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No. 17 Rhode Island suffers shocking 30-point loss to Saint Joseph’s

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Having already wrapped up the Atlantic 10 regular season title, Tuesday’s Senior Night matchup with Saint Joseph’s was expected to be one in which No. 17 Rhode Island was supposed to celebrate five seniors who have been important factors in Dan Hurley’s rebuild of the program. The pregame ceremony happened, but it was followed by one of the most surprising results of the 2017-18 season.

Rhode Island shot just 6-for-31 from the field in the first half, and they would go on to lose to the visiting Hawks by an 78-48 final score.

While Saint Joseph’s is just 14-15 on the season overall and 9-8 in Atlantic 10 play, the fact that Phil Martelli’s team won is not the surprise here. While the program has struggled with injuries over the last two seasons, there’s no denying the fact that the Hawks have talent. Also, this is a group that has lost nine games by four points or less this season.

Simply put, if a few possessions throughout the course of the season go the other way Saint Joseph’s would be an even bigger player in the Atlantic 10 race.

James Demery scored 21 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field, and in forward Taylor Funk the Hawks have one of the Atlantic 10’s best freshmen. Funk finished the game 5-for-5 from the field and scored 17 points, and if not for Davidson’s Kellan Grady he would likely be the pick as the conference’s top freshman. Add in Shavar Newkirk putting forth an excellent performance with 14 points and seven assists, and Saint Joseph’s was able to put forth its best showing of the season.

Saint Joseph’s shot nearly 52 percent from the field, consistently attacking the Rams off the dribble in the half-court and keeping URI from turning turnovers into points on the other end.

Nothing went right for Rhode Island (23-5, 15-2) on either end of the floor. Offensively, the Rams did themselves no favors by settling for challenged perimeter shots instead of attacking the gaps in the zone defense that Saint Joseph’s threw at them for much of the night. Rhode Island finished the game having shot 28.1 percent from the field overall and 3-for-29 from three, and their 9-for-18 effort from the foul line didn’t help matters either.

Prior to Tuesday night just one of Rhode Island’s four losses was by double figures, with that being their 15-point defeat at the hands of top-ranked Virginia in the title game of the Preseason NIT. With just one loss since December 6, some may argue that Rhode Island was due for a stinker. And if that’s the case, it’s better for the Rams that it happened now as opposed to in a couple weeks time when a loss means that the season’s over.

A loss like this can refocus a team if that’s needed. The question is whether or not this 30-point loss is used as a reason to drop Rhode Island’s seed come Selection Sunday. Given the team’s results throughout the season, it’s reasonable to say that Tuesday’s blowout loss was a one-off performance for URI, a game in which everything that could go wrong did.

But one also has to credit Saint Joseph’s, as their efficient offense and zone defense made this beating possible as well.

Wake Forest guard Keyshawn Woods to transfer or go pro after graduation

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Wake Forest will be down a key player next season as the school announced that guard Keyshawn Woods will either transfer or go pro after graduation.

The 6-foot-3 Woods was the team’s second-leading scorer this season as he put up 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. Woods shot 43 percent from the floor and 37 percent from three-point range for the 2017-18 campaign.

Also a key member of last season’s NCAA tournament team for the Demon Deacons, Woods transferred to Wake Forest after spending his first season at Charlotte.

“I appreciate the opportunity that Coach Manning gave me to be a part of this program and to graduate from this great university,” said Woods in the release. “I am proud that I was able to help the coaches change the culture of the program and build a foundation for the future.”

The loss of Woods won’t be easy for Wake Forest, but the team is scheduled to return some talented guards like Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress next season. Incoming freshmen like Jaime Lewis and Sharone Wright Jr. are also signed to add to the perimeter depth.

David Padgett not retained as Louisville coach

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Louisville announced on Wednesday afternoon that interim head coach David Padgett would not be retained.

Padgett, who is 32 years old, stepped in and took the program over in the wake of a scandal that cost Hall of Fame head coach Rick Pitino his job.

“We all owe a great debt of gratitude to David for his leadership and poise this season,” said U of L Interim Director of Athletics Vince Tyra. “He took over during incredible circumstances, has handled himself respectfully throughout the season and I believe he has a bright future in coaching. We expect to determine a new head coach in a short period to build upon the great basketball tradition of this university.”

Pitino was fired because an FBI complaint contained an allegation that he and his staff had arranged for a $100,000 payment to be funneled to Brian Bowen from Adidas.

In his one season with the Cardinals, Padgett went 22-14 and reached the quarterfinals of the NIT.

Louisville will now conduct a search for their next head coach, and current Xavier coach Chris Mack has long been considered the favorite to take that job.

Kansas State’s injured star hoping to play Thursday

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One of the most surprising parts about Kansas State’s run to the Sweet 16 is that they have done it without the services of their leading scorer, Dean Wade.

Wade injured his foot prior to the Big 12 tournament loss to Kansas. He did not play in that game or in either of Kansas State’s first two tournament games, but it is looking more and more like he’ll be on the floor on Thursday night when they play Kentucky.

“I don’t play percentages very well, but I’m feeling good,” Wade said, via SEC Country. “I’m very positive about it. It’s getting better every day and today I felt great out there, doing a little more than usual. It felt good.”

Wade averaged 16.5 points per game, but the big question is going to be whether or not he is actually healthy when he takes the court. Just because he’s on the floor doesn’t mean he’s at 100 percent.

“Really just trying to get it out of my mind that it’s not hurt,” Wade said. “Just more of a mental thing, just getting out there and running around. I think I got moved past that and it’s feeling better.”

Arizona’s Sean Miller: ‘I am not a candidate’ at Pitt

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With speculation mounting about who Pitt will hire to replace Kevin Stallings as their new head coach, current Arizona head coach Sean Miller released a statement saying that he is not in the running to fill the opening.

“I am not a candidate for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball head coaching vacancy. I wish them well in their search for a new coach,” the statement read.

Miller is a native of Pittsburgh and an alumni of the school — he’s the guy that had the assist on Jerome Lane’s famous dunk — and with the issues that are currently swirling around him and the Arizona program, there was speculation that he was looking for an escape plan.

Maybe he wasn’t.

Maybe he was and the Pitt administration decided they couldn’t risk hiring someone who had an assistant coach arrested in the FBI’s sweep of college basketball and who himself may be on wiretaps talking about who knows what. Releasing this statement would then be a way for him to save face and say he was never interested.

And then maybe there’s option No. 3: Pitt has won the Dan Hurley sweepstakes.

As it stands, both the Panthers and UConn are in the process of chasing after the Rhode Island head coach, and it’s not uncommon in coaching searches for a coach to announce that he is not a candidate for the job after the job decides they want someone else. Call it a professional courtesy.

But that’s neither here nor there.

What we do know now is that Sean Miller will not be the next head coach at Pitt.

Report: Notre Dame’s Bonzie Colson suffers another fracture in foot

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Bonzie Colson rushed back from a broken foot to try and help his Notre Dame team get into the NCAA tournament this season.

They were bumped out of the field when Davidson upset Rhode Island and earned the Atlantic 10’s third bid to the league tournament. The Fighting Irish were NIT bound, and in their second round loss to Penn State late last week, Colson reinjured the left foot that held him out of action for eight weeks.

On Wednesday, Yahoo reported that Colson suffered another fracture in the foot.

“I’m sitting there and he’s limping off and I’m going, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’” coach Mike Brey said after the game. “Everything we’ve been through? I thought we were out of the woods with him.”

There was a poignant moment at the end of the game.

Colson’s injury came during the third quarter. He returned to the bench at Purcell Pavilion with ice on his foot after going into the locker room. With 30 seconds left and a loss imminent, Colson walked right past Mike Brey, said “I’m going in”, and finished his college career on the court.

Colson is a potential second round pick. He was an all-american last year and a preseason selection this year. He was averaging 19.7 points, 10.2 boards and 2.2 blocks when he was injured.