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No. 6 West Virginia frustrates Trae Young, beats No. 7 Oklahoma


For the first time in his college basketball career, Trae Young had a bad game.

And it was Press Virginia that figured out how to make that happen.

The No. 6 Mountaineers got 17 points, 10 assists and seven boards from Jevon Carter and 20 points from Teddy Allen as they spent 40 minutes flustering and frustrating college basketball’s must-see TV attraction, taking a 89-76 win over No. 7 Oklahoma to the bank. Sagana Konate added 16 points, 13 boards and five blocks.

Young finished with 29 points and five assists, but it was far from his most efficient game. The dynamic freshman turned the ball over eight times. He shot just 8-for-22 from the floor. He missed free throws. He failed to finish layups he typically makes.

It was, quite frankly, exactly what we all expected to see happen heading into Morgantown.

We’ll get into that, and more, as we discuss the three things we learned from this game:


The Mountaineer game-plan was so simple: Do everything they possibly can to make life miserable for Trae Young. They double-teamed him after made shots and then face-guarded him as soon as they ball was inbounded to someone else. They harassed him when he did get his hands on the ball, rotating defenders on him and daring officials to call a foul on every possession. If the referees did, it didn’t matter. West Virginia has more than enough bodies: Jevon Carter, Daxter Miles, James Bolden. Hell, even 6-foot-7 Lamont West had a few possessions guarding Young.

That was frustrating enough for Young, but the gamesmenship didn’t end when the whistle blew. West Virginia did everything they could to get into his head. An extra bump here, a little shove there, holding onto his arm after the play was blown dead, standing in Young’s way as he tried to walk to his bench or his teammates.

It worked.

Young was demonstrably and visibly frustrated for much of the game. You could see it in his body language. You could see it in the conversations that he had with referees during deadballs. Hell, you could see it in the way he reacted to every missed layup and missed free throw.

Young still finished with 29 points and five assists, but he was 8-for-22 from the floor with eight turnovers. It was far from his best game, but it’s something that he is going to have to mentally prepare himself for.

Because this isn’t going to stop.

West Virginia provided the blueprint for how to slow him down, but I’m not convinced that the rest of the conference – save for Texas Tech – can do what the Mountaineers did as well as the Mountaineers did. Bob Huggins recruits players specifically for this system and those players then spend years developing within that system. You don’t learn to do what West Virginia did with two practices in the middle of conference plays.

But that sure won’t stop teams from trying, which is why …


West Virginia was more than happy to essentially play 4-on-4 in the half court on Saturday night because they knew that the likes of Brady Manek, Christian James and Kameron McGusty are made so much better by what Young can set up for them. For me, the question that will determine Oklahoma’s ceiling this season is going to be how the rest of this team reacts to these situations.

Can the Sooners not named Young make defenses pay for selling out to stop their star point guard?


As basketball continues to embrace the use of analytics and efficiency metrics, the three-ball is becoming more and more relevant. Between the spacing that shooting provides and the simple fact that shooting threes at 34 percent is more efficient than shooting 50 percent from three, we’re never going to see this go the other way.

Unless, of course, you are a pressing team.

The logic is pretty basic. Pressing teams are at their most effective when the ball goes through the basket, when they can set up their defense after a made shot. That’s how they build momentum. That’s how they wear opponents down. And, as a result, it becomes more important for West Virginia to shoot the highest percentage that they can as opposed to shooting the most efficient shot that they can. Put another way, it’s better for West Virginia to make 50 percent of their twos than it is 34 percent of their threes because they can get into their press on 16 percent more of their possessions.

Enter Teddy Allen, whose is known as Teddy Buckets. A freshman forward that comes off the bench for the Mountaineers, Allen had 20 points on 9-for-11 shooting. He had 22 points at Kansas State on Monday night. He finished with 15 points in the Big 12 opener at Oklahoma State. Combine Teddy Buckets with the looming return of Esa Ahmad, West Virginia’s second-leading scorer last season and their best interior scorer, and suddenly the Mountaineers are a team that are much more balanced on the offensive end of the floor.

And they’re already a top ten team that may be the best in the Big 12.

Former Penn coach allegedly took bribes from potential recruit’s father

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Former Penn head coach Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes from a Miami businessman who wanted his son to get into the school as a “recruited basketball player” — increasing his chances to gain entry to the Ivy League school.

According to a report from Bloomberg’s Michael Smith, David Voreacos and Eben Novy-Williams, Allen was involved with Miami businessman Philip Esformes, who had a son, Morris, who was allegedly recruited by several Ivy League schools. When Philip Esformes was accused of health-care fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and bribery, the government uncovered more than $74,000 in gifts that Esformes gave to Allen in 2013 and 2014.

Allen is identified strictly as “Coach-2” in the indictment that alleges that he took multiple cash payments, paid trips from Philadelphia to Miami, and a private jet trip that included Allen, Esformes and his son. The benefits are alleged to be $74,558 — including three separate wired payments of $15,000, $20,000 and $18,000 to Allen from Esformes.

These alleged incidents took place in 2013 and 2014, when Allen was still head coach at Penn and Morris Esformes was a high school basketball player trying to make it to the Division I level. Esformes was eventually granted admission to Penn as he was allegedly going to be on the basketball team. But Allen was fired before Esformes enrolled at the school. So Esformes went to school at Penn, but he never played for the basketball team. Esformes is currently still a senior at Penn.

Allen has been an assistant coach under Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics since leaving Penn in 2015. He hasn’t been criminally charged for any of these alleged benefits while the NCAA also hasn’t been involved with anything yet.

But this is yet another black eye on college basketball — and this time coming from a prestigious Ivy League institution. It shows that cheating and using leverage happens at all levels of Division I college basketball. Lately, the schools have been paying to get players. This shows there are instances of wealthy people attempting to gain influence through athletics.

This case at Penn is certainly a rare one. Esformes tried to exploit a loophole that would allow his son entry into a great school under the guise that he was a potential Division I-caliber basketball player. And Morris Esformes did end up at Penn — and seems to be doing well. So, this didn’t end poorly for Morris or Allen.

Since Allen is coaching at the NBA level, this likely won’t alter his coaching career, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NCAA get involved with Penn and Allen going forward.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”