Rob Dauster

Kentucky's Skal Labissiere reacts after dunking the ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas, Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Fayetteville, Ark. Kentucky won 80-66. (AP Photo/Samantha Baker)
(AP Photo/Samantha Baker)

Skal Labissiere with the best game of his season in Kentucky’s win over LSU

Leave a comment

Saturday was supposed to be a Senior Night celebration Alex Poythress, the rare recruited player in John Calipari’s program that stuck around for all four years.

But what it turned into was the Skal Labissiere Show.

Going up against Ben Simmons, the other guy that was “a consensus top two pick” back in November, Labissiere had his best games as a Wildcats, finishing with 18 points, nine boards, six blocks and two assists as No. 22 Kentucky rolled over LSU, 94-77.

It was the second straight game that Labissiere has started, and it was the second straight game that he played like a kid with a chance of getting to the NBA one day. He had 11 points and eight boards in 15 minutes at Florida on Tuesday. Saturday’s performance took it to another level. He hit a myriad of jumpers as he and Tyler Ulis flawlessly executed pick-and-pop actions, he was a defensive menace at the rim — including a chase-down block that just about made Rupp Arena implode — and he made the right read and the simple play offensively, even if it was something as simple as turning down a jumper to set up Jamal Murray for a three.

It’s amazing what a little bit of confidence will do for a kid.

Because Labissiere has had this ability the whole season. It’s not like this is a fluke. But between issues with his strength and how aggressive John Calipari can be when you’re not doing what he wants you to do, the 7-foot Haitian never found a rhythm. He was thinking, he wasn’t reacting. He was trying to do what he thought he was supposed to do instead of reading, reacting and making a play.

Who knows how long this Labissiere is going to be around. Will his confidence get destroyed again the next time he makes a stupid play? Or is he going to spend the month of March proving to everyone that we weren’t crazy for saying this kid could be an all-american and a top five pick?

That’s something we’ll have to wait and see on.

But what we can say definitively is that when this Labissiere shows up, Kentucky is dangerous. When he’s on the floor with Derek Willis, Kentucky has four shooters. There’s an absurd amount of space for Ulis to create — LSU’s defense is a tragicomedy, but Ulis did have 14 points and 14 assists — and it forces defenses into a decision with Murray: Hug him on the perimeter or dare Willis and Labissiere to beat you.

With this Labissiere, and with Ulis and Murray playing like they’re the best back court in the world not named Steph and Klay, Kentucky, who is trending towards a No. 4 seed, is not a team you are going to want to see in your bracket.

Duke’s Amile Jefferson to miss the rest of the season

Amile Jefferson, Thomas Bryant
(AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
Leave a comment

Duke announced on Saturday that Amile Jefferson will not return to the team this season.

Jefferson suffered a broken foot in December during practice and has not returned to the lineup since then. At the time, Jefferson was averaging 11.4 points and 10.3 boards.

The silver lining here is that Jefferson has only played in nine games this season, meaning that he is eligible to receive a medical redshirt. So while his absence will be missed in March this season, he’ll be another piece on an absurdly loaded Duke team in 2016-17.

VIDEO: Jamal Murray’s arrow celebration has hilarious consequences

(AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
Leave a comment

Kentucky is currently in the midst of running LSU out of Rupp Arena, and when star freshman Jamal Murray buried a three midway through the second half to give the Wildcats their biggest lead of the game, he celebrated with his new, “three-arrows” celebration.

But there were disastrous consequences, as his arrow struck bench mob member E.J. Floreal in the heart.

RIP E.J. Floreal. We already knew ye.

UPDATE: E.J. Floreal survived thanks to teammate Mychal Mulder:

Boston College sets a record in futility

Boston College coach Jim Christian talks with forward Ervins Meznieks during the first half of the team's NCAA college basketball game against Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
(AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Leave a comment

Boston College made history on Saturday afternoon, as they become the first major conference team in more than 70 years to lose every league game in both football and basketball with a 66-50 loss to Clemson.

The last time that happened was Georgia during the 1943-44 season, and even then it was a result of an abbreviated schedule due to World War II.

This about sums it up:

The Eagles actually came pretty close to winning a pair of games during the basketball season. They nearly picked off North Carolina in Chestnut Hill in January, and just last week, they were up by one on N.C. State with 1.1 seconds left when they decided not to guard Maverick Rowan:

Was that as bad as this loss that the football team took? I’m not so sure:

So remember, sports fans, no matter how bad things are going for your team, at least you’re not a BC fan.

And for all you BC fans out there … you’re welcome.

 

Summit League Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

IPFW's Max Landis (10) puts up a shot against Indiana's Collin Hartman (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2015, in Bloomington, Ind.  (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Max Landis of IPFW (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Leave a comment

The Summit League isn’t the best mid-major conference in college basketball, but what they do well is their league tournament. It’s held in Sioux Falls, which usually attracts a pretty good amount of fans, and not just from the teams in-state. It’s rowdy, the basketball is pretty good and the games are almost always entertaining.

The Bracket 

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 11.36.38 AM

When: March 5-8

Where: Sioux Falls, S.D.

Final: March 8th, 9:00 p.m. ESPN2

Favorite: South Dakota State

IPFW managed to get the No. 1 seed via tiebreakers, but for my money SDSU is the best team in the conference. George Marshall, the former Wisconsin point guard, is tough, and freshman Mike Daum is one of the best big men in the league already. Throw in Deondre Parks, and the Jackrabbits may also have the best back court in the conference. They get the added bonus of playing the tournament in their home state.

And if they lose?: IPFW

The Mastadons are not a traditional powerhouse in the Summit League, but Jon Coffman has this team thriving. Max Landis is the real deal and Jon Konchar is a future Summit League Player of the Year. They get IUPUI, who swept them, in the semifinals if chalk holds.

Other Contenders

  • Omaha: SDSU and IPFW get the attention, but Omaha had three players make the first or second team all-Summit League teams. They’re dangerous.
  • NDSU: The Bisons have been one of the more consistent programs in the conference over the years, and while they were down this season, they have the pieces to make a run. If you don’t want to see Dexter Werner back in the tournament, you’re un-American.

Summit League Player of the Year: Max Landis, IPFW

IPFW has the most potent offensive attack in the conference, and Landis was the guy behind it, averaging 18.7 points for the Mastadons as they finished tied for the league’s regular season title. Landis was the best scorer in the league not named Obi Emegano.

Summit League Coach of the Year: Jon Coffman, IPFW

IPFW was picked fourth in the league’s preseason poll, but that didn’t stop Coffman from winning a share of the league’s regular season title. It’s the first time the program has done that while setting school records for wins.

First-Team All-Summit League:

  • Max Landis, IPFW
  • Obi Emegano, Oral Roberts
  • George Marshall, SDSU
  • Mike Daum, SDSU
  • Tra-Deon Hollins, Omaha

CBT Prediction: South Dakota State knocks off IPFW

Southern Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

Chattanooga head coach Matt McCall directs his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Iowa State, Monday, Nov. 23, 2015, in Ames, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Chattanooga's Matt McCall (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Leave a comment

This year’s version of the SoCon looks quite a bit different than last year’s version. Wofford, who won the league last season, saw their roster almost completely turned over. The team they beat in the SoCon title game last year, Furman, finished last place in the league a year ago. They’re the three seed this season. Will Wade left Chattanooga for VCU and Matt McCall, a first time head coach, out-dueled Steve Forbes, another first time Division I head coach, for the league title.

The Bracket 

16BKBrackets

When: March 4-7

Where: U.S. Cellular Center, Asheville, N.C.

Final: March 7th, 9:00 p.m. (ESPN2)

Favorite: Chattanooga

Matt McCall has done a phenomenal job with the Mocs this season. In his first season in Chattanooga, he lost his best player (Casey Jones) and not only won an outright SoCon regular season title, but he did it while beating Georgia, Illinois and Dayton in the process. If the Mocs can get through the SoCon tourney unscathed, they’re going to be a trendy upset pick when the brackets are released.

And if they lose?: East Tennessee State

Another head coach in his first season with a new program, former Wichita State assistant Steve Forbes brought in a boat load of transfers to build the Buccaneers into a contender. ETSU is the most talented team in the league, and while they did get swept by Chattanooga, the Bucs have won eight of their last nine games.

Other Contenders

  • Furman: Niko Medved has done a great job building on last year’s fluky run to the league title game, finishing tied for third in the league while getting carried by Stephen Croone to the league title game.
  • Wofford: The Terriers had a ton of turnover in the offseason, but they’ve been the most consistent program in the league for years.

SoCon Player of the Year: Ge’Lawn Guyn, ETSU

In his first season in the league, the Cincinnati transfer played like a high major prospect, averaging better than 18 points for the Buccaneers. Guyn played a major role in ETSU finishing second in the conference this season.

SoCon Coach of the Year: Matt McCall, Chattanooga

We touched on it earlier, but in his first season as a head coach, McCall won the conference outright and picked off three high-major teams — including Dayton at Dayton! — more or less without the Preseason SoCon Player of the Year. That’s damn impressive.

First-Team All-SoCon

  • Ge’Lawn Guyn, ETSU
  • Stephen Croone, Furman
  • Justin Tuoyo, Chattanooga
  • Tre’ McLean, Chattanooga
  • Spencer Collins, Wofford

CBT Prediction: Furman makes another run to the finals, picking off Chattanooga this season.