The Dagger

  • Georgetown survived Oregon's furious rally and handed the Ducks' their second loss (AP)
    Georgetown survived Oregon’s furious rally and handed the Ducks’ their second loss (AP)

    When Oregon regained All-American candidate Dillon Brooks in time for the Maui Invitational, many thought it would be a cure-all for some of problems that had plagued the Ducks during their first three games of the season.

    Turns out it wasn’t that simple.

    It’s clear Oregon isn’t as far along as it would like to be offensively after the Ducks suffered a 65-61 loss to previously struggling Georgetown in Brooks’ debut. They rallied from 17 down at halftime to take the lead with eight minutes left in the game, but they could not sustain that level of defensive intensity and quickly fell behind again.

    “We came back all the way and took the lead, but then, I think, on the next four or five possessions, we had three turnovers and two front ends of one-and-ones that we missed,” Oregon coach Dana Altman told reporters in Maui. “So as great a comeback as it was we weren’t tough enough to finish it.”

    Brooks was

    Read More »from Oregon's early scoring issues persist despite Dillon Brooks' return
  • Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley (AP)
    Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley (AP)

    The morning after an egregious clock error deprived Florida Gulf Coast of a fair chance to win at Michigan State on its final possession, Eagles coach Joe Dooley said he wants to make sure no other team endures the disappointment his players are feeling right now.

    Dooley told Yahoo Sports on Monday that he hopes the NCAA men’s basketball rules committee considers a rule change enabling referees to grant the do-over that he begged for but did not receive Sunday night.

    “I do think this was a correctable error,” Dooley said. “I understand foul calls aren’t correctable if you miss it, but a clock error is different. Someone obviously started the clock wrong. If you see clearly see there has been a mistake and the clock started, why wouldn’t you want to fix it?”

    The error that doomed Florida Gulf Coast occurred when the game clock mistakenly started as soon as Christian Terrell released a length-of-the-floor inbound pass with 1.6 seconds left and the

    Read More »from Florida Gulf Coast coach hopes clock error sparks a rule change
  • Xavier celebrates its second holiday tournament title in Orlando in the past two years (AP).
    Xavier celebrates its second holiday tournament title in Orlando in the past two years (AP).

    With a 67-59 victory over Northern Iowa on Sunday night, Xavier captured this year’s Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando. Below is a look at the best and worst from the tournament.

    TEAM THAT HELPED ITSELF: XAVIER

    As the lone AP Top 25 team in the field in Orlando, Xavier expected to return home with something shiny to add to its trophy case. The Musketeers achieved their goal thanks largely to the trio of Trevon Bluiett, J.P. Macura and Edmond Sumner

    Those three combined for 67.8 percent of Xavier’s points and 73.7 percent of its assists in its trio of victories over Missouri, Clemson and Northern Iowa. Bluiett received tournament MVP honors after back-to-back 21-point outbursts in the semifinals and title game. Macura also made the all-tournament team thanks largely to his 28-point, six-3-pointer semifinal eruption against Clemson.

    What Sunday’s victory means for Xavier is a second straight

    Read More »from Best and Worst of the Tire Pros Invitational
  • Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley (AP)
    Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley (AP)

    An apparent last-second clock error helped Michigan State avoid a huge upset Sunday night.

    The Spartans hung on for a 78-77 victory over Florida Gulf Coast after the Eagles were deprived of a fair chance to win the game on their final possession.

    When Christian Terrell threw a length-of-the-floor inbound pass to Antravious Simmons with Florida Gulf Coast trailing by one and 1.6 seconds left, the buzzer sounded while the ball was still in flight. Simmons subsequently hurried his shot and badly missed a turn-around jumper. Then referees went to the monitor to review the play and deemed the game over.

    The only way the clock should have started before Simmons caught ball was if the Michigan State player guarding the inbound pass tipped it while it was in flight. Florida Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley told reporters after the game that

    Read More »from Clock error helps Michigan State thwart Florida Gulf Coast's upset bid
  • Dayton's last-gasp comeback fell just short on Saturday against Saint Mary's (AP)
    Dayton’s last-gasp comeback fell just short on Saturday against Saint Mary’s (AP)

    Dayton suffered two painful losses Saturday afternoon.

    Only hours after learning they’ll be without maybe their top big men for at least the next three months, the Flyers fell 61-57 at home against 17th-ranked Saint Mary’s after a furious last-ditch comeback fell just short.

    Dayton trailed by 14 points with just over three minutes to go before its aggressive defensive pressure began to disrupt the Gaels and tighten the gap. Saint Mary’s coughed up the ball six times in the final three minutes and missed a couple of critical free throws, a wobbly finish that nearly ended in disaster.

    When Saint Mary’s failed to cleanly inbound the ball while clinging to a two-point lead with 15 seconds to go, it appeared Dayton would have a chance to either tie the game in regulation or perhaps even win it with a 3-pointer. The Flyers instead blew their chance as Xeyrius Williams recklessly drove to the basket and was

    Read More »from Dayton loses a key game and a key player in a matter of hours
  • Michigan's Derrick Walton kisses the 2K Classic Trophy (Getty Images)
    Michigan’s Derrick Walton kisses the 2K Classic Trophy (Getty Images)

    With a 76-54 rout of SMU on Friday night, Michigan captured this year’s 2K Classic. Below is a look at the best and worst from the tournament.

    TEAM THAT EXCELLED: MICHIGAN

    In a four-team tournament thought to be very balanced before it began, Michigan proved to be a cut above. The Wolverines demolished Marquette in the semifinals and SMU in the title game, putting away both teams by halftime.

    Having lost decisively to SMU the previous two years including a 24-point shellacking in Dallas last season, Michigan came out inspired on Friday night. Point guard Derrick Walton sank seven 3-pointers, tournament MVP Zak Irvin had his second straight 16-point night and the sometimes shaky Wolverines defense held the Mustangs to just 38 percent shooting.

    Michigan’s dominance against two teams expected to contend for NCAA bids this year suggests the Wolverines may have been a bit undervalued. Expect to see Michigan make its AP Top

    Read More »from Best and worst from the 2K Classic
  • Austin Nichols won't make the impact he was expected to at Virginia (AP)
    Austin Nichols won’t make the impact he was expected to at Virginia (AP)

    The transfer projected to make the biggest impact this season has been dismissed from his new team after playing just a single game.

    Virginia coach Tony Bennett announced Friday evening that he has jettisoned forward Austin Nichols for unspecified rules violations. Nichols was previously suspended for the Cavaliers’ two preseason scrimmages and their season opener at UNC Greensboro last Friday.

    “It’s a privilege to be a part of this program and Austin has lost that privilege,” Bennett said in a statement. “We have standards for our student-athletes and when those standards aren’t met, there are consequences and this is the unfortunate consequence.”

    A 6-foot-9 forward who averaged 13.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.4 blocks as a sophomore at Memphis two seasons ago, Nichols became the most coveted transfer on the market when he chose to leave the Tigers.

    Nichols projected as an instant starter and an impact player at

    Read More »from Virginia dismisses prized transfer Austin Nichols after just one game
  • UConn coach Kevin Ollie and guard Jalen Adams (AP)
    UConn coach Kevin Ollie and guard Jalen Adams (AP)

    LOS ANGELES — In jeopardy of suffering a third straight loss at the hands of a small-conference minnow, UConn instead offered faint hope that this season may yet be salvageable.

    The Huskies fought back from a six-point second-half deficit Thursday night at Loyola Marymount, survived a nerve-rattling final possession and escaped with a 65-62 road win.

    When sophomore point guard Jalen Adams missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with six seconds remaining, it gave LMU a final chance to force overtime with a 3-pointer. Senior Brandon Brown got a clean look from the right wing, but cold-shooting point guard’s 3-point attempt bounced harmlessly off the rim.

    “We came out here knowing that we were 0-2,” UConn freshman Christian Vital said. “This was a must-win game for us. As a team, we really needed this one.”

    The phrase “must-win” is typically reserved for a marquee game in March, not an innocuous one in mid-November, yet Vital certainly did not

    Read More »from Can struggling UConn fix its issues in time to salvage its season?
  • Missouri suffered a heartbreaking last-second loss (AP)
    Missouri suffered a heartbreaking last-second loss (AP)

    Missouri’s most uplifting performance of the dismal Kim Anderson era ended in the most crushing fashion possible.

    The Tigers committed a foolish last-second foul Thursday afternoon that doomed them to an 83-82 overtime loss to 11th-ranked Xavier.

    With the score tied and nine tenths of a second left in overtime, Xavier point guard Edmond Sumner inbounded the ball, sprinted to the right wing and got a touch pass right back from shooting guard J.P. Macura. Missouri guard Terrence Phillips attempted to contest Sumner’s shot and ran right through the Xavier point guard, sending him to the foul line with a chance to win it with just a single free throw.

    Of course a free throw from Sumner was no guarantee considering the sophomore had missed the last four he attempted late in regulation.

    Read More »from Costly last-second foul spoils Missouri's upset bid against Xavier
  • Butler's Kamar Baldwin sank a last-second shot to beat Northwestern (Getty Images)
    Butler’s Kamar Baldwin sank a last-second shot to beat Northwestern (Getty Images)

    With Butler in need of a big shot to avoid overtime against Northwestern on Wednesday night, a fresh-faced newcomer came to the Bulldogs’ rescue.

    Freshman guard Kamar Baldwin’s last-second pull-up jumper from just inside the 3-point arc gave Butler a come-from-behind 70-68 victory.

    When Baldwin drove left around a top-of-the-key ball screen with less than five seconds to go, Northwestern defender Scottie Lindsey could not fight over the top and 6-foot-8 Gavin Skelly had to make the switch. Baldwin took full advantage of the favorable matchup, first getting Skelly on his heels with an aggressive move toward the rim and then creating space for his shot with a step-back dribble.

    Baldwin’s game winner was the culmination of a breakout game for the freshman

    Read More »from Butler freshman finishes breakout night with last-second game winner
  • Kent State players each invited a fan to stand with them during Wednesday's national anthem (via Kent State Athletics)
    Kent State players each invited a fan to stand with them during Wednesday’s national anthem (via Kent State Athletics)

    In a year in sports rife with athletes sitting or kneeling during the national anthem, the Kent State basketball team found another way to get its message of solidarity to the masses.

    Each player entered the stands before Wednesday night’s victory over Mississippi Valley State and selected a fan of a different age, race or gender to stand alongside them while The Star-Spangled Banner played.

    “We understand all of the issues going on in our world,” sophomore point guard Jalen Avery said in a statement on behalf of his teammates. “In these times, we felt it was important to show a sign of unity in our community.”

    The idea to invite fans onto the floor for the anthem was the brainchild of Kent State players. The team’s seniors and captains revealed their plan to their coaches and sought permission to do it at home games for the rest of the season.

    “It takes courage for

    Read More »from Kent State players send powerful message of unity during national anthem
  • Staring at the possibility of an 0-2 start after his team squandered a late 12-point lead, Kansas coach Bill Self put the ball in the hands of his most fearless player.

    What Frank Mason did next will only add to his Jayhawks legacy.

    Mason sank the nation’s top-ranked team by beating its best perimeter defender. The Kansas point guard got Duke’s Matt Jones on his heels with a couple of aggressive dribbles, pulled up 17 feet from the rim and buried a go-ahead jump shot with 1.9 seconds to go, propelling the Jayhawks to a dramatic 77-75 victory.

    Self had good reason to entrust Mason with that shot considering the senior point guard has carried Kansas during the first week of the season.

    Mason tallied 30 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in a season-opening overtime loss to Indiana in Honolulu on Friday night. Four days and six time zones later, Mason summoned the strength to erupt for 21 points against Duke despite battling constant foul trouble.

    It’s remarkable that Mason has

    Read More »from Frank Mason's dramatic tie-breaking jumper topples No. 1 Duke
  • Kentucky freshman Malik Monk (AP)
    Kentucky freshman Malik Monk (AP)

    Before his team’s clash with second-ranked Kentucky on Tuesday night, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo instructed the Spartans to pack in their defense, cut off all driving lanes and force the Wildcats to win with jump shots.

    Malik Monk made Michigan State regret that strategy.

    The streak-shooting freshman led Kentucky to a convincing 69-48 victory with a barrage of deep 3-pointers. Twenty-one of Monk’s game-high 23 points came from behind the arc including a trio of 3-pointers in the game’s opening seven minutes that helped the Wildcats seize control from the outset.

    Most of Monk’s 3-pointers came via catch-and-shoot opportunities from all sorts of spots on the floor. Only once did Monk force a 3-pointer the whole night, a dribble pull-up heat check midway through the first half that went halfway down and came out.

    Torrid shooting and savvy shot selection from Monk on a big stage at Madison Square Garden bodes well for Kentucky’s longterm outlook.

    Outside

    Read More »from Malik Monk's shooting barrage helps Kentucky rout Michigan State
  • Dayton experienced euphoria and devastation all in one play Tuesday afternoon when forward Josh Cunningham suffered a potentially serious injury on a game-clinching dunk.

    With the Flyers leading Alabama by two and the final seconds of the second half melting away, Cunningham went up for a transition dunk, absorbed heavy contact from Alabama’s Ar’Mond Davis and threw down a soaring one-handed slam. Cunningham’s left leg folded underneath him awkwardly when he landed, leaving him writhing in pain on the floor clutching his lower left leg.

    Dayton trainers carried Cunningham to the locker room, where he remained for the final four seconds of the Flyers’ 77-72 road win. Archie Miller said after the game that the Flyers were concerned about both Cunningham’s left knee and ankle.

    “It’s uncertain what it is exactly, but we could be looking at being without him for some time,” Miller added.

    Losing Cunningham would be a massive blow to a Dayton team that’s already short-handed in the

    Read More »from Dayton forward suffers serious injury on game-sealing dunk
  • While the Champions Classic doubleheader will be the highlight of ESPN’s 24-hour tip-off marathon, there have been some other significant results. Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers so far: 

    Winner: Baylor’s offense with Manu Lecomte

    Any lingering doubts about Manu Lecomte’s ability to transition to point guard should be long gone by now. The Miami transfer has been better than predecessor Lester Medford in Baylor’s first two games of the season. Lecomte didn’t shoot well against Oral Roberts, yet he still finished with 13 points, 10 assists and zero turnovers. The step up in competition against fourth-ranked Oregon hardly bothered Lecomte as he torched the Ducks for 18 points and seven assists. Lecomte’s performance is a huge reason that Baylor was able to emerge with a 66-49 upset victory. He knocked down big jump shots from behind the arc, made smart decisions with the ball in his hands and created for himself and his teammates off the dribble. If he continues to play

    Read More »from Winners and losers from Tuesday's 24-hour tip-off marathon
  • Kevin Ollie's team has lost its first two games (AP)
    Kevin Ollie’s team has lost its first two games. (AP)

    Three days after dropping its season opener against lightly regarded Wagner, UConn suffered another alarming loss.

    The Huskies fell 64-61 to Northeastern on Monday to sink to 0-2 for the first time since 1968.

    It’s difficult to assess which loss was more embarrassing for a UConn team that began the year 18th in the AP Top 25.

    Wagner won 23 games last season and is expected to contend for the Northeast Conference title this year, but the Seahawks followed their win over UConn with an 11-point setback against mighty UMass Lowell. Northeastern plays in a stronger conference than Wagner does, but the Huskies went .500 in the Colonial Athletic Association last season and were projected seventh last month in the league’s preseason poll.

    The common thread between the two losses is that UConn isn’t very efficient on offense when it can’t get out and run.

    The Huskies shot just 37.8 percent from the field against Wagner, hit only 6 of 19

    Read More »from Two alarming early losses have UConn searching for answers
  • Villanova's Mikal Bridges and Purdue's Vince Edwards battle for a loose ball (Getty Images)
    Villanova’s Mikal Bridges and Purdue’s Vince Edwards battle for a loose ball (Getty Images)

    In the decade since Joakim Noah and Al Horford led Florida to back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007, no team has come particularly close to pulling off that same feat.

    By leaving Purdue with a tense, hard-earned 79-76 victory, third-ranked Villanova showed why it has a real chance to end that streak.

    Not only did the reigning champs emerge with a road win over a top 15 opponent on Monday night, they did it against a team built to exploit their main weakness. Seven-foot-2 Isaac Haas and 6-foot-9 former McDonald’s All-American Caleb Swanigan are exactly the sort of imposing big men who are capable of making Villanova pay for starting four guards and only having one player taller than 6-7 in its rotation.

    Haas scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half, overpowering smaller defenders in the paint and drawing foul after foul on Villanova’s Darryl Reynolds and Eric Paschall. Swanigan added 20

    Read More »from Villanova shows championship mettle with road win at Purdue
  • Lorenzo Romar's team dropped its season opener against Yale on Sunday night (Getty Images)
    Lorenzo Romar’s team dropped its season opener against Yale on Sunday night (Getty Images)

    Washington’s bid to prevent its NCAA tournament drought from reaching six years is off to a very rocky start.

    The Huskies opened their season on Sunday night with a discouraging 98-90 home loss to unheralded Yale.

    Although Yale won the Ivy League last season and upset Baylor in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Bulldogs are not expected to approach such heights this year. Three of last season’s four top players have exhausted their eligibility and first-team all-league guard Makai Mason suffered a broken foot earlier this month, leaving Yale without a single returner who averaged more than 5.7 points last year.

    You’d have thought Yale had a roster full of proven scorers the way the Bulldogs sliced up Washington’s swiss-cheese defense.

    Freshman guard Miye Oni scored 24 points, senior forward Sam Downey tallied 22 and sophomore forward Blake Reynolds had 19 as Yale built a 20-point

    Read More »from Crucial season for Washington begins with discouraging loss to Yale
  • The socks that Marist players wore Friday night at Duke (AP)
    The socks that Marist players wore Friday night at Duke (AP)

    It was no coincidence members of the Marist basketball team wore rainbow-patterned socks during their 94-49 loss at Duke on Friday night.

    Red Foxes coach Mike Maker confirmed after the game that the socks were a show of support for the lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender community in response to North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2 law.

    “Marist and Duke share similar missions when it comes to inclusiveness and diversity and the respect they have for all that,” Maker told ESPN.com. “We met a lot with our players, and most of them decided that it’d be a good idea to show support in regards to that issue, and I’m very proud of how they handled themselves.”

    Critics of HB2 allege that it purposefully violates the rights of transgender people. HB2 is best known for requiring transgender people to use public restrooms corresponding with their birth gender and for limiting the ability of employees to sue for discrimination

    Read More »from Marist protests HB2 law by wearing rainbow-colored socks at Duke
  • Jalen Adams and UConn suffered a stunning loss on Friday night (AP)
    Jalen Adams and UConn suffered a stunning loss on Friday night (AP)

    Snap judgments from season openers often turn out to be wrong a few months later, but it’s all we have to go on right now. Here are some first impressions from college basketball’s busy opening weekend:

    1. This is how every college basketball season should start

    For a sport that has typically started with a whimper instead of a roar, Friday night was a huge step in the right direction. The Armed Forces Classic in Honolulu featured four name-brand programs, a slew of NBA prospects and two dramatic finishes. In a battle of shorthanded top 15 teams, Arizona edged Michigan State by two on a coast-to-coast drive by senior guard Kadeem Allen. Then James Blackmon scored 22 of his 26 points after halftime to lead Indiana to a 103-99 overtime victory over third-ranked Kansas.  Two great games to whet our appetites for what should be a fun season. Hopefully marquee opening night events like this become an annual tradition rather

    Read More »from Fifteen snap judgments from college basketball's opening weekend