Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 7 hrs ago
DATE: Tuesday, Dec. 16
A — Luke Fischer
Indiana fans were surely cringing watching Luke Fischer's debut for Marquette. The skilled big man the Hoosiers lack is the one who transferred last December because he couldn't get much playing time behind Noah Vonleh.
Fischer made a terrific first impression at Marquette, posting 19 points, nine rebounds and five blocks to spark the Golden Eagles to a 78-71 victory over Arizona State on Tuesday night. The 6-foot-11 big man was most effective on the block, welcome news for a team that has relied almost exclusively on its perimeter weapons this season after losing Davante Gardner and Chris Otule to graduation last spring.
Marquette's victory improved it to 5-4 this season with only one loss against an unranked opponent. The Golden Eagles still have a long, long way to go to work themselves back into NCAA tournament contention, but they're certainly a much more dangerous team if Fischer can perform like he did Tuesday night with any consistency.
B — Wichita State
C+ — Champion Baptist
D- — Saint Mary's
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Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 15 hrs ago
If Alabama falls a quality win shy of making the NCAA tournament this March, the Tide will surely think back to the game they let slip away at Wichita State on Tuesday night.
They had the 11th-ranked Shockers all but beaten only to cough up an 11-point lead in the final five minutes and lose 53-52.
Wichita State's 13-1 surge started when it went to a full-court press to speed up the tempo and disrupt Alabama's offensive rhythm. The Tide missed four shots and committed four turnovers during the final 5:20, scoring their only point on a Levi Randolph free throw with 33 seconds to play.
Alabama's defense had been smothering enough that it seemed possible 51 points might be enough, but Wichita State finally generated some offense against the long, athletic Tide. Driving layups by Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker and a pair of floaters from Rashard Kelly fueled the Shockers' rally, paving the way for a dramatic finish.
The outcome of Tuesday's game could have significance in March.
Nonetheless, the roster the Shockers do have was good enough to win Tuesday in Dick Vitale's first trip to Wichita.
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Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 17 hrs ago
The most dramatic shot of Jordan Price's career also is probably one of the most bittersweet.
His running half-court heave at the buzzer sent La Salle's game against American to overtime Tuesday night, but the Explorers failed to take advantage and fell at home to the Eagles 68-66.
La Salle trailed by three points with 4.4 seconds to go when 90 percent free throw shooter Pee Wee Gardner missed his second foul shot to preserve hope of an Explorers comeback. Price then corralled the rebound, took four dribbles to shake free of Gardner and launched a shot from the mid-court circle that improbably found the bottom of the net.
While Price raised his arms and pointed to the crowd in celebration of completing La Salle's comeback from a 13-point halftime deficit, the Explorers did not finish the job. Price got trapped coming around a screen and committed a key turnover with La Salle down three late in overtime, enabling American to secure a win in a game in which four of its five starters logged all 45 minutes.
It was a remarkable day for Price in every respect except one: His performance didn't produce a La Salle victory.
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Even though Sunday's turnover-plagued, whistle-happy matchup between in-state foes West Virginia and Marshall didn't provide many memorable moments, the postgame banter between the two head coaches has more than made up for it.
First-year Marshall coach Dan D'Antoni started the war of words after West Virginia's 69-66 victory by suggesting the Mountaineers would prove they're "afraid" of the Thundering Herd if they refused to play twice a year in the future. West Virginia coach Bob Huggins then escalated the verbal sparring by ridiculing Marshall's program and D'Antoni's insistence the Thundering Herd are "back" in a rollicking 15-minute rant at the start of his weekly radio show.
Whereas some major-conference programs deserve the flack they receive for ducking quality in-state teams from smaller conferences, it would be completely understandable if Huggins canceled the annual series with Marshall.
Huggins articulated that point well on his show while also ridiculing the idea that Marshall-West Virginia is a rivalry.
DATE: Monday, Dec. 15
A — Jahlil Okafor
On his 19th birthday, Jahlil Okafor threw himself a party at Elon's expense. The nation's most decorated freshman took advantage of an opponent that doesn't have a rotation player taller than 6-foot-8, scoring 25 points and grabbing 20 rebounds in Duke's 75-62 victory.
Okafor's 20-20 game was the first by a Duke player since Elton Brand did it in 1998. He scored via anything from drop steps in the post, to lobs at the rim to put-backs on the offensive glass, surpassing his previous season highs for points (24) and rebounds (12) set against Furman and Stanford, respectively.
The 7-footer's best game came on a night when the rest of the Blue Devils were at their worst. Duke played a sloppy game after an 11-day layoff for finals, committing 17 turnovers and hitting just 3 of 16 threes and 14 of 27 free throws to help keep Elon within 20 much of the night.
B+ — Memphis
D- — North Florida
No member of the North Florida basketball team feels worse about Monday's loss to Tennessee Tech than center Romelo Banks.
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Concern that Tyler Haws could miss an extended period of time due to the ankle injury he suffered Saturday has proven to be unfounded.
BYU is officially listing the nation's third-leading scorer as "day-to-day after an MRI taken Monday did not reveal any further damage to his left ankle besides a sprain. Coach Dave Rose told ESPN.com he's hopeful Haws will be back in time to face Gonzaga on Dec. 27 and he's not ruling out the possibility that the senior guard could return even sooner than that.
The expectation that Haws will be back sometime this month is a good sign for BYU considering how much pain Haws was in Saturday night. He writhed on the ground clutching his ankle after sustaining the injury with less than four minutes to go in BYU's 76-60 victory over Weber State.
BYU desperately needs to win a couple of those games too because the Cougars (8-3) are still searching for their first quality win of the season.
The injury to Haws coincides with the absence of top big man Nate Austin due to a hamstring tear he suffered before the Utah loss.
When I spoke with Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim last Wednesday afternoon, he was optimistic the Orange would utilize the full week of practice they had between games to correct some of the flaws that emerged during their previous two losses.
Four days later, Boeheim clearly didn't see the progress he anticipated.
A 71-69 victory over Louisiana Tech on Sunday at least snapped Syracuse's two-game losing streak, but the 17 turnovers and sporadic defensive breakdowns from the Orange left Boeheim in a foul mood. Below is a look at the six best quotes from Boeheim's dour, frustration-filled postgame news conference after Syracuse improved to 6-3 this season.
Boeheim's anger level: Incredulous
Analysis: This was in response to Tyler Roberson and B.J. Johnson both making late turnovers when they attempted to catch passes one handed. Those mistakes reflect one of Syracuse's main issues so far this season — an inability to take care of the ball. The Orange are averaging 14 turnovers per game so far.
Boeheim's anger level: Frustrated
DATE: Sunday, Dec. 14
A+ — Amida Brimah
The flashes of scoring potential Brimah has shown during his UConn career all came together Sunday afternoon. The 7-foot sophomore sank all 13 shots he attempted against Coppin State en route to 40 points, double his previous career high set against UCF last season.
Every one of Brimah's baskets came at the rim via anything from lobs, to tip dunks, to put-backs, to strong post moves. He benefited from the dribble penetration, court vision and unselfishness of freshman guard Daniel Hamilton, who assisted on six of Brimah's baskets.
It's unclear how much Brimah's breakthrough performance means considering 1-9 Coppin State hardly offers much competition, but it was timely for UConn. The Huskies had lost three straight — the last two on buzzer beaters at their expense — and they face second-ranked Duke next.
A- — Tennessee
B- — Syracuse
The victory was critical for Syracuse for two reasons. Louisiana Tech is a contender in Conference USA and figures to be a quality win for the Orange by the end of season. Also, Syracuse (6-3) couldn't afford a third consecutive loss with a road game at Villanova up next.
D — NC State
Had Trevor Lacey's running 3-pointer come even a tenth of a second or two earlier Sunday afternoon, he'd have rescued NC State from a humbling home loss.
Instead referees reviewed the shot and correctly ruled Lacey hadn't released the ball before the clock struck triple zeroes, dooming the Wolfpack to a 55-54 upset at the hands of Wofford.
NC State needed heroics from Lacey because the Wolfpack couldn't hold a nine-point second-half lead over a Wofford team that reached the NCAA tournament last year and is favored to win the Southern Conference this season. The two teams traded the lead during the final minute until Justin Gordon scored a contested layup off a baseline inbound pass, giving Wofford a one-point lead with 1.9 seconds to go and paving the way for a wild finish.
NC State fell to 8-2 heading into its toughest stretch of the non-conference season beginning with a visit from Tennessee on Wednesday. Wofford improved to 8-2 with its only losses coming at Stanford and at Colonial Athletic Association favorite William & Mary.
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Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago
Instead of donning the same "I Can't Breathe" shirts worn by many other college and NBA teams during the past week, the Cal women's basketball team opted for something slightly more powerful.
Before its 58-56 loss to Long Beach State on Saturday night, the Bears wore homemade shirts featuring the names of black victims of violence on the front and the words “Black Lives Matter,” and “We Are Cal” on the back. Cal players also struck a "hands up, don't shoot" pose during the national anthem.
“Of course losing this game is disappointing," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said in a postgame statement. Saturday night. "That said, however, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more proud of these players or our whole team and staff.
"As student-athletes at Cal, our young women have a voice and a platform, and they chose to use it today. They want to be part of a solution, and they took the steps that were in their power today."
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