Author: Dr. Saturday - NCAAF - Yahoo Sports

Duke’s Bagley to miss 4th game with knee sprain

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke says Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth straight game with a knee sprain.

Team spokesman Mike DeGeorge announced Bagley’s status about three hours before tipoff of Wednesday night’s game against Louisville.

Bagley leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with averages of 21.2 points and 11.4 rebounds. He was hurt in the first half of the loss to North Carolina on Feb. 8.

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No. 19 Tennessee faces key matchup with Florida

After Florida failed to hold another late lead in a loss at Vanderbilt, Gators coach Mike White issued a dire warning for his team.

“I hope it does affect us mentally,” White said after the Vanderbilt loss. “How many games do we have left? Four? We have to figure it out or it’s not going to end well.”

That crucial four-game closing stretch for the Gators begins Wednesday at No. 19 Tennessee, which also is coming off an SEC loss.

Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC) has dropped two in a row and four of six overall. The Gators squandered a six-point lead with 25 seconds to play and eventually lost to Georgia in overtime last week. They were up 11 on Vanderbilt with 14 minutes to play on Saturday, but went cold down the stretch and lost 71-68 to the Commodores.

“These are things we’re taught to do. We do it for 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 28 minutes, then for some reason, we stop doing it,” senior guard Egor Koulechov said after the Vanderbilt game.

The Vols (19-7, 9-5 SEC) are trying to adjust to having the target on their backs as one of the top teams in the SEC. Tennessee has lost two of three, including a 73-62 loss at Georgia on Saturday. Coach Rick Barnes’ team trails first-place Auburn by two games in the conference standings with four games remaining.

“We’re still one of the younger teams in the country in a position no one thought they would be in,” Barnes told reporters Monday. “We just knew as a team, as a program, that we (were) gonna go in and try to compete every single day. We’ve done that. But now, these situations come up. They’re realizing that it’s more difficult than you might think. That’s why you have great respect for those teams that year in and year out are at the top, because it’s not easy.”

This is the first and only regular-season meeting between the two SEC rivals this year. The Gators won last year’s meeting 83-70 in Gainesville, Fla. KeVaughn Allen had 23 points for Florida in the win.

Allen is one of four Gators averaging in double figures in scoring this season. Jalen Hudson and Koulechov are each averaging more than 14 points per game. But too often, White says, Florida has struggled to convert good opportunities.

“Our inefficiencies at the rim continue to haunt us,” White said after the Vanderbilt loss. “We had a bunch of looks in the paint. If you’re going to steal one on the road, we got to make a layup. We got to make a 5-footer through a little bit of contact. You have to make the majority of them, and we made hardly any of them.”

Sophomore forward Grant Williams leads Tennessee is scoring (15.7 ppg) and is second in rebounding (5.9 rpg.). Williams, who keys the Vols’ inside-out attack, was held to a season-low five points on one-of-eight shooting in the loss to Georgia.

“I just think that he’s gotta realize that this time of year that everything goes up and keeps climbing,” Barnes said of Williams. “The thermometer keeps going up, and you’ve gotta be able to do that as a player. Knowing he is gonna be game-planned for, which he’s done.”

Texas Tech hoping Evans available against Oklahoma State

Texas Tech has found itself in a new position several times this season.

For example, the Red Raiders had a one-game lead over second-place Kansas in the Big 12 last week before the Jayhawks came from behind to defeat West Virginia and Texas Tech lost to Baylor on Saturday. But Chris Beard’s Red Raiders are still just a half game back of Kansas going into their Wednesday night game at Oklahoma State.

Texas Tech also moved up to a school-record No. 6 national ranking on Monday despite dropping the contest at Baylor over the weekend.

But there is one more possible scenario that could hurt the Red Raiders this week. Leading scorer Keenan Evans suffered an injury to his right foot versus Baylor and sat out the entire second half.

Texas Tech already lost 6-foot-8 forward Zach Smith to a broken bone in his foot in January, now it will potentially have to forge ahead with two of its best players out of action.

However, Beard isn’t conceding that Evans won’t play in Stillwater, Okla., on Wednesday.

“We all know Keenan is a warrior and he’s going to do everything he possibly can to play, which I have nothing but confidence,” Beard said during media availability on Monday. “We’ve got to eventually get him to a point where he’s comfortable to play in pain.”

Evans’ status is listed as day-to-day, and whether Evans plays or not, Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4 Big 12) will face the same narrative against Oklahoma State that it did at Baylor on Saturday. The Red Raiders are trying to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 regular-season championship while they play teams that are desperate for victories to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Oklahoma State (15-12, 5-9) has lost six of its last eight games, including losses in both contests last week by double digits. But it might not be too late considering the Cowboys’ two wins in the last month were against No. 7 Kansas and No. 19 West Virginia.

“I’m really still excited about what this team can do over the next two weeks,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said on Monday. “We’ve probably, in a lot of people’s minds, already overachieved.”

Boynton said most of his team’s shortcomings can be fixed, especially its struggles on the defensive end.

Oklahoma State gave up an average of 86 points per game in losses to Kansas State and TCU last week.

“We can’t be who we need to be to have success when we don’t guard, and our defense has been pretty poor for some time now,” Boynton said. “We’ve got a four-game season to get that corrected before whatever happens postseason-wise.”

Texas Tech senior forward Justin Gray had one of his best offensive games of the season on Saturday when fellow senior Evans was on the bench with the foot injury. Gray finished with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the 59-57 loss to Baylor.

Like his coach, Gray refused to concede that Evans would not play against Oklahoma State nor did he express concern about the Red Raiders’ offensive production.

Gray merely stated that he and his teammates will have to match the Cowboys’ intensity on their home floor.

“We’re going to expect their best shot,” Gray said. “We’re in a position now that we have a target on our back being one of the top teams. So every game we have left this season, we’re expecting the other team’s best shot.”

Pearl wonders what Brown can do for No. 12 Auburn

The availability of leading scorer Bryce Brown is among the chief concerns for Auburn coach Bruce Pearl with his 12th-ranked team set to host rival Alabama on Wednesday.

Pearl fielded questions about Brown’s foot when meeting with the media Monday. He finally turned to Brown and asked how he was doing.

“It’s better,” Brown shouted.

Brown did not take part in running drills during Monday’s practice. He took part in only shooting drills. Pearl said Brown was to test his foot during Tuesday’s practice.

“He needs to be able to get some shots,” Pearl said.

Brown suffered from a sore foot and shoulder when the Tigers (23-4, 11-3 SEC) lost 84-75 at South Carolina on Saturday.

He finished with 10 points in a team-high 35 minutes. He made 3 of 16 shots from the field, including 2 of 13 from 3-point range.

“It was not an injury; it was just painful,” Pearl said. “He couldn’t really push off, and more than anything else, he couldn’t get what he always gets, which is hundreds of shots. Bryce gets hundreds of shots every day, and he’s not been able to shoot much last week.”

Pearl is so concerned about keeping his team’s health intact — with only eight scholarship players — that he will forbid contact in practice going forward.

Starting center Anfernee McLemore had to undergo season-ending surgery for a dislocated ankle and fractured tibia, suffered at South Carolina on Saturday.

“I can’t see having contact practice the rest of the way,” Pearl said. “We’ve had one contact practice in the last two weeks and that was one day before Kentucky and it was a factor in our preparation for South Carolina. Typically, in getting ready for South Carolina we would hit Friday but Bryce could barely move and I just can’t run the risk of getting down (to seven), losing anybody else.”

Auburn will miss McLemore’s defense around the rim against Alabama (17-10, 8-6). He has 73 of his team’s 155 blocked shots this season.

The Crimson Tide are fighting for their NCAA Tournament life. They defeated Auburn in the first meeting at home. A victory on the road would likely assure them an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Donta Hall is coming off a 16-point performance on 7-of-8 shooting from the field in an 81-71 loss at Kentucky on Saturday. Collin Sexton had 12 points after having to leave the game in the first half with a cut chin that required a bandage to stop bleeding.

Alabama was down only four points with the ball with less than three minutes left but the Crimson Tide had five turnovers thereafter.

“We had a chance to win in a tough environment,” Alabama coach Avery Johnson said. “There are no moral victories but we need to be better in the last four minutes of the game.”

Alabama snapped Auburn’s 14-game winning streak with a 76-71 victory Jan. 17 behind freshman John Petty’s 27 points off eight 3-pointers. The win was achieved minus Sexton, who was out with an abdominal injury.

Much at stake when No. 17 Michigan visits Penn St

Despite there being no Big Ten title implications, there certainly is going to be a lot on the line for No. 17 Michigan and host Penn State when they meet Wednesday.

Penn State, a team that has played itself into at least being in the conversation for an NCAA Tournament berth because of a strong second half, has opportunity knocking with a chance to earn what would assuredly be a resume-boosting win.

Penn State (19-10, 9-7 Big Ten) enters the game with an RPI of 76, and beating a Michigan team that enters No. 28 in the RPI rankings would no doubt push the Nittany Lions deeper into the NCAA Tournament conversation.

After a slow start, Penn State has morphed into one of the Big Ten’s better teams in the second half of the season.

The Nittany Lions had won six of seven games, including two over No. 16 Ohio State, before falling at No. 9 Purdue on Sunday, although that loss in itself came to show how far Penn State has come this season.

Penn State battled Purdue right to the final buzzer before losing 76-73.

“To come in this environment, to put ourselves in a position to steal it, it was critical and it shows you what kind of heart we had,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said after the Purdue loss. “We have to play smarter basketball, finish the half, and that’s all part of the growth. I think we’re going to learn a lot from this game.”

The biggest reason for Penn State’s resurgence has been the development of sophomore point guard Tony Carr, who has turned into arguably the top point guard in the Big Ten.

Carr leads the conference in scoring at 19.6 points per game and is fifth in assists (4.9).

But Carr and Penn State this season have yet to face Michigan, which enters the game leading the conference in scoring defense at 63.5 points allowed per game.

The Wolverines have good perimeter defenders in sophomore Zavier Simpson, junior Charles Matthews and senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rakhman, who will do their best to harass Carr all game.

Michigan (22-7, 11-5) is coming off a 74-62 victory over Ohio State on Sunday, although the Wolverines can’t win a regular season conference title since they are three games behind league-leading Michigan State with two games to play.

However, there still is plenty for Michigan to play for.

Michigan enters tied for fourth in the league standings with Nebraska, an important benchmark since the top four teams earn double-byes for the conference tournament beginning next week in New York City.

Nebraska owns the tiebreaker for the No. 4 seed via a win over the Wolverines in Lincoln earlier this season.

Michigan also wants to enhance its RPI in order to get an even better seed for the NCAA Tournament.

After Penn State, Michigan closes the season at Maryland on Saturday, so there are two more good opportunities for the Wolverines to boost their RPI.

“This team is on a great run right now,” Michigan head coach John Beilein said of Penn State. “It is really talented. Young, but extremely talented. They can shoot it (and) they can pass it. This is one that will be really difficult for us.”

Penn State closes the regular season with a game at Nebraska on Sunday.

Wilder leads W. Michigan to 83-81 OT win over C. Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Thomas Wilder scored 11 of his 22 points in overtime, completing a 3-point play in the final seconds to seal the win, as Western Michigan struggled to get past Central Michigan 83-81 on Tuesday night.

Wilder, who just missed recording a triple-double, hit a jumper and followed with two free throws to start the extra period. He added three more free throws, a jumper and a layup as Reggie Jones was the only other Bronco to get points in overtime. Jones drained a 3 for an 80-79 lead with 49 seconds left.

Wilder finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists for Western Michigan (16-12, 8-7), which remains three games behind Toledo in the Mid-American Conference West Division.

Luke Meyer’s layup with 29 seconds left in the extra period gave Central Michigan an 81-80 lead. Wilder found the basket as he was falling down along the baseline with 14 seconds remaining. He was fouled and made the free throw.

Central Michigan had an opportunity to retake the lead, but Reggie Jones blocked Shawn Roundtree as he drove for a layup in the final seconds.

Bryce Moore added 17 points and Brandon Johnson had 13 with 12 rebounds for the Broncos.

Roundtree and Kevin McKay had 18 points apiece for Central Michigan (16-12, 5-10). McKay also pulled down 11 rebounds.

No. 20 Nevada returns home to face San Jose State

Winning on the road in hostile environments, overcoming potential catastrophic injuries and mental toughness are ingredients of a team well-prepared to make some serious noise come NCAA Tournament time.

After winning at Boise State and Utah State this past week after losing point guard Lindsey Drew to an Achilles injury, Eric Musselman’s No. 20 Nevada Wolf Pack hunkered down and now are on the cusp of a regular-season Mountain West title and the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament.

The Wolf Pack have two games at Lawlor Events Center in Reno this week and have a good chance to clinch that coveted top seed in the Mountain West as well as at least a share of the title.

First up is San Jose State (3-22, 0-14) on Wednesday and then a final home game on Sunday against Colorado State (11-15, 4-11).

Despite San Jose State being winless in the conference, Musselman believes the Wolf Pack has the focus to take the Spartans seriously. The Wolf Pack proved their mental toughness Saturday in Logan, Utah.

Coming off an emotional win at Boise, “(the Utah State) game was really, really important for us,” Musselman told the Reno Gazette Journal. “To be able to come back after that game on the road, knowing it’s a getaway game and we’re leaving to go back home, I was really concerned.

“It’s hard to grab college-aged student-athletes’ attention sometimes. I was probably most proud of how we approached the game from a professional mentality.”

The way Caleb and Cody Martin performed should alleviate some of Musselman’s worries. Cody Martin poured in a career-high 30 points and Caleb Martin, Nevada’s leading scorer, added 23. Together they compiled 53 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and two steals.

What had to please Musselman even more was how Cody Martin ran the offense in place of the injured Drew, who is scheduled to have surgery on Wednesday.

“We have so many guys who can score that I never felt the need to look for my shot,” Cody Martin told the Gazette Journal. “The biggest thing was my teammates having confidence in me and they allowed me to get it and go. Nobody was looking at me like I was crazy, so it allowed me to play freely and take shots with confidence.”

The Spartans travel to Reno with nothing to lose and perhaps a bit more confidence than other teams that have lost 14 straight. After all, the Spartans led the Wolf Pack at halftime earlier this season before faltering in the last five minutes in a 71-54 win in San Jose.

Jean Prioleau’s first year at the helm of the Spartans hasn’t gone as planned might be an understatement, but the former Colorado assistant is building toward the future.

“I’m optimistic about what we are trying to do,” he said moments after 89-75 loss to Wyoming on Sunday. “I’m unhappy, the players are, too. We’re trying to focus on gaining a competitive advantage and we’ll keep working at it.”

The Cowboys dominated the paint and Prioleau is convinced the Spartans “would have been right in it” if they hadn’t given up 11 layups in the game. Turnovers against Wyoming also doomed San Jose State.

“We’re going to work on some things; we have the best team in the league coming up,” he said.

Prioleau’s work has not gone unnoticed.

“Coach Prioleau is doing a good job at San Jose,” Wyoming coach Allen Edwards said after the game. “Coach has some pieces in place to really get that thing going. It’s not a program that you can overlook.”

One of those pieces is junior forward Ryan Welage, who leads the Spartans in scoring at 18.5 points per game with a season-high of 37. But Nevada held him to nine points in the team’s first meeting.

No. 15 Clemson looks to rebound vs. Virginia Tech

When Clemson travels to Blacksburg, Va., on Wednesday, the team will be without its starting point guard.

Shelton Mitchell has been in the concussion protocol since getting hit in the head in the final minutes of last week’s 81-79 loss to Florida State.

“He’s not ready,” Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Tuesday afternoon, according to the Greenville (S.C.) News. “We’re hopeful that he’ll be fine by the weekend, but he needs to be able to do some more things so we’re going to leave him back here I think and just let him have a couple more days, which I think is a good decision. We’ll just have to push forward without him.”

The No. 15 Tigers (20-6, 9-5 ACC), who are coming off consecutive losses for the first time this season, will face a Virginia Tech team that has won three of its past four games, including a 61-60 victory over No. 1 Virginia.

Mitchell missed Sunday’s 66-57 loss to Duke.

“Our guys just want to go play well,” Brownell said. “We’ve been playing extremely hard. I told our team yesterday that last week was one of those weeks where sometimes you work hard in life and it doesn’t always pay off in wins. That’s the hard thing about sports.

“I thought our guys had great preparation in our practices all last week. We competed extremely hard in both games, but had a lot of basketball errors and that cost us opportunities for two wins, but I’m proud of the way our guys have stayed focused.”

The 3-1 stretch for the Hokies (19-8, 8-6) began with point guard Devin Wilson’s return to the starting lineup.

Wilson, who started for Virginia Tech in his first two years, had spent most of this season as a backup.

“The way my career has gone has allowed me to see the darkness and the light of college basketball and college athletics in general,” Wilson told The Roanoke (Va.) Times. “I’m thankful for that, to be honest. Things have switched around. I’m playing a lot more now.

“I try to be that defensive presence and that leadership presence that we might need.”

Wilson, then playing for coach James Johnson, made the ACC’s all-freshman team after the 2013-14 season.

But when Buzz Williams replaced Johnson in March 2014, player and coach didn’t see eye to eye.

“I’ve never went from disliking a player as much as I did when I first got here to the respect that I have for him,” Williams told the Times.

Wilson saw his points per game drop from 9.2 as a freshman to 6.5 as a sophomore and then to 2.1 as a reserve junior. He is averaging 3.1 points this season.

“He blatantly told me … he didn’t like me,” Wilson said. “I kind of looked at him like, ‘Okay, well, I’m not going anywhere, so you’re going to either like me or you’re just going to hate me for the rest of my career.’

“That’s what’s special about our bond. There’s not much words said. We don’t really text that much or call each other on the phone every night like he might with other players, but we have a great mutual respect.”

Perhaps the two are just too similar.

“My game kind of fits his style — get to the rim, get fouled, play hard all the time. So, it must have been my personality,” Wilson said. “I’m very much like him. I’m bull-headed. I’m very honest with how I feel about things. If I think you’re wrong, I’m going to tell you.

“He didn’t not like me for long. … He told me, actually, when we were in training camp of my sophomore year, ‘I’m starting to like you, Dev.'”

Thompson IV, Minnie help Eastern Michigan beat Toledo 85-79

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — James Thompson IV and Elijah Minnie each scored 23 points and Paul Jackson had 18 points and 10 assists to help Eastern Michigan beat Toledo 85-79 on Tuesday night.

Minnie was 8-of-11 shooting, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and Thompson made 11 of 14 from the field. Tim Bond added 17 points for Eastern Michigan (17-11, 8-7 Mid-American Conference). The Eagles have won three in a row and five of their last six.

Luke Knapke was fouled on a dunk and converted the 3-point play to give Toledo a 12-point lead midway through the first half, but Minnie and Bond scored nine points before Thompson made back-to-back baskets to give EMU its first lead early in the second half. Thompson’s alley-oop dunk from Jackson sparked a 10-1 run that made it 72-63 with five minutes to play. Marreon Jackson’s layup about a minute later pulled the Rockets within six, but they would get no closer.

Tre’Shaun Fletcher led Toledo with 21 points.

The Rockets (19-9, 11-4), who have a one-game lead over Ball State in the West standings, have lost two in a row. Buffalo (12-3) leads the East.

Syracuse aims for upset of No. 10 UNC

If Syracuse wants to upset No. 10 North Carolina and put itself on the “in” side of the NCAA Tournament bubble, the Orange will have to win the battle of the boards against the Tar Heels in their Atlantic Coast Conference matchup Wednesday at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse is 0-4 this season when its opponents grab more rebounds. North Carolina’s 11.7 rebounding margin leads the nation.

In last year’s matchup, the Tar Heels thumped the Orange 85-68. Syracuse couldn’t guard North Carolina on the interior and was outrebounded 44-24.

Despite the loss of big men Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks, North Carolina is still a force on the boards as it ranks No. 2 nationally in offensive rebounding percentage and No. 30 in defensive rebounding percentage.

“They’re big. They’ve been big for as long as I can remember,” Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said. “They get a lot of big guys, they’re very aggressive, they get on the boards, they usually have big guards. But they’re also going to have a couple 6-10 guys every year, a couple 6-8s. They’ve always been physical and aggressive.”

In their 93-76 rout of Louisville on Saturday, the Tar Heels (21-7, 10-5 ACC) outrebounded the Cardinals 44-32. Every time Louisville made a run, North Carolina answered with a 3-pointer or a rebound and putback to stay comfortably ahead.

Led by guard Joel Berry II with 23 points and forward Luke Maye with 19 points and 13 boards, the Tar Heels shot 48 percent and broke 90 points for the third time in their current five-game winning streak.

North Carolina sits in third place in the ACC, behind Virginia (13-1) and Duke (10-4) and ahead of Clemson (9-5).

“All in all, we really played well,” North Carolina coach Roy Williams said after the Louisville game. “I didn’t like our defense, but I haven’t liked our defense all year long. Maybe we’ll get it changed before I turn 90. But we made shots and guys made plays.”

After showing initial signs of being a strong rebounding team, the Orange (18-9, 7-7) has regressed in ACC play. Syracuse ranks sixth on the offensive glass and 13th on the defensive glass in conference-only games.

That makes freshman forward Oshae Brissett a key player in Wednesday’s game. Brissett, who shared this week’s ACC Rookie of the Week Award with Virginia’s De’Andre Hunter, is averaging 14.7 points and a team-high 9.0 rebounds this season.

The only ACC freshman averaging more points is Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, and the only ACC freshmen with more rebounds are Bagley and Duke’s Wendell Carter Jr. Brissett is bidding to join Carmelo Anthony as the only freshman in Syracuse history to average a double-double for the season.

“Even if Oshae’s not having a shooting night, he’s always boarding and getting rebounds,” said Orange guard Tyus Battle, who ranks third in the ACC in scoring at 19.9 points per game. “He shows his versatility every time he steps on the floor.”

As in recent years, the Orange find themselves on the NCAA Tournament bubble as the season winds down. With games against North Carolina, No. 5 Duke and No. 15 Clemson remaining, Syracuse has an opportunity to notch that one signature win that could vault them into the tournament.

“We have a much better strength of schedule than we had last year. We don’t really have any bad losses and we have more road wins than we had last year,” Boeheim said. “We’ll just keep playing. There’s really, really tough games left. We’ll see what happens.”