The Dagger

  • From burning couches in the streets at West Virginia, to rolling Toomer’s Corner at Auburn, to throwing tortillas in the air at UC Santa Barbara, college sports fans have some unusual ways of celebrating big victories.

    None of them are stranger than what one court-storming Fort Wayne student did after the Mastadons stunned No. 3 Indiana on Tuesday night.

    There’s really no rational explanation for why anyone would take a swig out of a clorox bottle like it’s a jug of cheap champagne, but here’s a guess. That bottle must be a very ill-advised way of sneaking in enough whiskey or vodka to put down a bear.

    Social media suggests the Fort Wayne fan’s name is Brian Blackwell, a freshman who appears to be enjoying his newfound Internet fame.

    Read More »from Did a Fort Wayne fan really celebrate beating Indiana by chugging bleach?
  • Indiana suffered a stunning 71-68 overtime loss at Fort Wayne on Tuesday night (Getty Images)
    Indiana suffered a stunning 71-68 overtime loss at Fort Wayne on Tuesday night (Getty Images)

    It’s probably safe to assume Indiana coach Tom Crean won’t agree to schedule another road game at Fort Wayne anytime soon.

    Not after the Mastadons sprung one of the biggest upsets of the season Tuesday night at the third-ranked Hoosiers’ expense.

    Guards Bryson Scott and John Konchar scored a combined 33 points to help Fort Wayne control the game from start to finish en route to a 71-68 overtime victory. Indiana rallied from 10-point deficits in both halves to force overtime, but the Hoosiers scored only three points in the extra session.

    When Indiana’s James Blackmon drove into the teeth of the Fort Wayne defense and turned the ball over with seven seconds left in overtime, the Hoosiers had no choice but to foul to extend the game. Fort Wayne’s DeAngelo Stewart sank a pair of free throws to extend his team’s lead to three and Juwan Morgan’s subsequent inbound pass was intercepted, sending

    Read More »from Stunning loss at Fort Wayne reveals what issues Indiana must fix
  • Poor point guard play contributed to Texas going 0-for-2 at the Legends Classic (Getty Images)
    Poor point guard play contributed to Texas going 0-for-2 at the Legends Classic (Getty Images)

    With a 70-66 comeback win over Northwestern on Tuesday evening, Notre Dame captured this year’s Legends Classic. Below is a look at the best and worst from the tournament:

    TEAM THAT EXCELLED: NOTRE DAME

    Even though Notre Dame has been to back-to-back Elite Eights, the Irish were somewhat of a forgotten team entering the new season. They graduated top scorers Demetrius Jackson and Zach Auguste, raising questions whether new leaders would emerge. Notre Dame won’t be overlooked much longer after two strong games in New York. The Irish dispatched of Colorado in the semifinals and rallied to edge Northwestern in the title game, serving notice that they’ll contend for an NCAA tournament bid once again this year. The revelation the past two days was the performance of new point guard Matt Farrell, who averaged a mere 2.6 points per game last season. Farrell tallied a combined 38 points, 12 assists

    Read More »from Best and Worst from the Legends Classic
  • Creighton center Justin Patton (AP)
    Creighton center Justin Patton (AP)

    It’s time to rethink the notion that the Big East’s top tier consists solely of Villanova and Xavier.

    Creighton has established itself as a legitimate threat to the Wildcats and Musketeers by exceeding expectations to start the season.

    A comeback victory over Ole Miss in Monday night’s Paradise Jam title game served as Creighton’s fourth victory over a power-conference opponent in the previous seven days. The Bluejays have also beaten preseason top 15 Wisconsin, Pac-12 bottom feeder Washington State and a North Carolina State team expected to finish in the upper half of the ACC and contend for an NCAA bid.

    Creighton’s 5-0 start puts the Bluejays squarely on track to reach the NCAA tournament for the first time since Doug McDermott graduated in 2014. They could even take an undefeated record into Big East play if they can win at Nebraska and Arizona State and avoid any home losses to minnows from smaller conferences.

    The key to Creighton’s jump from

    Read More »from Creighton's torrid start suggests the Big East won't be just a two-team race
  • 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