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Syracuse is running out of healthy players


Syracuse will be down to six scholarship players for the near — and potentially long-term — future.

On Monday, according to Mike Waters of, guard Howard Washington suffered a right-leg injury that is expected to keep him out of the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Georgia Tech.

That’s not good.

And it’s made even worse by the fact that big man Matthew Moyer, who started the first 20 games of the season, will be out a while, according to Jim Boeheim.

That means that Syracuse will have just six scholarship players available to them for the time being — starters Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, Oshae Brissett, Marek Dolezaj and Paschal Chukwu and Bourama Sidibe, a center that doubles as the only player on their bench.

Boeheim better home that his guards don’t get into any foul trouble, or else he’ll have to put in assistant coach Gerry McNamara and pretend he’s a walk-on.

Missouri AD alleges South Carolina coach Dawn Staley ‘promoted’ atmosphere that led to racial slurs, spitting

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The most heated rivalry in SEC sports does not involve Alabama, or Auburn, or Tennessee.

It is the rivalry between the South Carolina and Missouri women’s basketball teams, the two preeminent teams in that conference.

On Sunday, No. 9 South Carolina beat No. 11 Missouri on the Gamecocks’ home floor in a game that was intense and emotional and, according to Missouri athletic director Jim Sterk, crossed the lines of what should be acceptable at a sporting event.

And he blamed South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley, one of the most important figures in women’s basketball today, for instigating it.

It wasn’t a great atmosphere,” Sterk, who was sitting courtside, said of the game during an interview with a local radio outlet in Missouri. “It was really kind of unhealthy, if you will. We had players spit on, and called the N-word, and things like that. It was not a good environment and unfortunately, I think coach Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere, and it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”

Sterk was not the only one to make these claims.

“I was really disappointed with some things that transpired,” said Robin Pingeton, Missouri’s head women’s basketball coach and, coincidentally, the aunt of Michael Porter Jr. and Jontay Porter. “There’s no place in our game for that. Fans have got to be better all around. Our side. Their side. Fans have got to be better.”

“There were some things that were really unfortunate that transpired, Not only verbally, but some other things that you alluded to.”

South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner released a statement saying that protecting the players, fans and coaches is of “the utmost importance” during their home games.

“Upon hearing the accusations regarding our crowd’s behavior towards the Missouri team, the athletics department conducted a review of our operations from the game, including interviews with staff and security personnel,” he said. “In this review, we received no confirmation of the alleged behavior directed at the visiting team by fans at the game.”

So how did this all come about?

It started on January 7th, when these two teams played in Missouri and South Carolina had complaints about the way Missouri played.

“I think there were some things out there that weren’t basketball, that weren’t basketball plays,” Staley said on Friday, before the game. “And I get that you want to take key people out of the game. We want to do that. If we get the opportunity to get [Missouri star] Sophie [Cunningham] out of the game, yes, we’re going to try to do that, but within the confines of the rules of the game.”

She was referencing plays like these:

Staley was eventually ejected from that game after receiving two technical fouls.

Then on Sunday, late in the first half, there was a scuffle that resulted in two players from Missouri being ejected for leaving the bench, as well as a player on each team being assessed a technical foul:

Am I the only one that’s here for a rubber match in the SEC tournament title game?

No. 21 Kentucky beats Vanderbilt 83-81 in overtime

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Quade Green’s layup with five seconds remaining gave No. 21 Kentucky an 83-81 overtime victory against Vanderbilt on Tuesday night.

Kentucky (17-5, 6-3 Southeastern Conference) overcame a 57-46 deficit with 9 ½ minutes left to tie it on Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s two free throws with three seconds left. The freshman then opened OT with a jumper, PJ Washington made two free throws and Kevin Knox hit a 3-pointer for a 78-74 lead.

Vanderbilt (8-14, 2-7) rallied for a 79-78 edge before Knox finished a three-point play, and that was answered by Clevon Brown’s layup. After Green found open space for the winning layup, Peyton Willis fired a 3-pointer that bounced off the rim and sparked a dog pile at midcourt for the Wildcats.

The win comes a day after Kentucky returned to the Top 25 following its win at then-No. 7 West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Gilgeous-Alexander scored a career-high 30 points for Kentucky, while Knox had 18 and Green 12.

Jeff Roberson had 23 points for the Commodores, who looked to string together consecutive wins for the first time since late last month. Vanderbilt was coming off a win over TCU in the Challenge.


Vanderbilt: Once again, the Commodores positioned themselves to beat the Wildcats but couldn’t close the deal. Saben Lee’s foul that led to Knox’s three-point play was especially costly. It wasted a game in which they led by 14 and then again by 11 and seemed headed toward a season split.

Kentucky: The Wildcats got off the mat to gut out another win. They went cold for stretches, looked beaten at other times and were outrebounded 37-35. Yet they found the resolve just as they did in upsetting then-No. 15 West Virginia on Saturday.

UMass botches missed free throw, No. 22 Rhode Island escapes

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AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — Rhode Island has mostly cruised to a string of big victories over the past six weeks. For the second time in two games, though, the Rams had to sweat out late drama to keep their winning streak going.

Jeff Dowtin had 19 points and 10 assists, and No. 22 Rhode Island escaped with an 85-83 win over Massachusetts on Tuesday night after the Minutemen botched an intentional missed free throw in the final seconds.

The Rams (18-3, 10-0 Atlantic 10) led by three with 1.8 seconds left when UMass’ Luwane Pipkins went to the free-throw line. Pipkins made the first shot and missed the second on purpose, but he was called for a lane violation while grabbing the rebound after throwing the ball off the front of the rim.

“I didn’t think there was any way they were going to miss that,” Rhode Island coach Dan Hurley said. “You’re not even allowed to do that on the school yard.”

Rhode Island has won 13 straight games, though this is their second straight tight one after rallying from 15 down to stave off Duquesne over the weekend.

“Our lack of defensive focus early kind of got them going,” Hurley said. “We had a chance to win that one comfortably, up 14 late in the game. That’s on me.”

Jared Terrell led the Rams with 21 points and fueled a 21-2 run in the first half, capped by E.C. Matthews’ 3-pointer with under eight minutes left. Rhode Island led 44-41 at halftime.

“To be able to get down and get back up, I think it shows what our character’s like,” Terrell said.

Pipkins paced the Minutemen (10-13, 3-7) with 27 points. He came in as the A-10’s third-leading scorer at 19.9 points per game.

UMass coach Matt McCall lamented a missed chance to steal a win against a ranked opponent with a limited roster.

“Our margin for error is so small,” he said. “You have to be able to make those plays, especially against a team like Rhode Island.”

Dowtin added a few key free throws late in the second half, and Andre Berry had 15 points for Rhode Island.

Rhode Island shot 81.3 percent from the field in the second half. They made 8 of 15 3-point attempts, led by three from Dowtin.


Rhode Island: The Rams have won 18 straight games against conference opponents dating to Feb. 18 of last year. No other A-10 team has won more than six in a row during that stretch.

UMass: Tuesday’s performance was the 10th this season in which Pipkins has scored 20 or more points. The redshirt sophomore point guard had only two such games last year.


The Rams have won by an average of 12.8 points over their past 13 games. They’ve averaged 77.7 points in those victories.


Rhode Island: The first-place Rams extended their lead atop the A-10 standings to 3 1/2 games while taking another step toward securing an at-large NCAA Tournament bid.

UMass: The Minutemen’s late-January slide toward the bottom of the A-10 continued. The loss was the team’s fifth in a row.


UMass: Hosts Dayton on Saturday at 2 p.m.

Rhode Island: Travels to VCU on Friday at 7 p.m.


More AP college basketball: and

Bubble Banter: Georgia lands critical win over No. 23 Florida

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Tuesday night.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.


GEORGIA (RPI: 57, KenPom: 69, NBC seed: Next four out): The Bulldogs landed an important win on Tuesday night, picking off Florida (35) at home. That is just a Quadrant 2 win for the Bulldogs, but they already have three Quadrant 1 wins — Saint Mary’s (38) on a neutral, Marquette (46) on the road and Alabama (26) at home — on their résumé. The key for Mark Fox’s club is going to be amassing enough good wins to make up for the fact that they lost to San Diego State (123) on a neutral and at UMass (200). That UMass loss will be one of the worst we see for an at-large team this season.

This win snapped a three game-losing streak. Georgia had also lost five of their last six games. Their next two games, three of their next four and four of their next six games come on the road. The next two — at Mississippi State (63) and Vanderbilt (115) — are wins that Georgia needs to get if they are serious about being a tournament team.

TEXAS A&M (RPI: 33, KenPom: 34, NBC seed: First four out): Texas A&M badly needed to get a win over Arkansas at home on Tuesday night, and not necessarily because they needed it for their résumé. The win is their fourth Quadrant 1 win and the sixth win they have in the top two Quadrants. Combine that with just two losses outside the top 35 — both to LSU (79) — and their excellent non-conference SOS and what you get is a team that has the foundation of an at-large profile. Their problem? They’ve played like crap for a month, losing seven of their last nine games. Five of their next eight games are on the road, and one of those home games is Kentucky. The Aggies needed this because, with a 13-8 record, they couldn’t afford to be stuck in that slump for that much longer.


BUFFALO (RPI: 27, KenPom: 73, NBC seed: 12): Buffalo probably cost themselves just about any chance they have of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. The Bulls had a terrific RPI entering the day (27), but that is going to take a dip with a loss at Kent State (174). Buffalo also does not have a win better than Toledo (71) at home. That is their only win against a team in the top 130, and Miami (OH (134) is the highest-ranked team they have left. There was a slim chance that Buffalo would be able to get an at-large if they had won out. They didn’t win out.

OKLAHOMA STATE (RPI: 87, KenPom: 68, NBC seed: Out): Oklahoma State missed out on a chance to earn another Quadrant 1 win at home when they lost to TCU (22) on Tuesday. The Cowboys are now 13-9 on the season, and while there are no bad losses to their name, two of their next three games are at Kansas and at West Virginia. At this point, OK State is going to be pulled out of contention until they string together a few wins.

ARKANSAS (RPI: 21, KenPom: 47, NBC seed: 9): Losing on the road to Texas A&M is hardly a bad loss for the Razorbacks, but for a team with just one road win, adding one against a top 40 opponent would have been nice. As it stands, this doesn’t hurt Arkansas as much as it cost them a chance to put themselves into a much more comfortable position.

Player Of The Year Power Rankings: What does Jalen Brunson have to do to catch Trae Young?

BUFFALO, NY - MARCH 16: Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats drives against Elijah Long #55 of the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers in the first half during the first round of the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at KeyBank Center on March 16, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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1. TRAE YOUNG, Oklahoma
2. JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova

One of the assumptions that has been made in regards to the Player of the Year race is that there is no race.

Trae Young has had this thing done and dusted since he decided to start leading the nation in both scoring and assists.

And as of today, he is still in the lead. The absurd numbers that he is putting up combined with the incredible performances that he has produced in big games and big moments makes it hard to truly craft an argument that anyone is in the same realm as Young right now.

Which is why I’m going to dedicate today’s Power Rankings to a hypothetical: What does Jalen Brunson, who is my clear-cut No. 2 today, have to do in order to have a real chance at winning the National Player of the Year award.

The big thing that Brunson has to do is to hope that Young continues to come back to earth. The numbers that he has put up this season are absolutely mind-blowing, and if he continues to score and assist at this rate while Oklahoma continues to keep on winning games, it’s hard to imagine that anyone — Marvin Bagley III and Deandre Ayton included — would come close to being able to usurp him.

But there are signs that are pointing to Young slowing down as defenses begin to key entirely on him. Oklahoma has lost three of their last four games and four of their last seven — to be fair, each of those losses came on the road — while Young’s super-human levels of efficiency at his sky-high usage rate have started to look more in line with what we would expect to see. For example: His offensive rating, according to KenPom, is ten points lower in league play than it is over the entire season, and you don’t even need to see the advanced metrics to know that’s the case.

And Brunson?

What he’s doing on the offensive end, the efficiency that he is playing with, is similarly inhuman. It’s literally never been done before, not even close:

I think there may be a more important point to make here as well: Villanova is much better than Oklahoma.

I’d make the argument that Villanova is the best team in college basketball, and part of the reason for that is that Brunson makes full use of the weapons that are around him. Yes, Mikal Bridges, Donte DiVincenzo, Omari Spellman and Phil Booth are better than Brady Manek, Christian James and Kristian Doolittle, but being on a team that is led by a point guard that is as good, as smart and as unselfish as Brunson has unquestionably made each of them better.

So let’s take a look into the future.

Young has 10 league games remaining, and five of them are on the road. KenPom currently has them projected to win seven of those ten games, but two of those wins are by one points: West Virginia at home and Baylor on the road. I would personally set the over/under for Oklahoma regular season wins at six, which would put them at 11-7 in the Big 12, which will likely put them in second or third place in the league and somewhere in the 15-20 range in the AP polls. Let’s say Young has as many Alabama games (17 points, eight assists, five turnovers, 6-for-17 shooting, vanishing act down the stretch) as he does TCU games (43 points, 11 boards, seven assists, dominant down the stretch) the rest of the way.

Would that be too much for Brunson to overcome if he keeps up with his production and Villanova wins the Big East outright? As it currently stands, Villanova has a one-game lead on Xavier and a two-game lead on everyone else in the league. Their four toughest games left on the schedule — at Providence, at Xavier, at Creighton, at Seton Hall — come in a five-game stretch over the course of 14 days. I think they’ll win at least two, and probably three, of those games.

And then there is this nugget: Brunson has played his best basketball this season against KenPom’s Tier A opponents, meaning games against top 50 competition, adjusted for home-or-away.

In theory, that would mean that Brunson will be better down the stretch than he has been to date.

So while I still think Young has a commanding lead, this race is far from over.

6. JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s
10. KEENAN EVANS, Texas Tech