Rob Dauster

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VIDEO: Fight with UAB leaves Louisiana Tech with four players after benches clear

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Louisiana Tech had to finish their game at UAB on Thursday night with just four players after a bench-clearing brawl resulted in mass ejections for both teams.

The fight happened with UAB up 63-50 with 6:03 left. The Blazers would eventually win 79-70.

UAB finished the game with just six players available:

Here is another angle of the brawl from the opposite baseline:

The fight was started by UAB’s Hakeem Baxter, who threw a punch at Louisiana Tech’s Jacobi Boykins. And while the number of players on the court would make you believe that there were fisticuffs, the majority of the suspensions were due to players leaving the bench during a fight.

That’s an automatic ejection, which is why Louisiana Tech, as you see below, has no one on their bench other than head coach Erik Konkol and the four players left:

Carlton Bragg suspended indefinitely

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Carlton Bragg Jr. has been suspended indefinitely for “a violation of team rules,” Kansas announced late on Thursday night.

Bragg is currently the backup power forward for the No. 2 Jayhawks and one of just two big men that see time in the Kansas rotation. This essentially means that Landen Lucas will be forced to deal with Bam Adebayo and the No. 4 Kentucky front line on his won in Saturday afternoon’s game in Lexington.

Head coach Bill Self did note in the release that “this violation is not connected to the alleged incident in McCarthy Hall on December 17th.” Bragg is a witness in the investigation of an alleged sexual assault involving a 16-year old girl that happened in the dorm on the Kansas campus where the basketball team lives. .

Bragg was held out of a game against Nebraska earlier this year after he was accused of domestic violence, but those charges were dropped when video evidence surfaced that indicated Bragg’s accuser was lying. That incident occurred a week before the alleged sexual assault.

Coach K calls team meeting, bans players from locker room, wearing team gear

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Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski called a meeting on Tuesday night at his house where he revoked the team’s access to the locker room, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.

The team has also been banned from wearing Duke gear on campus. ESPN.com was the first to report the news, citing a source that said the rights won’t be returned to the players, “until they start living up to the standards of the Duke program.”

The meeting occurred a day after Duke lost at home to N.C. State.

As we detailed in an extensive story yesterday, there are a myriad of issues within this Duke program. They lack leadership and they lack an identity as the talented players on the roster grapple for different roles.

Three takeaways from USC’s upset of No. 8 UCLA

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Shaqquan Aaron scored 14 of his 21 points in the first half and USC hit 14 threes as a team as the Trojans knocked off No. 8 UCLA in the Galen Center on Wednesday night, 84-76.

USC jumped out to a 50-38 halftime lead and never let the Bruins get within four points in the second half.

Elijah Stewart and Deanthony Melton were sensational, finishing with a combined 26 points, 13 boards, nine assists and seven steals in the win while Chimezie Metu added 13 points, seven boards and a pair of thunderous dunks for the Trojans.

UCLA’s perimeter defense continued to be an issue, but the more surprising concern for this team: They shot really poorly from beyond the arc for the second straight game while Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s all-american candidate, had seven of the team’s 17 turnovers.

Here are three things we learned in USC’s win:

1. USC needed this win badly: The Trojans started out the season strong, winning their first 14 games of the year, which included a trip to Texas A&M, a win over SMU at home and knocking off BYU on a neutral court. Doing it all while starting power forward Bennie Boatwright was injured only added to the optimism. But once Andy Enfield’s club got into the throes of Pac-12 play, once their schedule started to strengthen, the going was quite so easy. Entering Wednesday night, USC was 4-4 in league play, but those four wins came against Oregon State, Stanford, Arizona State and Colorado, none of whom will be confused with a tournament team this season.

USC was smoked at Oregon. They were smoked at Utah. They needed a wild rally in a loss against Arizona at home to avoid getting smoked. That’s what makes this win so important. It’s not only a résumé-booster, but it’s the kind of performance that can build the confidence of a team that was struggling with it.

2. UCLA still isn’t getting stops: Entering Wednesday, the Bruins ranked 125th nationally in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric after giving up 96 points to Arizona. Things weren’t much better for the Bruins in the first half against USC, as they game up 50 points in 39 possessions, getting lit up by a series of straight-line drives, kick-outs to open shooters and ball-screen actions. We wrote on Tuesday that the Bruins are no longer a Final Four contender if they cannot figure out their defensive woes. As of Wednesday night, the Bruins had not figured out their defensive woes.

3. And they’ve apparently forgotten how to shoot the ball: The Bruins are one of the best three-point shooting teams we’ve seen in recent college basketball history. Entering Wednesday night, UCLA was shooting 43.4 percent from beyond the arc, a number that ranks second nationally, but their ability to reel on 19 threes in a game – like they did earlier this season – is what makes them so lethal. When they get into a rhythm like that, it doesn’t matter how bad their defense is. They have the firepower to win anyway.

In these two most recent losses, the Bruins have not shot the ball well at all from the perimeter. Against Arizona, they were 10-for-31 from three. Against USC, they were 6-for-21. If UCLA cannot get stops and they are not making threes, they’re not going to be winning all that often.

The other concerning aspect about their offense on Wednesday night was that the Bruins really seemed to struggle against the 2-3 zone that USC played. They committed 13 first half turnovers and finished with 17 turnovers for the game. With shooters everywhere on the floor and as many as three point guards on the court at the same time, it’s unacceptable for a team as talented as UCLA to have those kind of issues against zone.

No. 16 Creighton’s season on the ropes after blowout by Georgetown

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Creighton, without Mo Watson, is lost.

It’s expected, and it’s understandable, and most of all it’s a cruel twist in what should have been the best season in the history of the program.

But it’s a truth that head coach Greg McDermott is going to have to confront head-on if he wants the Bluejays to have a chance to make any noise this season.

No. 16 Creighton was smoked on Wednesday night by a Georgetown team that was 1-6 in the Big East and, prior to Wednesday, had lost to 16 straight Big East opponents not named DePaul or St. John’s; it’s been 364 days since the Hoyas beat the Bluejays in the Verizon Center last season. The final score was 71-51, but it didn’t feel all that close mostly because it never felt like the Bluejays were going to find a way to consistently get good shots, let alone score.

Creighton shot 35.1 percent from the floor, a number that drops to 25 percent when you remove Justin Patton’s 9-for-13 from the equation. The Bluejays were 1-for-18 from three, which is a disaster for a team that, even with a game-and-a-half without Watson on the books, was the 10th best offense, according to KenPom, and the nation’s ninth-best three-point shooting team.

And therein lies the problem for the Bluejays.

This team was built to play a certain way, and they just cannot play that way anymore.

“Maurice is a really good player. It’s not just me, he made the game easier for Coach Mac, me and all of my other teammates,” star center Justin Patton said. “We need to find a different way. When we stepped on campus on June 6th, we didn’t know what type of team we were, but we figured it out. Then we lost Maurice, and it’s like we’re back in that same position again.”

Since Watson, who was leading the nation in assists and found himself on every midseason all-american list, went down, the Bluejays have been using a point guard-by-committee. They’ve started Isaiah Zierdan, a senior sharpshooter that understands how to play but lacks the physical ability to get into the lane and draw defenders the way Watson could. Davion Mintz is a freshman that looked as promising in the loss to Marquette – 17 points and eight assists – as he did in-over-his-head against the Hoyas.

It got to the point that Creighton gave former walk-on Tyler Clement major minutes as McDermott tried to find an answer.

“We’re going to need some young guys to grow up really fast,” McDermott said. “We have to have guys step up and play better, and some guys are being asked to play a role they’ve never played at any point in their career. It’s tough to do that in late January.”

Oddly enough, in a blowout loss that was a deflating dose of reality, Creighton may have found an answer, although it wasn’t exactly hiding.

It’s Patton.

A redshirt freshman that had jettisoned himself from being a relative unknown to a potential lottery pick, he had 20 points and seven boards against the Hoyas, showing off a dominant array of post moves and looking unstoppable at times. This isn’t the first time he’s played this way, either, and that may be the future of this Creighton program.

If run-and-gun doesn’t work, maybe force-feeding the ball to the best big man in the conference will.

“Justin is not going to be able to make freshman mistakes for us to progress like we need to progress,” McDermott said. “That’s not fair to him. He’s a freshman. He’s 19 years old. He’s supposed to be able to make those mistakes, but our situation is different than it was before.”

The danger in that, however, is that there are essentially six weeks left in the season. Even if McDermott wanted to overhaul what Creighton does offensively, it’s not exactly feasible. At this point in the season, college basketball teams aren’t grinding through practices the way they did earlier in the season. There’s some skill work and some conditioning, but for the most part, these practices are made up of game-planning and prepping to play against their upcoming opponents while dealing with cross-country travel and two games a week.

In other words, installing a new offense now is more difficult than figuring out how to tweak what they do to fit the personnel that is still available.

“I don’t think you can take down and start over,” McDermott said. “We need more time to make the changes that we have to make. But we’e two thirds into the season, we can’t be pounding them into the ground, especially with the injuries and illness we’ve had. It’s tough, but the reality is we have to keep doing it.”

“We just gotta play together without Maurice for a little bit longer,” Patton added, “and we’ll be fine.”

Louisville loses point guard Tony Hicks to broken hand

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Louisville’s 106-51 win over Pitt ended up being far more costly than anyone in the program realized.

Tony Hicks, Louisville’s backup point guard, broke his hand during the game and will be out for the next six-to-eight weeks, the program announced on Wednesday. Hicks is averaging 4.6 points this season.

“Upon further examination this morning, a spiral fracture of his fourth metacarpal was discovered,” the said in a statement.

Eight weeks from today is March 22nd, or the day before the start of the Sweet 16.

“Tony was just fitting in at the point position and has made great progress,” coach Rick Pitino said in a statement. “We will keep him in great condition and hope we make a long run in the tournament so he can play in his first NCAA tournament.”

Louisville is currently playing without starting point guard Quentin Snider, who is dealing with a hip flexor injury. In the two games the Cardinals have played without Snider, Hicks averaged 13 points.