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The Morning Dish – Saturday, November 15, 2014

by - Published November 15, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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College basketball season has begun. Life is good.

Unfortunately, though, it didn’t take long for something bad to happen. In VCU’s 85-69 win over Tennessee in the first game of the Veterans Classic in Annapolis, a scary moment came almost 12 minutes into the game. VCU guard JeQuan Lewis went for a rebound and collided with Tennessee big man Dominic Woodson, who is not a little guy at 6’10” and close to 300 pounds. Lewis slammed his head onto the court, and it could be heard pretty well.

I didn’t see it live, as I was covering another game at the time, but it was all over Twitter when it happened. The sense I got from what I read was not good, and I wondered if I was going to be horrified later when I saw any footage that might be available of the incident and/or the aftermath.

… Continue Reading

The Morning Dish – Friday, November 14, 2014

by - Published November 14, 2014 in The Morning Dish
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Today’s the day we’ve been waiting for, the college basketball season opener.

With that as a backdrop, we look at a few things we’re looking to see this weekend, and really in the first month of the season, as well as a preview of some of the top games tonight:

… Continue Reading

2013-14 SEC Post-Mortem

by - Published June 12, 2014 in Columns, Conference Notes
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What does the SEC – the football juggernaut – have beyond Florida and Kentucky on the hardwood?

That’s the big question this off-season. It was already a discussion point during the season and postseason, and it’s not going to end now. The SEC had a 12-3 record in the NCAA Tournament, but Kentucky and Florida combined for 10 of those wins and thus carried them to that mark.

When it was all said and done, the SEC ended up with three teams in the NCAA Tournament. Tennessee was the only team besides Florida and Kentucky to make it. The conference had four teams in the NIT, with LSU and Arkansas each winning a game before getting bounced without a chance to go to New York.

… Continue Reading

Three coaching legends lose on the same day

by - Published January 22, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
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It’s not every day that three of the greatest coaches ever lose a game on the same day. Yet that’s what happened on another Saturday full of noteworthy games, as Syracuse suffered its first loss on the season, Duke lost at home to put an end to a long home winning streak and Connecticut lost as well.

And it all happened, ironically, on the day that a football coaching legend appeared close to losing his life. On Saturday night, there were conflicting reports about former Penn State coach Joe Paterno, but we did not learn for sure that he had passed until about 10:30 this morning. We send our condolences to Joe’s family and friends at this time.

The last time Jim Boeheim, Jim Calhoun and Mike Krzyzewski lost a game on the same day was January 18, 2003. The three coaches have combined for over 2,600 wins, so they have won a little more than they have lost, and one might even be surprised that this wasn’t the first day all three lost.

It started in the middle of the afternoon, with two of the games. Connecticut took on Tennessee in Knoxville, a return of a game played last year. The Volunteers got a double-double from freshman Jarnell Stokes and fended off a late Husky rally for a 60-57 win. Turning the ball over one time in the second half certainly helped, especially as taking care of the ball had been a problem for Tennessee of late. Connecticut shot just 36.4 percent from the field.

Around that same time, Florida State looked like they had a shot to end Duke’s 45-game home winning streak, as they were right there with the Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. They had leads late in the game as well. And finally, with the game tied at 73 in the final seconds, the Seminoles got the ball up the floor to Michael Snaer in front of his own bench, where he hit a three-pointer just as time expired to give Florida State their second big win in as many Saturdays, a 76-73 decision over Duke.

Not only had Duke not lost at home since North Carolina knocked them off in February 2009, but they also had a longer (64 games) home winning streak against unranked opponents. They had a chance to tie their own ACC record of 46 straight home wins, set between January 13, 1997 and February 9, 2000.

Florida State is now looking more and more like the team some thought they would be this season. In the preseason, a good number of prognosticators thought they might be the third-best team behind Duke and North Carolina. Virginia had emerged as that team, and probably still is, but now the Seminoles look like another formidable team in an ACC that is not looking much better than last year. They are in a three-way tie atop the ACC at 4-1, along with the two teams they have knocked off the past two Saturdays.

By the time the evening came around, one already had a sense that Syracuse could suffer its first loss of the season. The team announced earlier in the day that sophomore center Fab Melo would not make the trip to Notre Dame and Cincinnati and that junior forward Mookie Jones had left the school for personal reasons. The Orange are so deep, it would not have been a shocker if they came away with two wins, but if they dropped one it would not have been a surprise. Sure enough, a Notre Dame team that knocked off Louisville a couple of weeks ago beat Syracuse 67-58 in South Bend.

Notre Dame led throughout the game and beat a No. 1 team for the eighth time, which ties for the fourth-highest total. They did it led by junior big man Jack Cooley, who went for 17 points and 10 rebounds as the Fighting Irish out-rebounded Syracuse 38-25. While Melo’s absence hurt there, it wasn’t a big factor in the Orange’s offensive struggles on the night.

 

We take you coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation

With Syracuse losing, that left just one team undefeated: Murray State. The Racers were 82-65 winners at SIU-Edwardsville to improve to 20-0 on the season.

Missouri got perhaps its most impressive win yesterday, going on the road to beat Baylor. That’s two in a row now for Baylor, and it seems that at the moment, Baylor is close, but not there when it comes to the top of the Big 12.

Georgetown got all they could handle from Rutgers, and needed to score the game’s last seven points to eke out a 52-50 win in the nation’s capital.

Louisville continued Pittsburgh’s misery as they went into the Peterson Events Center and left with a 73-62 win over the Panthers, who are now 0-7 in the Big East and have lost eight straight.

UNLV convincingly won a key matchup with New Mexico, the second straight loss for the Lobos as they took on the two favorites in the conference this past week.

Mississippi State won an overtime thriller at Vanderbilt in a key matchup among teams chasing Kentucky in the SEC.

Todd Bozeman returned to the bench at Morgan State, but his team’s struggles continued as they lost for the fifth time in seven games by dropping a 62-61 decision against visiting North Carolina A&T.

Late Saturday night, Long Beach State picked up a key road win at UC Santa Barbara. That makes the 49ers 7-0 in conference play, a full two games ahead of three teams in the loss column.

Several teams get much-needed resume wins on Saturday

by - Published January 15, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
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Saturday saw a few teams get a victory they needed to jump-start their NCAA Tournament resume. A few others suffered bad losses in games they needed, or missed opportunities, but we’re going to stick with the positive and focus on the teams that got big wins. It’s too early to declare a number of these teams locks after what they did on Saturday, but they are in a better place than they were to start the day.

Let’s start with Florida State, which annihilated North Carolina 90-57 in Tallahassee. The Seminoles had a so-so non-conference run, as they came into Saturday lacking a win against the top 50 in three tries. Beating the Tar Heels is a remedy for that, although they need to make it relevant come March by playing well the rest of ACC play.

Next, we go to Northwestern, a team for whom heartbreak has become a regular occurrence. The Wildcats have had chances to play their way into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in recent years, but haven’t been able to pull out the games they needed to. It looked like this year might be another case of that, too, although they did win the Charleston Classic over Seton Hall, a win that is looking better all the time. They won at mediocre Georgia Tech and lost to Baylor, which is hardly a bad loss. But then they lost at Creighton, got hammered at Ohio State and lost tough ones to Illinois and Michigan by a combined three points. And on Saturday, they knocked off Michigan State in Evanston for their best win of the season. Add that to the Seton Hall win and the Wildcats, who don’t have a bad loss and an RPI of 33 at the start of the week, are in a good place for the moment.

Then there is Oklahoma, a team thought to be rebuilding. But the Sooners knocked off Kansas State 82-73 for their second win against a top 50 team. The Sooners are now 1-3 in Big 12 play, so they have a good deal of work to do. But if they get to .500 in conference and win a game or two in the conference tournament, they may have done enough work by then to be in the discussion for an NCAA Tournament team.  It helps that they don’t have a bad loss.

Lastly, San Diego State knocked off UNLV in a thriller, 69-67. The Aztecs were actually in a reasonably good place before Saturday, but perhaps now they can be called an NCAA Tournament lock if they win the games they should the rest of the way. The Mountain West figured to be rebuilding this season, but that hasn’t been the case thus far as both of these teams look like they will be in the field of 68.


We go coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

Pittsburgh lost at Marquette, 62-57, and is now 0-5 in the Big East for the second time in program history and first in 12 years. They have never started 0-6, but they play at Syracuse on Monday.

Connecticut freshman Ryan Boatright was suspended by the NCAA and did not play in the Huskies’ 67-53 win at Notre Dame. The NCAA is investigating more eligibility matters with the freshman guard.

Iowa handily took out Michigan 75-59, and continues to be something of a Jekyll and Hyde team.

Jarnell Stokes gave Tennessee a boost in his debut, but Kentucky prevailed in Knoxville 65-62. The thinking is that although it was a loss, Saturday’s game bodes well for the Volunteers.

The Ivy League has started the season a little differently this time around, and Penn has started off 2-0 with wins at Columbia and Cornell. Normally teams play their travel partners over two weeks, save for Penn and Princeton, before the Friday-Saturday weekends start.

No America East team will go undefeated in conference play this season, as Stony Brook had its six-game winning streak end at Boston University, who has won three in a row after losing six straight.

Plenty of great games on tap for this weekend

by - Published January 13, 2012 in Full Court Sprints
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We’re entering the second weekend of heavy conference play. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the best match ups on the menu, starting with tonight’s action. The NFL playoffs are quite compelling, but be sure to check out some of these games, which promise to be just as entertaining.

Friday:

  • Creighton at Illinois State
  • Cleveland State at Butler
  • Missouri State at Northern Iowa
  • Seton Hall at South Florida

Saturday:

  • UNLV at San Diego State
  • Alabama at Mississippi State
  • New Mexico at Wyoming
  • Kentucky at Tennessee
  • North Carolina at Florida State
  • Rutgers at West Virginia
  • Texas at Missouri
  • Colorado at Stanford
  • St. Bonaventure at Xavier
  • Connecticut at Notre Dame
  • Kansas State at Oklahoma
  • NC State at Wake Forest
  • Oregon at Arizona
  • Ohio at Akron
  • UCF at Marshall
  • La Salle at Dayton

Sunday:

  • Indiana at Ohio State
  • Cleveland State at Valparaiso
  • Youngstown State at Butler
  • Loyola (Md.) at Iona
  • Georgia Tech at Maryland
  • Washington State at Washington

We go coast to coast with news from around the college basketball nation.

In case you missed it earlier this week, Pitt kinda struggled against Rutgers. And by kinda, we mean the Panthers totally stunk. According to ESPN.com’s “College Basketball Nationg” blog, the Panthers had their worst home performance in more than 60 years, scoring only 39 points in the 23-point embarrassment against the Scarlet Knights.

Texas Tech’s Terran Petteway will miss tomorrow’s game against Texas A&M because coach Billy Gillispie suspended Petteway for elbowing Kansas’ Connor Teahan, earning himself an ejection, according to an Associated Press report.

Chairs, beware. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said he has no regrets for slamming a chair on the court to motivate the Hawkeyes during a 28-point beatdown at Michigan State, according to an Associated Press report.

Fresh off a national championship in football, Alabama fans got to stick it to LSU once again Wednesday night when the Tigers came to Tuscaloosa. One of the more creative Bama fans brought a sign that mocked the Tigers football team’s struggle in getting past midfield in the BCS Championship Game, writes USA Today’s Nicol Auerbach. Check out the Tide fan’s cheeky taunts here.

Former Clemson guard Cory Stanton hopes he’s found a basketball home in Knoxville after walking on to the Volunteers, according to an Associated Press report. Stanton arrives at Tennessee via Lipscomb after playing one season at Clemson.

Breaking the Studious Silence

by - Published December 17, 2010 in Full Court Sprints

FULL COURT SPRINTS

BASELINE TO BASELINE

LAST SHOT

Go coast to coast with our roundup of the nation’s top stories.

  1. Get ready for DeeNardo! Mississippi State will soon have Dee Bost and Renardo Sidney on the court at the same time, which should make the Bulldogs a force in the weak SEC West, according to Diamond Leung of ESPN.com.
  2. After Montana upset UCLA in early December, Montana coach Wayne Tinkle (hee hee…) wanted to make sure the Grizzlies kept the good times rolling with a home win against Oregon State, writes ESPN.com’s Diamond Leung. Tinkle turned to YouTube to urge Grizzly students to show up for what became the team’s second win against a Pac-10 school this season.
  3. Kansas’ depth has taken a hit with the indefinite suspension of guard Mario Little after he was charged with battery, criminal damage and trespassing as a result of a fight with his girlfriend, according to CBSSports.com. Little contributes more than a little, with 6.2 points and 3.7 rebounds in 16.3 minutes per game
  4. ESPN’s Jay Bilas gives props to several teams and players, especially Butler’s Ronald Nored, who is the scrappy leader of the Bulldogs.
  5. Arizona coach Sean Miller was fired up after his team’s disappointing blowout loss to BYU, and Arizona Daily Star reporter Bruce Pascoe posted Miller’s comments from a press conference on Pascoe’s blog. One nugget: “We shot six airballs against BYU. You can go a season and not shoot six airballs.”
  6. Oklahoma bids adieu to freshman T.J. Taylor, who didn’t log a single minute for the Sooners, according to the Associated Press. Taylor suffered a concussion during the preseason and intended to sit out this season as a medical redshirt.
  7. Mississippi State isn’t the only team adding post-semester firepower. According the Associated Press, Tennessee will now have the services of sophomore forward Jeronne Maymon, who sat out the second semester of 2009-10 and the first semester of this season after transferring from Marquette in 2009.
  8. Kudos to ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan for finding this Silent Night phenomenon at Taylor University. Yes, a gym full of silent people — until the home team’s 10th point.
  9. More greatness from YouTube, courtesy of Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg, who finds the wonders of Colorado State’s Blues Brothers wanna-be.
  10. ESPN’s Andy Katz reports that the SEC and Big East are expanding their interconference clash to include all 12 SEC teams. In addition, the games will move from quasi-neutral courts to the hostile confines of teams’ home arenas.
Most of the players throughout Division I were immersed in finals this past week, so we had a relatively light week of action. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t have plenty of important games and surprising results. Here’s a sampling, in case you missed it.

  • Louisville 77, UNLV 69
  • Santa Barbara 68, UNLV 62
  • Tennessee 83, Pittsburgh 76
  • Oakland 89, Tennessee 82
  • Michigan State 77, Oakland 76
  • Drexel 52, Louisville 46
  • Coastal Carolina 78, LSU 69 OT
  • UNC Wilmington 81, Wake Forest 69
  • Fordham 84, St. John’s 81
  • Texas A&M 63, Washington 62
  • BYU 87, Arizona 65
  • Villanova 84, La Salle 81
  • Kent State 56, South Florida 51
  • Boston College 79, Maryland 75
  • Wisconsin 69, Marquette 64
  • Richmond 72, VCU 60
  • Florida State 75, Clemson 69
  • Virginia Tech 79, Penn State 69

STUDY SESSION

OPENING TIP

Ray Floriani picks the five lessons you needed to learn from the Jimmy V Classic, with an emphasis on the color — and team — Orange.

Phil Kasiecki chats with La Salle’s John Giannini, who wants you to know that the Explorers aren’t a surprisingly good team, they’re an expectedly good team.

Michael Protos serves up a buffet of articles on rankings, including Big 12 and SEC rankings and analysis of Vanderbilt’s wonder reserve. He also delivers a quick recap of the Big South season thus far.

The holiday season gives us a handful of wonderful gifts this week, with exciting match ups of elite teams, like Kansas State vs. Florida and Texas vs. North Carolina. Here are some more great games to look forward to this week.

12/18:

  • South Carolina at Ohio State
  • Kansas State vs. Florida
  • Gonzaga vs. Baylor
  • Texas vs. North Carolina
  • Central Florida vs. Miami
  • Virginia Tech vs. Mississippi State
  • Western Kentucky at Murray State

12/21:

  • UNLV at Kansas State
  • BYU at Weber State
  • IPFW at Purdue
  • VCU at UAB
  • Morehead State at Austin Peay

12/22:

  • Missouri at Illinois
  • Texas at Michigan State
  • Harvard at Connecticut
  • Drexel at Syracuse
  • Xavier at Gonzaga
  • Washington State vs. Mississippi State

12/23:

  • Georgetown at Memphis
  • UTEP at BYU

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

It’s finals season for college students from Maine to San Diego State, which makes it an appropriate time to remind ourselves that our favorite players are also student-athletes.

It’s no easy task to balance the rigors of a season that starts with practices in mid-October and, for the best teams, runs through the first weekend of April. That’s just about the entire academic year. So schools must do their best to provide these students with the resources and time necessary to hone their academic skills and perform at the highest level in the classroom in addition to on the court.

And if they don’t, there will be consequences.

The NCAA’s Academic Progress Report is not a perfect tool for measuring academic standards at athletic programs, but it’s a good start. As the first semester ends, now is a good time to take a peak at the APRs of the 26 teams in the AP or coaches top 25 polls — the coaches like Florida while the writers prefer Texas A&M.

Of those 26 teams, nearly half have APRs north of the average for all Division I sports: 967. Kansas, Michigan State and Texas lead the way with a perfect 1,000. Congratulations to Bill Self, Tom Izzo and Rick Barnes for keeping academics at the forefront of perennially successful programs.

Ten other teams fall below the Division I average but still have acceptable rankings, north of 925. Below that, the NCAA will be watching closely. So four teams — Kansas State, San Diego State, Purdue and Syracuse — had better start making academics a bigger priority. Syracuse already has faced a scholarship reduction because of its inability to meet NCAA academic standards.

It’s no easy task to keep students focused on academics when they routinely face physically exhausting games and practices. But it’s critically important to do so, especially because the vast majority of Division I players won’t be taking those skills beyond college.

NIT Season Tip-Off: Five points of Emphasis

by - Published November 29, 2010 in Columns

:NEW YORK CITY – With all that is going on off the court, some of us forgot a simple fact: Tennessee is a very good basketball team. They shifted the action from the background to what is happening on the floor by capturing the Pre-Season NIT at Madison Square Garden.

The Semifinal Scores:

Tennessee 77, VCU 72
Villanova 82, UCLA 70

Consolation:
VCU 89, UCLA 85

Final:
Tennessee 78, Villanova 68

Five points of emphasis from the Pre-Season NIT:

1. Tennessee is not only resilient but talented. Despite the ongoing drama in Knoxville regarding coach Bruce pearl, the Volunteers came to New York and just concentrated on one thing: playing basketball at a high level. Pearl commented after the VCU game on what great things the Rams do and how much fun it was preparing for them. The Tennessee coach said the same thing about Villanova. Pearl, quite frankly, wanted to put all of these off the floor issues aside for now. Not dwelling on them does not mean they will go away. But for now Pearl is thrilled to be doing what he loves best: breaking down tapes, planning and preparing with his staff.

2. Villanova needs a plan B, Jay Wright admitted after the Tennessee game. There will not be many nights when Corey Fisher, Maalik Wayns and Corey Stokes for that matter are all shut down and not as effective. But when those days do come, Villanova will have to try a different approach. Admittedly, shutting down the Villanova backcourt like Tennessee did will not happen often. But it could happen in Big East and/or post-season and Wright wants to be prepared. Both nights Mouphtaou Yarou came through for Villanova. He scored in double figures both nights and against UCLA the 6-10 sophomore had 16 rebounds and three blocks. Wright likes Yarou’s defensive presence as it gives the guards the opportunity to defensively gamble knowing there is a “stopper” to guard the basket. His offense, as well as that of Antonio Pena and Dominic Cheek (both had good outings in the final), is going to figure very much into Wright’s plans down the road.

3. VCU will be tough to contend with in the Colonial. They earned a split in New York and showed some impressive attributes both nights out. VCU loves the three-pointers and transition. The uptempo offense of coach Shaka Smart relies on 38 percent of its scoring from beyond the arc. Often these three-point attempts are uncontested as the Rams attempt them in half court or out on the break. Their pace is a rapid 75 possessions per game and they utilize those possessions with a very impressive 111 offensive efficiency. This is a team not wildly running or bombing from three. There is an inside presence in Jamie Skeen. Prior to coming to New York, the 6-9 senior asked his teammates to get him the ball more. “When more is given, more is expected,” Smart said with a biblical theme regarding the request. Skeen delivered both nights, especially with a team-high 23-point outing against UCLA, earning him all-tournament honors. Not the last honor VCU will see this season.

4. UCLA showed heart. Down 15 at the half in the semifinal against top ten Villanova. Three time zones from home. It seemed like a time to think consolation game. To their credit, the Bruins tightened the defense, kept their composure and had it to a two-possession game midway through the final half before Villanova went on a game-sealing run. In the third place game the Bruins competed hard for 40 minutes before dropping a close one to VCU. What the Bruins have to do is avoid slow starts. They suffered through them in both contests in New York. They also need contributions from Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson on a nightly basis. Against Villanova, Honeycutt (a 15 PPG scorer) came up with only eight points on 3-8 shooting. The Pac-10 is relatively balanced this season. There are games that are “winnable” through extra effort and outplaying opponents. Here UCLA showed the effort. Now if they can avoid those slow starts.

5. Tennessee can defend. Scotty Hopson is a threat on the perimeter or in the paint. Tobias Harris can slash and score. Brian Williams, at 6-10 cleans the offensive glass for put backs. Make no mistake, Bruce Pearl’s club is anything but one-dimensional. The defense by the Vols in the two games was quite impressive. Villanova entered the game with a 119 offensive efficiency, but was held to 93 by an active, harassing Tennessee defense. In fact, Tennessee held both opponents under 100 offensive efficiency as VCU managed just a 90 OE in the semifinals. In the final Hopson bothered the Villanova guards all night with his quickness and length. Villanova did struggle offensively in the championship. Blame that on the Vol defense.

ALL TOURNAMENT:

Jamie Skeen (VCU)
Reeves Nelson (UCLA)
Mouphtaou Yarou (Villanova)
Tobias Harris (Tennessee)
Scotty Hopson (Tennessee) – MVP

Volunteers Show They Can Overcome Plenty

by - Published November 27, 2010 in Columns

NEW YORK – It’s not a surprise that Tennessee made it to Madison Square Garden. It was pretty much a given they would get that far. But chances are, they aren’t who many people might have picked to take home the NIT Season Tip-Off, which they did with a 78-68 win over Villanova. Simply put, the Volunteers have had a lot to overcome to get to this point.

Tennessee has been overlooked among SEC teams for a few reasons. For one, there’s Kentucky and its much-hyped recruiting, as well as others in their division who have projected to be better like Florida, and improving teams like Vanderbilt and Georgia. The Volunteers also have four new starters this year, although only one is a freshman, and that always leaves question marks. Most of all, this team has a controversy swirling around its head coach, who admitted to providing inaccurate information to the NCAA, and constant speculation about his job status. … Continue Reading

After the Feast

by - Published November 26, 2010 in Full Court Sprints

FULL COURT SPRINTS

BASELINE TO BASELINE

LAST SHOT

Go coast to coast with our roundup of the nation’s top stories.

The Bruce Pearl edition:

  1. News broke early last week that SEC Commish Mike Slive has banned Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl from the Volunteers’ first eight SEC games.
  2. In Jason King’s SEC roundup on YahooSports.com, King writes that the Volunteers are keeping their focus on the court in this time of trouble for their coach.
  3. Pearl’s suspension should be considered within the context of other SEC machinations, writes ESPN.com’s Dana O’Neil.
  4. Meanwhile, David beat Goliath in Maui as Chaminade, host of the EA Sports Maui Invitational, upset Oklahoma in the final game of the tournament for both teams.
  5. Chaminade’s upset wasn’t the only event that shook the major conference teams in Maui: A 4.7-magnitude earthquake rattled Kentucky and Washington for five seconds during their second-round match up, according to the Associated Press.
  6. You just don’t want to play Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence. The team won a 63rd consecutive game at home, the longest such streak in school history, according to a CBSSports.com news report.
  7. Division III Skidmore and Southern Vermont go seven overtimes to settle a 128-123 marathon that ties the NCAA record for longest game, according to the Associated Press.
The pre-Thanksgiving holiday tournaments served several excellent appetizers this past week. Here are some of the biggest games.

  • Michigan St. 76, Washington 71
  • Duke 82, Kansas State 68
  • Kentucky 74, Washington 67
  • Kansas State 81, Gonzaga 64
  • UNLV 68, Wisconsin 65
  • Pittsburgh 68, Texas 66

Meanwhile, four teams had some eye-opening wins or losses: Connecticut, Minnesota, North Carolina and Old Dominion.

  • Connecticut 84, Kentucky 67
  • Connecticut 70, Michigan State 67
  • Old Dominion 67, Xavier 58
  • Old Dominion 61, Clemson 60
  • Vanderbilt 72, North Carolina 65
  • Minnesota 72, North Carolina 67
  • Minnesota 74, West Virginia 70

STUDY SESSION

OPENING TIP

Phil Kasiecki spent a long weekend in New Haven, Conn., for the National Prep Showcase, which — as the event’s name implies — showcased plenty of up-and-coming high school players. Many of those players are destined for top programs, and plenty of others will land with hard-working mid-major teams. Phil wraps up the action from the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before Thanksgiving. The Big Ten/ACC Challenge gets under way this week, capped by a battle royale between Duke and Michigan State. Here are some of the tastiest morsels of the next week.

11/26:

  • Tennessee vs. Villanova in New York

11/28:

  • Florida at Florida State

11/30:

  • Ohio State at Florida State
  • Cornell at Syracuse
  • Georgetown at Missouri
  • North Carolina at Illinois
  • Saint Louis at Portland

12/1:

  • Michigan State at Duke
  • Purdue at Virginia Tech
  • Saint Mary’s at San Diego State
  • American at West Virginia
  • Richmond at Old Dominion

12/2:

  • UCLA at Kansas
  • Missouri at Oregon

HOME COURT ADVANTAGE

Happy Thanksgiving, Hoops Nation!

On this holiday weekend, I’d like to take a moment to give thanks for the privilege of watching great players and great teams in action. In the past week, we have seen a bona fide superstar emerge in Maui, as Connecticut’s Kemba Walker cooked two top 10 teams with a huge serving of 90 points in three games. In Kansas City, better known for barbecue than turkey feasts, Duke devoured all comers, including a resilient Marquette squad and top five Kansas State, which played in front of a partisan crowd.

Last season, Walker battled through a tough season for the Huskies, who missed the NCAA Tournament for only the fifth time since 1990. As a sophomore, he averaged a respectable 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 5.1 rebounds per game. This season, he has more than doubled that points total through five games, averaging 30.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. Although Walker’s assists are down, he isn’t committing as many turnovers this season and actually has a better assist-to-turnover ratio. He’s almost single-handedly dominating games, and he’s lifting holiday hopes in Storrs that this season will see Connecticut return to the top of the Big East standings after a one-season hiatus.

In Durham, Duke fans are already thankful to celebrate Thanksgiving as reigning national champions. With the Blue Devils’ start to this season, there’s reason to be hopeful that they’ll get to do so again next year. Duke dismantled Kansas State 82-68 in Wildcat territory in the CBE Classic. Although team leaders Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith pitched in 28 points on 40 percent shooting, the rest of Duke’s players looked great, tallying 54 points on 55.2 percent shooting. Freshman point guard Kyrie Irving lived up to the hype with 17 points, five rebounds and six assists. If Duke can continue to play balanced basketball, this Blue Devil team genuinely might end up being better than last season’s squad.

It’s early in the season, and we already have plenty of high-quality hoops to celebrate. The holiday season promises to deliver plenty of gifts on the hardwood, setting us up for a fantastic conference season with the turn of the new year.

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Young UNLV team grows in Brooklyn

November 23, 2014 by

unlv

Teams often grow from early season tournaments, and that appears to be what UNLV did in Brooklyn. The young Runnin’ Rebels need the experience.

Simply put, Syracuse needs to improve offensively

November 22, 2014 by

syracuse

Jim Boeheim didn’t have many things to say about his team’s offense, but that said it all. It’s at that end of the floor that Syracuse’s fate this season will be determined.

Growing pains are here for talented Brown team

November 20, 2014 by

brown

Brown has good talent and should be a factor in the Ivy League, but with three sophomores starting on the perimeter, growing pains are in the foreseeable future

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2014 Prep School Tour

Missed a recap of an open gym workout? We have them all right here for you.

Sept. 9: Putnam Science Academy
Sept 10: Commonwealth Academy
Sept. 11: St. Andrew's
Sept. 12: Northfield Mount Hermon
Sept. 16: Brewster Academy and Phillips Exeter
Sept. 17: Brooks School
Sept. 21: Holderness School
Sept. 23: St. Thomas More and Marianapolis Prep
Sept. 24: South Kent School and Kent School
Sept. 25: Williston Northampton
Sept. 28: Wilbraham and Monson Academy and Suffield Academy
Sept. 30: New Hampton
Oct. 5: Worcester Academy
Oct. 7: Brimmer and May
Oct. 8: Cushing Academy
Oct. 9: Tilton
Oct. 12: Tabor Academy and Rivers School
Oct. 14: The Master's School
Oct. 16: Vermont Academy

You can also find them all right here.

Phil Kasiecki on Twitter

Recruiting Coverage

New England Prep Schools 2014-15: looking back and looking ahead

November 3, 2014 by

nepsac

With a series of prep school open gym visits in the book and the season not far away, here’s a look back at open gyms and a look forward to the season in the New England prep school ranks.

Marianapolis Prep will battle in Class AA

October 20, 2014 by

marianapolis

Marianapolis Prep is far from loaded with talent, but they have enough perimeter talent to be dangerous. As is usually the case, they will battle and be a tough out in Class AA.

New Vermont Academy coach has put together a contender

October 17, 2014 by

vermontacademy

Vermont Academy has a new coach for the second year in a row, but they shouldn’t skip a beat. They have enough talent to win a lot of games and make a deep run in NEPSAC Class AA.

The Master’s School has good students and talent

October 15, 2014 by

mastersschool

The Master’s School has a number of good students, and they will continue to head to college later. This time around, they also have some talent on the hardwood and should win a few more games.

Rivers will try to build on a breakthrough season

October 13, 2014 by

riversschool

The Rivers School had a breakthrough season last year, winning the Independent School League. They will try to build on that with a team that loses a lot but also returns a lot from last season’s team.