'Cuse knocks off No. 1 Louisville

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'Cuse knocks off No. 1 Louisville

From Comcast SportsNetLOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) -- Syracuse guard Michael Carter-Williams wasn't fazed by a shaky first half, nor two missed free throws in the final minute that gave No. 1 Louisville chances to win on Saturday.The sophomore just knew he had to redeem himself, and his second-half recovery in several areas helped the sixth-ranked Orange rally for the 70-68 upset.It was the second straight Saturday that No. 1 went down. Duke lost to then-No. 20 North Carolina State 84-76 a week ago.A record crowd of 22,814 at the KFC Yum! Center saw Syracuse beat a No. 1 team for fourth time, all Big East teams.Carter-Williams' most important contributions were a go-ahead 3-pointer with 5:28 remaining, followed by a steal and go-ahead dunk with 23 seconds left as he scored 11 of his team's final 13 points, including the last four.He added a rebound and another steal at the end to cap a 16-point, seven-assist game that made it easy for Carter-Williams to forget a five-point first half and those two missed free throws."I wasn't going to go out without a fight," said Carter-Williams, who finished with four assists and four steals. "They were pressuring us, coming at us in the first half. Things were going their way. The second half, I tried to fight back the best I could. I had two or three turnovers but I just kept flipping the page, flipping the page and ended up winning the game, which was great. ..."Those free throws, I just had to have faith in myself and just try to do anything to get the win."Brandon Triche was 9 of 13 from the field, including five of Syracuse's seven 3-pointers, to finish with 23 points as the Orange (17-1, 5-0 Big East) took control of the Big East Conference. He credited Carter-Williams for getting the win."Michael was the reason we won the game, getting the dunk," Triche said. "I might have kept us in the game, but he's the reason we won the game getting the two steals. That's winning stuff."Jerami Grant and C.J. Fair both had 10 points for the Orange, who won their seventh straight and beat the Cardinals for the third time in a row.Russ Smith's 25 points led Louisville (16-2, 4-1), which had its 11-game winning streak stopped. The Cardinals shot 41 percent (24 of 59) including 29 percent in the second half.After taking a 68-66 lead on Smith's two free throws with 1:58 remaining, Louisville missed two shots and committed two turnovers."That was a great college basketball game and they made some really terrific defensive plays down the stretch," Louisville coach Rick Pitino said. "They made the plays, they made the shots when it counted and we didn't."Louisville's final chance to tie ended with a pass inside around Gorgui Dieng's knees in the final seconds which Syracuse recovered to seal the victory.For the Cardinals, it was disappointing end to a week that began with their second No. 1 ranking in school history."I'd rather have the No. 1 ranking at the end of the year," Louisville guard Peyton Siva said. "I really don't mind having the No. 1 ranking at all. We're going to work our way back up to that spot and hopefully get it at the end of the year."Syracuse was 24 of 49 from the field (49 percent) and the Orange outrebounded the Cardinals 36-31.More impressive, Syracuse didn't wilt each time Louisville seemed to get the momentum in a back-and-forth game."I thought both teams played incredibly hard," Orange coach Jim Boeheim said. "There were opportunities where we could've gotten discouraged. Michael turned it over for a layup. He made some mistakes, but he is a big-time player."It was great, but now we can forget about it and try to get ready for Cincinnati on Monday night."The game pitted Syracuse's trademark 2-3 zone defense against Louisville's signature pressure, which last year produced two games in which neither team shot above 35 percent in either game.And while both teams got some results from their defensive strengths, the first half featured impressive offensive performances by both.Syracuse made seven of its first nine shots and hit 14 of 23 overall (61 percent) thanks to Triche, who made all four 3-point attempts and all seven overall for 18 points by halftime. His accuracy helped put the Orange ahead early and then rally late in the half to forge a 38-all tie."I got comfortable," Triche said. "I didn't miss a shot in the first half. I was just letting the game come to me. I was going to get open spots and once I got open I just concentrated on following through. The guys got me the ball when I was open and it was pretty easy to move shots because of the movement we had. I wasn't going to force anything."Louisville hit 54 percent (15 of 28) with huge contributions from its bench. Montrezl Harrell was a big factor in the Cardinals outscoring Syracuse's reserves 15-4, hitting all four of his shots for eight points one game after playing 4 scoreless minutes and being limited by an illness.Smith led the way for the Cardinals' starters after a shaky start in which they missed their first three shots against the zone -- including two from beyond the arc -- before he hit a 3-pointer to bring Louisville within 6-3.Syracuse quickly raised it to an 11-3 lead with help from Triche's first two baskets while his teammates added easy inside shots against Louisville's matchup zone. The Orange dominated on the boards as well with a 9-2 lead en route to 15-8 edge through 20 minutes.

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

Blakely: Tatum's character separates him from many of the other rookies

BOSTON – With his new head coach Brad Stevens and Boston Celtics ownership and front office officials surrounding him, Jayson Tatum’s mind seemed to be somewhere else briefly.

He looked ahead, way, way ahead to the other end of the Celtics’ practice court where there were banners, lots of banners, raised high above all else in the gym.

This wasn’t just a passing glance, either.

TATUM SPEAKS

It was clear that the newest Celtic was in deep thought as he stared at the 17 banners and the one left blank, a steady reminder of what this franchise is about, past and present.

Yes, it’s a lot to soak in for anyone let alone a 19-year-old kid whose career with the Celtics can be timed on a stopwatch.

But the soft-spoken 6-foot-9 forward has been here long enough to understand that success around here is about more than playing well; it’s playing to win a championship.

And that in many ways separates Tatum from his teenage brethren who made up the majority of Thursday night’s NBA draft which included an NBA-record 17 players taken in the first round who like Tatum, were just one year removed from high school.

All come into the NBA with lots to learn, as well as goals and aspirations for this upcoming NBA season.

During an interview with CSN on Friday, I asked Tatum about what in his mind would make for a successful season.

And his answer initially was to ask me a question, “Individual or team?”

So I replied, either one.

“To get back to where they were last year and get over that hump,” he said. “Championships, chasing that number 18, that would be the ultimate success for me.”

That served as a reminder as to why despite having a handful of players under consideration at No. 3, the Celtics did the right thing in selecting Tatum.

His words may seem like the politically correct response, but take a look at the kid’s basketball resume and you’ll quickly see he is indeed about winning and doing so in whatever way possible.

After missing his first eight games at Duke with a foot injury, Tatum gradually improved as the season progressed and wound up on the all-rookie team as well as being named to the All-ACC third team.

Once the Blue Devils got to the ACC Tournament, Tatum became a different, better, more dominant player.

Indeed, Tatum led the Blue Devils to their first ACC championship since 2011 and did so in historic fashion as the Blue Devils became the first ACC school to win the conference tournament with four wins in four days.

Late in the title game against Notre Dame, Tatum put together a sequence of plays that speaks to why the Celtics were seriously considering taking him with the number one overall pick had they not been able to trade it for the No. 3 and a future first-round pick.

With the scored tied at 65, Tatum made a free throw that put Duke ahead.

Moments later, he blocked a shot and finished off the play with a lay-up that gave Duke a three-point lead.

After a Notre Dame basket, Tatum connected with a teammate for a 3-pointer that pushed Duke’s lead to four points with around a minute to play.

And then there was the 3-point play Tatum converted after getting fouled on a dunk which secured a 76-69 Duke win over the Fighting Irish.

Free throws. Blocks. Getting out in transition. Passing.

When his team needed him most, he gave whatever was required at that moment which is one of the intangibles that makes Boston feel good about his future.

“He does whatever he has to do to help you win,” said an NBA scout who said he has seen Tatum play “at least a dozen times.”

He added, “Like all of these kids coming into the league now, he has some things he has to get better at, get more consistent with. But he makes winning plays, whether it’s for himself or others. He’s a lot more unselfish a player than he’s given credit for being.”

And he’s 19 years old, which is both a blessing and a burden when you’re an NBA team executive charged with committing at least two years and millions of dollars into a young man.

Part of the process when making a draft choice, especially when it’s one of the top picks, is character evaluation.

Of the players at or near the top of the draft board, multiple league executives contacted by CSNNE.com in the past couple of weeks said this was an area where Tatum stood out in comparison to all of the top prospects.

“He’s the kind of young man you’d love whether he was a basketball player or not,” one Western Conference executive told CSNNE.com. “If you’re ranking guys on character alone in this draft, he’s your number one pick.”

Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations, acknowledged the challenge of differentiating between miscues made by a teenager as being problems of concern going forward, or whether that’s a teenager making the kind of bad/questionable decisions most teens make.

“It’s dangerous to play too much into a 19-year-old kid’s behavior,” Ainge told CSN’s A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper on Friday. “But I think that, with all the things we do, from physical, emotional, mental, character, work ethic and their skills … it’s just really hard at 19. You hate to just be labeled what you are at 18.”

But in regards to Tatum specifically, Ainge added, “Jayson is a high character guy. We know he will get better because of his character and his work ethic.”

Said Tatum: “It’s a great feeling. Being part of a great organization like the Celtics; think of all the great players of the past and you can follow in their footsteps.”

And in doing so, blaze a trail of his own in the pursuit of Banner 18.

David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

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David Price improves command, indicates he's pitching through ailment

BOSTON — David Price and Rick Porcello showed improvement on back-to-back nights Friday and Saturday, important signs for the Red Sox after a difficult month for both pitchers prior to this homestand.

Price on Saturday night went six innings and allowed three runs, two earned, in a 6-3 loss to the Angels. He fanned five and his velocity has been consistently better this year than last year.

But the most important number was his walk total: one. He walked three batters in his previous start, and four in both of his starts prior.

“Two outings ago, the first start here in Fenway,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “There was better timing in his delivery and overall better separation over the rubber. And he carried that through I thought, even though there's a higher pitch count in Houston, and has been able to maintain it here. I can't say there was one specific thing. It's been more the timing over the rubber. And you're seeing him pitch out of the stretch exclusively. Just less moving parts in a better position to repeat it.”

After Price’s final inning, the telecast captured Price calling pitching coach Carl Willis into the tunnel. Neither Farrell nor Price detailed the conversation. 

“Yeah, everything was fine,” Farrell said of the conversation. “Everything is OK there.”

Price made it sound like he’s dealing with some sort of physical ailment, but was vague.

“There's a lot of stuff going on right now,” the pitcher said when asked about the desire to stay out there. “You don't want it to linger into the next start, or two or three weeks from now, and that's why we did what we did.”

Asked to elaborate, Price reinforced that the decision was to save his body for another day.

“You never want to come out of a game. But you have to look forward at the time,” Price said. “You don’t want today to cost you your next start or you know, the start after that. So that’s what happened.

“It has nothing to do with my elbow or anything like that. This is — you get past one thing and there’s another So that’s what it is.”

Price in New York in early June felt a blister develop on his ring finger. He missed an in-between start bullpen because of it.

Asked about the blister Saturday, Price said, “That one’s gone.”

Farrell indicated the blister was diminished, if not entirely gone.

“He's been dealing with that,” Farrell said. “I think while it's still present and maybe not as severe as it was when it first happened, I'm sure he's going to check on it occasionally."