Wednesday’s Pregame Shootaround: 11 ranked teams in action tonight

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 18 Kansas at Oklahoma, 7:00 p.m.

The Jayhawks are coming off of an ugly loss against a San Diego State team that was big, burly and pounded Kansas in the paint. The Jayhawks will have a decided advantage in the paint against Oklahoma, but will that help? The Sooners can spread the floor and essentially play with four guards with Cameron Clark at the power forward spot. The Sooners are good enough to beat anyone in the Big 12 on the right night.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 23 Illinois at No. 4 Wisconsin, 9:00 p.m.

The only game of the night between two ranked teams. Illinois has a talented back court in Tracy Abrams and Rayvonte Rice, but the Badgers guards are a nightmare defensively. Wisconsin did not look great in their win over Iowa at home on Sunday, so this will be a good chance for us to get a feel on whether or not Illinois is truly a team that can compete atop the Big Ten.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Harvard at UConn, 7:00 p.m.

I don’t even know if this should qualify as an upset. Even with Kenyatta Smith still injured, Harvard might actually be a better basketball team that UConn. The key, as always, is going to be slowing down Shabazz Napier, but the Crimson have routinely proven to be a solid defensive team. On the flipside, I’m not sure how the Huskies will deal with Wesley Saunders. This game is all the more important for Harvard because it’s the last chance they’ll have to beat a marquee team in the non-conference. They need to win it if they really want a chance to earn an at-large bid should they miss out on the Ivy title.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Boise State at No. 13 San Diego State, 11:00 p.m.

I don’t think this actually qualifies as mid-major, but I still wanted to highlight it. Boise State is a perimeter oriented team built around a slew of talented wings and three-point shooting. San Diego State has a big, talented front line that can matchup with anyone in the country. What wins out? SDSU’s defense or BSU’s offense?

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) No. 11 Oklahoma State is coming off of a loss at Kansas State. They’ll look to bounce back against Texas in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

2) No. 14 Kentucky has been out of the news since knocking off Louisville in Rupp ten days ago. They’ll host Mississippi State to kick off SEC play tonight.

3) No. 19 UMass kicks off Atlantic 10 play with a visit from St. Joseph’s.

4) No. 6 Wichita State puts their undefeated record on the line as Illinois State pays a visit. Tip is at 8:00 p.m.

5) Pac-12 play kicked off last weekend and Utah put together a couple of impressive performances against the Oregon schools at home. What can they do on the road? They head to Washington tonight.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 8 Villanova at Seton Hall, 7:00 p.m.
  • South Carolina at No. 10 Florida, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 15 Colorado at Washington State, 9:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at No. 21 Missouri, 8:00 p.m.

NOTABLES

  • Wake Forest at Virginia, 7:00 p.m.
  • Georgetown at Providence, 7:00 p.m.
  • Minnesota at Penn State, 7:00 p.m.
  • Miami at North Carolina, 9:00 p.m.
  • New Mexico at Wyoming, 9:00 p.m.

Kevin Ollie alleges racial discrimination in new civil action against UConn

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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

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Kaleb Wesson had a career-high 31 points as No. 15 Ohio State overcame a terrible start and beat Youngstown State 75-56 on Tuesday night.

Wesson was dominating in the second half, scoring 26 points as the Buckeyes were again forced to win in come-from-behind fashion. The sophomore topped his previous career-best 22 points, achieved in Saturday’s game against Bucknell.

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

Ohio State trailed 25-22 at the half, but took the lead with a Wesson put-back three minutes into the second half and took control from there.

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.

The first half was a nightmare for Ohio State. The Penguins went on a 14-2 run to open the game as the Buckeyes missed shot after shot. Ohio State shot 24 percent from the floor and 1 for 11 from beyond the 3-point line before intermission. The score was so close mostly because Youngstown State wasn’t much better, hitting just 33 percent of its shots.

Wesson took a seat with 5:40 left in the first half when he picked up his second foul and got his third early in the second half before going on a scoring tear.

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 got themselves unglued.

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 teams they should be dominating.

UP NEXT:

Youngstown State: Hosts Detroit Mercy on Dec. 28.

Ohio State: At UCLA on Saturday.

No. 2 Duke emerges from exam break to beat Princeton 101-50

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DURHAM, N.C. — RJ Barrett continued his rookie-season scoring rush, finishing with 27 points to help second-ranked Duke beat Princeton 101-50 on Tuesday night.

Fellow freshman Zion Williamson had 17 points and 10 rebounds in the Blue Devils’ first game in more than a week due to an exam break. Duke (10-1) got off to a cold start and didn’t take its first lead until more than 14 minutes in, but eventually got rolling and handed the Tigers their most lopsided loss in program history.

Duke scored on 10 of 11 possessions to close the first half, then on four straight out of the break to take a 48-28 lead. The Blue Devils shot 64 percent after halftime as the game turned into a rout.

Myles Stephens had 19 points for Princeton (5-5), which scored the game’s first eight points and led 18-16 before Duke put together an 11-0 run to take over.

BIG PICTURE

Princeton: Those opening few minutes had to be encouraging for the Tigers, who avoided early turnovers and caught Duke with some backdoor cuts to build a lead in front of a hostile Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd. They just didn’t have an answer once Duke’s shots started falling and the Blue Devils did a better job of closing off those lanes. Princeton shot just 30 percent and surpassed its previous worst margin of defeat of 45 points, set against Penn in December 1908.

Duke: The Blue Devils hadn’t played since beating Yale here on Dec. 8, and it took a while for the offense to get into gear. Things went to script once that happened. Barrett came in averaging an Atlantic Coast Conference-best 24.2 points and finished 11 of 21 from the field. Meanwhile, Duke’s athleticism and length helped its defense finish with 12 steals, 14 blocks and 23 points off turnovers.

UP NEXT

Princeton: The Tigers visit Lafayette on Friday.

Duke: The Blue Devils face No. 12 Texas Tech in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

VIDEO: Backboard nearly takes out Zion Williamson on blocked shot

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Zion Williamson was almost taken out by a backboard as Duke played Princeton at home on Tuesday night. Playing at home, Williamson went for a block as his arm and face appeared hit the backboard and caused him to fall to the ground.

Williamson was okay, but the startling block is yet another freakish play that the freshman forward has made on the defensive end this season. Although mostly known for his dunks, Williamson is showing himself to be one of the scariest shot blockers in college hoops this season.

No. 2 Duke has a big lead on Princeton in second half.

West Virginia reinstates big man Derek Culver

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West Virginia announced some positive news on Tuesday as freshman big man Derek Culver has been reinstated to the team.

Previously suspended earlier this season on Nov. 15 for a violation of team rules, the 6-foot-10 Culver is the highest-rated freshman in the Mountaineers’ freshman class as he’s got a chance to become a rotation player.

Rated as a four-star prospect coming out of high school, Culver did a postgrad year at Brewster Academy last season as he’s been someone West Virginia has been looking forward to adding for the past two classes. If Culver comes along and is able to contribute then he’ll alleviate some pressure from Sagaba Konate and potentially adding some life into a 6-4 West Virginia team.