Wesson, Ohio State shake off slow start to beat Northwestern
By MITCH STACY
AP Sports Writer
Thursday, February 21
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio State badly needed a win over Northwestern to stay teetering on the NCAA Tournament bubble.
The Buckeyes overcame a sluggish start and found their footing in the second half to pull away from Northwestern 63-49 on Wednesday night behind Kaleb Wesson’s 22 points and eight rebounds.
Kyle Young and Duane Washington Jr. each added eight points off the bench for the Buckeyes (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten), who snapped a two-game losing streak and stayed on the bubble for now with five regular-season games remaining — four against teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
“I think we knew we really needed this game,” Washington said.
Northwestern (12-14, 3-12) lost its seventh in a row and hasn’t managed a win since the middle of January.
After an ugly first half by both sides, Ohio State made seven of its first 10 shots to start the second half. The Wildcats kept it close with decent defense until C.J. Jackson and Wesson hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put Ohio State up by 10 with nearly nine minutes left, and the Buckeyes cruised from there.
Vic Law led Northwestern with 10 points, and A.J. Turner added nine.
TALES OF TWO HALVES
The teams combined for just three points in the first four minutes of the game, and the first half ended with Ohio State holding on to a 24-20 lead. Northwestern shot just 29.2 percent for the half, and the Buckeyes weren’t much better (37.5 percent).
Ohio State made 53 percent of its shots in the second half to open up the lead, finishing at 46 percent for the game compared with 31.6 for Northwestern.
Northwestern: The Wildcats are bad and aren’t getting any better. They’ve won just three Big Ten games, beating Indiana, Rutgers and Illinois.
“We’re going through a tough time right now,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. “We’re really struggling offensively. We’re just having a hard time manufacturing enough points to give ourselves a chance to win.”
Ohio State: After struggling to score in losses to Michigan State and Illinois, the Buckeyes won one they were supposed to win.
“We’re probably where we are right now because of our team defense,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “That has kept us in games and given us a chance this season.”
WESSON’S COMPLETE GAME
Wesson had his best game since he played 38 minutes and scored 27 in a win over Rutgers on Feb. 2.
Northwestern double-teamed him in the first half but took it off in the second when he exploited it with some sharp passing.
His conditioning had come into question, too, but he looked good in his 33 minutes Wednesday night and stayed out of foul trouble.
“It’s getting to that time where everybody is tired,” Wesson said. “We’re banging every night, playing a tournament team every night. Anybody in the league is going to be fatigued.”
Ohio State got 27 points from its bench. … Both teams were off the mark from beyond the 3-point line. Ohio State was 4 for 20, and Northwestern finished 5 for 29. … Freshman Justin Ahrens started the second half for the Buckeyes and scored four points … Ohio State plays Northwestern again March 6.
Northwestern: Hosts No. 22 Wisconsin on Saturday.
Ohio State: At No. 24 Maryland on Saturday.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchstacy
Syracuse coach Boeheim strikes, kills pedestrian on highway
Thursday, February 21
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim struck and killed a man walking on an interstate late Wednesday night as he tried to avoid hitting the man’s disabled vehicle, police say.
Syracuse police say 51-year-old Jorge Jimenez was in a car with three others before midnight Wednesday when their vehicle crashed into a guardrail on I-690 in Syracuse.
Boeheim struck Jimenez while trying to avoid the vehicle. Jimenez was taken to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Boeheim, the 74-year-old Basketball Hall of Fame coach, is cooperating with the investigation.
“He stopped immediately and exited the vehicle,” said Syracuse Sgt. Matthew Malinowski.
Police said sobriety tests were administered to Boeheim and were negative for any signs of impairment. No tickets have been issued to Boeheim at this time and the investigation is continuing.
A freezing rain had fallen earlier Wednesday night, though it is unclear if the weather had anything to do with the crash.
There was no immediate comment from Syracuse University.
Boeheim has coached at Syracuse for 43 years, winning a national title in 2003 and making five Final Four appearances. His team defeated Louisville 69-49 Wednesday night during a home game.
Shoe blowout, knee injury leave Zion, Duke to mull future
By JOEDY McCREARY
AP Sports Writer
Thursday, February 21
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke might have to figure out what the Zion Show will look like without its namesake.
And Zion Williamson could have some things of his own to consider, too.
All because of a freak injury to arguably the most exciting player in college basketball in the opening minute of the sport’s fiercest rivalry, one that helped turn a widely anticipated matchup — in front of yet another crowd of celebrities, this one including Spike Lee and former President Barack Obama — into a blowout.
As his Nike shoe blew out, Williamson sprained his right knee on the first possession of what became top-ranked Duke’s 88-72 loss to No. 8 North Carolina on Wednesday night.
In the aftermath of that loss, coach Mike Krzyzewski wasn’t ready to look ahead. He was still trying to process just how quickly everything deflated after the injury.
“I’d rather not talk about what we’re going to do,” Krzyzewski said. “I’d rather talk about what just happened. Because we’re going to figure out what we’re going to do. So I don’t have that answer.”
Krzyzewski says Williamson’s knee is stable and the sprain is mild, but doesn’t know how much time his star freshman will miss.
He doesn’t have much time to find a replacement for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s second-leading scorer and its most dynamic playmaker.
The Blue Devils (23-3, 11-2) play Saturday night at Syracuse — which already knows how to beat a Duke team after it loses a key freshman to injury. The Orange beat No. 1 Duke last month in overtime after point guard Tre Jones injured a shoulder.
Williamson averages 22.4 points, but his impact goes well beyond scoring. He also grabs 9.2 rebounds and has blocked nearly two shots per game.
In his absence, North Carolina simply dominated the paint, outscoring the Blue Devils 62-28 there while also building a 46-41 rebounding advantage. The Tar Heels shot 51 percent — 57 percent in the second half — despite 2-for-20 shooting from 3-point range.
RJ Barrett matched a season best with 33 points, and teammate Cameron Reddish had a season-high 27 — but the rest of the team combined for just 12 points.
“I hope he’s going to be OK,” Barrett said of Williamson. “We don’t really know where things are right now.”
Apparently, neither does Williamson. And now, a month after the freshman star swatted away questions about the prudence of risking injury by playing — Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen had suggested he’d be better off shutting it down for the year — that debate is sure to be reignited.
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who played in college at Louisville, said on Twitter that “something has to change” in the wake of the injury.
“Again let’s remember all the money that went into this game…. and these players get none of it…. and now Zion gets hurt,” he tweeted.
Williamson grabbed his right knee in pain after slipping awkwardly and falling when his left shoe fell apart as he planted hard while dribbling near the free throw line. The blue rubber sole ripped loose from the white shoe from the heel to the toes along the outside edge, with Williamson’s foot coming all the way through the large gap.
He walked off with a slight limp, but under his own power, before heading to the locker room with no shoes on his feet.
Nike said in a statement that it was “concerned” and wished Williamson a speedy recovery. It said it was “working to identify the issue.”
Obama — who watched the game from a baseline seat near the Duke bench — said on Twitter that Williamson “seems like an outstanding young man as well as an outstanding basketball player. Wishing him a speedy recovery.”
So are the Blue Devils.
More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
The NBA playoff push starts now with All-Star break ending
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
Wednesday, February 20
MIAMI (AP) — Golden State is still the favorite for a fourth title in five years.
Milwaukee, Toronto, Indiana, Boston, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City and Denver can all go ahead and cancel those mid-April vacation plans if they were foolish enough to have made them in the first place.
For LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, some work awaits.
The All-Star break ends Thursday, with about one-third of the season remaining for most clubs — and that means the playoff push now gets very serious. Nobody has officially clinched a spot yet, though it would take a highly improbable series of events for the current top teams in the Eastern and Western Conferences to miss the postseason.
“Every year is a new challenge, different circumstances,” Golden State guard Stephen Curry said. “We are motivated. We understand what’s at stake.”
James has been to the NBA Finals in each of the last eight seasons, all out of the East — four with Miami, four with Cleveland. His Los Angeles Lakers currently are 10th in the West, three games behind the Clippers for the final playoff berth.
James has been to the playoffs in 13 consecutive seasons.
“I hope that first off, we all get healthy,” Lakers President Magic Johnson said. “This has been one of the worst seasons I’ve ever been around Laker basketball as far as injuries are concerned. When we were healthy, we were in fourth place. Now we’re like 10th place. But when you’ve got LeBron James, anything is possible.”
The Miami Heat are part of a six-team, three-spot race in the East, and Wade is hoping for one last postseason trip out of his 16th and final season. Heat President Pat Riley said he thinks the way the Heat ended its pre-All-Star schedule — with a 2-3 road trip, though one where Miami could have won four of the games — is a good sign.
“It looks as though there’s something happening here,” Riley said.
Sacramento is right in the race to end the NBA’s longest current playoff drought; the Kings haven’t been to the postseason since 2006. Phoenix’s drought will hit nine straight seasons, but Orlando — currently holders of the third-longest drought at six seasons — hit the break with a five-game winning streak and is in the East mix.
“I think we feel good about ourselves,” Magic All-Star forward Nikola Vucevic said. “I know we have good confidence.”
Here’s some other things to know going into the final third of the season:
LEBRON AND MICHAEL
LeBron James is finally going to pass Michael Jordan.
In scoring, at least.
While the debate will rage forever about which player is better, James will soon have scored more points than Jordan. James is 211 points shy of passing Jordan (32,292) for the No. 4 spot in NBA history. When he gets there, each of the top four spots on that list will be occupied by current or former Los Angeles Lakers — No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (38,392), No. 2 Karl Malone (36,928), No. 3 Kobe Bryant (33,643), and James.
SCORING AND PACE
Unless every team drastically changes the way it plays over the next two months — which won’t happen — the league will finish this season with its highest scoring average and fastest pace in 30 years.
Teams are averaging 110.7 points and 100 possessions per game this season. That’s the best scoring number since 1984-85 (110.8 points per game) and fastest pace since 1988-89 (100.6 possessions per game).
All 30 teams are on pace to average at least 100 points per game this season. The last time every team in the league averaged 100 was 1986-87, when the NBA had 23 franchises.
3’S ARE WILD
The NBA is on pace to see records in 3-pointers made and 3-pointers attempted. If that sounds like an annual statement, it is: This will be the seventh consecutive season where both marks fall.
Houston’s James Harden has a shot at the record for 3s in a single season. He has 274 (which would be fifth-best for a season already), putting him on pace for 401 if he plays in all 25 of the Rockets’ remaining games. Golden State’s Stephen Curry holds the mark with 402 makes from deep in 2015-16.
Harden seems like a lock for the 3s-taken record — Curry took 886 in his record-setting year, Harden has 733 now and is on pace for 1,072.
The Houston All-Star is in the throes of a historic offensive season.
Harden’s current scoring average — 36.6 points per game — would be eighth-best all-time, and the best mark since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points in 1986-87. Jordan (once), Elgin Baylor (once) and Wilt Chamberlain (five times) are the only players to finish a season with a higher average than the one Harden is toting now.
Harden leads Oklahoma City’s Paul George by 7.9 points per game in this year’s scoring race. That is an enormous number. To put that in perspective: If George stays at his current scoring rate, 28.7 per game, Harden would remain the NBA’s scoring leader even if he went scoreless in each of his next 14 games.
Already with 43 wins this season, it’s already safe to say this the best year for Milwaukee in a long time.
The Bucks won 44 games last season, and 46 in 2009-10. This will almost certainly be Milwaukee’s first 50-win year since 2000-01 (52-30), and the Bucks could flirt with their first 60-win year since 1980-81. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer says he joined Milwaukee at the perfect time.
“The fans there, the energy in our arena, it’s off the charts,” Budenholzer said. “New practice facility, a roster that’s in a great place, ownership, front office — everything is just really, really set up to have great success.”
David Fizdale, the very likable and highly respected first-year Knicks coach is overseeing a team that’s on pace for 16 wins — which would be the worst record in franchise history. Obviously, it’s all about the draft and free agency for the Knicks, who are in position to be major players when the NBA’s annual superstar-shopping window opens on July 1.
Phoenix is also on pace to have its worst season ever. Chicago and Cleveland probably won’t hit all-time rock bottom, but look like they’ll come close. In all, four teams will likely finish the season with a winning percentage under .250 — the most since six teams were that bad in the 1997-98 season.
The draft lottery is May 14, and that’s when the Knicks, Suns, Bulls and Cavaliers could declare this season’s suffering worthwhile.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Jeff Van Gundy on All-Star Game: Eliminate it
By TIM REYNOLDS
AP Basketball Writer
Thursday, February 21
MIAMI (AP) — Jeff Van Gundy has an idea on how to fix the NBA All-Star Game.
His plan: Eliminate it.
Van Gundy, the former NBA coach and now longtime television commentator for ABC and ESPN, said what he’s seeing now from the game is embarrassing and “a bastardization of the game that is beautiful to watch.” The teams picked by captains LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo combined to attempt a record 167 3-pointers in Sunday night’s game — and 96 of the 134 field goals in the game came off either 3s or dunks.
“You can be a Division III player like myself and be All-Star MVP,” Van Gundy said. “All you have to do is drive in and shoot a layup.”
Van Gundy coached in the 2000 All-Star game, his Eastern Conference team falling to Phil Jackson and the Western Conference 137-126. There was no shortage of alley-oops tried in that game, though Tim Duncan, Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O’Neal spent plenty of time defending the rim against those lobs as well.
“I would name All-Stars, I would have All-Star weekend, they have all these things, introduce them … the players are great, they should be applauded,” Van Gundy said this week, while preparing to coach USA Basketball’s team picked for the final two games of qualifying for this summer’s FIBA World Cup in China. “But to take this game and shoot 160 3s, it’s an embarrassment. It’s an embarrassment.”
Van Gundy said he doesn’t need to see a game with Game 7, playoff-level intensity.
He just wants to see some effort.
“The equivalent would be like Major League Baseball, a guy hits the ball, you throw it to him at 70 mph because you’re not trying,” Van Gundy said. “And then you hit it and no one chases it and you just let a guy circle and score and you have unlimited runs. You’ve got to try.”
Players, including James and National Basketball Players Association President Chris Paul, along with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver all said after the 192-182 game two years ago that the All-Star game had to be more competitive.
“Let’s just say it: They don’t want to play,” Van Gundy said. “Adam said, ‘It’s got to be fixed.’ There’s nothing fixed.”
Last year went down to the wire, a 148-145 game that was well received. This year’s 178-164 game was won by James’ Team LeBron, which trailed by 20 points in the second half before rallying — largely behind the 3-pointer. James’ team took 65 shots in the second half, and 49 of those were 3-point tries.
And players this year didn’t seem to mind the way the game unfolded.
“It’s just about having fun,” Oklahoma City’s Paul George said Sunday night. “At the end of the day, it’s for the fans. It’s just to have fun.”
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Yea, team! Winning fans see self-esteem boost
Watching with friends makes win sweeter – and eases pain of loss
OHIO STATE NEWS
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Fans of a college football team that wins a big game could experience a boost in self-esteem that lasts at least two days after the event, a new study suggests.
On the other hand, fans of the losing team won’t necessarily suffer a loss in their self-esteem following the game, the results suggested – although they may see a decrease in their mood.
The key for fans of both teams may be the positive effects of watching the game with friends.
“Just feeling connected to others while watching the game helped sustain self-esteem,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
“So for fans of the winning team, the social aspect of sharing the victory with each other led to a self-esteem boost. For fans of the losing team, sharing the pain may have protected them from losing self-esteem. Those who didn’t watch at all experienced a self-esteem drop – they felt completely left out,” she said.
The study appears online in the journal Communication & Sport and will be published in a future print edition. Co-authors were J.C. Abdallah and Andrew Billings of the University of Alabama.
The study involved 174 students from Ohio State and Michigan State universities, who participated right before and after a key football game between their schools on Nov. 21, 2015.
Michigan State, ranked ninth in the nation, defeated third-ranked Ohio State on a field goal as time expired, winning 17-14.
The student participants were questioned about their self-esteem, mood and other issues right before the Saturday game, and then again the next day and the following Monday. Students were told the study was about their “well-being and leisure activities” and were asked unrelated questions so that they wouldn’t suspect the real reason for the study.
Before the game, students from both universities had similar levels of self-esteem when they rated how positive they felt about their body, appearance, academic ability and other measures.
But on the Sunday after the game, the happy Michigan State students had significantly higher levels of self-esteem, which went up even higher on Monday. In contrast, self-esteem levels didn’t change much for the sad Ohio State students.
How – and if – the students watched the game was critical, results showed. Examining students from both schools, those who watched the game socially had the highest average self-esteem on Sunday, followed by those who didn’t watch the game, with those who watched by themselves scoring lowest.
However, on Monday, when students returned to classes, both those who watched socially and those who watched alone saw self-esteem go up.
“The game was probably an important topic of conversation on campus the following Monday, and that boosted the self-esteem of those who watched it and could talk about it and share the joy or pain,” Knobloch-Westerwick said.
Those who didn’t watch had a drop in self-esteem on Monday – to even lower than for those who watched alone.
“People who didn’t watch couldn’t participate in the conversations, which probably led to a loss of self-esteem.”
As far as mood, the Michigan State students showed a slight increase in mood on Sunday, and then a drop on Monday. Gloomy Ohio State students saw a significant drop on Saturday and a small further dip on Monday.
But on both Sunday and Monday, Michigan State students scored well above their Ohio State counterparts in terms of mood.
Why didn’t Michigan State students see more of a boost in their mood after the big win?
Knobloch-Westerwick suspects it was because they were already flying high on Saturday before the game.
“The weekend had started and they were probably excited about the game. There may be a ceiling effect where they couldn’t feel a whole lot better than they already did,” she said.
Overall, the results showed one key reason why sports fans enjoy watching the games: the boost they get in their self-esteem from supporting the winning team, Knobloch-Westerwick said.
But it also showed that the game is most rewarding when you share it with your friends.
“You want to be in this with other people. Winning or losing, it is better to be a fan with your friends.”
URL : http://news.osu.edu/yea-team-winning-fans-see-self-esteem-boost/