(PhatzRadio Sports / USA TODAY SPORTS) — It’s called March Madness for a reason.
After an upset-filled opening weekend, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament rolls on Thursday, where the first four teams will look to advance to the Elite Eight.
While we won’t be seeing a No. 1 seed play on the opening day of the Sweet 16, Thursday’s action will feature the underdogs: Sister Jean and No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, No. 9-seeds Florida State and Kansas State and No. 7-seeds Texas A&M and Nevada.
Here is everything you need to know regarding coverage, along with must-read stories as one of the wildest NCAA tournaments in recent memory continues.
7:07 p.m. ET, CBS
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Why Nevada will win: One of the best offensive teams in the country, the Wolf Pack’s ability to score means a game is never over — even if you put them in a 22-point hole, as Cincinnati did in the Round of 32. Four starters average at least 13 points, and they’re all 6-7, which can create matchup issues. Kendall Stephens set the Mountain West record for three-pointers in a season (126) and has made five or more in a game 13 times.
Why Loyola-Chicago will win: The power of Sister Jean is strong, but the real story of the Ramblers’ Sweet 16 run is that they’ve won 19 of their last 20 games. They rank third nationally in field goal percentage (50.6%) and have beaten three Power Five teams this season in Florida, Miami (Fla.) and Tennessee. They’re for real. Guard Clayton Custer, who hit the winner against the Vols, is shooting 46% for the season from three-point range.
7:37 p.m. ET, TBS
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Why Michigan will win: The Wolverines, a popular Final Four sleeper pick, know how to play defense. They haven’t shot the ball great in the tournament but held their first two opponents, Montana and Houston, to a combined 34.5% from the field. They also only allow opposing teams to score 63.1 points a game, which makes them the eighth best scoring defense in the country. The hero of the second round, freshman Jordan Poole, averages 6.2 points and 12.8 minutes per game — was Houston merely a breakout game for him? Regardless, Michigan will need Moritz Wagner (14.2 ppg, 7.1 rpg) to play well to advance.
Why Texas A&M will win: They’re huge. Three starters —Tyler Davis, Robert Williams and D.J. Hogg — are taller than 6-9. Davis (6-9, 270 pounds) and Williams (6-10, 241 pounds) in particular take up a lot of space. It’s tough for opposing teams to score just because of A&M’s length. Not to mention five players average double figures, which means they have a balanced attack. The Aggies team everyone was predicting in the preseason to make a deep tourney run seems to have finally showed up; it helps that they’re finally healthy and suspension-free.
Approx. 9:37 p.m. ET, CBS
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Why Kentucky will win: No matter what you think of the Wildcats’ inconsistency or how this roster stacks up to previous teams John Calipari has had, they’re the prohibitive favorite to get out of this region because they have lots of five-star talent who are starting to play their best basketball. Freshman point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 23 points and 6.5 assists in the NCAA tournament, lifting a team whose offensive production was in question at various points this season.
Why Kansas State will win: The size, physicality and age of Kansas State’s team could make this a sneaky tough matchup, especially if big man Dean Wade (16.5 points, 6.3 rebounds) is healthy enough to play. He sat out last weekend with a stress fracture in his foot. The Wildcats aren’t pretty on offense, but they were a top-20 defensive team this season and Bruce Weber will have a good scheme to contain penetration and force Kentucky to hit outside shots.
Approx. 10:07 p.m. ET, TBS
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Why Gonzaga will win: The guy who is arguably their best pro prospect, 6-8 sophomore forward Rui Hachimura (11.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg), comes off the bench. This team might have lost a lot from the Final Four but they also returned some very good — and improved — players, led by 6-10 sophomore forward Killian Tillie (12.9 ppg, 5.9 rpg). They’re balanced, they know how to score (84.2 ppg, 10th in the country) and won’t be intimidated by the stage. Mobile 6-9 forward/center Johnathan Williams (13.6 ppg, 8.4 rpg) provides matchup problems for pretty much everyone.
Why FSU will win: The Seminoles will hardly be intimidated by Gonzaga’s seed; they got to this point in part by going on a 31-14 run against Xavier in the second round to advance to the Sweet 16. They’re balanced, too, with seven players who average at least seven points, led by 6-8 senior forward Phil Cofer (12.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg); that means anyone could go off at any time. Against Missouri in the second round, it was 6-9 redshirt freshman Mfiondu Kabengele, who came off the bench to score 14. And while their 9-9 conference record is somewhat underwhelming, they are battle-tested after going through the ACC.
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — Basketball is undoubtedly a team game, but March Madness always has room for star players who can take over with highlight-reel, buzzer-beating heroics.
Now that we’re down to 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, there will be players who are crucial for their team’s advancement to the Elite Eight — either because of their takeover abilities or game-changing style of play.
Some might be stars, some might be unsung heroes. USA TODAY Sports tracks every Sweet 16 team’s most important player (in no particular order).
Cameron Krutwig, Loyola-Chicago. There’s no star player on the Ramblers’ roster, and that’s what makes them so dangerous. There’s a plethora of weapons at coach Porter Moser’s disposal. But for the hot-shooting guards to be successful on the perimeter, there has to be a little inside-out game. That’s where 6-9 center Krutwig (10.4 ppg, 6.1 rpg), a true freshman who plays like a senior, comes in. His passing skills are exceptional for a big man, and his defense against the athletic bigs of Miami and Tennessee paved the way for this Cinderella’s buzzer-beating wins.
Cody Martin, Nevada. Caleb Martin has been the Wolf Pack’s leading scorer and alpha dog all season, but in the team’s stunning 22-point comeback against Cincinnati, it was twin brother Cody Martin (13.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.7 apg) who sparked the resurgent Wolf Pack. Martin does a little of everything to help this team win and he’ll likely be the player to step up if his brother and elite scorer Jordan Caroline aren’t on their A-game against Loyola.
SWEET 16: Ranking teams based on title potential
Tyler Davis, Texas A&M. Davis pairs with Robert Williams to make the Aggies’ twin towers presence for this team’s formidable frontcourt. But it was Davis’ offense (18 points, nine rebounds) that fueled a dominant win over North Carolina in the second round. He’ll need another big performance against Michigan.
Mortiz Wagner, Michigan. Jordan Poole’s buzzer-beater helped the Wolverines prevail over Houston, but in order for Michigan to get to the Elite Eight it’s going to need better production from the 6-11 big man. Wagner is averaging just 8.5 points in the tournament.
Dean Wade, Kansas State. The Wildcats survived without their leading scorer in wins over Creighton and UMBC to get to the Sweet 16. But Wade, who said he’s “98% sure” he will play against Kentucky after dealing with a foot injury, could give this team enough offensive firepower to pull off a big upset over the heavily-favored Wildcats. He averages 16.5 points and 6.3 rebounds.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Kentucky. The Wildcats guard came up big with 27 points, six assists and six rebounds in Kentucky’s second-round win over Buffalo. He also was huge in UK’s SEC tournament title game against Tennessee, finishing with 29 points and seven assists. The better Gilgeous-Alexander plays, the better Kentucky plays.
Terance Mann, Florida State. The junior guard wasn’t expected to play against Xavier due to a groin injury. However, he opted to play and came up big for FSU by scoring 10 points, including some crucial baskets to help the Seminoles take down a No. 1 seed.
Zach Norvell Jr., Gonzaga. The freshman guard put the team on his back in a second-round win over Ohio State, finishing with 28 points and 12 rebounds. Norvell is really blossoming as a playmaker in March. He’ll also draw a tough defensive assignment in trying to slow Florida State’s guards in the ‘Zags’ Sweet 16 matchup against the Seminoles.
Gabe DeVoe, Clemson. The 6-3 senior guard helped pilot a 31-point blowout win vs. Auburn in the second round, finishing with 22 points. He and the rest of the Tigers’ backcourt will be tasked with slowing Big 12 player of the year Devonte’ Graham, an elite scorer who usually needs to play well for Kansas to win.
Udoka Azubuike, Kansas. Coach Bill Self put it out bluntly following the Jayhawks’ win over Seton Hall in the second round. “If Udoka wasn’t able to come back from his injury, we don’t win.” The 7-foot big man missed Kansas’ three Big 12 tournament games with a knee injury. His re-emergence was crucial in helping KU get to the Sweet 16. His presence in the paint, for an undersized team, can be a difference-maker against Clemson.
Jevon Carter, West Virginia. The All-American guard is the Mountaineers’ best offensive catalyst, averaging 17.4 points and 6.6 assists. He also is a tenacious ballhawk on the defensive end. To beat Villanova, Carter will have to frustrate national player of the year Jalen Brunson in the same fashion he did Oklahoma’s Trae Young during Big 12 play.
Donte DiVincenzo, Villanova. Brunson and NBA talent Mikal Bridges will dominate most of the attention, but DiVencenzo’s offense and three-point shooting will be key for the Wildcats to escape West Virginia. His ball handling also will be needed for WVU’s press.
Tyus Battle, Syracuse. The Orange only has three capable scorers (and Battle is one of them) and relies heavily on its effective 2-3 zone. So, Battle will have to take on the scoring load and hit clutch shots — as he did against Michigan State in the second round, for this No. 11 seed to keep its unexpected tourney run going.
Trevon Duval, Duke. The Blue Devils’ point guard doesn’t demand the same type of attention as All-Americans Marvin Bagley III or Grayson Allen, but it’s Duval who has the ball in his hands a lot in close-game situations. His playmaking can be a difference-maker by getting into the seams of Syracuse’s 2-3 zone. Duval averages 10.2 points and 5.6 assists, and he’s given coach Mike Krzyzewski a true point guard that he was lacking last season when the Blue Devils bowed out in the second round.
Keenan Evans, Texas Tech. The senior guard hasn’t been at 100% while dealing with a turf toe injury, but he’s been a warrior and the spark plug during the Red Raiders’ advancement. In TTU’s close win over Florida, it was Evans who drained a tie-breaking three-pointer with 2½ minutes left and assisted Zhaire Smith for an alley-oop with 30 seconds remaining. If it’s close late in the game, Texas Tech will have the ball in his hands.
Matt Haarms, Purdue. With Isaac Haas sidelined with an elbow injury, backup 7-footer Haarms is the next man up and will have the most important role in Purdue’s Sweet 16 clash against Texas Tech. A 7-3 freshman, Haarms played well through 29 minutes to help the Boilermakers advance past Butler. He’s certainly not as good as Haas, but he probably can do enough to help Purdue advance.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Results from the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday:
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Michigan freshman Jordan Poole drained a long 3-pointer at the buzzer after Houston squandered a chance to lock up a spot in the Sweet 16, giving the third-seeded Wolverines a heart-stopping victory.
Devin Davis had a chance to seal the win, but the Cougars’ gritty forward missed a pair of foul shots with 3.6 seconds left. The Wolverines (30-7) called timeout to set up a final play, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman found Poole on the wing, and the shot hit nothing but net.
The officials reviewed it to make sure, but Poole had clearly gotten the shot away.
Michigan advanced to Los Angeles for a West Regional semifinal against North Carolina or Texas A&M next week.
Rob Gray scored 23 points and Davis finished with 17 for the Cougars (27-8), who were trying to reach their first Sweet 16 since the last of the Phi Slama Jama teams went to the Final Four in 1984.
GONZAGA 90, OHIO STATE 84
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. had 28 points, Rui Hachimura added 25 and Gonzaga reached the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season.
Norvell hit the late tiebreaking 3-pointer against UNC-Greensboro in the opening round to help the Zags (32-4) advance. The confident freshman made 6 of 11 from beyond the arc against Ohio State.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a big early lead, withstood a second-half Ohio State charge and made the big plays down the stretch to earn a spot in the West Region semifinals against the Xavier-Florida State winner in Los Angeles.
The resilient-all-season Buckeyes (25-9) rallied from an abysmal start and an 11-point halftime deficit to take a brief second-half lead before Gonzaga went on an 11-0 run to snatch it back. Keita Bates-Diop had 28 points for Ohio State, and Kam Williams finished with 19.
LOYOLA OF CHICAGO 63, TENNESSEE 62
DALLAS (AP) — Clayton Custer made a go-ahead jumper with 3.6 seconds left, sending 11th-seeded Loyola of Chicago to the Sweet 16.
Custer’s winner, which took a friendly bounce off the rim, came two days after Donte Ingram’s buzzer-beating 3 for Loyola against Miami, surely to the delight of Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the 98-year-old nun, team chaplain and primary booster watching from her wheelchair on a platform near the main TV cameras.
The Ramblers (30-5) broke the school record for wins set by the 1963 NCAA championship team. The small Catholic college in the heart of Chicago will play the Cincinnati-Nevada winner in the regional semifinals Thursday in Atlanta.
No. 3 seed Tennessee (26-7) took its only lead of the second half on a three-point play by Grant Williams with 20 seconds remaining.
After Loyola almost lost the ball on an out-of-bounds call confirmed on replay, Custer took the inbounds pass with 10 seconds left, dribbled left and then right, pulled up and let go of the winner.
KENTUCKY 95, BUFFALO 75
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 points and Kentucky pulled away for the victory.
Gilgeous-Alexander went 10 for 12 and made both of his 3-point attempts to send fifth-seeded Kentucky (26-10) to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.
Coming into the day, the basketball world was still reverberating from Maryland-Baltimore County’s 16 vs. 1 stunner over Virginia the night before. Villanova and Duke both rolled early; the evening slate started with Kentucky, and the Wildcats, with their all-freshman starting lineup, trailed only once: 2-0.
It wasn’t a runaway until the last 7 minutes.
Buffalo (27-9), which got here with a 21-point blowout over Arizona, twice trimmed a double-digit lead to five midway through the second half.
Gilgeous-Alexander answered both times — once with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to eight, then again a few minutes later with a three-point play that started a 12-2 run and put the game away.
VILLANOVA 81, ALABAMA 58
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mikal Bridges scored 23 points, helping No. 1 seed Villanova to an impressive victory.
The Wildcats (32-4) are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since they won the 2016 national championship. Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth — and yes, The Big Ragu — look every bit the favorite to make it two in three years.
Villanova plays Friday in Boston against the Marshall-West Virginia winner.
Collin Sexton led Alabama (20-16) with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The star guard has to decide if he’ll join the ranks of the one-and-done freshman.
TEXAS TECH 69, FLORIDA 66
DALLAS (AP) — Keenan Evans made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes left, sending Texas Tech to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.
Evans finished with 22 points, and Zhaire Smith had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The third-seeded Red Raiders (26-9) will face Purdue or Butler next Friday night in Boston.
Jalen Hudson scored 23 points for Florida (21-13). Egor Koulechov had 12 points, and Chris Chiozza finished with 11.
KANSAS 83, SETON HALL 79
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Malik Newman scored 28 points, Udoka Azubuike stood toe-to-toe with Seton Hall’s bruising Angel Delgado, and No. 1 seed Kansas advanced to its third consecutive Sweet 16.
Svi Mykhailiuk added 16 points and Lagerald Vick had 13 for the Jayhawks (29-7), who converted on every crucial play down the stretch to advance to the semifinals of the Midwest Region.
They’ll take on the winner of Sunday’s game between Auburn and Clemson in Omaha, Nebraska.
Delgado finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds in a virtuoso effort for the No. 8 seed Pirates (22-11), who snapped a four-game NCAA Tournament skid in the opening round.
Khadeen Carrington finished with 28 points, many of them on 3-pointers in the closing minutes, and Myles Powell added 14 as the pair of guards tried in vain to keep Seton Hall alive.
DUKE 87, RHODE ISLAND 62
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marvin Bagley had 22 points and nine rebounds, leading Duke to its 26th trip to the Sweet 16.
It was Mike Krzyzewski’s 1,099th victory, breaking a tie with late Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt for the most wins by a basketball coach in NCAA history.
Duke shot 57 percent (29 of 51) from the floor and finished with 20 assists. The Blue Devils (28-7) will play either Michigan State or Syracuse in the Midwest Region semifinals in Omaha, Nebraska next Friday.
E.C. Matthews led Rhode Island (26-8) with 21 points but the Rams looked confounded at times by Duke’s much improved zone defense. A weakness during a mini-swoon in late January, the Blue Devils are no longer treating defense like a chore they’re forced to complete before getting the ball back in their hands.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Results from the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday:
PURDUE 74, CAL STATE FULLERTON 48
DETROIT (AP) — Purdue center Isaac Haas broke his right elbow during a win over Cal State Fullerton and will miss the rest of the NCAA Tournament.
The 7-foot-2, 290-pound senior went down while taking a hard foul midway through the second half. Haas, who averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, had nine points and 10 rebounds in the first-round victory.
The second-seeded Boilermakers (29-6) will play Butler on Sunday.
Kyle Allman scored 21 for the Titans (20-12).
MARSHALL 81, WICHITA STATE 75
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jon Elmore scored 27 points and 13th-seeded Marshall toppled fourth-seeded Wichita State for its first NCAA Tournament victory.
The Thundering Herd (25-10) had been 0-5 in the tourney, with its last appearance in 1987.
Marshall became the second No. 13 seed to win this week. Buffalo did it Thursday night, beating Arizona.
Conner Frankamp scored 27 points for Wichita State (25-8).
WEST VIRGINIA 85, MURRAY STATE 68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jevon Carter scored 21 points, had eight assists and six steals as No. 5 seed West Virginia overwhelmed 12th-seeded Murray State.
The Mountaineers (25-10) advanced to the round of 32 for the third time in the past four seasons. Next up for West Virginia is a Mountain State showdown with 13th-seeded Marshall far away from home.
Terrell Miller scored 27 points for Murray State (26-6).
BUTLER 79, ARKANSAS 62
DETROIT (AP) — Kelan Martin scored 27 points and Kamar Baldwin added 24 to lift 10th-seeded Butler over seventh-seeded Arkansas.
The Bulldogs (21-13) raced to a 21-2 lead in the opening minutes. Although Arkansas wiped out that entire deficit before halftime, Butler took control again early in the second.
The Bulldogs now play an in-state rival, second-seeded Purdue.
Jaylen Barford scored 15 points for Arkansas (23-12).
UMBC 75, VIRGINIA 54
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — It finally happened — a 16 ousting a 1 in March Madness.
Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 74-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed.
Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.
But the Cavaliers couldn’t get anything generated on offense and the nation’s top-ranked defense couldn’t contain American East Conference champions.
The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.
Lyles was the catalyst.
He diced up Virginia’s defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.
Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.
The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.
Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.
A Tony Bennett timeout couldn’t stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3’s and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC’s lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.
A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of “UMBC” rang through the arena.
It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.
UMBC: Despite being undersized and unknown, they shocked the world and made history with an epic game.
Virginia: This isn’t the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.
UMBC: Will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.
CINCINNATI 68, GEORGIA STATE 53
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jarron Cumberland set career highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds as Cincinnati recovered after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half.
The second-seeded Bearcats (31-4) advanced to play seventh-seeded Nevada.
After trailing 42-32 early in the second half, 15th-seeded Georgia State (24-11) rallied to take a pair of one-point leads, its last one coming on a driving bank shot from D’Marcus Simonds with 9:30 left.
NEVADA 87, TEXAS 83, OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Caleb Martin scored 18 points and made two huge 3-pointers in overtime as seventh-seeded Nevada rallied for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2007.
Nevada (28-7) erased a 14-point, second-half deficit and tied it at 68 when Jordan Caroline hit one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left in regulation. The Wolf Pack trailed by four early in an overtime period that featured 34 total points.
Kerwin Roach II had a career-high 26 points for Texas (19-15).
KANSAS STATE 69, CREIGHTON 59
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Barry Brown scored 18 points and ninth-seeded Kansas State never trailed despite playing without top scorer Dean Wade.
Mike McGuirl added 17 points for the Wildcats (23-11). Wade had been expected to play after suffering a stress fracture in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, but never got on the floor.
Marcus Foster, thrown off the Kansas State team after the 2015 season for multiple violations of team rules, finished with five points on 2-of-11 shooting for Creighton (21-12).
CLEMSON 79, NEW MEXICO STATE 68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Shelton Mitchell scored a season-high 23 points, Gabe DeVoe had 22 and Clemson beat New Mexico State to out a perfect first round for No. 5 seeds.
The 5-12 line is usually one of the top spots for March Madness upsets, but Clemson (24-9) shot 56 percent from the field while advancing out of the first round for the first time since 1997. It was the Tigers’ first win in the NCAA tourney since the First Four in 2011.
Clemson was nearly flawless at the offensive end against the 12th-seeded champions of the WAC. It made 9 of 11 shots during one stretch on its way to a 12-point lead at halftime.
Zach Lofton led New Mexico State (28-6) with 29 points.
SYRACUSE 57, TCU 52
DETROIT (AP) — Marek Dolezaj scored 17 points before fouling out and 11th-seeded Syracuse shut down sixth-seeded TCU.
The Orange (22-13) won for the second time in the tournament, holding off the Horned Frogs with another impressive defensive effort. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field.
TCU (21-12) is still without an NCAA Tournament victory since 1987, when coach Jamie Dixon was a player. This was the school’s first appearance since 1998, and it was short-lived.
There was little doubt who won the much-anticipated matchup between TCU’s excellent offense and Syracuse’s zone defense. The Horned Frogs were held 31 points below their season average.
MICHIGAN STATE 82, BUCKNELL 78
DETROIT (AP) — Miles Bridges outlasted Zach Thomas, scoring 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds to help third-seeded Michigan State beat Bucknell.
Thomas fouled out on a technical with 6:06 left and finished with 27 points. He put on a show in the first half, scoring 20 points and making all three of his shots beyond the 3-point arc.
The Spartans (30-4) made the most of playing about 75 miles from campus.
Leading by 15 points with 2 minutes left, Michigan State won by a slim margin after Bucknell (25-10) made a late flurry of long-range shots.
AUBURN 62, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 58
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jared Harper made a clutch 3-pointer with 1:17 to go — his only basket of the game — and Auburn held off No. 13 College of Charleston.
The Tigers (26-7) avoided being the second No. 4 seed to be upset at Viejas Arena. Marshall beat fourth-seeded Wichita State earlier in the day.
Auburn, playing under the cloud of a federal investigation, survived a poor shooting performance to win in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003.
Jarrell Brantley scored 24 for the Cougars (26-8), the CAA champs who made their first NCAA Tournament since 1999.
FLORIDA STATE 67, MISSOURI 54
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ninth-seeded Florida State has lots of guys who can score, and the Seminoles used that depth to win their fourth straight NCAA Tournament opener.
Mfiondu Kabengele scored 14 points, and Florida State beat No. 8 seed Missouri.
PJ Savoy had 12 points and Phil Cofer scored 11. A total of 10 Seminoles scored at least two points apiece — by halftime — as they wore out Missouri, which had only eight healthy players available.
This was the first trip to the tournament for every player on the roster for Missouri (20-13). Even with new players and a new coach in Cuonzo Martin, the Tigers head home from their first NCAA trip since 2013 with the program’s fourth straight loss in a first round.
XAVIER 102, TEXAS SOUTHERN 83
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Xavier looked every bit like a No. 1 seed its first time around in the role at an NCAA Tournament.
J.P. Macura scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, and Xavier routed No. 16 seed Texas Southern in its tournament opener.
Trevon Bluiett added 26 points and Kerem Kanter had 24 for the Musketeers (29-5).
Texas Southern (16-20) came in having won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, a First Four win over North Carolina Central in Dayton on Wednesday night.
NORTH CAROLINA 84, LIPSCOMB 66
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kenny Williams scored 18 points and defending national champion North Carolina took its time before opening up to beat Lipscomb.
Theo Pinson had 15 points and flirted with a triple-double for the second-seeded Tar Heels (26-10). North Carolina next plays Texas A&M.
Playing for the first time in the NCAA tourney, the 15th-seeded Bisons (23-10) held an early six-point edge. They led 33-31 with under four minutes left in the first half before North Carolina went on a 12-1 run to take control by the break.
TEXAS A&M 73, PROVIDENCE 69
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Admon Gilder scored 18 points to help Texas A&M hold off Providence.
Robert Williams and Tyler Davis both had double-doubles for the seventh-seeded Aggies (21-12). The teams were tied at 50 with about 9 minutes left but Texas A&M responded with a 12-2.
Rodney Bullock scored 22 points for the 10th-seeded Friars (21-14).
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — DAYTON, Ohio – The basketball was still high in the air – flung to start the celebration – when the buzzer sounded and the Bonnies’ long-awaited March celebration commenced. Players chest-bumped on court. Coach Mark Schmidt jumped and waved his arms.
The crowd at the University of Dayton Arena – a place where St. Bonaventure is usually booed – got caught up in the moment, too. And why not? It had been 48 years since anyone saw something like this out of St. Bonaventure.
Courtney Stockard returned from a hamstring injury and scored 26 points, and Jaylen Adams hit a jumper and three free throws in the final minute Tuesday night, rallying the Bonnies to a 65-58 victory over UCLA and their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1970.
At long last, it was time to party in March .
“It can’t get better,” Schmidt said.
They’ll have more chances. The 11th-seeded Bonnies (26-7) will play sixth-seeded Florida (20-12) in Dallas on Thursday night in the East region. They did interviews, showered and headed for a flight to their next destination.
“Florida’s got four or five days on us, so we’ll be watching tape on the plane,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got a 2 a.m. flight, but it couldn’t be a better flight. Ever.”
St. Bonaventure set a school record with its 26th win. Stockard got the Bonnies in position for the drought-busting tournament victory by leading a late 12-0 run. Adams – who missed 14 of his first 15 shots – closed it out in the final 49 seconds.
“I’m still not 100 percent,” Stockard said, “but I’m feeling way better than when I did when I left the Richmond game. So I can’t really let an opportunity like this pass.”
UCLA (21-12) was surprised that it got relegated to the First Four for the first time in its history – the Bruins have been to 18 Final Fours. They had trouble making shots against the Bonnies’ zone defense and matched their season high with 20 turnovers, a disappointing ending to a season that started with an international incident .
Freshmen Jalen Hill, Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball were accused of shoplifting during a trip to China in November. All three were suspended for the season, and Ball left the school.
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday led the Pac-12 in scoring but couldn’t put his touch on the First Four game. He scored 20 points but had 10 turnovers, including three in the final 29 seconds as the game slipped away.
“I felt like we matched them pretty well,” Holiday said. “We just turned the ball over too much.”
Adams is the Bonnies’ all-time leading scorer as a guard but had a rough time as well until the final minute. He finished with eight points on 2-of-16 shooting.
RADFORD 71, LIU-BROOKLYN 61
DAYTON, Ohio – Carlik Jones had a substantial and loud cheering section at University of Dayton Arena, a lot of folks traveling about an hour up Interstate 75 from his Cincinnati hometown to see him play for Radford in a First Four game.
Jones didn’t disappoint them. The redshirt freshman guard was the engine that drove the Highlanders, scoring 12 points to go with career highs in rebounds with 11 and assists with seven as Radford beat LIU Brooklyn 71-61 on Tuesday night to get its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
“It’s just big to be able to come back home and perform in front of my family and friends that haven’t been able to see me play,” Jones said. “And it’s just been a good feeling.”
Radford didn’t play its prettiest game, but the team from rural southwest Virginia will celebrate briefly before heading to Pittsburgh to play No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday. The Big South champion Highlanders are making their third tournament appearance and first since 2009.
Ed Polite Jr. had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Travis Fields Jr. also scored 13 for Radford.
Despite hitting just 7 of 23 shots from the floor in the second half, LIU Brooklyn managed to stay within striking distance, even taking the lead briefly early in the second half. The Northeast Conference champion Blackbirds got to within a point with five minutes left, but a 9-1 surge by the Highlanders opened up the lead.
“We remained calm,” Polite said. “Basketball is about a game of runs. So we knew they’re a good team, so they’re going to make shots. So we just had to remain focused and go with the game plan. And that’s to pressure them even though they’re a fast-paced team and don’t give them any easy baskets.”
The Blackbirds went without a field goal in the last seven minutes of the game and shot 30.4 percent in the second half. Each team committed 15 turnovers.
“I thought (Radford) did a nice job grinding it out on the offensive end of the floor and taking time off the clock to where we couldn’t get moving.” LIU Brooklyn coach Derek Kellogg said.
Jashaun Agosto scored 16 points and Raiquan Clark added 14 for LIU Brooklyn, which is winless in seven trips to the tournament.
Radford led 30-28 at the end of a sloppy first half after leading by as many as nine. The Blackbirds scored 11 of their points on nine turnovers by Radford but were just 3 for 13 from beyond the 3-point line in the half.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP / USA Today Sports) — From the top seed in the NCAA Tournament – Virginia – to those that barely made it into the bracket – Arizona State and Syracuse – it feels as though everyone involved in March Madness is on the bubble this year.
College basketball is in trouble.
The brackets came out Sunday, replete with the usual fanfare that accompanies America’s biggest office pool. Villanova, Kansas and Xavier joined Virginia as No. 1 seeds, but they, along with the other 64 contenders, will play against the backdrop of an investigation-riddled season in which bribes and payoffs made bigger headlines than 3s and layups.
The tournament begins Tuesday with opening-round games featuring a matchup of bubble teams UCLA and St. Bonaventure, then kicks into full swing Thursday and Friday at eight sites around the country.
The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 in San Antonio. Shortly after that, a commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to deliver recommendations from an investigation triggered by an FBI probe that led to charges last fall against assistant coaches, agents, employees of apparel companies and others.
No fewer than a dozen teams in the tournament have been named either in the FBI investigation or in media reports that allege coaches and others have directed payments and improper benefits to recruits and players – thus, breaking rules that go to the core of the amateur-sports code that defines both the NCAA and the “student-athletes” who make this billion-dollar business run.
They range from teams that made it into the tournament off the so-called bubble – Alabama – to one of the best teams in the country. Arizona, a No. 4 seed in the South, has been roiled by a report that wiretaps caught coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to freshman Deandre Ayton. Miller has strongly denied the accusation, though the story line figures to follow the Wildcats through what could be a long run in the tournament.
The chairman of the NCAA selection committee, Bruce Rasmussen, has said the investigations played no part of the bracket-filling process.
And yet, it’s hard to imagine there weren’t some sighs of relief in the NCAA offices when some bubble teams’ names were left out of the field. For instance, Louisville has lost its coach (Rick Pitino), athletic director (Tom Jurich) and latest national title (2013) in the culmination of scandals that have slammed that program for the better part of this decade.
Given the widespread nature of this corruption, there’s at least a chance that whoever cuts down the nets in San Antonio could eventually suffer the same fate as the Cardinals.
More certain is that once this party is over, change of some sort will be coming.
“I don’t think it’s just going to be a little blip on the radar,” said John Tauer, the championship-winning coach at Division III St. Thomas in Minnesota, who doubles as a social psychology professor. “I think this runs deep enough and involves enough people in programs that something’s got to change.”
For now, though, hoops – and there was plenty to discuss after the Big Reveal:
Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis thinks this year’s team is better than last year’s team that knocked off Minnesota in the first round of the NCAAs and 2016’s team that pulled off perhaps the greatest bracket-buster of all-time in an upset of Michigan State as a No. 15 seed.
“I think we have a Sweet 16 team,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “That’s the frustrating part, you know you have a team that’s built for the second-weekend, but you’ve got to get that opportunity.”
BRACKET ANALYSIS: Selection committee valued early wins, not late failures
The Blue Raiders, sadly, won’t get the opportunity to play Cinderella again this year, and were one of the first teams left out of the field of 68 as a notable snub on Selection Sunday. MTSU (24-7) lacked marquee wins, but had the most true road wins of any team in the country (12), presented a top-10 non-conference strength of schedule and held a 33 RPI.
“We did exactly what the selection committee wanted us to do,” Davis said. “We did everything we possibly could. Of course, we’d like to have more wins (the Blue Raiders lost one-possession games to Auburn, USC and Miami). At our level, it’s trying to be literally perfect. …It is a tough world we live in (as a mid-major conference member). It’s a grind for us because you cannot slip up one bit. You lose just one game to a C-USA team and then all the pundits put us out.”
It was likely the Blue Raiders’ early Conference USA tourney exit to Southern Mississippi, a gigantic résumé stain, that knocked them out of the NCAA field. Two losses to eventual tourney champ Marshall, a team that went down-to-the-wire against Xavier, didn’t help MTSU’s cause but were way less costly. Middle Tennessee had won 11 games in a row and was playing some of its best basketball before losing to Marshall in the regular-season finale on March 3 and Southern Miss. this past week.
“We just had a six-day period where we weren’t playing our best basketball offensively,” Davis said. “It just happened at the wrong time. You hope you can be judged based on an entire season instead of a six-day period by the committee, but unfortunately those two losses (were costly).”
Davis had his team practice on Friday, with the idea that the Blue Raiders would be playing Tuesday regardless — in the NCAAs for a play-in game in Dayton or the NIT as a No. 1 seed for a home game. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter.
Here’s a look at six other teams that got snubbed the selection committee this March.
The biggest head-scratcher of Selection Sunday — outside of Syracuse making the field — is how the Trojans (23-11, 12-6) got snubbed, especially after reaching the Pac-12 tournament final before falling to Arizona. UCLA, which beat the Trojans twice, got in. USC had a 34 RPI. this pick is a testament to the committee paying no attention to conference standings, where USC finished second behind only Arizona and proved to be the second-best team in the league in the tournament in Vegas. The committee instead honored a team that struggled in the Pac 12, Arizona State, based on a pretty non-conference portfolio.
Coach Randy Bennett’s team has been here before. And once again, a weak schedule is the culprit to a snub. Of the Gaels’ 28 wins, 24 of them came against teams outside the top 100. Just breathe that in. Saint Mary’s (28-5, 16-2) beat Gonzaga but its RPI in the 40s and strength of schedule in the 160s weren’t enough to make up for the lack of marquee victories on this deceiving profile.
Notre Dame was the team knocked out by Davidson’s last-second win against Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 final, according to the committee chair Bruce Rasmussen — surely a hard pill for this group to swallow. The Fighting Irish (20-14, 8-10) might have needed one more marquee win to punch their ticket and came up short against Duke in the ACC tourney quarterfinals. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after that game, “I hope they can get in because I think they can beat anybody.” Notre Dame was a completely different team since Bonzie Colson, a preseason All-American, came back from injury. But as lenient as the committee can be to injuries (ND lost seven in a row with Colson out), it still wasn’t enough, as it was hard to rationalize Notre Dame’s résumé (RPI in the 60s, non-conference strength of schedule of 170, just two Q1 wins) over some of the at-large candidates that snuck in.
The Golden Eagles (19-13, 9-9 Big East) have an RPI in the 50s and non-conference strength of schedule of 137, but the Big East Conference figured to be a saving grace, as it made their overall SoS top-25. There’s no good eye candy on the résumé as far as marquee victories go, but Marquette did have two victories over fellow bubble team Creighton, which squeaked into the field of 68. Did the wrong Big East team get in?
The Cardinals (20-13, 9-9 ACC) likely had their season dashed on a buzzer-beating loss to Virginia on March 1. They managed to beat Florida State in the ACC tourney but there’s still not enough meat on this profile (just three top-50 wins). There are no bad losses and an RPI in the 30s to make a serious case, but Louisville just didn’t capitalize on the many Quadrant 1 opportunities it had in the ACC, and that’s something the committee will harp on.
The Cowboys (19-14, 8-10) swept Kansas in the regular season — a feat that looks all the more better following the Jayhawks’ impressive Big 12 tournament title and No. 1 NCAA seed status. OSU also has wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. Ah, the luxuries of playing in the Big 12. But that served as a doubled edged sword that came in the form of a stretch that saw OSU lose seven of 10. That and the rest of the Cowboys’ portfolio is relatively bare. There are no bad losses on this résumé, but no other bubble team had an RPI in the 80s (flirting with the 90s) and a staggeringly ugly non-conference strength of schedule of 295. Baylor also didn’t make it from the Big 12, but the Cowboys were ahead of the Bears on USA TODAY Sports’ final bracketology.
NCAA tourney language explainer
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CINCINNATI – Trevon Bluiett scored 23 points in his final game at the Cintas Center, and No. 3 Xavier never trailed while beating Providence 84-74 on Wednesday night, clinching at least a share of its first Big East championship.
The Musketeers (26-4, 14-3) can win it outright by beating DePaul on Saturday and end Villanova’s run of four straight regular season titles.
Bluiett will leave Xavier as its second all-time scorer. He made the game’s first basket on a driving layup, and finished off the Friars with a dunk and a pair of free throws in the final minute. Quentin Goodin added 18 points, one shy of his career high.
Providence (18-12, 9-8) waqs led by Maliek White with 15 points.
NEWARK, N.J. – Mikal Bridges scored 23 points, Jalen Brunson made big plays down the stretch and No. 4 Villanova avoided consecutive losses for the first time since the 2012-13 season.
Brunson, who was 1 of 8 from the field midway through the second half, finished with 14 points, including two free throws in the waning seconds of overtime to give Villanova (26-4, 13-4 Big East) a 69-66 lead.
Khadeen Carrington closed out the scoring with two free throws with a second to play to finish off a 23-point night for Seton Hall (20-10, 9-8), However, he also missed a free throw with 11.6 seconds left in regulation that could have given the Pirates a late one-point lead.
CLEMSON, S.C. – Marcquise Reed scored 22 points and Clemson won a program-record 11th Atlantic Coast Conference game.
The Tigers (22-7, 11-6) had won 10 league games six times in 64 years as ACC members, but have never before won this many conference games in a regular season.
Florida State (19-10, 8-9) closed to 64-61 on Phil Cofer’s 3-pointer with 2:58 remaining, but got no closer.
Gabe DeVoe had 13 points while Shelton Mitchell and Elijah Thomas had 11 points each for the Tigers.
Cofer led the Seminoles with 21 points.
LAS VEGAS – Cody Martin scored 26 and Jordan Caroline added 22 to lead Nevada to an easy victory over UNLV.
Martin, who was 10 of 18 from the field, also had nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals as the rivals split their regular season meetings.
Caleb Martin added 19 points for the Wolf Pack, who converted nine of their first 13 three-point attempts to pull away early on the Rebels’ Senior Night.
Nevada (26-5, 15-2 Mountain West Conference) had clinched the conference regular season title outright on Tuesday when second-place Boise State lost at San Diego State.
Kendall Stephens had 14 points and Josh Hall had 10 points for the winners, who have won the conference for the second straight year.
Brandon McCoy led UNLV (19-11, 8-9) with 19 points and 17 rebounds, while Shakur Juiston added 14 points and 14 rebounds.
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kevin Knox had 22 points and Quade Green added 18, including eight during a 15-5 second-half run that helped Kentucky pull away.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 17 points, Wenyen Gabriel 15 and PJ Washington 10 as the Wildcats (21-9, 10-7 Southeastern Conference) won their fourth consecutive game and home finale, the first without departing seniors under coach John Calipari. Green had two 3-pointers and a layup during the run that provided an 82-69 lead with 6:40 remaining.
Terence Davis had 26 points for the Rebels (12-18, 5-12), who lost for the ninth time in 11 games.
DALLAS – Rob Gray had 19 points and nine assists and Corey Davis Jr. added 17 points to lead Houston.
The Cougars (23-6, 13-4 American) have won seven of eight games and are a half-game behind second-place Wichita State.
SMU (16-14, 6-11) has lost seven of eight games since leading scorer Shake Milton was sidelined with a hand injury.
Jahmal McMurray scored 13 of his 17 points in the first half to lead the Mustangs.
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Alex Sharp scored 19 points and Wake Forest set a record for defense in an Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament game on Wednesday night with a 72-38 first-round win over Pittsburgh.
Pitt’s 38 points are the fewest in an ACC Tournament game. The previous record was 39 by Duke in 1978 and Virginia Tech in 2013.
The 11th-seeded Demon Deacons (14-16), who set a program record for largest tourney win, take on sixth-seeded Miami on Thursday night.
Amber Campbell and Elisa Penna added 14 points each for Wake Forest, which led 32-22 at the half and then shot 54 percent in the second half. Tyra Whitehead had 10.
Any hope the Panthers had of coming back were dashed in the third quarter when they were outscored 25-5. Wake Forest was 8 of 13 from the field while Pitt was 2 of 10 with eight turnovers.
Pittsburgh (10-20), which ended the season with a seven-game losing streak, got 18 points from Yachine Diop and Alayna Gribble had 11. The Panthers shot 28 percent, had 17 turnovers and was pounded 40-6 on points in the paint.
PENN ST. 83, ILLINOIS 57
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Teniya Page set a Penn State Big Ten Tournament record with a career-high 38 points and the Nittany Lions cruised to an 83-57 win over Illinois in a first-round game on Wednesday.
Page, who scored 35 points in the tournament last year to tie the record, was 14 of 24 from the field, including 4 of 8 from 3-point range, and 6 of 9 from the foul line. She also had four rebounds, four assists and two steals. The 38 points is second in tournament history behind the 43 Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell had against Rutgers two years ago.
The 11th-seeded Nittany Lions (16-14) advanced to face No. 6 seed Michigan on Thursday night.
Page scored 13 straight points in a 15-0 run and 18 points overall in the second quarter when the Nittany Lions erased a seven-point deficit to take a 33-27 halftime lead. She also had 15 points in the third quarter as Penn State got the lead into double figures for good.
Alex Wittinger and Brandi Beasley had 21 points apiece for the Illini (9-22), who have lost 18 straight. Wittinger, who had the first triple-double by a Penn State opponent in the regular-season meeting, also had 10 rebounds.
GEORGIA TECH 61, CLEMSON 52
GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Francesca Pan scored 18 points to help Georgia Tech beat Clemson 61-52 in Wednesday’s first round of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Kierra Fletcher added 12 points for the 10th-seeded Yellow Jackets (18-12), who shot 46 percent and led by as many as 16. They also finished with 15 points off turnovers.
Georgia Tech advanced to Thursday’s second round to face Virginia, the tournament’s No. 7 seed.
Kobi Thornton had 13 points and 13 rebounds for 15th-seeded Clemson (11-19), which lost its 11th straight game. The Tigers shot just 29 percent and made 4 of 18 3-pointers.
Clemson got as close as four points midway through the fourth quarter but couldn’t complete a comeback.
OLE MISS 48, FLORIDA 43
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Madinah Muhammad scored 14 points Wednesday as 14th-seeded Mississippi snapped a 13-game losing streak by defeating 11th-seeded Florida 48-43 in the Southeastern Conference tournament.
Ole Miss (12-18) hadn’t won since a 78-75 double-overtime triumph over Florida on Jan. 7. The Rebels next play Thursday against No. 14 Missouri, this tournament’s sixth seed.
The Rebels trailed 16-11 early in the second quarter before pulling ahead for good with a 21-3 spurt that lasted into the second half. Florida (11-19) had no baskets and just three points for a stretch of 8 minutes, 24 seconds.
Ole Miss won despite shooting just 27.8 percent (15 of 54). Florida had 20 turnovers and shot 28 percent (14 of 50).
Haley Lorenzen scored 14 points for Florida. Paulina Hersler had 11 points and 10 rebounds. Funda Nakkasoglu also had 11 points.
Ole Miss’ Shelby Gibson had 10 points in just 16 minutes before fouling out.
No. 22 BELMONT 88, MURRARY STATE 64
EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Kylee Smith and Sally McCabe had double-doubles, Darby Maggard hit five 3-pointers and No. 22 Belmont, the top seed, opened the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament on Wednesday with an 88-64 win over eighth-seeded Murray State.
The Bears (29-3), who have 20 consecutive victories and 44 straight over OVC foes, play in the semifinals on Friday against the winner of Thursday’s first-round matchup between fourth-seeded Jacksonville State and No. 5 Morehead State.
Smith had 21 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists and McCabe had 19 points and 13 rebounds. Maggard had 15 points and Maura Muensterman 12, also on all 3-pointers, and Jenny Roy had 10 rebounds and eight points. Belmont led 32-25 at the half and shot 62 percent in the second half, making 10 of 18 from distance.
Maggard had three 3’s in the last three minutes of the third quarter, the first coming when the Racers (11-19) had closed within one and the third making it 58-48 at the end of the period. She also opened the fourth with a shot from distance as Belmont won going away.
Brian Bethea had 21 points for the Racers with Ke’Shunan James adding 17 with 11 rebounds.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Ja’Quan Newton hit a running 30-footer at the horn to help Miami upset No. 9 North Carolina 91-88 in a wild finish Tuesday night.
Newton’s heave off his left foot came immediately after UNC’s Joel Berry II hit a tough 3 of his own to tie the game with 4.1 seconds left. Miami pushed the ball upcourt for Newton’s shot over Berry, then the Hurricanes immediately mobbed Newton near midcourt.
The shot capped a game that saw Miami (21-8, 10-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) squander a 16-point second-half lead.
Chris Lykes scored 18 points to lead Miami, which shot 55 percent.
Berry matched his career high with 31 points for the Tar Heels (22-8, 11-6), who lost their final home game to snap a six-game winning streak.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Daniel Gafford had 21 points and 10 rebounds to lead Arkansas to its sixth win in seven games.
Gafford was 10 of 15 from the field, including seven dunks, and matched his career high with seven blocks for the Razorbacks (21-9, 10-7 Southeastern Conference), who won for the fourth time at home over a ranked team this season.
Mustapha Heron scored 28 points and Jared Harper had 20 to lead the Tigers (24-6, 12-5), who could have clinched at least a share of the regular season SEC title with a win.
STARKVILLE, Miss. – Admiral Schofield had 24 points and Lamonte Turner added 12 for the Volunteers, who pulled away in the second half.
Schofield also had seven rebounds and shot 9 of 18 from the field for the Volunteers (22-7, 12-5 SEC), who made 13 of their final 15 field goal attempts.
Quinndary Weatherspoon led Mississippi State (21-9, 9-8) with 17 points. Nick Weatherspoon had 11 points and Aric Holman finished with 10 for the Bulldogs.
KINGSTON, R.I. – James Demery scored 21 points and Taylor Funk had 17 for Saint Joseph’s.
Shavar Newkirk added 14 points for the Hawks (14-15, 9-8 A 10), who posted their first true road victory over a ranked team since beating No. 15 Georgetown on Jan. 2, 1979.
Jared Terrell scored 19 points with seven rebounds and E.C. Matthews had 13 points for Rhode Island (23-5, 15-2). It was the Rams’ second loss in four games after a school record 16-game winning streak.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Before Texas’ senior night game, Brooke McCarty’s grandmother, Cindy Deville, performed a stirring version of the National Anthem.
McCarty dabbed tears from her eyes.
“But not during the game,” McCarty later said. “There was just happiness.”
Indeed, McCarty and fellow senior Ariel Atkins were too busy repeating something they have done so many other times during their four seasons at Texas: lead the Longhorns to victory.
McCarty scored 17 points, Atkins added 15, helping No. 7 Texas beat Oklahoma 79-66 on Tuesday night in the final regular season game for both teams.
The two guards contributed in other areas well. Atkins produced seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. McCarty had six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
McCarty, who converted 3 of 6 3-pointers, has hit 16 of 25 in her last four games after a snapping a long slump.
Junior Lashann Higgs pitched in 16 points.
Texas (24-5, 15-3 Big 12) is 104-30 since Atkins and McCarty joined the program.
Coach Karen Aston doesn’t even want to consider life without those two.
“It will be weird,” Aston said. “These guys were impact from players from the second they arrived.”
Vionise Pierre-Louis led Oklahoma (16-13, 11-7) with 19 points. Shaina Pellington and Ana llanusa, both candidates for Big 12 freshman of the year, scored 15 and 14 points for the Sooners.
Atkins tweaked her ankle while landing after making a jump shot with 6:35 left in the third quarter. She went straight to the bench but returned less than two minute later and made a 3-point basket and an assist before the period ended.
Texas made an 8-0 push during the final 1:42 of the first half to take a 40-32 lead. Atkins led the surge with two baskets, an assist and a steal that led to a fast-break layup by Higgs for the final points of the half.
“Ariel Atkins, I told her, ‘I toyed with sending you flowers today, because your career is almost over,'” Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. “I just think she’s phenomenal. She’s a competitor, she’s skilled and athletic. When her team needs something, she rises up.”
There’s a different look to the Atlantic Coast Conference women’s tournament this year.
The tournament begins Wednesday with three first-round games, and for the first time since the league’s expansion to 15 schools, the top seed doesn’t belong to Notre Dame. Instead, that honor goes to fourth-ranked Louisville.
Meanwhile the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish hold the second seed and will have to advance through the other half of the bracket.
The Cardinals (29-2) and the Irish (27-2) were clearly the league’s top two teams this season. While they shared the regular-season championship , Louisville earned the top seed because it won the only head-to-head matchup 100-67 on Jan. 11. The only thing that kept the Cardinals from the outright league title was a one-point loss to Florida State 10 days later.
“Going into the ACC Tournament, we’re going to see the same teams again,” Louisville senior Myisha Hines-Allen said. “So we just want that same celebration, so we have to keep playing hard.”
Notre Dame has won all four of the ACC Tournaments in which it has appeared, and has yet to lose a league tournament game in its new conference. The Irish, who have won 12 straight games, have earned at least a share of its seventh straight conference title — five in the ACC, two in the Big East — despite a roster ravaged by injuries.
“They handled the adversity and that’s the kind of thing that we want to teach them,” coach Muffet McGraw said. “I couldn’t be prouder of any team. This is definitely the most rewarding championship I think we’ve had.”
Some other things to watch this week at the ACC women’s tournament:
IN THE POLLS: Notre Dame and Louisville are the only top-10 teams in the field, the third time in five years that just two teams were in the top 10 during the tournament. Third-seeded Florida State (24-5) checks in at No. 11 in the latest poll, fourth-seeded Duke (22-7) is 18th and fifth-seeded North Carolina State (22-7) is at No. 23.
LONGSHOT: Looking for an off-the-radar pick to bust the bracket? Maybe eighth-seeded Syracuse could pull an upset or two. The Orange (22-7) enter on a five-game winning streak and their high-pressure style could be tough to handle with only one day to prepare. They’re in Louisville’s half of the bracket and were competitive against the Cardinals in the regular season, losing 84-77 on Feb. 4.
NO BUBBLE TROUBLE: The NCAA Tournament picture seems pretty clear for the ACC, which looks like it will place eight teams in the 64-team bracket. And three of them — Louisville, Notre Dame and Florida State — seem like locks for top-four seeds, meaning they would host four-team NCAA subregionals . So the big question is whether another ACC team — either Duke or N.C. State — will make it four NCAA hosts from the conference.
BACK HOME: The tournament has returned to Greensboro after it was held in Conway, South Carolina, last year amid the conference’s public stance against the since-partially repealed “bathroom bill” in North Carolina.
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Chris Clarke tipped in a missed shot with 4 seconds remaining Monday night, and Virginia Tech stunned No. 5 Duke 64-63.
The Hokies (21-9, 10-7 Atlantic Coast Conference) had trailed almost the entire game before Nickeil Alexander-Walker’s jumper sailed over the rim and Clarke grabbed it and laid it in.
Alexander-Walker led the Hokies with 17 points, Justin Bibbs had 14 on his Senior Night and Kerry Blackshear Jr. added 13.
Grayson Allen led Duke (24-6, 12-5) with 22 points, but his 3-point try before the buzzer missed. Wendell Carter Jr. grabbed the rebound, but the clock ran out before his layup went through.
The victory boosts the Hokies’ NCAA Tournament prospects. They also have a road victory at No. 1 Virginia and a home victory against No. 18 Clemson.
NO. 6 KANSAS 80, TEXAS 70
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Svi Mykhailiuk had 17 points, Devonte Graham added 10 and 11 assists and Kansas beat Texas.
The Jayhawks (24-6, 13-4 Big 12) used a strong night from seniors Mykhailiuk and Graham in what was the pair and walk-on Clay Young’s senior night and final game in Allen Fieldhouse. Their powerful start helped them control the game early, forcing the Longhorns (17-13, 7-10 Big 12) to burn four timeouts in the first half.
Kerwin Roach II led the way for Texas, scoring 18 points and dishing out eight assists just days after hitting the game-winner against Oklahoma State. Jacob Young posted 14 points and five rebounds.
The Longhorns were without star freshman Mo Bamba, who missed the game with a toe injury.
NO. 20 WEST VIRGINIA 84, NO. 12 TEXAS TECH 74
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Jevon Carter scored 21 points and Daxter Miles Jr. added 18 in their final home game, and West Virginia rode a hot start to beat Texas Tech.
West Virginia (22-8, 11-6 Big 12) broke a second-place tie with the Red Raiders (22-8, 10-7) and moved closer to earning the No. 2 seed in the Big 12 tournament with one game left.
Sagaba Konate added 16 points, Esa Ahmad had 11 points and 11 rebounds, and James “Beetle” Bolden scored 10 for the Mountaineers, who have won three straight.
Freshman guard Jarrett Culver scored 26 points, Niem Stevenson added 24 and Zhaire Smith scored 12 for Texas Tech, which lost its fourth straight. The Red Raiders were without injured starters Justin Gray, Keenan Evans and Zach Smith.
1. There wasn’t much slippage last week from the team’s occupying the Top 10 after that cluster went just 10-9 in Week 16. They combined to go 15-3 and eight of the 10 skated through the week without a loss. That trend held true for the remaining teams as well. Nos. 11-25 went 23-4 and the pecking order largely went unchanged – which probably means another week of chaos is in store.
2. Just when we thought the Virginia D couldn’t do anything else to wow us, the Cavaliers nearly double up Pitt in a game in which they scored only 66 points. In the 66-37 win for top-ranked UVA, the Panthers were held to 11-of-46 shooting – or 23 percent – and the starters combined to make only two field goals. Virginia conceded just 91 points to Pitt and Georgia Tech and gave itself even more breathing room at the top of the poll.
3. For a seven-game stretch, Texas Tech looked like the top contender out of the tough Big 12 Conference, but the Red Raiders hit two more speed bumps last week, bringing their losing streak to three games (four after a loss to West Vriginia on Monday night). TT has time to recover and the fact that those first three losses came by a combined 12 points should be encouraging for the fans in Lubbock. The Red Raiders can still grab a high NCAA Tournament seed and challenge Kansas in the Big 12 tourney.
4. Michigan State won a Big Ten regular season championship on Sunday, but the best news out of East Lansing over the weekend was not the Spartans’ 68-63 win over Wisconsin. Star forward Miles Bridges was cleared by the NCAA after he was named in a Phatzradio! Sports report that alleged his family accepted $400 from an agent. But Sunday’s win over the Badgers showed what the Spartans can be without their preseason All-American: they won despite Bridges shooting 3-of-15 from the field and 0-of-7 from the three-point line.
5. Loyola of Chicago isn’t necessarily a hot Top 25 pick – just six voters have the Ramblers ranked, up four from last week – but the regular-season Missouri Valley Conference champions own one of the nation’s top defensive ratings (7th in total defense at 63.4 ppg) and picked up a quality win over Florida earlier in the year. Joe Lunardi currently has Loyola as a No. 12 seed in his latest bracketology and the Ramblers seem more than capable of pulling a 12 over 5, or 13 over 6 upset in March.
Arizona – Well, how far can Deandre Ayton carry these Wildcats? If the freshman sensation can stay eligible through the end of the season – and mind you, that is a big “if” – Arizona, even without a head coach (Sean Miller) and All-American guard (Allonzo Trier), will have a chance to win just about every game it plays in simply because the Wildcats will have the best player on the floor. That’s not a great formula for success, but it’s the best-case scenario for a program currently shoulder-deep in turmoil.
Gonzaga’s resume doesn’t do the Bulldogs any favors this time of year and it’s safe to assume that’s how a 27-win team drops one place in the poll after picking up two quality WCC wins on the road. The Zags won’t care too much about that, though, and should be healthy and rested when they return to the court Saturday for the quarterfinal round of the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas.
Michigan State (17)
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — Cassius Winston scored 20 points and went 6 for 6 from the 3-point line, and No. 2 Michigan State held off Wisconsin 68-63 on Sunday in Madison, Wisconsin, to earn the outright regular-season Big Ten title.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — Winston hit two 3s during an 11-2 run in the second half – the second with a defender in his face from well beyond the arc – to lead the Spartans (28-3, 16-2).
Brad Davison finished with 30 points for Wisconsin (14-17, 7-11), including a 3 with 4.7 seconds left that had hometown fans holding out hope for an upset.
Miles Bridges wrapped up the Spartans’ 12th straight win with two foul shots. The star forward had 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting in his first game since getting cleared by the NCAA following a Phatzradio! Sports article on Friday that identified him as one of many players who may have received improper benefits.
(9) Purdue 84, Minnesota 60: Dakota Mathias matched his career high with 25 points and left to a standing ovation in his final home game as Purdue blew out Minnesota in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Carsen Edwards had 18 points for the Boilermakers (26-5, 15-3 Big Ten), who won their third straight after a three-game skid.
Minnesota (15-16, 4-14) was led by Nate Mason with 18 points and Jordan Murphy who had 14 points and 10 rebounds. The Golden Gophers have lost 10 of their last 11.
For Mathias and his teammates, it was almost a perfect ending to one of the best seasons in school history. The one glaring omission: a championship celebration. Their slim hopes slipped away when No. 2 Michigan State beat Wisconsin earlier in the day.
(11) Cincinnati 82, Tulsa 74: Gary Clark led a 24-4 run that put Cincinnati ahead to stay early in the second half, and the Bearcats held on to beat Tulsa in Highland Heights, Kentucky, and preserve their one-game lead in the American Athletic Conference heading into the final week.
Cincinnati (25-4, 14-2) stayed ahead of No. 13 Wichita State (23-5, 13-3) in the race for the regular-season title. The Shockers won on Cincinnati’s home court 76-72 a week ago.
Wichita State plays at UCF on Thursday and hosts Cincinnati next Sunday in a potential showdown game. The Bearcats play at Tulane on Thursday before heading to Wichita State.
Tulsa (17-11, 10-7) led by eight points early in the second before Clark scored during the decisive run. Junior Etou scored 21 for Tulsa, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.
(20) Nevada 92, Colorado State 83: Caleb Martin scored 25 points, Jordan Caroline had 21 points and 14 rebounds and Nevada beat Colorado State in Reno, Nevada, to earn the No. 1 seed in the Mountain West Tournament.
Cody Martin, Caleb’s twin brother, had 17 points and 10 assists for the Wolf Pack (25-5, 14-2 Mountain West), who clinched at least a share of the regular-season championship for the second consecutive year. Nevada has road games against UNLV and San Diego State remaining, but has a two-game lead over second-place Boise State and holds the tiebreaker over the Broncos.
Prentiss Nixon had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Colorado State (11-19, 4-13). Anthony Bonner added 19 points and Nico Carvarcho had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Rams, who kept the game tight until the waning moments.
(23) Houston 109, East Carolina 58: Rob Gray had 19 points and 11 assists, and host Houston used a huge first half to rout East Carolina.
Armoni Brooks added 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting from 3-point range for the Cougars (22-6, 12-4 American), who shot 67 percent from the field. Corey Davis Jr. chipped in with 16 points, six rebounds and seven assists.
Houston had runs of 22-0 and 11-0, then closed the half on a 14-1 run to build a 62-13 lead.
East Carolina (10-17, 4-12), which has lost three straight, shot 22 percent and committed 10 turnovers in the first half. B.J. Tyson finished with 24 points to lead the Pirates.
North Carolina State 92, (25) Florida State 72: Allerik Freeman scored 25 points to help North Carolina State beat Florida State in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Torin Dorn added 19 points and Sam Hunt had 14 for the Wolfpack (20-9, 10-6 Atlantic Coast Conference), who opened the game with a 9-2 spurt and never trailed.
N.C. State won its fourth consecutive ACC regular-season game in the same season for the first time since 2006.
Omer Yurtseven scored 13 points and Markell Johnson had 12 for the Wolfpack, who led by as many as 28 points in the second half.
Trent Forrest led Florida State (19-9, 8-8) with 16 points.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — OMAHA, Neb. – Marcus Foster scored 28 points, Davion Mintz gave Creighton the lead for good early in overtime, and the Bluejays defeated the highest-ranked opponent in program history with an 89-83 upset of No. 3 Villanova on Saturday.
Creighton (20-9, 9-7 Big East), playing without injured starting forward Ronnie Harrell Jr., ended a three-game conference losing streak and won for the first time in nine games against Villanova since 2014. The Bluejays also avenged a 20-point road loss to Villanova on Feb. 1.
Villanova (25-4, 12-4) squandered an eight-point lead with 4 1/2 minutes left and missed seven of its last nine shots before a meaningless layup at the end of overtime.
Creighton’s Khyri Thomas made five straight 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes to set a career high and finished with 24 points. Ballock added 13 and Epperson had all 12 of his points after halftime.
Jalen Brunson led the Wildcats with 22 points, Mikal Bridges had 18 and Omari Spellman added 14 points and 10 rebounds.
PITTSBURGH – Virginia allowed just seven points in the first half against Pittsburgh and secured the regular-season Atlantic Coast Conference title outright.
Freshman guard De’Andre Hunter came off the bench to lead the Cavaliers (26-2, 14-1 ACC) with 14 points in a game that didn’t take big offensive efforts from Virginia’s regulars. Of the five starters, only guard Ty Jerome exceeded his season average with 13 points.
The game was never competitive, as Virginia started on an 8-0 run and Pitt didn’t make a field goal until Jared Wilson-Frame hit a 3-pointer at the midway point of the first half.
Virginia coach Tony Bennett rested most of his regulars in the second half. Reserve Nigel Johnson added 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Parker Stewart led Pitt (8-22, 0-17) with 12 points, all on 3-pointers.
DURHAM, N.C. – Marvin Bagley III had 19 points in his return from a sprained knee, and Duke beat Syracuse for its fifth straight win.
Wendell Carter Jr. added 16 points for the Blue Devils (24-5, 12-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who forced 17 turnovers. The Orange matched their season-low scoring total, set Feb. 3 in a loss to No. 1 Virginia.
Bagley, the ACC’s leading scorer (21.2 per game) and rebounder (11.4 per game), missed four games after injuring his right knee in a loss at North Carolina on Feb. 8.
Tyus Battle, who ranks third in the league with an average of 20.1 points per game, scored 12 to lead the Orange (18-11, 7-9), who lost their third in four games.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Devonte Graham scored 26 points and Kansas set an NCAA record with its 14th straight regular-season conference championship, beating Texas Tech to clinch at least a tie for the Big 12 title.
Graham hit a tiebreaking jumper with 1:30 remaining to help Kansas (23-6, 12-4) to its fourth straight win and a two-game lead over the Red Raiders, who have lost three in a row for the first time this season. The Jayhawks never trailed.
All 14 of the titles have come under coach Bill Self, who finished second in his first season at KU.
The current skid for the Red Raiders (22-7, 10-6) started when leading scorer Keenan Evans injured a toe in the first half of a loss to Baylor that pulled Kansas even in the Big 12 race.
Zhaire Smith scored 20 points and fellow freshman Jarrett Culver had 18 for Texas Tech, which dropped its second straight game since reaching the highest ranking in school history.
PROVO, Utah – Johnathan Williams scored 16 points, and Gonzaga beat BYU to clinch another West Coast Conference championship.
The Bulldogs (27-4, 17-1) have won at least a share of 18 of the past 19 regular-season conference championships, including each of the past six seasons.
Zach Norvell Jr. had 15 points and five rebounds for Gonzaga, which got off to a fast start and also played well right after halftime.
Yoeli Childs led BYU (22-9, 11-7) with 19 points and eight rebounds.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – KeVaughn Allen bounced back from his first scoreless game in more than three years with 24 points, including two huge 3-pointers in the closing minutes, and Florida beat Auburn.
Jalen Hudson added 19 points for the Gators, including a pivotal three-point play with 26.8 seconds remaining.
Auburn’s Jared Harper and Bryce Brown missed off-balance 3-pointers in the final minute, and the Gators closed it out from the charity stripe.
It was Florida’s 11th consecutive win in the series and a huge boost to the team’s NCAA Tournament resume.
The Gators (18-11, 9-7 Southeastern Conference) had dropped three straight and six of eight in league play. The win over the Tigers (24-5, 12-4) could be enough to put Florida in the 68-team field for the second straight season.
DALLAS – Markis McDuffie scored a season-high 26 points off the bench, including nine during the first four minutes of the second half, to lead Wichita State over SMU.
The Shockers (23-5, 13-3 American Athletic Conference) have won six straight games and are one-half game behind first-place Cincinnati. Wichita State will host Cincinnati on March 4 in the regular-season finale for both teams.
SMU (16-13, 6-10) lost for the sixth time in seven games since leading scorer Shake Milton (18 points per game) was sidelined with a hand injury.
Jahmal McMurray led SMU with 28 points.
EUGENE, Ore. – Arizona played without coach Sean Miller and lost at Oregon at the end of a difficult day for the troubled Wildcats program.
Miller sat out a day after ESPN reported he was heard on an FBI wiretap discussing a $100,000 payment to current Wildcats freshman Deandre Ayton. The Wildcats also were without guard Allonzo Trier, who tested positive for the same banned substance that cost him 19 games last season.
The school did not specify why Miller didn’t coach against Oregon or if he will sit out any other games.
Ayton had 28 points and 16 rebounds for Arizona (22-7, 12-4 Pac-12), and Rawle Alkins added 24 points.
Oregon (19-10, 9-7) used a stellar performance at the line and a balanced attack to pick up its second straight win. Elijah Brown scored 22 of his season-high 30 points after halftime.
CLEMSON, S.C. – Gabe DeVoe scored 25 points and Shelton Mitchell added 14 as he returned from two games missed with a concussion, leading Clemson past Georgia Tech.
The Tigers (21-7, 10-6 Atlantic Coast) ended the game on a 29-14 run after leading scorer Josh Okogie picked up his fourth foul for the Yellow Jackets (11-18, 4-12) with 11:44 to go.
Georgia Tech missed 11 of its last 12 shots and turned the ball over four times in the final seven minutes to lose their seventh straight game and 11th of 12.
The Tigers ended a three-game losing streak, two of them while Mitchell was recovering from a concussion suffered in the final minute at Florida State on Feb. 14.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 22 of his career-high 28 points in the decisive first half, and Michigan easily defeated Maryland for its fifth straight victory.
Using runs of 9-0 and 16-3, the Wolverines built a 54-24 halftime lead and cruised to the finish. Michigan went 17 for 28 from the floor in the first half, including 11 for 19 from 3-point range.
The Wolverines (24-7, 13-5 Big Ten) have clinched the No. 5 seed in the conference tournament, but can earn a No. 4 seed and a double bye if Nebraska loses to Penn State on Sunday.
Anthony Cowan Jr. scored 17 for Maryland (19-12, 8-10), which suffered its most lopsided home loss since a 104-72 defeat against Duke on Jan 3, 1998.
OXFORD, Miss. – Admiral Schofield scored 23 points, Jordan Bowden scored 15, Lamonte Turner scored 13 and Tennessee beat Mississippi.
The Volunteers (21-7, 11-5 SEC) jumped out to a 29-9 lead in the first 10 minutes and held off a rally by Ole Miss in the second half to earn the key road victory.
Neither team shot well from the floor with Tennessee shooting 39 percent and Ole Miss shooting 34 percent.
The Rebels (12-17, 5-11) struggled from long distance. Ole Miss shot 4 percent (1-for-23) from three-point range.
Breein Tyree led the Rebels with 17 points.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Jevon Carter scored 24 points and made some history as West Virginia pulled away to beat Iowa State.
With 15:59 left in the first half, Carter picked up his first assist of the game, setting up a 3-pointer by Esa Ahmad to become the first major-conference player in NCAA history to record more than 1,500 points, 500 rebounds, 500 assists and 300 steals in a career.
Ahmad had 18 points and 11 rebounds for his second career double-double. Sagaba Konate added 14 points along with six blocks, and Daxter Miles scored 14 points for West Virginia (21-8, 10-6 Big 12).
Lindell Wigginton led Iowa State (13-15, 4-12) with 29 points.
MORAGA, Calif. – Jock Landale had 19 points and eight rebounds in his final home game, and Saint Mary’s beat Santa Clara.
Emmett Naar added 12 points and Calvin Hermanson had 10 on Senior Day for Saint Mary’s (27-4, 16-2 West Coast Conference). Jordan Ford scored 13.
The Gaels have won three straight since their school-record 19-game winning streak ended with back-to-back losses.
A matchup of the top two scorers in the WCC fizzled out quickly when Santa Clara’s KJ Feagin limped off the court with a sprained left ankle with 7:16 left in the first half. He did not return.
Henry Caruso had 14 points and seven rebounds for Santa Clara (11-19, 8-10).
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Nick King scored 22 points, Giddy Potts had 17 and Middle Tennessee celebrated its first game as a ranked team by beating UAB.
The Blue Raiders (23-5, 15-1 Conference USA) entered the AP poll for the first time on Monday, but hadn’t played since an 87-70 victory at Louisiana Tech last Saturday. They showed no signs of any rust, jumping to a 40-19 halftime lead against the Blazers.
Potts made five of Middle Tennessee’s 11 3-pointers. Brandon Walters scored 16 points, and Antwain Johnson had 11.
Zack Bryant led UAB (17-12, 8-8) with 13 points.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu scored 16 points and No. 8 Oregon moved a step closer to its first Pac-12 title in 18 years, beating Arizona State 57-44 Friday night to end a 15-game losing streak in Tempe.
Oregon (26-4, 15-2 Pac-12) won the first meeting by shutting down Arizona State in the third quarter. The Ducks took control of the rematch with similar blueprint.
Trailing by one at halftime, Oregon hounded the Sun Devils (19-10, 10-7) into one missed shot after another to build an 11-point lead. Arizona State scored eight points in the quarter and went 4 for 17 from the floor.
The Ducks broke the school record for wins in a season and matched the mark for conference wins, set in 1998-99. They had not beaten Arizona State on the road since 2000.
No. 22 GREEN BAY 78, OAKLAND 48
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Jessica Lindstrom posted her 15th double-double this season with 16 points and 13 rebounds and No. 22 Green Bay defeated Oakland to win the outright Horizon League regular-season crown.
Allie LeClaire scored 13 points to move into the program’s top 10 all-time scoring leaders and Karly Murphy and Mackenzie Wolf added 10 points each for the Phoenix (25-3, 15-2), who have won 20 consecutive conference titles.
Sha’Keya Graves scored 15 points and Taylor Gleason and Leah Somerfield 11 each for the Golden Grizzlies (13-15, 6-11).
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Keita Bates-Diop finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds and C.J. Jackson made a long 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds left in double overtime to give No. 16 Ohio State an 80-78 victory at Indiana on Friday night.
With the win, the Buckeyes (24-7, 15-3) can claim a share of the conference crown in coach Chris Holtmann’s first season – if No. 2 Michigan State loses at Wisconsin on Sunday.
Juwan Morgan scored 18 points and Robert Johnson added 17 to lead the Hoosiers (16-14, 9-9). But Johnson, playing what could be his final home game, couldn’t make the dramatic half-court heave at the buzzer to win a wild game that was tighter than expected.
KINGSTON, Rhode Island – Jeff Dowtin scored 20 points, E.C. Matthews added 18 and Rhode Island wrapped up its first outright Atlantic-10 regular-season title with a victory over Dayton.
Jared Terrell had 17 points to help the Rams (22-5, 15-1) win for the 18th time in 19 games. It was their second straight after their school-record 16-game winning streak was halted by St. Bonaventure last Friday night.
In 1980-81, the Rams tied Duquesne for a share of the conference title, their only other regular-season A-10 championship.
When the game ended, blue and white confetti – the school colors – and streamers fell from the ceiling. Terrell climbed the scorer’s table, waving to the crowd. Jalen Crutcher led the Flyers (13-15, 7-9) with 12 points.
As February draws to a close, Selection Sunday will be just two weeks away by the time the weekend concludes.
Opportunities are growing scarce for teams to improve their NCAA tournament credentials, making each successive game take on added significance.
Here are some matchups to watch for fans of both the hunters and the hunted.
Saturday, 4:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
It looked like this might be a head-to-head showdown for first place in the crowded Big 12. But the Red Raiders have dropped their last two contests to fall a game behind the Jayhawks. KU is now in the driver’s seat in its bid to run its streak of regular-season conference crowns to 14. Texas Tech is clearly not the same threat with team leader Keenan Evans anything short of full speed. But even if he is able to contribute at his usually high level on Saturday, the Jayhawks are coming off their best outing of a season in a romp against Oklahoma and appear to be rounding into March form.
BRACKETOLOGY: Projecting the NCAA tournament field of 68
BUBBLE TRACKER: Which teams are in and which are out?
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
The Wildcats are back on track in pursuit of a No. 1 seed for the third time in four seasons. They’ve rediscovered their shooting touch and have also regained the services of reserve guard Phil Booth, a solid two-way contributor whose absence was felt. The Bluejays are trending in the wrong direction, entering this vital home date on a three-game conference losing streak. The most recent was a disheartening 23-point setback at Butler that has them sliding dangerously close to the bubble. That said, the perspective would changed drastically with a win against Villanova.
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
On the plus side for the Orange, they probably gave their best effort of the season Wednesday night. It wasn’t enough, however, as a red-hot North Carolina team made enough plays down the stretch to get out of the Carrier Dome with a four-point win. This trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium is another opportunity for that elusive marquee victory, but the Blue Devils are just as hot with four wins while Marvin Bagley III has been sidelined with a knee injjury. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski appears to have borrowed a page from Jim Boeheim’s playbook, as his team’s defense has been much more effective since switching almost exclusively to zone.
Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, SECN
Once ranked in the top 10, the Gators now find themselves in an almost unfathomable six-way tie for third place in the middling SEC after a three-game losing streak. This home date with the surprising league leaders is a chance to pick up a distinguishing result, but their recent level of play makes that seem unlikely. The Tigers, meanwhile, passed their first test without injured forward Anfernee McLemore in impressive fashion against Alabama Wednesday night. But even with the regular-season tile almost secured, they still need to keep pushing for a No. 1 seed.
Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Even with a win against the Bulldogs, BYU would not have anything resembling an at-large case. What a victory here would do, however, is give the Cougars a needed shot of confidence for the upcoming West Coast Conference tournament. But Gonzaga, as it often does, is gaining momentum late in the season. The catalyst has been Johnathan Williams, whose recent string of double doubles has helped take the pressure off the Zags’ backcourt scorers.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Ty Jerome scored 18 points and top-ranked Virginia held off depleted Georgia Tech 65-54 on Wednesday night, clinching the regular season title and top seed next month in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Virginia (25-2, 14-1) won its eighth regular-season title and third in five years.
The Cavaliers also got nine points each from De’Andre Hunter and Mamadi Diakite. They led just 31-30 at halftime and didn’t open a double-digit lead until just 5:14 remained.
Ben Lammers scored 22 points to lead the Yellow Jackets (11-17, 4-11). They lost their sixth in a row and 10th in the last 11 games.
No. 3 Villanova 93, DePaul 62
PHILADELPHIA – Mikal Bridges scored 27 points and Phil Booth added 14 in his return to the lineup to lead Villanova past DePaul on Wednesday night.
Booth played 16 minutes, going 4 for 6 from the field and 2 for 4 from the arc in his comeback from a broken right hand that sidelined him seven games.
Eric Paschall had 16 points, and Jalen Brunson added 11 points and seven assists to help the Wildcats (25-3, 12-3 Big East) beat DePaul for the 16th straight time.
Max Strus scored 21 points for the Blue Demons (10-17, 3-12).
No. 4 Xavier 89, Georgetown 77
WASHINGTON – Naji Marshall scored a career-high 21 points and Xavier beat Georgetown, bouncing back from its loss to No. 3 Villanova.
J.P. Macura added 20 points, including four 3-pointers, and Quentin Goodin had 19 points to help the Musketeers (25-4, 13-3 Big East) swept the season series with Georgetown for the second straight season.
Jamorko Pickett tied a career high with 21 points for Georgetown (15-11, 5-10).
No. 5 Duke 82, Louisville 56
DURHAM, N.C. – Grayson Allen scored 28 points and Duke routed Louisville.
Freshman big man Wendell Carter Jr. finished with 18 points and a season-high five assists, and Gary Trent Jr. had 11 points to help the Blue Devils (23-5, 11-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their fourth straight game – all coming with star freshman Marvin Bagley III out with a sprained knee.
Ray Spalding scored 17 points, and V.J. King and Deng Adel had 10 apiece for Louisville (18-10, 8-7), playing for the first time since an NCAA panel upheld sanctions against the program in the wake of its sex scandal – which cost the school about $600,000 in tournament revenue, 123 victories and its most recent national championship.
Oklahoma State 79, No. 6 Texas Tech
STILLWATER, Okla. – Kendall Smith scored 21 points to help Oklahoma State stun Texas Tech.
Lindy Waters added a career-high 18 points, and Jeffrey Carroll had 14 points. The Cowboys (16-12, 6-9 Big 12) got a huge boost to their hopes of gaining an NCAA Tournament bid.
Zhaire Smith scored 18 points, and Jarrett Culver added 15 for Tech (22-6, 10-5), which needed a win to tie Kansas for the Big 12 lead. The Red Raiders lost their second straight.
Tech’s Keenan Evans, the Big 12’s No. 2 scorer, finished with two points on 1-for-7 shooting.
No. 10 North Carolina 78, Syracuse 74
SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Theo Pinson scored a career-high 23 points, Joel Berry II added 18, including the tiebreaking layup with 1:36 left, and North Carolina held off Syracuse.
North Carolina (22-7, 11-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won six straight, but this was the most difficult against a team fighting for its postseason life. Syracuse (18-10, 7-8) was coming off an important road victory over Miami and was teetering on the NCAA Tournament bubble entering the game.
Tyus Battle scored 26 points, and Frank Howard had 23 for Syracuse.
No. 12 Auburn 90, Alabama 71
AUBURN, Ala. – Jared Harper scored 21 points, Chuma Okeke had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Auburn beat rival Alabama even without ailing star Mustapha Heron.
Down to seven scholarship players, the Tigers (24-4, 12-3 Southeastern Conference) turned a five-point halftime lead into a blowout thanks largely to big performances from Okeke and Malik Dunbar off the bench.
Auburn responded with Heron out with a stomach ailment a game after center Anfernee McLemore was lost for the rest of the season to an ankle injury.
Collin Sexton scored 25 points for the Crimson Tide (17-11, 8-7).
No. 13 Wichita State 93, Tulane 86
WICHITA, Kan. – Shaquille Morris had 25 points and nine rebounds to help No. 13 Wichita State outlast Tulane.
Conner Frankamp scored six of his 18 points in the final four minutes, Markis McDuffie had 15 points and C.J. Keyser added 11 for the Shockers (22-5, 12-3 American Athletic Conference).
Melvin Frazier scored 16 of his 22 points in the second half for Tulane (13-14, 4-11). He also had 11 rebounds.
Virginia Tech 65, No. 15 Clemson 58
BLACKSBURG, Va. – Justin Robinson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 14 points each for Virginia Tech.
The Hokies (20-8, 9-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won six of their last eight games to move into a tie for fifth place in the conference standings. Marcquise Reed led Clmeson (20-7, 9-6) with 23 points.
No. 17 Michigan 72, Penn State 63
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. – Duncan Robinson scored 19 points and Moritz Wagner added 18 for Michigan.
Jordan Poole had 13 for the Wolverines (23-7, 12-5 Big Ten) who won their fourth straight.
Tony Carr scored 21 points, and Lamar Stevens added 19 for the Nittany Lions (19-11, 9-8).
No. 19 Tennessee 62, Florida 57
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Grant Williams bounced back from one of his worst performances of the season to score 23 points for Tennessee.
Williams had a season-low five points Saturday in a 73-62 loss at Georgia. The Tennessee scoring leader responded Wednesday by shooting 8 of 13 from the floor and 7 of 8 from the foul line.
Admiral Schofield added 16 points and eight rebounds for Tennessee (20-7, 10-5 Southeastern Conference). Jalen Hudson had 13 points for Florida (17-11, 8-7).
No. 20 Nevada 80, San Jose State 67
RENO, Nev. – Kendall Stephens scored a career-high 30 points and Nevada hit 14 3-pointers.
Jordan Caroline and Hallice Cooke had 15 points apiece for the Wolf Pack (24-5, 13-2 Mountain West). Cooke scored all his points on 3-pointers in the first half as the Wolf Pack opened a double-digit lead.
Ryan Wellage had 22 points and nine rebounds for San Jose State (3-23, 0-15).
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — EAST LANSING, Mich. – Miles Bridges scored 19 points, Joshua Langford had 16 and No. 2 Michigan State beat Illinois 81-61 on Tuesday night, sealing a share of the Big Ten championship.
The Spartans (27-3, 15-2 Big Ten) have won 11 straight and can claim the conference title outright if they win at Wisconsin on Sunday.
The Fighting Illini (13-16, 3-13) were coming off a win over Nebraska and looked like they were building momentum, competing well enough to trail the Spartans by just three points at halftime.
Michigan State, though, opened the second half with a 12-1 run to take control and went on to build 20-plus-point leads. The cushion allowed coach Tom Izzo to put his three seniors in and out of the game in the final minutes, giving each of them an opportunity to kiss the school’s logo at midcourt and get an ovation from the crowd.
No. 16 Ohio State 79, Rutgers 52
COLUMBUS, Ohio – C.J. Jackson scored 18 points to help Ohio State rout Rutgers.
Kaleb Wesson added 14, and Kam Williams, playing his last home game, had 13 as the Buckeyes (23-7, 14-3 Big Ten) got a feel-good win on senior night, coming on the heels of tough road losses to Penn State and Michigan that dropped them out of first place in the conference.
Corey Sanders had 12 points for the Scarlet Knights (13-17, 3-14). They’ve lost eight of their last nine games.
No. 18 Rhode Island 95, La Salle 93, OT
PHILADELPHIA – Jeff Dowtin scored 25 points, including four key free throws in the final seconds, as Rhode Island clinched a share of the Atlantic 10 regular season title with a hard-fought victory at La Salle.
The Rams (22-4, 14-1 Atlantic 10) trailed 30-18 midway through the first half before going on a 14-0 run and taking a 39-37 halftime lead.
Rhode Island never trailed in the second half and led 81-78 with three seconds left. The Rams purposely fouled Pookie Powell, who made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second. Tony Washington snared the long rebound and made the putback to tie the game at 81 at the end of regulation.
Cyril Langevine scored four straight points to give the Rams a 91-87 lead with 2:20 left in OT. Trailing 91-90, La Salle had two chances to take its first lead since the first half, but couldn’t convert.
Dowtin hit two free throws to give La Salle a 3-point lead, and the Rams again intentionally fouled Powell, this time with 3.2 seconds left. Powell again made the first – and accidentally made the second. After Dowtin made two more, the Explorers tried the same tactic yet again but were called for a lane violation.
Saul Phiri added 16 points, and Miles Brookins scored 13 for La Salle (11-17, 5-10).
No. 21 West Virginia 71, Baylor 60
WACO, Texas – Jevon Carter and Esa Ahmad both scored 15 points as West Virginia beat Baylor, ending the Bears’ five-game winning streak that had been the longest in the Big 12 Conference.
The Mountaineers (20-8, 9-6 Big 12) were pretty much in control throughout the game, and led by as many as 28 points early in the second half.
Baylor (17-11, 7-8) managed to get within 55-43 with after Terry Maston’s jumper. But that was the last of eight straight points for the Bears that capped off a 21-5 run.
Their momentum was gone when Daxter Miles made a 3-pointer while being fouled and converted the free throw for a four-point play with just under 7 minutes left. That was Miles’ only made 3-pointer in six shots from long range.
Sagaba Konate had 10 points, 10 rebounds and nine blocks for West Virginia.
WOMEN’S TUESDAY NIGHT ROUNDUP:
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — Aaron Barzilai has always self-identified as a numbers nerd. A former captain of the MIT basketball team, Barzilai likes to say his game was “Steve Kerr without the shot.”
That meant Barzilai, 45, didn’t have any sort future in the NBA — at least not on the floor. But as a PhD student at Stanford from 1993-2000, he started to tinker with statistics, years before analytics became part of the general sports lexicon.
“Like most grad school students, I was very good at coming up with projects to work on that were not my thesis,” Barzilai told USA TODAY Sports with a laugh. “I would think about stuff like, ‘Hmm, maybe I could invent a better BCS formula.’”
Then he read a story in Sports Illustrated‘s 2005 NBA preview issue detailing how “the Moneyball math of baseball has come to the NBA,” and referenced Dean Oliver’s book Basketball on Paper. Barzilai thought he might have stumbled onto his own niche.
Thirteen years later, Barzilai has done exactly that, though it’s come in an unlikely arena. Barzilai is the owner and operator of HerHoopStats.com, an advanced analytics site that tracks data like points per possession and offensive rebounding rate. It’s been billed as the women’s equivalent to KenPom.com, the men’s college basketball analytics site frequently referenced by coaches, schools, analysts and even the NCAA tournament selection committee.
Analytics have exploded in popularity over the last decade, with data-driven decisions becoming the norm for coaches and front offices. Fans are numbers junkies, too. Friday and Saturday, Boston will host the 12th Annual Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, an event that’s grown from 100 initial attendees to more than 4,000 in 2016.
But there’s been a noticeable void in the women’s game.
In a March 2016 Players Tribune article, WNBA All-Star Sue Bird — widely considered the best point guard in the women’s game — made a case for advanced analytics in the WNBA.
“The disparity between NBA data — even data across all male sports — and WNBA data is glaring,” Bird wrote. “Data for the WNBA is relegated to basic information: points, rebounds, steals, assists, turnovers, blocks. While worthy of being noted, those are the most rudimentary numbers in our game. Data helps drive conversations, strategy, decision making. … Data helps tell the story of a player, a team, an entire career.”
Stats help hammer home the points coaches want to make to their teams, Barzilai said. But first, they’ve gotta be able to get their hands on the numbers.
Barzilai spent 2008-2015 working in the NBA, first with the Memphis Grizzlies as an analytics consultant — reporting directly to general manager Chris Wallace — and then as the director of analytics for the 76ers until 2015, when new management took over.
In July, he got a call from Alex Varlan, a former co-worker in Philadelphia who had just taken the video coordinator position with the Tennessee women’s basketball program. Varlan asked if Barzilai knew of any good options for women’s analytics sites. When Barzilai couldn’t find any, Varlan and he concluded that Barzilai could and should build his own.
“My theory is that what we’ve done is something between a business and a public service,” Barzilai explained. “You can find stuff pretty easily on (all-time NCAA leading scorer) Kelsey Plum or (South Carolina All-American) A’ja Wilson … but maybe your niece is the top 10 percent in the country in assist rate, and she plays for a mid-major school, so you don’t know that. We’re trying to unlock that information.”
By the end of August, after a month of background research, Barzilai had brought on two programmers and started building the site. He’s had experience in this type of entrepreneurial space before: Barzilai said he was the first person to regularly publish NBA plus/minus data — now a stat found in every NBA box score — on his website BasketballValue.com in 2007.
In the first week of December 2017, HerHoopStats.com went live. By the new year, it was being referenced on ESPN broadcasts.
Longtime analyst Debbie Antonelli is a fan.
Before each game Antonelli works, Barzilai emails her five interesting stats on the teams she’ll see in person. Then Antonelli uses those numbers in the broadcast, giving HerHoopStats.com a shout out. In last Sunday’s North Carolina State-Wake Forest game, for example, she pointed out that the Wolfpack are No. 1 in the nation in defensive rebounding percentage, then explained why — because they do a great job of going under screens, keeping teams in front, and making opponents score over the top, all of which puts North Carolina State in an ideal rebounding position.
“You can’t give a number like that in basketball, men or women, unless you explain what it means — I have to give you the ‘why,’” Antonelli told USA TODAY Sports. “These stats, it helps grow our game — it makes N.C. State look good, it makes (coach) Wes Moore looks good. … We didn’t have this in the women’s game, and we needed it.”
Barzilai stresses that the site people see now is “definitely version 1.0, if not 0.1,” and has plans to grow and add more data, even before the Final Four next month. HerHoopStats.com already shows national rankings and percentiles, so the next logical step is conference rankings and percentiles. Win probability is also on the to-do list, as is growing readership. Grace Dickman, a senior guard at Division III Macalaster College, helps run social media, where Barzilai hopes HerHoopStats.com can get better at “visualization of the data.”
Feedback from coaches, fans, pundits and sports information directors helps him understand what needs to come next.
“Analytics are not anything that would take away from my own two eyes scouting a team and watching team dynamics, but these (numbers) tell me a true percentage of what’s going on,” Louisville associate head coach Stephanie Norman told USA TODAY Sports, adding that she appreciates that “you don’t need a PhD to understand Aaron’s site.”
“This is a business (on the women’s side) that’s been untapped,” Norman said. “I find it intriguing. … It can be really useful for players to analyze themselves. And as a fan, I’d be all in—you pay $20, and you get so much inside scoop.”
Watching his website, still in its infancy, get recognized on ESPN broadcasts was “the kind of moment that helps energize and inspire us to work on it even more,” Barzilai said. “It makes me feel good that we’re making a contribution in a space that’s been underserved.”
As for if he’s gotten any feedback from the point guard queen herself, no, Barzilai said, he still hasn’t talked with Bird. But they’re both at Sloan this week, and he’s hopeful to chat with her there.
Statically, the odds of them crossing paths are in his favor.
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Middle Tennessee has upset power-conference teams in the past two NCAA Tournaments and reached 20 wins for the third straight season. Now the Blue Raiders have another milestone: their first appearance in the AP Top 25 poll.
Middle Tennessee checked in at No. 24 in Monday’s latest poll and will play as a ranked team for the first time Saturday at home against UAB as part the week’s national Top 25 schedule.
“The sustainability part is what you strive for,” coach Kermit Davis said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I just think it’s the culture of it. Since I’ve been here, you’re just striving to kind of get your brand like a Gonzaga or a Butler or schools that just kind of do it every year.”
The Blue Raiders (22-5, 14-1 Conference USA) are certainly doing that these days.
Two seasons ago, they won 25 games and pulled the biggest upset of the NCAA Tournament by beating Final Four favorite and second-seeded Michigan State in the opening round. They followed that by winning 31 games last year and beating fifth-seeded Minnesota in the first round in 2017.
Along the way, Middle Tennessee has gone 23-3 in road games over two seasons, including a 12-1 mark after Saturday’s win at Louisiana Tech.
The Blue Raiders are led by Alabama graduate transfer Nick King, who started his career at Memphis. The 6-foot-7 forward is averaging 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds.
Middle Tennessee is trying to maintain its hold on the Conference USA lead with Old Dominion and Western Kentucky sitting a game back in the loss column. The Blue Raiders have three home games left, including March 1 against the Hilltoppers.
Davis said he doesn’t think that the ranking will be a distraction — “If we get beat, that’s not going to be the reason why,” he said — but it is something Davis said the Blue Raiders plan to savor with a few days off before playing again.
“It’s great for our players, it’s great for our fan base,” Davis said. “You’re trying to grow your fan base, so it is (important). We all understand that we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us and big games. But you better believe it, the Middle Tennessee faithful around the country will love seeing their name in the AP poll.”
Top-ranked Virginia (24-2, 13-1) can wrap up the Atlantic Coast Conference regular-season race this week. They lead fifth-ranked Duke by three games in the loss column and own the head-to-head tiebreaker from their win at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 27 , so they can clinch at least a share of the regular-season title and the No. 1 seed for the ACC Tournament in Brooklyn by beating Georgia Tech on Wednesday.
Win that one, and they travel to Pittsburgh — now 0-15 in the league — to claim the regular-season race outright Saturday.
There’s a top-10 matchup in the Big 12 this week with No. 8 Kansas visiting No. 6 Texas Tech on Saturday, with the Jayhawks seeking to avenge an 85-73 home loss to the Red Raiders on Jan. 2.
That’s part of a test-filled weekend for some top-tier teams, with No. 2 Michigan State (at Wisconsin), No. 3 Villanova (at Creighton) and No. 6 Gonzaga (at BYU) all playing on the road.
Baylor (17-10, 6-7 Big 12) has vaulted itself into NCAA Tournament contention with five straight wins. Now the Bears are on the edge of the AP Top 25 with a couple of chances to play their way into next week’s poll — and strengthen that postseason resume.
The Bears host No. 21 West Virginia on Tuesday then travel to TCU — which has been ranked earlier this season — on Saturday.
And in the Southeastern Conference, both Kentucky and Arkansas are within reach of the rankings entering Tuesday’s matchup. The Razorbacks also visit Alabama on Saturday.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Devonte Graham had 23 points and seven assists, Malik Newman added 20 and No. 8 Kansas beat Oklahoma 104-74 on Monday night.
The Jayhawks (22-6, 11-4 Big 12) controlled things early, jumping out to a 10-0 lead less than four minutes into the game and forcing Lon Kruger to burn a timeout before the first media break. The Sooners (16-11, 6-9 Big 12) never recovered.
Kameron McGusty led the way for Oklahoma with 22 points while Jamuni McNeace added 18 in his first career start.
It was a cold shooting night for Trae Young, who missed 10 of his 13 shots. His 11 points were a season-low. He did have nine assists.
Kansas broke the 100-point threshold for the first time since December as six Jayhawks scored in double figures.
The win marks No. 300 all-time in Big 12 play for the Jayhawks. Only two other schools (Texas, Oklahoma) have surpassed the 200 mark.
Big Picture: Kansas now sits a half-game ahead of Texas Tech atop the Big 12 standings after gaining a game on the Red Raiders when they fell to Baylor Saturday.
Oklahoma has now dropped its last six games, and has fallen to No. 8 in the Big 12. The skid has led some to speculate that the Sooners could miss the NCAA Tournament.
|2||Michigan State (19)||26-3||1,565||2|
|22||Saint Mary’s (Cal.)||25-4||291||15|
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — Landry Shamut scored 19 points, and No. 19 Wichita State ended the nation’s longest home-court winning streak, beating No. 5 Cincinnati 76-72 on Sunday in Highland Heights, Kentucky, to leave the American Athletic Conference race wide open.
The Shockers (21-5, 11-3) beat a Top 5 team on the road for the first time since 1964. They led most of the way, building an 11-point lead midway through the second half and holding on. Shaquille Morris’ dunk with 5 seconds left finished it off.
The Bearcats (23-4, 12-2) had their 39-game home-court winning streak snapped. Cincinnati hasn’t beaten a ranked team all season, falling to 0-3 with losses to Xavier and Florida.
Cincinnati and Wichita State were expected to contend for the title in the Shockers’ first season in the AAC. Wichita State gave itself a chance with a solid all-around game led by its point guard. Shamut had 16 points in the first half, when the Shockers shredded the nation’s second-ranked defense to take control.
(6) Purdue 76, Penn State 73: Carsen Edwards scored 27 points to lead the Boilermakers (24-5, 13-3 Big Ten) past the Nittany Lions (19-10, 9-7) in West Lafayette, Indiana.
Dakota Mathias added 18 points and Isaac Haas had 12 points and six rebounds for the Boilermakers, who snapped a season-worst three-game skid.
Tony Carr had 19 points, five rebounds and five assists, Shep Garner had 17 points and Lamar Stevens had 13 points and six rebounds for the Nittany Lions. The loss ended a stretch of six wins in seven games.
Ryan Cline’s 3-pointer with 5:31 remaining gave Purdue a 61-58 lead, and the Boilers never trailed the rest of the way.
(22) Michigan 74, (8) Ohio State 62: Jordan Poole scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half to help the Wolverines (22-7, 11-5 Big Ten) take the lead, and it never trailed in the second half against the Buckeyes (22-7, 13-3) in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Wolverines beat a rival and helped out another rival, giving No. 2 Michigan State a one-game lead atop the conference standings with two games left in the regular season.
The Buckeyes have fallen out of first place by losing consecutive Big Ten games for the first time this season.
Michigan’s Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman scored 17 points, Zavier Simpson had 13 points and Moe Wagner added 12.
Jae’Sean Tate had 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Buckeyes, who last lead was 18-17 midway through the first half.
(12) Duke 66, (11) Clemson 57: Gary Trent Jr. hit three foul shots with 1:31 left to put Duke ahead for good and the Blue Devils (22-5, 10-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat in the Tigers (20-6, 9-5), South Carolina.
Duke won its third straight game without Bagley, its leading scorer and rebounder who’s sidelined because of a strained right knee.
Wendell Carter Jr. followed Trent’s foul shots with an inside bucket and the Tigers could not respond in losing for the first time at home this season.
Grayson Allen had 19 points for Duke, all but two in the opening half. Carter had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
Marcquise Reed and Elijah Thomas led Clemson with 13 points apiece.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- ROSEMONT, Ill. – Cassius Winston scored 17 points, and No. 2 Michigan State erased a 27-point deficit on Saturday to beat Northwestern 65-60 and extend its winning streak to 10 games.
Nick Ward added 15 points and 10 rebounds. Miles Bridges hit four free throws in the final minute, and the Spartans (26-3, 14-2 Big Ten) used a huge second half to pull out the win when they looked like they were headed to a stunning blowout loss.
Vic Law cooled off after a blistering start to finish with 21 points, and Northwestern (15-13, 6-9) made just 3 of 26 field goals in the second half.
The Wildcats gave themselves a great chance at their first win over a Top 5 team since 1979 even though star guard Bryant McIntosh sat out with a shoulder injury.
They led by as much as 27 and were up 49-27 after a stunning first half that had fans chanting “Overrated!” But the Spartans outscored the Wildcats 29-4 over the first 14 1/2 minutes of the second half.
CINCINNATI – Mikal Bridges led an early 3-point shooting spurt that put Villanova in control, and the Wildcats showed they’re not ready to relinquish their reign in the Big East, beating Xavier in a showdown for the league lead.
The Wildcats (24-3, 11-3) have won all four regular-season titles since the league was reconfigured. Xavier (24-4, 12-3) had a chance to take control of the race, but simply wasn’t up to the Wildcats’ level in the biggest game of the season. Now, Xavier’s lead is down to a half game and Villanova has swept the season series.
Bridges scored 25 points in a balanced attack that got the best of a matchup between the league’s top offenses. Trevon Bluiett had 26 points for Xavier, which had its nine-game winning streak snapped.
The Wildcats ended their three-game shooting slump by making 11 3-pointers in the first half when they pulled out to a 19-point lead and silenced a raucous crowd at the Cintas Center, where Xavier was undefeated this season.
WACO, Texas – Terry Maston scored 24 points, and Baylor ended the Red Raiders’ seven-game winning streak after the Big 12 leaders lost top scorer Keenan Evans to a foot injury in the first half.
Maston, who finished two points shy of his career high set in the previous game against Texas, hit the go-ahead shot with 1:26 remaining as the Bears (17-10, 7-7 Big 12) continued their push for the NCAA Tournament with a fifth straight win following a 2-7 start in the rugged conference.
Baylor moved into sole possession of fifth place, and Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4) dropped into a tie for first with No. 13 Kansas.
Freshman Zhaire Smith led the Red Raiders with 15 points, but had just two points and attempted just two shots after halftime.
Evans, the No. 2 scorer in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma freshman sensation Trae Young, limped off with 1:14 left in the first half and didn’t return.
SPOKANE – Johnathan Williams had 18 points and 12 rebounds and Gonzaga held off last-place Pepperdine to remain in first place in the West Coast Conference.
Killian Tillie and Josh Perkins each scored 15 points for Gonzaga (25-4, 15-1 WCC), which has won nine consecutive games since suffering its only league loss to No. 15 Saint Mary’s.
Colbey Ross scored 21 points for Pepperdine (4-24, 1-15), which has lost seven straight.
Gonzaga has won 35 straight games against Pepperdine dating to 2002. The Waves have not won in Spokane since 1998.
COLUMBIA, S.C. – Frank Booker scored 19 points, and South Carolina built a 26-point lead before holding on to defeat Auburn, ending the Gamecocks’ six-game losing streak.
The Tigers (23-4, 11-3 Southeastern Conference) had won seven of their past eight and were heavy favorites to keep that going at South Carolina (14-13, 5-9). Instead, the Gamecocks used a 21-1 run in the first half on the way to a 37-11 lead.
Auburn played most of the game without starting forward Anfernee McLemore, who dislocated his left ankle in a gruesome-looking injury at the end of the first half.
South Carolina beat a top-10 program for the third straight season and defeated its first top-10 team at home since taking out No. 1 Kentucky in January 2010.
Mustapha Heron led Auburn with 16 points, just four of those coming in the second half.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Udoka Azubuike scored 21 points and Devonte’ Graham added 15 to help Kansas past West Virginia.
Both teams struggled to create much separation in the first half, neither establishing more than a six-point lead. After being tied at halftime, the Mountaineers (19-8, 8-6 Big 12) took the lead with 17:22 left and held it until the game was tied again at 66 with about two minutes remaining. The Jayhawks (20-7, 10-4 Big 12) wouldn’t reclaim the lead until Svi Mykhailiuk hit a pair of free throws 30 seconds later.
Daxter Miles Jr. led West Virginia with 22 points and hit 6-of-9 shots from behind the arc. Jevon Carter added 15 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
The Mountaineers had previously won 74 of their last 76 games when holding opponents to 69 points or less.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Joel Berry scored 23 points, Luke Maye had 13 rebounds and North Carolina dominated the boards and second-chance points against Louisville for its fifth consecutive victory.
The Tar Heels (21-7, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) scored 10 straight points for a 12-3 lead before warming up from long range to eventually build a 19-point cushion before withstanding several Louisville rallies.
Theo Pinson and Maye each had 19 points as North Carolina won its first visit to Louisville in five tries.
Louisville (18-9, 8-6) got within single digits several times but no closer than seven in having its two-game winning streak end. Deng Adel returned from a two-game absence with an ankle injury to score 20 points.
PORTLAND, Ore. – Jock Landale had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Saint Mary’s rebounded from a pair of losses to beat Portland.
Tanner Krebs added 16 points for the Gaels (25-4, 14-2 West Coast Conference), who have won seven straight against the Pilots (10-19, 4-12). With the victory, Saint Mary’s has its third straight 25-win season. Marcus Shaver Jr. had 15 points for Portland, which has dropped four straight games.
The Gaels sit in second in the West Coast Conference standings behind Gonzaga with just two more games to go. The conference championship tournament is set to start March 1 in Las Vegas.
ATHENS, Ga. – Yante Maten scored 19 points, and Georgia denied the Volunteers an opportunity to pull within a game of the SEC lead.
Derek Ogbeide had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Georgia (15-11, 6-8 Southeastern Conference) won its second straight in a late attempt to return to NCAA Tournament consideration.
Tennessee (19-7, 9-5) remained two games behind No. 10 Auburn, the SEC leader. The Vols have lost two of their last three.
Lamonte Turner led Tennessee with 14 points. Jordan Bowden had 13, and Admiral Schofield scored 11.
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Jaylen Barford scored 14 of his 21 points in the second half to lead Arkansas to its fourth straight win.
The triumph was the 10th straight over the Aggies in Fayetteville for the Razorbacks (19-8, 8-6 Southeastern Conference), who lost 80-66 in College Station on Jan. 30. It was also Arkansas’ third home win over a ranked opponent this season, joining victories over Minnesota and Tennessee.
Barford added five rebounds and five assists for the Razorbacks, who have won seven of their last nine. Daryl Macon finished with 20 points for Arkansas, the eighth time in the last nine games he’s scored 20 or more.
Robert Williams had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead Texas A&M (17-10, 6-8), which lost its second straight after entering the rankings this week. Admon Gilder also scored 20 points for the Aggies.
NORMAN, Okla. – Dylan Osetkowski scored 21 points, Texas slowed national scoring leader Trae Young, and the Longhorns extended the Sooners’ losing streak to five games.
Young, a freshman point guard, scored 26 points on 7 for 21 shooting. Christian James scored 11 points and was the only other Sooner to score in double figures.
Kerwin Roach scored 12 points, Matt Coleman scored 11 and Mohamed Bamba added 10 points and 18 rebounds for Texas (16-11, 6-8 Big 12), which never trailed and swept the season series for the first time since 2011-12. The Longhorns, who had lost three straight, got a much-needed win to boost their NCAA Tournament hopes.
The Sooners (16-10, 6-8) shot just 30.8 percent overall and posted their lowest-scoring game of the season.
LOGAN, Utah (AP) – Cody Martin scored 30 points on 13-of-18 shooting and twin brother Caleb Martin added 23 points to lead Nevada past Utah State.
Jordan Caroline chipped in with 20 points for the Wolf Pack. Nevada (23-5, 11-2 Mountain West) shot 59.3 percent from the field – including 11-of-21 from 3-point range – to pull away from the Aggies.
Koby McEwen scored 32 points and Sam Merrill added 16 to lead Utah State. The Aggies (14-14, 7-8) have lost 14 straight to ranked opponents and fell to the Wolf Pack at home for the second time in five games.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — Kyle Washington had 17 points and eight rebounds and No. 6 Cincinnati remained undefeated in American Athletic Conference play, stretching its overall winning streak to 16 games with a 76-51 victory over short-handed SMU on Sunday in Dallas.
The Bearcats (23-2, 12-0 AAC) missed their first seven shots, but were down only 5-2 when they finally scored on a dunk by Nysier Brooks. That started a 9-0 run that put them ahead to stay.
Jarron Cumberland had 12 points and Gary Clark 11 for Cincinnati, which finished 44 percent (28 of 63) overall from the field. Washington was 8-of-12 shooting.
Jimmy Whitt and Jahmal McMurray each had 19 points for SMU (15-10, 5-7).
(9) Duke 80, Georgia Tech 69: Grayson Allen scored 23 points and the Blue Devils (20-5, 8-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat the Yellow Jackets (11-14, 4-8) in Atlanta to end a two-game losing streak.
Held to single-digits the last two games in losses at St. John’s and North Carolina, Allen was 5 for 14 from the field, including three 3-pointers, and made all 10 of his free throws. He added six assists and four rebounds. It was the most points he had scored since getting 22 against Florida State on Dec. 30.
The Blue Devils won without center Marvin Bagley, the ACC’s leading scorer and rebounder. The freshman sat out with a mild right knee sprain.
Wendell Carter Jr. had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Gary Trent Jr. added 15 points and six rebounds.
Josh Okogie had 29 points, six rebounds and four assists for Georgia Tech.
(20) Michigan 83, Wisconsin 72: Moe Wagner scored 20 points, went 8 of 14 from the field and added 11 rebounds, and the Wolverines (20-7, 9-5) rode a hot-shooting first half to beat the Gophers (11-16, 4-10) in Madison, Wisconsin.
Duncan Robinson scored 16 points for the Wolverines. They won for the first time on the road since upsetting Michigan State on Jan. 13.
Ethan Happ led Wisconsin with a season-high 29 points.
Top-ranked Villanova suffered a surprising loss to unranked St. John’s. No. 2 Virginia unexpectedly fell at home to unranked Virginia Tech. No. 3 Purdue lost not just once, but twice.
The top three teams, seven of the top 10 and 16 of the AP Top 25 lost at least once in a wild week of college basketball– and it’s not even March.
Now the question is: Who should be No. 1?
Virginia could get the top spot despite its 61-60 overtime loss to the Hokies. The Cavaliers (23-2, 12-1 ACC) were the top overall seed in the NCAA’s preliminary rankings on Sunday, remaining ahead of fellow top seeds Villanova, Xavier and Purdue.
No. 4 Michigan State could be the pick. The Spartans (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) were No. 1 once before, have won eight straight after knocking off Purdue and are the highest-ranked team in the poll to not lose last week. They were picked as a third seed in the South Region.
“I do think we have a higher ceiling, but whether we get there is a big key,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said.
Maybe it will be No. 5 Xavier. The Musketeers (23-3, 11-2 Big East) have a half-game lead on Villanova for the Big East lead after beating Butler and Creighton this week. Xavier also has Trevon Blueitt, one of the top contenders for national player of the year, and were picked as the top seed in the Midwest Region by the NCAA Division I Basketball Committee.
Perhaps No. 6 Cincinnati will leapfrog the current top 5 and earn its first No. 1 ranking since Kenyon Martin led them to the top in 1999-00. The Bearcats (22-2) are 11-0 in the American Athletic Conference and have the nation’s longest active home winning streak at 39 straight games after blowing out Central Florida.
Cincinnati was slated as the second seed in the South Region behind Virginia in the preliminary rankings.
“This home win streak started before we got here,” Cincinnati junior point guard Justin Jenifer said. “Us being here and continuing it is real special. It’s what we’re looking for the rest of the way, being undefeated at home.”
Then again, voters could leave Villanova at No. 1. The Wildcats have been a decisive No. 1 since retaking the top spot in the AP Top 25 five weeks ago and ran into a hot team in St. John’s, which took down No. 9 Duke in its previous game.
Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East) bounced back from the St. John’s loss by beating Butler despite missing two starters. The Wildcats were the top seed in the East Region.
Whichever team gets to No. 1, it’s sure to spark debate.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- PHILADELPHIA – Donte DiVincenzo scored a career-high 30 points, Jalen Brunson had 27 and No. 1 Villanova bounced back from its second loss of the season, rallying past Butler 86-75 Saturday.
Omari Spellman added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Wildcats (23-2, 10-2 Big East), who avoided losing consecutive games for the first time since March 2013. The injury-depleted Wildcats were coming off a surprising home loss to last-place St. John’s three days earlier.
Kelan Martin scored 30 and Kamara Baldwin had 25 for Butler (17-9, 7-6), which handed Villanova its first loss of the season on Dec. 30. The Bulldogs had won three straight vs. Villanova, and looked they might continue the streak when they led by as many as 13 in the first half behind Martin’s hot hand.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored on a putback with 5.8 seconds left and Virginia Tech spoiled Virginia’s opportunity to climb to No. 1.
Blackshear rebounded a missed layup by Justin Robinson and banked it in as he was being fouled. He missed the free throw, but Ty Jerome’s 28-foot attempt at the other end missed badly and the Hokies (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) had a marquee victory.
Robinson led the Hokies with 20 points and seven assists.
Devon Hall had 16 points for Virginia (23-2, 12-1), but the 93.3 percent free throw shooter missed twice from the line in the final 31 seconds.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Miles Bridges made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2.7 seconds left and finished with 20 points, helping Michigan State top Purdue.
The Spartans (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) have won eight straight, improving their chances of contending for a conference championship and earning a No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament.
The Boilermakers (23-4, 12-2) have lost two straight after winning a school-record 19 games in a row.
OMAHA, Neb. – Quentin Goodin made two free throws with three-tenths of a second left, allowing Xavier to hold off Creighton.
Goodin got fouled by Ronnie Harrell Jr. after Harrell had made three straight free throws to give the Bluejays a one-point lead with 4.6 seconds left. Goodin took an inbound pass from Naji Marshall and drove the length of the court to the basket, with Harrell making contact in the lane and sending him to the line.
Toby Harrell’s baseball pass sailed out of bounds on the other end, and the Big East-leading Musketeers (23-2, 11-2) to win.
Marcus Foster had 20 of his 29 points in the second half for the Bluejays (18-7, 8-5).
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Keenan Evans scored 19 points and No. 7 Texas Tech beat Kansas State 66-47 on Saturday night to take sole possession of the Big 12 lead.
Texas Tech (21-4, 9-3) relied on strong second-half defense. After a 27-27 deadlock in the first half, the Red Raiders turned up the pressure.
In the second half, Kansas State (17-8, 6-6) had more turnovers (11) than made baskets (5) and ended up shooting just 29 percent on the night.
Dean Wade led the Wildcats with 13 points on 4-of-12 shooting.
ATHENS, Ga. – Jared Harper scored 24 points and Auburn, playing without top scorer Bryce Brown, showed impressive depth by beating Georgia.
Auburn leaned heavily on Harper early in the game. He scored 12 consecutive points for the Tigers, including back-to-back 3s for a 17-9 lead. Auburn (22-3, 10-2 Southeastern Conference) never relinquished the advantage.
Harper also had a game-high seven assists.
Brown, the fifth-leading scorer in the SEC with an average of 16.6 points per game, was held out with a right shoulder injury suffered in the first half of the Tigers’ loss to Texas A&M on Wednesday night.
Yante Maten led Georgia (13-11, 4-8) with 20 points.
WACO, Texas – Manu Lecomte scored eight straight points for Baylor after Big 12 co-leader Kansas had pulled within a basket, and the senior guard finished with 18 overall in the Bears’ upset victory.
The Jayhawks (19-6, 8-4 Big 12) trailed 30-20 at halftime after having more turnovers (nine) than made field goals (seven) before the break. They were down by as many as 13 points after that but got within 58-56 with 7:14 left after consecutive jumpers by Lagerald Vick.
Lecomte then made a jumper for Baylor (15-10, 5-7) with 6:50 left and Kansas couldn’t come back.
Devonte Graham had 14 of his 23 points after halftime for Kansas, while Malik Newman finished with 20.
MORAGA, Calif. – Rui Hachimura scored 23 points and Gonzaga kept the ball out of Jock Landale’s hands to end the nation’s longest active winning streak at 19 games.
The Bulldogs (23-4, 13-1 West Coast Conference) jumped on the Gaels (24-3, 13-1) early and never trailed to avenge a home loss to Saint Mary’s last month and move back into a tie for first in the conference race with four games remaining.
Zach Norvell Jr. scored 15 points and Johnathan Williams added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Gonzaga.
Cullen Neal scored 18 and Jordan Ford added 17 to lead Saint Mary’s.
TUCSON, Ariz. – Rawle Alkins scored 20 points, Deandre Ayton added 18 and Arizona expanded its Pac-12 lead with a victory over Southern California.
Dusan Ristic added 16 points, and Allonzo Trier had 13 for the Wildcats (20-6, 10-3).
Chimezie Metu scored 18 points, and Jordan McLaughlin added 16 for the Trojans (17-9, 8-5), who lost their third in a row. Nick Rakocevic scored 12 points, but fouled out with 4:37 to go.
Arizona, beaten Thursday night by UCLA in the Wildcats’ first home loss of the season, defeated USC in Tucson for the eighth straight time. Coupled with UCLA’s loss at Arizona State earlier Saturday, Arizona extended its Pac-12 lead to two games over the second-place Trojans and Bruins with five more to play.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Keita Bates-Diop had 14 points and eight rebounds, and Ohio State beat Iowa for sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.
Kaleb Wesson added 18 points and C.J Jackson scored 14 for the Buckeyes (21-5, 13-1 Big Ten), who were 9 for 20 from 3-point range.
Leading scorer Tyler Cook had just eight points for the Hawkeyes (12-15, 3-11).
Bates-Diop made two early 3-pointers but Iowa made the lanky small forward largely ineffective in the first half. It wasn’t until the latter part of the half and the first four minutes of the second that the Buckeyes eventually pulled away.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Donta Hall had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Collin Sexton scored 16 points to lead Alabama to a victory over Tennessee.
The Crimson Tide (16-10, 7-5 Southeastern Conference) thoroughly dominated the Volunteers (18-6, 8-4) around the basket and cashed in on a number of fast-break chances.
Hall made 8 of 10 field goals and blocked three shots. Tennessee had no answer to Sexton’s quick darts to the basket, and the freshman also had four assists.
Tennessee had only one scorer in double digits. Grant Williams scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half.
AMES, Iowa – Iowa State freshman Lindell Wigginton upstaged Trae Young by scoring 26 points and the Cyclones upset Oklahoma, handing the Sooners their sixth consecutive road loss.
Fellow rookie Cam Lard had 19 points with 17 rebounds for the Cyclones (13-11, 4-8 Big 12).
Iowa State built and then blew a 17-point lead, but Donovan Jackson’s 3 with 1:55 left put it ahead 80-77. Wigginton then beat the shot clock with a long 3, and Jackson hit a pair of free throws to clinch the win.
Young had 22 points and 11 rebounds for the Sooners (16-8, 6-6).
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Kendall Smith and Cameron McGriff each scored 20 points and Oklahoma State beat another ranked team on the road, topping West Virginia.
The Cowboys (15-10, 5-7 Big 12), who won at then-No. 7 Kansas last weekend, trailed by eight points with 13 1/2 minutes left.
Jevon Carter had a career-high 33 points for West Virginia (18-7, 7-5), which has lost six of nine.
RALEIGH, N.C. – Luke Maye scored 27 of his career-high 33 points after halftime to help North Carolina beat rival North Carolina State.
Maye also had 17 rebounds and spent most of the second half as a one-man show for the Tar Heels (19-7, 8-5 Atlantic Coast Conference).
But he got plenty of help as the Tar Heels closed out the Wolfpack (16-9, 6-6).
Torin Dorn scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack.
WICHITA, Kan. – Landry Shamet scored 16 points in just 23 minutes as Wichita State cruised to a win over UConn.
The Shockers (19-5, 9-3 American Athletic Conference) had 17 assists and just two turnovers while building a 55-33 halftime lead and were never threatened after that.
Conner Frankamp scored 14 points for Wichita State, Shaquille Morris had 12 and Darral Willis added 10 as the Shockers shot 52.4 percent from the floor.
Jalen Adams and Christian Vital each had 22 points for UConn (12-13, 5-7 American).
RENO, Nevada – Jordan Caroline scored 26 points and Lindsay Drew just missed a triple-double with 12 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Nevada’s victory over San Diego State.
Kendall Stephens added 21 points for Nevada (21-5, 10-2 Mountain West). The Wolf Pack rebounded after falling to UNLV on Wednesday night for their first home game of the season.
Matt Mitchell led San Diego State (13-10, 5-7) with 12 points.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Freshman point guard T.J. Starks scored 17 points and Texas A&M toppled Kentucky in a sold-out and raucous Reed Arena.
John Calipari has lost three consecutive games for the first time since taking over the Kentucky program before the 2009-2010 season.
Kentucky (17-8, 6-6 Southeastern Conference) led 30-26 at halftime, but the Aggies (17-8, 6-6) made 11 of their first 16 shots in the second half – including all four of their 3-point attempts – to take a 14-point lead.
D.J. Hogg added 16 points for the Aggies. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Kentucky with 19 points.
BOSTON – Ky Bowman stole a rebound under the basket, drew a foul and hit two free throws with 2.9 seconds left as Boston College scored the last nine points of the game to rally for a victory over Miami.
The Hurricanes led 70-63 with 6:17 left– their biggest lead of the game – before missing their last nine shots and turning the ball over five times. Jerome Robinson had six of his 29 points down the stretch, and Bowman had the other three.
The victory snapped a 12-game losing streak against Miami for BC (15-10, 5-7 Atlantic Coast Conference).
DJ Vasiljevic scored 17 for Miami (18-6, 7-5),
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — With the calendar two weekends into February, the races for conference titles and NCAA tournament bids have greater urgency as Selection Sunday is fast approaching.
A major showdown between top five teams in the Big Ten highlight the games we are watching in what should be another exciting college basketball weekend.
Not to be overlooked for importance is a matchup of ranked opponents in the West Coast Conference and a doubleheader in the Big East that will have ramifications on the title race.
Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, ESPN
Ultimately, Purdue’s loss to Ohio State won’t be terribly consequential if Matt Painter’s team can rebound quickly. But the Boilermakers expended a lot of energy in a close game and must now ramp it up again in what should be another hotly contested affair. Another defeat would drop them out of the Big Ten lead with Ohio State. The Spartans, who are one game behind the leading duo, for their part have grown used to games coming down to the wire, winning their last two by three points each.
Saturday, 10 p.m. ET, ESPN2
In all likelihood, this will be the second of three meetings between these perennial rivals, with the third to come in the West Coast Conference tournament finale in March. The Gaels took the first round up in Spokane as the Zags had no answer for Jock Landale inside. Gonzaga has plenty of scoring options as well, but they must all contribute to keep pace on the road and retain any chance of winning the league’s regular-season crown.
Saturday, noon ET, Fox
The good news for Villanova is they have a chance to get back on the horse after Wednesday night’s embarrassing loss to last-place St. John’s. The bad news for the Wildcats is they’re still short-handed and must now face the one Big East opponent that has had their number of late. The Bulldogs missed out on a huge opportunity when they couldn’t finish off Xavier earlier this week, but they’ve nevertheless been playing well and have another chance to boost their profile.
Saturday, 2:30 p.m. ET, Fox
Speaking of Xavier, the second half of the Big East doubleheader should also be of interest. The Musketeers had their way with the Bluejays in their encounter in Cincinnati, a result that launched XU on its current seven-game winning streak. Creighton narrowly avoided a damaging loss at DePaul in its most recent outing but has been much more formidable in Omaha, winning its last three home games by double digits.
Saturday, 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN
Resume-building opportunities are limited in the Pac-12 as matters stand this season. This game is a chance for both teams, though a road victory would be of even greater value for the Trojans. The Wildcats still appear to be the conference’s best bet to make a deep run in March if their young talent continues to progress. However, two consecutive losses, including a Thursday night decision to UCLA, have tightened the standings in the Pac-12.
UCSON, Ariz. (AP) — UCLA had a difficult start to the season when three players were arrested in China on shoplifting charges. The Bruins had a rough stretch early in the Pac-12 schedule while laboring through a series of injuries.
They seem to be turning a corner at just the right time.
UCLA played one of its best all-around games of the season Thursday night, picking up a resume-boosting win by beating No. 13 Arizona 82-74 at one college basketball’s most difficult road venues.
“It’s huge,” said UCLA guard Aaron Holiday, who had 17 points and eight assists against the Wildcats. “We’re obviously fighting for our spot in the NCAA Tournament and it’s just a big win for us in that aspect.”
Alford had to restock his roster for the 2017-18 season after losing Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton from last year’s team.
The Bruins had more holes to fill after Jalen Hill, Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball were suspended indefinitely following their arrests in China for shoplifting. Ball left the team and the other two players had their suspensions extended for the rest of the season.
On the court, UCLA had a few growing pains, but picked up a neutral-site win over Kentucky and won three of its first four Pac-12 games. A three-game losing streak followed, seemingly pushing the Bruins away from the NCAA Tournament bubble.
UCLA (17-7, 8-4 Pac-12) pushed its way back in the NCAA Tournament picture with Thursday night’s road win. The Bruins have won four straight and are now a game behind Arizona in the Pac-12 race.
“This is a top 20 team, they’ve been top 10, so this is huge for us,” Bruins coach Steve Alford said.
UCLA has another difficult road test on Saturday, playing at Arizona State, which knocked off Southern California Thursday night.
DAVIDSON 59, No. 18 RHODE ISLAND 72
KINGSTON, R.I. – Cyril Langevine came off the bench with Rhode Island leading by five points, and soon the advantage was down to one.
All he did over the next nine minutes was score 10 points and grab four rebounds while helping the 18th-ranked Rams open a 16-point lead.
“We’re not a team, we’re a program,” coach Dan Hurley said on Friday night after Rhode Island beat Davidson 72-59 to match a school record with its 15th win in a row. “We’ve got a real deep team. You can go on winning streaks and have seasons like this when you have different guys step up each night.”
Langevine scored a career-high 14 points and added eight rebounds in 22 minutes, and Jarvis Garrett scored all 17 of his points in the second half for the Rams (20-3, 12-0 Atlantic 10). URI last won 15 straight in 1939-40.
Kellan Grady scored 19 for Davidson (13-10, 8-4) and Peyton Aldridge scored 15. The Wildcats, who had won eight of their last 10, made 20 3-pointers in Tuesday’s victory over Saint Joseph’s, but shot just 4 of 17 from beyond the arc against URI.
“Eliminating the 3-point line was key No. 1,” Hurley said. “Our goal is five or less. We probably could have lived with seven or eight. We just didn’t think they had a chance to beat us if they didn’t shoot the ball well.”
URI held a 15-13 lead before scoring 12 of the next 13 points to open a double-digit lead it never relinquished. Langevine had back-to-back dunks to start the run and also had a three-point play with 6:48 left in the first to make it 30-16 before returning to the bench for the rest of the half.
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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Joel Berry II scored 21 points and No. 21 North Carolina rallied from 12 down in the first half to beat No. 9 Duke 82-78 on Thursday night.
Kenny Williams made six 3-pointers and matched his career high with 20 points for the Tar Heels (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who roared out of halftime with a 16-2 run that erased what was left of Duke’s early lead.
Cameron Johnson added 18 points and 13 rebounds, helping the Tar Heels overcome the Blue Devils’ significant size advantage to own the glass (28-17) after halftime.
Gary Trent Jr. scored 16 points to lead the Blue Devils (19-5, 7-4). They have lost two straight.
No. 11 SAINT MARY’S 83, LOYOLA MARYMOUNT 62
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jock Landale scored 21 points and Jordan Ford had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Saint Mary’s.
The Gaels (24-2, 13-0 West Coast Conference) have won 19 straight games. Their last loss was in November. Landale added nine rebounds and four steals.
Eli Scott had 16 points and 10 rebounds for Loyola Marymount (7-17, 2-11).
No. 12 GONZAGA 71, PACIFIC 61
STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Killian Tillie had 21 points and 10 rebounds and made a key tip-in with 1:39 remaining in Gonzaga’s victort Pacific.
Johnathan Williams added 10 points and 13 rebounds to help the Bulldogs (22-4, 12-1 West Coast Conference) win their sixth straight.
Roberto Gallinat had 15 points for the Tigers (12-14, 7-6).
UCLA 82, No. 13 ARIZONA 74
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Aaron Holiday scored 17 points, Gyorgy Golomon added a career-high 16 and UCLA shot its way past Arizona.
UCLA (17-7, 8-4 Pac-12) attacked the Wildcats from the opening tip, repeatedly getting to the rim, opening up shots at the perimeter. The Bruins shot 52 percent from the floor and were 11 of 24 from the 3-point arc to win for the third time in their past five games at McKale Center.
Holiday added eight assists, and Thomas Welsh finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds.
Allonzo Trier led Arizona (19-6, 9-3) with 17 points, and Deandre Ayton had 16 points and 12 rebounds.
No. 16 CLEMSON 72, PITT 48
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Gabe DeVoe matched his career high with 25 points, helping Clemson beat Pittsburgh.
DeVoe was 7 for 11 from 3-point range. Shelton Mitchell made three 3s on his way to 12 points, and Elijah Thomas had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Terrell Brown led Pitt (8-17, 0-12) with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — LEXINGTON, Ky. – Lamonte Turner scored 16 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining, Admiral Schofield followed with a dunk off a turnover and No. 15 Tennessee edged No. 24 Kentucky 61-59 on Tuesday night for its sixth consecutive victory.
The Volunteers ran down the shot clock in the final minute before Turner fired from long range for the go-ahead basket in a tight game featuring 17 lead changes and 13 ties. Kentucky’s attempt to go ahead resulted in a turnover in the lane leading to Schofield’s dunk with 4 seconds left for a 61-58 lead.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander made the first throw with 1.3 seconds left and intentionally missed the second, but Tennessee came up with the rebound as time ran out. The joyous Vols (18-5, 8-3 Southeastern Conference) came away with just their fifth Rupp Arena victory and first since 2006 while handing the Wildcats their second consecutive loss.
Jordan Bowden had 13 points and Schofield 12 for the Vols, who won a game in which both teams shot 42 percent.
Quade Green and Gilgeous-Alexander each had 15 points for Kentucky (17-7, 6-5).
IOWA CITY, Iowa – Miles Bridges had 25 points and a crucial steal with five seconds left and Michigan State rallied past lowly Iowa for its seventh straight win.
Nick Ward added 17 points and Joshua Langford had 15 for the Spartans (23-3, 11-2 Big Ten). But they got a serious scare from the Hawkeyes in what was supposed to be a tune-up for Saturday’s huge home game against No. 3 Purdue.
After trailing by as much as eight, Bridges hit a pair of free throws to give Michigan State a 92-91 lead with 1:02 left. He hit two more from the line to make it a 3-point game.
But Tyler Cook pulled Iowa within 94-93 – and Bridges missed both of his free throws after his big steal with his team ahead by 3. But Nicholas Baer could only muster up a half-court shot for the Hawkeyes, and it bounced harmlessly off the rim.
Tyler Cook scored 26 points for Iowa (12-14, 3-10), which was coming off a 24-point loss at Penn State.
INDIANAPOLIS – Trevon Bluiett scored 17 of his 26 points in the final 14 1/2 minutes of regulation and overtime to help Xavier rally to beat Butler.
Kerem Kanter added 22 points, including the go-ahead basket with 2:56 left in overtime, which started the decisive 5-0 run. The Musketeers (22-3, 10-2 Big East) have won seven straight overall and three in a row in the series.
Kelan Martin had 34 points and Sean McDermott finished with 17 to lead the Bulldogs (17-8, 7-5), whose four-game winning streak was snapped.
Just barely, though, in a topsy-turvy game.
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Kyle Washington scored 13 points, Gary Clark added 12, and Cincinnati gave another dominating defensive performance, beating Central Florida for its 15th straight win.
The Bearcats (22-2, 11-0 American Athletic) dug in against a low-scoring team and extended the nation’s longest active home-court winning streak to 39 games. The Knights managed only 13 points in the first half, matching the fewest that Cincinnati has allowed in an opening half during coach Mick Cronin’s 12 seasons.
UCF (14-9, 5-6) was 0 for 14 beyond the arc overall and went more than 12 minutes without scoring in the first half. Ceasar DeJesus had 12 points for the Knights, who shot 28 percent overall.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Devonte’ Graham scored 24 points, Udoka Azubuike added 16 and Kansas beat TCU.
The Jayhawks (19-5, 8-3 Big 12) have struggled this season to dominate at home as they traditionally have, but were able to avoid dropping two straight in Allen Fieldhouse thanks to a grind-it-out finish.
Kouat Noi led the way for the Horned Frogs (16-8, 4-7) with 17 points. Vlad Brodzianksy had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Foul trouble limited Azubuike to play just seven minutes in the first half for Kansas, but the rest allowed him to play 18 in the second. He finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.
ROSEMONT, Ill. – Bryant McIntosh tied a season high with 24 points, and Northwestern beat Michigan.
McIntosh scored 14 in the second half to help the Wildcats (15-10, 6-6 Big Ten) win for the fourth time in five games.
Scottie Lindsey added 19 points and seven rebounds, and Northwestern returned the favor after losing at Michigan last week.
Moe Wagner led the Wolverines (19-7, 8-5) with 20 points and nine rebounds. But Michigan hit just 5 of 20 shots in the second half while missing 9 of 10 3-pointers.
Northwestern shook off a slow start to pull within three at halftime and scored 10 straight early in the second to grab its first lead of the game.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Austin Reaves scored 22 points, Landry Shamet added 20 points and five assists and Wichita State overcame early shooting struggles to beat Memphis.
Darral Willis Jr. finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, while Zach Brown scored 11 points for the Shockers (18-5, 8-3 American Athletic Conference), who were coming off an overtime loss at Temple on Saturday.
Jeremiah Martin led Memphis (14-10, 5-6) with 16 points, but was 2 of 10 from the field, including misfiring on all five shots from outside the arc. Kareem Brewton Jr. scored 12 poi
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The Super Bowl and NFL season are past. Now it’s time for college basketball to take the stage for its stretch run.
And perhaps perfectly timed, the coming week offers plenty of big matchups for teams in the AP Top 25 .
It starts with third-ranked Purdue, which owns the nation’s longest winning streak and faces two ranked opponents — including a trip to fourth-ranked Michigan State for the week’s biggest game. There’s also the latest renewal of the Duke-North Carolina rivalry, as well as interesting storylines surrounding two matchups for top-ranked Villanova.
Let’s take a look at what’s ahead for teams in Monday’s latest poll :
The Boilermakers can seize almost unshakeable control of the Big Ten this week.
Purdue (23-2, 12-0) first hosts No. 14 Ohio State (20-5, 11-1) on Wednesday night, then visits the Spartans (22-3, 10-2) on Saturday. Both are the only matchups of the season between the teams.
Purdue has won 19 straight games since a two-day hiccup in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
It’s time for the latest renewal of the rivalry series between nearby neighbors Duke and UNC — and neither team comes into Thursday’s game in Chapel Hill with a particularly good vibe.
Ninth-ranked Duke (19-4, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) is coming off a loss to a St. John’s team that started 0-11 in the Big East. Worse, Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski offered a harsh critique of a performance he described as “disgusting” and not up to the storied program’s standards.
As for the No. 21 Tar Heels (17-7, 6-5), they snapped their first three-game losing streak since 2014 by beating up on a Pittsburgh team that now sits at 0-11 in the ACC.
“In February every year, we’re working through issues,” Krzyzewski said. “And they are. . Nobody’s at their peak in February, and if they are, their issue is to keep that peak.”
The top-ranked Wildcats (22-1, 9-1 Big East) have two interesting matchups. First comes Wednesday at home against St. John’s, which will aim to carry over momentum from a weekend upset of Duke in New York. Then comes Saturday’s home game against Butler for the chance to avenge their only loss.
The week’s other matchups of ranked teams include No. 15 Tennessee carrying a five-game winning streak into Rupp Arena to face No. 24 Kentucky on Tuesday. And on Saturday, No. 11 St. Mary’s hosts No. 12 Gonzaga in a key West Coast Conference matchup.
Butler led the list of teams in the ” Receiving Votes” category and will get a shot to climb into the poll for the first time this season. The Bulldogs (17-7, 7-4 Big East) first host No. 5 Xavier on Tuesday, then visit Villanova during the weekend.
Florida State (17-6, 6-5) also has a chance at a big win, hosting No. 2 Virginia on Wednesday night.
And don’t overlook North Carolina State (16-7, 6-4 ACC). Already armed with wins against Arizona, Duke and North Carolina, first-year coach Kevin Keatts and his Wolfpack visit Virginia Tech on Wednesday then host rival UNC with a chance at the program’s first regular-season sweep of the Tar Heels since the 2002-03 season.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Villanova, Virginia and Purdue are making themselves comfortable atop the AP Top 25. And with the way they’re playing, they might stay there for a while longer, too.
The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in Monday’s latest poll, followed by the second-ranked Cavaliers and the third-ranked Boilermakers. It marked the fourth straight week that with the trio sitting 1-2-3 in the poll as they continue extended winning streaks while avoiding the upsets that hit national powers Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Kentucky last weekend.
Villanova (22-1, 9-1 Big East) has won nine straight and hasn’t lost in the 2018 calendar year.
Virginia (22-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 14 straight games and leads the rest of the tradition-rich league by at least three games in the loss column. Its defense ranks No. 1 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings (82.2 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the Cavaliers are coming off a game in which they held Syracuse to 44 points — the Orange’s lowest output ever in the Carrier Dome.
“The guys are playing at a high level, for sure,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said afterward. “They understand how they have to play. … I like what our guys are doing.”
Then there’s Purdue (23-2, 12-0 Big Ten). The Boilermakers have the nation’s longest winning streak at 19 games with the only hiccups coming in a two-day blip in November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
“If there is a better team inside and out in the country, I haven’t seen them yet,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said after his team’s Saturday loss to the Boilermakers.
Several teams reached first-time-in-years perches in the top 10.
Cincinnati (21-2) followed No. 4 Michigan State and No. 5 Xavier, reaching No. 6 for its highest ranking since January 2004. Next came No. 7 Texas Tech (19-4), which reached its highest ranking since hitting No. 7 in March 1996. And eighth-ranked Auburn (21-2) has its highest ranking since January 2000.
Ninth-ranked Duke and No. 10 Kansas rounded out the top 10, each sliding along with fellow national powers Arizona (No. 13) and Kentucky (No. 24) after losses in an upset-filled weekend.
St. Mary’s (23-2) is rolling along with 18 straight wins behind high-scoring forward Jock Landale (24.5 points per game). Now the Gaels have their highest ranking in program history at No. 11, surpassing a two-week stay at No. 12 last season.
And No. 18 Rhode Island (19-3) also claimed its highest ever slot in the AP Top 25.
Tennessee (17-5) has won five straight games — the last two by a combined 56 points — to reach No. 15, the program’s highest mark since hitting No. 7 in December 2011.
Rhode Island joined No. 16 Clemson and No. 20 Michigan in making the week’s biggest climbs of four spots each.
No. 22 Wichita State (17-5) had the week’s biggest fall of six spots after losing in overtime at Temple. Duke fell five spots after losing to a St. John’s team that was 0-11 in the Big East, while No. 17 Oklahoma also fell five spots after losing to Texas.
No. 23 Nevada and No. 25 Miami were new to this week’s poll, though both have been ranked multiple weeks this season.
Florida fell out from No. 23 after two losses to unranked teams, while Arizona State fell out from No. 25 in what has been a big decline after a strong start. The Sun Devils went from unranked in the preseason all the way to No. 3 in December, but stand at just 5-6 in the Pac-12.
This story has been corrected to show that Purdue’s win against Rutgers came in regulation, not overtime.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — SYRACUSE, N.Y. – De’Andre Hunter scored 15 points, Kyle Guy added 14 and second-ranked Virginia smothered struggling Syracuse 59-44 on Saturday.
Virginia (22-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which beat the Orange 68-61 in January, has won 14 straight and is off to its best start in conference play since the days of Ralph Sampson, who led the 1980-81 team to a 12-0 start.
Syracuse (15-8, 4-6), in desperate need of a signature victory, was coming off a four-point loss at Georgia Tech in which it shot 30 percent (15 of 50), and the offensive futility continued against the nation’s best scoring defense.
The Orange shot under 40 percent in the January loss to the Cavaliers and fared worse the second time around. Syracuse finished 17 of 50 (34 percent) and its 44 points were its fewest ever in the Carrier Dome.
The Orange needed big games from its top three scorers – Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, and Oshae Brissett – and they didn’t deliver. Battle finished with 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting, Howard was 4 of 17 for 11 points and Brissett had nine points.
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Vincent Edwards had 18 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and Purdue held on for a school-record 19th straight win.
Mathis Dakota scored 16 points, Carsen Edwards had 13 and P.J. Thompson added 12 points for the Boilermakers (23-2, 12-0 Big Ten).
Corey Sanders had 31 points and seven rebounds, and Deshawn Freeman added 14 points and nine rebounds for Rutgers (12-13, 2-10), which overcame a 15-point first-half deficit looked poised to pull off an upset at home.
Rutgers pulled within one on two occasions. Shaquile Doorson had a put-back dunk off of Geo Baker’s missed layup to get to 48-47 with 12:28 left, and Freeman had a tip-in on a miss by Sanders to make it 55-54 with 8:06 remaining, However, that was as close as the Scarlet Knights got the rest of the way.
NEW YORK – Shamorie Ponds scored 33 points, and St. John’s snapped an 11-game losing streak and handed the suddenly suspect Blue Devils their second loss in eight days.
Bashir Ahmed added 19 points and Tariq Owens had 17 for the Red Storm (11-13), who overcame an early 10-point deficit and fought off Duke’s heralded freshmen down the stretch in their biggest win under third-year coach Chris Mullin.
St. John’s was playing the second of three straight games against top-6 opponents in a span of nine days. Next up, a visit to No. 1 Villanova on Wednesday night.
Gary Trent Jr. had 22 points for the Blue Devils (19-4), who perhaps got caught looking ahead to their first matchup of the season with bitter rival North Carolina on Thursday night. Freshman sensation Marvin Bagley III scored 19 but sat out a significant chunk of the second half with four fouls.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Matt McQuaid scored 12 points and made the decisive 3-pointer with 1:08 to play for Michigan State.
The Spartans (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) have won six straight to stay two games behind Purdue in the conference title chase.
Juwan Morgan had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana (12-12, 5-7), which has lost four straight overall. Freddie McSwain Jr. finished with eight points and 16 rebounds.
Indiana, which lost to the Spartans 85-57 earlier this season, had a chance to force overtime, but Devonte Green’s 70-foot heave bounced high off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.
CINCINNATI – Trevon Bluiett had a season-high 31 points, including a four-point play that tied it late in regulation, and Xavier never trailed in overtime.
The Musketeers (21-3, 9-2 Big East) made all of their 10 free throws in overtime, including four by Tyrique Jones, as they remained unbeaten in 15 home games this season. Bluiett’s two foul shots clinched it with 10 seconds left.
The Hoyas (13-9, 3-8) missed a 3-pointer at the end of regulation and another one in overtime that gave Xavier a chance to finish off a back-and-forth game. There were 20 ties and 21 lead changes, with neither team ahead by more than five points.
Xavier has won six in a row, staying right behind No. 1 Villanova for the Big East lead.
Jessie Govan scored 23 points, and Marcus Derrickson had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Georgetown, which has lost five of six.
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kendall Smith scored 24 points, including the clinching free throws in the final seconds, and Oklahoma State held on for the upset.
Cameron McGriff added 20 points and Jeffrey Carroll had 15 for the Cowboys (14-9, 4-6 Big 12), who built an 18-point first-half lead and dominated the boards in ending their three-game losing streak.
It was the third loss for the Jayhawks (18-5, 7-3) in Allen Fieldhouse, their most since the 1998-99 season, and their second in conference play. They also lost to Texas Tech in the Phog.
Udoka Azubuike had 20 points and Graham and Svi Mykhailiuk scored 17 apiece for Kansas, which was celebrating 120 years of basketball by welcoming back dozens of former players and coaches.
STORRS, Conn. – Jacob Evans III scored 19 points to lead Cincinnati past the struggling Huskies.
Kyle Washington added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Bearcats (21-2, 10-0 American), who never trailed.
Jalen Adams scored 20 points and Christian Vital added 18 for the Huskies, who have lost five of their last six to fall below the .500 mark at 11-12 (4-6).
The Bearcats shot just 36 percent from the floor, 10 percentage points below their season average. But they held UConn to 29 percent.
FORT WORTH, Texas – Jarrett Culver scored 20 points with four 3-pointers, and Texas Tech got its fourth straight victory and a share of the Big 12 Conference lead.
Culver, Tech’s hometown freshman guard, made all of his 3s in the first half. That included consecutive baskets from beyond the arc in an 18-0 run that put the Red Raiders (19-4, 7-3 Big 12) firmly in control – even without top scorer Keenan Evans taking a shot in that stretch.
Evans still finished with 17 points and six assists, while Zhaire Smith had 12 points.
Vladimir Brodziansky led TCU (16-7, 4-6) with 18 points, while Bane had 13. Kenrich Williams had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
AUBURN, Ala. – Bryce Brown scored 25 points and Mustapha Heron had 23 to lead hot-shooting Auburn.
The two high-scoring guards alternated taking over for the Tigers (21-2, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) in the second half.
Heron scored 13 straight Auburn points, including three 3-pointers. Then Brown topped that with a 15-point run that also included a trio of 3s, one of which he turned into a four-point play.
Auburn made a season-high 17 3-pointers on 26 attempts to snap a 13-game losing streak against Vanderbilt.
Jared Harper scored 14 points and had 14 assists for Auburn, making three 3-pointers in the first nine minutes.
Jeff Roberson had the hot hand for the Commodores (8-15, 2-8), pouring in 30 points and making 5 of 9 from beyond the arc.
AUSTIN, Texas – Matt Coleman scored 22 points, leading a big second-half rally before his late free throws helped secure the win over Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young.
Coleman scored 14 points in the second half. His free throws down the stretch came after he missed three in a row late in an overtime loss at Texas Tech that could have helped clinch a victory. Texas closed the game on a 22-8 run.
Kerwin Roach II added 19 points for Texas (15-8, 5-5 Big 12).
Young, the national scoring leader, came in averaging 30.3 points, but finished with 19 points on 7-of-22 shooting and made just two 3-pointers. He had 14 assists. The loss kept the Sooners (16-6, 6-4) from pulling into a three-way tie atop the Big 12 with Kansas and Texas Tech.
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Sagaba Konate scored 19 points and West Virginia ended a three-game losing streak.
James “Beetle” Bolden added 13 points in his first career start, Teddy Allen had 12 points off the bench and Wes Harris had 10 for West Virginia (17-6, 6-5 Big 12).
Dean Wade scored 17 points and Xavier Sneed had 16 for Kansas State (16-7, 5-5).
The Wildcats never led, were held to their lowest scoring output of the season and had more turnovers (15) than field goals (14).
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Grant Williams and Lamonte’ Turner scored 17 points each to lead five Tennessee players in double figures as the Volunteers won their fifth straight.
The blowout enabled Tennessee (17-5, 7-3 SEC) to move into sole possession of second place in the Southeastern Conference. The Vols began the day in a three-way tie for second with No. 21 Kentucky and No. 23 Florida, which both lost Saturday.
Tennessee has won eight of its last nine games while Ole Miss (11-12, 4-6) has dropped five of its last six.
Admiral Schofield had 15 points and 12 rebounds for Tennessee. Kyle Alexander scored 14 points and Jordan Bowden added 10 for the Vols.
Bruce Stevens scored 16 points and Terence Davis added 13 for Ole Miss.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Luke Maye scored 26 points to help North Carolina end its first three-game losing streak in four years.
The Tar Heels (17-7, 6-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) found themselves in a close game late in the first half with a team that had yet to win a league game, but they blew it open with a big run spanning halftime.
Graduate transfer Cameron Johnson scored eight points against his former team in UNC’s 14-3 half-ending flurry, which grew to 25-5 when Joel Berry II hit his fourth 3-pointer for a 56-37 lead.
Freshman Marcus Carr scored 22 points for the Panthers (8-16, 0-11), who lost their 11th straight, the longest skid in program history.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Gabe DeVoe scored 24 points to lead Clemson.
Marcquise Reed added 10 of his 22 in the final six minutes to help the Tigers (19-4, 8-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) win their third straight and claim sole possession of second place in the league standings, a half-game ahead of No. 4 Duke.
Bryant Crawford scored 16 points and Keyshawn Woods added 13 for the Demon Deacons (9-14, 2-9). Wake Forest went 5 minutes without a field goal down the stretch while Clemson finally took control of a tight game that had 20 lead changes and 12 ties.
Doral Moore added 13 rebounds for the Demon Deacons. Shelton Mitchell finished with 10 points for the Tigers.
COLUMBIA, Mo. – Missouri had never beaten Kentucky in 10 previous tries, but behind 16 points each from Jordan Barnett and Kassius Robertson, the Tigers finally cleared that Big Blue hurdle.
The 21st-ranked Wildcats (17-6, 6-4 Southeastern Conference) had erased double-digit deficits the last two games in victories over West Virginia and Vanderbilt, but their poor shooting against Missouri’s stingy defense ensured there would be no rally this time.
Kentucky shot 31.3 percent from the field. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the Wildcats with 15 points and six assists.
Jontay Porter added 13 points and eight rebounds for Missouri (15-8, 5-5 SEC).
Missouri led 28-18 at halftime, as Kentucky made just 20 percent of its first-half shots and went 0 for 10 from 3-point range.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Collin Sexton scored 17 points, Donta Hall notched his fourth double-double of the season, and Alabama rallied from a 10-point deficit for the upset.
Sexton added eight rebounds and six assists for the Tide (15-8, 6-4 Southeastern Conference), which improved to 2-4 on the road.
The Gators (15-8, 6-4) lost their third consecutive SEC game, the first time that’s happened since the end of coach Mike White’s first season in 2016.
Alabama dominated Florida in the paint, on the glass and up and down the floor. Sexton took over in the second half, dribbling through the defense and creating open layups and dunks.
Hall was one of the beneficiaries. He made all seven shots and finished with 14 points and 11 boards.
KeVaughn Allen led the Gators with 16 points.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman made a tiebreaking three-point play with 3.8 seconds left and finished with 17 points as Michigan held on in overtime.
The Wolverines (19-6, 8-4 Big Ten) needed the extra time to win because they struggled to shoot from the field and the line.
The Golden Gophers (14-11, 3-9) were in a position to end their longest losing streak of the year because freshman Isaiah Washington had a season-high 26 points and Nate Mason scored 22 points, including a 3-pointer with 5.3 seconds left that tied the game.
Mason was just short on a shot from about 30 feet that would have forced a second overtime.
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WACO, Texas (AP) — Lauren Cox scored 23 points and had nine rebounds, Kalani Brown added 19 points with 18 rebounds, and No. 3 Baylor won its 17th straight game by beating No. 23 Oklahoma State 77-64 on Wednesday night.
The Lady Bears (20-1, 10-0 Big 12) never trailed, but couldn’t shake the Cowgirls until a 10-2 run midway through the fourth quarter that included a pair of 3-pointers by Natalie Chou. Chou had missed her previous 15 attempts from beyond the arc, and had made only two of her previous 23.
LaTashia Jones had 13 points for Oklahoma State (15-6, 6-4).
No. 8 TEXAS 55, KANSAS 41
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Ariel Atkins had 16 points, Brooke McCarty added 13 and Texas pulled away late against Kansas.
The Longhorns (17-4, 8-2 Big 12) entered as heavy favorites, but the Jayhawks (11-11, 2-9) were able to keep things interesting until the fourth quarter, tightening down defensively after a slow start.
Texas entered as the country’s second-best team in terms of rebounding margin (plus-12.7) and beat Kansas on the boards 41-33. Atkins, Joyner Holmes and Khaléann Caron-Goudreau lead for the team lead with seven rebounds.
Christalah Lyons led the Jayhawks with 18 points and had nine rebounds.
No. 18 OHIO ST. 94, PENN ST. 64
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Kelsey Mitchell scored 27 points to move into fourth place on the NCAA’s career scoring list and Stephanie Mavunga and Linnae Harper had double-doubles to lead Ohio State past Penn State.
Mitchell has 3,125 points for her career. She made a 3-pointer for the 80th straight game, tying the NCAA record. Her five treys were her most since draining seven on Nov. 24. She also had six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Mitchell had 12 points in the first quarter as the Buckeyes (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten) used a 14-0 run to grab a 24-10 lead. Mavunga also finished with 11 rebounds. Harper had a season-high 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for her third straight double-double.
Jaida Travascio-Green had 14 points for the Nittany Lions (13-10, 4-6).
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Kyle Guy scored 22 points and No. 2 Virginia held off hot-shooting Louisville to win its 13th straight, 74-64 on Wednesday night.
Ty Jerome added 16 points and Devon Hall 12 for the Cavaliers (21-1, 10-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Virginia’s start is its best in ACC play since the 1980-81 team won its first 12 games. The winning streak is its longest since winning 19 in a row to begin the 2014-15 season.
Ray Spalding scored 16 points and Deng Adel had 15 points for the Cardinals (16-6, 6-3). Louisville made nine of 10 shots at one point down the stretch, closing to within 62-57 on a long 3-pointer by Ryan McMahon with 3:44 left, but Jerome answered with back-to-back 3s for the Cavaliers.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Isaac Haas had 20 points and nine rebounds, Carsen Edwards scored 17 points and No. 3 Purdue pulled away from Maryland to extend the nation’s longest active winning streak to 18.
The Boilermakers (22-2, 11-0 Big Ten) also continued their best conference start in school history, broke another school record with their 13th consecutive win over a league foe and still won their 21st straight home game. Only Cincinnati (38) has a longer home-court streak.
Bruno Fernando finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds to lead Maryland (15-9, 4-7). Kevin Huerter had 16 points and four 3s for the Terrapins, who have lost three straight with the last two coming to top-10 teams.
EAST LANSING, Mich. – Miles Bridges had 23 points and nine rebounds, helping Michigan State come back from a double-digit deficit to beat Penn State.
The Spartans (21-3, 9-2 Big Ten) rallied to win after trailing by 12 with 15:23 left after coming back from 13-point deficit to win their previous game at Maryland.
Cassius Winston made a go-ahead layup midway through the second half and Michigan State led by as much as 15.
The Nittany Lions (15-9, 5-6) had won two straight, including a buzzer-beater at Ohio State, and they didn’t give up their winning streak easily. They went on an 11-2 run to pull within six points with 37 seconds left after Tony Carr made consecutive 3-pointers in 6 seconds. Carr just missed a 3-pointer with 19 seconds left.
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Jacob Evans III scored 18 points, hitting the pivotal shots during Cincinnati’s rally from an 18-point deficit, and the Bearcats extended the nation’s longest home-court winning streak by beating Houston.
After trailing 33-15, the Bearcats (20-2, 9-0 American Athletic) closed out the first half with a flourish that featured Evans’ steal and banked-in 3-pointer at the buzzer. His 3 gave Cincinnati its first lead of the second half.
Cincinnati has won 13 in a row since back-to-back losses against Xavier and Florida, the only ranked teams it has played. The Bearcats have won 38 straight home games, the longest active streak.
Houston (16-5, 6-3) couldn’t get a breakthrough win in the series. The Cougars fell to 0-16 on the Bearcats’ home court and 2-30 overall against Cincinnati.
PULLMAN, Wash. – Deandre Ayton scored 25 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Allonzo Trier added 24 points as Arizona beat cold-shooting Washington State to remain in first place in the Pac-12.
Rawle Alkins scored 16 points for Arizona (19-4, 9-1 Pac-12), which has won seven games in a row. The Wildcats have lost just one time since Nov. 24.
Robert Franks scored 25 points for Washington State (9-12, 1-8), which has dropped 13 in a row to Arizona. It was the Cougars’ first home game since Jan. 13.
Arizona shot 61 percent in the game, while Washington State managed just 41 percent, and was only up that high because of a late spurt.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Keenan Evans scored a career-high 38 points, including the winning jumper to beat the buzzer in overtime, and Texas Tech beat Texas.
After missing a potential winning free throw with 3.4 seconds left in regulation, Evans scored six points in overtime. His winning 18-foot jumper from atop the key came after the Longhorns tied the game on a banked 3-pointer by Kerwin Roach, who led Texas with 20 points. Evans put the Red Raiders (18-4, 6-3 Big 12) ahead with a layup less than minute into overtime. Then on the ensuing possession, after grabbing a defensive rebound, Evans was fouled and made two free throws.
Texas (14-8, 4-5) overcame a 13-point deficit in the final 13 minutes of regulation and led 64-59 on a free throw by Roach with 1:25 left. But the Longhorns didn’t score again in regulation, and Roach then had all seven of their overtime points.
AMES, Iowa – Donovan Jackson scored 25 points, Lindell Wigginton added 22 and Iowa State upset West Virginia, sending the short-handed Mountaineers to their fifth loss in six games.
Cameron Lard scored 18 points with 13 rebounds for the Cyclones (12-9, 3-6 Big 12). They took advantage of the absence of West Virginia’s Daxter Miles Jr. (illness) by handing the Mountaineers (16-6, 5-4) their biggest defeat since a 23-point blowout at the hands of Texas A&M in the opener.
The Cyclones had West Virginia playing catch-up from the opening tip. The Mountaineers caught them just once – but were never able to overtake them.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – James Daniel III scored 17 points off the bench to continue his recent surge as Tennessee trounced LSU for its fourth consecutive victory.
With nine games remaining in the regular season, Tennessee (16-5, 6-3 SEC) already has matched its 2016-17 win total. Tennessee went 16-16 last year and failed to earn an NCAA Tournament or NIT bid for a third straight season.
Tennessee has won seven of its last eight games while LSU (12-9, 3-6) has lost five of its last six.
Daniel shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range and matched a season high in scoring. Tennessee shot 12 of 25 on 3-pointers as a team.