Preps Talk

1 'Cuse survives with help of some questionable calls

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1 'Cuse survives with help of some questionable calls

From Comcast SportsNet
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Syracuse was missing its starting center. North Carolina-Asheville thought the Orange got help from three men in striped shirts. With Syracuse facing the kind of NCAA tournament history no team wants to make, the top-seeded Orange rallied for a 72-65 victory Thursday in the second round of the East Regional. Two calls by the officials had the sellout crowd of 18,927 at Consol Energy Center -- except for those wearing orange -- booing throughout the final minute but it didn't matter. Syracuse made it 109-0 for No. 1 seeds against No. 16s since the NCAA went to a field of 64 in 1985. "I don't think luck had anything to do with this game today," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said, "and I think the better team won." The Orange were staring at NCAA tournament history. A No. 1 seed has never lost to a No. 16 seed, and they were trailing North Carolina-Asheville with just over 6 minutes to play. "We gave it everything we had. We battled the best that we could," Asheville coach Eddie Biedenbach said. "These guys are great. They deserved a better fate than they had today." Syracuse, which won the national championship in 2003, had already made negative history in the tournament, becoming the first No. 2 seed to lose to a 15 when it fell 73-69 to Richmond in 1991. The Orange managed to avoid adding another black mark by holding Asheville to one field goal over the final minute while they went 6 of 7 from the free throw line. Syracuse was playing without 7-foot center Fab Melo, who was declared ineligible for academic reasons by the school and will miss the tournament. "The fact that this game was close had nothing -- nothing -- to do with the center position," Boeheim said. Syracuse (32-2) will play eighth-seeded Kansas State in the third round on Saturday. The Wildcats beat Southern Mississippi 70-64. The Bulldogs (24-10), who talked Wednesday about pulling off the upset, were led by J.P. Primm's 18 points. They led 34-30 at halftime -- the third 16 to do that -- but the Orange took the lead for good with 6:17 left on a turnaround jumper by reserve James Southerland, who had 15 points and a season-high eight rebounds. "James has to continue to make the shots and I think he will," Syracuse guard Scoop Jardine said. "I'm happy for him because he's a big part of our offense and today he showed it." Southerland, who scored 13 points in the second half, had three of the Orange's five 3-pointers. "James came in, gave us a huge lift off the bench," Boeheim said of the 6-foot-8 junior. The Bulldogs got within three points three times in the final 1:04 but could get no closer as Syracuse made its free throws and the officials made a couple of controversial calls. The first call that caused the crowd to react was a lane violation with 1:20 left. Jardine missed the front end of a 1-and-1 but Primm was called for passing the head of the key before Jardine let the shot go. Jardine got to shoot the front end again, made it, and made the second for a 64-58 lead. "They gave me a second chance to make the shot and I made it," Jardine said. "I got myself into a rhythm. I made every free throw from there on out because I do what I practice and believed in myself at that time and made the shots for us." Primm said: "They showed it on the replay, I think the crowd let him know that it wasn't the right call. ... Like I said, when it gets crunch time like that, like I say, everyone is human." With 35 seconds left and the Orange leading 66-63, the ball appeared to go out of bounds off Syracuse's Brandon Triche but the officials pointed the other way and gave it to the Orange. Jardine made two free throws a second later. Coordinator of Officiating John Adams said he would have given the ball to UNC Asheville on the inbounds play. "The out of bounds is not reviewable and it is not a play we would discuss," official Ed Corbett told a pool reporter. "I'm not going to comment further because it is a judgment call. It was a clear (lane) violation. The player released early, before the ball hit the rim. We've since watched the replay 20 times and it was the right call." Boeheim had his own take on the play with Triche. "First of all, all the noise about the ball going out of bounds, I mean, Triche got pushed. That's why it went out of bounds," he said. "Maybe they missed the out of bounds, they missed the foul call. Those things equal out." Inexplicably the Orange kept shooting 3-pointers and missing. Despite having a huge height advantage -- Asheville's talllest starter was 6-foot-5, bigger only than the Syracuse guards -- the Orange kept taking 3s against the Bulldogs' 2-3 zone, which isn't as well known as the one Syracuse has played for decades but was just as effective Thursday. The height advantage didn't do much for the Orange as far as rebounding went either as they had 33, one more than the Bulldogs. Then again, Syracuse was outrebounded by its opponents for the season. "We just played a good 2-3 zone and mixed it up a little bit, playing man-to-man on one possession, zone on the other, just enough to try to keep em off balance," Biedenbach said Kris Joseph and Dion Waiters both had 12 points for Syracuse, which played its fourth game this season without Melo, the Big East defensive player of the year who missed three games in January over academic issues. The Orange are 3-1 without him. "We (would) love to have him, but it's about us playing the game," Jardine said. "We got a lot of guys that stepped up today." Jaron Lane added 16 points and Jeremy Atkinson had 12 for the Bulldogs, whose leading scorer, Matt Dickey, went 1 for 13 from the field, 1 of 9 from 3. Asheville went 9 of 23 from beyond the arc. "The excitement of the game was crazy. It was March Madness at its finest," Dickey said. "It was awesome and we'll cherish this moment and the opportunity that we had but we'll always look back at this moment and say we should have won or could have won, but that's not enough." Other No. 1s have trailed a 16 at halftime, the last Kansas, which was behind by two points before going on to beat Holy Cross 70-59 in 2002. There have been two one-point wins by No. 1s over 16s -- Georgetown over Princeton and Oklahoma over East Tennessee State, both in 1989. And there was one two-point game -- Purdue over Western Carolina in 1996 -- and one that went overtime -- Michigan State 75-71 over Murray State in 1990. Boeheim earned his 46th win in the NCAA tournament, breaking a tie with Bob Knight for seventh on the career list.

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter latest Preps Power Rankings

Three new teams enter the picture in the Preps Power Rankings this week as some shakeups occured due to a lot of ranked matchups. While many of the top teams remain the same, a lot of changes went down towards the back end of the rankings this week.

1. Simeon (17-3, 7-0) (1) -- The Wolverines made quick work out of Vocational and Brooks to maintain its conference lead. Big week ahead for Simeon as they play Dunbar, No. 3 Curie and head to Baltimore to face Polytechnic (MD). 

2. Orr (16-3, 7-0) (2) -- Orr took down North Lawndale and Westinghouse during the week to remain unbeaten in conference play. The Spartans face Marshall before hosting Vashon (MO) at their own shootout on Saturday. 

3. Curie (17-2, 7-0) (3) -- The Condors had another strong week, beating Hyde Park, Vocational and North Lawndale. Curie has another busy week as they play Brooks, Simeon and North Chicago. 

4. Whitney Young (17-4, 6-1) (4) -- Whitney Young handled a very tough week, taking down Uplift, North Lawndale and Bloomington. The Dolphins get another week of quality opponents as they play Westinghouse and Chaminade (MO). 

5. Bolingbrook (15-2, 4-0) (5) -- Huge week for Bolingbrook as they followed up a win over Morgan Park with wins over Joliet Central and Homewood-Flossmoor. The Raiders play Joliet West and Lincoln-Way East this week. 

6. Morgan Park (15-7, 6-2) (6) -- Adam Miller looked like a potential star as the sophomore made nine three-pointers in a Morgan Park win over Fenwick. The Mustangs have been without Ayo Dosunmu and Tamell Pearson but still look like a top team. The Mustangs face Harlan and St. Frances (MD) this week. 

7. Niles North (18-2, 4-2) (10) -- Blowout win for the Vikings over crosstown rival Niles West as they get another conference game against Glenbrook South during the week.

8. Fenwick (14-6, 5-0) (8) --  Fenwick lost to Public League powers Simeon and Morgan Park but they remained unbeaten in the Catholic League with an overtime win over St. Rita. The Friars get a huge conference game this week when they take on DePaul Prep.

9. Marist (18-2, 3-1) (9) -- The RedHawks beat Brother Rice for a quality win before falling to Benet in overtime. Still looking like a major contender, Marist face Joliet Catholic this week.

10. Marian Catholic (14-3, 2-2) (12) -- The Spartans took down Notre Dame in ESCC play as they prepare to play St. Patrick during the upcoming week. 

11. DePaul (18-4, 3-1) (13) -- DePaul Prep continues to pick up quality wins as they beat St. Joseph and Evanston during the weekend. The Rams have a huge Catholic League game against Fenwick during the week.

12. Loyola (17-3, 4-1) (14) -- Loyola held off St. Ignatius for a close win as they played in the first high school game at Wintrust Arena. The Ramblers play De La Salle and Detroit (Jesuit) this week. 

13. Evanston (14-4, 5-1) (11) -- The Wildkits needed overtime to outlast Glenbrook South before falling to DePaul Prep. Evanston has another busy week ahead as they play Maine South and Geneva. 

14. Oak Park-River Forest (14-4, 5-0) (15) -- The Huskies bounced back with a conference win over Hinsdale Central as they've easily looked like the best team in the West Suburban this season. OPRF plays Proviso West and Lyons this week. 

15. Hillcrest (16-4, 8-0) (16) -- Making quick work of Tinley Park in South Suburban play, the Hawks remain undefeated in the league. Hillcrest gets T.F. South and Homewood-Flossmoor next week. 

16. Lincoln Park (14-5, 6-2) (8) -- Lincoln Park dropped a conference game to Farragut and won a close game against Marshall as they prepare to face La Lumiere (IN), one of the premier high school teams in the country. 

17. New Trier (14-3, 4-1) (21) -- The Trevians had the week off after Monday as they try to regroup to face Niles West and St. Viator during the week. New Trier is still right in the mix in the CSL South race.

18. Benet (15-4, 3-1) (24) -- Fresh off of winning a Martin Luther King event at Wheaton Warrenville South, the Redwings took down Marist in overtime in ESCC play. Benet has Nazareth coming up in ESCC play this week.

19. West Aurora (14-4, 5-0) (25) -- Another solid week for West Aurora as they took down Bartlett in conference play before rolling past a talented Romeoville team. The Blackhawks have Glenbard East this week before facing Willowbrook at the Batavia Night of Hoops. 

20. Joliet Central (15-3, 8-0) (18) -- Tough loss for Joliet Central as they fell to a red-hot Bolingbrook team. The Steelmen came back with a double-digit win over crosstown rival Joliet West. Joliet Central hosts Romeoville in a huge Southwest Prairie clash of unbeatens this week while also playing Lincoln-Way East this weekend. 

21. Wheaton Warrenville South (16-4, 7-1) (NR) -- Impressive DuPage Valley Conference win for the Tigers over Naperville North as they are tied for first in the league. Wheaton Warrenville South has a road game at Wheaton North before taking on Lake Park in conference play this week.

22. North Lawndale (13-7, 3-4) (17) -- Tough week for the Phoenix as they dropped three games to top-5 teams. North Lawndale played Orr to the limit in a four-point loss before losing to Whitney Young in overtime. Curie also got the best of the Phoenix with a weekend clash. North Lawndale gets another tough game against Uplift this week.

23. Naperville North (15-2, 7-1) -- The Huskies dropped a DuPage Valley Conference clash against Wheaton Warrenville South as the league continues to be one of the toughest to win in the suburbs. Naperville North has winnable game coming up this week against Metea Valley as they try to stay with the Tigers. 

24. St. Viator (16-4, 4-0) (NR) -- With four consecutive double-digit wins and the only unbeaten conference record in the loaded ESCC, the Lions re-enter the Power Rankings. St. Viator has plenty of quality wins this season, including Marian Catholic, Benet, Prospect, Conant and Libertyville. 

25. Aurora Christian (16-0, 6-0) (NR) -- The area's only remaining unbeaten team, Aurora Christian joins the Power Rankings after a solid win over Mooseheart during the week. Our Team of the Week last week, senior Jake Wolfe leads Aurora Christian as the Lipscomb commit is an All-Area candidate.

Meet the Prospects: A.J. Puckett

Meet the Prospects: A.J. Puckett

The White Sox rebuild is in full swing. While it might still be a year or two before the big league team is expected to start competing for championships, the minor leagues are stocked with highly touted talent fans will be eagerly following in 2018. With that in mind, it's time to Meet the Prospects and get to know the future of the South Side.

A.J. Puckett

Puckett, the 22-year-old right-handed hurler, came over in one of Rick Hahn's lower-profile moves last summer. While trades with the Cubs and New York Yankees brought back high-profile prospects like Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease and Blake Rutherford, an under-the-radar July move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Kansas City Royals fetched Puckett and left-handed pitcher Andre Davis to bolster the rebuilding effort.

A California native, Puckett was a second-round pick of the Royals in the 2016 draft. He made 11 starts at Class A Lexington in 2016, posting a 3.66 ERA with 37 strikeouts in 51.2 innings of work. Prior to last summer's trade, Puckett made 20 starts for Class A Wilmington, turning in a 3.90 ERA to go with 98 strikeouts in 108.1 innings. After joining the White Sox organization, he made five starts at Class A Winston-Salem, where he had a 4.28 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 27.1 innings.

As of their most recent rankings, MLB Pipeline had Puckett rated as the No. 23 prospect in the White Sox organization.

Get to know Puckett in the video above.