Tyus Battle scored a career-high 23 points and Andrew White added 23 as well as Syracuse landed their fourth straight win on Saturday, 66-62, over No. 9 Virginia.
The win is the 1,000th of Jim Boeheim’s career. He’s just the second men’s Division I head coach and the fourth Division I coach in men’s and women’s basketball to reach that mark. According to the official NCAA record book, Boeheim only has 899 wins; 101 of them were vacated by the NCAA for
“Whatever number we have, I’ve been here for 1,000 wins. That’s a lot of wins,” Boeheim said in a postgame interview on ESPN before walking off the floor with his arms raised as the Carrier Dome crowd gave him a standing ovation. “But the only number that matters is 15.”
That’s how many wins the Orange have on the season, and this win over the Cavaliers pushes them just that much closer to earning an NCAA tournament bid.
It’s also the second consecutive game where Syracuse dug themselves out of a massive hole. The Orange were down 34-22 at the half and, frankly, looked terrible for the first 20 minutes. But the Orange used a 19-2 run to open the second half, taking a 41-36 lead that they would never relinquish. On Wednesday night, the Orange erased a 17-point second half deficit at N.C. State.
The comeback was eerily similar to the one that Syracuse made against the Wahoos in last year’s Elite 8, when the Orange were down 15 points with less than ten minutes left before a 21-2 run sparked their trip to the Final Four.
Syracuse is now 15-9 on the season, and while they’ve beaten both Florida State and Virginia during this four-game winning, the Orange still have some work to do if they’re going to earn themselves an at-large bid. That’s what happens when you have losses to the likes of St. John’s and UConn on your résumé. But the good news is that the Orange are starting to click. They won on Saturday despite the fact that their star, Tyler Lydon, didn’t play all that well.
John Gillon is coming off of a 43-point performance in the win at N.C. State. White is playing his best basketball of the season. After his career-high today, Battle has scored at least 13 points in six of his last ten games. The Orange have talent on their roster, and that talent seems to finally be coming together.
Grayson Allen scored 15 of his 21 points in the final seven minutes and added six boards and six assists as No. 21 Duke picked up a 72-64win over Pitt in Mike Krzyzewski’s first game back as the head coach of the Blue Devils.
Coach K had been out for four weeks recovering from surgery on his back, and Duke had gone just 4-3 in his absence.
They had, however, won their last two games before Coach K’s return, with one of the changes to the lineup being an emphasis on playing small-ball. Jayson Tatum started for the third straight game at the four on Saturday, finishing with 12 points, six boards and a pair of assists, and Frank Jackson got the start at the point, moving Allen and Luke Kennard off the ball.
The best player on the floor for the Blue Devils on Saturday was Amile Jefferson, who finished with 15 points, nine boards and five blocks. He anchored the lane against one of the biggest teams in the ACC. Pitt essentially plays a lineup with five forwards on the floor, and Jefferson’s ability to hold his on in the paint is one of the reasons that Duke was able to limit the Panthers to just nine offensive rebounds.
Once again Harry Giles III played limited minuted for the Blue Devils. He had five points in the first half – a 19-foot jumper and an emphatic, poster-dunk on an alley-oop – but his struggles defensively and on the glass combined with the fact that Jefferson is too important to take off the floor and Duke’s desire to play with Tatum at the four means that he ends up being the odd-man out.
It looks like this is going to be the lineup that the Blue Devils run out there the rest of the season, and the best news may actually be that this group finally looks like they’re coming together.
Bubble Banter: Carnage in the Big 12 is great news for the league’s bubble-dwellers
For the most up-to-date bracket projection, click here. This is where the seedings listed below are from.
The Big 12: Depending on how you look at it, Saturday was either a day full of carnage of the best day of the year for the conference. The three top teams in the league all lost at home. That’s bad. But those losses all came to teams that were on the bubble and, as of now, probably are going to end up in the NCAA tournament. That’s good, right?:
Iowa State (RPI: 51, KenPom: 28, No. 9 seed): The Cyclones just played their way off the bubble. Iowa State went into Phog Allen Fieldhouse and beat Kansas. That will be, at worst, one of the top three wins in college basketball this season. It may be the best. Iowa State was already in a pretty good spot. They’re not a lock to dance yet – there’s still a lot of basketball to be played – but as long as they don’t do anything stupid the rest of the season, they’ll be getting an at-large bid.
Kansas State (RPI: 49, KenPom: 29, play-in game): The Wildcats played their way out of bubble contention for the time being as they went into Waco and knocked off No. 2 Baylor. For a team that entered the day just 2-7 against the RPI top 100, picking up a road win over a top ten team is a pretty big deal. As of today, the Wildcats are comfortably in the tournament.
Oklahoma State (RPI: 33, KenPom: 23, No. 11 seed): Continuing with the theme of the day, the Cowboys picked up a road win over West Virginia, their fifth consecutive win and the fourth time in that span where the Pokes beat a team that will likely be in the NCAA tournament. Three of those four wins were on the road. Pretty impressive turnaround for a team that lost their first six conference games.
Syracuse (RPI: 83, KenPom: 53, bubble): It’s hard to imagine that there will be a bigger bubble winner today than the Orange*, who landed a come-from-behind win to knock off the same No. 9 Virginia team that they came from behind to beat in the Elite 8 last season. The Orange have now won four straight games, with home victories over Florida State and UVA in that run, and suddenly, a team that looked like they were out of the running for an at-large bid is suddenly very much in the mix. As of today, I think the Orange are still on the wrong side of the bubble. They have the three worst losses of any team in contention right now – Boston College, UConn and St. John’s, all of whom are outside the RPI top 125 – and they only have one win in a games that came on the road or on a neutral court.
*(Looks really dumb after Iowa State’s win at Kansas the Big 12 went insane.)
Seton Hall (RPI: 47, KenPom: 55, first four out): The Pirates picked up a really nice road win in overtime, knocking off Georgetown, a fellow bubble-dweller. The Pirates are quietly playing themselves into the NCAA tournament. Four of their five best wins came on the road or on a neutral, and they still get Creighton, Butler and Villanova at home later this month.
Wichita State (RPI: 78, KenPom: 21, first four out): The Shockers vaulted themselves into a tie for first place in the Missouri Valley with a 41-point win over Illinois State. The Shockers are likely going to be right there on the cut line come Selection Sunday.
Miami (RPI: 71, KenPom: 44, first four out): The Hurricanes added a nice road win to their résumé by picking off another bubble-dweller in N.C. State. Miami landed a nice win over North Carolina last weekend, but that’s really all there is to their profile at this point. Hurricane fans are going to be rooting for the Wolfpack to figure it out down the stretch; beating a bad team on the road doesn’t mean much. Beating a top 75ish team on the road does.
TCU (RPI: 39, KenPom: 34, play-in game): The Horned Frogs did what they had to do, beating Texas to avoid that black mark on their profile. TCU’s two best wins are against Illinois State and at Kansas State. They’re going to have to beat one of the elite in the Big 12 to feel comfortable on Selection Sunday.
Texas Tech (RPI: 85, KenPom: 43, next four out): The Red Raiders kept themselves in a good spot on the bubble with a win over an 8-14 Oklahoma team on Saturday. Chris Beard’s club still has some work to do to make up for a slow start in Big 12 play.
Minnesota (RPI: 23, KenPom: 42, No. 11 seed): The Gophers landed a nice win at Illinois to end an ugly, five-game losing streak. I still think the Gophers, who have four top 50 wins, two of which came on the road, and eight top 100 wins, are more comfortably in the tournament that a No. 11 seed.
Wake Forest (RPI: 30, KenPom: 33, next four out): The Demon Deacons worked themselves ever closer to the cut line on Saturday, picking up a win they badly needed to get at home against Georgia Tech. Wake is still without a top 50 win, but with four top 50 road games left and a home date with Louisville, Danny Manning’s club will have plenty of chances to play their way into the tournament.
Marquette (RPI: 67, KenPom: 37, No. 10 seed): The Golden Eagles kept their spot on the right side of the bubble as they went into Chicago and knocked off DePaul.
VCU (RPI: 32, KenPom: 47, No. 9 seed): VCU won when a technical foul was called with 0.4 seconds left at St. Bonaventure because the fans stormed the court before the game was over. Instead of losing in regulation they won in overtime. If VCU ends up on the cut line come Selection Sunday, remember this day.
USC (RPI: 27, KenPom: 59, No. 8 seed): USC swept a road weekend for the first time in Andy Enfield’s tenure with the program as they won at Washington State on Saturday. The Trojans have now won four in a row and are trending in the right direction.
Georgia Tech (RPI: 65, KenPom: 74, No. 10 seed): The Yellow Jackets fell at Wake Forest on Saturday, a loss that doesn’t look as bad on paper as it probably sounds in your head. I’m not even sure this loss would drop them a seed line right now.
Illinois State (RPI: 35, KenPom: 39, No. 9 seed): The Redbirds were obliterated on Saturday at Wichita State, losing by 41 points. On the one hand, that’s gross. On the other, this loss came with MiKyle McIntosh available. He averages 13.5 points. If the committee takes that into account, this loss may not hurt them as much as you’d think. Might this have been a best-case scenario for the Missouri Valley?
Tennessee (RPI: 34, KenPom: 35, play-in game): The Vols may be the biggest loser on the bubble today. Not only did they watch four teams near or behind them in the standings land wins over top ten teams, but they blew a 19-point lead on the road and lost to a bad Mississippi State team. Ouch.
Arkansas (RPI: 25, KenPom: 49, No. 9 seed): The Razorbacks probably didn’t cost themselves a spot in the NCAA tournament by losing at Missouri on Saturday, but they certainly didn’t make the job they have in front of them any easier. Missouri snapped a 13-game losing streak with the win. Gross.
Michigan (RPI: 60, KenPom: 32, No. 10 seed): The Wolverines’ résumé took a hit on Saturday as they lost at home to Ohio State. It’s hardly a killer for Michigan, not when they have five games left against top 50 opponents, but with just one top 50 win under their belt, making the margin for error smaller isn’t doing themselves any favors.
Georgetown (RPI: 52, KenPom: 56, first four out): The Hoyas put themselves back into the conversation for an NCAA tournament bid last week, as they beat Creighton and won at Butler. Losing to Seton Hall at home in overtime is going to hurt, not because it’s an awful loss but because that was a quality résumé win that they A) needed to make up ground and B) didn’t get.
Valpo (RPI: 61, KenPom: 81, No. 12 seed): The Crusaders got smacked around on Saturday at Green Bay, who is a title contender in the Horizon. All things consider, it’s not an awful loss by any stretch, but it is the kind of loss that Valpo’s profile may not be able to handle. I’m not sure that they can get an at-large at this point.
Middle Tennessee State (RPI: 41, KenPom: 48, No. 8 seed): MTSU blew a double-digit lead on the road against 8-14 UTEP as they lost their first game of the CUSA season. As of now, I would guess the Blue Raiders have a good enough profile to get them into the NCAA tournament, but that is going to continue to drop compated to the rest of the field.
N.C. State (RPI: 82, KenPom: 87, next four out): The more N.C. State plays, the more their win at Duke looks like a total fluke. The Wolfpack dropped to 14-10 overall and 3-8 in the ACC with a loss to Miami at home. I don’t think their season is going to get turned around.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Justin McKie stood at the free throw line, much like his famous father BJ, ready to keep No. 19 South Carolina on track for more Southeastern Conference success.
Was the younger McKie thinking about his dad’s old team 20 years ago that went on to win the Gamecocks only SEC title?
Not at all.
“I was thinking, `We’ve got to go win this game. They already did it,”‘ said McKie, who swished two foul shots in the final seconds to lock up South Carolina’s 77-75 victory over Georgia on Saturday.
The win keeps the Gamecocks (19-4, 9-1) tracking another title run like the one led by the elder McKie, South Carolina’s all-time leading scorer, in 1997.
South Carolina seemed to have things in hand, up 67-58 with 3:15 to go after McKie’s 3-pointer. Georgia, though, used a 15-8 run over the next 3 minutes to cut the lead to 75-73 with 9 seconds to go – and give the McKie family the chance to shine in a big spot once more.
Justin McKie did not disappoint.
“Who’s at the line shooting two but another McKie?” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “It’s kind of neat.”
Especially when you consider what could be ahead for the Gamecocks, who guaranteed themselves no worse than a tie for the top heading into next week.
“This really means a lot,” South Carolina guard Sindarius Thornwell said.
PJ Dozier scored seven of his 21 points in the final 2:21, Thornwell had 18 points and Duane Notice 15 for South Carolina’s second straight win over Georgia after going 0-3 vs. the Bulldogs last season.
J.J. Frazier and Yante Maten had 18 points apiece for Georgia.
For the Bulldogs, it was a second straight disappointing road loss to a ranked opponent. They led in the final minute at No. 8 Kentucky before falling in overtime, 90-81 last Tuesday.
“As a competitor, I don’t like to lose. I’m frustrated,” Frazier said. “But we don’t have any choice but to put it behind us.”
THE BIG PICTURE
Georgia: The Bulldogs carried over their strong play in an overtime loss at Kentucky, making seven straight shots to keep in things in the opening half. They also enjoyed edges in rebounding (36-28) and made foul shots (22-14).
South Carolina: The Gamecocks hoped to get off to a fast start, yet had trouble keeping up with Georgia’s inside strength. South Carolina forwards Maik Kotsar and Chris Silva each spent time on the bench with two fouls. That can’t continue if the Gamecocks hope to remain in the SEC chase.
The Gamecocks improved to 9-1 in the SEC, their second-best start since going 10-0 in 1997. That group went 15-1 to take the league crown, but its lone loss was to the Bulldogs. South Carolina’s most difficult stretch left could be at Vanderbilt and at No. 24 Florida in consecutive games in two weeks.
STRUGGLES IN THE PAINT
South Carolina saw both of its primary post players in Silva and Kotsar foul out against Georgia. The two picked up two first-half fouls and played only 17 of a possible 40 minutes. While Kotsar had seven points and six rebounds in the second half, the 6-foot-9 Silva finished with zero rebounds for just the second game of the sophomore’s college career.
Georgia hosts No. 24 Florida on Tuesday night.
South Carolina finishes a two-game home stand with Alabama on Tuesday night.
CINCINNATI (AP) Kyle Washington scored a career-high 27 points, and Gary Clark had his fifth double-double of the season on Saturday as No. 14 Cincinnati used its front-line advantage and pulled away to an 82-68 victory over Connecticut, its 14th straight win.
The Bearcats (21-2, 10-0 American Athletic) never trailed while winning their 22nd in a row on their home court. They extended their longest overall winning streak in three years.
Washington had 13 of Cincinnati’s first 17 points as the Bearcats got the early advantage. Washington made a 3-pointer, and Clark had unguarded back-to-back 3s as Cincinnati pulled away at the start of the second half, leading by as many as 26 points.
Clark had 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists.
Rodney Purvis scored 20 points for UConn (10-12, 5-5), which had won its last three games.
Connecticut: The Huskies’ three-game winning streak was their longest of the season. They had pulled it off despite being limited to six scholarship players because of injuries.
Cincinnati: The Bearcats’ 22-game winning streak at home is their third-longest since their arena opened in 1989. They won 41 home games in a row from 1997-2000 and 25 straight from 1992-94.
A 57-55 come-from-behind win at Tulsa and the comfortable win over UConn should allow the Bearcats to at least hold their ground. Their No. 14 ranking is their highest of the season.
The Huskies have a home rematch against South Florida on Wednesday. They beat the Bulls 81-69 on Jan. 25 for the second of their three straight wins.
The Bearcats host Central Florida on Wednesday. They have won all seven games in their series.
BOSTON (AP) With Louisville’s top two point guards injured, coach Rick Pitino wanted Deng Adel and Donovan Mitchell to keep shooting the ball.
“I said, `Great scorers don’t count misses,”‘ Pitino said after the sixth-ranked Cardinals coasted to a 90-67 victory over Boston College on Saturday. “They’re wide open and they say, `(I’m) 0 for 3 and I don’t want to be 0 for 4.”‘
Adel didn’t have any problem with that against the Eagles, scoring a career-high 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting. He made his first seven shots before missing a jumper with about 12 minutes left in the game and the Cardinals (19-4, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) already leading by 19.
“Regardless of who’s hurt and who’s not hurt, Coach has confidence in me,” said Adel, a sophomore who had twice scored 18 points this season. “It’s just me having that mindset in practice.”
Mitchell also scored 19 points as Louisville won for the seventh time in eight games. Mangok Mathiang scored 16 points and Ray Spalding and Jaylen Johnson had seven rebounds apiece for the Cardinals, whose last four wins have come by an average of 33 points.
“It was 34-30,” BC coach Jim Christian said repeatedly. “They took it up to another level. We refused to go to that level.”
Ky Bowman scored 18 points and added five rebounds for BC (9-15, 2-9). The Eagles have lost nine of their last 10 games – this one with Celtics Isaiah Thomas and former Louisville star Terry Rozier sitting courtside.
Louisville scored the first 10 points of the game but still led just 39-30 at the half. In the second, the Cardinals scored 11 straight points to turn a 50-40 lead into a blowout.
Louisville: The Cardinals continued to win at partial strength, but they have a bigger test against Virginia on Monday.
Boston College: With Pittsburgh’s loss to No. 21 Duke, the Eagles remain one game out of the ACC cellar.
MISSING IN ACTION
The Cardinals were playing without starting point guard Quentin Snider, who strained a hip flexor on Jan. 14, and backup Tony Hicks, who broke a bone in his right hand 10 days later. Former walk-on David Levitch had three assists and one turnover, scoring three points on 1-for-7 shooting.
“We should get healthy some time in a week to 10 days and then we’ll have a full complement of players,” Pitino said.
TO THE TREADMILL
In order to teach his players to take open shots, Pitino puts them on the treadmill for one minute every time they pass one up. Adel said he was sent to the treadmill six or seven times one practice over the summer.
“After that, I’m like, `I don’t want to get sent to the treadmill again,”‘ he said.
Pitino, who’s still remembered unfavorably in Boston for his tenure as the Celtics coach, did his best to get back on the good side of the local fans. Asked about the quick turnaround before Monday’s game against No. 9 Virginia, he said the Cardinals will fly home, watch tape in the morning, practice and then get back on a plane “and watch the Patriots win” the Super Bowl.
“I love Bill Belichick,” he said. “So I’m hoping.”
UNDER THE WEATHER
BC forward Jerome Robinson didn’t start the second half after throwing up at halftime. He finished with 13 points of 4-of-14 shooting in 33 minutes.
Christian said he hadn’t spoken to a doctor to determine the cause.
Since losing to No. 10 Florida State on Jan. 21, the Cardinals have won three in a row heading into their matchup with the Cavaliers on Monday.