Sidelines with John Clay

John Wall, Valparaiso, Duke and more Big Blue Links

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) takes a shot against Orlando Magic guard Jodie Meeks, left, on the way to scoring a career-high 52 points in the Wizards’ 124-116 loss on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in Washington.
Washington Wizards guard John Wall (2) takes a shot against Orlando Magic guard Jodie Meeks, left, on the way to scoring a career-high 52 points in the Wizards’ 124-116 loss on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016, in Washington. Associated Press

Big Blue Links for Wednesday:

John Wall’s career-high 52 points not enough for Wizards win. Candace Buckner of the Washington Post reports:

“Wall made 18 of 31 shots, including five from the three-point arc and 11 free throws — and yet the Wizards still fell to 7-13. His teammates, much like the announced crowd of 12,116 at Verizon Center, also made quick exits. After the loss, players dressed then disappeared while Wall, wrapped in towels after his shower, stood alone in an empty locker room. Wall became the latest solo act to score 50 or more points in a loss (New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis had 50 in a season-opening loss to Denver).”

In preparation for Valparaiso, Kentucky has gone defensive. Jerry Tipton of the Herald-Leader writes:

“One question hovering over Wednesday night’s game against Valparaiso is how will Kentucky react to its first loss of the season? Ideally, the Wildcats hope to be very defensive (in the good sense of the word). UK wants to turn up the defensive intensity after UCLA made 53 percent of its shots in winning 97-92 in Rupp Arena on Saturday.”

I wrote about the the 10 things we’ve learned (so far) from this college basketball season. An excerpt:

“1. If Duke gets all its pieces healthy, the Blue Devils will be scary. Even without heralded freshmen Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum and Marques Bolden, Mike Krzyzewski’s team started 7-1. The lone loss was to Kansas on a Frank Mason shot with 1.8 seconds remaining in the Champions Classic. Tatum and Bolden played Saturday in the win over Maine. Giles might debut soon. Yikes.”

Speaking of Duke, the Blue Devils turned back Florida 84-74 in the Jimmy V Classic. Jessika Morgan of the Raleigh News and Observer reports from New York:

“Duke showed glimpses of the team it has longed to be all season with a 84-74 victory over No. 21 Florida Tuesday in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.

“No one played a full 20-minute half. Jayson Tatum, the star freshman’s second game of the season, boosted the No. 5 Blue Devils’ transition game. Amile Jefferson and Luke Kennard carried them to their seventh straight victory. Jefferson put up his fifth double-double of the season with 24 points and 15 rebounds. His first-half production was 1.05 points a minute. Kennard, who was greeted with cheers upon entering the locker room, added 29 on an 11-of-16 night, going 5-of-7 from behind the arc.”

Kansas made 15 three-pointers and Bill Self won his 600th career game on Tuesday night. Gary Bedore of the Kansas City Star reports:

“Standing next to senior Frank Mason, who tied a career high with 30 points (including a career-best six threes made in seven tries), Self stared skyward at the center scoreboard as former Jayhawks Wayne Simien, Keith Langford, Sherron Collins, Perry Ellis, Mario Chalmers, Tyrel Reed, Aaron Miles, Cole Aldrich, Russell Robinson, Jamari Traylor and Darnell Jackson — plus select players from Tulsa, Illinois and Oral Roberts — congratulated him on milestone win No. 600.”

Kentucky got the close game John Calipari wanted in that loss to UCLA last week. Here’s what Matt Norlander of CBS Sports learned.

“1. The final 10 minutes showed as many positives as it did negatives . Calipari’s go-to talking point in the two weeks prior was how he wanted to see his team perform and react in a close game. Or, at the very least, he wanted to see how they would respond. On the surface, it looks like a failing grade. But the thing is, UCLA 97, Kentucky 92 was good game on the whole but it wasn’t close throughout. Kentucky led by as many as nine; UCLA by 14. From the midway point of the first half through the midway point of the second half, there was a 23-point swing.”

Rick Pitino belongs on a Mount Rushmore of charm-all coaching charlatans. So says Norman Chad:

“So why is Pitino in Couch Slouch’s crosshairs at the moment? Because I’m tired of these smooth-talking flimflammers — none of whom you would trust as far as you could throw an inbounds pass — skipping to the bank while taking no responsibility for any impropriety in their programs. Pitino’s time-tested mantra? ‘See nothing. Say nothing.’”

Ex-WKU coach Willie Taggart to be named new coach at Oregon. Brett McMurphy of ESPN reports:

“University of South Florida’s Willie Taggart will be named Oregon’s next football coach, sources told ESPN. Taggart replaces Mark Helfrich, who was fired by Oregon a week ago after going 4-8 overall and 2-7 in the Pac-12 this season. Taggart and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen were the two finalists for the Oregon job, a source said.”

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