Rob Dauster

North Carolina coach Roy Williams reacts in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., Monday, Jan. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)
(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

Roy Williams explains why he doesn’t want to leave North Carolina anytime soon

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Roy Williams continued to push back against speculation that he could retire amid health concerns and the NCAA investigation that currently envelops the North Carolina athletic department.

“I love this place. If I was going to leave, I’d have left the first day because I knew I wasn’t involved,” Williams told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

This whole ordeal started on Saturday afternoon, before North Carolina beat Miami. Doug Gottlieb, an analyst for CBS Sports college basketball coverage, said on a broadcast that there was speculation in basketball circles that Williams could retire in the Tar Heels win a title. He’s not wrong. Between the investigation and Williams’ health issues — the vertigo is what everyone knows about but his knees aren’t exactly in great condition, either — it would make sense to anyone with a pulse that the 65-year old Williams would ride off into the sunset on a high note.

And that’s precisely why he reacted the way he did after the win on Saturday.

“Think about what we’ve had to do the last three or four years here. We’ve had to put up with more stuff, more negative recruiting, than anytime in my career or any other coaches career that I’ve talked to,” he said. “That’s just something else that we’ve got to answer to. It’s been unbelievable the last three or four years, the negative recruiting because of the stuff going on here that I’ve had to put up with.”

“I don’t want anything else. I don’t need anything else. You want to say something that’s your opinion, that’s fine. But don’t act like you’e got certain information.”

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

You don’t really have to look any further than the kid that killed him in Wednesday night’s loss to Duke: Brandon Ingram. Ingram is from Kinston, North Carolina, the same town that produced former Tar Heels Reggie Bullock and Jerry Stackhouse. But when it came time to pick where to play his, Ingram’s father Donald told the Raleigh News & Observer that looming sanctions “played a big factor” in his son’s decision to turn down UNC.

“We wanted to know that they’re not going to fall into the same situation like Jim Boeheim with Syracuse,” Donald said. “So you don’t want to go into a (situation) that’s already hot. And it played a factor in it.”

Williams also added this, which doesn’t just sound like coach-speak to me.

“With me, I don’t ever want to leave when things are — When I leave, I want it to be in good shape. For me this would have been a very hard time to leave.”

Everything coaches say and do in the media is for recruiting purposes. They’re not talking to reporters. They’re not talking to fans. They’re talking to the players that are considering playing for them.

But this is actually something that I buy.

Williams is part of the Tar Heel family. Dean Smith was his mentor, the first man to give him a college coaching job.

I absolutely believe that he doesn’t want to be the guy that left the UNC program in tatters from NCAA sanctions, in need of someone else to come in and build it back into something elite.

That doesn’t mean that he knows how this whole thing will play out. His health issues or a hammer dropping from the NCAA could eventually change his mind.

I just find it hard to believe he’s planning on jumping ship.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR POWER RANKINGS: Denzel Valentine continues to close the gap on Buddy Hield

Hield (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki) and Valentine (AP Photo/Al Goldis)
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Last week, when we published these Power Rankings, I went in-depth on why Buddy Hield’s hold on the National Player of the Year Award is not quite as firm as some may make it out to be.

Denzel Valentine is right there with him.

And, at this point, I think that Tyler Ulis is probably closer than a lot of people may realize to cracking that top two. He still has some work left to do to really be in consideration — and that’s mainly a result of how much he, and Kentucky, struggled earlier in the year — but since the turn of the calendar, Ulis has been sensational.

Anyway, that will be explained a bit more in his blurb below.

To follow along with the countdown, be sure to check out the CBT Facebook page:

No. 25 Texas outlasts Kansas State 71-70

Texas head coach Shaka Smart calls a play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Isaiah Taylor scored 19 points, including a 3-pointer to all but ice the game with less than a minute to play, and No. 25 Texas held on to beat Kansas State 71-70 on Monday night.

Javan Felix had 11 of his 13 points in the first half and Eric Davis, Jr. finished with 10 points for Texas (18-11, 9-6 Big 12). Connor Lammert had eight points and seven rebounds.

Kansas State (15-13, 4-11) was forced to play catch-up in the second half after falling behind by as many as eight points. When the Wildcats got as close as 66-65 with 1:03 to play, Taylor stepped back and hit a 3-pointer with a defender in his face. Dean Wade later missed a possible game-winning 3-pointer, as the Longhorns escaped with a much-needed conference victory.

Justin Edwards had 20 points and eight rebounds for Kansas State, while D.J. Johnson added 16 points and Wesley Iwundu had 12.

The thrilling finish didn’t entirely tell the story.

Texas stormed out to an early lead before Felix book-ended the period with seven of his 11 first-half points in a 2-minute span to give the Longhorns a 38-35 halftime lead.

Kansas State was fortunate to only trail by three.

At one point, the Wildcats trailed 22-18, with only Edwards and Johnson having made field goals. It wasn’t until the 7:29 mark that assistance came with Carlbe Ervin hit two free throws.

The teams combined for 24 fouls, resulting in a sloppy 20 minutes that lacked any sort of rhythm. Eleven were called against the Wildcats, including one on Dean Wade with 3:35 to play, when the freshman was actually elbowed in the face. The purple-clad fans’ groans grew so loud during the ensuing free throws that the officials went over to the scoreboard to take another look.

Nothing else was called.

Texas clung to its lead throughout the second half, fending off each Kansas State run, including a jumper from Taylor with 3:34 left to stretch a one-point lead back to three. The guard then did it again with 43 seconds remaining, stepping back and hitting the 3-pointer with a defender in his face.

Wade had a chance to be the hero for Kansas State, but his would-be game winner clunked off the front of the rim to end the game.

TIP-INS

Texas: Center Prince Ibeh played just 9 minutes, fouling out with 4 minutes to play in the game. He finished with three points and one field goal.

Kansas State: The Wildcats have lost six conference games by 10 points or less.

UP NEXT

Texas: hosts No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday.

Kansas State: visits No. 17 Iowa State on Saturday.

No. 14 West Virginia ends two-game skid against No. 17 Iowa State

West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) takes a shot over Iowa State guard Matt Thomas (21) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Monday, Feb, 22, 2016, in Morgantown, W.Va. (AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
(AP Photo/Raymond Thompson)
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Jaysean Paige netted 34 points and Tarik Phillip added 22 points and six assists as No. 14 West Virginia bounced back from a pair of losses last week to take out No. 17 Iowa State, 97-87.

At this point, it’s fair to say that the Mountaineers are just a horrid matchup for the Cyclones.

On the one hand, Iowa State is not — and, during their resurgence over the course of the last five or six years, has not been — a good defensive team. This group may be worse than any that Fred Hoiberg had, and the Mountaineers took advantage. Paige and Phillip both come off the bench for Bobby Huggins’ team, but those are his two best back court players. On Monday, they both posted career-highs, as the Cyclones didn’t have an answer for either of them.

But there may be a reason for that.

It’s not exactly a secret that Iowa State doesn’t have any depth. It was a major concern entering the year, and that was before they lost Naz Long to a hip issue. Hallice Cooke hasn’t had the impact that he was expected to this season, Deonte Burton didn’t get eligible until midway through the year and that just so happened to coincide with the start of Jameel McKay’s “flakiness” in practice.

They’ve had a five- or six-man rotation all season long, which has undoubtedly taken a toll on the legs of Georges Niang and Monte’ Morris, and never was that more problematic than when they were asked to go up against a West Virginia team that goes ten-deep and has built a system around trying to wear out their opponent with full court pressure.

I feel for Steve Prohm, who is going to bear the brunt of what will amount to a failure of a season in the eyes of his fan base — they entered the year with Final Four expectations and currently sit at 8-7 in the Big 12, which is not something that is going to be easy to swallow in Ames, not when Iowa looks like a top ten team. And I feel for Niang and Morris, who have been two of the most entertaining players in the country to watch this season, because barring some kind of a miracle, this is an Iowa State team whose ceiling feels like the Sweet 16.

One last note on West Virginia: Nathan Adrian has been a really nice spark for them. He’s seen an increase in minutes over the course of the last month, and he’s played with an unbelievable amount of confidence. He’s hitting threes, he’s playing the point on their press and he’s able to guard three different positions. I didn’t see that coming from him.

Davon Reed rescues No. 12 Miami as the Canes land a key bounce back win over No. 3 Virginia

Miami's Davon Reed goes up to shoot against Virginia's Mike Toby during the first half action of an NCAA college basketball game in Coral Gables, Fla., Monday, Feb. 22, 2016. (AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
(AP Photo/Gaston De Cardenas)
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No. 12 Miami got the bounce back win they needed.

Just two days after they were embarrassed by North Carolina in Chapel Hill, losing a game by 25 points that they trailed by 38 at one point, the Hurricanes headed back to Coral Gables for a date with No. 3 Virginia. And despite playing with a banged up Sheldon McClellan and JaQuan Newton, Miami pulled out a 64-61 win to move into sole possession of second place in the ACC, just a game behind the Tar Heels.

The hero was Davon Reed, a junior wing that’s averaging 10.5 points this season. He scored 21 points and hit 5-for-6 from beyond the arc for Jim Larrañaga’s club, helping to bail out Miami team on a night where their stars didn’t show up.

Angel Rodriguez is a notoriously inconsistent player, and on Monday night we got a dose of Bad Angel. He was 3-for-10 from the floor with three turnovers and just one assists. Rodriguez did hit a big jumper late and he played some impressive defensive on UVA’s London Perrantes, but the fact that Miami was able to beat a team as good as Virginia with his struggles — and with the ineffectiveness of Newton and McClellan — is unequivocally a good sign for this team.

Another positive was the play on Tonye Jekiri, who has developed into a pretty well-rounded post presence. He’s known more for his interior toughness and ability on the glass, but on Monday night he chipped in with nine points and five assists. Miami can run offense through him, which takes some pressure off of their back court to produce.

Despite the loss, Malcolm Brogdon once again showcased why he’s a favorite for National Player of the Year and trending towards the discussion for first-team All-America. He finished with 28 points on 12-for-18 shooting from the floor. In the second half, as the Cavs worked back from a 10 point deficit (at the pace UVA plays, that’s like a normal team erasing a 15 point lead) Brogdon hit his first eight shots from the floor, the only miss coming on a forced 25-footer with 20 seconds left on the clock.

Virginia drops two games off of the pace in the ACC standings with the loss.

Tennessee’s Kevin Punter Jr. has stress fracture in foot

Tennessee guard Kevin Punter (0), center, sits on the bench with a leg brace with teammates Ray Kasongo (2) and Detrick Mostella (15), from left, during an NCAA college basketball game against LSU in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Tennessee won 81-65. (Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Adam Lau/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Tennessee guard Kevin Punter Jr. has a stress fracture in his right foot, which likely will force the Volunteers to continue playing without their top scorer.

Volunteers coach Rick Barnes announced the severity of Punter’s injury Monday and described his status as “day to day.” Barnes said he doesn’t expect Punter to play Wednesday at South Carolina (22-5, 9-5 SEC) but added that “I’ve been fooled before.”

“I hurt for him, and we all do because first of all, he’s just a great person,” Barnes said. “He works hard. He’s a great teammate. He’s been a joy to be around. You hope that he’s going to have a way to maybe get back and work through it.

“For him, it’s tough on him because he’s a competitor. He loves the game, and he’s done everything a coaching staff could ask him to do. To see him in this situation this time of year, we all feel for him.”

Punter sat on the bench wearing a walking boot on his right foot throughout Tennessee’s 81-65 victory over LSU on Saturday.

Barnes said Punter was wearing the walking boot in the gym Monday morning and had indicated his foot was feeling a little bit better.

The 6-foot-2 senior averages 22.2 points per game for Tennessee (13-14, 6-8) and ranks 11th among all Division I players in scoring.

Barnes said Punter indicated his foot started hurting intermittently the last couple of weeks and that it felt worse Thursday when Tennessee warmed up before an 80-70 loss at No. 16 Kentucky, which was ranked 14th at the time.

“Looking back, I did not think he’d been himself for the last three or four games,” Barnes said.