Tuesday’s Shootaround: Xavier wins, St. Mary’s rolls in the second half


No. 11 Xavier 82, No. 19 Vanderbilt 70: See here.

That link is to what we’ve written on Vanderbilt coming out of this game, but Xavier’s back court needs to get recognition after their performance on Monday night. Tu Holloway and Mark Lyons are, simply put, as good as any duo in the country. Yes, I know they struggled for most of the game against a fairly pedestrian Vanderbilt defense. But those struggles disappeared when Xavier needed a bucket. Lyons hit five of his last ten shots of the game, sparked the game-changing, 10-0 that erased the lead that the Commodores had built up and then made the coast-to-coast drive and spinning lay-up that sent the game into overtime.

Holloway was even bigger. After failing to find any kind of rhythm for the majority of the game, the senior hit two daggers on back to back possessions to push Xavier’s overtime lead from two to eight. The best players make the biggest plays in crunch-time, whether or not they have played well during the game. Lyons and Holloway did just that, and they did it to beat a top 20 team on the road. That’s impressive.

No. 6 Louisville 79, Long Beach State 66: Louisville got 18 points from Chris Smith and jumped out to a double-digit lead early in the first half, hanging on to beat a scrappy LBSU team. Louisville hasn’t been running as much as we’ve expected early in the season as Rick Pitino deals with depth issues stemming from his team’s injuries, but the Cardinals looked like the Louisville team we all expected on Monday night.

For the 49ers, this is their third loss after knocking off Pitt on the road, as they dropped close decisions to San Diego State and Montana. That shouldn’t diminish how good this team can be, but unless they string together a couple of wins against some of their big-name non-conference competition, this is a team that is going to have to earn an automatic berth if they want to go dancing.

St. Mary’s 87, Weber State 70: The Gaels got 25 points and 11 assists from Matthew Dellavedova and 24 points and 12 boards from Rob Jones as they used a huge second half to knock off Weber State. The Gaels scored 56 points in the second period and shot 69% from the floor as they managed to outlast Damian Lillard, who was on fire. Lillard finished with 36 points, including 21 straight in the second half to get the Wildcats within six with seven minutes left, but St. Mary’s responded with a 14-2 run to put the game away. Kenton Walker added 14 and 11 off the bench for St. Mary’s.

Oakland 89, Tennessee 81: On the night that they retired Keith Benson’s jersey, Reggie Hamilton did his best to make Grizzly fans forget their standout big man. Hamilton went for 35 points to lead five Grizzlies in double figures as Oakland notched their second consecutive win against the Vols.

UCLA 62, Pepperdine 39: UCLA finally earned their first Division I win of the season as they got 14 points from Laz Jones and held the Waves to just 11 first half points. Perhaps the most notable part of this win? Playing in an arena 17 miles from their campus, UCLA had just 34 students show up to watch the game.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 9 Florida 96, Stetson 70: The Gators were led by 22 points, 10 boards, three blocks and three assists from freshman Brad Beal as Billy Donovan notched his 450th win as a head coach.

No. 16 Marquette 88, Jacksonville 56: Jae Crowder had 27 points, Darius Johnson-Odom had 19 and Vander Blue added seven assists, nine boards and four steals as the Golden Eagles improved to 6-0 on the season.

No. 21 Memphis 70, Jackson State 45: Joe Jackson had 15 points and Chris Crawford added 14, but Memphis struggled through the first 25 minutes before finally turning on the after burners and running Jackson State out of Fed Ex Forum.

No. 23 Cal 73, McNeese State 57: Jorge Gutierrez had 26 points and five assists as Cal sloughed off a poor first half.

Other notable games:

– Georgetown 81, IUPUI 58
– Iona 100, Long Island 84
– West Virginia 77, Akron 56
– Colorado 70, Georgia 68
– Stanford 79, Pacific 37

Top performers

Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones, St. Mary’s: Dellavedova had 25 points and 11 assists and Rob Jones added 24 points and 12 boards to overcome a 36 point performance by Damian Lillard.

Michael Glover and Scott Machado, Iona: Glover went for 28 points and 14 boards while Scott Machado continued to stake his claim as the best passer in the country, notching 10 assists to go along with his 14 points.

Reggie Hamilton, Oakland: Hamilton had 35 points and six boards as Oakland knocked off Tennessee for the second straight season.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events


WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

kansas mccullar
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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

clemson pj hall
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.