After Duke loss, predictable silence from the Jalen Johnson critics

Duke took Louisville to OT on Saturday, but wound up losing anyway. You hate to see it.

Duke took Louisville to OT on Saturday, but wound up losing anyway. You hate to see it.
Screenshot: ESPN

Duke came back from a 12-point deficit on Saturday to take Louisville to overtime, but Cardinals senior Carlik Jones scored seven of his 25 points in the extra session, and the Cardinals went on to an 80-73 victory at Cameron Indoor Stadium, snapping the Blue Devils’ four-game winning streak and dealing a blow to Mike Krzyzewski’s hopes of leading his team back to the NCAA Tournament.

Matthew Hurt scored 37 points, a majority of the Blue Devils’ total, and Wendell Moore Jr. was Duke’s only other player in double figures. It was a game where maybe, just maybe, Duke could have used another highly-talented player to tip the balance in their favor.

Someone like Jalen Johnson, perhaps? Perhaps. We can’t know for sure because Johnson opted out of the remainder of the season earlier this month. Johnson was called a “quitter” by people like CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein for making a difficult personal choice to safeguard his health and future earning power by no longer playing for a team that wasn’t paying him despite its multiple annual appearances on national TV and merchandising prowess.

Then, as Duke started winning without Johnson, there was Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, proclaiming that the Blue Devils were better off without the 19-year-old. Maybe there was something to the notion of Duke having better flow as a team with Johnson out of the lineup, but that wasn’t really the point Boeheim or anyone else was making. It was always about hammering Johnson and reinforcing the power structure of college basketball, where players are to be seen and not heard, and certainly not paid while coaches and media rights holders can be as loud as they want while taking in that sweet cash hand over fist.

But Duke didn’t have much team flow on Saturday. The Blue Devils had Hurt carrying the load, especially down the stretch as he scored 21 of his 37 in the second half and overtime.

So, what did Rothstein have to say?

How about Seth Davis, also of CBS, who had noted that Duke was 4-0, then 5-0, then 6-0 without Johnson? (They had won three games that he missed earlier in the season before opting out.) Did Davis update to say that Duke is now 6-1 without Johnson? Of course not, just a mealy-mouthed tweet about how it was a “great basketball game” and Duke can still play its way into the tournament.

What about Dan Dakich, who tweeted the same thing — “Tell me again how Duke isn’t better without Jalen Johnson” — both last Saturday and Tuesday? You already know the answer is no. Dakich just retweeted a video from Louisville coach Chris Mack.

It’s entirely predictable, and entirely gross.

The Knicks are 17-17 after their 110-107 win over the Pacers at Madison Square Garden, which puts New York into a fourth-place tie with the Raptors in the Eastern Conference.


The NHL’s “reverse retro” alternates aren’t all great, but wow did the Kings-Wild game look fantastic.

And the buzzer-beating goal by Matt Dumba for Minnesota in overtime? Sublime.

Jordan Binnington got pulled after giving up four goals on 19 shots in San Jose, then started mixing it up with the Sharks on his way to the locker room.

Fighting is wrong, but goalie fights are oh, so right, and curse those officials for denying the world the chance to see Binnington and Devan Dubnyk go at it.

The Blues, somehow, wound up winning, 7-6.

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