Sidney edges Butler to rekindle GWOC American North title hopes

Published: Tuesday, February 13, 2018 @ 11:07 PM

Sidney juniors Ratez Roberts (left) and Andre Gordon were key in a 36-34 win at Butler on Tue., Feb. 13, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

This would be Andre Gordon’s moment. Seconds ticking down, tie game, conference title on the line. Time to shine for the outstanding junior guard.

And it was. But rather than taking the last shot, Gordon fed Ratez Roberts who was open for what held up as a game-winning layup with 2.5 seconds left.

»MIKE AND MARC: The boys might address the impending GWOC breakup

“I had my man sitting under the basket,” said Gordon following an offensively challenged 36-34 defeat of host Butler before a near capacity crowd on Tuesday night. “He knew it was coming. That’s just practice. That’s what we do.”

»WAYNE COACH: “We’re not ready to burn the house down yet”

What Sidney did was scratch back into Greater Western Ohio Conference American North Division boys high school basketball contention.

Butler (18-3, 11-3) and Sidney (15-6, 11-3) are tied for the North lead with one divisional game remaining. Butler closes the regular season at Tippecanoe (12-8, 7-6) on Friday and Sidney does the same against visiting Greenville (1-19, 0-14).

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If both Sidney and Butler win, they’ll share the North title. If one wins and the other loses, the winner is the outright champion. It was the fifth straight win by Sidney and snaps Butler’s four-game win streak. Butler defeated Sidney in their first mid-December matchup, 58-51.

Sidney celebrates while Butler’s Bryant Johnson (left) watches. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Gordon, among the GWOC’s scoring leaders at 24.2 points, was held to a season-low seven points. That’s significant, because twice he’s gone for 40 or more, including a career-high 49 against Greenville. But it was clear from the onset defense would be at a premium. Butler led 2-1 after the first quarter.

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“When you hold Andre Gordon to seven and they only score (36) points, you feel like you’re going to win the game,” said Butler coach DJ Wyrick, in his third season with the Aviators after leaving Billy Donlon’s men’s basketball staff at Wright State University.

Butler never did find its shooting touch, going 3 of 16 in 3-pointers and just 3 of 6 in free throws, “and we’re a good-shooting team,” said Wyrick. “For everyone on our team, that’s probably the biggest game they’ve ever played in. We were a little tight early on.”

Toledo-bound football recruit Devan Rogers led Sidney with 10 points and Roberts, also an emerging junior receiver, added eight.

»SPLIT DECISION: 5 things to know about the GWOC breakup

Kort Justice, a senior transfer guard from Miamisburg and Butler’s leading scorer, led the Aviators with 12 points. He hadn’t scored less than 20 in Butler’s previous four games. Bryant Johnson, another emerging junior who is generating football recruiting interest as a 6-foot-6 receiver, added eight points.

Butler landed the No. 3 seed in a loaded Dayton 1, Division I sectional at Centerville. The Aviators have a first-round bye and will play the Xenia/Fairmont winner.

Sidney could do no better than a No. 8 seed in the Dayton 2 sectional. The Yellow Jackets will play Troy in the first round on Feb. 13 at Trotwood-Madison.

“That’s what teams are going to do to us because they don’t want us going up and down and that’s Butler’s system, for the most part,” said Sidney coach John Willoughby.

Miamisburg 62, Fairborn 56: Senior Jason Hubbard unloaded 10 fourth-quarter points and tallied a game-high 29 in leading the host Vikings to their eighth straight win. Duncan Hall added 17 points. Miamisburg (17-4, 6-4) already has won the GWOC National West title and ends the regular season at Northmont on Friday.

Miamisburg is a No. 4 seed in the Dayton 1, D-I sectional. The Vikings will play the Lebanon/Belmont winner in the second round. Barring upsets, Miamisburg will play Butler in a sectional final. Shaunn Monroe had five 3-pointers and led Fairborn (8-13) with a season-high 33 points.

Northmont 76, Bethel 63: The visiting Thunderbolts limited high-scoring Caleb South to 15 points to earn an impressive win. Jabari Perkins led Northmont with 17 points. Ryan Rose led Bethel (16-4) with 21 points and Kendal James added 18.

Northmont (9-11) opens the Dayton 3, D-I sectional against Fairborn on Feb. 23. Bethel (16-4) is a No. 2 seed in the Northmont 1, D-III sectional and will play the Miami East/Greenon winner on Feb. 28. Bethel (11-0) has clinched the Cross County Conference title.

Greenon 62, Emmanuel Christian 58, double-OT: Trevor Anderson hit a 3-pointer with 2.6 second left in regulation and tallied 17 points in leading the host Knights.

»FACEBOOK: For more high school sports you should like Marc Pendleton

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Oregon earns massive NCAA Tournament resume builder, upsets Arizona

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 8:42 PM

The Oregon Ducks still have life on the NCAA Tournament bubble following their 98-93 overtime upset of No. 14 Arizona.

Playing on Senior Night against a program with multiple scandals swirling, Oregon survived a double-double from Deandre Ayton — 28 points and 18 rebounds — en route to the win. Elijah Brown was brilliant with 30 points, a game high.

Oregon is now 19-10 overall and 9-7 in Pac-12 play while Arizona dropped to 22-7 and 12-4 respectively.

Here’s the full game stats from ESPN:

Highlights

Observations

Oregon is still alive for the NCAA Tournament: The Ducks’ win over the Wildcats was Oregon’s first victory over an RPI top 25 team of the season. Coming off a victory over Arizona State earlier in the week, Oregon all of a sudden got two big boosts to its resume.

Ayton cannot be stopped: Allonzo Trier suspended? No problem. An FBI scandal directly involving you hanging over your head? So what? Deandre Ayton was an animal despite the loss — he had a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds by halftime. Arizona cleared the big man to play in the game despite Sean Miller’s departure from the sidelines. Regardless of any outside circumstances, it appears Ayton seems focused on producing while on the floor.

Elijah Brown can plug a leak at the charity stripe: Not only did Brown score 30 points, but half of those came on a 15-of-17 performance from the line. Coming into the game, Brown had only missed four foul shots all year — although he’d never taken more than nine in a game. His consistency on his free throws allowed Oregon to keep Arizona at arm’s length in overtime.

Turning Point

This steal and dunk by Troy Brown was the second field goal of a 13-0 run in the second half that turned a 64-55 deficit into 68-65 lead for Oregon.

What’s next for Oregon, Arizona Basketball

Oregon travels to Washington State on Thursday. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. PT on ESPN2.

As for Arizona — what’s next is a loaded question these days — it hosts Stanford on Thursday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. PT on FS1.

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Miles Bridges cleared to play for Michigan State following ‘thorough internal review’

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 10:00 AM

Miles Bridges will be suiting up for Michigan State on Sunday, after all. The sophomore Spartans star was cleared to play Saturday after the school conducted an internal investigation into potential NCAA violations linked to Bridges’ family.

According to an explosive report by Yahoo Sports on Friday, Bridges’ mother allegedly received money from ASM Sports, an agency at the center of an FBI probe into college basketball corruption. While Bridges was not listed as receiving money, there were questions regarding his immediate eligibility after the Yahoo report.

Michigan State interim athletic director Bill Beekman cleared up those questions in a Saturday statement. Beekman said the findings of a “thorough internal review” were presented to the NCAA and Bridges was cleared.

“After learning of the allegations in yesterday’s Yahoo! Sports article, our compliance office conducted a thorough internal review. Michigan State presented its findings to the NCAA, and Miles Bridges has been cleared for competition moving forward.”

According to bank statements obtained by Yahoo, Bridges parents had a $70 meal with representatives from ASM Sports and Bridges’ mother, Cynthia Bridges, also received a $400 advance. The documents also listed Tom Izzo having a dinner with Christian Dawkins, one of the leaders of ASM.

Izzo released a statement Friday after the report surfaced.

“While we will cooperate with any and all investigations,” Izzo said, “we have no reason to believe that I, any member of our staff or student-athlete did anything in violation of NCAA rules.”

Michigan State plays at Wisconsin on Sunday in the team’s regular-season finale. Bridges is averaging 17.1 points and 6.8 rebounds per game for the No. 2 Spartans this season.

MORE: What you need to know about Miles Bridges’ connection to the NCAA corruption case

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Arkansas bats around in ninth inning, breaks tie, beats San Diego State

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 7:33 PM

The Arkansas baseball team is so loaded, it batted around in the ninth inning without even recording a single hit. That takes talent.

Or a mistake-filled opponent.

The Diamond Hogs scored three runs in the ninth inning to break a 2-2 tie and dispatch San Diego State, 5-2, on Saturday night.

Arkansas’ ninth was just plain odd: four walks, one hit-by-pitch, one reached-on-error, one sacrifice fly. Three runs. No hits.

Casey Martin started it by trying to simply bunt his teammates over in the tie game. Instead the freshman 9-hole hitters, with runners at first and second, pegged one down to third. It was misplayed and Jordan McFarland scored from second and Grant Koch went up to third while Martin stood safe at firs and the Razorbacks had their lead.

Jax Biggers followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Koch. Eric Cole walked. Luke Bonfield was hit by a pitch. In stepped another freshman, Heston Kjerstad, with the bases loaded. He drew a base-on-balls on four pitches to force in a fifth run.

The Razorbacks are now 2-1 on their four-game trip out West. Arkansas beat Arizona on Wednesday and fell to Cal Poly, the Hogs’ first loss of the season, Friday night. They close their three-game set as part of the Tony Gwynn Classic on Sunday at noon against the University of San Diego.

Cole hit a solo home run in the sixth to break a 1-all tie. San Diego countered in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single to set the stage for the finish.

Cole’s homer was just Arkansas’ second hit in the game up to that point. Jax Biggers had led off the game with a double in the first. Cole’s lineout moved him to third and Dominic Fletcher’s sacrifice fly plated him to open the scoring. Harrison Pyatt kept the Diamond Hogs off-balance the next four innings.

Cole took the very first pitch of the sixth from Pyatt to the pull. Over the rightfield wall and it broke the tie. When Pyatt walked Fletcher to follow, he was finished.

Campbell was even better as his foil, though he suffered the same fate. San Diego State tied the game in the bottom half of the sixth after a leadoff double to start the frame and an RBI single followed. Campbell was lifted for Matt Cronin after giving up five hits and striking out seven in his work.

Arkansas had a golden opportunity in the eighth, but failed. The Razorbacks had the bases loaded for Carson Shaddy, who entered the game hitting over .400. But Shaddy took the 3-1 pitch and rolled it over to shortstop for the final out. On top of that, Luke Bonfield – like Shaddy, a senior – struck out looking with two on and one out earlier in the inning.

Matt Cronin worked the final four innings for Arkansas. He didn’t give up a hit and struck out five.

After Arkansas dropped 50-plus runs in its season-opening series against Bucknell, the Razorbacks were top, or near top, of college baseball in offensive categories. It was only natural, given the prodigious output, the rankings would level off. A complete crash back to Earth, though, was not anticipated. Arkansas has scored just nine runs in three games in California so far.

Grading the Hogs

Pitching: B+

Arkansas only gave up five hits, though three of them were pounded for extra bases. What has been most impressive this trip, though, is the staff’s lack of walks. Only one against the Aztecs lineup Saturday.

Hitting: D

Too early to be concerned, but Arkansas isn’t hitting against above-average teams. Bucknell doesn’t count. Biggers had two hits and Cole the other. That’s it.

The Big Stick + The Arm

Arm: Campbell

Blaine Knight is a preseason All-American, but it’s Campbell who makes scouts drool. His stuff, combined with his size, can be devastating. If he stays healthy, Arkansas as a 1-2 punch that almost no team in the country can match.

Stick: Biggers

A 2 for 4 night with a double, an RBI and a sac fly. Good game regardless of what the rest of the lineup did.

What’s next for Arkansas?

Arkansas has a final game out West on Sunday. The finale is against a San Diego team that was picked second in the West Coast Conference, a league that could get two teams into the NCAA Tournament.

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Kentucky basketball: Hamidou Diallo gets hug from John Calipari, ovation from teammates

Published: Saturday, February 24, 2018 @ 7:25 PM

LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari gave Hamidou Diallo a hug in front of the team after Kentucky’s 87-66 win against Missouri on Saturday night. Kevin Knox scored 21 points, Jarred Vanderbilt snatched 15 rebounds, but it was Diallo who was deserving of the embrace.

“You know, it’s been hard,” Calipari said about his starting shooting guard’s season. “I wasn’t gonna kick him to the curb, I wasn’t gonna throw him under the bus. It’s been hard. Ninety percent of my time was figuring out, ‘How do I get this kid going?”

Diallo got going Saturday night, and his teammates gave him a standing ovation after the game. The redshirt freshman who was 3 for 19 behind the arc in his last 10 games was a perfect 3 for 3 from distance against the Tigers. He had 11 points, 2 rebounds and his first assists since Jan. 30.

“The rim just got bigger from there,” Diallo said. “Just seeing things like that, knowing what I was going through, knowing that I got a coaching staff fighting for me and players fighting for me — that’s just a blessing.

RELATED: Hamidou Diallo admits to struggles in roller coaster season

Even as his 3-point shooting dipped below 20 percent in conference play, Diallo has started all 29 games for Kentucky. His minutes had been declining — 16, 15 and 10 in his last three games — but Diallo played 25 minutes against Missouri.

Calipari’s hug meant something.

“He believes in me,” Diallo said. “That’s why I chose to come here. A bunch of people thought I should’ve been benched, at a point I thought I should’ve been benched. He just kept starting me, kept believing in me.”

Diallo said the past month has been tough for him. He called the season a roller coaster, as he’s done in the past. He seemed well aware of his struggles, but confident that they might finally be behind him.

“You can’t be the type of player you want to be if you can’t make it through adversity,” Diallo said. “Hopefully I’m only going up from here.”

RELATED: Undaunted by Yahoo report, Kevin Knox leads Kentucky 

Watch: John Calipari after Kentucky’s win against Missouri

WATCH: John Calipari after Kentucky’s 88-66 win against Missouri

Posted by Kentucky Wildcats – SEC Country on Saturday, February 24, 2018

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