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#pounditSaturday, December 2, 2023


Ime Udoka ejected after confrontation with LeBron James

Ime Udoka and LeBron James stare each other down during Lakers-Rockets game

Houston Rockets head coach Ime Udoka was unceremoniously tossed Saturday from his team’s contest against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers led the Rockets 93-77 with 8:35 left in the game at Arena in Los Angeles, Calif.

Rockets forward Tari Eason was awarded two free throws after being fouled by Lakers wing Cam Reddish. The former Duke standout gave the LSU alum a light bump, which led to a minor fracas between Rockets and Lakers players. Reddish was whistled for a technical foul.

As Rockets guard Fred VanVleet shot the technical free throw, James and Udoka began to chirp at one another. Veteran referee J.T. Orr penalized both James and Udoka with technicals over their animated exchange. Udoka, who received his first technical foul in the second quarter, was ejected from the contest.

The fiery moment from Udoka was not enough to galvanize Houston into mounting a comeback. The Lakers held off the Rockets the rest of the way for a 107-97 victory.

James had a relatively quiet night with 16 points, 7 assists, and 5 turnovers. But he did pull off an epic 360 layup that left his Lakers teammates and the internet in disbelief (video here).

The Rockets, meanwhile, continued their struggles on the road. The loss worsened their road record to 0-8 for the season.

Jazz center victimized by 2 vicious poster dunks in 50-second span

Walker Kessler gets dunked on by two Blazers players

Walker Kessler is one of the best young shot-blockers in the NBA. The Utah Jazz center might have a hard time blocking out the memory of getting posterized twice Saturday in less than a minute of game action.

The Jazz were trying to ward off a comeback bid from the visiting Portland Trail Blazers at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kessler’s 2.5 blocks per game usually serve as a strong deterrent against offensive players thinking of attacking the rim. But the Blazers took on the challenge and then some during crunch time.

Utah held a 104-99 lead with just under 3 minutes left in regulation. Blazers forward Shaedon Sharpe got Kessler involved in a pick-and-roll. But instead of making a pocket pass to Deandre Ayton, Sharpe took off and yammed it right over the Jazz center.

Perhaps Sharpe’s poster dunk gave the rest of the Blazers confidence to attack Kessler. Not even a minute later, rookie wing Toumani Camara rose up for an equally vicious slam against the Auburn alum.

Here are the two dunks side-by-side:

The pair of poster jams likely energized the Blazers, who were able to force overtime despite a double-digit fourth quarter deficit. But the Jazz managed to maintain their composure to hold on for a 118-113 win.

Kessler tallied 12 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks in the contest.

Dirk Nowitzki had hilarious case of mistaken identity by fan

Dirk Nowitzki smiling

Nov 22, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; Former Dallas Mavericks player Dirk Nowitzki smiles to the crowd during the first quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It is pretty hard to mistake 7-foot Basketball Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki for someone else, but one fan apparently managed to pull it off this week.

The Dallas Mavericks great Nowitzki shared a funny story to his X page on Saturday about how a fan at a restaurant confused him for another former NBA big man.

“Walked into a restaurant yesterday and guy comes up and says, ‘Aren’t you Rik Smits?’ Dirk wrote. “Not quite but I appreciated his hoops knowledge…”

That actually isn’t the worst mistake in the world to make by the fan. Like Nowitzki, Smits is a European former NBA star who is ridiculously tall (7-foot-4) and played his whole career with one team (the Indiana Pacers). On top of that, Smits was just in the news recently for his viral moment with a fellow Pacers big man.

Granted, Nowitzki is far younger (45 to Smits’ 57) and is of German (not Dutch) descent. Still, this kind of thing tends to happen to NBA players, even ones who are still very much active.

Troy coach Jon Sumrall went nuts over missed facemask call

Troy coach upset

Troy Trojans head coach Jon Sumrall went nuts over a missed facemask call by the referees during Saturday’s Sun Belt Championship Game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Troy, Ala.

Troy was leading Appalachian State 21-17 in the third quarter and had a 2nd-and-9 from their 26 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Trojans quarterback Gunnar Watson threw an incomplete pass intended for Jabre Barber to bring up third down.

Sumrall was outraged on the sideline because the officials missed a facemask infraction committed by the Mountaineers.

Sumrall had to be restrained as he was going berserk over the missed call.

It’s hard to blame him for being upset over what happened and the officials missing it.

Though Troy punted on that possession, they finished the game with three straight touchdown drives to win 49-23.

Sumrall went 12-2 last year in his first season at Troy. He has the Trojans 11-2 this season.

Iowa bar’s tragic promo goes viral after loss to Michigan

An Iowa Hawkeyes football helmet

Dec 5, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; A Iowa Hawkeyes helmet sits on the side line during the the Big Ten Conference football championship game between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Michigan State Spartans at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

One Iowa establishment is probably regretting their Saturday promo for the Iowa-Michigan game.

Iowa and Michigan clashed in the Big Ten Championship Game held Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

An X-Golf branch in Cedar Rapids, Iowa launched a promo Friday offering draft beer at no charge up until the Wolverines score or until the game ends.

As luck would have it, the Wolverines’ defense held the Hawkeyes scoreless 26-0 to win the Big Ten title and a likely spot in the College Football Playoff.

The nearly 3-hour window of free-flowing beer probably did a number on both the X-Golf branch’s profits and the players who had an unlimited supply of free booze.

If there was one Power Five team to be wary of for such a promo, it’s Iowa. The Hawkeyes have had one of the worst offenses in college football this season.

Iowa came into the contest averaging just 228.3 yards per game as a team — the lowest total in NCAA Division 1 football. The gap between the Hawkeyes and second-lowest Kent State was a whopping 24.3 yards per game.

Iowa’s offensive futility has even led to what some might have thought to be an unlikely coaching shakeup.

Iowa establishments may want to steer clear of such promos until further notice.

LeBron James sends Internet into frenzy with wild 360 layup

LeBron James doing a 360 layup

LeBron James continues to cackle right in the face of Father Time.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar James went viral on Saturday for his unbelievable feat of athleticism against the Houston Rockets. During the second quarter, James spun baseline on Rockets forward Tari Eason and got around the help defender Jeff Green with a gravity-defying 360 move to finish the layup at the rim.

Take a look at the surreal sequence.

Here are several more angles for you to enjoy.

The Internet lost its collective mind over the play and “LeBron 360” quickly became a top trending topic on X (formerly known as Twitter). Meanwhile, the NBA’s official highlight video of James’ 360 layup scored over 275,000 views within its first 20 minutes of being posted.

At this point, it is hard to describe James, who turns 39 later this month, as anything but a sci-fi character. In his 21st NBA season, he is putting up 24.8 points a game and counting (for reference, the next highest scoring total for an NBA player in Year 21 was Vince Carter’s 7.4 points a game in 2018-19).

Interestingly enough, Carter also had a stunning 360 layup of his own at an advanced age. But James’ corkscrew finish there around two tall defenders definitely takes the cake.

Brian Ferentz flipped out after Iowa got screwed on terrible call

Brian Ferentz yelling

Brian Ferentz was rightfully livid on the Iowa sidelines after his Hawkeyes were screwed on a call in the second half of the Big Ten Championship Game against Michigan on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.

Iowa had the ball at their 12 down 10-0 to the Wolverines early in the third quarter. Hawkeyes quarterback Deacon Hill had the ball and was back to pass. He looked to throw the ball but had his arm hit by Michigan DB Mike Sainristil.

The officials initially thought it was an incomplete pass by Hill and blew their whistle. However, after FOX came back from a commercial, we learned that the officials had changed their mind upon a review and ruled the play a fumble. They also gave possession to Michigan at the Iowa 6.

The ruling of a fumble and change of possession was the death knell for Iowa, which got shutout 26-0. The call had Iowa’s offensive coordinator furious.

It’s hard to blame him.

There were three reasons to be upset. One, not only was that not a fumble, but there wasn’t even enough evidence to overturn the call. Two, the officials had blown their whistle after the ball came out but still gave Michigan possession. Three, that gave Michigan the ball near the end zone and effectively made it too big of a gap for Iowa to overcome.

Michigan has now won three straight Big Ten championships outright. They have beaten Iowa by a combined score of 68-3 in Big Ten Championship Games (the Wolverines beat the Hawkeyes 42-3 in 2021).

Vermont completes ridiculous comeback against Yale in 3.8 seconds

Vermont trails Yale 65-60 at Patrick Gymnasium

Vermont must have recently made a deal with the basketball gods. That’s the only explanation for their absurd comeback Saturday against Yale.

Vermont trailed 65-60 with just 3.8 seconds left at Patrick Gymnasium in Burlington, Vt.

Vermont guard Aaron Deloney went the full length of the floor to score a layup and cut the deficit to 3. Given that the Catamounts didn’t have any timeouts left, the play left just 0.6 seconds on the clock.

All Yale had to do was successfully inbound the basketball. Even if Vermont stole the ball, they would’ve been hard-pressed to get a good look from behind the three-point arc.

Instead, Yale guard August Mahoney was called for an offensive foul before the inbound for pushing off on defender TJ Hurley. The turnover was the absolute worst-case scenario for the visitors given that it burned no time off the clock while allowing Vermont a final inbound play.

Vermont didn’t waste the chance they were given. Junior guard TJ Long was fouled shooting a three and sank the basket. His free throw with 0.3 seconds left completed the miraculous comeback as Vermont won 66-65.

Vermont supporters were visibly heading for the exits as the final seconds unfolded.

Long poured in a season-high 23 points, capped off by the decisive 4-point play with less than a second to play.

Vermont preserved their undefeated record at home this season (5-0) with the comeback victory. The Catamounts improved to 7-2 for the season.

Charleston coach Pat Kelsey completely flips out midgame

Pat Kelsey angry

Pat Kelsey absolutely flipped out like a mad man during Charleston’s game against Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Kelsey’s Cougars lost 90-74 in their Field of 64 Tip-Off game at Eleanor R. Baldwin Arena in Boca Raton, Fla.

During the game, Kelsey appeared to think he was called a name by FAU guard Brandon Weatherspoon. Kelsey was seen stalking Weatherspoon with eyes bulging from his head.

“Did you call me that?” Kelsey asked Weatherspoon intensely.

Kelsey then walked down to FAU coach Dusty May to share what had happened.

Not only did Kelsey feel like he was called something by Weatherspoon, but Kelsey’s Cougars also lost. The College of Charleston went 31-4 last season in their second year under Kelsey. They’re off to a shakier 4-4 start this season.

Kirby Smart makes his case for Georgia to make CFP

Kirby Smart on a headset

Sep 23, 2023; Athens, Georgia, USA; Georgia Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart reacts against the UAB Blazers in the first half at Sanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Georgia took one on the chin Saturday when they lost to Alabama. But Georgia head coach Kirby Smart doesn’t think it was a knockout blow to his team’s College Football Playoff hopes just yet.

The Bulldogs lost to the Crimson Tide 27-24 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga. in the SEC Championship Game.

Georgia came into the conference title game ranked No. 1 in the country and would have been all but guaranteed a spot in the playoff with a win. Instead, the result has left Georgia potentially on the outside looking in.

Smart made his best case for Georgia to still be included in the College Football Playoff. The Bulldogs coach pointed to a recent statement from CFP director Bill Hancock about how it’s the “best” and not the “most deserving” teams that are selected to make the final four.

“Bill Hancock said it’s not the most deserving. It’s the best four teams,” Smart said during his postgame interview with CBS. “If [Georgia isn’t] one of the best four teams out there … I don’t believe any man or woman sitting on that committee doesn’t believe that’s one of the best four teams … that was No. 1 coming into it.”

Georgia remained No. 1 in the AP poll throughout the entire season. After two consecutive national titles, the Bulldogs were once again regarded as the best team in college football for most of the campaign.

Smart believes that despite the loss to Alabama, Georgia’s body of work earlier in the season should still get them into the CFP.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban virtually made the inverse argument in favor of his team to represent the SEC in the playoff.

But depending on how the final results shake out Saturday, there’s also a scenario where neither team makes it given the success of teams like Washington, Michigan, Texas, and Florida State.

The only guarantee with the College Football Playoff is that its selection committee can’t please everybody.