The Dagger

  • Kelsey Plum explodes for 57 points to set new women's Division I career scoring record

    Malika Andrews at The Dagger 2 hrs ago

    Kelsey Plum made history on Saturday night, surpassing Jackie Stiles’ 3,393 points to become the new all-time leading scorer in Division I women’s basketball. Plum scored a career-high 57 points in the No. 11 Washington Huskies’ 84-77 win over Utah.

    Plum entered Saturday’s game needing 54 points to claim the record but wasn’t expected the break it until tournament play. But she hit 19-of-28 shots against Utah to reach 3,397 all-time points. The record-breaking basket came off of a left-handed running floater with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

    It was a perfect way for Plum to end Senior Day. She checked out 44 seconds remaining to a standing ovation and was greeted on the bench with hugs from teammates and a slew of photographers snapping pictures of the moment.

    WNBA player Sue Bird even weighed in on Twitter to congratulate Plum.

    Maybe. Congrats @Kelseyplum10!

    — Sue Bird (@S10Bird) February 26, 2017

  • Baylor women's coach says parents concerned about sexual assault scandal should be 'knocked right in the face'

    Malika Andrews at The Dagger 3 hrs ago

    Kim Mulkey, the head coach of the women’s basketball team at Baylor University, had strong words for parents who were concerned about female students’ safety on campus.

    After the women’s team clinched the Big 12 regular season title on Saturday, Mulkey used her postgame speech to defend her school, which has been under fire for a sexual assault scandal under former football coach Art Briles.

    Kim Mulkey sounds off on recent national scrutiny about #Baylor and female student safety on campus after Lady Bears' win.

    — John Elizondo (@JohnElizondo25) February 25, 2017

    “If somebody is around you and they ever say, ‘I will never send my daughter to Baylor,’ you should knock them right in the face,” Mulkey said as the crowd cheered. “Because these kids are on this campus. I work here. My daughter went to school here and it’s the damn best school in America.”

    Her players then told her to drop the mic, which she did.

    After the speech, Mulkey defended her comments to the local media.

  • Duke, without Grayson Allen, stifled by Miami in second-straight loss

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 3 hrs ago

    One of the most popular narratives of what has been both a turbulent and thrilling season of Duke basketball was the one surrounding the point guard position: Duke didn’t have one, Grayson Allen was forced to become one, and the offense was suffering as a result.

    On Saturday at Miami, another branch on that narrative tree grew: Duke, without Allen, played its worst offensive game of the season, and was upset by Miami, 55-50 in Coral Gables.

    The Blue Devils scored just 0.79 points per possession, by far their worst per-possession output of the year. Jayson Tatum scored just eight points on 16 shots, Luke Kennard scored 16 on 20 shots, and Duke staggered to its second-straight loss.

    Some portion, and maybe even a large portion, of the credit for the 50-point performance goes to Miami, who has been on a roll, both defensively and in general. The Hurricanes smothered Virginia earlier this week, and held the Cavs to 48 points in 45 minutes in an overtime victory on the road. They’ve now held four of their past six ACC opponents under a point per possession, and have won six of their past seven games.

  • Malik Monk's second-half explosion halts Florida, gives Kentucky advantage in SEC

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 5 hrs ago

    The numbers were downright ugly. Three points. One assist. Five turnovers. Zero flow.

    No. 11 Kentucky was tied with No. 13 Florida at halftime of Saturday’s showdown atop the SEC standings in Lexington, but not because of Malik Monk. The freshman flamethrower put together one of the worst halves of his season, and with their star ineffective, the Wildcats sputtered offensively.

    But Monk, as he has so often this season, went into full-on takeover mode after halftime. He scored 30 second-half points to lead Kentucky to a 76-66 win over Florida, and to the top of the SEC, one game clear with one week to play.

    Monk’s takeovers are like no other player’s in college basketball. They feature 3-pointers off the catch and the dribble, dunks in transition and off ball screens in halfcourt sets, and everything in between. At his most unstoppable, Monk even creates for teammates as well. He did all of those things Saturday.

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    He again force White to take time with a 3 that put Kentucky up 6:

  • Bubble breakdown: Michigan takes down Purdue, nears lock status

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 5 hrs ago

    What has happened to Michigan?

    Three weeks ago, that was the pertinent question. The Wolverines lost at home to Ohio State, their second-straight defeat, and a team that had returned most of the pieces from an NCAA Tournament team looked destined for the NIT.

    Fast forward to the present, and Michigan isn’t just on the bubble; after an electrifying 82-70 win over Purdue, their second over a Big Ten favorite in two weeks, the Wolverines have skipped off the bubble and likely into the NCAA Tournament.

    John Beilein’s team has won five of six, and has looked extremely impressive in the process. The fun began with a 29-point pounding of Michigan State. It picked up steam with a win at Indiana and home victory over Wisconsin. The latest performance — 1.32 points per possession against a top-15 team — was evidence of Michigan’s rise, from a mediocre team in a mediocre conference to an outstanding offense capable of shooting over, passing around and punishing some of the nation’s best defenses.

    Michigan certainly looks NCAA tournament worthy; barring a collapse, its résumé will too.

    Weekend Bubble Winners

    Weekend Bubble Losers

  • USF lost at Tulsa, then left two players behind at the airport

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 9 hrs ago

    A deflating season for South Florida men’s basketball got even more embarrassing Friday when the team left two of its players behind at an airport in Houston.

    The Bulls, 7-20 and 1-15 in the AAC, lost Thursday night at Tulsa, then flew to Houston, where they would board a connecting flight back to Tampa. However, according to the Tampa Bay Times, two players, Troy Holston and Geno Thorpe, fell asleep at the airport. Nobody noticed, and the two were left behind when the team’s flight took off.

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    USF confirmed the mistake Saturday morning:

    In statement, USF interim coach Murray Bartow apologizes for "unfortunate circumstance" that left two players alone in airport on trip home.

    — Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2017

    She also went off on Twitter:

  • Brad vs. the Book: Fade or follow Arizona in rematch with UCLA?

    Brad Evans at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Slaying the sportsbook is a monstrous task. Some days bettors take up residence in a penthouse suite. Other times, they curl up in the nearest ditch, shirtless. In an attempt to avoid complete destitution, I will post my picks, whether profitable or penniless, through the NCAA tourney. Check out Saturday’s selections below:

    Florida (23-5) at Kentucky (23-5)

    When the SEC behemoths squared off earlier this month in Gainesville Florida busted out the paddle and spanked Kentucky 88-66. At that time, however, Gators center John Egbunu sported a healthy knee. One torn ACL later and with revenge and a regular season title on the mind for Big Blue Nation, a different scenario may play out.

    [Tourney Pick’em is open! Sign up now | Bracket Big Board]

    The visitors may be bruised, but their toughness and resolve should keep the rematch competitive.

    Smart money says throw a few greenbacks on the Gators.

    Fearless Forecast: Kentucky 79 Florida (+4) 76

    UCLA (25-3) at Arizona (25-3)

    Fearless Forecast: Arizona (-3) 87 UCLA 81

    Baylor (23-5) at Iowa St. (18-9)

    Fearless Forecast: Iowa St. (-2.5) 70 Baylor 67

  • College basketball Power Rankings, Feb. 24: North Carolina surges, but are the Tar Heels No. 1?

    Henry Bushnell at The Dagger 1 day ago

    It only seems right that on the eve of the final February edition of The Dagger’s weekly power rankings, college basketball descended into chaos.

    And it only seems right that in a season more or less dominated by a dozen teams at the top of the sport, that chaos made the following question as difficult to answer as ever:

    Who is the best team in college basketball?

    It’s not a question that  requires an answer right now. But the tougher that answer is to come by, the more compelling the discussion. And the reason the answer seems so elusive is that the four teams in contention for that temporary crown have been on four very distinct trajectories.

    There is untarnished Gonzaga, who has rolled through the West Coast Conference with an average margin of victory of 28 points. The Bulldogs trounced poor San Diego 96-38 Thursday night, staking their claim to the top spot.

    These are your four. They are the four clear favorites for No. 1 seeds. They are the nation’s four best teams. So enough of the small talk. Who the heck is No. 1?

    2. North Carolina | 24-5 | KenPom: 5 | Last week: 6

    (All videos via WatchESPN)

    3. Villanova | 26-3 | KenPom: 2 | Last week: 1

  • At last, Arizona-UCLA will showcase both programs at their peak

    Jeff Eisenberg at The Dagger 1 day ago

    Arizona and UCLA are undeniably the Pac-12’s two flagship basketball programs, but here’s a strange fact about their fierce rivalry.

    For the past two decades, they’ve seldom been at their best at the same time.

    When Arizona was a fixture in the top 10 late in Lute Olson’s tenure, UCLA only sporadically played up to its talent level under Steve Lavin. When Ben Howland led the Bruins to three straight Final Fours by reinstilling defense and discipline, the Wildcats floundered in the midst of a tumultuous coaching transition. And by the time Sean Miller returned Arizona to national prominence, UCLA was already in the throes of an abrupt decline.

    That history of near misses is what makes Saturday’s showdown in Tucson feel so special. Finally, we get to see Arizona and UCLA square off with both at their peak.

    At stake is not only the Pac-12 title but also a bigger prize that could come with it. The three-way battle between Arizona, UCLA and sixth-ranked Oregon could also decide which team claims the conference’s highest NCAA tournament seed and lone spot in the geographically friendly West Regional.

    Not since 1999 have Arizona and UCLA met with both teams in the top 10.

  • Northwestern player's shoe-tying fiasco cost her team a basket

    Malika Andrews at The Dagger 1 day ago

    When you are receiving an inbound pass from your teammate, it probably isn’t the best time to tie your shoe.

    But that is exactly what Northwestern’s Ashley Deary in a game against Rutgers on Thursday night.

    Maybe not the best time to tie your shoe… #SCNotTop10

    A post shared by SportsCenter (@sportscenter) on Feb 23, 2017 at 6:58pm PST

    That stunt ended up costing Deary the possession, as Rutger’s Khadaizha Sanders was able to steal the ball and pass it up to Shrita Parker for an easy lay up. The Wildcats pulled off a 60-38 win, but the charade landed Deary on ESPN SportCenter’s “Not Top 10” list.