Jeff Eisenberg

  • Barrage of late threes rallies Duke to improbable win at Virginia

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 6 hrs ago

    Everything suggested Duke was in big trouble at Virginia on Saturday night, yet the Blue Devils somehow found a way to stay afloat in the ACC title race.

    In a show of resilience that won't soon be forgotten in Durham, Duke handed last year's ACC champ Virginia its first loss of the season despite trailing by double figures midway through the second half  and by five with three minutes to go. The fourth-ranked Blue Devils scored the final 11 points to emerge with a 69-63 victory in a game that they hadn't led since the opening two minutes of the second half.

    The key to Duke's comeback was its outside shooters catching fire after the Blue Devils missed their first nine threes of the game. Fifteen of Duke's final 19 points came on shots from behind the arc including the go-ahead 3-pointer from Quinn Cook with 1:20 remaining and the game-clinching dagger from Tyus Jones just over a minute later.

    That Duke found a way to win without a big night from Okafor ensures the Blue Devils will still be a factor in the ACC title race.

    Still, this was a game that Duke won, not one that Virginia gave away.

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  • Northern Iowa serves notice the Valley isn't a one-team league

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 8 hrs ago

    At the end of a phone conversation with Ben Jacobson earlier this month, the Northern Iowa coach made a plea on behalf of star forward Seth Tuttle. 

    "He deserves more attention than he's getting," Jacobson said. "Boy, he does a lot for us. He's one of the most versatile guys in the country."

    Neither Tuttle nor his team will fly under the radar much longer after what they accomplished Saturday in Northern Iowa's most high-profile game of the season. Tuttle scored a career-high 29 points to lead the Panthers to a decisive 70-54 victory over a Wichita State team that had won 27 consecutive league games prior to its visit to Cedar Falls.

    Northern Iowa's victory served notice that Wichita State won't romp to the Valley title the way it did during last year's undefeated season. The 18th-ranked Panthers (20-2, 9-1) and 12th-ranked Shockers (19-3, 9-1) are now tied atop the Valley standings with a potential winner-take-all return match set to take place in Wichita on the final Saturday of conference play.

    Northern Iowa's formula for success was on full display Saturday afternoon in front of a full-throated crowd in Cedar Falls.

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  • Briante Weber suffers torn ACL in VCU's loss to Richmond

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 10 hrs ago

    Falling at home against its city rival wasn't the biggest loss 14th-ranked VCU suffered Saturday afternoon.

    Much more worrisome is that the Rams have lost their senior point guard in the process. 

    A postgame MRI confirmed Briante Weber suffered a torn ACL late in the second half of VCU's 64-55 loss when his right knee buckled as he jump stopped in the lane. The 6-foot-2 senior needed help off the floor and returned from the locker room on crutches for the final few minutes of the game.

    Losing Weber is a huge blow to a VCU team that relies on his distributing ability on offense and his ball-hawking instincts defensively. Weber, the engine for VCU's swarming full-court pressure defense, leads the nation at 3.8 steals per game and was just 12 steals away from breaking the NCAA career steals record prior to his injury. 

    Weber's play has been a huge reason VCU entered Saturday's game with a 17-3 overall record and a two-game lead in the loss column in Atlantic 10 play. His value was on display Saturday even in a losing effort as he posted 11 points and six steals before getting hurt.

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  • Trevor Lacey saves NC State with buzzer-beating three

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 11 hrs ago

    Having already dropped three straight including a maddening home loss against Clemson three days earlier, North Carolina State could not afford to stumble once more against another ACC bottom feeder on Sunday afternoon.

    The Wolfpack barely avoided that fate thanks to late-game heroics from wing Trevor Lacey.

    Two missed free throws from Georgia Tech's Quinton Stephens with 4.9 seconds left in overtime gave NC State life entering its final possession. Lacey then pushed the ball up court, pulled up from behind the top of the key and buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolfpack a much-needed 81-80 victory over the ACC's last-place team.

    NC State only managed to force overtime when it benefited from a questionable call in the final seconds of regulation. Marcus Georges-Hunt attacked the rim from the left wing and drew contact with the score tied and just a few ticks left on the clock, but referees ruled that NC State's BeeJay Anya had drawn a charge even though he did not appear to have his feet set.

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  • Bruce Pearl receives warm reception in return to Tennessee

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 13 hrs ago

    On the eve of his first game in Knoxville as the visiting coach, Bruce Pearl offered this prediction to the Knoxville News-Sentinel on how he'd be received by Tennessee fans.

    "Some will be booing and some will be Bru-ing,” he said. “I do not know which one it will be."

    Turns out Pearl sold himself short because his reception from the Tennessee crowd on Saturday afternoon was almost entirely favorable. Vols fans either chanted "Bruuuuce" or stood and applauded when Pearl was introduced, though those in the building said the cheers current Tennessee coach Donnie Tyndall received were louder.

    Pearl was businesslike on the sideline during Tennessee's 71-63 win, but it was clear the nostalgia factor affected him beforehand.

    Bruce Pearl takes a moment of reflection while being announced here. pic.twitter.com/YSsslm6vsR

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  • Buffalo's mop guy nearly gets mowed down by a fast break

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 16 hrs ago

    Only at a college basketball game is mopping the floor an act of bravery.

    You either must possess a keen sense of timing or quick enough reflexes to make up for it.

    The poor guy in the above video found that out the hard way Friday night when he ventured onto the court to clean up a wet spot and soon found himself in jeopardy of getting trampled. Buffalo guard Rodell Wigginton stole the ball at mid-court from Kent State's Derek Jackson and barreled down court for an uncontested dunk, sending the mop guy scrambling to avoid getting run over.

    Thankfully for all involved, a collision was averted. Plus the mop guy got more airtime on ESPNU than he probably had expected.

    (Thanks for the video, Hustle Belt)

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    Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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  • What to watch this weekend: Duke-Virginia highlights strong slate

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Football isn't the only thing to watch this weekend. The clash between desperate Duke and unbeaten Virginia highlights a strong slate of college hoops that also includes a first-place showdown in the Valley and another matchup of ACC contenders:

    Other notable games to watch:

    Auburn at Tennessee (Saturday, 12 p.m. EST): Bruce Pearl's return to Knoxville would have been a big story no matter what, but it's more momentous because of the NCAA trouble that has engulfed current Vols coach Donnie Tyndall. Tennessee will have to decide this offseason if it's concerned enough about what happened under Tyndall's watch at Southern Miss to make yet another coaching change.

    Arkansas at Florida (Saturday, 1 p.m.): An Arkansas team team that has won three straight games by five or fewer points meets a hard-luck Florida team that has lost six games by six or fewer points. At 11-9 overall and 4-3 in the SEC, the Gators have little margin for error if they hope to get back into NCAA tournament contention.

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  • UMass guard Trey Davis 'OK' after being flattened by a screen

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The hardest hit of the week may not come on Super Sunday.

    UMass guard Trey Davis endured a bone-rattling collision Thursday night rivaling anything the Seahawks or Patriots will unleash on one-another in Arizona.

    A Dayton player blindsided Davis with a crushing screen as he was running full speed in pursuit of Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith late in UMass' 66-64 victory. The screen flattened Davis and left him writhing on the ground for several minutes, though it appears he escaped serious injury. 

    "He's OK," UMass coach Derrick Kellogg told reporters in Amherst after the game. "Well, he says he's OK. We'll see how he is for Saturday."

    UMass students were livid that referees did not assess a foul on Dayton, but they probably should have saved their derogatory chants for the four Minutemen on the floor who failed to call out the screen. Replays showed the screener did not move and the pick was hard but legal.

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  • Dismissing Rasheed Sulaimon further weakens Duke's defense

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Already in jeopardy of falling out of ACC title contention before Valentine's Day, Duke also lost a key member of its rotation Thursday.

    Coach Mike Krzyzewski announced he has dismissed guard Rasheed Sulaimon from the program for being "unable to consistently live up to the standards required to be a member of our program." Sulaimon remains in good academic standing at Duke and is expected to finish the spring semester.

    “It is a privilege to represent Duke University and with that privilege comes the responsibility to conduct oneself in a certain manner," Krzyzewski said in a strongly worded statement. "After Rasheed repeatedly struggled to meet the necessary obligations, it became apparent that it was time to dismiss him from the program.”

    The abrupt dismissal of Sulaimon ends the Duke career of a player whose freshman season portended so much promise but whose ensuing two seasons with the Blue Devils proved to be a letdown. Sulaimon averaged 11.6 points and 3.4 rebounds per game as a freshman, but his playing time and production diminished as other talented wings eclipsed him in Duke's rotation.

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  • Inbound pass off foe's backside sets up game-winning layup

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Instead of running whatever Lafayette women's coach Dianne Nolan drew up in the huddle Wednesday night with the score tied and 25 seconds to play, junior Jamie O'Hare took the risk of freelancing.

    O'Hare noticed the Colgate player guarding the inbound pass had her back turned, so she threw the ball off the defender's butt, hopped onto the court and scored a reverse layup that turned out to be the winning basket in her team's 58-56 victory. 

    "I've done it before, but not to win a game," O'Hare told the Allentown Morning Call. "It was pretty risky, but I couldn't help myself."

    The daring play from O'Hare indeed occurs from time to time in college basketball, but seldom does a player have the guts to try it with the game on the line in the final minute. O'Hare executed her attempt perfectly, though she cut it close as to whether she fully reestablished herself inbounds before securing possession of the ball in order to lay it in. 

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