The Dagger

  • This year's Northwestern is not the
    This year’s Northwestern is not the “same old Northwestern.” (AP)

    After the handshake line, and after all the jubilant hugs, Chris Collins had a chance to digest history.

    Northwestern beat Ohio State in Columbus on Sunday for the first time since 1977, and when Collins was pulled aside for a postgame TV interview, he reflected on the meaning behind that achievement.

    “We want to be different,” Collins said after mentioning that the 40 years of road losses to the Buckeyes had been his team’s motivation. “We want to be different,” he repeated.

    Northwestern has never made the NCAA tournament, and there’s a narrative to be pushed that these Wildcats are playing for 80 years of Wildcats that have come before them. In reality, they’re doing anything but. The program has fundamentally changed, from an infrastructural level all the way up to the players and the head coach. Those 80 years of teams were what they were. This team is what it is. In many ways, the two are not relatable aside from the

    Read More »from Northwestern is 'different,' and a first NCAA tournament bid is well within reach
  • Allonzo Trier and Arizona were the biggest winners of the weekend. (Getty)
    Allonzo Trier and Arizona were the biggest winners of the weekend. (Getty)

    It wasn’t exactly a memorable two days of college basketball. There were no earth-shattering upsets, no crazy buzzer-beaters, and no tripping controversies.

    There were, though, two games between top 20 teams, one of which produced the most consequential result of the weekend. And up and down a crowded Saturday slate, there were plenty of teams that pulled out significant victories or slumped to damaging defeats, and plenty of players who stood out as individuals.

    Here’s a look at the biggest winners and losers from the weekend in college hoops:


    Arizona — A whirlwind 24 hours for the Wildcats began when the NCAA notified the program that Allonzo Trier’s latest drug test had come back negative. It ended with Trier on the court for the first time this season, and with Arizona outscoring UCLA, which is about as tough a task as there is in college basketball. The Wildcats are the new Pac-12 favorites.


    Read More »from College basketball weekend winners and losers: Arizona headlines busy Saturday
  • Duke’s Grayson Allen got beat up pretty good in the first half against Miami. First he got smacked in the face going up for a rebound, and was bleeding from the side of his right eye.

    Then, on the final play of the half, Allen fouled a Miami player going for another rebound. This time, he immediately coiled over in pain, clutching his left hand.

    TV cameras later caught a shot of his left pinky, which was badly dislocated. It’s no wonder Allen had the reaction he did.

    Look away if you’re grossed out by this kind of thing…

    Allen started the second half on the bench with his warmup shirt still on, and did not enter the game after the first timeout of the second half either. Duke trailed Miami by 11 at halftime, but stormed back into the lead without Allen by opening the second half on a 20-1 run.

    Allen then came back into the game with just under 13 minutes remaining, and Duke continued its elongated spurt.

    Read More »from Grayson Allen suffers gruesome finger injury against Miami (Video)
  • (Getty)

    Seventh-ranked West Virginia went into a crazy environment Saturday, but for the second-consecutive game, the Mountaineers couldn’t make the game itself crazy enough.

    Just like it did earlier this month at Texas Tech, and just like it did earlier this week against Oklahoma, West Virginia lost the turnover battle, this time in a 79-75 loss to Kansas State in Manhattan. And while the loss was relatively unsurprising — the Mountaineers were just 3.5-point favorites — it was nonetheless worrying.

    Two questions will now haunt Bob Huggins’ team, one that romped through non-conference play, beat a No. 1 team by 21 points, and at one point reached the top of Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted efficiency-based rankings. Can the Mountaineers win without imposing their will on opponents via their famed full-court press? And does the effectiveness of that press depreciate in conference play not only because of the quality of competition, but because of opposing coaches’ growing familiarity with the

    Read More »from Kansas State deals No. 7 West Virginia second-straight worrying loss
  • (Getty)

    Kentucky freshman De’Aaron Fox, one of the top point guards in college basketball, rolled his right ankle in the first half of Saturday’s game against South Carolina.

    Fox did not return to the game. Instead, he returned to the bench on crutches in the second half with a walking boot on his right foot.

    Kentucky coach John Calipari, however, did not seem too concerned. “I think it was a stinger or something, but they told me it’s not serious,” Calipari said. “It’s not swollen. Something hit his ankle. He’s in a boot, but they said there was no swelling, so I don’t know.”

    Here’s the play on which the injury occurred. Fox drives to his right, and when he attempts to come to a jump stop, his right foot lands awkwardly:

    Fox immediately left the game and was originally designated as questionable to return, but Kentucky soon

    Read More »from Kentucky's De'Aaron Fox injures ankle, but John Calipari says it's 'not serious'
  • In the waning moments of the first half Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, Allonzo Trier glided towards his own baseline, reeled in a one-handed rebound, and, 94 feet from where he needed to go, glanced up at the game clock. It showed 6.2 seconds. And, nearly 20 minutes into his long-awaited 2016/17 debut, Trier took off like he hadn’t done in what must have seemed like years.

    Trier zoomed up the floor. He zigged over half court, then zagged into the lane. He dribbled five times, whizzed past five UCLA defenders, and laid in two points.

    It was a coast-to-coast drive 71 days and 19 games in the making, a bucket that put No. 13 Arizona up 11 at halftime, and a symbolic highlight of an impressive all-around team win, 96-85 over the third-ranked Bruins.

    It was also emblematic of a Pac-12 hoops landscape that looks markedly different than it did 24 hours ago, when Trier was still suspended and the Wildcats were lurking behind UCLA and Oregon. Now Trier is back, and the Wildcats are every bit the

    Read More »from Arizona takes down UCLA in Allonzo Trier's debut, announces itself as Pac-12 favorite
  • Katin Reinhardt led Marquette with 21 points in an upset over No. 7 Creighton. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
    Katin Reinhardt led Marquette with 21 points in an upset over No. 7 Creighton. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

    Creighton’s first game without Maurice Watson Jr. did not go well.

    Five days after Watson, the nation’s assists leader, was lost for the season with a torn ACL, the seventh-ranked Bluejays (18-2, 5-2 Big East) dropped just their second game of the season in a 102-94 home decision to Marquette. The game was not as close as the final score may indicate.

    Behind 17 first-half points off the bench from graduate transfer Katin Reinhardt, the Golden Eagles (13-6, 4-3) closed the half on a 14-5 run to take a 10-point lead at the break. Marquette continued to pick apart Creighton in the second half, getting good looks inside and out. The lead grew to as large as 19 before the Bluejays made things a bit more interesting in the final minutes, but the deficit was too large to overcome.

    For the game, Marquette shot 60 percent from the field including a blistering 50 percent from three. Reinhardt led

    Read More »from No. 7 Creighton upset by Marquette in first game without Maurice Watson
  • The first three minutes were as impressive as three-minute stretches come. They were also outliers.

    Florida State could do no wrong early on in its 73-68 win over No. 12 Louisville. The 10th-ranked Seminoles outshot, outran and overpowered the Cardinals. They harassed and suffocated them anywhere within 35 feet of the basket. They bludgeoned them inside. They hit threes and mid-range jumpers and layups.

    And then they stopped.

    Florida State jumped out to a 14-0 lead; the Tomahawk Chop was rolling around the Tucker Civic Center. Rick Pitino had called a timeout two minutes in, but not much changed, and the Seminoles charged into the under-16 timeout up 16-4.

    Then things did change — or, more specifically, Florida State’s personnel changed, and the early dominance proved to be fleeting. Leonard Hamilton subbed out four of his starters at the under-16, and the fifth 11 seconds later. The second-unit let the Cardinals back into the game, and quelled Florida State’s ascendancy.

    Over the

    Read More »from Florida State shows glimpses of being an elite team in win over Louisville
  • Texas A&M picked up its tenth win of the season on a controversial ending. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
    Texas A&M picked up its tenth win of the season on a controversial ending. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

    Georgia blew a double-digit second half lead on the road Saturday against Texas A&M, but still had a chance to win in the final seconds.

    After a Robert Williams bucket with 20 seconds to go gave the Aggies a 63-62 lead — their first since the 5:48 mark in the first half — the Bulldogs regained possession. UGA guard J.J. Frazier dribbled some time off the clock and fed the post to big man Yante Maten, who was fouled.

    But there was one problem. There was no time left on the clock when Maten, who had a game-high 19 points, was fouled — and nobody in the arena knew it.

    clock malfunction

    As Frazier worked to create an open look, the clock mistakenly stopped at 5.6 seconds because of an apparent “belt pack malfunction.” Because of this, the officials consulted the replay monitor and used a stopwatch to determine the amount of time that passed between the clock stopping and the foul on Maten.

    From there, the

    Read More »from Clock malfunction helps Texas A&M complete comeback win over Georgia
  • Allonzo Trier was reinstated Friday night in time for Saturday's game at UCLA (AP)
    Allonzo Trier was reinstated Friday night in time for Saturday’s game at UCLA. (AP)

    No longer does Arizona have to temper expectations this college basketball season.

    Now the Wildcats can take aim at capturing the Pac-12 title and even dare to dream of getting coach Sean Miller to his first Final Four.

    Anything is now within reach after Friday night’s news that sophomore guard Allonzo Trier has been reinstated by the NCAA. Trier, the Wildcats’ leading returning scorer, sat out the team’s first 19 games this season while serving a PED-related suspension.

    The NCAA notified Arizona on Friday afternoon that Trier’s most recent drug test was negative, paving the way for his immediate return to the court. Arizona (17-2, 6-0) subsequently released a statement late Friday night announcing that Trier will be available in time for maybe the 14th-ranked Wildcats’ biggest game of the season Saturday at UCLA (19-1).

    Hailed as one of the top prospects in the 2015 class, Trier lived up to his hype as

    Read More »from Arizona can dare to dream big again now that Allonzo Trier is back
  • Xavier guard Myles Davis had not scored a basket in three games this season (Getty Images).
    Xavier guard Myles Davis had not scored a basket in three games this season (Getty Images).

    Not even two weeks after expressing excitement about returning from a 15-game suspension, Xavier’s Myles Davis apparently has experienced a change of heart.

    The senior guard announced on Twitter that he’s leaving the Musketeers program even though this season is barely halfway over.

    Davis’ departure is a surprise even though he had not made the immediate impact he expected to in his return from suspension. In Xavier’s back-to-back-to-back losses to Villanova, Butler and Creighton the past two weeks, Davis missed all eight shots he attempted, scored his only two points at the foul line and did not record a single assist.

    That’s a far cry from last season when Davis averaged 10.8 points and 4.1 assists for a Musketeers team that won 28 games. The 6-foot-2 combo guard had been expected to boost a Xavier offense shooting an

    Read More »from Myles Davis abruptly leaves Xavier 13 days after return from suspension
  • Frank Martin, one of the most intense coaches in college basketball, leads South Carolina into Kentucky Saturday with sole possession of first place in the SEC on the line. (Getty)
    Frank Martin, one of the most intense coaches in college basketball, leads No. 24 South Carolina into Kentucky Saturday with sole possession of first place in the SEC on the line. (Getty)

    Michael Carrera still laughs when he watches the video. Still laughs every time he sees Frank Martin’s impending rage. Still laughs every time he sees Martin’s rigid posture and petrifying stare. Still laughs when he recalls that afternoon more than four years ago, the afternoon of his first college game.

    Carrera says he watches the YouTube clip almost every day. He watches Martin stalk out onto the court, clench his fists, and unleash a string of ferocious words. He watches as Martin composes himself, then springs back into life; as the stone-cold rage becomes unchained; as Martin’s eyebrows angle towards the bridge of his nose, then flatten as his eyes scrunch shut, his mouth flies open, and the screaming resumes.

    With the shot clock turned off and Milwaukee and South Carolina tied at 66 on the

    Read More »from How Frank Martin and his sideline fury turned South Carolina into a winner
  • A brawl between Division II schools LeMoyne-Owen and Lane College got out of hand during a game last Saturday night. Whereas most fights in basketball end as scuffles, this escalated into a fight where a fan hit a player over the head with a folding chair.

    According to, the fight broke out in the first quarter. Tensions were high the entire game, but after was a player tripped, other players began swarming the court and throwing punches.

    The game was postponed after the fight and may be made up at a later date. According to a LeMoyne-Owen spokeswoman, the man that threw the chair was not a student. She said that his behavior is “not welcomed on campus.”

    Later, the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic conference announced that they were working with the Memphis Police Department to investigate the situation.

    “Such behavior will not be tolerated in our league under

    Read More »from Ugly brawl ends with fan hitting player in the head with a chair
  • Dillon Brooks left Oregon's win over Cal with a
    Dillon Brooks left Oregon’s win over Cal with a “lower left leg injury.” (AP)

    Any joy Oregon might otherwise have gotten from its 86-63 rout of Cal was tempered by a worrisome injury.

    Pac-12 player of the year candidate Dillon Brooks left the game at the end of the first half with what the Ducks are calling a lower left leg injury.

    The injury appears to have happened on an innocuous play with less than a minute left in the first half when Brooks stepped awkwardly trying to avoid a teammate. Brooks walked to the locker room without assistance but did not return to the floor for the second half.

    What’s especially concerning is that it’s Brooks’ left foot that required surgery after he hurt it during the offseason. Oregon coach Dana Altman would not say after the game whether Brooks had reinjured that foot and offered little clarity on his status going forward.

    Read More »from Oregon holds its breath after Dillon Brooks suffers another injury
  • Saturday’s top 10 clash between North Carolina and Florida State told us a lot about both teams, and almost all of it was positive. (Getty)
    Saturday’s top 10 clash between North Carolina and Florida State told us a lot about both teams, and almost all of it was positive. (Getty)

    Heartbreaking is too strong a word. As Creighton coach Greg McDermott said at a Wednesday press conference that was both reflective and upbeat, nobody died. Nobody was diagnosed with a serious illness. It’s just an ACL.

    But nonetheless, something about Maurice Watson’s season-ending injury was heart-twinging. The fact that McDermott had to give that reminder in the first place spoke volumes about the response to the news.

    “Someone in the national media said, ‘Maurice Watson’s injury is bad for Maurice, it’s bad for Creighton, and it’s bad for college basketball,” McDermott said Wednesday. “I think that’s the ultimate compliment. This little guy has had an impact on our game that people really, really appreciate.”

    As a fan of the sport, it’s impossible to dislike Watson, an unheralded and undersized recruit from Philadelphia who didn’t have a major

    Read More »from College basketball Power Rankings, Jan. 19: North Carolina into the top 5
  • Kodi Justice has overcome dyslexia and is on pace to earn his degree next year (AP)
    Kodi Justice has overcome dyslexia and is on pace to earn his degree next year (AP)

    When Arizona State guard Kodi Justice was a kid, he went into a local store in his hometown of Dobson, Arizona, put his bags up on the counter, and pulled out his wallet. His total appeared on the cash register screen: $12.32.

    Justice gave the cashier $12.23 and couldn’t understand why the man kept saying that he had shorted him nine cents.

    “I kept arguing with him and saying it was enough but then I realized I was wrong because I saw the numbers backwards,” Justice told Yahoo Sports.

    In first grade, Justice was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disorder that causes the brain to rearrange letters, numbers and words. To this day, he sees D’s as B’s and mixes up number sequences.

    Despite those challenges, Justice has successfully balanced basketball and academics the past two-plus years at Arizona State and is on pace to graduate in 2018. The 6-foot- 5 junior credits his work ethic for helping him push

    Read More »from Basketball has been Kodi Justice's release during life-long bout with dyslexia
  • Jonathan Isaac led Florida State past Notre Dame on Wednesday night. (Getty Images)
    Jonathan Isaac led Florida State past Notre Dame on Wednesday night. (Getty Images)

    In five jaw-dropping minutes Wednesday night, Jonathan Isaac accomplished more than just leading Florida State to an 83-80 victory over Notre Dame.

    The heralded freshman forward also offered a glimpse of what he can become and how an already formidable Seminoles team can get even scarier.

    All the momentum was on Notre Dame’s side with 5:25 to go in the second half and the 15th-ranked Irish having just surged in front. It was then that Isaac turned things around with a shot that gave No. 10 Florida State the lead back for good.

    With Notre Dame in a zone designed to wall off driving lanes and force contested jump shots, Isaac used his 6-foot-10 frame to his advantage. He elevated over 6-foot-1 Matt Farrell with ease and buried a go-ahead 3-pointer from the right wing.

    Isaac’s deep ball sparked an 11-1 Florida State run that put the Seminoles in control of what had been a tightly contested game. The highly

    Read More »from Jonathan Isaac's rapid ascent makes Florida State even scarier
  • On a night when Indiana suffered a key injury and a stunning late-game collapse, James Blackmon made sure the Hoosiers’ woes didn’t deepen further.

    Blackmon sank a pull-up right-wing 3-pointer at the buzzer on Wednesday night to send Indiana to a 78-75 win at Penn State.

    The game-winning 3-pointer from Blackmon came after Indiana squandered a 14-point lead in the final 10 minutes and a seven-point lead with less than a minute to go.  Penn State reeled off seven straight points prior to Blackmon’s shot, tying the game on a pair of Lamar Stevens free throws with just over four seconds to go.

    Had Indiana failed to win at Penn State, it would have been the Hoosiers’ fifth loss in their last seven games. The Hoosiers instead notched their first true road win of the season to improve to 13-6 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten.

    Once Indiana’s celebration died down after Blackmon’s buzzer beater, the

    Read More »from Concern about O.G. Anunoby casts pall over Indiana's buzzer-beating win
  • Jordan Woodard hit three massive shots charging towards the basket late in the Sooners' upset of West Virginia. (Getty)
    Jordan Woodard hit three massive shots charging towards the basket late in the Sooners’ upset of West Virginia. (Getty)

    Through the first two weeks of Big 12 play, there didn’t appear to be too many easier games than a home date with Oklahoma. The Sooners started 0-4 in the league, were under .500 overall, and had lost seven in a row over a 32-day span.

    Those Sooners, however, didn’t have Jordan Woodard.

    The Sooners that travelled to Morgantown, West Virginia on Wednesday night did, and they shocked the seventh-ranked Mountaineers, 89-87 in overtime.

    Woodard hit a circus shot to send the game to an extra-session, and actually missed the and-one free throw that could have won Oklahoma the game in regulation.

    Then, the senior guard — the lone returning star from last year’s Buddy Hield-led Final Four team — did it again to give the Sooners a lead with under a minute to play in overtime:

    Read More »from Jordan Woodard's late-game heroics doom No. 7 West Virginia to puzzling home loss
  • Alonzo Trier hasn't played so far this season for Arizona, and according to ESPN's Jeff Goodman, Trier's absence has been due to a failed drug test. (Getty)
    Allonzo Trier hasn’t played so far this season for Arizona, and according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, Trier’s absence has been due to a failed drug test. (Getty)

    Arizona sophomore guard Allonzo Trier hasn’t played a game yet this season, and the reason for his absence, as first reported by ESPN’s Jeff Goodman and later confirmed by a statement from Trier, is a failed drug test in September.

    Trier was initially suspended by the NCAA for the entire 2016/17 season after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs during the preseason, but appealed the decision, won the appeal in December, and has been cleared to return to action once the drug completely exits his system.

    Trier said in the statement that he was “shocked” by the initial positive test.

    “I have never knowingly taken a banned substance,” Trier said. “After finding out that I was given a banned substance by a well-intentioned, but misguided person not associated with the University after an injury, I presented this information

    Read More »from Allonzo Trier failed drug test in preseason, but could return this season