December 2016 | Page 14 of 23 | Zagsblog
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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Monday / May 27.
  • NEW YORKKhadeen Carrington insists he didn’t have any flashbacks to last year’s Big East Tournament run on Monday night.

    “We was focused on tonight,” Carrington said.

    Last March, of course, the Pirates won three straight Big East Tournament games — handing eventual NCAA champion Villanova what turned out to be its final loss of the 2015-16 season — en route to the Big East Tournament championship and an automatic berth into the Big Dance.

    Some of that Madison Square Garden magic returned for the Pirates when they stunned previously unbeaten and No. 16 South Carolina, 67-64, in the Under Armour Reunion at the Garden. It was the Pirates’ fourth straight victory against a Top 25 team.

    Boston College edged Auburn, 72-71, in the first game of the doubleheader.

    NEW YORK — Kentucky blew out Hofstra by 23 points on Sunday afternoon at Barclays Center, but Wildcats coach John Calipari isn’t thrilled with the way his team is playing.

    “I’m worried and we’ve got a long way to go,” Calipari said after the 96-73 rout that was sparked by sophomore guard Isaiah Briscoe. “We still have some players that are not playing with the confidence they have to play with. I’m not sure what it is.”

    The good news is that Camp Cal is coming.

    Beginning Thursday — after finals end at Kentucky — Calipari’s boot camp will start and he plans to address his concerns.

    After holding off Notre Dame on Saturday behind a Herculean effort from Wooden Award favorite and Big East Player of the Week Josh Hart, reigning NCAA champion Villanova remained the No. 1  team  in the land in the new Associated Press Top 25 poll

    Undefeated UCLA remains at No. 2, followed by No. 3 Kansas.

    Unbeaten Baylor is No. 4, followed by Duke and Kentucky.

    Along with Villanova, the Big East chimed in with Creighton at No. 10, Xavier at No. 17 and Butler at No. 18.

    Florida State enters the poll at No. 23, as does USC at No. 24.

    AP POLL

    UCLA is coming off an impressive win over one Big Ten team and will face another on Saturday.

    So it’s no surprise that Michigan coach John Beilein and Ohio State coach Thad Matta are both raving about the No. 2 and undefeated Bruins (10-0).

    “Anybody that goes into Kentucky and puts 100 points on them as well or whatever they put up on them is a really, really good offense,” Beilein said of the Bruins on Monday’s Big Ten conference call. “They’re just an excellent team. [T.J.] Leaf and [Lonzo] Ball have just made a non-qualifying NCAA Tournament team last year into one of the top five team in the country.”

    Leaf scored 21 points and Ball added 19 as UCLA shot 67 percent in beating Michigan 102-84 on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins made 15 3-pointers in the game.

    “The concern was guarding them on the perimeter and staying in front of them as they drove the ball,” Beilein said.

    “They spread us. It’s very rare you have four guys out there all shooting 40 percent. We had a great shooter in Duncan Robinson and they had four guys shooting like Duncan Robinson and they’re also good at going off the dribble.”

    Ohio State will face the Bruins on Saturday in Las Vegas in the CBS Sports Classic, a doubleheader that will also feature Kentucky against North Carolina.

    Matta knows he’ll have his hands full with Ball, a projected top-5 pick in the NBA Draft, and his teammates, too.

    Michigan State coach Tom Izzo says there’s no timetable on the return of stud freshman Miles Bridges, who injured his left ankle on Dec. 1.

    “No, he’s kind of day-to-day, week-to-week,” Izzo said Monday on the Big Ten conference call. “We’re not going to do anything early, and I think they’re going to evaluate this week. He’s had the boot on but he’s starting to take it off to get little workouts in. Really the timetable has not been determined. This week will be an interesting week to see once finals are over then how they evaluate him. I see nothing in the real, real future yet I don’t see him being held out forever, either.”

    Michigan State hosts Northwestern on Sunday and then Oakland on Dec. 21. Bridges could return by that second game.

    Kristaps Porzingis’ block party in Los Angeles earned big bucks for the NY Rens AAU program.

    The Knicks forward had a career-high tying seven blocks in the Knicks’ 118-112 victory over the Lakers on Sunday night, meaning he generated $3,500 for the Rens, a not-for-profit youth basketball program that played on the Nike EYBL circuit. Porzingis promised to donate $500 for each of his blocked shots for the season to the Rens.

    The Rens will use the donations from the “KrisStops” campaign for the Ben Jobe Educational and Scholarship Fund. It will help provide Rens participants with free tutoring, SAT prep and tuition money for students in third to eighth grades.

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