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Florida cruises past depleted No. 11 Texas A&M for SEC road win

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Florida ran away from No. 11 Texas A&M on Tuesday night as the Gators secured an easy 83-66 SEC road win. The up-and-down Gators earned one of their best wins of the season while the Aggies are still reeling without three of its best players in the lineup.

Here are three takeaways from Florida’s quality road win.

1. FLORIDA’S OFFENSE HAS TO HIT PERIMETER SHOTS 

Florida should have won Tuesday night’s game at Texas A&M strictly by virtue of the Aggies missing three important players (more on that below). While the Gators obviously came away with the win, it should also be noted that Florida completely dominated this game for almost the entire time.

Displaying more intensity on both ends, along with potent perimeter shooting, Florida looked like the team we thought they could be early in the season before a cold stretch sent them on a puzzling tailspin. Shooting 16-for-27 from three-point range, Florida had floor-spacing options all over the floor as they had balanced scoring.

Senior point guard Chris Chiozza (12 points, nine assists) carved up the young and experienced Texas A&M backcourt as he found shooters for open looks and cutters for easy lobs. Egor Koulechov (19 points) and Keith Stone (18 points) both shot the ball at a very high level as they seemed to be playing (and more importantly, shooting) with confidence.

We’ve seen what happens when Florida isn’t hitting shots from the perimeter in an ugly home loss to Florida State. But on this night, the Gators had it rolling from the perimeter and it opened up everything that Florida wanted to do on the offensive end. Florida needs to hit three-pointers at a solid clip to be the best version of themselves.

In wins this season, Florida is shooting 40.7 percent from three-point land. In losses, that number dips to 29.5 percent. If Florida is hitting shots, chances are, they are going to win.

2. TEXAS A&M BADLY NEEDS ITS FULL ROSTER

One of the reasons that Texas A&M finds itself 0-2 in the SEC is the depleted roster the Aggies are currently dealing with. Junior forward D.J. Hogg is finishing a three-game suspension for violating school policy while guards Duane Wilson and Admon Gilder are currently battling knee injuries.

Without those three key pieces, the Aggies got badly exposed against a talented Florida team. Facing a veteran Florida backcourt, Texas A&M’s backcourt of freshmen Jay Jay Chandler, J.J. Caldwell and Savion Flagg struggled as the trio couldn’t get consistent footing on offense while getting burned consistently on defense. Texas A&M entered Tuesday’s game allowing opponents to shot only 27.1 percent from three-point range on the season. Florida shot nearly 60 percent from distance in the win as they got whatever look they wanted.

Obviously, Texas A&M is a significantly better team when three of their four top scorers are on the floor. But the glaring lack of depth also showed that the Aggies are susceptible to getting beat if they ever have to deal with any sort of roster adversity.

Texas A&M had better hope that no injuries or foul problems hit their backcourt during an important game this season because they could be in major trouble if that happens.

3. FLORIDA HAS AN EARLY CHANCE TO MAKE A PUSH UP THE SEC STANDINGS

The SEC has been drunk at the start of 2018.

Ranked teams like Texas A&M and Tennessee now find themselves at 0-2 in the conference standings. Teams like Auburn are looking legitimate.

And Florida now has a chance to capitalize and gain some serious conference momentum after a 2-0 start.

Not only did Florida just pick off one of the SEC’s better teams on the road, but the upcoming schedule isn’t very daunting for Gators. Florida travels to Missouri before hosting Mississippi State and heading to Ole Miss over the next three games. Those are all winnable games for Mike White’s ballclub, meaning the Gators could be sitting pretty at 5-0 in the SEC while the rest of the league beats each other up.

In a potentially tight conference like this, that could mean the difference in winning a conference title. There’s still a long ways to go before we start deeply analyzing conference races. Unforeseen injuries will change things. Kentucky is going to have something to say in all of this as well. But Florida is sitting pretty right now and they have a chance to gain a lot of momentum in the SEC over the next few weeks. Can the Gators capitalize?

John Calipari lobbies for change in one-and-some rule to help athletes

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari is hoping the one-and-done rule changes so that athletes have more rights.

In a revealing interview with Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Calipari went into great detail about his thoughts behind a rule that many believe he has exploited greatly to his benefit over the last 10 years. Even though the Wildcats and Calipari have figured out the one-and-done rule to their advantage, the Hall of Fame coach still wants the rule to be abolished.

“Kids should be able to go (to the NBA) out of high school. That’s not our deal. That’s between the NBA and the Players Association,” Calipari said Friday. “Don’t put restrictions on kids.”

Calipari told Engel that he met with the NBPA last week in the hopes of the organization creating a combine for worthy high school juniors with pro potential. Calipari also wants agents more involved with high school kids.

“The players and the families need to know – here are the ones who should be thinking about the NBA, and here are the ones who should not,” Calipari said. “That’s why you need a combine.”

“If they want to go out of high school, go. If they want to go to college and then leave, let them leave when they want to leave. Why would we force a kid to stay? ‘Well – it’s good for the game?’ It’s about these kids and their families. Because let me tell you, if we (abolish one-and-done), the kids that do come to college will stay for two to three years.”

Calipari also has plenty of thoughts on the NBA G-League and how the league could potentially help young athletes with an education fund if they choose to turn pro directly out of high school. Regardless of what happens with the NBPA and the one-and-done rule, Calipari also said that his program would be fine — regardless of the rules.

Given that Calipari has operated on a different recruiting plane than everyone else in college basketball (with the exception of a few other bluebloods like Duke and Kansas) the last several years, it’s always notable when he gives his thoughts on the overall landscape of basketball.

But is Calipari actually lobbying for this? Or is this yet another way for Calipari to mold quotes into a recruiting pitch for elite players? Ultimately, it’s up to the NBPA to decide how the rules will be for future pros.

Report: NCAA allows Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale to compete on Dancing with the Stars

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After a memorable March Madness run that included two game-winning jumpers in the Final Four and an eventual national title, Notre Dame junior guard Arike Ogunbowale became a breakout national star.

Ogunbowale already appeared on Ellen while meeting her basketball idol, Kobe Bryant. Now, Ogunbowale will get the rare opportunity to appear on Dancing with the Stars — which the NCAA will allow even though Ogunbowale is still a rising senior who is scheduled to return to school next season.

Dancing with the Stars compensates its contestants and also has a prize for the winner. Under NCAA Bylaw 12.4.1, college athletes cannot be compensated based on their athletic abilities.

But the NCAA is arguing that Ogunbowale’s appearance on the show is “unrelated to her basketball abilities,” according to a statement they released regarding the decision. According to a report from Jacob Bogage of the Washington Post, the NCAA is also limiting Ogunbowale’s visibility for the show’s promotional tools.

From the Washington Post report:

The NCAA has placed restrictions on Ogunbowale that limit her involvement with the show and her potential to build her brand. She is not allowed to appear in promotional materials for the show, including commercials, according to the NCAA’s statement. She didn’t join other contestants during a group appearance on “Good Morning America” last week. Show handicappers have already wondered whether the NCAA’s limits will hurt her chances.

And the NCAA could turn down future requests by arguing that Ogunbowale is not endorsing “Dancing with the Stars” by appearing on the program, but instead is participating in a “personal growth experience” by learning how to ballroom dance, said Barbara Osborne, a professor of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina.

This is a slippery slope for the NCAA to take with this. Ogunbowale is, quite clearly, a famous basketball player. She’s on Dancing with the Stars because of her basketball abilities. The NCAA arguing anything else is just silly and embarrassing. The NCAA is also trying its best to uphold its argument about amateurism in the only way they know how.

But could this also could be a sign that the NCAA is perhaps open to the potential of allowing athletes to profit off of themselves in the future? The NCAA is currently handling a number of different court cases regarding amateurism, so it’s hard to say where all of this might go until the legal process starts to clear up.

Either way, this should be a fun experience for Ogunbowale while providing great national exposure for herself and women’s basketball. Ogunbowale might not be technically allowed to build her own brand during the show, but she’ll be gaining tons of new exposure for her basketball future — regardless of what the NCAA says in a statement.

Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab diagnosed with leukemia

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Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab announced on Saturday that he’s been battling leukemia lymphoma.

The 6-foot-11 big man from Egypt has been receiving medical treatment since the beginning of April as he took to Twitter to announce his current status.

Sameh Azab played in 15 games this season for the Tigers as he saw action for 84 total minutes. The reserve big man was a late addition in former head coach Tubby Smith’s first recruiting class at Memphis as he didn’t quality to play during his first season.

“Karim has my full support and the support of our whole team,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in a statement earlier this month. “While we appreciate the support of the Tiger family in this matter, we would also like to protect the privacy of Karim and his family.”

South Dakota State’s Mike Daum declares for 2018 NBA Draft without an agent

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South Dakota State big man Mike Daum will enter the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 redshirt junior has been a mid-major draft darling the past few seasons as Daum was one of the most productive players in the country last season. Putting up 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, Daum shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range during the season.

With his size and unique floor-spacing ability, Daum is going to be an interesting player to track during the NBA draft process. Teams are always looking for big men who can space the floor, and if Daum shoots well in workouts, he could wind up staying in the draft.

If Daum returns to South Dakota State, then he once again makes them a major NCAA tournament contender after the Jackrabbits won the Summit League last season.

Marquette lands Fordham grad transfer Joseph Chartouny

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Marquette pulled in a quality graduate transfer commitment on Friday as Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny pledged to the Golden Eagles.

The 6-foot-3 Chartouny was a three-year starter for the Rams as he should help offset the loss of guard Andrew Rowsey to graduation. While Chartouny isn’t nearly the perimeter threat that Rowsey was, he should be able to help significantly on the defensive end for Marquette. Chartouny put up 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season as he was one of the more productive all-around players in the Atlantic 10.

One of the nation’s leaders in steals the past three seasons, Chartouny has much better size to play alongside Markus Howard in the Marquette backcourt than Rowsey (5-foot-11) had. Since Howard is also 5-foot-11, Chartouny can now guard the bigger and more athletic perimeter matchup as Marquette tries to improve its porous defense from last season.

Marquette still has an open scholarship for next season as they’ve been investigating other transfer options to bolster the roster. Returning most of last season’s roster, the expectation will be for the Golden Eagles to make it back to the NCAA tournament next season.