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01.04.2017 • WEdnEsday • M 1

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

sT. LOUIs POsT-dIsPaTCH • B5

SLU could be facing its future in La Salle Explorers rely on players who have transferred, much as Billikens will do next season BY STU DURANDO st. Louis Post-dispatch

Although Travis Ford has had three potentially significant transfers sitting on the end of his bench during home games, the first-year St. Louis University coach has avoided the temptation to talk openly about how things might look for the Billikens a year from now. In fact, he has told the team behind closed doors that he is tired of hearing from outsiders about next season. La Salle coach John Giannini, on the other hand, was known last season to “speak wistfully” about what was to come for his team, according to one writer. The Explorers had nine wins in 2015-16 and had their own batch of transfers waiting to play. When SLU plays at La Salle on Wednesday night, Ford will get a look at one team’s progress using the same approach he is applying with the Billikens. The results have been mixed for Giannini. La Salle is 6-5 and seems to still be struggling to blend new and old into a cohesive unit. However, the Explorers have played a top-50 schedule that has included a competitive loss to No. 1 Villanova. Building with transfers has worked before for Giannini, who led La Salle to three NCAA Tournament wins in 2013, so the process will be analyzed with some patience. “We have always had success with transfers, even going back with the Sweet 16 team,” he said. “Things have changed over the last several years. We certainly don’t want to settle in our re-

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Javon Bess, who played for Michigan State last season, will be in a SLU uniform next season.

cruiting for high school guys. “For some reason we have been more fortunate in transfer recruiting. Frankly, we are having more success in that area right now. The second time around they are just looking for the best fit and the place where they feel comfortable. We kind of fit the bill for good transfers.” La Salle’s newcomers arrived with impressive credentials, just

as SLU’s will when they become eligible for the 2017-18 season. B.J. Johnson returned to his hometown of Philadelphia after starting his career at Syracuse. He leads the team in scoring with an average of 19.6 points and rebounding at 6.7. Pookie Powell was a four-star recruit when he landed at Memphis. He averages 13.6 points for the Explorers. Demetrius Henry (6.2 ppg) made

No. 13 Wisconsin rolls past No. 25 Indiana

No. 3 Kansas 90, Kansas State 88 • Svi Mykhailiuk went the length of the court and threw in a inger-tip layup as the buzzer sounded to give Kansas a victory over visiting Kansas State. Josh Jackson matched a career high with 22 points to go with nine rebounds and six assists, and Landen Lucas added 18 points and 12 rebounds, as the Jayhawks (13-1, 2-0 Big 12) pushed their home winning streak to 50 in one of the closest games during that incredible streak. The Wildcats (13-2, 1-1) had the irst chance to take the lead in the inal seconds, but Dean Wade missed a 3-pointer and the ball bounced out of bounds with 5.6 ticks left on the clock. Kansas struggled to get the ball inbounds, but once it got into Mykhailiuk’s hands, he used his long stride to carry him down the court. His buzzer-beating basket gave him 11 points in the game, not to mention keeping coach Bill Self from losing to Kansas State for the second time at Allen Fieldhouse. Wade matched a career high with 20 points. No. 14 North Carolina 89, Clemson 86 • Joel Berry II had a career-high 31 points and Kennedy Meeks’ basket with 1:12 left in overtime put North Carolina ahead for good as the Tar Heels defeated host Clemson for the ninth straight time. The Tigers (11-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) had two chances to retake the lead after Meeks’ shot, but Jaron Blossomgame and Sidy Djitte missed close-in shots to lose to North Carolina for the 19th time

SLU AT LA SALLE When • 6 p.m. Where • Tom Gola Arena All-time series • SLU leads 12-7. TV, radio • No TV; WXOS (101.1 FM) Records • SLU is 4-9, 0-1 Atlantic 10; La Salle is 0-1, 6-5. About the Billikens • Jermaine Bishop remains doubtful with an ankle injury. ... SLU is 0-4 away from Chaifetz Arena this season, losing by an average of 20 points. ... Reggie Agbeko had what was then a career-high 13 rebounds at La Salle last season. ... The Billikens have improved their 3-point shooting, making 37 percent in the last four games. However, SLU is 338th nationally of 347 teams in scoring ofense, 334th in ield goal percentage and 335th in free throw percentage. About the Explorers • La Salle is 333rd in the country in defending the 3-point line, allowing opponents to make 40.2 percent. ... The Explorers are 6-0 when they attempt more free throws than their opponent. ... La Salle has recorded 175 assists with only 129 turnovers, a 1.4-to-1 ratio. ... The Explorers had a ive-game losing streak in the series until they beat the Billikens in Philadelphia last season. La Salle hit 12 3-pointers in that game.

last season and has the Explorers trending in the right direction. They were picked to finish seventh this season after being dead last a year ago – behind even the Billikens. Stu Durando @studurando on Twitter sdurando@post-dispatch.com

Kemph is standout in classroom as well

ROUNDUP

Ethan Happ scored 19 points and Bronson Koenig added 17 on Tuesday night to lead Wisconsin past Indiana 75-68. The visiting Badgers (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) have won nine straight. De’Ron Davis, Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson each inished with 12 points to lead the Hoosiers (10-5, 0-2). Indiana has lost three in a row overall, consecutive games on their home court and 16 of the last 18 in this series. Wisconsin made it look easy early — making its irst ive shots and four straight 3-pointers to take a 16-2 lead — and got ive straight points from Zak Showalter in a late 10-2 run that extended Wisconsin’s lead to 66-59 with 4:30 to play. The Badgers sealed it from the free throw line in the inal minute. Indiana, which led only four times all game, couldn’t get closer than three the rest of the game. Showalter inished with 14 points and Nigel Hayes had 10 for the Badgers. James Blackmon Jr. had 10 points for the Hoosiers.

the move from South Carolina. Additionally, Jordan Price moved to La Salle after one year at Auburn and is in his third season with Giannini, averaging 17.2 points. If fans were expecting a meteoric rise for the Explorers, it hasn’t exactly arrived. They are No. 90 in the Ratings Percentage Index and already looking at the probability of needing to win the Atlantic 10 tournament to reach the NCAA Tournament. Giannini always seemed reasonable about the possibilities, saying in the preseason, “We’re just back to normal. I don’t look at this year as being anything exceptional. I look at last year as being the exception.” Ford has talked briefly about the process of incorporating transfers into the system and how it can take considerable time for those players to re-adapt to the game after spending more than a year participating in practice and individual workouts. SLU is stocked similar to La Salle with Javon Bess (Michigan State), Adonys Henriquez (Central Florida), D.J. Foreman (Rutgers) and Ty Graves (Boston College) waiting in the wings. Like La Salle, the individual parts appear to be impressive. But how will they translate into a team performance? The Explorers have looked explosive offensively and are second in the A-10 in scoring at 81.5 points per game. But they are dead last in defense, allowing 81.6. They have the best assistto-turnover ratio but are 11th in rebounding margin. With the good has come the not so good. But it’s a good bit better than

ORTIZ • FROM B1

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Wisconsin’s Bronson Koenig is defended by Indiana’s Thomas Bryant during the second half Tuesday in Bloomington, Ind. Wisconsin defeated Indiana 75-68.

HOW THE TOP 25 FARED 1. Villanova (14-0) idle. Next: at No. 13 Butler, Wednesday. 2. Baylor (13-0) idle. Next: vs. Iowa State, Wednesday. 3. Kansas (13-1) beat Kansas State 90-88. Next: vs. Texas Tech, Saturday. 4. UCLA (14-1) idle. Next: vs. California, Thursday. 5. Gonzaga (14-0) idle. Next: at San Francisco, Thursday. 6. Kentucky (12-2) beat Texas A&M 100-58. Next: vs. Arkansas, Saturday. 7. West Virginia (12-1) at Texas Tech, late. Next: vs. TCU, Saturday. 8. Duke (12-2) idle. Next: vs. Georgia Tech, Wednesday. 9. Louisville (12-2) idle. Next: at No. 23 Notre Dame, Wednesday. 10. Creighton (13-1) idle. Next: at St. John’s, Wednesday. 11. Virginia (11-2) idle. Next: at Pittsburgh, Wednesday. 12. Florida State (14-1) idle. Next: vs. No. 21 Virginia Tech, Saturday. 13. Wisconsin (13-2) beat No. 25 Indiana 75-68. Next: at No. 20 Purdue, Sunday. 14. North Carolina (13-3) beat Clemson 89-86, OT. Next: vs. N.C. State, Saturday. 15. Oregon (13-2) idle. Next: at Washington, Wednesday. 16. Xavier (12-2) idle. Next: vs. St. John’s, Saturday. 17. Arizona (13-2) idle. Next: vs. Utah, Thursday. 18. Butler (12-2) idle. Next: vs. No. 1 Villanova, Wednesday. 19. Saint Mary’s (12-1) idle. Next: vs. BYU, Thursday. 20. Purdue (12-3) idle. Next: at Ohio State, Thursday. 21. Virginia Tech (12-1) idle. Next: at N.C. State, Wednesday. 22. Cincinnati (12-2) idle. Next: at Houston, Saturday. 23. Notre Dame (12-2) idle. Next: vs. No. 9 Louisville, Wednesday. 24. Florida (11-3) beat Mississippi 70-63. Next: vs. Tennessee, Saturday. 25. Indiana (10-5) lost to No. 13 Wisconsin 75-68. Next: vs. Illinois, Saturday. 25. Southern Cal (14-1) idle. Next: vs. Stanford, Thursday.

in the last 20 games. Berry scored 23 points after halftime and appeared to have North Carolina (13-3, 1-1) on the

way to a victory, ahead 75-67 with less than 4 minutes left. Clemson, though, closed the period with a 10-2 run, capped by Marcquise Reed’s tying 3-pointer with 29 seconds to go.

NOTEBOOK USF ires coach • South Florida has ired coach Orlando Antigua 13 games into his third season at the American Athletic Conference school. Athletics director Mark Harlan announced the move Tuesday, saying assistant coach Murry Bartow will lead the Bulls (6-7, 0-2) for the remainder of the season. Antigua leaves with a 17-48 record at USF, which hired the former Kentucky and Memphis State assistant under John Calipari in March 2014. The Bulls went 9-23 in Antigua’s irst year and inished 8-25 last season. The dismissal, with more than two years left on Antigua’s contract, comes three days after a 70-56 home loss to Houston dropped the team’s record under him in conference play to 7-30. Harlan said in a statement that the change was made following a “thorough and deliberate review” of the program. A search for a successor will begin immediately. Bartow’s irst game as interim coach is Saturday at Southern Methodist. Bartow has served stints as a head coach at AlabamaBirmingham and East Tennessee State. He was 103-83 in six seasons at UAB from 1996 to 2002 and 224-169 over 12 seasons at East Tennessee State from 2003 to 2015. Associated Press

Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter and Alex Pietrangelo, if your daughter or son is looking for an athlete to emulate, you’d be smart to point them in Kemph’s direction. It would be easy to focus this column on Kemph’s athletic exploits, especially considering the history she and the Billikens have made since coach Lisa Stone recruited her from Rolling Meadows (Ill.) High. Kemph credentials are definitely impressive, but we’ll get to that in a second. First let us mention the frustrating two points that will tell you quite a bit about her intelligence, priorities and competitiveness. Those two points have nothing to do with a basket, yet they highlight the type of studentathlete who is drawn to a rigorous academic school such as SLU. Those two points out of 200 possible last semester in a fixedincome securities class are all that has kept Kemph from a perfect 4.0 grade point average at SLU. “It was a very tough class, but I worked pretty hard to get a B+,” she said. “I tried my best, but I missed an A- by two points.” Even with that “setback” Kemph carries a 3.91 GPA that is as impressive as her 521 career assists or her status as the only Billikens player in history with at least 500 assists and 1,000 points. Kemph’s drive for perfection has been one of her signature traits at SLU, in the classroom and on the court. Kemph is on pace to graduate from SLU in three years this May with a degree in accounting. Then she hopes to start working on a masters degree in accounting next summer to get her CPA during her final year of eligibility. “She’s as good as it gets as far as a quality human being, great player, great student, and an even better person,” Stone said. The 5-foot-7 point guard ranks third in the nation with 7.7 assists a game, which is tops in the Atlantic 10 Conference. She also leads the conference in assist-turnover ratio (2.35 to 1) and is fifth in scoring (15.1 points a game). She has helped SLU accomplish several historic milestones in her short tenure, including the Billikens’ first victory over Missouri last month in a dramatic comeback from 18 points down. SLU was picked first in the A-10 preseason poll this season for the first time in school history after Kemph led the Billikens to a share of the school’s first A-10 women’s basketball regular season title last season.

Unable to win the A-10 conference tournament last year, they were denied an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. They overcame that disappointment, though, by making the Elite 8 of the Women’s NIT. “First of all, she’s the best player I’ve ever recruited by far,” said Stone, who spent eight of her 31 years of coaching in the Big Ten with Wisconsin. “I’ve never had somebody that gifted and fast. She’s the fastest player I’ve really seen with the ball in her hands.” As the A-10 co-player of the year last season, Kemph became the first SLU woman to win that award. She has already been the A-10 player of the week twice this season. She has started every game since her freshman year, when SLU finished tied for eighth in the A-10 with a 7-9 record and a 15-16 overall mark. That losing season was diicult for a kid who had reached the state championship game as a junior and senior in high school. “It’s been great to see that transformation,” she said. “We used it as motivation.” That’s not to say Kemph ever needs much motivation. She has competed since birth, when she beat her twin sister Allie out of the womb by a minute. “I think if you ask anyone, they’d say I’m super competitive,” she said. “My friends will tell you that. I have a twin sister, so I was set up in that role. “I feel like it’s in everything. Even little drills in practice, I hate losing. I have a mini-pool table, and I’m super competitive with everything, board games. If I lose I get pretty mad.” Kemph and the Billikens are 11-3 overall and 1-0 in conference play heading into their game against George Mason at Chaifetz Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Kemph is still disappointed about the loss the Billikens suffered last year at home against George Mason, so she’s eager to atone. “It was an overtime loss, our first conference game,” she remembers. “We were picked pretty high. Everyone remembers that. It was heartbreaking. We’re ready for them.” The kid who may go down as the best women’s basketball player in SLU history continues to make her mark. You owe it to yourself and your family to go watch her and the Billikens play. She represents what we like to think college sports are about. Jose de Jesus Ortiz @OrtizKicks on Twitter jortiz@post-dispatch.com