Justin Edwards, leading scorer in the America East, to transfer

1 Comment

Another name just popped up on the transfer market.

Justin Edwards, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, is transferring from Maine. The Canadian native led the America East in scoring as a sophomore this season, averaging 16.7 points along with 5.1 boards, 3.4 assists and 1.9 steals.

“Justin is a fine young man and we thank him for his hard work and accomplishments in our program. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors,” head coach Ted Woodward said in a statement.

“Thank you to the Coaching staff. I appreciate all you have done for me, personally and professionally, and the opportunity you offered me!” Edwards tweeted. “I want to thank my teammates, the fans, the school. I appreciate everything! You have all been great and will be a terrific team next season … I simply want to gain exposure playing at a higher level of basketball for my next 2 years,and look forward to the challenge that lies ahead.”

Don’t be surprised to see Edwards get pursued by some bigger programs. He’ll have two years of eligibility remaining.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Tuesday’s Things to Know: Buffalo knocks off Syracuse, Duke wins big, Ja Morant’s big night

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Although the holidays are approaching and many schools are taking exams or already on winter break, there was a lot of college basketball happening on Tuesday night. Not many games went down between high-major opponents, but there was still some stuff to learn — including another big win for No. 14 Buffalo on the road.

Buffalo takes down Syracuse for big road win

One of college basketball’s surprise teams this season has been undefeated No. 14 Buffalo. Although I predicted this season season that the Bulls would be a team to watch from the mid-major ranks, not even I envisioned that would be this good.

Buffalo picked up another quality win with a double-digit road win at Syracuse. After winning on the road at West Virginia and now against the Orange, the Bulls are now in position for a strong potential at-large bid even if they fall short in the MAC Tournament.

Syracuse, meanwhile, has dropped two straight to mid-major opponents at home after dropping one to Old Dominion on Saturday. The Orange need to fix a lot of things heading into ACC season.

No. 2 Duke cruises to victory against Princeton

Duke won its tune-up before a matchup against No. 12 Texas Tech later this week by dispatching Princeton for an easy home win.

R.J. Barrett played ultra-aggressive and finished with 27 points while Zion Williamson had 17 points and 10 rebounds and almost knocked himself out with a vicious block against the backboard.

Williamson remains No. 1 in the latest NBC Sports Player of the Year Power Rankings while Barrett checks in at No. 3 on that same list.

Murray State’s Ja Morant just misses triple-double in win over Evansville

Speaking of the Player of the Year Power Rankings, Murray State’s Ja Morant made sure to elevate his case with a monster game on Tuesday night. In a tight game with Evansville, the sophomore lead guard played all 40 minutes as he had 27 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds.

Morant already has a triple-double against a Missouri Valley opponent this season as the nation’s leader in assists is putting up huge numbers all over the stat sheet. While he doesn’t play for a major program that will get seen by a huge national audience, Morant is a potential lottery pick and a darkhorse in this Player of the Year race.

No. 14 Buffalo upsets Syracuse in the Carrier Dome

AP Photo/Nick Lisi
1 Comment

Buffalo did it again.

A month after going into Morgantown and picking off then-No. 13 West Virginia, the now-No. 14 Bulls landed their second road win over a high-major opponent on Tuesday night, making the short jaunt to the Carrier Dome to land a 71-59 win over Syracuse.

Once again, C.J. Massinburg was the star, popping off for 25 points, seven board and five assists in the win as Buffalo remained one of just nine teams that are still undefeated on the season.

As long as Buffalo doesn’t do anything crazy over the course of their league schedule — beat the teams you’re supposed to beat, if you take a loss or three make sure they’re on the road against one of the better teams in the conference — this win should ensure that they are in the thick of the bubble conversation come Selection Sunday. Nothing is a guarantee, not when there is a very real chance that both West Virginia and Syracuse miss the NCAA tournament this season, but there is no question at this point that the Bulls are for real.

The win over Arizona in the first round of the NCAA tournament last March was not a fluke. The win at West Virginia was not a fluke. And Tuesday night’s win in the Battle for Upstate New York — a game where the Bulls trailed 45-39 in the second half before using a 32-14 run to close out the win — was not a fluke.

What will be interesting to see is how the discourse surrounding Buffalo differs from the likes of Lipscomb, or Furman, or any other mid-major that finds themselves in the midst of a run at an at-large. I discussed this on the podcast this week. While we have all these metrics and all this data and all these numbers to crunch on Selection Sunday, at the end of the day, there are ten human beings in that room that are making the decisions on who is going to be put where in the bracket. Like it or not, biases come into play, intentionally or not. The fact that Buffalo is undefeated with two nationally-televised road wins over major program six weeks into the season is something that is going to resonate.

We went into the season thinking that Buffalo was a team that was good enough to win games in March, so won’t these two wins help to reinforce that notion? And if that’s the case, isn’t there a chance — no matter how slim — that bias gets carried over into the selection process?

The good news for Nate Oates is that it probably won’t matter for his Buffalo team at this point, particularly if they go into Milwaukee on Friday and beat Marquette.

What might actually be more interesting now is whether or not the Orange will find their way into the dance.

As of today, Syracuse is 7-4 on the season. They lost to UConn. They lost to Oregon. They’ve now lost back-to-back home games to Old Dominion and Buffalo. They can’t score and the guys we all thought had taken a step forward haven’t. The ACC will provide Syracuse plenty of chances, and frankly, given recent history, sneaking into the tournament as a No. 10 or No. 11 seed is not necessarily a bad thing for the Orange these days.

But it is clear that Syracuse is not as good as we thought they were heading into the season.

Lawson, Moore carry No. 1 KU to 89-53 rout of South Dakota

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Dedric Lawson had 16 points and 14 rebounds, Charlie Moore made six 3-pointers en route to 18 points, and top-ranked Kansas pulled away in the second half for an 89-53 victory over plucky but overmatched South Dakota on Tuesday night.

Freshman forward David McCormack added a career-best 12 points off the bench for the Jayhawks (10-0), helping to soak up minutes while Udoka Azubuike is sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Kansas has won 40 consecutive games in Allen Fieldhouse as the nation’s No. 1 team.

Stanley Umude scored a game-high 28 points to lead the Coyotes (6-6), who have never defeated a ranked team in seven tries. Tyler Peterson added 15 points, and leading scorer Trey Burch-Manning was held to two points on 1-for-5 shooting before fouling out.

Neither team was particularly good in the first half.

The Jayhawks struggled to stop South Dakota’s relentless backdoor cuts, and eventually Kansas coach Bill Self was so fed up with their defensive execution he started to burn timeouts.

Not that the Coyotes did much with all those easy looks. They committed 12 first-half turnovers, allowing the Jayhawks to slowly pull out to a 37-27 advantage at the break.

Most of the work was done without Lawson, who was forced to the bench with two fouls.

The Jayhawks’ dominant point forward joined Moore in helping the Jayhawks pull away in the second half. Lawson scored in the paint, Moore hit a 3-pointer and Lawson added a pair of foul shots to turn a 49-40 lead into a 56-40 lead with about 12 minutes to go.

The undersized Coyotes answered with a run of their own, but Moore and Lawson provided one more answer. Moore curled in his fifth 3-pointer, this time from the wing, and then took a run-out to the rim before dropping a pass to Lawson for an easy layup and a 66-47 lead.

The advantage only grew from there as Moore, a transfer from California who once scored 38 in a game as a freshman, and the massive McCormack continued to put together breakout games.

BIG PICTURE

South Dakota hung around long enough to keep Kansas on the edge, but the Jayhawks’ superior athleticism was evident. They were quicker in transition, better on the boards and were able to pull away when the Coyotes went cold from beyond the arc.

Kansas finally got an easy win after surviving nail-biters against everyone from New Mexico State and Stanford to Villanova and Tennessee. It was the first time all season that the Jayhawks put away a game in time to empty the bench in the final minutes.

UP NEXT

South Dakota hosts Southern Miss on Friday night.

Kansas visits No. 18 Arizona State on Saturday night.

Kevin Ollie alleges racial discrimination in new civil action against UConn

Getty Images
2 Comments

Former UConn head coach Kevin Ollie is heading to court with the school over alleged racial discrimination. In a report from the Hartford Courant, Ollie has filed a civil action alleging that the school illegally attempted to deter him from filing a racial discrimination complaint.

Submitted on Tuesday in U.S. District Court, Ollie is claiming he was treated differently from predecessor Jim Calhoun, because Calhoun kept his job after receiving comparable recruiting violations.

Ollie was fired for those violations earlier this year as he’s been in a contentious back-and-forth battle with the school that has gone to court. The former head coach claims he informed UConn of his intention to file the complaint but the school said it would refuse to have a contractual-grievance arbitration process that would give Ollie the final $10 million on his contract.

Seeking an emergency injunction that would allow him to file the complaint while proceeding with an arbitration process.

UConn responded to the Courant on Tuesday through a spokesperson as they disputed Ollie’s account that race played a role in his firing.

“As UConn has stated from the outset, the university terminated Kevin Ollie’s employment due to violations of NCAA rules, pursuant to his employment agreement,” UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz said. “Any claim to the contrary is without merit.”

Ollie’s attorney told the Courant that the hope is to file and stay with a racial discrimination complaint, which could be addressed after the arbitration.

From the sound of it, UConn and Ollie are going to be in court for quite a bit of time as this whole firing process has been difficult from the start.

No. 15 Buckeyes overcome slow start, rout Youngstown State

Getty Images
Leave a comment

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s first half against mid-major Youngstown State was a train wreck. But then the No. 15 Buckeyes managed to get back on track with their game plan — primarily getting the ball inside to Kaleb Wesson.

The 6-foot-9 sophomore took control in the second half, scoring 26 of his career-high 31 and rallying Ohio State to a 75-56 rout of the Penguins on Tuesday night.

“When you got a guy like Kaleb Wesson, he’s a load,” Youngstown State coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “I think he makes the game easier for coach (Chris) Holtmann and the other four players who are out there playing with him. He’s a monster.”

The Buckeyes (10-1, 2-0 Big Ten) shot poorly in the first half and again were forced to rally against an opponent they should have handled easily from the beginning.

Ohio State made just 7 of 29 shots from the floor in the first half (24.1 percent) and trailed 25-22 at the intermission before Wesson and his teammates got themselves going offensively. The game stayed close in the first half only because Youngstown State didn’t shoot much better.

“We had some good looks, but I don’t think we imposed ourselves offensively in the first half,” Holtmann said.

Wesson had a put-back to give the Buckeyes the lead three minutes into the second half and they rolled from there, shooting 70.4 percent after the intermission.

Luther Muhammad and C.J. Jackson each had 11 points for Ohio State, which has won three in a row after losing their only game of the season Nov. 28.

Darius Quisenberry had 17 points, and Naz Bohannon added 11 for the Penguins (5-9), who have lost five of their last six.

Youngstown State shot just 36.4 percent for the game.

BIG PICTURE:

Youngstown State: Took advantage of Ohio State’s poor shooting to lead the entire first half, but couldn’t keep up once Wesson and the Buckeyes started scoring in the second.

“That was as an efficient a half as I’ve seen,” Calhoun said. “We just had no answer.”

Ohio State: After nearly losing to Bucknell on Saturday, the Buckeyes took another opponent too lightly and were getting stung for a while. They are making too many mistakes against less-talented teams.

“We really have a long way to go, and I’m certainly concerned,” said Holtmann, who blamed it on a lack of maturity.

“At halftime the older guys, the leaders kind of got into us, saying we weren’t playing with a purpose,” Wesson said. “We were out there playing possessions just to play, because we had to.”

WESSON RISING

Wesson recorded career highs in scoring in each of the past two games. He had 22 in the 73-71 win over Bucknell on Saturday.

But he only had five in the first half Tuesday and sat out for the last bit with two fouls.

“I had to regain my focus, and I had to get chewed out a couple of times (at the half),” he said. “It’s not something I expect to happen, but sometimes when you get chewed out, it just lights something in you. I feel like when that happened to me, I had to step up.”

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS

Wesson’s older brother Andre, an Ohio State forward, lost two teeth and chipped another on Saturday when a Bucknell player fell on him and his face made hard contact with the court.

Andre Wesson is scheduled to have dental work on Wednesday, but started against Youngstown State, picking up four points and five rebounds.

UP NEXT:

Youngstown State: Hosts Detroit Mercy on Dec. 28.

Ohio State: At UCLA on Saturday.

—-

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25