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Missouri edges No. 21 Texas A&M 62-58

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri held an 11-point lead with 5:39 remaining against No. 21 Texas A&M. Then came the press, which has caused Missouri problems recently.

The Aggies trimmed the lead to one within three minutes, and stole an inbound pass down two with 14 seconds left. Texas A&M’s Robert Williams missed a put-back layup and the Tigers escaped 62-58 Tuesday night.

It looked good, I thought it was going in,” Missouri’s Kassius Robertson said. “Just in case, we all boxed out. It rimmed out, we got a little lucky.”

For the first 30 minutes, Missouri (18-8, 8-5 Southeastern Conference) played solid defense and clean offense. At halftime, the Tigers had committed just two fouls and three turnovers. Robertson led the Tigers with 16 points and Jordan Barnett added 15.

Missouri turned the Aggies over 16 times and committed just nine fouls. The Tigers scored 12 points off Texas A&M turnovers.

“I thought Missouri’s defense, their ball pressure and our inability to get the ball inside to Tyler Davis was the big key of the game,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

Texas A&M (17-9, 6-7) came in ranked fourth nationally averaging 41.76 rebounds per game. The Aggies won the rebounding battle 46-30, but Davis picked up his second foul with 11:07 remaining in the first half and played limited minutes after.

Davis’ absence allowed Missouri’s Jeremiah Tilmon to flourish, scoring a season-high 14 points.

T.J. Starks and Admon Gilder led the Aggies with 14 points each. Robert Williams had nine rebounds for Texas A&M. The Tigers held Texas A&M to just 32 percent from the field in the first half, including 1 of 13 from 3-point range.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: A&M’s four-game winning streak, which included wins over Auburn and Kentucky last week, ended. After scoring more than 80 points in each of its last four games, Texas A&M was locked up by Missouri’s defense.

Missouri: The Tigers continue to climb the SEC standings. Mizzou is fourth, a half-game behind second. When its offense doesn’t turn the ball over, Missouri can be a scary opponent.

FLIPPED THE SCRIPT

Texas A&M big men Davis and Williams dominated Missouri in the post in the two teams’ first meeting on Jan. 20. The Aggies fouled out both Tilmon and forward Jontay Porter.

On Tuesday, Tilmon outscored both of Texas A&M’s starting bigs. This time, it was Davis in foul trouble, and the Tigers were able to keep the points in the paint battle at 28-26 in favor of the Aggies.

“Last game, they got the best of me,” Tilmon said. “This game, I just went out there and played ball. The ball was coming my way, I was feeling really confident.”

IT’S NEVER EASY

On Saturday, Missouri held a 79-67 lead over Mississippi State with just over 90 seconds left in the contest. The game ended up going to overtime after the Bulldogs went on a 12-0 run. The Tigers won in overtime.

“We find ways to make it very interesting,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said.

“Now, we can’t inbound the ball,” Robertson said. “That’s our new problem. We’ve got that on the board and we’ll try to fix that.”

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.