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No. 8 Cincinnati beats UConn 65-57 for 14th straight win

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STORRS, Conn. — Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin says his philosophy when playing conference games on the road is to win and get the heck out of the building.

Jacob Evans III scored 19 points and No. 8 Cincinnati left Gampel Pavilion on Saturday with a 65-57 victory over a struggling UConn team. It was the Bearcats 14th straight win.

Kyle Washington added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Cincy (21-2, 10-0 American), which struggled at times but never trailed.

Jalen Adams scored 20 points and Christian Vital added 18 for the Huskies, who have lost five of their last six to fall below the .500 mark at 11-12 (4-6) American.

The Bearcats shot just 38 percent from the floor, almost 10 percentage points below their season average and were outscored 26-14 in the paint. But they held UConn to 36 percent shooting.

“It wasn’t a pretty game by any stretch,” Cronin said. “Their zone, it slowed us down, it limited our points in the paint,” Cronin said. “If you can only get 14 points in the paint and win you’ve got to be happy as a coach.”

Cincinnati opened the game with three straight 3-pointers and ran out to a 13-0 lead. The Huskies missed their first 10 shots and didn’t score until Christian Vital drove the lane for a layup almost eight minutes into the game.

The Bearcats had a drought of their own, getting just six free throws over a nine-minute span before a 3-pointer from Evans made it 26-16.

A 3-pointer by Keith Williams at the halftime buzzer sent the Bearcats into the locker room up 32-21.

Consecutive 3-pointers by Cane Broome eight minutes into the second half extended the lead to 17 points. The Bearcats extended that to 19 and then weathered a late 12-4 UConn run.

Cincinnati hit 9 of their 25 shots from behind the arc, while UConn went 5 of 17.

“It’s tough on the road,” Evans said. “You play a team on the road, especially in conference, it gets dark as the away team. So, we were just focused on getting the win and getting back to Cincinnati.”

BIG PICTURE

Cincinnati: A win in its next game against UCF would tie the team’s longest winning streak in the 12-years since Mick Cronin took over as head coach. The school record for consecutive wins is 37, during the 1961-62 and 1962-63 seasons.

UConn: The Huskies are now 27-29 over the past two seasons. UConn has lost 12 straight against ranked opponents and is 0-5 against the Top 25 this season. Despite their struggles, this was the Huskies first loss on campus this season. The Huskies are now 5-1 at Gampel Pavilion.

“We have the guys; we have the talent, we just need to figure out how to put it together,” Vital said. “I don’t know how. Obviously, we’re still trying to figure that out.”

COMING HOME

The game was a homecoming for Cincinnati guard Cane Broome, who is from East Hartford and played at Sacred Heart in Fairfield before transferring to Cincinnati. Broome, who averages just over eight points a game, scored 10 points. He played against UConn once before, as a sophomore at Sacred Heart, scoring just seven points, the only time that season he failed to reach double figures.

“I just wanted to be able and come here and win the game, for real, because last time I came, I lost,” Broome said. I just wanted to win the game.”

UConn is just 27-28 since the 2016-17 season began.

HE’LL BE BACK

UConn point guard Alterique Gilbert recently had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder for the second straight year. But Gilbert says he’s “100 percent” committed to returning to the program. “The past two years have been kind of up and down for us, but I definitely know with the history and tradition at UConn there is another side to that, so I want to experience that side,” Gilbert said.

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.