Rob Dauster

HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: Frank Mason III #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks passes the ball during the first half of the second game of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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Previewing the 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon

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The college hoops 24-hour Tip-Off Marathon kicks off again on Monday evening, and as always, there are a number of particularly intriguing matchups to take note of. For your viewing assistance, here is everything you need to be aware of to properly watch the marathon while finding a way to get some sleep in.

MAKE SURE YOU’RE IN FRONT OF A TV for the Champions Classic on Tuesday night. The event has quickly turned into the most anticipated early-season event every year, and this season is certainly no different, as the top three of the top five teams in college basketball will be at the Garden.

The opening act – Kentucky vs. Michigan State, 7:00 p.m. ET – will feature two of the best athletes in college hoops in Michigan State’s Miles Bridges and Kentucky’s Malik Monk. Between Michigan State’s exhibitions and his opening night performance in a loss to Arizona, Bridges has looked like a lock to be a top ten pick come June’s NBA draft. The issue for the Spartans is figuring out where else they are going to get production. Nick Ward has shown flashes on the block, but Tum Tum Nairn and Cassius Winston were not great at the point guard spot and Eron Harris did not provide the kind of offensive boost that was expected.

That could be a problem on Tuesday, as the Spartans will square off against a Kentucky team that is very good defensively, particularly on the perimeter. The issue with the Wildcats is their perimeter shooting. De’Aaron Fox has been phenomenal in transition and has looked great as a passer, Isaiah Briscoe was able to get to the rim at will against Stephen F. Austin and Canisius and Monk has showed off his next-level athleticism a couple of times, but UK’s issues shooting the ball are still there. They were 9-for-34 from three in the two games they played this weekend, and three of those threes were from the seldom-used Mychal Mulder.

  • Prediction: Kentucky (-8.0). Michigan State doesn’t have size inside and Kentucky’s guards should eat up MSU’s point guards.

The nightcap – Kansas vs. Duke, 9:30 p.m. ET – looked like potential national title game preview a month ago, but the matchup has lost a significant amount of luster in the last two weeks. That’s what happens when 60 percent of Duke’s freshman class and three of the four potential lottery picks on the roster end up getting injured. Harry Giles III is still recovering for a scope on his left knee in late-September. Jayson Tatum sprained his foot in October. Marques Bolden suffered a lower leg injury earlier this month.

The Blue Devils still have Grayson Allen available while Frank Jackson and Luke Kennard both played well over the weekend, but with those three freshmen expected to miss Tuesday’s game, we’re looking at a situation where Kansas should enter the night as the favorite.

That’s ironic considering the fact that Kansas lost to Indiana on Friday night in Hawai’i. The Jayhawks got 30 points from Frank Mason II, but star freshman Josh Jackson looked just so-so in his first collegiate game while that vaunted Kansas defense was lit up for 103 points by an Indiana team that seemed incapable of missing. The Jayhawks should get this win, but if Duke somehow pulls this out, we could be looking at a situation where both Kansas and Michigan State played games in Hawai’i and New York just five days apart and go a combined 0-4.

  • Prediction: Kansas (+2.5). I think Kansas wins assuming Duke’s guys don’t suit up. If you can get the Jayhawks with the points, take it.

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STAY UP LATE FOR San Diego State’s visit to the Kennel. The game – San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga – tips at midnight on the east coast, but it will be worth it. This team may be Mark Few’s best chance to get to the Final Four. They have a trio of transfers – Nigel Williams-Goss, Johnathan Williams III, Jordan Mathews – that will carry them while defensive stalwart Przemek Karnowski is back to join Zach Collins on one of the most underrated front lines in college hoops.

But SDSU is going to be very good this season as well. Trey Kell and Jeremy Helmsly are talented enough to carry this group offensively while the Aztecs will be just as good as they usually are defensively. It’s not easy to win in Spokane, but this should nonetheless be a good look at a pair of potential Sweet 16 teams.

LEAVE WORK EARLY AND FIND A HAPPY HOUR for Tuesday afternoon’s final game – No. 5 Oregon at Baylor, 3:30 p.m. ET. The Ducks are a legitimate national title contender, but they’ll be playing on the road without Dillon Brooks, their best player, against a Baylor team that may be better than some people realize. Manu Lecomte – 13 points, 11 assists, no turnovers – looks like he’ll be fine running the point for Scott Drew while Tyler Dorsey will be a 20-point scorer without Brooks in the lineup. Keep an eye on whether or not Johnathan Motley suits up for the Bears.


I think there are two that qualify:

  • Princeton at BYU, 10:00 p.m.: The first men’s game on Monday night, Princeton, who is probably the best team in the Ivy, visits a BYU team that will give Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s a run for their money in the WCC. The battle of styles in this one will be fascinating.
  • Dayton at Alabama, 1:15 p.m.: Alabama looks like they’re still going to be in rebuilding mode this season, but Dayton is a team that we have in the NBCSports Top 25 who could use a solid road win over an SEC team.

Anyway, here is the full slate:

Mon, Nov. 14

  • No. 4 UConn at No. 15 Florida State (women), ESPN2, 6:00 p.m.
  • No. 6 Texas at No. 10 Stanford (women), ESPN2, 8:00 p.m.
  • Princeton at BYU, ESPN2, 10:00 p.m.

Tue, Nov. 15

  • San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga, ESPN2, 12:00 a.m.
  • Green Bay at Pacific, ESPN2, 2:00 a.m.
  • Florida Atlantic at Hawai’i, ESPN2, 4:15 a.m.
  • Niagara at Hartford, ESPN2, 6:30 a.m.
  • Winthrop at Manhattan, ESPN2, 8:45 a.m.
  • Longwood at Stephen F. Austin, ESPN2, 11:00 a.m.
  • Dayton at Alabama, ESPN2, 1:15 p.m.
  • No. 5 Oregon at Baylor, ESPN2, 3:30 p.m.
  • No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Michigan State, ESPN, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Kansas, ESPN, 9:30 p.m.
HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: Miles Bridges #22 of the Michigan State Spartans drives to the basket during the first half of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Miles Bridges (Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

College Basketball Talk Top 25

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 12:  Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after making a three-point basket against the Grand Canyon Antelopes during the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

1. Duke (2-0, Last Week: No. 1): The Blue Devils went 2-0 over the weekend despite the fact that they were playing without Harry Giles III, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden. Granted, those wins came against Marist and Grand Canyon, but how many teams could win two games by an average of 40 points without three of their four best players?

2. Villanova (1-0, 2): Lafayette didn’t have a shot against Villanova on Friday night, losing by 40. The Wildcats get Purdue on the road this week.

3. Oregon (1-0, 4): Oregon won their opener in fairly easy fashion despite playing without Dillon Brooks. Tyler Dorsey had 20 points in the win, but we’ll get a real feel for how good the Ducks are when they play Alec Peters and Valparaiso.

4. Kentucky (2-0, 5): The Wildcats beat both Stephen F. Austin and Canisius – the latter took a little more effort than Coach Cal would have liked – and they did it on the back of strong performances from their back court. That said, the issues they have shooting the ball were prevalent. Kentucky went 9-for-34 from three in the two games, and three of those threes were from Mychal Mulder.

5. Indiana (1-0, 11): The Hoosiers picked off Kansas in the Armed Forces Classic in a thrilling, overtime game. James Blackmon Jr. had 26 points and Curtis Jones looked like he’ll be an impact freshman, but the biggest takeaway from this win is that Indiana has the talent on their perimeter to create offense even with Yogi Ferrell off to the NBA. The Hoosiers suddenly look like the best team in the Big Ten.

NBC Sports Top 25 | Coaches Poll | AP Poll

6. Kansas (0-1, 3): The Jayhawks lost to Kansas in a game where they played well. Frank Mason II was terrific while Josh Jackson … wasn’t. Kansas will be fine. When you lose a game in overtime on a neutral floor to a talented team that made the shots that Indiana made down the stretch, you tip your cap and move on. The good news for Kansas? Duke is expected to be without Giles, Tatum and Bolden in the Champions Classic on Tuesday.

7. North Carolina (2-0, 7): The Tar Heels beat Tulane in New Orleans and then lit up a very good Chattanooga team by 40 points. Joel Berry II looked like a real contender for ACC Player of the Year.

8. Virginia (1-0, 6): Virginia was fine this weekend, winning a road opener in dominating fashion without their star center, Austin Nichols. They dropped two spots because A) Indiana earned their spot in the top five, and B) North Carolina was that impressive.

9. Gonzaga (1-0, 8): Like UVA, the Zags dropped a spot in these rankings because Indiana deserved to jump them. The Zags beat Utah Valley by 23 points this week.

10. Louisville (1-0, 9): Donovan Mitchell looked terrific in Louisville’s opener, as did Jaylen Johnson. Deng Adel did not. Louisville smacked Evansville in their win.

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11. Arizona (1-0, 12)
12. Wisconsin (1-0, 11)
13. UCLA (2-0, 19)
14. Xavier (1-0, 13)
15. Michigan State (0-1, 10)
16. Purdue (1-0, 15)
17. Syracuse (1-0, 16)
18. Virginia Tech (1-0, 17)
19. Creighton (1-0, 18)
20. Cincinnati (1-0, 20)
21. Dayton (1-0, 21)
22. Rhode Island (1-0, 22)
23. Saint Mary’s (1-0, 23)
24. Florida State (1-0, 24)
25. Maryland (1-0, 25)

Kentucky lands third commitment in the last five days

Atlanta, GA - SUNDAY, MAY 29: Nike EYBL. Shaivonte Alexander #4 of Arkansas Wings Session 4. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
Jon Lopez/Nike

Kentucky landed their third Class of 2017 commitment in the last five days on Monday morning, as 6-foot-4 combo-guard Shai Alexander pledged to the Wildcats.

Alexander is a top 50 prospect from Tennessee that was previously committed to Florida. He opened up his recruitment earlier this fall and took a visit to Kentucky last month.

Kentucky landed commitments from five-star big men Nick Richards and P.J. Washington last week.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Indiana’s James Blackmon

HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: James Blackmon Jr. #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots over a Kansas defender during the second half of the second game of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. Indiana won the game 103-99. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
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PLAYER OF THE WEEK: James Blackmon Jr., Indiana

Indiana’s opening-night win over Kansas was impressive for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the Hoosiers landed a win over a team that seems like it is a lock to eventually earn, at worst, a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament. What was more important, however, was that the Hoosiers proved that they have guys that can create offense on their own. That was the concern after Yogi Ferrell graduated: When this Indiana team has a late-clock situation or a possession where they have to get a bucket, who do they give the ball to?

The answer now appears to be Blackmon, who finished with 26 points while making a series of tough threes in the second half. While the Hoosiers had other players make big shots – Curtis Jones in particular – it was Blackmon who had the plays called for him, and he delivered. That’s a great sign for the Hoosiers, and it’s the biggest reason that I think Indiana is a better team than we gave them credit for entering the year.


  • Joel Berry II, UNC: Berry looked the part of an elite floor general in wins over Tulane and Chattanooga, averaged 20.5 points, 5.0 boards and 4.5 assists. The Tar Heels beat a good Mocs by 40.
  • Frank Mason III, Kansas: Mason’s Jayhawks could hang on to beat Indiana, but he had 30 points nonetheless and seemingly fouled out their entire team.
  • Jock Landale, Saint Mary’s: Landale had 33 points and nine boards for the Gaels in a blowout win over Nevada and Cam Oliver, a big man who has a shot to end up in the NBA.
  • Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Granted, it came against McNeese State, but Swangian’s line – 23 points, 20 boards, six assists – has only been done by Blake Griffin and Ben Simmons in the last decade.
  • Angel Delgado, Seton Hall: Delgado is averaging 18.0 points and 15.0 boards through the season’s first two games.
HONOLULU, HI - NOVEMBER 11: Kadeem Allen #5 of the Arizona Wildcats dribbles the ball up court during the first half of the Armed Forces Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center on November 11, 2016 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
Kadeem Allen (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)

TEAM OF THE WEEK: Arizona Wildcats

It’s hard not to go with the Wildcats here, who went out to Hawai’i for the Armed Forces Classic having lost Ray Smith to yet another torn ACL and playing, as of now, without Allonzo Trier, and beat Michigan State. And not only did they beat Michigan State, but they did it after digging themselves a 15-point whole early in the first half.

Kobi Simmons caught fire. Lauri Markkanen looked like a functional stretch four. Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Kadeem Allen both made critical plays down the stretch. There was not much more that you could ask of a team in that situation.


  • Indiana: The Hoosiers picked up an overtime win over Kansas in the Armed Forces Classic. That’s the kind of win that is going to look great come Selection Sunday.
  • UNC: The Tar Heels didn’t just win two games in impressive fashion, they did it by beating Tulane in New Orleans and smacking Chattanooga – who had just won by 13 at Tennessee – by 40 points in Chapel Hill.
  • Wagner: The Seahawks went into Storrs and beat UConn, 67-58. The Huskies look like they’re in trouble this year, but a win in Gampel Pavilion in any year is a good win.
  • Yale: The Elis picked up a 98-90 win over Washington in Seattle on Sunday night. More impressive than that, they did it without their two best players in Makai Mason and Jordan Bruner.

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  1. Kentucky’s shooting issues are real: The Wildcats were 9-for-34 (26.5%) from three in two wins this weekend, and three of the threes that they made came from Mychal Mulder, who is not going to see a lot of action this season. Outside of the jump-shooting, the trio of Isaiah Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk were pretty impressive. But if they cannot find a way to consistently make defenses pay for packing it in the paint, the Wildcats are going to have the same fatal flaw as the 2010 Kentucky team.
  2. Dennis Smith Jr.’s slow-start: The N.C. State point guard and potential top five pick has yet to look the part. He averaged 11.5 points and 4.0 assists while shooting 6-for-22 from the floor and 0-for-7 from three. N.C. State nearly lost to Georgia Southern on Friday night as well. Smith is coming off of a torn ACL that he suffered last August, but this didn’t appear to be a rust issue. This looked more like a freshman adjusting to the rigors of Division I basketball.
  3. Frank Jackson might be pretty good: With Duke’s big three out with injury, Jackson, the forgotten freshman, was terrific in two blowout wins for the Blue Devils. Coming off of the bench, Jackson averaged 19.5 points and shot 50 percent from three. There were questions in the fall whether he would be able to handle the point guard spot in college, and while those questions are still relevant – he had six assists and five turnovers this weekend – it looks like Jackson is going to be an impact player this season.
  4. So are the Syracuse point guards good?: That was the big question with the Orange entering the season. Can Franklin Howard and John Gillon handle being full-time point guards? Against Colgate, it looked like they can. The duo combined for 15 assists and just three turnovers. Granted, that didn’t come against a great team, but it is a good sign for the Orange.
  5. UCLA and Lonzo Ball look like the real deal: It’s too early to make any definitive statements on the Bruins at this point, but it’s not too early to say that they were pretty impressive in the season’s first weekend. The Bruins knocked off Pacific and CSUN while Lonzo Ball is making those Jason Kidd comparisons seem apt.


  • Mon. 7:00 p.m. No. 4 Villanova at No. 15 Purdue
  • Mon. 7:00 p.m. San Diego State at No. 14 Gonzaga
  • Tue. 7:00 p.m. No. 2 Kentucky vs. No. 12 Michigan State
  • Tue. 9:30 p.m. No. 1 Duke vs. No. 3 Kansas
  • Thu. 9:00 p.m. Valparaiso at No. 5 Oregon
  • Sat. 2:00 p.m. No. 17 Saint Mary’s at Dayton

No. 16 UCLA blows past Cal State Northridge in 2nd half

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins scores on a layup during a 119-80 UCLA win over the Pacific Tigers at Pauley Pavilion on November 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) UCLA sustained several blows in the first half against Cal State Northridge, then delivered a knockout punch in the second half.

That’s the way UCLA coach Steve Alford saw it as a poor first half, muddied by turnovers and missed shots, had the Bruins trailing at halftime. The No. 16 Bruins scored 62 second-half points and struck first, early and often as they dominated Cal State Northridge 102-87 on Sunday night.

Freshman Lonzo Ball made a 3-pointer and went coast-to-coast with a one-handed dunk to start a span of seven consecutive points by UCLA. The Bruins took a 47-42 lead.

“How he started the second (half), he was a heavyweight fighter ready to knock you out,” Alford said. “How we started the first half, we wanted to rope-a-dope. We don’t have anybody in our locker room that’s Muhammad Ali. They don’t understand the rope-a-dope. They’re too young. We wanted to come out throwing punches first and early and I didn’t think we did that. It’s not necessarily their fault. It’s a learning process.”

Isaac Hamilton had 22 points, and Bryce Alford 20.

The Bruins had 20 turnovers, which was troubling, but used an improved second-half shot selection and made 58.8 percent of their shots compared to just 39.4 percent in the first half.

“They came in with a chip on their shoulders,” Hamilton said. “Being ranked, a lot of teams will do that and play hard. What we have to do, and Coach says, first five minutes, you have to throw the first punch and continue from there and let the momentum swing our way.”

UCLA (2-0) had 11 turnovers in first half, shot 39.4 percent from the field and trailed 42-40.

Kendall Smith scored 21 points for the Matadors (1-1). Aaron Parks and Tavrion Dawson each added 18 points.

“I told the guys, if you believe in yourself and we can play this hard every night and push the ball with this type of energy, we’re going to win a lot of basketball games,” Cal State Northridge coach Reggie Theus said. “The hard thing about nonconference games, and we have a really tough nonconference schedule, is that you can play well and still lose. This game was probably won in a matter of 5-8 minutes where it got out of hand for us.”

Cal State Northridge has beaten UCLA just one time in the 10-game series history, but in the game’s first 20 minutes it appeared the Matadors could do it again. The Matadors beat the Bruins 78-74 in Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 22, 2000, almost 16 years ago. CSUN would go on to advance to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history that season.


Cal State Northridge: This is just what Theus – the former NBA player and coach – wanted in terms of a test by scheduling difficult preseason road games. Playing difficult opponents should serve the Matadors well in terms of confidence and better prepare them to try to contend for a Big West Conference title.

UCLA: The Bruins took a step backward in struggling against the Matadors for 20 minutes. Their undisciplined play resulted in turnovers and those mistakes must be cleaned up before the Pac-12 schedule starts. The Bruins executed much better offensively in the second half and made the right adjustments.


CSUN Guard Kendall Smith, a transfer from UNLV, played well against the Bruins and had 12 of his 21 points in the second half. Smith, who is in his second season with CSUN but first full season, had several fastbreak, uncontested dunks, including two in the first half that propelled CS Northridge to the halftime lead.


“That’s the mindset we’ve got to have. I don’t know if … any of our other guys had that mindset to start the game. That’s kind of the mindset you learn. You’re not going to go from one game to the next and score 119 points again and win by close to 40. It doesn’t work that way. These are all learning things. We’ll get it.” – Alford on how the Bruins went from a 39-point win in their first game to trailing at halftime in their second.


UCLA didn’t do itself any favors by trailing at halftime against Cal State Northridge, but the Bruins pulled away in the second half and shouldn’t lose any ground with a 15-point victory.


Cal State Northridge continues its tough preseason schedule with a second consecutive road game at a Pac-12 school on Tuesday night at Stanford.

UCLA has several days off before hosting San Diego on Thursday, the third of four consecutive home games in a friendly stretch at Pauley Pavilion to start the season.

Backcourt helps No. 2 Kentucky run away from Canisius, 93-69

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 13: Malik Monk #5 of the Kentucky Wildcats shoots the ball against Kiefer Douse #4 of the Canisius Golden Griffins at Rupp Arena Stadium on November 13, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky defeated Canisius 93-69. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Isaiah Briscoe expected all those NBA workouts focused on improving his game to pay off with efforts like this.

Judging from how newcomer De’Aaron Fox shook off a rough start, Briscoe picked up some leadership pointers as well.

Briscoe and Fox each scored a career-high 21 points, Malik Monk added 16 and No. 2 Kentucky pulled away from Canisius early in the second half for a 93-69 victory Sunday night.

Briscoe topped his previous high of 20 last December at UCLA behind 9-of-13 shooting that helped Kentucky (2-0) rally from a seven-point first half deficit to build a 44-35 halftime advantage.

“I was just doing whatever I needed to do to keep my team in the game,” said Briscoe, who attended those camps before returning for his sophomore season. “We came out sluggish, we weren’t hitting shots, so I had to keep us in the game.”

Freshmen and fellow guards Fox and Monk combined to shoot 11 of 24 en route to career scoring bests in their short careers, while 6-foot-10 newcomer Bam Adebayo had 14 points and 11 rebounds a game after a foul-plagued debut Friday night.

Those contributions came only after the Wildcats endured some early struggles. A 9-2 deficit forced Kentucky coach John Calipari to call timeout and calm his team down.

“When you’re playing so many young guys, sometimes you just have to settle them down,” he said.

Briscoe spoke up as well, and the Wildcats responded with steady play that spoke volumes.

“We’ve had to face that adversity since we’ve been here,” Fox said, “but he’s done that in a few games last year. We all just listened to what he was saying.”

Kentucky shot 51 percent from the field.

Kassius Robertson had 16 points, Jermaine Crumpton 13 and Phil Valenti 12 for Canisius (0-1) in the coaching debut of Reggie Witherspoon. The Golden Griffins initially pushed the pace and had Kentucky reacting but had no long-term answer for the Wildcats’ pace and backcourt.


Canisius: Solid shooting initially helped the Golden Griffins, who made 46 percent in the first half and played Kentucky nearly even on the boards (39-36). But they committed 18 turnovers leading to 29 Kentucky points and cooled off to 37 percent shooting after the break and finished 42 percent overall.

“I thought it was a fast-paced game, probably a little faster than our depth handled tonight,” Witherspoon said. “We were able to move the ball and get some good looks, but a team like this (Kentucky) recovers quickly and sometimes a good look can still be difficult. We had pockets where we played well, but weren’t able to sustain it.”

Kentucky: The Wildcats also shot a respectable 46 percent in the first half behind Briscoe’s 7-of-8 performance and had some nice ball movement between the guards down the stretch. They were less generous with the ball compared to the opener, finishing with just 10 assists on 31 baskets.


Next week might provide a definitive answer as Kentucky steps up the competition Tuesday night against No. 12 Michigan State at the Champions Classic in New York.


Adebayo had plenty of room to grow from a five-point, one-rebound debut limited to just 15 minutes by four fouls. The freshman committed just two fouls against Canisius and earned initial career bests with points, rebounds and 27 minutes.

“I just wasn’t as focused as much as I should have, and tonight I just started focusing,” he said.


Canisius: Visits Cleveland State on Tuesday night in the second game of the Bluegrass Showcase, an event that also features Duquesne, Cleveland State and UT Martin playing games at campus sites.

Kentucky: Faces Michigan State on Tuesday in New York. The schools last met in the same event two years ago in Chicago, a 78-74 Spartans victory that brought them within 12-11 in the series.

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