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With Kansas State surging and the purple-clad crowd roaring in the second half of Monday night's matchup against rival Kansas, Jeff Withey made a pair of huge plays that helped the Jayhawks regain momentum.
He tipped in an errant Elijah Johnson jump shot at one end and stuffed Rodney McGruder at the other end, part of an 11-0 Kansas run that enabled the Jayhawks to escape with a 59-53 win.
Withey's 18-point, 11-rebound, nine-block masterpiece was so impressive that it sparked discussion of whether he may be the nation's most improved player this season. Here's a look at where he'd rank on my list:
3. Jeff Withey, Jr., Kansas: An afterthought off the bench his first two seasons at Kansas, Withey has transformed himself from punchline to role player to bonafide weapon in a matter of months. The 7-foot former Arizona transfer has taken advantage of all the attention opposing defenses give Thomas Robinson, scoring 9.5 points per game, grabbing 6.5 rebounds and blocking a Big 12-best 3.4 shots. In his past three games, Withey has averaged 20.3 points and 12.0 rebounds, not bad for a guy who had scored 80 points in 41 career games entering the season.
The game was defense, hustle and grit. The kind of game Bill Self loves, when he wins it.
Kansas did, 59-53 over Kansas State on Monday night.
“I told our guys before the game, execution isn’t going to win this game at all,” Self said. “It’s going to be who goes after the ball with two hands, who gets 70 percent of the 50-50 balls. That’s how you win how games like this.”
Oh, and big time players step up. Two did in a big way for the fourth-ranked Jayhawks (21-5, 11-2 Big 12). One Kansas has come to depend on greatly, another who has played like a gift over the past few weeks.
Tyshawn Taylor had 20 points and five assists and hit the big shots that stopped a Jayhawk slump and started one for Kansas State.
Then there’s center Jeff Withey. Four games ago, the 7-footer was held scoreless by Missouri. Since then, he’s played like an All-American and his latest performance — 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocked shots — came into the roughest of encounters.
Withey greeted the media with scratches on his body. He fell to the floor hard late in the game in a collision with teammate Thomas Robinson.
But he finished the scrum, logging a season-best 36 minutes, and his final block helped Kansas keep a safe distance.
“They’re a physical team,” Withey said. “It was a physical game. I got hit in the face a couple of times."
Jamar Samuels sulked off the court at Bramlage Coliseum Monday night with his hands above his head and a blank stare on his face. He took Kansas State’s 59-53 loss to Kansas as hard as anyone could.
The fifth-year senior, who has seen the Wildcats knock off their fiercest rival twice since joining the K-State basketball program, did everything he could against the Jayhawks. In a game where points were hard to come by for both teams, he found the bottom of the net better than anyone else in a gray uniform. He scored a season-high 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and made all four of the Wildcats’ three-pointers.
Nothing has brought out the best in K-State players like facing Kansas in front of a wild home crowd in recent years, and when the lights shined brightest with national television audience looking on, Samuels was at his best.
It was arguably his finest game since his fabulous sophomore season, when he was allowed to roam the perimeter and attack the paint at his own discretion, regularly made exciting plays on his way to being named the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year.
“He gave it his all,” K-State junior Rodney McGruder said. “You can tell that. He played like a grown man. He was doing everything he could to keep his team in the game.”
Because of the final score, Samuels couldn’t appreciate the standout effort the way he would have liked.
“I wanted to beat Kansas,” Samuels said. “Going into their home we just got beat up on the glass, it wasn’t an exciting game. The ball just went in for me today.”
“My big man’s been playing amazing,” Taylor said after the game, patting Withey on the chest as they both chuckled. “If he keeps that up, I think we’re going to be tough to beat.”
…Withey swatted away freshman guard Angel Rodriguez’s shot on the very next possession, ending any hopes of a Kansas State comeback and leaving Withey one block shy of a triple-double.
“I’m going to get it sooner or later,” Withey said.
…“It’s such a bonus for us because Thomas trusts him,” coach Bill Self said of Withey. “Those two should get better playing with each other as he continues to produce.”
“This was a big boy game,” Self said. “And he had 18, 11, and nine on a night when Thomas wasn’t Thomas. I thought he was just fabulous.”
Withey has averaged 20.3 points in his last three games after going scoreless in the 74-71 defeat at Missouri on Feb. 4.
“For somebody that’s kind of come out of left field, I don’t know if I can remember anybody that’s been as dominant,” Self said. “To go from scoreless to now, how do you win without him?”
A student in the third row of the Kansas State student section held up a sign during Monday’s pregame warmups mocking Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor for his frequent turnovers. It read: “Tyshawn, pass me the ball.”
A few hours later, Taylor’s little sister Tatianya held the sign in her possession as his family walked out of Bramlage Coliseum following a 59-53 Kansas win. Taylor quieted a rowdy Kansas State crowd with two huge 3-pointers in the second half and finished with a team-high 20 points, leading the fourth-ranked Jayhawks to a gutsy road win that kept them on the inside track for an eighth straight Big 12 regular season title.
When the final buzzer sounded, Taylor faced the student section, used his hands to show them the “KANSAS” on his jersey and began yelling in their direction. As the crowd screamed obscenities and motioned inappropriate gestures back at him, Taylor smiled and soaked in the moment.
“They had their time to talk to me when I was warming up and during the game, so I figured that I had my time to talk to them a little bit after the game,” Taylor said. Taylor did plenty of talking on the court as well, continuing to make it a mystery as to why he is not one of the 11 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the top point guard in college basketball.
With a smothering Kansas State defense keeping big man Thomas Robinson under wraps, Taylor took over in the second half. After a furious rally by the Wildcats eliminated a 10-point halftime Kansas lead, Taylor hit arguably the two biggest shots of the season on back-to-back possessions. Trailing 37-36 and with the shot clock running out midway through the second half, Taylor went into the backcourt to get a deflected ball and raced up the court. As K-State guard Angel Rodriguez flopped back in hopes of getting a charge call, Taylor pulled up and drilled a long 3 as the shot-clock buzzer sounded.
After a missed shot by Kansas State, Taylor drove but had his shot blocked. The ball came back to Taylor, who dribbled out and again hit a long 3-pointer for a 42-37 lead. Taylor capped the 11-0 Kansas run with a jumper for a commanding 47-37 lead with just over six minutes remaining.
“We were scrambling, we didn’t have anything going for the most part,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “They had totally out-whooped us for the first 10 minutes of the second half. That gave us a little bit of a cushion and we got it back to 10 pretty quick. “Ty made some great plays, he made some plays that weren’t so great, but certainly those were huge at that moment.”
…And Kansas hopes his recent play doesn’t go unnoticed. They’ve contacted the folks who hand out the Cousy Award to see if it’s possible to get him added to the list of finalists before the vote is held.
“I talked with the people, yeah, but they were going to review that anyway,” Self said. “There’s (11) guys on that list and he’s not one of them?”
Self said one of the things holding Taylor back might be his performance late in games. After missing two key free throws and committing a turnover in a stunning collapse at Missouri two weeks ago, Taylor again struggled to finish Monday. But Self noted fatigue as a possible reason, with Taylor playing at least 37 minutes in four straight games.
“It’s not fair to him,” Self said. “His body is dead tired. He’s worn out. He told me yesterday he was as tired as he’s ever been, and all we did was play him 37 minutes.”
But Self can’t afford to sit Taylor, not even for a minute. He’s too important to the Jayhawks’ success, and everyone who watches Kansas knows it.
While Robinson may end up winning the National Player of the Year, Taylor likely will be the key to the Jayhawks’ tournament run. When he plays well, Kansas is tough to beat. And one of his best traits is that he wants the ball in his hands. He thrives under pressure. And when it means silencing the opposing team’s crowd, he enjoys it even more.
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Kansas State struggled to find an answer after the Jayhawks switched to a zone defense known as the triangle-and-two, something Self has employed against the Wildcats before.
"They're made to get you to stand around," Martin said. "It got the mission accomplished. It got us to stand around, and they slowed us down."
Taylor added a circus-like layup to make it 47-37 with 6:29 left, forcing Martin to call a timeout. The Jayhawks kept pouring on the pressure, with Taylor answering a basket by Gipson with his own soaring dunk along the baseline.
Gipson lost his cool on the next trip down court. The big freshman stood his ground and drew a charge on Robinson, his fourth foul, but said something as the two stood up. He was hit with a technical foul, and Withey knocked down both free throws to restore a 10-point lead.
Kansas survived some tense moments down the stretch to win another game in Manhattan.
"We're going to have to keep fighting these battles to win the league," Taylor said. "We just have to keep battling and keep getting better, because we still have a couple of tough games."
With Missouri leaving for the SEC, Kansas-Kansas State has a chance to become the preeminent hoops rivalry game in the Big 12. Finding yourself on the losing end of that battle is never a pleasant thing.
But this loss carries more weight than just the bragging rights that currently reside in Lawrence.
It may have cost the Wildcats their last chance at an at-large bid.
Kansas State is now 17-8 on the season and just 6-7 in Big 12 play. They do own a 16 point win over Missouri, but the rest of their quality wins — Virginia Tech, Alabama, Long Beach State and Texas — are no where near as impressive as they seemed a month ago. At this point, getting swept by Oklahoma may outweigh those wins.
The Wildcats have now lost four of their last six games, and they are smack in the middle of the toughest part of their schedule.
Tyshawn Taylor doesn’t make it easy, does he?
One minute I’m thinking he’s Kansas’ Most Valuable Player this season, the next I want to go out on the floor and strangle him. Bet that would make the ESPN highlights, huh?
But we should all be used to taking the good with the bad when it comes to Taylor, who had both personalities on full display during KU’s 59-53 win over Kansas State in a hard-fought (my nice way of saying ugly) Big 12 game at Bramlage Coliseum on Monday night.
Taylor had 20 points and was at times electrifying, like on his baseline drive and dunk that put the Jayhawks up by 10, 49-39, with 4:43 remaining.
But Taylor missed the front end of two one-and-one free-throw opportunities during the final 1:03, free throws that could have sealed the deal much earlier than the deal got sealed.
Then, when it was over and the blood had been cleared off the court, Taylor mocked the K-State student section by pulling on his jersey. Instead of getting to the dressing room, he chose to act like a child, not the senior leader he proclaims himself to be.
It just doesn’t fit with the way Bill Self coaches. But Taylor’s gifts are so dynamic that the Kansas coach has apparently decided to grin and bear the other stuff.
I can’t say I wouldn’t do the same.
Taylor explained his decision to talk smack after the game. That’s if you believe there was a decision involved. I think it’s just his nature.
“I can’t talk before the game, I don’t want to jinx it,’’ Taylor said. “I can’t do it during the game because I don’t want to get yelled out. After we get a win it’s my time to talk about it a little bit. I did that.”
The funny thing is that Taylor is an enjoyable player to talk to. He expresses himself well and people gravitate toward him. But he can’t seem to keep from getting in his own way.
Wichita Eagle Lutz
Taylor said there were no excuses for missing free throws in crunch time, as he did in a 74-71 loss on Feb. 4 at Missouri.
“I just (stink) at free throws right now,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what it is. I’ve got to get back in the lab and work on them.”
Taylor, who dislocated a finger in the second half and had it popped right back in, hit a three just before the shot clock expired after chasing down a deflected pass into the backcourt.
That three gave KU a 39-37 lead.
“It’s one of the biggest ones (shots of his career),” Taylor said. “We didn’t have anything going at the time. Then I was able to hit another one right after that, and we had a lead.”
After his team took a one-point lead in the second half, Kansas State coach Frank Martin said he saw one main difference between Kansas and KSU: maturity.
“That’s the difference when you’ve got grown men playing for you,” Martin said following KSU’s 59-53 loss to KU on Monday night. “It makes our guys look like little kids in those moments.”
…“Angel tries to flop on a charge, and Tyshawn looks at him when he falls down, says, ‘Thanks for making my job easy,’ and sticks a three,” Martin said. “Then he comes down and sticks another three.”
With KSU’s Shane Southwell on the court — a guard with limited offensive skills — KU coach Bill Self switched to a triangle-and-two defense that allowed Southwell to run free.
Against the set, the Wildcats missed their next six shots with a turnover.
“Those junk defenses — and I say that in a nice way, not in a negative way — they’re made to get you to stand around,” Martin said. “When you’ve got guys that don’t know what to do against it, now you’ve got to run a different offense. Then you come out of a timeout, and you still don’t run the right offense ... It got the mission accomplished.”
Martin was quick to take on responsibility for his team’s second-half “self-destruction,” saying the Wildcats should have been better prepared for KU’s change-up.
“That defense is designed to try to take away the guys that get you into offense and get you to be passive, and that’s what it did to us,” Martin said. “We got passive.”
…“We played hard. We tried. We lost,” Martin said. “Huggs (Former KSU coach Bob Huggins) said that when we got hired here: ‘It’s hard to have a rivalry when one team wins all the time.’ When you lose on your home court, there’s no rivalry.”
Martin left impressed by the Jayhawks’ discipline, saying they were a team that didn’t make many mistakes.
“They’ve got big boys playing — and I don’t mean in size, I mean in age and maturity,” Martin said. “And Bill does as good a job as anyone in the country.”
Playing with essentially the same guys who finished blowouts last year, Kansas now has its metaphorical hands gripped tightly around the neck of the Big 12 basketball standings, and so the question must be seriously considered:
This is Bill Self’s best coaching job, right?
Close your eyes, take yourself back two months — we’re only 57 days removed from that loss to Davidson — and decide which part of the following sentence is the most ridiculous:
No. 4 Kansas has control of an eighth consecutive conference championship after beating Kansas State 59-53 at Bramlage Coliseum in large part because Tyshawn Taylor continues to play near an All-America level and Jeff Withey continues his ascension as one of the league’s greatest forces.
Is the part about Withey being a force the most ridiculous? Taylor playing like one of the country’s best point guards (awful stretches late in games notwithstanding)?
Or Kansas being ranked fourth in the country?
It says something about KU’s accustomed string of talent that its least talented team in years includes one of country’s two leading candidates for national player of the year, but this is the reality.
Kansas is 11-2 in the Big 12 and needs only to beat Missouri at home and otherwise avoid a letdown against a lesser opponent to win the league outright.
If you thought it would happen like this, you had more faith in the Jayhawks than Self did before the season.
…Self is about to win the league with a bunch of guys who practiced against the starters last year.
You know, one of the arguments against him winning coach of the year figures to be that Kansas does this every year.
But that’s actually one of the best arguments for him winning coach of the year, that he’s been able to keep this efficient machine running when people least expected it.
KC Star Mellinger
If you wanted more proof as to why Syracuse and Kansas can be in the Final Four then Big Monday served up prime examples. Both teams won tough road games (Syracuse at Louisville and Kansas at Kansas State) that they nearly gifted to their opponents. But both teams also made a key defensive play to win the game.They forced Louisville and Kansas State to make poor decisions late and each team failed to make a play. Syracuse and Kansas executed. The Orange and Jayhawks each has a player who has emerged that could be a key component to a possible national title run. C.J. Fair has delivered for Syracuse off the bench. Jeff Withey has become the post-presence that KU desperately needed; allowing Thomas Robinson to play his natural position.
LJW Keegan Ratings: Jeff Withey shows toughness
Withey opened a window into a recent punishment he endured in practice.
“Right before we went to Waco, I think I didn’t get a rebound,” Withey said. “He said, ‘Go touch every stair in the building.’ So I started running. Ever since then … I know coach and my teammates depend on me to play great. I picked it up. I don’t want to be running bleachers anymore. The Missouri game, I don’t want anything like that to ever happen again.”
Withey reached the conclusion that running into harm’s way in a game with teammates surrounding him beats running stairs by himself, getting humiliated in front of the guys whose approval he most desires.
“I’m serious, less than a week ago he’s touching every stair in the building because he would not try to go after the ball,” Self said. “Players are in his face going after him. All the sudden, you make a couple of baskets and get confidence. He’s been great.”
By now, the nicknames are almost as famous as the games they’ve come to overshadow. First there was the Heidi Game. Then there was the Sunspots Game. And after Monday night’s Kansas-Kansas State game, well, Kansas City sports fans have another television sports debacle to stew over.
For Time Warner Cable subscribers in the Kansas City area, nearly the entire first half of basketball on ESPN was knocked out. While KU and K-State slugged it out at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, fans were left looking at green and fuzzy television screens.
So, yes, the first half of the Sunflower Showdown was filled with anger, vitriol and some verbal sparring. And if you saw the game at Bramlage Coliseum, we heard that was pretty intense, too. KU went on to win 59-53.
“Frustration,” said Geoff Gerling, 29, of Kansas City.
“Incredibly frustrating,” said Mike Fischer, a 31-old attorney from Leawood.
Dave Borchardt, Time Warner’s media-relations manager in Kansas City, said the cable company stopped receiving the ESPN satellite feed for reasons that were still being investigated. Borchardt said ESPN was the only feed affected on Time Warner as far as he knew.
“We’re still trying to get to the bottom of it,” he said.
Many fans went into panic mode — or into an impromptu scavenger hunt to find a way to watch the game. Time Warner said subscribers could watch the game online at ESPN3.com. The game will also air at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday on ESPNU.
In case you missed it, Jeff Withey was named Big 12 POW yesterday
This is the first time in conference history four players from the same school have been named player of the week in the same season.
“He had a fabulous week,” KU coach Bill Self said. “Guys who play well a week or have a big game have to learn to sustain over time. Hopefully, he’ll sustain that over time.”
Of Withey’s play this season, Self said: “The reality is, he’s gotten more aggressive, not near as aggressive as what I’d like. He has taken pressure off Thomas, and they are playing well together.
“He’s starting to believe he’s good,” Self added of Withey, who entered Monday’s game at K-State with a 9.2 scoring, 6.3 rebound average with a league-best 79 blocked shots.
… KSU coach Frank Martin followed up with his letter to students in which he asked the fans to refrain from profanity in their chants in the stands. He was shown in a video to the students shortly after they were seated about 6:20 p.m. Monday. One problem: Several Jayhawks jogged onto the court to shoot, and boos drowned out the video through its duration.
The Memphis Grizzlies assigned rookie guard Josh Selby to the Reno Bighorns, it was announced Monday. He is the third NBA player assigned to the Bighorns this season.
Selby has played in 18 games with the Grizzlies this season, averaging 2.9 points, 1.4 assists, 0.7 rebounds and 0.4 steals in 10.3 minutes per game. His time in the NBA was highlighted on Dec. 30 against the Houston Rockets when he had nine points and seven assists in 26 minutes.
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Sixers purchase original court that Wilt scored 100 points on in 1962. Some of the court will be donated to the Hall of Fame.
Marc J. Spears (@SpearsNBAYahoo)
VOTE for the Kansas Jayhawks student section (KU leads headed into the semifinal round)
VOTE for Coach Self's Assists Foundation (C'mon people, he's losing to Sean Miller and Dave Rose!)
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Big 12 Schedule & Results
Even when Iowa State started making shots, the Cyclones never really had a chance for an upset at No. 9 Baylor.
Mainly because they were unable to have a repeat performance on defense.
Perry Jones III rediscovered his shooting touch with 18 points for the Bears, who rebounded from two big losses last week with a 79-64 victory Monday night.
…Baylor (22-4, 9-4 Big 12), which is undefeated against everybody its played except No. 3 Missouri and No. 4 Kansas, shot 60 percent with 24 assists on its 33 baskets and had only eight turnovers. They were plenty of dunks and layups.
All that came two days after Iowa State (18-8, 8-5) beat Texas A&M 69-46 while allowing the Aggies to shoot only 36 percent.
"We were great, had probably our best effort against A&M on Saturday, and that's got to be the constant," Hoiberg said. "You have to defend every night to give yourself a chance to win. I don't get how we defended as well as we did on Saturday and turn and come back tonight and have the type of effort that we did."
Kentucky's SEC games (61.9 possessions per 40 min) have been slower than an average Big Ten game (62.9).
Per Alabama: Anthony Grant announces Andrew Steele and Trevor Releford are back for 'Bama vs. UF but Mitchell and Green are still suspended.
“Pack your bags, Weber!” a fan shouted at the ninth-year coach after a recent home loss.
The Illini (16-9, 5-7) have lost six of their last seven games to cement themselves in the middle of the 12-team Big Ten. And that, many fans note with disgust, is more or less where Illinois has been for several years.
Thomas won’t say whether he plans to fire Weber. Much like he said when fans called for Zook’s job last fall, Thomas said he usually evaluates his coaches at the end of the season -- and that’s what he plans to do with Weber.
“I go through a process and assess the situation — not only what’s happening currently but the total body of work — and usually make those decisions at the end of the season,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I think you try to do it as soon as possible, you know, (when) it’s pretty fresh to you.”
Still, Thomas made clear during an appearance last weekend on a Champaign radio show that just getting to the NCAA tournament — and there’s no guarantee Illinois gets there — isn’t good enough.
This wasn't any other week. The coach's sideline tirade in the face of his son and the Jays' star player was still a hot topic on Monday. McDermott's email box was loaded up with responses. The sports celebrity website deadspin.com even weighed in with a sarcastic harpoon on the benefits of being a coach's son.
Coach Mac seemed a little surprised at the reaction and didn't want to expound on it. But emotions ran so high on Saturday that you wondered about the state of the Jays going to Carbondale. The state of the Macs, too.
"Oh, absolutely," coach McDermott said. "Everything's fine. Am I proud that that happened the other night? No. It's an emotional game. I don't do that very often. Doug knows that. He also knew what I was trying to do (light a fire)."
Tirades may be news around here because they don't happen very often. From Tom Osborne to Frank Solich to Dana Altman, Nebraskans are used to stoic, if not downright boring, behavior from their coaches.
When it happens, it's fair game for the media, fans and Internet cameras. That's today's world. Personally, I grew up at a time when coaches yelled at players. I'm OK with it, with two basic exceptions.
One, the coach doesn't touch the player. Second, the tirade doesn't get in the way of winning. I questioned Mac on Monday whether his action backfired and showed an image to his team of a coach who wasn't in control at a time when it was getting run out of its gym. He wasn't buying.
"I think the players looked at it for what it was," McDermott said. "They know I don't do that very often. They understood the situation at the time and what was needed. I don't think it had that impact."
The institutions from Conference USA and the Mountain West are dissolving both leagues to create their own conference, college football industry sources told CBSSports.com.
The new conference will consist of 18 to 24 members and start in the 2013-14 academic year. It would not only have a conference championship football game, but also conference semifinals. Conference USA and the Mountain West would continue as is for the 2012-13 season.
The reason that the institutions are dissolving and forming their own league and not just merging is for legal reasons, sources said.
"This presidentially led association will ensure stability and be built upon the principles of operating at the highest level of integrity and sportsmanship, enhancing the student-athlete academic and competitive experience, bringing fiscal discipline into athletics and ensuring competitive fairness," said a statement from UNLV president Neal Smatresk and Tulane president Scott Cowen.
When North and Heights play on Feb. 23, it’s the final time two of the City League’s biggest basketball stars will meet in the regular season.
Heights senior Perry Ellis holds the league scoring record and North junior Conner Frankamp is No. 5. Both are future Kansas Jayhawks.
There are few games of more interest, but the City League won’t move the game from the 1,200-seat Heights gym to accommodate a larger crowd.
“It’s going to be the last regular-season game ever played there at Heights,” said City League athletic director J. Means, referring to Heights’ new gym that will open before next season. “They want to make it special.”
Means briefly considered moving the game, which will be televised on Cox 22, but he was concerned about the expense of renting another venue.
“Even though North sold out when it played Heights … we turned away maybe 500 folks,” Means said of the season opener. “Where I’m going is financially because there has to be a financial part to this, too.
“I have to have a tremendous crowd to make it worthwhile to move those games. If I move it to Koch Arena, for example, and we get snow that night, we could lose money. We don’t get that much revenue.”
Heights coach Joe Auer, who has in the past been in favor of moving games to larger arenas, doesn’t want to move the game. The Falcons have seven remaining games and two are at home.
“This game, it’s the last regular-season home game in our gym,” Auer said. “It’s a pretty historic game for us. There’s a lot of sentiment and importance for us that evening. And it’s senior night. We’ve got seven seniors being honored, along with cheerleaders and girls basketball (players).”
North coach Gary Squires isn’t interested in moving the game — unless it’s to North.
It’s been an exciting couple of days for Texas Tech basketball. On Saturday, the Red Raiders finally won their first game of the Big 12 season, beating Oklahoma by 18.
Things got even better on Monday, as Billy Gillispie picked up commitments from Wannah Bail and Michael Carey.
Bail and Carey are seniors from Lamar Consolidated (Texas), and were being pursued by Houston, Oregon, Florida State and others in the past few months. The two Bahamas natives had said they would announce their decisions back in October, but it seems that scholarship issues prevented them from committing to Houston.
The Atlanta Tipoff Club released the finalists for the Naismith Boys' High School Player of the Year award Monday, and all four seniors made up the top four in the ESPNU 100.
Tilton School (Tilton, N.H.) center Nerlens Noel, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) small forward Shabazz Muhammad, Grace Prep (Arlington, Texas) center Isaiah Austin and St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) guard/forward Kyle Anderson all made the cut.
The winner will be recognized by the Atlanta Tipoff Club at its season-ending Naismith Awards Banquet March 22 at the Georgia International Convention Center in Atlanta.
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