Saturday’s Snacks: No. 18 North Carolina comes back to beat No. 5 Louisville, and No. 1 Kentucky survives

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 18 North Carolina 72, No. 5 Louisville 71

A Marcus Paige layup with eight seconds remaining was the difference for the Tar Heels, who bounced back from a tough loss to No. 13 Notre Dame on Monday. The shot capped an afternoon for Paige that included his leaving the game with a right ankle injury, only to return and help spark North Carolina’s comeback from a 12-point deficit in the final 8:23. Six Tar Heels scored at least eight points, with Kennedy Meeks leading the way with 13, and Terry Rozier paced the Cardinals with 25.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 1 Kentucky 70, Texas A&M 64 (2OT)

For the second consecutive game the Wildcats were taken to overtime by a conference opponent, this time outlasting the Aggies in College Station. Devin Booker scored 18 off the bench, which helped the Wildcats navigate a game in which starting guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison combined to shoot 5-for-30 from the field. Add in Dakari Johnson hitting some key free throws in double overtime, and Kentucky managed to remain undefeated. Danuel House led all scorers with 25 points, but off days from the foul line (16-for-30) and from three (2-for-15) kept A&M from winning the game in regulation and that came back to haunt them in the end.

2. No. 3 Virginia 62, No. 13 Notre Dame 56

Virginia moved to 15-0 on the season with a six-point win in South Bend, and a big reason for their success was Malcolm Brogdon’s defending of Jerian Grant. Grant finished the game with just six points, and as a team Notre Dame shot just 10-for-35 inside of the arc. Virginia was balanced offensively, with Darion Atkins (14 points), Brogdon (13) and Justin Anderson (11) all reaching double figures and freshman Marial Shayok adding seven off the bench. Notre Dame’s Pat Connaughton led all scorers with 21 points to go along with eight rebounds.

3. Kansas State 66, No. 16 Oklahoma 63 (OT): A Marcus Foster three-pointer with just over four seconds remaining in overtime was the difference as the Wildcats won in Norman. Foster finished the game with 13 points, and Stephen Hurt led the way offensively with 15 to go along with seven rebounds. Buddy Hield scored a game-high 31 for Oklahoma, but 20 of those points came in the first half. Oklahoma shot just 39.7% from the field in the loss, with Kansas State making 47.6% of its field goals.

4. Indiana 69, No. 22 Ohio State 66

Playing some great defense for stretches of the second half and getting a big lift from Troy Williams, Indiana held off No. 22 Ohio State. Williams had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds and James Blackmon Jr. had 18 points to lead the cold-shooting Hoosiers. Indiana was 4-for-18 from 3-point range but got a lift from two triples from Nick Zeisloft (eight points) and Ohio State was even worse (3-for-21). Four Buckeyes finished in double-figures led by Shannon Scott’s 16 points, but D’Angelo Russell (12 points) struggled to a 3-for-15 game shooting from the floor.

STARRED

1. Devin Thomas, Wake Forest

The junior had 17 points and 14 rebounds in the Demon Deacons’ win over Georgia Tech. The 6-foot-8 forward is averaging 24 points and 10 rebounds in three ACC games this season and two of those games came against Louisville and Duke.

2. J.J. Avila, Colorado State

In the Rams’ 92-87 win at Air Force the senior forward accounted for 28 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

3. Marvelle Harris, Fresno State

Harris scored 40 points in the Bulldogs’ 69-66 win at Nevada, shooting 14-for-23 from the field. His teammates combined to shoot 8-for-34.

4. Rico Gathers, Baylor

17 points and 18 rebounds (ten offensive) in Baylor’s 66-59 overtime win at TCU.

STRUGGLED

1. Pitt’s shooting

Pitt lost an ACC home contest to Clemson in a very bad loss for a mediocre team. The Panthers only committed three turnovers on the offensive end but shot 39 percent (21-for-53) from the field and 30 percent (4-for-13) from 3-point range.

2. Kentucky’s Harrison twins

The Wildcats won, beating Texas A&M 70-64 in double overtime, but they’re going to need more production from their starting guards than they received today (5-for-30 FG combined).

3. Jesse Morgan, Temple

With Will Cummings injured during the second half, the UMass transfer needed to step up if the Owls were to hang on against Tulsa. Morgan finished the game 1-for-17 from the field, and Tulsa was able to come back and win 63-56.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Melvin Johnson and Treveon Graham combined to score 39 points in No. 20 VCU’s 89-74 win over Saint Joseph’s.
  • No. 8 Villanova handed DePaul its first Big East loss Saturday, beating the Blue Demons 81-64 in Philadelphia.
  • Sterling Gibbs’ three-pointer with 2.1 seconds remaining was the difference as No. 19 Seton Hall won 68-67 at Creighton.
  • Jake Layman scored 14 points to help lead No. 11 Maryland to a 69-60 win at Purdue, bouncing back from a loss at Illinois on Wednesday.
  • Perry Ellis led a balanced effort with 15 points as No. 12 Kansas whipped Texas Tech, 86-54.
  • Rico Gathers scored 17 ponts and grabbed 18 rebounds in No. 21 Baylor’s 66-59 overtime win at TCU.
  • Bobby Portis accounted for 32 points and ten rebounds in No. 23 Arkansas’ 82-70 win over Vanderbilt.
  • No. 25 Old Dominion’s short stay in the Top 25 will likely come to an end Monday, as they fell 72-65 at Western Kentucky. George Fant led the Hilltoppers with 24 points and 13 rebounds.
  • Oklahoma State handed No. 10 Texas its second straight Big 12 loss, 69-58, with Phil Forte IV scoring a game-high 20 points.
  • Przemek Karnowski scored 18 points to lead four Bulldogs in double figures as No. 6 Gonzaga beat Santa Clara 79-57.
  • Abdel Nader scored 19 points off the bench as No. 17 Iowa State won 74-72 at No. 14 West Virginia.

NOTABLES

  • UConn’s now won five of its last six games, as they beat Cincinnati 62-56 in Hartford.
  • LaDontae Henton scored 19 points to help lead Providence to a 60-57 overtime win over Georgetown.
  • Kendall Knorr led four Navy starters in double figures with 17 points as the Midshipmen topped Army.
  • Vermont moved to 3-0 in America East play with a 71-57 win over Stony Brook, holding the Seawolves without a point over the final 4:09.
  • La Salle scored 19 of the game’s first 21 points in their 63-50 win over George Washington, and they held Kevin Larsen scoreless in doing so.
  • Tulsa moved to 3-0 in the American with a 63-56 win at Temple. This one turned when Temple senior guard Will Cummings went down with an injury during the second half, and the Golden Hurricane took advantage and erased an 11-point deficit.
  • Since starting the season 11-0 Washington’s lost four straight, the most recent of which being an 80-77 home loss to in-state rival Washington State. Ernie Kent’s Cougars are now 2-1 in Pac-12 play.
  • Northern Iowa beat Drake 64-40, limiting the Bulldogs to just 11 second-half points.
  • Incarnate Word and Northwestern State combined to score 204 points in their game, with the Demons winning 103-101. Incarnate Word’s Denzel Livingston scored 37 in a losing effort, with Jalan West (33 points) and Zikiteran Woodley (28) leading the way for Northwestern State.
  • Indiana State moved to 4-0 in Missouri Valley play with a 59-56 win at Southern Illinois.
  • Eli Carter scored 20 points in Florida’s 72-47 win over Mississippi State, and the Gators have now won 20 consecutive SEC regular season games.
  • Dayton’s now won six straight since they lost their two biggest players, with the Flyers winning 76-58 at Fordham.
  • Jordan Bell blocked eight shots in Oregon’s 59-56 win over Arizona State, establishing a new school record for blocks in a season with 56.
  • UC Davis moved to 12-3 on the season with a 73-67 overtime win over Long Beach State, their first over the 49ers since 2009. Corey Hawkins scored 28 and grabbed ten rebounds for the Aggies, with Mike Caffey countering with 29, six rebounds, five assists and five steals.

Race and Sports in America: Steph Curry, Charles Barkley on impact of George Floyd’s death, Black Lives Matter

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Stephen Curry and Charles Barkley were among the athletes that say down and spoke with NBC about the intersection of sports and race in America.

The Black Lives Matter movement reached a crescendo in late May, when a police officer knelt on the neck of a Minneapolis man named George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds, suffocating him while knowingly being recorded. The murder, which followed the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbary, set off weeks of riots and has led to two months of protest across the country and around the world.

Race and Sports in America: Conversations is a one-hour show with two segments that debuts on NBCSN on Monday, July 13 at 8 pm ET.

It will be simulcast on Golf Channel, Olympic Channel, and the regional sports networks. Along with Curry and Barkley, Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph, San Diego Chargers coach Anthony Lynn, golfer Troy Mullins, tennis player James Blake, former Saint Louis Cardinals shortstop Ozzie Smith and former Pittsburgh Steeler Jerome Bettis participated in the discussions.

Below, you can find an excerpt of Barkley and Curry discussing the way they are treated by white America as famous, Black athletes.


DAMON HACK:  It’s interesting.  You guys have all played at the highest level.  You’ve had people that would cheer for you when you were in uniform.  But if you were walking down the street and not wearing your uniform and you had a hoodie on, they might look at you a little bit different.

How do you navigate that?

CHARLES BARKLEY:  The notion that rich and famous Black people are treated like regular Black people, that’s not right.  We get treated great.  But I always worry about how we treat poor Black people.

You know, there’s a great thing  and Spike Lee, who I really admire and respect  in that movie, “Do The Right Thing,” that’s a perfect illustration what Ozzie is talking about, what I’m talking about, when the guy says, you know, you hate Black people.  He says, yeah, I hate Black people.  He says, who is your favorite entertainer.  He says Michael Jackson.  He says, who is your favorite jock.  He says, Michael Jordan.  He’s says, they’re Black.  And he said, well, they’re not “Black.”

And that’s the disadvantage that us four we’re at a disadvantage because White people treat us great.  And, like I say, I’m not worried about how they treat us because it really comes down to economics, too, at some point, because rich Black people aren’t treated like poor Black people.  And that’s the thing we’ve got to really engage conversation.

How can we get more Black people and poor White people also, but they’re in the same boat, give them economic opportunity.  That’s what America’s really got to grapple with.

STEPH CURRY:  I think one thing you said, too, is the preconceived notions of how they view rich, successful Black people as anomalies and our intelligence and our well spokenness, that’s always the first thing you hear.  If somebody knows how to be articulate, if they know how to

ALL:  So well spoken.

STEPH CURRY:  Come into a room  that’s the subtle racism and prejudice that kind of starts to add on itself.  And if another White person hears that comment, they’re going to think the same thing.  And it’s not going to trickle down to anybody else, and be able to create opportunities for somebody else to get that in that room and prove their value, prove their worth.

It’s just shifting perspectives and, again, holding everybody accountable whether it’s a private conversation, whether it’s a tweet, whether it’s a video.  Whatever it is, to do the right thing, no pun intended, but to see everybody as equal and that’s all we’re asking for.

Kara Lawson hired as new Duke head coach

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Duke announced on Saturday that Kara Lawson, a former Tennessee guard and ESPN commentator, has been hired as the new head coach of the school’s women’s basketball team.

Lawson, 39, had been an assistant coach with the Boston Celtics before accepting the job at Duke, where she will be replacing Joanne McCallie. McCallie announced earlier this month that she would not be returning to the program.

Lawson is the first Black head coach in the program’s history, the second Black head coach hired by an ACC school this offseason and the third Black woman coaching an ACC women’s team. In total, there are five Black head coaches in the league on the women’s side.

Zion’s attorneys: Court filing claiming $400K payment contains fraudulent information

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Attorneys representing Zion Williamson in a lawsuit filed by former his marketing agent Gina Ford have claimed that the allegations set forth in her latest court filing are “fraudulent” and “a desperate and irresponsible attempt to smear Mr. Williamson.”

Ford claimed to have obtain “newly-discovered evidence” regarding her lawsuit against Zion, specifically that the player and his stepfather accepted $400,000 from a marketing agent named Slavko Duric in October of 2018. Zion signed a contract with Ford and her company, Prime Sports Marketing, on April 20, 2019, five days after he declared for the NBA draft. Less than two months later, he backed out of that deal to sign with CAA, the most powerful agency in the business that will also be representing his basketball interests. Ford is suing Williamson for breach of contract.

The outcome of the case hinges on a law in the state of North Carolina known as UAAA — the Uniform Athlete Agent Act — that requires a contract to make it clear to a student-athlete that by signing with an agent, they forfeit their remaining eligibility. This marketing contract did not have that language in it, and Williamson’s lawyers are arguing that this made the contract itself invalid. Ford’s attorneys, on the other hand, are attempting to prove that Zion was actually ineligible at the time, meaning that he was not protected by UAAA, and this evidence is their latest attempt to do it.

Except, according to the attorneys representing Zion Williamson’s family, all of the evidence in the latest filing in this lawsuit is fake.

Included in the exhibits attached to the motion filed by Ford’s lawyers is a statement from a man named Donald Kreiss, who claims that he invested in a company owned by Duric called Maximum Management Group. MMG purportedly had an exclusive marketing agreement with Williamson, the proof being an agreement that was allegedly signed by Williamson, a letter of declaration to repay the $400,000 that was paid in 2018 and a copy of Zion’s driver’s license.

“The alleged ‘agreements’ and driver’s license attached to these papers are fraudulent,” read a statement from Jeffery Klein, Zion’s attorney and obtained by Daniel Wallach of The Athletic. “Neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealing with them. We had previously alerted Ms. Ford’s lawyers to both this fact and that we had previously reported the documents to law enforcement as forgeries, but they chose to go ahead with another frivolous filing anyway.”

Here is a photo, courtesy of Wallach’s twitter feed, of Zion’s license.

Via @WALLACHLegal

Speaking as someone that bartended on a college campus for a decade, I would not accept this ID. The ‘E’ at the end of LICENSE is not in bold. The last three digits of his zip code are a different font than the first two. There is no shadow behind his ears in the picture, which is the first thing I was taught to look for on an ID I thought was fake. Most conspicuous? His weight is listed as a height and his height is listed as a weight.

Furthermore, Zion’s attorneys claim that Duric is the same man that tried to run a similar scam on Luka Doncic.

“A simple Google search reveals that Slavko Duric, whose ostensible sports marketing entity has no online presence, purportedly attempted to defraud Luka Doncic … using a scheme in which he forged Doncic’s and his mother’s signatures on a contract,” read a letter, obtained by Wallach. that Williamson’s attorney sent to Ford’s attorney before the motion was filed.

The intrigue into Zion Williamson’s lawsuit is about smearing Duke basketball’s image

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This column was originally published on May 11th of 2020.

The public intrigue into Zion Williamson’s current lawsuit and legal battle has nothing to do with Zion Williamson himself and everything to do with smearing the glossy veneer of the Duke basketball program.

That’s the truth.

The numbers involved in this litigation — reportedly up to $200 million is at stake — will certainly raise some eyebrows, but contract disputes are rarely interesting for anyone that isn’t in law school. That’s what this is. Zion signed a contract with Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing on April 20, 2019, five days after he declared for the NBA draft. Less than two months later, he backed out of that deal to sign with CAA, the most powerful agency in the business that will also be representing his basketball interests. Ford is suing Williamson for breach of contract.

The outcome of this civil case is going to hinge on a law in the state of North Carolina known as UAAA — the Uniform Athlete Agent Act — that requires a contract to make it clear to a student-athlete that by signing with an agent, they forfeit their remaining eligibility. This marketing contract did not have that language in it, and Williamson’s lawyers will argue that this made the contract itself invalid.

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(And no, I don’t, for a second, think that Zion was ever returning to Duke. Neither does Ford, or anyone with any common sense. It’s why I wrote this “column” last May, when the rumors of Zion returning to school started rolling through the basketball world. That said, if I was a cynic, I would take a close look at that timeline. Rumors of Zion returning to school just happened to start circulating right around the time that he was trying to find a way out of a marketing contract to sign with a bigger agency? Hmm. Interesting. But I’m not a cynic, so I certainly won’t suggest that it was nothing other than a well-orchestrated PR ploy knowing that this would inevitably end up in the court system one day. Wouldn’t dream of insinuating anything like it.)

Which brings us to Mother’s Day.

That’s when Daniel Wallach of The Athletic first published snippets of the latest Zion Williamson lawsuit that was filed by Ford and her attorneys. Among them were requests for admission that Zion and his family received all kinds of money, benefits and gifts to play at Duke and to induce him to wear Nike and Adidas at different points during his high school career. The legal ploy is simple, really: If Zion or his parents are forced, under oath, to admit that they accepted illegal benefits at any point during his recruitment or while on the roster at Duke, it would mean that he was retroactively ineligible. If he was actually ineligible during his one season in Durham, then the UAAA wouldn’t be relevant. The contract, which, according to Ford’s lawsuit, could only be terminated with cause, would stand and Zion would be on the hook for a lot of money.

At this point, it does not appear that there is much evidence proving that Zion accepted illegal benefits. When asked by Dana O’Neil of The Athletic if they have any proof of wrongdoing, Ford’s attorney said, “We have ideas, opinions and some leads of our own. We are looking for information to support our case. This is what we want to know.” Requests for admission are, essentially, fact-finding missions during discovery in civil cases. Put another way, at this point, these requests are nothing more than proof that Ford’s lawyers have heard the same rumors and read the same court docs that people in basketball circles and on college basketball message boards have.

But no one actually cares about the legalese here, because if they did, they’d realize that Zion is under no obligation to answer, and even if he is somehow forced to, nothing will come of this for a long, long time.

The people that care this case care about catching Coach K in a lie. They care about proving that the holier-than-thou way that Duke carries itself is fraudulent. They care about finding a way to get something — anything — to stick to the program that recruits better than anyone else in an era where recruiting is the Wild, Wild West.

Do you remember when Lance Thomas dropped $30,000 in cash as a down payment for $67,800 in jewelry a year before Thomas and Duke won the 2010 national title? Nothing came of it. Remember when Corey Maggette admitted to receiving payments from Myron Piggie before becoming a member of the team that made it to the 1999 national title game? Nothing came of that, either. Nothing happened when Wendell Carter’s name popped up on expense reports submitted by Christian Dawkins. Nothing happened when Michael Avenatti alleged that Nike paid Marvin Bagley’s family.

All told, there are 13 high-major programs that are dealing with the fallout from the FBI’s investigation into college basketball: Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Creighton, Kansas, Louisville, LSU, Memphis, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, South Carolina, TCU and USC.

Duke, despite a cloud of smoke surrounding Zion that would make Seth Rogen envious, has been hit with … nada.

The public is looking for their pound of flesh, and nothing would satiate that bloodlust quite like an admission from Zion Williamson in this lawsuit that he was paid to go to Duke.

Ivy League calls off fall sports due to outbreak

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The Ivy League on Wednesday became the first Division I conference to say it will not play sports this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic, a person with knowledge of the decision told The Associated Press. The league left open the possibility of moving some seasons to the spring if the outbreak is better controlled by then.

The decision was described to the AP by a person speaking on the condition of anonymity in advance of the official announcement.

Although the coalition of eight academically elite schools does not grant athletic scholarships or compete for an NCAA football championship, the move could have ripple effects throughout the big business of college sports. Football players in the Power Five conferences have already begun workouts for a season that starts on Aug. 29, even as their schools weigh whether to open their campuses to students or continue classes remotely.

The Ivy decision affects not just football but everything before Jan. 1, including soccer, field hockey, volleyball and cross country, as well as the nonconference portion of the basketball season.

Power Five conferences told The Associated Press on Wednesday that they were still considering their options. But it was the Ivy League’s March 10 decision to scuttle its postseason basketball tournament that preceded a cascade of cancellations that eventually enveloped all major college and professional sports.

“What’s happening in other conferences is clearly a reflection of what’s happening nationally and any decisions are made within that context,” said Dr. Chris Kratochvil, the chair of the Big Ten’s infectious disease task force, adding that there is no “hard deadline” for a decision.

“Clearly, regardless of what happens in the fall, sports are coming back eventually,” he said. “So we want to make sure that whenever that time (is) right to return to competition, that we have the infrastructure and the recommendations in place to be able to do so safely for the student-athletes, staff, coaches, fans, students.”

Ivy League schools are spread across seven Northeastern states that, as of mid-July, have seen some success at controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. But most of those states still ban large gatherings; under the Massachusetts reopening plan, Harvard would not be allowed to have fans in the stands until a vaccine is developed.

Harvard has already announced that all classes for both semesters will be held virtually; dorms will be open only to freshmen and seniors. Yale said it would limit its dorms to 60% capacity and said most classes would be conducted remotely. Princeton will also do most of its teaching online, with dorms at half capacity.