Posted on: February 10, 2012 6:05 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 6:14 pm

Pe'Shon Howard tears ACL, out for season

By Jeff Borzello

Maryland sophomore Pe’Shon Howard will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL in his right knee, head coach Mark Turgeon announced Friday evening on Twitter.

“Today we learned that Pe’Shon Howard tore his ACL,” Turgeon tweeted. “Feel awful for him, he’s a great kid and teammate. We’ll miss him on the court.

“Tough year for him. We’ll fully support him through rehab and know that he will make a strong comeback.”

Howard, a powerful 6-foot-3 guard from Los Angeles, missed the first nine games of the season after injuring his foot in the preseason. Many thought he would miss up to three months with the injury, but his rehab went quicker than expected.

Howard has averaged 32.9 minutes since his return, putting up 6.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists. Maryland is 8-6 with Howard in the lineup. 

Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:27 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 1:14 pm

Coach K's letter of regret to Michael Jordan

By Matt Norlander

Crazy as it may seem, Coach K doesn't always get his way. And when he was a young pup trying to build up a program, he frequently fell short when trying to get blue-chip recruits to Durham. If it weren't for one man, Krzyzewski wouldn't have made it to a fourth year as Duke coach.

Of all the recruits K misfired on, Michael Jordan is the most famous. And after 23 picked UNC just a few days before Halloween in 1980, Krzyzewski sat down and punched out a 65-word letter of regret to the lanky kid who would go on to change the way the world viewed and cared about basketball. By the way, this was K's first season as head coach in Durham.

This is the third artifact related to MJ's recruitment to get some pub on the Internet this week. Yahoo's Jeff Eisenberg dedicated a post Thursday to Jordan's signed Letter of Intent and Dean Smith's recruiting letters to Jordan 32 years ago. A hat tip is in order to Sporting News' Chris Littmann, who alerted me to the letter on Twitter after he noticed Josh Benedek of Jordan Brand PR Instagram out the photo. Who knows, maybe the Jordan Brand is preparing to do some promo work or a retrospective on the fertilization of its namesake's career. The letter is currently housed at North Carolina's Basketball Hall of Fame.

Coach K's letter to Jordan starts with a heck of a line, filled with a guilt trip and what I think is a backhanded, minor, insult (maybe it's just standard fare on rejection letters, though), before he goes on to wish the young player luck in Chapel Hill. Cool little piece of history, the discarded decisions along the way to UNC and Duke history.

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:09 pm
Edited on: February 10, 2012 12:14 pm

UNC now down three guards with Hairston sidelined

By Gary Parrish

North Carolina freshman P.J. Hairston will miss Saturday's ACC clash with Virginia because of a sore left foot, the school announced Friday. Consequently, the Tar Heels will be forced to play Tony Bennett's Cavaliers without three guards that at one time projected to be on this roster. The other two are Leslie McDonald (injured in the preseason) and Dexter Strickland (injured during this season).

Hairston had played in each of UNC's first 24 games.

He's averaging 6.6 points per contest.

North Carolina is ranked fifth nationally and coming off a home loss to Duke.
Posted on: February 9, 2012 12:02 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2012 12:17 pm

Better comeback: Duke-Maryland or Duke-UNC?

Last night certainly had to be one of the five best games in Duke-UNC history. (AP)

By Matt Norlander

As Duke was improbably bombing its way back into the game against North Carolina Wednesday night, I suddenly, near the very end, remembered how I'd seen this show before. Eleven years ago, Duke erased a 12-point deficit in less than a minute at the end of regulation in Maryland's Cole Field House. Duke won 98-96 in overtime. It's become one of the five biggest games in Blue Devils lore. It's definitely the most memorable Duke game from that season. By the way, the Blue Devils won it all that year. It might take you a second or two or five to remember the team they beat in the national title game.

But you remember the Maryland game instantly.

I think we'll remember Duke 85, North Carolina 84 instantly 11 years from now as well.

Wednesday night, Duke swiped away a 10-point Carolina lead in the final 2:15. And unlike the Maryland game, this one didn't need overtime. Unlike the Maryland game, this one had the best ending a basketball game can get: a do-or-die shot that falls true with not a millisecond remaining on the scoreboard. Was it better? Which game was better? I don't know, and don't care much to debate that. I'd have to re-watch the Duke-Maryland game (which can be done on ESPN Classic tonight at 8 p.m., by the way) to get a true sense.
Boozer and Krzyzewski in 2001 at Cole Field House. (AP)

Instead, let's debate the comebacks. Which tops the other? Duke had more time to kill off the lead against its hated rival, and is considered the inferior team. In the Maryland game, against its faux rival, both teams were good, but Duke was seen as superior. Maryland still hadn't slayed that dragon yet. In fact, in retrospect, it's interesting to see Maryland lose that game. It's like the Jordan Bulls continuing to lose to the Pistons before getting over the hump. Maryland won the '02 title, you'll recall.

The most impressive aspect to the '01 game was the fact Duke didn't have any timeouts. Watch the video below. Interesting to hear the crowd cheer when the PA announcer says, "We have one minute play," the Maryland fans in attendance blissfully ignorant of imminently being first-hand witnesses to Terp brutality and ACC history.

Once Jay (back then, "Jason") Williams sinks a twisting layup, Mike Patrick says, "They need a miracle." And they get it. Drew Nicholas botches two free throws, and even when Duke's five points and 45 seconds away from sending the game to an extra session, Patrick and Brad Daugherty seem to know what's going to happen before it happens. Eerie to listen to them know yet not know at all what's around the corner.

That wasn't the feeling you got last night. Last night's comeback seemed to shrink from 10 points to 3 on that last possession, when after Zeller missed the free throw, we all realized, Hey, Duke can win this thing right now. That's when Dick Vitale and Dan Shulman, as Austin Rivers was bringing the ball up the floor, had their premonition.

To me, last night trumps '01, and here's why: Rivers hit the first true, game-winning buzzer-beater in the history of North Carolina-Duke. That's weighty and really, quite surprising. Williams, who had a game-high 25 -- eight coming in the final minute --  in the Miracle Minute, even said last night's game might top what he and Carlos Boozer and Shane Battier and the rest of the Devils did in Cole Field House.

Last night's game also had a play you almost never see, that accidental tip-in by Tyler Zeller that gave Ryan Kelly's errant 3 ... two points, since it wasn't going to fall through the hoop. There is also a twinge of controversy to Duke's comeback, as Seth Curry hit a 24-foot shot with 1:47 to go. The problem? He clear-as-day traveled before releasing the ball. Officials didn't pick it up, as his momentum and natural shooting motion seemed to play tricks on the stripes as they ran up the floor during a transition offensive play. The butterfly effect was in play.

In the Maryland game, Duke never lost the lead in overtime. They carried the momentum into the extra session and
finished off the game with plays you never see in highlights these days. But Duke was expected to win that game. Against Carolina, most expected UNC to win by double digits. Duke was coming off a miserable home loss to Miami. It was out of flow and without direction.

But then punky frosh Austin Rivers capped off a comeback, hitting his team's 13th 3-pointer with one of the biggest daggers this rivalry will ever know. If it doesn't get bigger than Duke-Carolina, than how can last night's double-digit comeback on the road not eclipse the Miracle Minute? Wednesday night's game doesn't have the flashy nickname or unprecedented packed-in run of points, but it does have the better highlight. Watch both videos and give me your vote.

Posted on: February 9, 2012 1:19 am
Edited on: February 9, 2012 1:25 am

Poll: Where does Rivers' shot stack up?

By Jeff Borzello

The Duke vs. North Carolina rivalry has had dozens of memorable moments throughout its history. On Wednesday night, Duke freshman Austin Rivers etched his name into Tobacco Road lore with a 25-foot 3-pointer at the buzzer over Tyler Zeller to give the Blue Devils a come-from-behind 85-84 win. As soon as the dust settled, discussions turned to where the shot would rank among the best moments in the history of the rivalry. For the sake of brevity, we’ve narrowed it down to Duke buzzer-beaters – where does Rivers stack up?

2012 – Austin Rivers

As mentioned above, Rivers’ 3-pointer capped a 13-2 run in the final 2:38 to give Duke a shocking win in Chapel Hill. Rivers finished with 29 points and six 3-pointers, with the final one going down in history.

2004 – Chris Duhon

This wasn’t technically a buzzer-beater, but Duhon’s coast-to-coast reverse layup with 6.5 seconds left in overtime gave Duke an 83-81 victory. After Rashad McCants knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game, Duhon simply raced past the North Carolina defense and then switched hands under the basket to avoid getting blocked. It was a tremendous, yet understated, finish. 

1995 – Jeff Capel

Duke was winless in the ACC heading into this one, but that didn’t matter against North Carolina. Down by three with three seconds left, Duke’s Cherokee Parks grabbed a missed free throw and gave it to Capel, who was able to dribble freely past midcourt and hoist a running 3-pointer to sent it into overtime. Carolina eventually pulled it out, but this was memorable.

1981 – Gene Banks

Much like Capel’s shot, this wasn’t a buzzer-beater to win the game; it sent the game into overtime. On Duke’s Senior Day, Duke was down by two, 58-56, with one second left. Banks received the inbounds pass above the foul line, and he only had time to turnaround and shoot. Duke went on to win the game in overtime. 

So, which one was the best?


Category: NCAAB
Posted on: February 6, 2012 4:19 pm
Edited on: February 6, 2012 4:20 pm

Coach K calls UNC most talented team in nation

By Jeff Goodman

College basketball is down and Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski doesn't disagree. 

"The only thing that might change it is what the NBA does," Coach K said on SiriusXM's Inside College Basketball on Monday afternoon. "We're slaves to what the NBA does with the early-entry. If they ever put that in on a two-year basis, you'll see more dominant teams." 

Coach K knows this year's Duke team wouldn't be a Top 10 outfit five or 10 years ago. The Blue Devils are 19-4 overall and 6-2 in ACC play, which is still impressive, but that says as much about the national landscape as anything else. 

"This is not a juggernaut," K said about his current group. "We have a good team."

"The landscape of college basketball is that if you're old and a little more above the talent level of the so-called mid-majors," he added. "You've got a chance to win the whole thing. That wasn't the formula before." 

Krzyzewski knew, heading into the season, it wasn't going to be easy after losing veterans Nolan Smith and Kyle Singler and No. 1 overall pick Kyrie Irving. 

Everyone -- The Plumlee Brothers, Seth Curry, Andre Dawkins and Ryan Kelly - were all thrust into new roles. But as much as anything, K said that the lack of consistent effort and energy has been the primary cause for concern - along with consistency on the defensive end. 

He's also had a difficult time finding a high-level point guard on his team. The Seth Curry experiment didn't last, Tyler Thornton isn't quite up to par for what surrounds him and Quinn Cook is still a freshman who missed last season with a torn ACL. 

Now comes a matchup in Chapel Hill with North Carolina on Wednesday night, one that could determine whether the Blue Devils have any shot of winning the ACC regular-season title. 

"They're an offensive juggernaut," Krzyzewski said. "They have the best frontline is college basketball." 

That's a completely different debate (I'm siding with Kentucky on this one), but Coach K continued with another strong statement moments after touting Tyler Zeller as the potential ACC Player of the Year. 

"I think they are by far the most talented team in the country," he said. "Maybe not by far, but they are the most talented team -- especially offensively. And they've been playing together for two years. We'll have a tough game against them. Hopefully we'll play well, learn and have a chance to beat them at the end." 

Posted on: February 5, 2012 12:27 am
Edited on: February 5, 2012 12:42 am

Night Court: Kansas-Mizzou delivers the goods

That is a 'Breaking Bad' reference for those who don't get it. (Getty Images)
By Matt Norlander

Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday night’s light slate of games …

Game of the Night:  It was Kansas-Missouri, of course. It couldn't be anything else. Parrish was there, and he'll have reaction/column on the experience shortly. As for my thoughts on the Tigers' 74-71 win, I thought the game was marred by officiating, but rarely does that bother me. The refs blow calls in every game, and at this point, unless it's particularly brutal -- like, among the five worst calls in a season -- I just consider it another turnover. I think it's a damn shame that could've been the last time Kansas takes the bus to Columbia for a game, though. Missouri wanted nothing to do with the Big 12, and now the rivalry is set to die after the season. Too bad.

Win to brag about: The Northern Iowa buzzer-beating win at home against the Valley's best team was bodacious. UNI is fighting to be an NIT bubble team, but it mucked up the MVC race by getting such a sizzling victory.

Loss to hide from: A lot of teams don't have wiggle room. Nevada was 19-3 entering the day, but it was a soft 19-3. It lost to 12-11 Idaho at home. The Wolf Pack now can most likely only afford to lose in the WAC finals if they want an at-large.

Player who deserves improper benefits: Thomas Robinson one-upped Jared Sullinger, scoring 25 and getting 13 rebounds after Sullinger had 24 and 10 earlier in the day. What's particularly egregious: Robinson didn't get a touch on the final three Kansas possessions. I checked the tape. The Jayhawks could have made it happen.

Another player who deserves improper benefits: The man who blocks. Anthony Davis, who set the SEC freshman record for blocks in a season, passing Shaq's record for more than two decades ago. Davis' eight swats today put him at 116 for the year. Davis will likely put this record beyond orbit by the end of February.

Player who does not deserve improper benefits: Chace Stanback's two points in 20 minutes in UNLV's loss at Wyoming was pretty glaring. I still am very high on Vegas, but I'd like to not see Stanback disappear like this again. He's the wrinkle that makes UNLV hard to contain.

Numbers don’t lie

  • 12. The MAC East beat the MAC West 12-0 this week. On the year, the East leads the battle 21-3.
  • 25.1. That's Damian Lillard's points per game average, tops in the nation, and stays that way thanks to 35 tonight against Northern Colorado.
  • 40 and 40. The Summit League's two best players, Nate Wolters and Dominique Morrison, both played 40 minutes and led their team to wins tonight. DoMo had 36 and Wolters had 31.

Other notable results

  1. Dayton is now 4-5 in the A10 and 14-9 overall. I'm embarrassed to have ever put this team in the Power Pyramid.
  2. For the first time since being coach of Indiana, Tom Crean got a road win in the Big Ten against the team that wasn't named Penn State. 78-61 over Purdue is just what the doctor ordered for IU. Purdue seems destined to play in Dayton in the First Four.
  3. The game will be a bit of an afterthought on this day, but UNC struggled on the way to an 83-74 win at Maryland. Tyler Zeller was again spectacular, putting up 22 points and seven rebounds.
  4. Important game in the CAA saw George Mason beat Old Dominion 54-50. Mason (19-6) remains in a tie atop the league at 11-2 thanks to the win. Playing its way to an at-large if it can win most of the rest from here on out.
  5. Iowa State 77, Oklahoma 70. Iowa State now 7-3 in the conference and, yeah, this is a tournament team.
  6. Boy, oh, boy did Alabama need to avoid losing at home to Ole Miss -- and it did. But it took two overtimes. A 69-67 Tide win. If it can win at home and just get by in the SEC Alabama will sneak in to the field of 68.


  • Mentioned that Creighton loss above. Wichita State won at home over Indiana State, which means WSU and Creighton are tied atop the Valley. The two play each other next Saturday.
  • Middle Tennessee State was another unbeaten-in-conference team entering the day. No more. Fell at Denver 75-60. If it was a five-point and not a 15-point loss, that'd have been much better. Blue Raiders are a bubble team, but barely now, and they have no BracketBuster opportunity.
  • I've never seen a basketball stanchion just go to sleep like this after a dunk. 
  • Crazy to know that Texas A&M was picked by league coaches to win the Big 12. Aggies fell 64-53 at K-State and are now 3-7 in conference.
  • Apparently it's rumored UNC and Kentucky will not play each other in the non-con next year. Would be dumb for both teams to opt out of that.
Posted on: February 4, 2012 5:05 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2012 5:28 pm

Afternoon Delight: Daytime games don't disappoint

I can't even bite into pudding after seeing Ronald Nored's chipped Chiclet. Butler fell 65-61 to Detroit. (Mocksession.com)

By Matt Norlander

On busier Saturdays and Sundays this season, we’re not going to make you wait until the end of the slate of games to catch up with all that’s happened. Afternoon Delight (3-pointers in flight!) recaps the first five-or-so hours’ worth of action, the perfecta appetizer right before dinnertime.

The best we’ve seen so far:  The Buckeyes got their first win at Kohl since 2000. Thad Matta won in Madison for the first time. It was close. It was quintessential Big Ten basketball, which means I took fadeaway shots with balled-up socks at my living room garbage can to pass the time and make up for lost entertainment. Jared Sullinger’s performance is addressed below. As for Wisconsin, my adoration’s worn off. I still may pick it to win a game in March, but at this point, I’d be happier getting burned and being wrong if they managed to make the second weekend. Team is limited, Jordan Taylor will never get back the level of play he was at last season and UW is all too frustrating to be invested in anymore.

Deserving of a free dinner at the restaurant of their choice: It was the inter-conference game that had the most intrigue. Xavier at Memphis. X led most of the way, bloating its lead in the second half to 10 with six minutes remaining. It looked good and in control. Then, a Memphis run. The Tigers finished the game on a 21-6 run. Memphis looks good now. It needs to avoid getting stupid in C-USA and it will saunter into the tournament. Xavier gets to ride the carousel in the A10 and hope it plays better than 90 percent of the league. No guarantee.  

No soup for youI’d like to go out and thank Georgetown for exposing South Florida. The Hoyas won at home today over USF, 75-45. Few bought into the Bulls, but losing like this will convince everyone that Stan Heath’s team isn’t, and never was, tournament-worthy.  

Afternoon all-stars

  1. Sully went for 24 and 10 and had three steals to boot. Eagerly awaiting what Thomas Robinson does to respond in the marquee game tonight in Columbia.
  2. Who is Pat Connaughton? Seriously. I have no idea. Somebody whip up a profile piece. This freshman had 23 and 11 in Notre Dame’s big win over Marquette.
  3. Jamelle Hagins, who plays for Borzello’s Delaware Blue Hens, had 18 rebounds in a UD W over James Madison.
  4. Vandy might’ve lost, but Jeff Taylor had 25 points, six boards and four steals. He was on his game today. He plays like that going forward, Vandy’s a Sweet 16 team. I swear!
  5. Props to VMI’s Keith Gabriel who, as of this post, has a day-high 32. VMI beat Winthrop 86-79.
  6. Andre Drummond had seven blocks and a filthy alley-oop which is not yet available on the Web.

Other daytime action worth your attention

  1. Florida State is a 7-1 ACC team after defeating Virginia at home, 58-55. Want to emphasize just how good this is for FSU, which is halfway home in conference play and will remain atop the ACC standings with Duke and North Carolina. Virginia falls further behind the pack. The Cavs and Seminoles traded turnovers with each other, but at least the game kept my attention, which isn’t the case with 90 percent of tilts involving ACC teams this year.  
  2. Anyone who tries to make Notre Dame’s 76-59 defeat of Marquette more about the Golden Eagles isn’t giving the right due to Mike Brey, who I’m fairly certain came thisclose to having to start a Gatorade cooler earlier this season. The Fighting Irish are now a 7-3 Big East team with DePaul, Villanova and Rutgers aligned in three of their next four games. My God, the Irish stand a good chance of cracking the field! Anything to keep mock turtlenecks relevant: I’m for it.
  3. Goodman will have more on Vanderbilt falling 73-65 at Florida. I’m guessing he’ll be writing Florida, so let me say something quickly on Vandy: I’M STILL NOT GIVING UP ON YOU. LOOK AT ME. WE CAN MAKE THIS WORK.
  4. UConn’s 69-46, Calhoun coached-less win at home over Seton Hall came as dominantly as the Huskies and their fans could have asked for. But we can’t overreact. Seton Hall didn’t have Herb Pope. And Seton Hall has white guys who can’t shoot. Road tests ahead for the Huskies, and it’s then we’ll find out if the team’s got gumption or not. Beating hobbling roadkill like SHU isn’t going to capture the committee’s attention.

Delightful (and not-so delightful) thoughts

  • Difference between home and road. Jan. 14, Baylor plays Okie State at home, wins 106-65. Saturday, Baylor plays Okie State on road, wins 64-60. And if you’ve got a problem with “Okie State,” just know I’ll never stop writing it that way.
  • Fab Melo scored a career-high 14 points after missing three games due to academic troubles. As a people, we cannot let Melo’s haircut to continue, however.
  • Arizona went into Palo Alto and cleaned up the Cardinal, winning 56-43. It basically means nothing, though.
  • I’ll have something on the A10 tonight or tomorrow—depending on how crazy the evening games get—in how it’s a beautiful disaster of sorts. That was reinforced this afternoon once top-ranked La Salle fell to St. Joe’s, 70-66.
  • I’m thrilled to report I’ll continue to not pay attention to Arkansas, as I was alerted to the fact the Hogs fell on the road again today, losing at lousy LSU, 71-65.
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com