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Rick Pitino responds to Calipari’s comments on NCAA investigations

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Last week Kentucky head coach John Calipari raised some eyebrows with his comments on a podcast hosted by Mike Lupica. During his appearance on the show Calipari alluded to the NCAA investigations at Louisville and North Carolina, stating that “if it happens on your campus, and it happens with your assistants and those people, you probably have a pretty good idea of what’s going on.”

Now Calipari didn’t refer to either Louisville’s Rick Pitino or North Carolina’s Roy Williams directly, but it wasn’t too hard to figure out the cases he was referring to in his comments. He also remarked on the NCAA’s enforcement of its rules, and the idea that some believe the governing body practices selective enforcement with the more powerful programs getting away with more.

Monday afternoon Pitino issued his reply to Calipari’s comments during his media availability at Louisville.

“Whether it’s Duke last month or us this month, these type of comments – we’re here to build up the image of college basketball, not tear people down,” Pitino said, making a reference to Calipari’s recruiting manifesto that many believed was a shot at Duke and its recruiting tactics.

“I don’t live in a glass house, and I don’t throw stones.”

Throughout the still ongoing NCAA investigation into the Katina Powell scandal that led to Louisville self-imposing a postseason ban, Pitino has stated that he personally knew nothing about the events that took place. Some may believe that while others remain skeptical

Per the Louisville Courier-Journal, Pitino also stated that he would look to see what Calipari meant by his comments should the two see each other at some point this summer. And with the two programs recruiting many of the nation’s top prospects, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they don’t cross paths when recruiting reopens next month.

As investigations continue, Louisville’s Pitino looks ahead

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Rick Pitino raved about Louisville’s potential next season, suggesting Tuesday that the Cardinals’ length and speed mirrors the strengths of the 1996 NCAA championship squad he coached at archrival Kentucky.

That’s high praise for a team that must replace its top three scorers, but it’s a way for the coach to try and move past a tumultuous season of scandal that engulfed his program.

Several investigations are ongoing into escort Katina Powell’s book allegations that former Louisville basketball staffer Andre McGee paid her and other strippers to perform for recruits and players from 2010-14. The school has self-imposed several penalties, including a postseason ban from last year’s NCAA Tournament and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits.

Pitino has been mum about whether the NCAA has interviewed him as part of its investigation. But he talked about the scandal in the past tense Tuesday as he discussed next season’s bright prospects.

“It still bothers me, I’m not going to lie to you,” Pitino said. “It bothers me when a trust is broken, and I still have sleepless nights thinking (why) you did something like this. …

“You put it behind you by getting encouraged and excited about this schedule, the team we have and the potential to be a contender for a championship next year.”

There is so much potential, that Pitino foresees Louisville being able to show the same strengths as that Kentucky team that earned one of his two titles as a coach.

The group has a major void to fill.

Sophomore center/forward Chinanu Onuaku is entering the NBA draft along with graduate transfers Trey Lewis and Damion Lee, a trio that combined for more than 37 points per game in helping the No. 16 Cardinals finish 23-8.

Despite the departures, Louisville returns plenty of size up front with 6-foot-10 senior Mangok Mathiang, who’s progressing from a season-ending foot injury. He’ll be joined by Anas Mahmoud and Matz Stockman, two 7-footers, and forwards Jaylen Johnson, Ray Spalding and Deng Adel – whom Pitino said he expects “big things” from.

“I’ve been toying all spring because I’ve had time on my hands with a style that would fit this team best,” Pitino said, “but we’re going to try to play just like that basketball team. (By) no means do I say we have that type of talent.

“But we have that type of length, that type of quickness, that type of athleticism, so we are going to play like that team.”

Pitino named Mathiang and junior guard Quentin Snider (9.4 points per game, team-high 109 assists) as co-captains of a team that also returns dynamic guard Donovan Mitchell.

Though Louisville’s self-imposed sanctions include eliminating one scholarship for 2017 and 2018, and 30 fewer days to recruit, Pitino said the investigation hasn’t hurt the school on the recruiting trail. The Cardinals will welcome their first high school All-American since 2011 in 6-7 guard/forward V.J. King and 6-3 guard Frankie Hughes.

“We haven’t had any resistance whatsoever and we’re off to a great start,” Pitino said of recruiting, adding that he’d like to surrender the scholarships for this year if possible.

With a challenging schedule featuring neighboring Indiana, Purdue along with its usual Atlantic Coast Conference docket and annual Bluegrass showdown against Kentucky, Pitino suggested that looking ahead was the only choice.

“We want to get everything behind us,” Pitino said. “It was a very difficult year emotionally, it was a very difficult year for all of us and we’d like to put every single thing behind us. Sometimes you cherish the past, and other times you’d like to forget the past.”

No. 4 Virginia clamps down on No. 11 Louisville

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In boxing there’s the old adage of “styles make fights,” with those styles either producing instant classics or absolute mismatches. When it comes to No. 4 Virginia and No. 11 Louisville this season, it was clear in their two meetings that the Cavaliers were a bad matchup for the Cardinals. Saturday night Tony Bennett’s team completed a sweep of the season series with a 68-46 win in Charlottesville, and it was Virginia’s seniors who led the way.

Malcolm Brogdon, who is seen by many as the favorite to earn ACC Player of the Year honors next week, scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and Anthony Gill added 15 points and four rebounds. But the senior star on this night was none other than Mike Tobey, who scored 15 points and corralled a staggering 20 rebounds on the night.

Tobey became the first Virginia player since Travis Watson in 2003 to grab at least 20 boards in a game, and his total was just eight fewer than Louisville tallied as a team. The rebounding number was just one aspect of this beating, a game in which Virginia controlled the action in all areas. Virginia committed 13 turnovers but shot 51.3 percent from the field, supplementing their scoring from the field with a 23-for-30 night from the foul line.

As for the defense, that was the biggest reason why Virginia is a bad matchup for Louisville. The Cavaliers limited the Cardinals to 27.6 percent shooting from the field, with Louisville getting just 14 attempts from the foul line (making ten). Gill’s ability as a defender in ball screens is well-known by this point, but he wasn’t the only Virginia big man who performed well.

Louisville’s guards were unable to turn the corner, and on many occasions the ball stayed on one side of the floor as a result. Quality shots were tough to come by, as one would expect when playing against Virginia’s pack line defense, and Louisville struggled mightily. In the first meeting, the Cardinals shot 32.7 percent from the field and had many of the same issues. Much was made of Virginia’s defense earlier this season and the underrated impact of Darion Atkins’ departure, and there was some work to be done when it came to how big men other than Gill defended in ball screen actions.

There were no such issues Saturday night, and as a result the Cavaliers will be the two-seed at next week’s ACC tournament. And if they can continue to defend at this level, Tony Bennett’s team will have a good shot at winning their second ACC tournament in the last three years.

SATURDAY’S SNACKS: No. 5 UNC makes statement, No. 14 Kentucky falls

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Texas A&M 79, No. 14 Kentucky 77 (OT)

Tyler Davis’ put-back of a Danuel House miss as time expired gave the Aggies the win in College Station. Jalen Jones scored 24 points for the Aggies, who benefitted from a technical foul called on Kentucky’s Isaac Humphries with 9.4 seconds remaining in overtime. While Kentucky may have a beef with that call, there’s another area that proved costly for them Saturday night. Tyler Ulis led the Wildcats with 22 points and 11 assists, and Jamal Murray added 21 points in a losing effort.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 5 North Carolina 96, No. 11 Miami 71: After losing to Duke earlier this week, the Tar Heels took care of business with a convincing home win as six players finished in double-figures. Brice Johnson led North Carolina with 16 points and 15 rebounds as the Tar Heels scored 54 points in the second half.

No. 18 Louisville 71, No. 20 Duke 64: The Blue Devils, playing without the injured Matt Jones, ran out of gas down the stretch as they lost at Louisville. Grayson Allen fouled out after scoring 29 points, but no other Duke player reached double figures with freshman Brandon Ingram (ten turnovers) going through his own struggles. Damion Lee scored 24 points and Deng Adel 12 for the victorious Cardinals.

BUBBLE BANTER: What do Saturday’s results mean for Selection Sunday?

No. 3 Oklahoma 76, No. 10 West Virginia 62: Buddy Hield scored 29 points for the Sooners, who completed a season sweep of the Mountaineers with a win in Morgantown. Oklahoma outscored West Virginia 24-10 over the final 7:49, and just as important as the offense was their play on the boards and on the defensive end of the floor.

No. 22 Indiana 77, No. 17 Purdue 73: Troy Williams scored 19 points and Yogi Ferrell 18 as the Hoosiers moved into first place in the Big Ten. A big key in this game was turnovers, as Purdue committed 13 with Indiana converting those mistakes into 20 points. The Boilermakers were good offensively when they didn’t turn the ball over, shooting nearly 59 percent from the field. However their comeback attempt fell short in Bloomington.

STARRED

Deonte Burton, Iowa State: With Jameel McKay not playing for an unspecified reason, Burton accounted for 23 points and 14 rebounds in the Cyclones’ win over TCU.

Josh Adams, Wyoming: Adams accounted for 37 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the Cowboys’ 84-66 win at Colorado State.

Michael Carrera, South Carolina: Carrera accounted for 20 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in the Gamecocks’ 73-69 overtime win over Florida.

Kevin Ferguson, Army West Point: Ferguson, who scored the game-winning basket, finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds in the Black Knights’ 80-78 win at Navy.

Patrick McCaw, UNLV: 25 points, 18 rebounds and five assists in the Runnin’ Rebels’ 102-91 overtime win over Nevada.

STRUGGLED

San Diego: The Toreros scored 11 points in the first half of what would become a 91-33 loss at BYU. USD shot 0-for-20 from three. This happened just two days after the Toreros lost to BYU by two points at home.

Brandon Ingram, Duke: Eight points on 3-for-10 shooting and ten turnovers in the Blue Devils’ loss at No. 18 Louisville.

Jevon Carter, West Virginia: Scored four points, shooting 1-for-10 from the field, in the Mountaineers’ 76-62 loss to No. 3 Oklahoma.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • No. 1 Villanova maintained its two-game lead in the Big East with a 77-67 win over Butler. Juniors Josh Hart (22 points, 12 rebounds) and Kris Jenkins (20 points) led the way for the Wildcats, who visit No. 8 Xavier Wednesday night.
  • No. 2 Kansas won at Kansas State, beating the Wildcats 72-63. Frank Mason led three Jayhawks in double figures with 16 points.
  • No. 8 Xavier ran past Georgetown for a Big East road win as Edmond Sumner had 22 points.
  • No. 13 Iowa State held off TCU 92-83, with four players scoring 90 of their points. Georges Niang finished with 27 points, with Abdel Nader adding 24, Deonte Burton 23 and Matt Thomas 16.
  • With the Bonnies fighting for a potential at-large bid, St. Bonaventure picked up a huge 79-72 win at No. 15 Dayton. Jaylen Adams had 31 points and Dion Wright had 15 points and eight rebounds.
  • Tyler Dorsey scored 25 points as No. 16 Oregon beat Oregon State 91-81. The Ducks led by 23 at the half as they rebounded from getting swept in the Bay Area last weekend.
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt’s shot with one second remaining gave Georgia Tech a 63-62 win over No. 19 Notre Dame in Atlanta. Georges-Hunt finished with 19 points and seven assists.
  • No. 25 Baylor went to Austin and dominated the action in their 78-64 win over No. 24 Texas. Johnathan Motley shot 12-for-13 on the day, scoring a game-high 24 points.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • South Carolina outlasted Florida in overtime for an SEC win as Michael Carrera had 20 points and 15 rebounds.
  • Vanderbilt had a solid win over Georgia at home to bounce back from the Mississippi State loss. Damian Jones had 15 points and 16 rebounds.
  • South Florida picked up its first conference home win of the season by beating Memphis. Nehemias Morillo led the way with 19 points for the Bulls.
  • Winthrop broke a tie for first-place in the Big South with an 81-80 win over UNC Asheville as Jimmy Gavin had 26 points.
  • Jack Gibbs scored 35 points as Davidson beat Saint Joseph’s 99-93. Isaiah Miles led the Hawks, who are now a game out of first in the Atlantic 10, with 32 points.
  • Pittsburgh completed a season sweep of Syracuse, beating the Orange 66-52 at the Carrier Dome. Jamie Dixon is now 7-2 in his coaching career at the Carrier Dome.
  • Two SEC teams did themselves no favors with regards to the bubble, as Alabama lost at home to Mississippi State and LSU was whipped by 16 at Tennessee.
  • IPFW (11-3) retained its one-game lead in the Summit League with a 94-90 win over Omaha. South Dakota State kept pace with an 87-67 win at Western Illinois.
  • UNCW moved to 13-3 in the CAA with a 59-55 overtime win at Charleston. The Seahawks lead Hofstra (11-4) by a game in the loss column, with the Pride scheduled to visit UNCW next Thursday.
  • Chattanooga’s at-large hopes took a significant hit, as they lost 79-64 at home to UNC Greensboro. RJ White led the Spartans with a game-high 26 points, and Chattanooga shot just 6-for-29 from three.
  • Belmont (12-3) earned at least a share of the OVC regular season title with a 95-86 win over Tennessee Tech (10-4). Evan Bradds led five Bruins in double figures with 21 points while also grabbing 13 rebounds.
  • With star big man Joel Bolomboy playing just seven minutes, Weber State held off Northern Arizona 77-74 in Flagstaff. Jeremy Senglin scored 22 points and Kyndahl Hill 19 for the Wildcats.
  • Washington snapped its four-game losing streak with a 64-53 win over Stanford. Dejounte Murray led the Huskies with 25 points and nine rebounds.
  • Saint Mary’s moved into a tie for first in the WCC with a 63-58 win at Gonzaga. The Gaels swept the season series, and it could be a case where both teams get to the conference tournament needing the auto bid to go dancing.
  • UNLV pulled away from Nevada in overtime, winning 102-91 after Marqueze Coleman (Nevada) and Patrick McCaw (UNLV) traded three-pointers in the final seconds of regulation. McCaw finished with 25 points, 18 rebounds and five assists, and Nevada’s Cameron Oliver racked up 14 points and 21 rebounds.
  • Hawai’i took a two-game lead in the Big West with a 75-71 comeback win at UC Irvine. Aaron Valdes’ three-pointer with 40.1 seconds remaining gave the Rainbow Warriors their first lead of the game, and they’ve swept the season series with the Anteaters.

No. 19 Louisville rolls past Boston College 79-47

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Trey Lewis scored 16 points and Deng Adel added 13 as No. 19 Louisville routed Boston College 79-47 on Saturday, a day after the school imposed a postseason ban for recruiting violations.

The Cardinals (19-4, 8-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) followed up Monday’s upset of No. 2 North Carolina with a lopsided win despite uneven stretches. The absence of leading scorer Damion Lee (bruised knee) impacted their rotation, but plenty of teammates stepped up to fill the void in an emotional game.

Several baskets by Lewis midway through the second half help spark a 10-0 run that got Louisville back out to a comfortable lead en route to keeping the Eagles (7-16, 0-10) winless in league play.

Donovan Mitchell added 10 points, Quentin Snider and Jaylen Johnson each had nine and Chinanu Onuaku added eight with 13 rebounds.

Sammy Barnes-Thompkins scored 11 points for Boston College before fouling out.

Even with their top scorer on the bench in street clothes, the Cardinals got the dominant win they wanted one day after an announcement by Louisville’s president that the team would not play in either the ACC or NCAA tournaments. President James Ramsey said an investigation revealed that violations did occur when the school reviewed allegations by escort Katina Powell that former staffer Andre McGee paid her and other dancers to strip and have sex with recruits and players.

Lee and Lewis – graduate transfers who came to Louisville with hopes of playing in the tournament – said the team wanted to make the most of its nine remaining games with a focus on holding serve at home. Other than a few lapses that allowed Boston College to get within single digits, the Cardinals used most of their bench to that end.

The Cardinals made 16 of 26 from the field after intermission to finish at 51 percent. They controlled the paint 44-20 and out-rebounded Boston College 38-30.

Louisville’s reserves outscored the Eagles 24-12, chipping in some key points for a 32-14 lead at the break despite 42 percent shooting. Johnson’s seven points led nine Cardinal scorers and featured a 3-pointer by reserve David Levitch late in the half.

Boston College meanwhile started 1 of 7 from the field and shot just 30 percent in a first half, which included 11 turnovers leading to 12 Louisville points. Those struggles made it easy for the Cardinals to mount a 17-0 run over 4:05 for a 19-2 lead and an advantage that reached 19.

The Eagles showed some life early in the second half with five straight baskets to get within 37-28 and create some uneasiness before Lewis took charge.

TIP-INS

Boston College: Dennis Clifford added nine points for the Eagles, who shot 39 percent. … Saturday’s game ended a three-game road stretch against ranked teams.

Louisville: The Cardinals’ 1956 NIT Championship team was honored in a halftime ceremony that featured several members. … Louisville took a 4-3 lead in the series and remained unbeaten at home against BC.

UP NEXT:

Boston College: Hosts No. 2 North Carolina on Tuesday.

Louisville: Visits Duke on Monday.

Louisville self-imposes postseason ban as part of NCAA investigation

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Friday afternoon news dumps are rarely positive, and that was the case for the Louisville basketball program.

A source confirmed to NBC Sports that as part of the ongoing NCAA investigation into allegations levied by former escort Katina Powell, the school has declared the men’s basketball team ineligible for postseason play this season. The investigation has yet to be completed, and the NCAA has yet to send Louisville an official Notice of Allegations, but the school has decided to take this preemptive step.

During a press conference in which the school made the news official, head coach Rick Pitino noted that “speaking to the team and watch the players cry” was one of the hardest things he’s had to deal with in his coaching career. The players hurt the most for Damion Lee and Trey Lewis, grad students who transferred to Louisville in hopes of experiencing the NCAA tournament. 

This is the second consecutive season in which an ACC team has self-imposed a postseason ban in the middle of the year, with Syracuse doing so in 2014-15. In regards to this season, Louisville joins Missouri, Pacific, Southern Miss and SMU as programs that have announced postseason bans for their programs.

The Cardinals are currently ranked 19th in the AP Poll, with an overall record of 18-4 with a 7-2 record in ACC play. Considered a lock for the NCAA tournament, Louisville is also in position to win the ACC regular season title after handing No. 2 North Carolina its first loss of the season Monday night.

Now, that’s the only honor a team led by two players in Lee and Lewis who transferred to Louisville in hopes of competing for a national title can aim for.

News of the self-imposed sanction was first reported by Kentucky Sports Radio.