Saturday’s Things To Know: The Big East is drunk, SDSU is undefeated, LSU’s awesome?

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It was another wild Saturday in college basketball, and since we know that you couldn’t sit in front of a TV and watch every game like we did, we have you covered.

Here are the ten things that you need to know after Saturday’s action.


Xavier jumped out to a 30-6 lead on No. 10 Seton Hall within the first 12 minutes on Saturday. What does this mean for Xavier’s bubble chances? Should we be overly concerned about Seton Hall now? I have all the answers, and they’re in this column.


Denzel Mahoney scored 21 points off the bench while Ty-shon Alexander and Mitchell Ballock combined to shoot 9-for-13 from three as Creighton went into the Wells Fargo Center and jumped all over No. 10 Villanova, 76-61. They were up 31-14 before Villanova woke up and the Wildcats never got closer than three the rest of the way.

There’s a lot to digest from this game, the most important point being that Villanova missed on a golden opportunity to draw even with Seton Hall atop the Big East regular season standings. That is going to sting.

But the bigger story here is that Creighton proved just how dangerous they can be. Creighton has, historically, had quite a bit of success against Villanova because of the way that they want to play. The Bluejays can spread the floor and they can matchup with Villanova’s positionless style of play, and when their “bigs” — in this case, Mahoney — can win their matchup, the Bluejays become tough to beat.

This is proof of how dangerous they can be.


As if all of that wasn’t enough, No. 16 Butler — the third of three Big East ranked teams to play at home on Saturday — lost to Providence, 65-61. The Bulldogs have now lost four of their last six games and are now sitting three games out of first place in the Big East standings. Providence, on the other hand, is doing everything they can to try and play their way back onto the bubble. They still have quite a bit of work to do, but landing a road win against the best team in the conference is certainly a good place to start.


In what was perhaps the toughest test that they are going to face the rest of the season, the No. 4 Aztecs erased a 10-point second half deficit thanks to a 24 point second half explosion from Matt Mitchell in an 80-68 win over Utah State at home.

There’s still a chance that SDSU can take an odd loss on the road to someone in the league, but there really is no one in the conference that should be able to do that. What that means is that we are staring at an undefeated SDSU team heading into the NCAA tournament, and I am so here for that storyline. This season is bereft of the kind of stories that will get a casual fan locked into college hoops, and the chance for someone to go undefeated certainly would qualify.

They’re barely halfway there, so it’s too early to take any of this too seriously, but if you’re asking me if 40-0 is possible, I absolutely think it’s less than a pipe dream. The Aztecs can really, really guard and they have two guys — Mitchell and Malachi Flynn — that can completely take a game over and win it on their own.

This is a fun, and very good, team.


The Badgers had quite an eventful week. On Monday night, they blew a 12 point lead in the final seven minutes in a loss at Iowa. During that loss, starting guard Brad Davison was given a game-changing flagrant foul for hitting an Iowa player below the belt. Davison was eventually suspended for his conduct, and that suspension was announced by the Big Ten just hours after another starting guard, Kobe King, announced that he would be transferring out of the program.

Oh, and then on Saturday Wisconsin went out and beat up on No. 14 Michigan State in the Kohl Center.

That is quite the roller coaster ride.

Wisconsin needed this win for team morale if nothing else, but I’ll contend that Michigan State blew this game. Xavier Tillman finished 2-for-8 around the rim, and four of those misses were shots that he makes 90 percent of the time. And that doesn’t count the number of times that he dropped passes that would have been layups. The Spartans had Wisconsin’s lead down to three points twice during the second half. There was a three-minute stretch where the lead sat at 61-57 in the final minutes. As well as Wisconsin played early on, as impressive as it was that they built an 18-point lead, I left that game thinking Michigan State should have won.


Entering Saturday, this felt like it was going to be the battle to determine who the favorite to win the SEC would be, and while the Tigers left as the winner, it did not feel like much was settled.

Ashton Hagans and Nick Richards struggled. Auburn grabbed 17 offensive rebounds and got to the line 44 times. Auburn didn’t pull away until the final five minutes of the game. I’m not sure how anyone can walk away thinking either of those teams is definitively better than the other.

But you might be justified in thinking that neither of them are the best team in the SEC, because …


You may not have noticed since they have been flying under the radar, but No. 22 LSU improved to 17-4 on Saturday by knocking off Ole Miss, 73-63. The Tigers improved to 8-0 in the SEC and have now won 10 straight games overall, and they are doing all of this as the reigning SEC regular season champions. All told, Will Wade’s club is 45-11 in the last two seasons combined with a 24-2 mark in the SEC, which is incredibly impressive. As much has been written about John Calipari, Bruce Pearl and Rick Barnes, it’s inarguable that Will Wade has been the best coach in that conference during this stretch.

And the reason I say that is because of everything else that he has had to deal with. LSU has been right in the middle of the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college athletics. There are reports that Wade was caught on a wire-tap discussing a “strong-ass offer” to land Javonte Smart, a player currently on LSU’s roster. He lost Naz Reid and Tremont Waters this summer. He had a player murdered before the start of last season.

The people in that program have been through more than they should have to deal with, and through it all they haven’t stopped winning.

It’s time we gave them their due for it.


In one of the most powerful and unforgettable moments of the college basketball season to date, Tulsa’s Elijah Joiner hit a buzzer-beating, game-winning three to cap off a 22-point, five-assist performance as the Golden Hurricane knocked off No. 23 Wichita State, 54-51. What made the moment so special was that it was the first time Joiner’s father had seen him play in person, and he broke down in tears after the game because of it.

That was the most important part of what happened in Tulsa on Saturday.

But strictly from a basketball perspective, the best part of the day for Tulsa came when Cincinnati erased a 12 point second half deficit to knock off No. 21 Houston, because it meant that the Golden Hurricane moved into sole possession of first place in the American. Frank Haith is working miracles.


The North Carolina Tar Heels got their super star freshman point guard back from injury on Saturday.

He had a huge second half and scored 26 points at home against Boston College. The only problem? North Carolina happened to lose, 71-70, on a questionable foul call in the final minutes.

Looks like their hopes of getting onto the right side of the bubble have gone up in smoke.


The Cardinal were arguably the single biggest bubble winner on Saturday. We talk all about them, their resume and the resume of every other team in danger of missing the NCAA tournament right here.

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

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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

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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.