The Dagger

  • Three straight losses leave Xavier still in search of first marquee win

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 hr ago

    Eighteen games into a season that began with sky-high expectations, Xavier hasn’t accomplished as much as it would have hoped.

    The Musketeers have yet to defeat a single team that’s even receiving votes in the latest AP Top 25 poll.

    The best team they’ve beaten is likely Clemson, which is off to a 1-4 start to ACC play. The next best might be Utah, which was without two of its four leading scorers at the time. They also boast wins over rebuilding Wake Forest, hapless Missouri and mid-tier Big East foes Providence, Georgetown and St. John’s for whatever that’s worth.

    Xavier had a trio of chances in the last seven days to validate its Top 25 ranking, but the Musketeers whiffed on all three. They lost by 25 at Villanova last Tuesday. They blew a nine-point first-half lead at Butler on Saturday. And finally they suffered a 72-67 home loss earlier Monday against a Creighton team that lost its best player to a knee injury midway through the first half.

    With Xavier’s season at a crossroads, coach Chris Mack preached positivity. He insisted he still has faith in the Musketeers (13-5, 3-3) even though they’re mired in their first three-game losing streak in nearly three years.

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  • Creighton loses nation's assists leader to a left knee injury

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 6 hrs ago

    On a day when Creighton picked up its most impressive road win of the season, the Bluejays’ postgame celebration was more muted than usual.

    That’s because their concern lay with starting point guard Maurice Watson, who hurt his left knee late in the first half of his team’s 72-67 victory at Xavier.

    The injury occurred when Watson landed awkwardly after driving for an acrobatic layup. Watson writhed on the floor in pain clutching his knee for several minutes before two teammates carried him to the locker room.

    It’s unclear the severity of the injury at this time, but Creighton coach Greg McDermott told reporters in Cincinnati that the team’s trainers are optimistic Watson didn’t sustain any ligament damage. Watson will undergo further testing this week to evaluate if he might have torn his meniscus.

    Greg McDermott tells @fs1 that Maurice Watson Jr. ligaments are solid. Possible meniscus but will take a look when we get back.

    — Rob Anderson (@_robanderson) January 16, 2017

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  • Indiana tried to run up the score on Rutgers, failed, and Tom Crean was furious

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Indiana, as most teams do these days, scored an easy win over Rutgers Sunday. For Tom Crean, whose Hoosiers had lost four of their previous five and started Big Ten play 1-3, it should have been a welcome reprieve from the frustration of the first two weeks of conference play.

    It was not.

    Because with Indiana up 76-57 and six seconds left in the game, rather than run out the clock, freshman guard Devonte Green took an outlet pass, pushed the ball up the court, and threw a lob to a streaking Freddie McSwain:

    ICYMI: Tom Crean was not happy about Devonte Green attempting a last-second alley-oop, and he let the freshman know. https://t.co/wstCB0gOL8

    — Indiana On BTN (@IndianaOnBTN) January 15, 2017

    Even before the clock hit triple zeros, while Green and McSwain were oblivious to their coach’s ire and foolishly fighting for the loose ball, Crean was storming out towards the middle of the court to scream at Green.

    Crean then hurried over to Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell and, still heated, seemed to apologize. Fortunately, Pikiell didn’t seem too peeved about it.

  • Unbeaten season feels more realistic after Gonzaga pounds Saint Mary's

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    For most of Saturday night’s showdown, Gonzaga couldn’t shake Saint Mary’s in its rearview mirror.

    Only in the final eight minutes did the Zags mash the gas pedal one final time and leave the rival Gaels in the dust.

    It started innocently enough with a Nigel Williams-Goss driving layup to extend the lead to eight. Only a couple minutes later, Williams-Goss found Johnathan Williams for a transition dunk that increased the advantage to 15. Gonzaga eventually reeled off 16 straight points to turn a single-digit game into a 79-56 rout.

    Handily winning the first meeting between the WCC’s two best teams does more than just give Gonzaga an early leg up in the league title chase. It also extends the fifth-ranked Zags’ run as college basketball’s last unbeaten team and makes the possibility of finishing the regular season without a loss a bit more realistic.

    After Saturday’s win against Saint Mary’s, Gonzaga (17-0, 5-0) will play only three more games against teams better than 138th in the KenPom rankings. The Zags visit BYU (No. 68) on Feb. 2, have their rematch with the Gaels (No. 18) in Moraga on Feb. 11 and then play the Cougars a second time on Feb. 25 in Spokane.

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  • Tense game sparks heated argument between Colorado State player, New Mexico coach

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    The animosity that flared up throughout New Mexico’s 84-71 victory over Colorado State was nothing compared to what happened after the game was over.

    A Rams player and a Lobos assistant coach engaged in a verbal altercation that was on the verge of turning physical before Colorado State coach Larry Eustachy intervened.

    VIDEO: CSU's Emmanuel Omogbo came outside & started argument w/ UNM coaches, Terrence Rencher in particular. Larry Eustachy pulled hom away. pic.twitter.com/Dq9CbvVOBd

    — Geoff Grammer (@GeoffGrammer) January 14, 2017

    The incident began when Colorado State forward Emmanuel Omogbo exited Moby Arena and encountered several New Mexico coaches standing alongside their team bus. Albuquerque Tribune reporter Geoff Grammer began shooting video soon after Omogbo and New Mexico assistant Terrence Rencher began exchanging words.

    “You’re lucky my coach is holding me back. I’d whoop your ass,” Omogbo shouted at Rencher with Eustachy standing between them.

    “You ain’t whipping nothing, buddy,” Rencher responded.

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  • Theo Pinson sparks North Carolina to statement win over Florida State

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 2 days ago

    Through 34 minutes of North Carolina’s clash with Florida State at the Dean Smith Center Saturday in Chapel Hill, there wasn’t much separating the Tar Heels and Seminoles. The home team had held multiple double-digit leads, but every time, Florida State had charged back. And that’s exactly what the visitors were doing again with six minutes remaining.

    Xavier Rathan-Mayes sunk a free throw, and the lead dwindled to four, 80-76. North Carolina needed a lift. It needed something to separate it from a team that had proven to be every bit its equal. So it turned to one of the best secret weapons in college basketball, one whom the Tar Heels had been without for the season’s first 16 games, and one who may very well make them the best team in the ACC.

    They turned to Theo Pinson. And Pinson went coast to coast, then soared to the rim as the Dean Dome rose with him:

    “It felt like I was floating,” Pinson said after the game. “I was gliding to the basket. And then when I dunked it, I was like, ‘Did it go through?’ And then I heard everybody screaming … then I blacked out.”

  • UConn women break win streak record with 91st consecutive victory

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 2 days ago

    College basketball has a new win streak queen. It’s the same program as its predecessor, but this time one win more impressive.

    UConn women’s basketball won its 91st game in a row Saturday at SMU, blitzing the Mustangs 26-2 in the first quarter and easing to a 88-48 victory. In doing so, it surpassed its own record of 90 consecutive wins set in 2010.

    The current streak began in November 2014. It includes the last two national championships, two conference championships, and dominant wins of all kinds.

    Auriemma has admitted that he set up this year’s non-conference schedule to end the streak; he filled it with seven top-15 teams despite losing the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 picks in last April’s WNBA draft. But his team had other ideas. It passed its 12 November and December tests by more than 22 points per game, and has now won its four American Athletic Conference games by an average margin of 46.5.

    The 2008-10 streak ended with a 71-59 non-conference loss to Stanford. This one doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon as the Huskies roll through the AAC.

  • Third straight road loss in ACC play further exposes Duke's flaws

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 2 days ago

    At the start of the season, Duke was a near-unanimous choice to win the ACC.

    Now the Blue Devils are teetering on the verge of falling out of the league title race just five games into conference play

    A 78-69 loss at Louisville on Saturday afternoon dropped Duke to 2-3 in the ACC, three games back of first-place Notre Dame. The Blue Devils are still in search of their first win this season on an opponent’s home floor, having been smacked around earlier this month at Virginia Tech and Florida State.

    A Duke team loaded with proven veterans and McDonald’s All-American freshmen has plenty of talent to make a charge over the next six weeks, but the strength and depth of the ACC will not make it easy. The seventh-ranked Blue Devils still have two games against North Carolina remaining, as well as a rematch with Florida State in Durham and road trips to Notre Dame, Virginia and Miami.

    It’s hard to see Duke (14-4) winning enough of those games if it doesn’t take better care of the ball and improve its ball-screen defense. Those were the Blue Devils’ undoing Saturday in their second straight game without injured forward Amile Jefferson.

  • At last, the NCAA selection committee is embracing advanced metrics

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 3 days ago

    No longer does the NCAA tournament selection committee rely exclusively on the flawed, primitive RPI as a way of comparing teams and schedules.

    The committee wisely has begun to embrace the use of other more advanced metrics when selecting and seeding the field of 68.

    The latest step in that process arrived Friday when the NCAA announced it has invited the minds behind some of college basketball’s best metrics to meet with committee members next Friday in Indianapolis. Ken Pomeroy (KenPom), Kevin Pauga (KPI), Jeff Sagarin (Sagarin Index) and Ben Alamar (BPI) are all scheduled to attend a gathering designed to speed the inclusion of more metrics in the selection process.

    The meeting of the math gurus comes in response to the National Association of Basketball Coaches requesting the use of a more varied group of metrics during the selection process. One of the goals for the meeting is to create some sort of composite metric that could be part of the selection process as soon as 2018.

    • Opponents’ winning percentage is 50 percent.

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  • Louisiana Tech's Jacobi Boykins throws down impressive 360 dunk

    Malika Andrews at The Dagger 3 days ago

    Louisiana Tech’s Jacobi Boykins laid down one of the filthiest dunks of the college basketball season on Thursday night.

    With just under 16 minutes left in Bulldogs’ 79-73 victory over Charlotte, Boykins stole a pass intended for a 49ers player and brought it down court for a nasty 360 dunk to put LA Tech up 23.

    Watch the dunk here:

    A 360 SLAM in the wild?!!! ????

    (via @NickCarboniWCNC) pic.twitter.com/DFvKyE80I0

    — NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) January 13, 2017