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It was a quiet mid-January ACC game, a game that Duke and Syracuse faithful will be keenly aware of for the duration of the winter and one that will be fodder during the annual bracket debates.

No. 1 Duke (14-2) lost at home to the unranked Syracuse Orange (12-5) 95-91 Monday night in overtime.  Duke lost freshman Cameron Reddish before the game to the flu, then fellow freshman Tre Jones went down with a shoulder sprain in the first half. Jones is expected to miss several games.

Duke is now perennially super young. It’s the fab five every year. Freshman everywhere. Syracuse is actually pretty good despite being unranked. A veteran team.

You can throw the rankings out the window in December. They don’t mean a whole lot. They do get people and players jacked up for a tilt against Duke in the middle of January.

Coach K had this to say regarding his plan of attack against the Orange, “The game plan was to have Tre Jones and Cameron Reddish. I mean, what the hell… You do what’s there. Talking about game plan is just, ugh.”

“When you have two guys get hurt and injured, there is no game plan anymore. It’s a period of adjustment and adaptability throughout, so you’re trying to figure out ways to win. …you’re trying to survive with the people of the situation that you’re in.”

 

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Midseason home losses aren’t a killer for a top-seed like Duke they just can’t make it a pattern. Syracuse can ride this one into the bracket. If you’re keeping track Syracuse is one up on Duke all-time at Duke, holding the series lead at 3-2 in Durham.

Duke’s R.J. Barrett scored 23 points, taking 30 shots, with 16 rebounds and nine assists. He can play. Quietly behind the noise, freshman superstar Zion Williamson scored a career-high 35 points, breaking the record for the most by a Duke freshman in a single-game. Who holds the record for the most points by a freshman Dukie in a game?  J.J. Redick vs. Virginia, 1/15/2003.  Who has scored the most points in a single-game for the Blue and White? None other than Danny Ferry in 1988, he scored 58 against Miami.

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HOOPS

Why Rick Pitino to UCLA will never happen

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There’s been a little talk, mostly in the New York market ironically, that Rick Pitino could possibly end up at UCLA.

Sounds impossible? It really is.

According to reports, certain UCLA boosters were wanting to bring in the former Louisville coach.

There are quite a few reasons why Rick Pitino won’t be the next head coach at UCLA and probably elsewhere in Division-I basketball. Currently, he’s coaching Panathinaikos in Greece Pro Hoops.

Earlier this year when plotting a return to basketball he told ESPN,  “I love teaching basketball and am more passionate than ever.”

Too often it appeared that Pitino grossly lacked good judgment and if you believe certain allegations he reaped the benefits of a partnership with Adidas beyond just a multi-million dollar equipment contract.

At Louisville, there was one incident after another (USA TODAY compiled a list).  Eventually, the list grew too long, and despite pleas from Pitino that he had no knowledge of any wrongdoing in his program, Louisville finally let him go.

To win at UCLA you’ve got to recruit, it’s not just teaching. Steve Alford can teach.  Will 5-star recruits be lining up to play for Pitino at UCLA-just because?

Yet another reason is age. Which is not entirely fair but it’s the reality.  It’s not a knock on his abilities as a teacher and motivator. Big-time athletics is an age-discriminatory field.  At 66 he’s not too old to coach, but UCLA isn’t looking for a three or four-year flyer. They are ready to hire their Coach K, their Bill Self and have been for a while.

The biggest thing stopping a Pitino hire at UCLA or any other institution is a single question:  Can the President, Board, and Atheltic Director honestly feel like the risk would be worth the reward?

Pitino can be a teacher of life lessons both good and bad, that doesn’t mean he’ll be a college basketball coach again.

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HOOPS

Contrary to popular belief, the Warriors still have it

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This was to be the season of doom and reality for the Golden State Warriors, a few early season losses. A disagreement between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green.

They should be fine.

Tuesday’s 142 output against the Denver Nuggets says as much about the Warriors as it does the current state of defense in the NBA.

In the 142-111 win, the Warriors made an NBA record 10 three-pointers in the first quarter and 21  for the game, shooting at a 60-percent clip.  The trio of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant scored 89 combined points.

The Warriors hold the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference at 30-14 winning five straight. Only Toronto and Milwaukee have better records with only 12 loses.

 

Warriors Just Hit 10 Threes in a quarter dropping 51 points, most in team history! from r/sports

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HOOPS

What if I told you the Cleveland Cavs are the best team in the East?

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LeBron James has found his grove. It’s igniting the Michael Jordan comparisons and even some of the strongest opinions in favor of His Airness are leaning towards a more equal comparisons between the King and No. 23.

After two games LeBron James has scored 69 points, 43 of which came last night against the No. 1 seed Toronto Raptors. LeBron also threw in 16 assists and eight boards in a game that wasn’t close.

Suddenly with the Cavs up 2-0 going home, they just need to win 2 of the next five possible games against Toronto to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston is just amazing with how they have just toughed it out with the big names. 95% of America doesn’t know a player in the starting five for the Celtics but they find themselves up 2-0 against a talented but inexperienced Philly team.  For the record Boston starts Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier.

Boston has perhaps the best coach in the game right now Brad Stevens and a lot of athleticism.

Either way, the path for LeBron James to play in his eighth straight finals seems even more clear.

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