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Syracuse point guard Frank Howard suspended on eve of NCAA tournament

Yahoo! Sports logo Yahoo! Sports 3/20/2019 Henry Bushnell

Video by ACC Digital Network

Syracuse starting point guard Frank Howard will not play in his team’s NCAA tournament opener against Baylor on Thursday due to suspension.

Syracuse announced the senior’s absence on the eve of the first-round game, saying Howard “will not play in the NCAA tournament for an indefinite period of time due to a violation of athletic department policy.”

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No more specific reason was given. Head coach Jim Boeheim gave vague answers about the suspension at his day-before news conference in Salt Lake City on Wednesday:

Boeheim would not say whether Howard would be available on Saturday for a potential matchup with top-seeded Gonzaga.

He did, however, say that Syracuse practiced without Howard on Tuesday with the senior’s impending absence in mind.

Howard, a long, 6-foot-5 lead guard, is averaging an inefficient 8.9 points and 2.9 assists per game. But he is an important defensive presence at the head of Boeheim’s zone. He played 37 and 39 minutes per game in Syracuse’s two ACC tournament games last week.


Unclear if Howard suspension related to Zion trip

In the second of the two, a quarterfinal loss to Duke – Syracuse’s last game prior to the NCAA tournament – Howard appeared to trip Zion Williamson as the Blue Devils star turned to run down the court after a dunk.

It’s unclear if that incident is at all related to the suspension. After the Duke game, Howard denied any intent. "If you're saying I'm trying to trip him, I don't get it," he told reporters. "He's a hell of an athlete. I have a lot of respect for him. I'm not going to wait for four years to get to this stage and start tripping people."

Boeheim also attempted to downplay the apparent trip. “There was no trip involved out there,” the Syracuse coach said. “I don't know who was talking about that but it was bunk. Trying to manufacture something out of nothing."

Syracuse and Baylor tip off at approximately 9:57 p.m. ET on Thursday.

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Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

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