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Naismith Award announces ten semifinalists for college basketball Player of the Year

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The Atlanta Tip-Off Club has announced the list of semifinalists for the Naismith Award, which is given to the National College Basketball Player of the Year.

The list is very similar to the top ten in the NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings. In fact, I am a voter for the Naismith Award, and this was actually the top ten I submitted last week. I flip-flopped on Josh Jackson and Jawun Evans between then and yesterday, when I updated the Player of the Year rankings.

Here are the 10 semifinalists:

Lonzo Ball, UCLA
Ethan Happ, Wisconsin
Josh Hart, Villanova
Josh Jackson, Kansas
Justin Jackson, North Carolina
Luke Kennard, Duke
Frank Mason III, Kansas
Jonathan Motley, Baylor
Caleb Swanigan, Purdue
Nigel Williams-Goss, Gonzaga

Monk scores 27 as No. 9 Kentucky lands biggest comeback win in Coach Cal era

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Malik Monk scored 27 points, 20 of which came in the second half, and De’Aaron Fox scored 13 as Kentucky landed their biggest come-from-behind win under Coach Cal, beating Vanderbilt 73-67 at home on Tuesday night despite trailing 25-6 at one point midway through the first half.

Kentucky just wasn’t ready to play in the first half. Between Senior Night, Derek Willis’ proposal and the emotional drain of Saturday’s win over Florida, it shouldn’t have come has much of a shock that the No. 9 Wildcats got off to a slow start. But their inability to do anything on the offense end of the floor combined with the fact that Vandy couldn’t miss from the perimeter was not a good combination.

After the first 10 minutes of the game, things started to change. Kentucky’s defense turned up to a different level as Vandy got flustered by the pressure and the atmosphere, committing 18 turnovers — roughly half of which were unforced — as they slowly allowed the Wildcats to chip away at the lead. Kentucky didn’t take the lead until late in the second half and they didn’t take control of the game until Monk hit a three with less than a minute left to put them up seven.

For Monk, this was the sixth time this season that’s he’s scored at least 20 points in a half. He had 30 points in the second half of Saturday’s win over Florida. This was also the second straight game that he’s been terrible for the early portion of the game.

The biggest takeaway from this game for UK fans is Fox, however. He still doesn’t look right, as he’s battling a contusion on his knee, and he hasn’t looked right for a month. He did have 13 points, but he had just one assists and five turnovers and wasn’t nearly as aggressive as we have become accustomed to seeing him be.

His health is one of the most under-discussed story lines as we head into the NCAA tournament.

VIDEO: Young Boise State fan comes to the rescue as ball gets stuck in shot clock

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The Fresno State-Boise State game took a weird turn late in the first half when … well, you know what? I’m just going to let you watch this and see what happens.

The ending is great:

We should all say a prayer for the father of young man.

Because he may never be seen again when he gets home and mom sees what he let his son do.

No. 16 Purdue beats Indiana to clinch share of Big Ten crown

No. 16 Purdue beats Indiana to clinch share of Big Ten crown
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Dakota Mathias scored 17 of his 19 points in the first half and Caleb Swanigan added 17 of his 21 in the second Tuesday night to lead No. 16 Purdue past Indiana 86-75 for a share of the Big Ten title.

The Boilermakers (24-6, 13-4) broke a tie with their rival by claiming a record 23rd conference championship.

James Blackmon Jr. scored 16 points for Indiana (16-14, 6-11), which has lost eight of 10.

The Hoosiers’ biggest problem — foul trouble.

After Indiana cut a 15-point deficit to four early in the second half, the Boilermakers went on a 10-2 run when Indiana’s top two centers both picked up their third foul.

The Hoosiers got as close as 57-51 with 10:07 left, but the Boilermakers answered with seven straight and pulled away.

Purdue has won seven of eight and has clinched the top seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

Vince Edwards had 15 points and Swanigan finished with 10 rebounds.

Indiana only led once, 17-14 midway through the first half.

Mathias answered immediately by scoring 13 points in a 19-6 run to give the Boilermakers a 33-23 lead.

But even as the Hoosiers clawed their way back, the mounting fouls doomed their hopes for a comeback.

Thomas Bryant picked up his third foul less than 90 seconds into the second half. De’Ron Davis then picked up three fouls in 47 seconds and went to the bench with four fouls and 16:32 left to play.

Swanigan took advantage by scoring 12 points in the final 16 1/2 minutes.

Josh Newkirk and Devonte Green each had 13 points for Indiana.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The complaints may grow even louder now after last year’s Big Ten champs were swept by Purdue and then endured the indignity of watching black-and-gold confetti cover the court. The worst part — Indiana’s fading NCAA Tournament hopes took another hit.

Purdue: The Boilermakers got all the needed breaks over the last few weeks, so when they had a chance to clinch the title at home, they took care of business. Another win Saturday will give them an outright championship.

UP NEXT:

Indiana: Tries to regroup Saturday at Ohio State.

Purdue: Will try to capture the outright title at Northwestern on Saturday.

Bubble Banter: Somehow, Indiana is still in the tournament mix

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Here is the latest NBC Sports Bracketology. This is where the rankings you see below are from. This post will be updated throughout the night. 

WINNERS

Seton Hall (RPI: 48, KenPom: 57, play-in game): It wasn’t easy, but Seton Hall got the win that they needed on Tuesday night against Georgetown. At this point, I think that the Pirates need one more win to feel comfortable, either at Butler on Saturday or in the first round of the Big East tournament, meaning that they don’t take a bad loss in the Big East tournament. It’s pretty impressive work from Kevin Willard to be able to get this group back to the brink of the Big Dance without Isaiah Whitehead on the roster.

Providence (RPI: 53, KenPom: 55, No. 10 seed): The Friars just about locked up a bid to the NCAA tournament with a win over DePaul on Tuesday night. The bottom line for the Friars is that they cannot afford another bad loss and still get in. Beat St. John’s on Saturday, which is something that should be easy to do, and they should be good.

Georgia Tech (RPI: 93, KenPom: 77, bubble): The Yellow Jackets kept themselves in the mix for an at-large bid by landing their eighth win in ACC play over Pitt at home. They probably need to win at Syracuse on Saturday to really have a chance, and I’m not convinced that will be enough. But they’re close enough that two more wins will make things very interesting on Selection Sunday

LOSERS

Indiana (RPI: 87, KenPom: 49, next four out): A sign of how weak the bubble is this season is that the Hoosiers, despite all of their warts, had a chance to get into the NCAA tournament if they had landed a win at Purdue on Tuesday night. They didn’t, which, hopefully, means that we can finally — mercifully — put the at-large hopes of the Hoosiers to bed for good.

Vanderbilt (RPI: 47, KenPom: 46, first four out): The ‘Dores were up by 19 points in the first half and by double-figures in the second half at Kentucky and somehow managed to lose. That was the win they needed to get onto the right side of the bubble. That one is going to sting for a while.

VIDEO: Watch Frank Mason III address his son on Senior Night

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Everyone knows the story of Frank Mason III by now.

He originally committed to Towson, he failed a class, he somehow ended up at Kansas, he turned into the Player of the Year favorite.

What you might not know about Mason is that he has a five-year old son named Amari.

Here’s what Mason had to say to his son during his Senior Night:

“He’s shy just like me. But I’m happy to have him here. He means the world to me. Everything I do is for you. I want you to grow up having a better life than I had. You really help me to become a better man and a better father everyday. I love you.”

Try to hold in a smile while Amari is hiding from the attention behind his hat. Try it. You can’t.