Friday was a busy day with off-court matters, but in was a particularly bad day for a couple of teams with. It was a quiet night on the court, but this didn’t have to happen. One team can absorb the blow a lot better than the other, and the reasons are different.
In the morning, we learned that Kentucky will be without junior forward Alex Poythress for the rest of the season due to a torn ACL in his left knee suffered in practice on Thursday. This is not a small loss, and his story has been one of a player with plenty of talent who has not had it easy during his college career but has become a key piece. His motor was inconsistent, but he’s improved that to give this team more of what they need. They will miss him, but they have more than enough talent and depth to absorb this loss from a production standpoint. Intangibles are another story, although even there the Wildcats appear to have enough to absorb his loss at first glance.
Later in the day, Florida State leading scorer Aaron Thomas was ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season. Thomas blossomed last season with a bigger role, and he looked ready to build on that, averaging 14.8 points per game thus far. That won’t happen now, and it’s another blow to the team as they get set to play their first ACC game on Saturday at Notre Dame.
Further details on this story are hard to come by, and the school is remaining mum, but it is noteworthy that Florida State’s fall semester ended on Friday. That doesn’t mean this is academic in nature, but the timing suggests it could be.
The good thing is that the Seminoles have had some experience playing without him to this point, although they would much rather have him. Thomas missed two games with an illness after he was taken to the hospital at halftime of their game against UMass in Connecticut after reporting dizziness. In what will go down as his final game of the season, last Saturday he scored 22 points on 10-17 shooting and handed out four assists in the Seminoles’ 96-73 romp over UCF.
Still, the Seminoles are already without point guard Devin Bookert, who re-injured the foot he broke several months ago, so their starting backcourt is out of action. Xavier Rathan-Mayes has emerged now that he is eligible, but he and Montay Brandon now have to shoulder an even bigger load and the remaining reserves will be asked to do even more now. You have to figure the Seminoles will be even more reliant on their big and physical frontcourt going forward.
In other off-court news, Tennessee is losing a big man as Dominic Woodson is transferring. The 6’10” sophomore played in four games and in a limited role, and said he will try to find a better fit and a bigger role.
The school where current Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall was before, Southern Miss, saw two players leave the program. Guards Shadell Millinghaus and Dallas Anglin, both from the northeast, have left, the former because of playing time and the latter because of family issues, according to an Associated Press report. Millinghaus started six games this season, while Anglin started one, and they averaged over 14 points per game combined.
Western Kentucky is also losing a player, its second in a couple of weeks. The Bowling Green Daily News reported that junior Ayinde Sprewell has requested a release after playing in just three of the Hilltoppers’ first seven games. He follows Kevin Kaspar out the door after Kaspar announced that he will pursue professional opportunities in his native Turkey.
Auburn will get a personnel boost soon, as former Maryland signee Trayvon Reed and sophomore Alex Thompson were both added to the roster on Friday. Reed is eligible to play right away, and the 7’1″ freshman should help Cinmeon Bowers, who has competed admirably in the middle at just 6’7.” Thompson missed the first semester due to an indefinite leave of absence and has returned to the team.
On the court, there were only four games on tap Friday night, and the one clearly of most interest was an in-state rivalry matchup that produced a great game last year. This time around, that was hardly the case as Iowa State handled Iowa 90-75 in Iowa City. The Cyclones, playing without star guard Bryce Dejean-Jones due to a suspension following an arrest, broke the game open in the second half after leading by five at the break, at one point going up 64-39. They did it with a well-balanced attack that had five players score in double figures and 22 assists on 34 made field goals, with each starter handing out at least one helper.
The other three games were all double-digit games just like the one in Iowa City. NC State routed Charleston Southern 86-50, Florida blew out Texas Southern 75-50, and Holy Cross used a big second half to beat NJIT 76-66.
It’s another busy Saturday, and it gets good right away as the most highly-anticipated game is one of the first to tip. It doesn’t slow down, as the evening has some games worth watching as well.
- North Carolina takes on Kentucky at Rupp Arena in another test for the Wildcats.
- Saint Mary’s travels to take on Creighton in an intriguing matchup.
- St. Bonaventure travels to Pittsburgh and tries to continue its fine start, coming in at 6-1.
- Arkansas welcomes Dayton in a game where something has to give, as the Razorbacks are 5-0 at home and Dayton has won their only true road game thus far.
- Murray State at Evansville is a game that should be better than advertised.
- Oklahoma gets a good test as they visit Tulsa.
- As we get towards the early evening hours, we get matchups like Michigan trying to snap a two-game losing streak at Arizona and Oklahoma State traveling to Memphis.
- Northern Iowa will try to remain undefeated at VCU in what might be the best evening matchup.
- Oregon and Illinois battle in Chicago.
- The Capital Region in New York has its big rivalry game, the Albany Cup, with Albany and Siena battling at the Times-Union Center.
- Florida State travels to South Bend for an early ACC game against Notre Dame.
- Gonzaga plays at UCLA in a late game worth staying up for on the east coast.