.