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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Sweden’s height advantage got to South Korea.
In an effort to compensate for the disparity, South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong decided to use a backup player in goal because he is the tallest of the team’s three keepers.
The gamble worked, but a penalty still gave the Swedes a 1-0 victory on Monday at the World Cup.
“We evaluated all of our goalkeepers and we felt like with the very tall Swedish players, we thought Jo Hyeon-woo would be the best and we thought he’d be a little bit quicker,” Shin said. “So we chose him.”
At 1.89 meters (6-foot-3), Jo is tallest of the South Korean goalkeepers. But he is normally No. 3 on the list when it comes to playing time.
Shin is well-known for pulling surprises.
In World Cup warm-up matches, he switched the numbers of his players around, arguing Swedish scouts would be confused because he says “it’s very difficult for westerners to distinguish between Asians.”
Shin mentioned Sweden’s height advantage about a dozen times after the match. He even acknowledged his players “were a little bit psychologically concerned about the height of the Swedish players.”
Sweden’s starting players averaged about 1.90 meters (6-3), while South Korea’s starters averaged about 1.83 meters (6 feet).
Shin also started with Kim Shin-wook as his primary striker. He is the tallest player on South Korea’s team at 1.97 meters (6-5 1/2).
Jo did his job in goal, making a half-dozen sprawling saves until he was beaten on a second-half penalty by Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist.
Asked to name South Korea’s most important player, Sweden coach Janne Andersson didn’t hesitate.
“I think definitely,” Andersson said, “the goalie was their best.”
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is upon us, so it’s time to start thinking about the future before the end of the group stage on June 28. Who has the easiest path to the knockout stage? Is it Lionel Messi and, with , and in their group? What about Neymar and , paired with , and ? Nobody knows for sure, but that’s why it is always fun to guess.
So who makes a deep run at the 2018 World Cup? And which nation lifts the trophy? Visit SportsLine now to get the complete optimal bracket for the World Cup, and see which favorites fail to advance past the quarterfinals, all from the model that’s returned an 1800 percent profit on bookmakers’ closing odds.
Below you’ll find the standings and schedule broken down by each group:
Thursday, June 14:
Friday, June 15:
Tuesday, June 19: Russia vs. Egypt, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 20: Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 25: Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Monday, June 25: Uruguay vs. Russia, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
Friday, June 15:
Friday, June 15:
Wednesday, June 20: Portugal vs. Morocco, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Wednesday, June 20: Iran vs. Spain, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 25: Iran vs. Portugal, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 25: Spain vs. Morocco, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Saturday, June 16:
Saturday, June 16:
Thursday, June 21: Denmark vs. Australia, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Thursday, June 21: France vs. Peru, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Tuesday, June 26: Australia vs. Peru, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 26: Denmark vs. France, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
Saturday, June 16:
Saturday, June 16:
Thursday, June 21: Argentina vs. Croatia, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Friday, June 22: Nigeria vs. Iceland, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Tuesday, June 26: Iceland vs. Croatia, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 26: Nigeria vs. Argentina, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 17:
Sunday, June 17:
Friday, June 22: Brazil vs. Costa Rica, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Friday, June 22: Serbia vs. Switzerland, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 27: Serbia vs. Brazil, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 27: Switzerland vs. Costa Rica, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Sunday, June 17:
Monday, June 18:
Saturday, June 23: Germany vs. Sweden, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Saturday, June 23: South Korea vs. Mexico, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 27: South Korea vs. Germany, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Wednesday, June 27: Mexico vs. Sweden, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 18: Belgium vs. Panama, 11 a.m. ET, FS1
Monday, June 18: Tunisia vs. England, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Saturday, June 23: Belgium vs. Tunisia, 8 a.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 24: England vs. Panama, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Thursday, June 28: England vs. Belgium, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Thursday, June 28: Panama vs. Tunisia, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 19: Colombia vs. Japan, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 19: Poland vs. Senegal, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 24: Japan vs. Senegal, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 24: Poland vs. Colombia, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Thursday, June 28: Japan vs. Poland, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Thursday, June 28: Senegal vs. Colombia, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
|Saturday, June 30|
|Match 50: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Kazan||Fox|
|Match 49: Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Sochi||Fox|
|Sunday, July 1|
|Match 51: Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Moscow||Fox|
|Match 52: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Nizhny Novgorod||Fox|
|Monday, July 2|
|Match 53: Group E winner vs. Group F runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Samara||FS1|
|Match 54: Group G winner vs. Group H runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Rostov||Fox|
|Tuesday, July 3|
|Match 55: Group F winner vs. Group E runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Saint Petersburg||FS1|
|Match 56: Group H winner vs. Group G runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Rostov||Fox|
|Friday, July 6|
|Match 57: Match 49 winner vs. Match 50 winner||9 a.m. ET||Nizhny Novgorod||FS1|
|Match 58: Match 53 winner vs. Match 54 winner||1 p.m. ET||Kazan||FS1|
|Saturday, July 7|
|Match 60: Match 55 winner vs. Match 66 winner||9 a.m. ET||Samara||Fox|
|Match 59: Match 51 winner vs. Match 52 winner||1 p.m. ET||Sochi||Fox|
|Tuesday, July 10|
|Match 61: Match 57 winner vs. Match 58 winner||1 p.m. ET||Saint Petersburg||Fox|
|Wednesday, July 11|
|Match 62: Match 59 winner vs. Match 60 winner||1 p.m. ET||Moscow||Fox|
|Saturday, July 14|
|Match 63: Match 61 loser vs. Match 62 loser||9 a.m. ET||Saint Petersburg||Fox|
|Sunday, July 15|
|Match 64: Match 61 winner vs. Match 62 winner||10 a.m. ET||Moscow||Fox|
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA TODAY SPORTS) — A week away from the draft, while it looks like the No. 1 pick is set, teams are still gathering information and having players in for workouts.
Big men Marvin Bagley and Mo Bamba recently worked out for the Atlanta Hawks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. had a stellar workout for the Phoenix Suns. Many lottery teams are still gathering information on Michael Porter Jr., whose medical history is integral to this process.
At this point it’s important to be wary of smokescreens, and remember, trades are still possible.
USA TODAY Sports canvassed multiple league executives in shaping its latest mock draft. The actual NBA draft will be held next Thursday in New York.
Arizona • Center • Freshman
Height: 7-1 • Weight: 250
The Suns worked out several of the top prospects likely as due diligence, but it’s going to be Arizona center Deandre Ayton. Suns GM Ryan McDonough called Ayton’s workout “phenomenal,” and it would be a shock if they went another route.
Missouri • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 211
The Kings are known to be enamored with Porter but are still trying to gather the latest medical information. If they’re convinced that he’s fully healthy, he could be the combo-forward they’ve been searching for. A trade down could also be possible if they believe they could get him lower, as the Kings have no first rounders in 2019.
Duke • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 234
If Bagley learns to rely on his three-pointer a bit more, he’ll be a matchup nightmare for opposing big men. The Hawks would get immediate offensive help with this pick, and Bagley would be afforded time to improve his defense.
Real Madrid • Guard
Height: 6-8 • Weight: 220
The Grizzlies are several pieces away from contending for the postseason, but Doncic, the EuroLeague MVP, is the most polished and accomplished prospect among the elites. He immediately gives Memphis another primary ballhandler and someone capable of stretching the floor.
Michigan State • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 236
Viewed as perhaps the prospect with the most room to grow both physically and offensively, Jackson Jr. is an immediate asset on the defensive end. His length and timing are outstanding, and given his comfort from the perimeter, he could be the prototypical NBA big man in a few years.
Texas • Center • Freshman
Height: 7-1 • Weight: 225
Similar to Jackson, Bamba is already NBA-ready on the defensive end, and there’s a question as to how far he’ll be able to stretch the floor when he’s not demoralizing defenses with his patented alley-oop finishes. Bamba, who will have the longest wingspan in the NBA at 7-10, is the kind of physical freak teams may regret passing on.
Duke • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-10 • Weight: 251
Carter Jr. represents a safe, solid pick with low risk. He’s a polished, but not plodding, big man with great footwork and high basketball IQ.
Oklahoma • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-2 • Weight: 177
Is anyone surprised that Young wasn’t able to maintain his furious scoring pace for an entire season? The Cavs may benefit because other teams tried to poke holes in his obvious talent.
Alabama • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-2 • Weight: 183
Sexton is an aggressive, confident scorer who could thrive as the lead guard. The guard-depleted Cavs are known to be interested in Sexton as well.
Villanova • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 210
Given Bridges’ experience and strengths, he’s likely an immediate contributor at the next level, filling a wing position that nearly every team covets.
Michigan State • Forward • Sophomore
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 220
The Hornets need help all over, and Bridges is a position-less wing who could play small forward and power forward in smaller lineups. He’s a bit of a tweener in terms of ideal fit, but his raw athleticism and stature make him lottery worthy.
Miami • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 196
The Clippers are in a unique position to draft back-to-back lottery players, affording them a chance to make a riskier move with one of their picks. Walker, a raw, physical guard, offers them a scoring mindset combined with a versatile profile on the defensive end.
Texas A&M • Center • Sophomore
Height: 6-10 • Weight: 241
As for that risk, it comes in the form of Williams. Athletic and rim-running, Williams has tantalizing tools at center for the modern NBA. He also doesn’t have much of an offensive arsenal anywhere outside of the paint, and the 47% free throw percentage is scary.
Kentucky • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-9 • Weight: 215
Not many forwards can create offense off the bounce like Knox, and it’s impossible to ignore his versatility. He’s needs to add muscle to his frame and any team must be patient with him, but there’s significant upside as he continues to develop.
Kentucky • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-6 • Weight: 180
Give him a few years to develop more of an offensive repertoire, and Gilgeous-Alexander is an ideal NBA point guard. His length, passing and defense are all intriguing, but don’t expect him to orchestrate an NBA offense as a rookie.
Texas Tech • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 198
Smith is a freak athlete without much more that teams can bank on. He’s stunning in transition and finishes dunks that hardly look feasible. His defensive instincts are there, too, but teams will have to grapple with what else he’s able to create on offense.
UCLA • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-1 • Weight: 185
Holiday would be less of a risk than the Bucks are typically accustomed to drafting. He’s a poised, crafty ballhandler, and with two brothers already in the league, he’s got an obvious NBA pedigree.
Oregon • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 208
There’s potentially a lot of value in Brown, who does a lot of things well but nothing great. His defensive instincts are probably his best asset, and with the right coaching and system, he could develop a more enhanced offensive game.
Pau-Orthez (France) • Guard
Height: 6-3 • Weight: 180
The lefty guard has good outside touch, a quick first step and a deft midrange game. There usually aren’t many potentially starting-caliber guards left this late in the draft.
Cedevita (Croatia) • Forward
Height: 6-9 • Weight: 195
Musa needs to add significant bulk to his frame, not necessarily to compete offensively but because he could be a liability on defense. He’s a rangy shooter and a creative finisher with good vision; offenses won’t stall with him in the rotation.
Maryland • Forward • Sophomore
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 190
No one helped themselves more at the NBA draft combine than smooth-shooting forward Kevin Huerter, who excelled in the scrimmage portion. There is a belief that Huerter may have secured a promise, which could have swayed his decision to stay in the draft.
Boise State • Guard • Senior
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 197
There’s also a belief that Hutchison, who pulled out of the NBA draft combine, may have a first-round promise from Chicago. If that’s the case, the athletic, four-year wing would fit the bill of prospects the Bulls have drafted in the past.
Villanova • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 200
DiVincenzo parlayed his strong Final Four and draft combine showing into a likely first-round pick. He’s a downhill scorer, crafty finisher from multiple angles and someone who makes his teammates better.
Ohio State • Forward • Junior
Height: 6-8 • Weight: 223
Bates-Diop has good mobility, anticipation and athleticism, and his face-up game was an asset in college. As a redshirt player, there are legitimate questions as to how much he’ll improve.
Southern California • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-3 • Weight: 193
Despite withdrawing from USC earlier this season, Melton remains an intriguing prospect thanks to his defensive intensity and transition ability. At the draft combine he also mentioned how special it would be for him to play for his hometown Lakers.
Boston College • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 188
It’s not hard to see what scouts like about Robinson. He’s a poised, steady guard with good size who can occasionally explode to the rim. He’s a comfortable scorer who could easily command a second unit off the bench.
Georgia Tech • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 213
Okogie has good size and a great motor, but his offensive instincts can feel a little hectic at times. He should immediately be able to hold his own on the defensive end.
Creighton • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 200
Steady and with great length, Thomas is a low-risk, heady guard who won’t make unforced mistakes and can immediately stretch the floor with his offense.
Cincinnati • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-6 • Weight: 210
With good size and strength for his position, Evans can be an immediate contributor on the defensive end and should have no trouble in a switch-heavy defense. His three-point shooting ability could be a bonus.
Chalmette High School • Center
Height: 7-0 • Weight: 233
Robinson might be the most enigmatic prospect in the draft, with a range as high as just outside the lottery all the way until the second round. The size and talent are there, but teams could have questions about his drive and commitment after skipping his lone year in college basketball.
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CHICAGO (AP) — Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough was on stage moments after the NBA draft lottery ended, talking about the future of the Suns and mentioning how they had the best odds of picking No. 1 overall.
And then he stopped to correct himself.
“We have No. 1,” McDonough said. “I’ve got to adjust to that.”
It’s an adjustment that he and the Suns will happily be making.
The worst team in the league this season will pick first in the NBA draft on June 21, after the Suns won the draft lottery on Tuesday night. It’s the first time the Suns will have the chance to make the first overall selection.
“It’s great for our franchise,” said McDonough, whose club went 21-61 this season and missed the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year. “It’s something that you say coming into it, you don’t have any control over it so you’re not going to get nervous. And I was here dying. I could barely breathe. I needed an oxygen tank.”
The Suns have three great candidates for No. 1, all with ties to either Arizona or new Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov. Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton is widely expected to be a strong candidate to go No. 1 overall, and he was at the lottery to watch the Suns win the pick. So was Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, an Arizona native.
And Kokoskov is particularly familiar with Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, who will be coming to the NBA from Real Madrid. Kokoskov coached Slovenia — and Doncic — to the gold medal at the European championships last summer.
“We have a small target grouping in mind, but we’re not going to rule anything out at this point,” McDonough said. “I think we’ll have a great choice, no matter who we select.”
The Suns were big winners.
So were Sacramento and Atlanta.
Sacramento will pick No. 2 and Atlanta got the No. 3 pick — both of them moving up and bucking some odds to get there. The top three spots were determined by the lottery, and then spots 4-14 fell in line of reverse order of record.
Sacramento had a 18.3 percent chance entering the lottery of moving into the top three, while Atlanta’s move-up was really just a slightly bigger upset than a coin-flip — the Hawks came into the night with a 42.3 percent chance of getting picks 1, 2 or 3.
“No big deal. It’s a deep draft,” Kings vice president and general manager Vlade Divac said. “We’re going to do our job and obviously, I’m glad that we played the last two years to develop guys and try to win games. You cannot develop guys if you don’t teach them how to win.”
The Hawks, like the Suns, got their lottery result one day after introducing a new coach. Lloyd Pierce is taking over in Atlanta, with a reputation of helping great young talent develop — he’s worked with Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and LeBron James, among many others.
“For Hawks fans, it’s a big deal,” said Hawks owner Jami Gertz, who represented the franchise on stage at the lottery. “I say to Atlanta, we are on our way. Championships down the road, sooner than later. Let’s go.”
The rest of the slots, in order, went to No. 4 Memphis, No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Orlando, No. 7 Chicago, No. 8 Cleveland, No. 9 New York, No. 10 Philadelphia, No. 11 Charlotte, No. 12 and No. 13 Los Angeles Clippers, and No. 14 Denver.
The draft is June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The lottery has been around since 1985, was tweaked to a weighted system in 1990 and will be changing again next year in an effort to discourage teams from tanking.
Going forward, the three teams with the worst regular-season records will all have 14 percent chances of winning the No. 1 pick, the fourth-worst team will have a 12.5 percent chance and the fifth-worst 10.5 percent. So there will still be a benefit to being bad, but the odds will be so similar among the bottom five teams — a 3.5 percent differential in the race for No. 1, instead of the 16.2 percent gap like this year — that the reward for losing might be lessened.
“I don’t like that word, what is it, tanking?” Divac said. “I hate it.”
Josh Jackson, who just completed his rookie season with Phoenix, represented the Suns on the stage, for the public announcement of what was drawn in secret about an hour earlier. Only a handful of team representatives, NBA officials and media knew the outcome of the lottery before it was revealed publicly and they were all sequestered until the results were aired.
Jackson said he thinks the Suns need a big man. That means his vote, for now anyway, is Ayton.
“He’s got so much potential,” Jackson said.
The Suns feel the same way about themselves. They have three picks in the first 31 in this draft, plus have some cap room to work with this summer. The plan, McDonough said, is to add some veterans to mold what will be a young core led by the likes of Devin Booker, Jackson and potentially whoever the No. 1 pick is next month.
With some more luck, Jackson won’t be going to more lotteries.
“Hopefully we won’t be sitting up here too much longer,” Jackson said.
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — SAN ANTONIO – To sum things up, Villanova was feelin’ it Saturday night.
Like every night that ends in “Y” for the Wildcats.
Like all these games where they walk away with a “W” and leave their opponents shaking their heads.
Villanova moved within a win of another title, sinking a Final Four-record 18 3-pointers, while cementing itself as the most-prolific 3-point-shooting team in college history in a 95-79 runaway over Kansas.
“Well, that was just one of those nights,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
Normally the third or fourth option on a team full of shooters, junior wingman Eric Paschall led the barrage, going 4 for 5 from 3, 10 for 11 overall, and finishing with a career-high 24 points.
But the hoop was as wide as the Alamodome for pretty much everyone in a Wildcats jersey.
Seven `Nova players made 3s. Villanova tied the Final Four record for 3s in game with 3:45 left in the first half. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from 3 – 5 points higher than their season average, which ranked 15th in the nation this season.
Next up is Michigan, which will try to guard the perimeter Monday night when Villanova (35-5) goes for its second title in three seasons.
Good luck with that.
Nobody has had much success this season, and in what turned out to be an unexpectedly lopsided matchup between top seeds, Kansas (31-8) certainly didn’t Saturday night. AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson made three 3s and finished with 18 points. Omari Spellman made three, as well, in a 15-point, 13-rebound monster game.
“As good a team as I’ve played against that I can remember,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We got spread out on defense. The game plan went to crap. You get caught in between on defense, and it’s the worst thing you can do.”
About a minute into the second half, Paschall drained a 3 for Villanova’s 14th of the game, breaking a Final Four record first set by UNLV in 1987.
Much earlier, at about the 13-minute mark of the first half, Collin Gillespie spotted up and swished for `Nova’s sixth 3 of the game, which gave it the NCAA record for 3s in a season, with 442.
VMI set that record in 2007. Very few remember that team, though, because even though the importance of the long shot has grown as the decades have passed, it’s never been thought of as a guaranteed way to win consistently.
Wright’s team is laying waste to that theory and, at times, making other teams look bad while doing it.
On Saturday, the typical Villanova possession involved working the ball down low on the wing, then a skip pass across the bottom of the paint, followed by one, two or three passes around the arc until somebody got open. It usually worked. Against both the Jayhawks’ man defense and their zone. Most of `Nova’s 18 makes barely skimmed the net.
“We knew they’d have to miss some pretty decent looks, but they got anything they wanted early, and they knocked everything down,” Self said.
Villanova attempted 40 shots from 3, and only 25 from 2.
Gillespie’s record-setter gave Villanova a 22-4 lead, and at that point, Kansas had as many turnovers as points and had taken as many timeouts as it had field goals.
Self did what he could, urging his 7-foot center, Udoka Azubuike, out of the paint and into the faces of this group of hybrid forward-guards, all of whom can shoot. The big fella couldn’t get there.
The Jayhawks, back in the dome where they cut down the nets 10 years ago after their last title, made mini runs. But the deficit never got below double digits.
Devonte Graham, the senior guard who has been the glue in this Final Four season, led Kansas with 23 points. Malik Newman, who pushed his game into overdrive during the postseason, had 21. They combined to make 6 of 13 3-pointers themselves, but didn’t get much help.
Much of that was credit to the Villanova defense. Wright and co. spent more time in the postgame talking about defense and rebounding than the shooting clinic they put on.
“If we didn’t get stops, it was getting back to being a five- or six-point game,” Wright said.
But they did.
And it didn’t.
About the only drama in the second half was whether the Wildcats would top Loyola Marymount’s NCAA Tournament record of 21 3-pointers in a game (against Michigan in 1990). Didn’t happen, mainly because they didn’t need it too.
But there’s still Monday.
“They’ll be hard for anyone to deal with,” Self said, “if they shoot the ball like that.”
MICHIGAN 69, LOYOLA-CHICAGO 57
SAN ANTONIO – Staring down a 10-point, second-half deficit against an underdog that seemed nothing short of blessed during the madness of March, Moe Wagner and Michigan clamped down on Loyola-Chicago and ended one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament runs ever.
Wagner scored 24 points, Charles Matthews added 17 and the Wolverines rallied to beat the Ramblers 69-57 Saturday night in the Final Four.
The third-seeded Wolverines (33-7) will take a 14-game winning streak, the longest in the nation, into their first national championship game appearance since 2013, and second under coach Jon Beilein.
“We’re not done yet,” Michigan senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said.
Michigan became the first team to reach the national title game without beating a top-five seed along the way. That changes Monday night at the Alamodome. No. 1 seed Villanova stands in the way of the Wolverines’ first NCAA title since 1989.
Lovable Loyola (32-6), with superfan Sister Jean courtside and their fans behind the bench standing for pretty much the entire game, could not conjure another upset. The Ramblers were the fourth 11th-seeded team to make it this far and like the previous three, the semifinals were the end of the road.
Coach Porter Moser said he was proud of players Ben Richardson, Aundre Jackson and Donte Ingram for holding it together during a postgame news conference, answering questions with red eyes and long faces.
“But it was as tough a locker room as I’ve seen because they believed they belonged and they believed like they wanted to advance,” Moser said.
Loyola had no answers for the 6-foot-11 Wagner, and its offense, so smooth and efficient on the way to San Antonio, broke down in the second half and finished with 17 turnovers.
Wagner, playing in front of his parents who made the trip from Germany, had 15 rebounds and was 10 for 16 from the field. Matthews, the Kentucky transfer and Chicago native, had a run-out dunk with 1:33 left that made it 63-53. And that was that.
Wagner became the third player in the last 40 years with a 20 and 15 game in a Final Four game , joining Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston in 1983 (then known as Akeem) and Larry Bird of Indiana State in 1979.
“Wow. If you put it like that, it’s probably cool,” Wagner said. “But to be honest, I kept looking possession by possession. We had trouble scoring the first half. We scored 22 points and that was kind of the only way we found our way to the basket, grab offensive rebounds and get second-shot opportunities.
“And I honestly just tried to do my job.”
Or, as Michigan guard Jaaron Simmon, put it: “He was a beast tonight.”
Wagner also went flying off the elevated court, chasing a loose ball, avoiding injury but taking out CBS commentator Bill Raftery’s eye glasses. It was a full night.
As the seconds ticked off, Wagner pumped his fist to the many Michigan fans who made the trek to San Antonio, while Loyola’s Jackson, who got the Ramblers rolling with a late game-winning 3 in the first round against Miami, looked toward the roof and shook his head.
Cameron Krutwig, Loyola’s big man, scored 17 points and Clayton Custer had 13 of his 15 after halftime. But facing one of the best defensive teams in the country, the best defensive team Beilein has ever had in 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, the Ramblers scored just 16 points in the final 14 minutes.
“Their length. They close the gap of opportunity really fast,” Moser said.
Custer scored seven straight points for Loyola at one point to put the Ramblers up 41-31 with 14:08 remaining.
“I don’t know if they had magic on their side,” Beilein said. “They’re good.”
Michigan refused to fade, even with point guard Zavier Simpson – whose solid play has been critical to the Wolverines’ late-season surge – playing terribly. Simpson had no points and four turnovers.
Simmons, Simpson’s backup, made a 3 and Duncan Robinson hit another a few minutes later and the deficit was down to 45-42 with 10 minutes left.
“Not dropping our heads, that was the main thing,” Simmons said. “We haven’t been down in a game for a long time. So not dropping our heads was one of the main adjustments we had to make.”
Wagner hit a 3 from right in front of the Michigan bench with 6:50 left to tie it, and moments later the Wolverines were back on top, 49-47, when Jordan Poole made two free throws.
Loyola turned it over on three straight possessions and Wagner tipped in a miss by Poole, was fouled and converted the 3-point play to put Michigan up 54-47 with just under five minutes left.
The Ramblers’ 14-game losing streak is over, along with an incredible feel-good story at a time that college basketball, engulfed in a corruption scandal, could truly use one. Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt and her favorite team , the Missouri Valley Conference champions, making their first NCAA appearance since 1985, will return to Chicago as heroes, regardless.
“It’s special to see kind of what stage we were able to get to,” said Richardson, a senior who grew up in Kansas with Custer and then convinced his friend to transfer from Iowa State to Loyola. “Despite going out this way, were going to never forget this. I think a lot of people will remember this run for a long time.”
Michigan has more work to do. The Wolverines, unranked to start the season and sitting at 19-7 in early February, will now resume the underdog role they have played much of the season, trying to win their second NCAA championship.
“This team’s had no attention at all,” Beilein said. “Until we went up to beat Michigan State we weren’t nationally ranked. Now we’re playing on Monday night.”
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The maddest of Marches is winding down, the college basketball season now headed into April. All those upsets, crazy finishes and stellar performances have brought us to San Antonio, where a Cinderella and its telegenic nun join three power programs in the Final Four.
Based on the way the bracket has gone so far, don’t be surprised if there is more madness in store.
To get you ready, we’ve got a rundown of the teams, the top players, the coaches and other tidbits about this year’s Final Four.
Villanova. The Wildcats shoot 3-pointers like no other, play suffocating defense and have that look — the one they had winning a national title two years ago.
Kansas. The other No. 1 seed to get through, the offensively gifted Jayhawks are back in San Antonio, where Bill Self won his only title in 2008.
Michigan. Stingy D or raining 3s, these scrappy Wolverines find ways to win.
Loyola-Chicago. Sister Jean gets much of the attention, but the Ramblers have rambled into the Final Four with a free-flowing, nothing-to-lose style.
Jalen Brunson, Villanova. The Wildcats’ unassuming leader is racking up player of the year awards — and possibly a second national championship.
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas. Similar attributes as Brunson, only with an added dash of dynamic-ness.
Moritz Wagner, Michigan. The big German is crafty inside, can step out to hit 3s, can guard multiple positions — a matchup nightmare.
Clayton Custer, Loyola. The sharpshooting guard gets mistaken for a non-player off the court, and is often the best in the game on it.
Cameron Krutwig, Loyola. The burly freshman gives the little Ramblers the presence they need inside at both ends.
Malik Newman, Kansas. The athletic sophomore has become dynamic No. 2 option to Graham.
Mikal Bridges, Villanova. Bridges and Brunson may be the Final Four’s best 1-2 punch.
Charles Matthews, Michigan. His late-season emergence is a big reason the Wolverines reached San Antonio.
Bill Self, Kansas. This may be the best coaching job of his career.
Jay Wright, Villanova. The coolest — and best-dressed — coach in college basketball has changed the game and put the Wildcats in position for a second national title in three years.
John Beilein, Michigan. Redefined his team and himself by turning the Wolverines into one of the nation’s top defensive teams.
Porter Moser, Loyola. A nation of college basketball fans are learning what everyone at Loyola already knew: Moser can flat-out coach.
4 — No. 11 seeds to reach the Final Four: LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011) and Loyola (2018).
29 — Years since Michigan’s lone NCAA title.
43.2 — Percentage of Michigan’s shots taken from 3-point range.
55 — Years since Loyola’s lone NCAA championship.
77.2 — Shooting percentage of Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike, leading the nation.
86.6 — Points per game by Villanova, tops in Division I.
Michigan: Actors James Earl Jones, Gilda Radner, Lucy Liu; H&R Block founder Henry R. Bloch; iPod inventor Tony Fadell; Walgreen’s founder Charles Walgreen; playwright Arthur Miller; Nobel Prize winner Stanley Cohen; singer Madonna; NFL player Tom Brady; MLB player Derek Jeter; President Gerald Ford.
Villanova: Actors Bradley Cooper and Maria Bello; country singer Toby Keith; singer Jim Croce; second lady of the United States Jill Biden; Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland; NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long.
Kansas: Actors Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Scott Bakula and Mandy Patinkin; NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain; NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers; Kansas Sen. Bob Dole; FBI Director Clarence Kelley; basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith; golfer Gary Woodland.
Loyola: Actors Bob Newhart, Leslie David Baker and Jennifer Morrison; Chicago Bears owner George Halas Jr.; Chicago Cubs owner Todd Ricketts; Disturbed singer David Draiman; Smashing Pumpkins and Perfect Circle guitarist James Iha; Dr. Scholl’s founder William Scholl; US Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The high-motion, position-less offenses are the shiny objects of this Final Four. Crisp passing, alley-oop dunks, cavalcades of 3-pointers — what’s not to like?
Behind the eye-catching, highlight-reel-inducing sparkle is a gritty underbelly.
One of sports’ deepest-rooted clichés is defense wins championships. Tired and not necessarily true, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
The Final Four of Villanova, Kansas, Michigan and Loyola-Chicago all play different brands of D and it will be worth watching that side of the ball when they hit the floor Saturday in San Antonio.
The Wolverines had been the type of team that tried outscoring teams by raining 3-pointers. Defense was what always held them back.
Coach John Beilein has made defense a point of emphasis in recent years, and Michigan has become better for it. With the help of former Illinois assistant and defensive guru, Luke Yaklich, Beilein has transformed the Wolverines from one of the Big Ten’s worst defensive teams to one of the nation’s best.
While most teams have one, maybe two strong on-the-ball defenders, Michigan has three: Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
The trio is quick, physical and good with their hands, making every move by ball handlers and cutters a chore.
German big man Moe Wagner is by no means a hulking presence inside, but he’s active, athletic and moves his feet well, allowing him to keep smaller players in front or soar in for backside blocks.
The Wolverines are No. 3 nationally in defensive efficiency and completely shut down an athletic Florida State team to reach the Final Four.
“If you do play good defense, it will give you a chance to win every day,” Beilein said.
The Wildcats lost a few games during the regular season they probably would like to have back, in part because their defense was nowhere near their uber-efficient offense.
Villanova’s run to a second Final Four in three years can be attributed, at least in part, to its increased ability to shut opponents down.
The Wildcats have long, athletic players with mostly interchangeable skills, allowing them to switch on screens a majority of the time. Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall are versatile, so they can guard multiple positions and players of varied skills.
Big man Omari Spellman has become a better post defender and is more active after reshaping his body.
The Wildcats are holding teams to 36 percent shooting in the NCAA Tournament and are 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
“They were so efficient offensively and picked up so many things that we were teaching offensively, that I thought it might be really tough to get them to be a good defensive team,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They stuck with it and they’re becoming one of our best defensive teams, which I would have never thought midway through the season.”
As a mid-major team, the Ramblers are almost always undersized when going against Power Five schools.
They make up for it with discipline, tenacity and a commitment to coach Porter Moser’s methods.
Loyola’s perimeter players are active, have quick hands and often switch on the perimeter. The Ramblers also like to switch on ball screens and keep freshman center Cameron Krutwig, their last line of defense, in the paint.
Loyola is a superb transition defensive team because it rarely sends players to the offensive glass and triggers its own run-outs and transition 3-pointers with aggressive defense.
The Ramblers are 19th in adjusted defensive efficiency and have held their last 10 opponents to 68 points or less.
“It’s five guys, about being connected, working together to get a stop,” said Loyola guard Ben Richardson, the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year. “We’re outsized in a lot of positions, but we have a lot of techniques to tap into to make up for the size.”
The Jayhawks, on paper, are the worst defensive team left in the bracket, coming in at 40th in adjusted D.
Kansas is exceptionally strong in one defensive area: Defending without fouling.
Because they don’t have a lot of depth, the Jayhawks can’t afford to foul a lot, but that also limits the number of easy points opponents get from free throws.
Udoka Azubuike is a load in the post at 7-foot, 280 pounds, and can soar in for backside blocks if a teammate gets beat. Svi Mykhailiuk showed off his defensive chops in the Elite Eight, when he repeatedly knocked Duke All-American Marvin Bagley III off the block and beat the freshman to his spots.
The Jayhawks also are playing harder after coach Bill Self called them soft midseason.
“I probably had verbally gotten after this team more and been more critical in some ways,” Self said. “But also with that being said, I think I’ve also made it real clear in many ways I’m more proud, too, because we have altered our personality traits to the point that it’s given this team the best chance.”
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — The Final Four had been set for decades: Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky were crowned as college basketball’s royalty.
They are the bluebloods of basketball — where deep NCAA Tournament runs are the norm, NBA prospects play, hardwood rules the sports landscape and an air of superiority reigns in programs rich in tradition and with alumni rich enough to help fund state-of-the-art practice facilities or arenas.
Grandpa might tell you UCLA or Indiana should still be in the mix. Maybe the kids like Michigan State or Arizona.
But a fifth team has firmly crashed the field: Villanova. Its fans turn up their noses at the Philly schools while the team turns up the heat in the Big East and is positioned for a second national championship in three years.
The road to the best program in hoops may start where the original rules of the game are housed at Kansas, hit Tobacco Road, head to the home of the one-and-done prospect in Lexington but it ends on the Main Line, a wealthy stretch of Philadelphia suburbs home to Villanova.
Let’s take a look at the Wildcats’ resume by the numbers headed into Saturday’s Final Four game against Kansas (31-7).
— 134. Wins (and counting). The most by any program over a four-year span.
— 30. The magic number for Villanova. The Wildcats have won 33, 35, 32 games the previous three years and are 34-4 this season.
— 6. Sweet 16s under Wright.
— 3. Final Fours since 2009.
— 1. National championship under coach Jay Wright in 2016.
— 420. Wins under Wright, the most in team history.
There’s another number worth noting: $60 million. It’s the expected cost of the renovation funded by donors of Villanova’s on-campus arena when it reopens next season. The Wildcats played this season at the home of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Wells Fargo Center — where they went a sparkling 11-1.
Any way you count it, the Wildcats decade of dominance has turned their blood as blue as their “V” logo.
“We consistently had very good players,” Wright said. “It’s a part of guys staying healthy, guys staying in the program, good recruiting, getting lucky in recruiting over a period of time.”
The Wildcats soared to the top of the AP Top 25, earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and won another Big East Tournament title without a senior on the roster. Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo carried the Wildcats in stretches in tournament wins over Radford, Alabama, West Virginia and Texas Tech. Brunson was named Tuesday to the AP All-America team.
The 2016 team trumps the underdog ’85 champs that shocked the sport for best in Nova history.
With two more wins, this year’s team should stand alone.
KU-Villanova is regarded as a real title game of sorts before the winner plays Loyola or Michigan on Monday in San Antonio.
“The good thing is, I think our guys have a good understanding and respect for everybody in this tournament, so I don’t think they would even think that this is the national championship game,” Wright said. “Our guys wouldn’t think that way.”
Villanova might have seem more worthy of a spot alongside the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats to the causal fan had it not been for some upsets as a single-digit seed in the tournament. The Wildcats lost in the first weekend as a 1 or 2 in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2017. Surely another Final Four or two would have made them a more popular pick to win it all in office pools rather than a potential target as an upset special.
But it can’t be ignored that Wright has brought the program to heights that not even his mentor and 1985 championship coach Rollie Massimino could achieve.
The idea of christening a dazzling new arena with a championship banner raised to the rafters would be appropriate — hanging in the rarified air as college basketball’s top team.
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ATLANTA (AP) — Porter Moser stood in front of the scarf-clad Loyola cheering section, a bit dazed but beaming from ear to ear.
“Are you kidding me! Are you kidding me!” the Ramblers coach screamed over and over.
Loyola is headed to the Final Four .
An improbable NCAA Tournament took its craziest turn yet Saturday night, when Ben Richardson scored a career-high 23 points and the 11th-seeded Ramblers romped to a 78-62 victory over Kansas State to cap off a stunning run through the bracket-busting South Regional.
The Ramblers (32-5) matched the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the Final Four, joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011). Those other three all lost in the national semifinals.
Don’t bet against Loyola, which emerged from a regional that produced a staggering array of upsets. The South became the first regional in tournament history to have the top four seeds — including overall No. 1 Virginia — knocked out on the opening weekend.
In the end, it was the Ramblers cutting down the nets.
After three close calls, this one was downright easy.
“We believed that we could do something like this — do something really special — because we knew we had such good chemistry and we’ve got such a good group,” said Richardson, who was named MVP of the regional. “Everyone would say we were crazy. If we said this was going to happen, people would call us crazy, but you’ve just got to believe.”
No one believes more than their 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt , who led a prayer in the locker room before the game. When it was done, she was pushed onto the confetti-covered court in her wheelchair to join the celebration.
Sister Jean donned a Final Four cap — she even turned it around backward, just to show she’s hip to the kids — and gave a gleeful thumbs-up.
She’s already looking forward to a bigger game next weekend.
“I’m going to San Antonio,” she said. “That’s going to be great.”
Also joining the celebration were several players from the Ramblers’ 1963 national championship team , which played one of the most socially significant games in college basketball history on its way to the title. It was known as the “Game of Change,” matching the Ramblers and their mostly black roster against an all-white Mississippi State team at the height of the civil rights movement, setting up an even more noteworthy contest three years later when Texas Western, with five African-American starters, defeated Kentucky in the national championship game.
Les Hunter, a member of that ’63 team, said these Ramblers are capable of bringing home another title.
“I think they’re the best right now,” Hunter said. “They work so well together. They can play with anybody — anybody — right now.”
Even with a title on its resume, this Loyola performance came out of nowhere. The Ramblers had not made the tournament since 1985 until they broke the drought by winning the Missouri Valley Conference.
Then, as if benefiting from some sort of divine intervention, the Ramblers won their first three tournament games by a total of four points .
Finally, with the Final Four on the line, they turned in a thoroughly dominating performance against the ninth-seeded Wildcats (25-12), the other half of the first 9-vs.-11 matchup in tournament history.
Not the least bit intimidated, Loyola came out in attack mode right from the start against a Kansas State team that rode a stifling defense to the regional final. Moving the ball just as you’d expect from a veteran squad with two seniors and two fourth-year juniors in the starting lineup, the Ramblers kept getting open looks and bolted to a 36-24 halftime lead.
“They jumped out to that big lead and it was tough for us to come back,” said Xavier Sneed, who led Kansas State with 16 points. “They kept their foot on the gas.”
The Ramblers shot 57 percent against a team that is used to shutting opponents down, including 9 of 18 from 3-point range.
Kansas State hit just 35 percent from the field — 6 of 26 beyond the arc.
Early on the second half, Richardson swished a 3-pointer as he was fouled by Kamau Stokes , winding up flat on his back, flashing a huge smile with his arms raised above his head. He knocked down the free throw to complete the four-point play, stretching the lead to 44-29.
Loyola led by as many as 23.
“We’re just a bunch of guys that everybody laughed at … when we thought we were going to play Division I basketball,” Clayton Custer said. “Nobody thought we could do any of this.”
They do now.
MICHIGAN 58, FLORIDA STATE 54
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michigan is headed to its first Final Four in five years with another upset-minded opponent waiting.
The Wolverines (32-7) have tamped down three consecutive teams with designs on pulling surprises — No. 6 seed Houston, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 9 Florida State.
Now they’ll face the most improbable opponent of all — 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago in San Antonio.
“I don’t think any of us cares about rankings, seedings or none of that,” forward Moe Wagner said. “It’s about who is going to play better. They must be a really good team, that’s why they’re in the Final Four, and that’s all that matters.”
The third-seeded Wolverines withstood their own poor shooting to beat Florida State 58-54 and win the West Region title on Saturday night for their 13th straight victory. They haven’t lost since Feb. 6 against Northwestern.
Loyola (32-5) made a stunning run through the South, beating Kansas State 78-62 in the regional final to equal the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the Final Four.
The Ramblers have Sister Jean, too. Their 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, has been a social media and TV sensation during the tournament.
Not that West Regional Most Valuable Player Charles Matthews had a clue.
“I don’t know who Sister Jean is, no disrespect,” he said.
Not so for Wagner, the 6-foot-11 forward plucked out of Germany by coach John Beilein.
“I know that she didn’t have Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight,” Wagner said. “I know that.”
Wolverines forward Isaiah Livers knows one of Loyola’s players, having played AAU basketball against each other in Chicago.
“I’ve been watching them. They’re a really good team,” he said. “From now on, you’re going to play nothing but good teams. They’re here for a reason.”
So are the Wolverines, whose NCAA Tournament victories have involved wild swings.
They scored 99 points in the regional semifinal and 58 in the final, a 41-point swing that is the largest two-game scoring difference by any team in this year’s tournament.
After beating No. 14 Montana by 14 points in the first round, Michigan escaped by 1 against Houston on Jordan Poole’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Wolverines trounced Texas A&M by 27 points in the regional semifinals, hitting 10 of their 14 3-pointers in the first half.
Michigan got into a close one against the Seminoles, clinging to a 55-52 lead with 1:14 remaining. The Wolverines made 3 of 5 free throws in the closing seconds to hang on for their school-record 32nd win.
“I feel like we all believe in one another, but that is the special thing about this group of guys,” Matthews said. “We just take everything one day at a time and we stay connected through it all. When you have guys like that who are truly your brothers, anything’s possible.”
After playing in front of 19,665 mostly pro-Michigan fans in Los Angeles, the Wolverines can likely expect much of the country to be rooting against them in San Antonio.
“Loyola-Chicago, those people should be so proud of that team and come out strong,” Beilein said. “Loyola’s going to sell every ticket they can get. Well, Michigan’s going to sell every ticket we can get, too.”
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports / AP) — After starting with 68 teams, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to just eight.
The Elite Eight.
The March Madness upsets continued through the Sweet 16, with Cinderella No. 11 Loyola-Chicago staying out for at least one more dance after defeating No. 7 Nevada, followed by No. 9 seeds Florida State and Kansas State.
Here is everything you need to know regarding coverage for Saturday’s game, along with must-read stories as one of the wildest NCAA tournaments in recent memory continues.
Time, TV: 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
RADIO CALL: Listen to the game via TuneIn
Why Kansas State will win: What the Wildcats lack in post presence with leading scorer Dean Wade still sidelined, they make up for with moxie, physicality and a knack for timely plays. Guard Barry Brown, Jr., is a beast on the defensive end — just look at what he did to Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — and they’re also getting unexpected contributions from players like guard Mike McGuirl, who averaged just 3.2 points in the regular season, and Xavier Sneed, who made five 3-pointers against Kentucky.
Why Loyola-Chicago will win: If the Ramblers can beat a physical, defensive-oriented team like Tennessee, why not a team like Kansas State that was a lesser version of the Vols for most of the season? Loyola will probably do the one thing Kentucky couldn’t: Make perimeter shots. The likes of Clayton Custer (46% from the 3-point line), Donte Ingram (39.6%) and Marques Townes (38%) make it easy for the Ramblers to play small if they have to, and freshman big man Cameron Krutwig will be hard to handle given Kansas State’s lack of post depth.
Time, TV: approx. 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
RADIO CALL: Listen to the game via TuneIn
Why Michigan will win: When the offense clicks like it did Thursday in a rout of Texas A&M, the Wolverines are going to be hard to beat. They blew the game open in the first half by shooting better than 60% from three-point range — led by Moritz Wagner — and they ended up shooting better than 60% from the field on the day. Michigan, which has won 12 in a row, also has stepped it up on defense, allowing opposing teams to score only 63 points a game. That’s a winning combination.
Why Florida State will win: The Seminoles, who did not close the regular season with any particular fire, happen to be on a roll in the NCAA tournament. After beating Missouri in the opening round, they rallied from 12 down to beat top-seeded Xavier, then took out No. 4 Gonzaga in dominant fashion. Florida State has size, depth and knows how to share the ball.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In a wild NCAA Tournament full of upsets, it’s somehow appropriate that the first ticket to the Final Four will go to a No. 9 or No. 11 seed.
And the second could go to another 9-seed.
Welcome to the madder half of the March Madness bracket. The Elite Eight games Saturday in the South and West lack the Selection Sunday favorites and instead feature a surging 3-seed (Big Ten champion Michigan), two teams who were power-conference also-rans (No. 9 seeds Florida State and Kansas State) and the upstart (11-seed Loyola-Chicago).
The Wildcats and the Ramblers meet in the first regional final to wrap up the South bracket in Atlanta, then the Wolverines and Seminoles meet in Los Angeles.
Further down the line, one of those teams will end up playing for the national championship in San Antonio.
It’s quite a feat considering three of those teams faced at least some bubble uncertainty in the final month of the regular season. And that was particularly true of the Ramblers (31-5) , who went 15-3 in their Missouri Valley Conference but could have easily been left out of the field of 68 had they not won the league tournament.
Yet, the Ramblers beat 6-seed Miami 64-62 in the first round on 3-pointer by Donte Ingram with 0.3 seconds left. Then came a 63-62 second-round win against third-seeded Tennessee on another late shot, this one a jumper from Clayton Custer with 3.6 seconds left. And finally, they held off No. 7 seed Nevada 69-68 in the Sweet 16, putting them a win away from the national semifinals for the first time since winning the 1963 national title .
“I think there’s a lot of parity in the game, and I love it for our league,” Ramblers coach Porter Moser said. “There was a lot of talk that we weren’t going to get in if we didn’t win the tournament, and we know in the Missouri Valley how good a league it is from top to bottom. And for us to get in here, I think it’s going to spark conversation about this, and I know the committees have such a hard job.”
Now they’re meeting the Wildcats in the first 9-vs-11 game in NCAA Tournament history.
Kansas State (25-11) caught a break when UMBC pulled the first 16-vs-1 upset of top overall seed Virginia, allowing the Wildcats to avoid the Cavaliers in the second round. Kansas State beat UMBC then took out Kentucky’s latest crop of touted freshmen to reach its first regional final since 2010 and second since 1988.
“We know that every team right now is trying to make history,” Kansas State guard Barry Brown Jr. said.
Here are things to know about the NCAA Tournament’s second week:
ROLLING AGAIN: For the second straight season, the Wolverines (31-7) got hot late in the year to win the Big Ten Tournament title and reach the NCAA regional rounds. Now they’re the closest thing to a favorite in their half of the draw.
Last year’s team lost by one to Oregon in the Sweet 16, but Michigan blew out Texas A&M on Thursday to reach its third regional final in six seasons.
“I’d prefer more games like that,” coach John Beilein said afterward. “I don’t think we’ll see any more, but I’d prefer it.”
For the record, Michigan has won 12 straight and hasn’t lost since falling at Northwestern on Feb. 6 .
LONG WAIT: The last time Florida State was in a regional final, two-sport point guard Charlie Ward was months away from claiming the Heisman Trophy as the Seminoles’ quarterback, the Fab Five ruled at Michigan — and the Seminoles were blown out by a Rick Pitino-coached Kentucky team featuring Jamal Mashburn.
That was 1993.
The balanced Seminoles (23-11) got here by upending 1-seed Xavier then beating a 32-win Gonzaga team in the Sweet 16.
“We just don’t care who plays or who scores the basket, as long as everybody’s happy,” FSU’s Braian Angola said. “We buy into the system, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
SEMBLANCE OF ORDER: The other half of the bracket looks much closer to form.
In the East, Jalen Brunson was fantastic in leading top-seeded Villanova past Press, umm, West Virginia in Friday’s Sweet 16. That pushed the Wildcats — the highest overall seed left — into Sunday’s regional final in Boston to face third-seeded Texas Tech, which beat 2-seed Purdue.
And in the Midwest, bluebloods Kansas and Duke advanced to a chalk regional final in Omaha, Nebraska. Neither had an easy time of it, with the top-seeded Jayhawks holding off fifth-seeded Clemson while the second-seeded Blue Devils beat No. 11 seed Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference-heavy doubleheader.
CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: The Big 12 and ACC are leading the way entering the Elite Eight.
The Big 12 earned seven bids and has three teams (Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas State) still alive to go with an 11-4 tournament record (.733). The ACC tied its own record with nine bids and has two left (Duke and FSU) to go with a 12-7 record (.632).
The Big East (Villanova), Big Ten (Michigan) and Missouri Valley Conference (Loyola-Chicago) have the other spots.
FAIL: ESPN says there were 17.3 million entrees into its bracket contest. And zero —as in nary a one— got the Elite Eight teams correct. So maybe you don’t have to feel so badly about your up-in-smoke picks?
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) —- Loyola-Chicago and its game-planning nun are headed to the Elite Eight. So too are Kansas State, Florida State and Michigan in this maddest of Marches.
Day 2 of the Sweet 16 has Villanova’s Jalen Brunson vs. West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, Duke’s athletes trying to solve Syracuse’s zone and the arm brace saga of Purdue’s Isaac Haas. Oh, and all those athletes between Kansas and Clemson.
No wonder sports fans love this time of the year so much.
The marquee matchup comes in the East Region Friday in Boston, where Villanova, one of two No. 1 seeds remaining, faces Press Virginia.
The Wildcats have been on a tear while everyone has been tearing up their brackets, making 31 combined 3-pointers in lopsided opening NCAA Tournament wins over Radford and Alabama. Villanova (32-4) has been even better on defense, holding its first two opponents to 37 percent shooting and less than 60 points per game.
West Virginia (26-10) is known for its defense, but rode its hot-shooting offense into the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. The Mountaineers shot at least 50 percent in their NCAA opening wins over Murray State and Marshall, averaging 84 points per game. They also play that relentless, pressure-all-time defense that gives teams fits, especially this time of year.
“The matchup with West Virginia, it’s what you get at this point in the tournament,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Sweet 16, you’re going to play a great team that’s playing on all cylinders. You can’t get this far unless you’re really clicking right now.”
The game also will have two of the nation’s top players at the top of their games: Brunson and Carter.
Brunson is a front-runner for national player of the year. Carter is one of the nation’s top one-on-one defenders. Could be the best individual match-up of the bracket right there.
“What makes him tough? He’s smart. He’s very smart,” Carter said of Brunson. “He’s crafty. He knows how to use his body well. He knows about angles and stuff.”
BLUE DEVILS VS. ORANGE ZONE: Syracuse was not exactly an offensive juggernaut in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 60 points once in three games. The Orange (23-13) reached the Sweet 16 behind coach Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, which has limited teams to 54 points per game and limited No. 3 Michigan State to 26 percent shooting to reach the Sweet 16.
Syracuse faces its toughest test yet against the Blue Devils (28-7) in Omaha. Duke has a superb inside-out game with super frosh Marvin Bagley III in the middle and is averaging 85 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.
Something has to give.
HAAS AND THE BRACE: Purdue suffered a huge blow when Hass, the Boilermakers’ 7-foot-2 match-up nightmare, broke his right elbow in its opener against Cal State-Fullerton. Haas has not given up on the season just yet, though.
The senior big man tried to wear a brace in Purdue’s round of 32 game against Butler, but the NCAA nixed it because the brace had metal in it.
In steps Purdue’s engineering students. Given NCAA guidelines by the Purdue staff, the engineering whizzes worked through the night Monday to create a one-of-a-kind brace to hold Haas’ elbow in place.
Even with his new elbow accessory, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter all but ruled Haas out for Friday’s game against Texas Tech. Haas is still holding out hope.
“If I did play, it would just be really short minutes, I’m sure,” Haas said. “But I’ll play as many as I’m asked of.”
TIGERS AND JAYHAWKS: Kansas (29-7), the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, won its record 14th straight Big 12 title and opened the NCAA Tournament by beating Penn and Seton Hall behind a stingy defense. The Jayhawks have one of the biggest stars left in the bracket in Devonte Graham, but fifth-seeded Clemson (25-9) is on a roll, coming off a 31-pont thrashing of No. 4 seed Auburn, the third-largest win by a lower seed since 1979.
“I think we have moments where we don’t play very tough, but I also think we have some moments where our experience and our toughness definitely shows,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
SEC OUT: The SEC had the second-most teams in the NCAA Tournament with eight. Now there are none.
With Kentucky’s 61-58 loss to Kansas State Thursday night, the SEC does not have a team left in the bracket through the first half of the Sweet 16. The Wildcats were the conference’s last team standing after Texas A&M was blown out by Michigan earlier Thursday.
NEW FINAL FOUR: With Gonzaga’s loss to Florida State, this year’s Final four is guaranteed to have four different teams than last season.
Defending national champion North Carolina, which beat the Zags in the title game a year ago, lost its second-round game against Texas A&M. South Carolina and Oregon did not make this year’s NCAA Tournament.
7:07 p.m. ET, CBS
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Why Kansas will win: A balanced offense (all five starters average at least 12 points) could be fully functional. After missing the Big 12 tournament and playing limited minutes in the first two rounds while nursing a sprained knee, sophomore center Udoka Azubuike is expected to return to the starting lineup. When Azubuike is healthy, he complements a four-guard lineup that is a very difficult matchup for defenses.
Why Clemson will win: The Tigers blew out Auburn in the second round with a superlative defensive performance to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997. Clemson’s interior defense has been very good all season, and led by junior Marcquise Reed, its trio of athletic guards will be a handful on both ends for Kansas’ perimeter players.
7:27 p.m., TBS
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Why Villanova will win: Much is made of Villanova’s offense, and rightly so. Its 86.9 points is almost a point more — .8, to be exact — than anyone else averaged this year, and it has made 12 or more three-pointers in 21 of its 36 games, including 17 in the second-round win vs. Alabama. But the Wildcats have become a much better defensive team throughout the season, limiting their last five opponents to 70 points or fewer. Radford and Alabama, its first two opponents in the NCAA tournament, were held to 37% shooting and 59 points.
Why West Virginia will win: Sagaba Konate. Second in the country with 113 blocks, he changes the game around the basket. Avoid the rim, and your shooting percentage is going to suffer. Go at him, and you risk drawing an offensive foul. Making him all the more difficult is that Villanova hasn’t faced a player like him yet this season. The Wildcats will be figuring out how to deal with him on the fly.
Approx. 9:37 p.m. ET, CBS
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Why Duke will win: Despite its youth — four freshman starters — Duke might be the most talented team in the Sweet 16. That starts with freshman big man Marvin Bagley III, who led the ACC in scoring (21.2) and rebounding (11.3). After struggling defensively during the first half of the season, the Blue Devils went almost exclusively to zone — a la Syracuse — and have won nine of 11. It plays into Syracuse’s weakness (32% three-point shooting). In the teams’ regular-season meeting, Duke allowed 44 points and won by 16.
Why Syracuse will win: The Orange barely made it into the NCAA tournament but won a play-in game, then two more with Jim Boeheim’s trademark zone — which held Michigan State to 25.8% shooting. When it’s operating well, it doesn’t just cause opponents trouble, it frustrates them, which leads to more bad shots and further frustration. Although Syracuse lost the earlier meeting, it held Duke to 60 points, its lowest offensive output. Sophomore guard Tyus Battle (19.3-point average) hasn’t really gotten going in the tournament, but has potential for a big game.
9:57 p.m., TBS
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Why Purdue will win: Isaac Haas hopes a brace made for him by Purdue’s mechanical engineering students will allow him to play a week after breaking his right elbow, but coach Matt Painter made it sound unlikely. That’s a blow, no question. But the Boilermakers figured out how to make do without their second-leading scorer in the second-round win against Butler, and the confidence and reassurance that gives them — freshman Matt Haarms in particular — is no small thing.
Why Texas Tech will win: The Red Raiders are crafty defensively. Jarrett Culver, Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith each average more than a steal per game, giving them a chance to disrupt a Purdue offense that’s still adjusting to the loss of Haas. Also, the Red Raiders have come back from deficits in each of their first two games, so they aren’t out until the final buzzer sounds.
1. Michigan shows up as the title contender we’ve been looking for. Finally, the Wolverines that looked so fabulous in the Big Ten tournament, notching wins over Michigan State and Purdue, have returned. And it’s a team that’s got national title written all over it. Michigan hammered Texas A&M, a team that beat defending champ North Carolina convincingly last weekend, by 27 points on Thursday.
Coach John Beilein’s team was firing on all cylinders. A team that needed a thrilling buzzer-beater to get to the Sweet 16 due to a stale offense, now looks like a title favorite right alongside Duke and Villanova. An exceptional defensive team, the Wolverines proved how unstoppable they can be when their offense is really clicking — shooting 62% from the floor and 58% from beyond the arc. Mo Wagner broke out of a mini slump with 21 points, while guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman cashed in with 24 points and seven assists.
NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET: See how the field of 68 has been trimmed
2. Loyola-Chicago is the most balanced clutch team left in the Dance. Loyola-Chicago is the ultimate Cinderella of 2018’s March Madness, advancing to the Elite Eight on three consecutive last-second, game-winning jumpers — over No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 7 Nevada, respectively. Except there’s no Steph Curry on this upstart mid-major. And that’s what makes the sum-of-all-the-parts Ramblers so unique and fun to watch. There’s no superstar (outside of Sister Jean, of course), but a handful of sharpshooters who can come up clutch.
In Thursday’s 69-68 win over Nevada, it was Marques Townes with the dagger with six seconds left to help Loyola punch its Elite Eight ticket. His three-pointer, assisted by Clayton Custer, shows how many weapons coach Porter Moser has at his disposal.
SportsPulse: Loyola-Chicago continues to dance in the NCAA tournament and will make an Elite Eight appearance for the first time since 1963. USA TODAY Sports
3. Kentucky choked big time. This was one of the most disappointing losses in the John Calipari era at Kentucky, as the fifth-seeded Wildcats crumbled against a Kansas State team that played tougher and with more drive. Kentucky had a red carpet rolled out to get to the Final Four, with No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Cincinnati, and No. 4 Arizona all gone. But poor free-throw shooting and defensive blunders (especially on a Barry Brown game-winning lay-up) cost this freshman-laden group against a KSU team that was playing without its best player and had major foul trouble down the stretch.
4. Kansas State continues to silence doubters. Coach Bruce Weber made sure his K-State players knew where his Wildcats were ranked on Sweet 16 boards before Thursday’s tip. He wanted them to go out and play with a chip on their shoulder. Mission accomplished. The Wildcats were impressive in their win over Kentucky, getting just enough offense and imposing their defensive will on a heavily-favored UK squad (KSU’s allowing just 51 points a game in NCAAs). Bruce Weber has put forth one of the most impressive coaching jobs in the tournament this March.
5. Florida State is a No. 9 seed playing like a No. 2. Coach Leonard Hamilton’s team was the aggressor from the get-go against a very sound Gonzaga squad and FSU used its press to frustrate the offensively potent ‘Zags. More than that, the Seminoles are stellar in transition and used a balanced offensive attack (five FSU players scored seven points or more) to advance to their first Elite Eight since 1993.
A seemingly inconsistent team that went 9-9 in ACC play has found its groove at just the right time, knocking off Xavier in the second round and using Thursday’s Sweet 16 stage to prove it belongs and is far from the No. 9 seed it earned from a back-and-forth regular season.
“Every time we thought we had something going forward, they took it right back and got a big stop or a big bucket,” Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert told reporters of FSU after the game. “A credit to how tough they are.”
(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.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) — The conference record for the most teams to ever reach the NCAA tournament goes to the old Big East when it sent 11 of its 16 members in 2011. That garnered the since-restructured league nearly 70% of its teams dancing.
This year, the ACC, like plenty of years in recent memory, is positioned to challenge that record for most teams. Currently, 11 of the ACC’s 15 teams have a shot at making the NCAAs. Nine of those 11 are in the latest USA TODAY Sports bracket projection, with N.C. State one of the first teams in, Syracuse one of the first four teams out and Notre Dame on life support.
Should the Wolfpack and Orange play their way off the tournament bubble, and/or the Irish (starter Matt Farrell is back from injury and preseason All-American Bonzie Colson could be back next month) make a late push, there’s a chance 10 ACC teams put on their dancing shoes come March. Notre Dame had a chance to play itself back on the bubble on Monday night at North Carolina, but succumbed to an 83-66 loss at Chapel Hill.
While the Big 12 features nine of its 10 teams in the mix to make the tournament (that’d easily be a percentage record for teams in the Dance), the ACC has an opportunity to notch 11 bids.
Also on the bubble Monday night, Baylor got a huge double-overtime victory over Texas to springboard into the field and push the Longhorns to a No. 11 seed.
► No. 1 seeds: Virginia, Villanova, Xavier, Purdue.
► Last four in: Houston, Providence, North Carolina State, Baylor
► First Four out: Saint Bonaventure, Syracuse, Temple, UCLA.
Exactly one month away from Selection Sunday, the NCAA tournament committee revealed its top 16 seeds during the season.
The No. 1 seeds are: Virginia (top overall seed, projected in the South Region), Villanova (projected in the East Region), Xavier (projected in the Midwest Region)and Purdue (projected in the West Region).
The No. 2 seeds are as follows: Auburn, Kansas, Duke and Cincinnati. The No. 3 seeds are Clemson, Texas Tech, Michigan State and North Carolina. And the No. 4 seeds are Tennessee, Ohio State, Arizona and Oklahoma.
The Atlantic Coast Conference has the most teams among the top 16 with four. The Big 12 and Big Ten have three, the SEC and Big East each have two and the American and Pac-12 both have one.
The breakdown by region with overall seed in parenthesis:
No. 1 Virginia (1)
No. 2 Cincinnati (8)
No. 3 Michigan State (11)
No. 4 Tennessee (13)
No. 1 Villanova (2)
No. 2 Duke (7)
No. 3 Texas Tech (10)
No. 4 Ohio State (14)
No. 1 Purdue (4)
No. 2 Kansas (6)
No. 3 North Carolina (12)
No. 4 Arizona (15)
No. 1 Xavier (3)
No. 2 Auburn (5)
No. 3 Clemson (9)
No. 4 Oklahoma (16)
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina beat its two biggest rivals, then pulled away late to beat Notre Dame to cap a demanding stretch.
The 14th-ranked Tar Heels are tired. They also might have found a groove.
Theo Pinson scored 14 of his 16 points after halftime to go with 10 rebounds, helping UNC pull away late to beat Notre Dame 83-66 on Monday night for its third win in five days.
Things certainly look different from 10 days ago for the Tar Heels (20-7, 9-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were coming off their first three-game losing streak in four years and a win against a winless-in-the-ACC Pittsburgh team before the stretch. But they beat Duke at home on Thursday then won Saturday at North Carolina State in a pair of emotional rivalry games.
Martinas Geben and John Mooney each scored 18 points for the Fighting Irish (15-11, 5-8), with Mooney going 6 of 6 from 3-point range. But UNC — which shot 57 percent — later used its clinching run to turn a 67-63 margin into a 17-point bulge near the 2-minute mark.
No. 20 WEST VIRGINIA , TCU
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Teddy Allen scored 16 points, giving No. 20 West Virginia a needed spark off the bench.
James “Beetle” Bolden added 14 points, Daxter Miles Jr. scored 13 and Wes Harris had 11 points for West Virginia (19-7, 8-5 Big 12). The Mountaineers’ 38 bench points were its most in a Big 12 game this season.
Desmond Bane had 16 points, Vlad Brodziansky added 15 and Kouat Noi scored 12 for TCU (17-9, 5-8).
West Virginia has had trouble holding onto leads throughout the Big 12 season but didn’t let the Horned Frogs come back from a 38-27 halftime deficit.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A loss didn’t prevent Virginia from climbing to No. 1 in AP men’s basketball poll for the first time in more than 35 years after all.
The Cavaliers rose a slot to sit atop Monday’s AP Top 25 despite an overtime home loss Saturday to Virginia Tech, part of an upset-filled week that allowed for plenty of uncertainty in the poll. The Cavaliers (23-2, 12-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) earned 30 of 65 first-place votes to outdistance No. 2 Michigan State and rise above the turmoil that included last week’s top three teams all losing.
Tony Bennett’s Cavaliers had been at No. 2 before this season, but this is the first time the program has reached No. 1 since December 1982 — the senior season of 7-foot-4 great Ralph Sampson — back when the poll ranked only 20 teams. And that team fell out of that spot after its improbable upset loss to Chaminade in Hawaii, regarded by many as the biggest upset in the history of college sports.
Virginia looked set to reach the No. 1 spot after Villanova’s home loss to St. John’s before losing to the Hokies . Still, the Cavaliers ended up there a day after the NCAA selection committee had them as the No. 1 overall seed in its reveal of the top 16 seeds to date.
The Cavaliers — whose 12 previous weeks at No. 1 all came during the Sampson era — play with the top ranking for the first time since the Chaminade loss on Tuesday at Miami.
“I do not get too carried away with where we are,” Bennett said after the loss to the Hokies. “I always say ‘thus far,’ and now we have to prove it again. … Now we are going to get a chance to do it again and we are going to have to fight like crazy every game. Everybody is capable of beating everybody in this league and that is reality. If you are little off it is not enough.”
Michigan State (24-3, 12-2 Big Ten) climbed two spots after a weekend win against Purdue in a top-5 matchup. The Spartans, who reached No. 1 for a week in January, earned 21 first-place votes.
Next came Villanova (23-2, 10-2 Big East), who fell to third after a five-week stay at No. 1 and earned nine first-place votes. Xavier (23-3, 11-2 Big East) inched up a spot to fourth and earned five first-place votes, followed by Cincinnati (23-2, 12-0 American Athletic Conference) at No. 5.
This is Xavier’s highest ranking in its history, while Cincinnati is in the top 5 for the first time since spending a good chunk of the 2001-02 season there.
Purdue (23-4, 12-2 Big East) fell from third to sixth after losing to Ohio State and Michigan State last week. Those losses snapped the nation’s longest winning streak at 19 games, marking Purdue’s first losses since falling to Tennessee and Western Kentucky on consecutive November days in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.
Texas Tech was next at No. 7, followed by Ohio State, Gonzaga and Auburn to round out the top 10.
Rivalry wins against Duke and North Carolina State helped North Carolina climb seven spots to No. 14 for the week’s biggest jump. It continued the Tar Heels’ wild swings in poll positioning, including a nine-slot drop last month and two other slides of eight slots.
Ohio State rose six spots to No. 8 after the Purdue win, while No. 11 Clemson was up five spots.
Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young had the biggest fall of the week, down six spots to No. 23. The Sooners have lost three straight and six of eight after Saturday’s loss at Iowa State .
St. Mary’s (15th) and Arizona (17th) both fell four spots.
The newcomers aren’t entirely new this week. Both No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 25 Arizona State have been ranked multiple weeks this season and appeared in the top 10, with the Sun Devils reaching No. 3 on Christmas Day.
Kentucky fell out of the rankings for the second time this season — It hadn’t happened since March 2014 before this year — from No. 24 after three straight losses. Miami fell out from No. 25 after losing at Boston College.
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MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jalen Brunson scored 31 points despite leaving briefly with a left ankle injury, Donte DiVincenzo added 23 and top-ranked Villanova beat Marquette 85-82 on Sunday.
Last year, Marquette upset then-No. 1 Villanova in Milwaukee.
DiVincenzo’s putback off a missed 3 with 15 seconds to go gave Villanova (20-1, 7-1 Big East) a five-point lead. Andrew Rowsey led Marquette (13-8, 4-5) with 27 points, including a deep 3 from the wing that pulled the Golden Eagles to 83-80 with 1:30 left.
No. 3 PURDUE 74, INDIANA 67
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Isaac Haas matched his career high with 26 points, Vincent Edwards added 19 and Purdue held off Indiana for its school-record 17th consecutive victory.
The Boilermakers (21-2, 10-0 Big Ten) extended the nation’s longest active winning streak with their 12th straight conference victory, also a school record. Purdue hasn’t lost since Nov. 23.
Juwan Morgan had 24 points and seven rebounds, and Robert Johnson finished with 21 points and six assists to lead Indiana (12-10, 5-5).
No. 6 MICHIGAN STATE 74, MARYLAND 68
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Joshua Langford scored 19 points and Michigan State beat Maryland for coach coach Tom Izzo’s straight 20-win season.
Down by 13 at halftime, Michigan State (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten) outscoreed the Terrapins 20-4 in the opening 5 1/2 minutes and held on for its fourth straight victory. Izzo has 18 20-win seasons at Michigan State, missing the plateau only once since 2003-04.
Kevin Huerter led Maryland (15-8, 4-6) with 17 points.
No. 17 WICHITA STATE 90, TULSA 71
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Austin Reaves hit seven 3-pointers in the first half and scored all of his career-high 23 points before halftime to lead Wichita State.
Reaves made his first seven 3-point attempts. He finished 7 of 11 from outside the arc.
Shaquille Morris scored 20 points for Wichita State (17-4, 7-2 American Athletic Conference).
Corey Henderson, a transfer from Wichita State, scored 28 points for Tulsa (11-10, 4-5).
No. 18 CLEMSON 72, GEORGIA TECH 70
ATLANTA (AP) — Gabe DeVoe scored a career-high 25 points, Marcquise Reed hit a decisive layup in the closing seconds and Clemson held off Georgia Tech.
The Tigers (17-4, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a three-game road losing streak. They took their first lead on Elijah Thomas’ three-point play early in the second half and didn’t trail again even though Georgia Tech tied it at 70-all on two free throws by Josh Okogie with 41.2 seconds remaining.
Okogie finished with 26 points for Georgia Tech (10-11, 3-5).
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — James Daniel has had his share of memorable moments in a basketball career filled with success, but ask the Tennessee guard, a graduate transfer from Howard, if he can pinpoint when he realized that Power Five basketball was different from mid-major hoops, and he just starts laughing.
“Did I have a ‘What did I get myself into?’ moment? Of course I did!” Daniel told USA TODAY Sports. “You know, everybody tells you that all the great coaches have a little crazy in them but man, coach (Rick) Barnes, he can be tough.”
The Vols, ranked No. 21 in the latest USA TODAY Coaches Poll, had been going hard for a couple of hours in a preseason practice and thought they were about to wrap up. Then Barnes ordered them to the sideline and called out “17!” a sideline-to-sideline sprint they repeated 17 times. When they were done, he yelled the number again.
“Coach Barnes and his intensity, that was my welcome to the Power Five moment,” Daniel laughed.
But it’s what he came here for: to be pushed outside his comfort zone and held to a higher standard. The hope is that his sacrifice comes with deep run in the NCAA Tournament.
Though Daniel is a graduate transfer — which means he received his undergraduate degree at a previous university and was therefore immediately eligible to play instead of sitting out a year — he is one of the dozens of transfers in college men’s basketball, a growing trend that has drawn criticism from pundits and mid-major coaches alike. Some call it an epidemic.
Critics say it’s unfair that players can suddenly abandon the small mid-major that was loyal to them initially and helped developed his skills. Why should a Power Five reap the benefits of someone else’s work? Mid-majors aren’t supposed to serve as farm systems, after all. It can destroy a mid-major’s depth, and throw off its recruiting plan. On the flip side, transfers usually are willing to sacrifice personal glory to help a (different) team — and isn’t that what coaches always preach?
“If you transfer to a perennial top 30 program … it’s just going to be a lot harder, and guys know that,” Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin said. “Yeah, there are perks — you’re playing on ESPN, flying on charters, playing in front of packed arenas … But they’re signing on for more work and harder work, and you admire the kid who wants to challenge himself.”
Regardless of who’s right and who’s wrong in the debate — and players who spoke with USA TODAY Sports point out that coaches aren’t typically held in contempt when they move up for a bigger and better opportunities — the transition from Big Man On Campus to Guy Just Trying To Contribute takes time.
At Howard, Daniel led the NCAA in scoring during the 2015-16 season, averaging 27.1 points. He arrived in Knoxville as the NCAA’s No. 2 active scorer, totaling 1,933 points in three years at Howard (he’s currently at 2,052). A 6-foot, 172-pound guard, Daniel got a ball screen almost every possession at Howard, and was often left to create his own shot. At Tennessee, he’s not a starter. For the first time in Daniel’s career, he has more assists (67) than made field goals (35).
“You never really know what you’re getting yourself into when you transfer,” Daniel said. “Of course I thought I’d be scoring more, but my role has been being more of a defensive presence, or handing out assists.”
Barnes said he anticipated Daniel could come in and add instant leadership — he’s the only senior on the Vols’ roster — while he felt out the SEC.
“At Howard it was, ‘If in doubt, shoot,’ ” Barnes said. “So, from that standpoint he’s still learning when he’s really open and when he’s not. When he takes good shots, he’s very effective … and when he wants to get engaged defensively, he can be a difference maker.”
So how big of a hit did his ego take in transferring to Tennessee? Daniel laughed at that question, too.
“I’ve already scored the ball,” he explained. “It’s not like I haven’t been able to that. I’m just ready to win.”
Daniel always believed he was good enough to play at the Power Five. He played AAU ball with guys such as Frank Mason (Kansas) and Andrew Rowsey (Marquette) and, “I’m thinking to myself the whole time, ‘I’m just as good or better than these guys.’ But we had a loaded (AAU) team, so nobody really got to shine if you weren’t going to those big camps.”
Though VCU came after him late, Daniel decided he’d stick with the school that had shown interest right away, and signed with Howard. A few years later, he wondered if there was something bigger for him.
Auburn’s Desean Murray can relate. A Stanley, N.C., native, Murray grew up a Tar Heels fan, dreaming of the day he’d get a call from Roy Williams with an offer to wear Carolina blue.
But that never happened. Worried he might not have any offers come the spring of his senior year, Murray signed with Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C., in the fall.
A forward who plays much bigger than his listed height of 6-3, Murray led the Big South in scoring as a sophomore, averaging 20.2 points. He doesn’t think it’s accurate to call him a late bloomer. “I was just given an opportunity to be dominant at Presbyterian,” he said. “In high school, most the five-star guys got the attention.”
And while he doesn’t blame college coaches, Murray does think they in general put pressure on players to sign early. That means players who didn’t get much exposure — and could benefit from being seen their senior high school season — commit to a smaller school when maybe they could play at a higher level if they waited.
“Coaches are looking at a bunch of other people, too, so if you wait they (on you) they might lose their backup option, too,” Murray said.
In some ways, Murray thinks that makes it more fun. There are so many kids trying to play college basketball, proving you’re wanted by someone early is a sign of success.
Murray felt comfortable the first time he played pick up with his new teammates, and has been surprised at all the space he’s had: At Presbyterian, Murray got double and triple-teamed every time he touched the ball. But at Auburn, because so many other players are a scoring threat, opposing teams have to guard everybody, which gives Murray more room to work. As a starter for the No. 19 Tigers, Murray averages 10.8 points and 7.3 rebounds in about 23 minutes per game. Being “the man” is fun, he said — but winning is better.
Some players transfer knowing they will need to score for their new team.
Oregon’s Elijah Brown, a graduate transfer from New Mexico who started his career at Butler, went to Eugene with the understanding that he needed to put the ball in the basket. Brown, the son of Warriors assistant Mike Brown, led New Mexico in scoring both his sophomore (21.7 points) and junior (18.9) years.
The Ducks lost their five top scorers from last year’s Final Four team, and restocked their roster with a mix of freshmen and transfers.
Besides Brown, they welcomed Mikyle McIntosh, a 6-7 forward from Illinois State. In his last three games, McIntosh has averaged 16.3 points and 8.3 rebounds, surprising numbers considering he averaged 12.5 points and 5.6 rebounds for the 28-7 Redbirds last season.
McIntosh said Oregon coaches told him in the recruiting process they envisioned him playing mostly in the paint but wanted him to stretch bigger defenders out the perimeter, too. At Illinois State, McIntosh came off his share of ball screens. At Oregon, he’s rarely isolated.
Playing in the Pac-12 has allowed McIntosh the chance to check items off his hoops-themed bucket list, like attending a game in the McKale Center, where Arizona fans create one of the rowdiest environments in the country. Except instead of just attending, he played there, scoring 20 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 90-83 loss.
“I don’t want people to think I hated my old school or despised my old coaching staff or anything,” McIntosh said. “This transfer was nothing about them, those are my guys. I just felt like personally, I needed to challenge myself and take the next step.”
Cane Broome has no regrets about how he found his way to Cincinnati. It was a circuitous path, and included stops at high school, prep school and Sacred Heart before finally settling on the Bearcats. And yes, he’d absolutely do it all over again.
“Sacred Heart, that was a big part of me finding myself as a basketball, player,” said Broome, who comes off the bench for No. 8 Cincinnati and averages 8.6 points and 3.4 assists.
A 6-foot guard from East Hartford, Conn., Broome said he had interest from a handful of schools — Boston College, San Francisco, Providence and St. Bonaventure, to name a few — coming out of high school, but didn’t have the grades. A year at Saint Thomas More prep fixed that, and when college hoops finally rolled around, Broome knew he wanted to go somewhere and play right away. Sacred Heart of the Northeast Conference gave him that opportunity.
And he didn’t just play — he played, and scored, a lot. Broome averaged 23.1 points a game for the Pioneers, earning the 2016 conference player of the year honors. And while he enjoyed Sacred Heart — and especially loved being close to his family — he noticed that in the locker room, no one ever talked about NBA aspirations or deep NCAA tournament runs. He craved both those things.
“At the end of the day, basketball is still basketball, but here, everyone expects you to win — coaches, teammates, alums, fans, people you walk by on campus,” Broome said. “The pressure, that’s the big difference.”
Broome likes that at Cincinnati, he doesn’t have to score the ball to feel like he’s contributing. If the team needed him to go out and get 20 one night, he believes he could do it. But he doesn’t feel the need to prove that to anyone.
“Whether it’s a different level or not, I already got 1,000 points. I achieved that,” he said. “I’d rather come here and be just a contributor but be on a team that has a chance to go far and win a national championship.”
For transfers, that’s a common desire — one they hope isn’t held against them.
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Vincent Edwards scored 30 points, Isaac Haas added 24 and No. 3 Purdue matched a school record with its 16 straight victory, using a late charge to finally get past No. 25 Michigan 92-88 on Thursday night.
The Boilermakers (20-2, 9-0 Big Ten) have won 20 consecutive games at Mackey Arena and are off to their best start in conference play since the NCAA Tournament began. It’s the fourth time Purdue has won 16 in a row, most recently 30 years ago.
Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had career-high 26 points and Zavier Simpson added 16 for Michigan (17-6, 6-4). The Wolverines were swept by Purdue in the regular season for the first time since 2007-08.
No. 11 ARIZONA 80, COLORADO 71
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Allonzo Trier scored 23 points, Deandre Ayton added 20 and Arizona avenged its lone loss of the Pac-12 season.
The 7-foot-1 Ayton, expected to be at or near the top of the NBA draft this year, was 12 of 12 at the foul line as the Buffaloes tried to get physical with the big rookie, without much success.
Dusan Ristic added 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting for the Wildcats (17-4, 7-1 Pac-12). George King scored 22 points for Colorado (12-9, 4-5).
PENN STATE 82, No. 13 OHIO STATE 79
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Tony Carr hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Penn State an upset victory over Ohio State, handing the Buckeyes their first Big Ten loss.
Carr had 28 points and was 4 for 5 from 3-point range for the Nittany Lions (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten). They were 11 for 14 from beyond the arc in beating a Top 25 team for the first time this season.
Keita Bates-Diop led Ohio State (18-5, 9-1) with 25 points. He had three 3-pointers in the last 2:07, tying it with the last with 5 seconds left.
No. 15 GONZAGA 95, PORTLAND 79
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Killian Tillie had 27 points and seven rebounds, and Gonzaga cruised to a victory over Portland.
Corey Kispert added a season-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (18-4, 8-1 West Coast Conference), who won their 20th straight conference road game.
It was Gonzaga’s 10th straight win over the Pilots (8-14, 2-7). The Bulldogs are 27-2 against Portland under coach Mark Few.
Freshman Marcus Shaver Jr. had 16 points for the Pilots (8-14, 2-7), who trailed by as many as 28 points in the second half.
No. 16 SAINT MARY’S 75, BYU 62
MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — Jock Landale had 32 points and 14 rebounds and Saint Mary’s pulled away in the second half to beat BYU, extending the Gaels’ winning streak to 15 .
The 15-game winning streak matches the longest in Saint Mary’s history. The Gaels also won 15 straight in 2008-09.
Emmett Naar added 13 points and 12 assists and Evan Fitzner made a key 3-pointer late to help the Gaels (20-2, 9-0 West Coast Conference) hold on for their fifth consecutive win over the Cougars (17-5, 6-3).
No. 17 WICHITA STATE 81, CENTRAL FLORIDA 62
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Shaquille Morris scored 19 points to lead Wichita State.
Morris, demoted from his starting spot, was 8 of 10 from the floor in 21 minutes. Darral Willis had 12 points and nine rebounds for the Shockers (16-4, 6-2 American Athletic Conference).
Dayon Griffin scored 15 points for Central Florida (13-7, 4-4).
UTAH 80, No. 21 ARIZONA STATE 77, OT
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Sedrick Barefield scored 17 points and hit the tying 3-pointer with 1.8 seconds left in regulation, helping Utah knock off Arizona State in overtime.
Utah (13-7, 5-4 Pac-12) led 79-77 late in overtime and had a chance to stretch it, but David Collette missed two free throws with 20.9 seconds left.
Arizona State (15-5, 3-5) missed two shots on the next possession and Barefield hit 1 of 2 free throws. The Sun Devils’ final shot, a running 3-pointer by Tra Holder at the buzzer, was nowhere close.
Holder led Arizona State with 23 points.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — PHILADELPHIA – Eric Paschall scored 17 points to lead No. 1 Villanova to an 89-69 victory against Providence on Tuesday night.
The Wildcats (19-1, 6-1 Big East) placed six players in double figures in their sixth straight win. Omari Spellman scored 16 points and Jalen Brunson finished with 15 on 5-for-15 shooting.
Villanova grabbed control with a 22-2 run on its way to a 39-30 halftime lead.
Rodney Bullock led Providence with 16 points. Jalen Lindsey had 14 points, and Kyron Cartwright had 12 points and six assists.
The Friars (14-7, 5-3) dropped to 1-3 against Top 25 teams this season.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Devon Hall scored 14 points, Kyle Guy had 12 and Virginia broke open a close game with a 22-2 run in the second half.
The Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) allowed their fewest points of the season. They lead the nation in scoring defense.
Gabe DeVoe scored 11 points, all in the first 12 minutes, and was the only player in double figures for the Tigers (16-4, 5-3). They managed just 13 points in the second half.
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Wendell Carter Jr. had 23 points and 12 rebounds, powering Duke to the road win.
Marvin Bagley III had 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Blue Devils (18-2, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who built a 20-point lead with their defense and kept Wake Forest at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Duke matched a season high by forcing 21 turnovers – 15 in the first half – and turned them into 34 points.
Doral Moore had 18 points and 12 rebounds for Wake Forest (8-12, 1-7), which has lost six in a row and eight of nine. Brandon Childress scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half.
NORMAN, Okla. – Trae Young had 26 points and nine assists, helping Oklahoma rally for the win.
Young, the nation’s leader in scoring and assists, struggled in losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma State last week. Against Kansas, the freshman point guard made 7 of 9 field goals and 10 of 12 free throws.
Christian James scored 15 points and Brady Manek added 14 for the Sooners (15-4, 5-3 Big 12), who won their 13th straight at home.
Svi Mykhailiuk scored 24 points and Malik Newman added 20 for Kansas (16-4, 6-2), which had won five straight. Devonte’ Graham, Kansas’ leading scorer, finished with 11 points on 4-of-19 shooting.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Keenan Evans scored 26 points, and Texas Tech rallied from a 15-point deficit.
Evans hit a 3-pointer with 3:52 left that put the Red Raiders ahead to stay. That came only 40 seconds after his rebound and assist to Jarrett Culver, whose breakaway dunk gave Texas Tech (16-4, 5-3 Big 12) its first lead since the first half.
Culver finished with 25 points, including four 3-pointers. The Red Raiders had lost two in a row.
Jeffrey Carroll had 16 points for Oklahoma State (13-7, 3-5), which was coming off an overtime win over then-No. 4 Oklahoma.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Jordan Bowden scored 19 points, Lamonte’ Turner hit a huge 3-pointer and Tennessee held on for its fifth win in six games.
Tennessee (14-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) withstood a brilliant performance from Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance, who scored each of his 25 points in the second half.
After trailing 41-21 with 14 1/2 minutes left, Vanderbilt (7-13, 2-6) cut Tennessee’s lead to 60-58 when Jeff Roberson made one of two free throws with 1:19 remaining. Turner answered by sinking a 3-pointer with 1:03 left.
Grant Williams had 19 points for Tennessee, two weeks after scoring 37 points in a 92-84 triumph at Vanderbilt. Roberson had 21 points for the Commodores.
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Katelynn Flaherty had 26 points with four 3-pointers and six assists and No. 16 Michigan beat short-handed Michigan State 74-48 on Tuesday night to snap a four-game skid in the series.
The 26-point margin of victory was Michigan’s largest in the series, topping 16 on Jan. 18, 1998.
Flaherty, ranked sixth in the country at 23.1 points per game, entered needing just six points to move into sixth on the Big Ten’s career scoring list. She passed Maggie Lucas of Penn State (2010-14). Flaherty’s 3-point play with 5:25 left in the third quarter put her at 20-plus for the 12th straight game.
Nicole Munger added 13 points and Hallie Thome grabbed 11 rebounds for Michigan (18-4, 7-2), which has its highest ranking in the AP Top 25 since coming in at No. 12 on Dec. 24, 2001.
Sidney Cooks scored 17 points for Michigan State (14-7, 4-4), which entered having won seven of the last nine in the series. The Spartans only dressed eight players due to a handful of injuries to their perimeter players, including starting point guard Taryn McCutcheon.
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Wichita State has hit its first bump in its new American Athletic Conference home. Coach Gregg Marshall now gets a chance to see how his seventh-ranked Shockers handle it.
The Shockers were one of five AP Top 25 teams to lose twice this week, joining No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 8 Texas Tech as top-10 teams in that group. First came an 83-78 home loss to SMU on Wednesday — snapping a 27-game home winning streak and giving Wichita its first lost in AAC play — followed by Saturday’s 73-59 loss at Houston.
This is part of the Shockers’ first go-around through the American after moving from their 72-year home in the Missouri Valley Conference, where they won four straight regular-season titles with a 68-4 record from 2013-17.
Wichita State (15-4, 5-2) had not lost consecutive conference games since the 2012-13 season before this week.
The problems hit both sides of the court. SMU shot nearly 64 percent in its win. Against Houston, though, Wichita State’s most glaring troubles came in a 33-percent, 18-turnover offensive showing.
Wichita State had won its first four AAC games by double-figure margins, but things have been tougher starting with a 72-69 win at Tulsa on Jan. 13.
“We have to work on everything,” Marshall said after the Houston loss, adding: “I have to coach better. We have to play better.”
The Big 12’s teams keep beating each other up.
The Sooners and freshman star Trae Young lost twice on the road, first at Kansas State on Tuesday and then in overtime at Oklahoma State on Saturday despite Young’s 48 points.
Then there were the Red Raiders with their own set of road league losses. They fell at Texas on Wednesday and at Iowa State on Saturday.
“We’re going to have to fight and get back up,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “This is life in the Big 12.”
Speaking of the Big 12, No. 10 Kansas had the week’s best win by beating sixth-ranked West Virginia 71-66 on the road.
No. 18 Kentucky and No. 19 Seton Hall were the other ranked teams to lose twice this week.
Both of the Wildcats’ losses came to unranked teams, first at South Carolina and then at home to Florida to snap a 30-game home winning streak against Southeastern Conference foes. It raises the question of whether the Wildcats could slide out of Monday’s new poll.
“As a team, there is no lack of confidence,” Wildcats sophomore Sacha Killeya-Jones said. “We understand that we have work to do. We can’t go out there and mess around. We have to go out there and fight.”
As for the Pirates, they lost at Creighton — which has been ranked in four polls this season — and then at home to No. 11 Xavier in the Big East.
No. 3 Purdue (19-2, 8-0 Big Ten) has won 15 straight games and has won three straight Big Ten games by at least 23 points for the first time in school history. The Boilermakers beat Wisconsin by 28 points and Iowa by 23 this week.
SCHEDULED TO APPEAR?
St. Mary’s (19-2, 8-0 West Coast Conference) is rolling and could go from “Others Receiving Votes” to ranked by Monday.
The Gaels won at No. 13 Gonzaga on Thursday, then won at Pacific for a 14th straight victory — the second longest streak in school history — behind 32 points from Jock Landale, who stands as one of college basketball’s top performers with Selection Sunday less than two months away.
Then there’s Kansas State (14-5, 4-3 Big 12), which followed its win against Oklahoma by beating No. 24 TCU . The Wildcats rank 24th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings (115.7 points per 100 possessions), but held both opponents to 42 percent shooting while forcing the Sooners into 20 turnovers.
“They’ve grown up,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said after the TCU win. “We have good leadership. And they’re guarding.”
MEN’S SUNDAY ROUNDUP
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Kyle Guy scored 17 points, and No. 2 Virginia beat Wake Forest 59-49 on Sunday night for its 10th straight win.
De’Andre Hunter added 16 points to help the first-place Cavaliers (18-1, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) extend their longest winning streak since 2015-16 and open league play with seven victories for the second time in four years. Virginia shot nearly 46 percent in the second half while holding Wake Forest to 30 percent shooting after halftime.
Bryant Crawford scored 11 points, and Mitchell Wilbekin and Brandon Childress added 10 apiece for the Demon Deacons (8-11, 1-6), who kept it close against a highly-ranked Virginia team for the second time in three years but still managed to lose their fifth straight.
Devon Hall added 12 points to help the Cavaliers win a tight one in which there were nine lead changes and five ties.
NO. 23 MICHIGAN 62, RUTGERS 47
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Moe Wagner scored 16 points and Duncan Robinson added 12 to lift Michigan over Rutgers.
The Wolverines (17-5, 6-3 Big Ten) rebounded from a 20-point loss at Nebraska on Thursday, taking the lead for good with a 13-0 run in the first half. Both teams shot well under 50 percent from the field, but this Michigan team is more capable of winning with defense than in the past.
Corey Sanders scored 12 points for Rutgers (12-9, 2-6), and Deshawn Freeman added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Freeman also had the only assist of the game for Rutgers, which finished with 13 turnovers.
NO. 25 MIAMI 86, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 81
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Bruce Brown Jr. scored 19 points and Miami shot 58 percent from the field.
Anthony Lawrence II and Ebuka Izundu each had 15 points for the Hurricanes (14-4, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Miami led the entire second half but struggled to put the Wolfpack away in a game that came down to the final seconds.
Miami came into Raleigh as one the ACC’s worst 3-point shooting teams, but made 10 of 19 tries from behind the arc for its best output in a league game.
Omer Yurtseven had 28 points for the Wolfpack (13-7, 3-4), who shot 63 percent after halftime and 54 percent for the game.
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Kat Tudor made seven 3-pointers and finished with a career-high 34 points, and No. 18 Oregon State snapped No. 7 Oregon’s nine-game winning streak with an 85-79 overtime victory Friday night.
Marie Gulich added 28 points and 15 rebounds for the Beavers (14-4, 5-2 Pac-12), who extended their Civil War rivalry winning streak over the Ducks to 14 games.
Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 35 points for the Ducks (17-3, 6-1), including a 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds left at the end of regulation that sent the game into overtime.
Gulich’s turnaround jumper with 1:42 left in the extra period gave the Beavers an 80-77 lead. She made one free throw to extend the lead.
Ionescu made two of three foul shots to close the Ducks within 81-79, but Katie McWilliams made a 3-pointer and free throw with 15 seconds left to put it out of reach.
Hebard finished with 24 points for the Ducks.
No. 13 UCLA 60, No. 21 CALIFORNIA 52
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jordin Canada scored 11 of her 13 points in the fourth quarter, Monique Billings had 14 points and 18 rebounds, and UCLA held off California.
Canada scored the first five points of the fourth quarter to blunt a comeback by Cal, which played without their leading scorer and the Pac-12’s top rebounder, Kristine Anigwe, for nearly six minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters after she picked up her fourth foul.
Cal (13-5, 4-3) put together an 8-0 run with four points from Kianna Smith to get within four, 51-47, with two minutes left, but Kennedy Burke had a tip-in and Canada made a lunging 3-pointer as she was falling that banked in for a 56-47 lead with 37 seconds left. UCLA (14-4, 5-2) added four free throws before Anigwe got Cal’s last bucket with 13 seconds left.
UTAH 58, No. 22 ARIZONA ST. 56
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Utah rallied from an 11-point deficit to start the fourth quarter and handed Arizona State its first home loss of the season.
It was the third straight loss for the Sun Devils (13-6, 4-3 Pac-12).
Megan Huff had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Utes (13-5, 4-3), who outscored the Sun Devils 26-13 in the final quarter. Torri Williams added 10 points, including four free throws in the final 18.4 seconds.
Robbi Ryan scored 16 for Arizona State but missed what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer in the final seconds. Williams’ two free throws with 2.6 seconds left sealed the victory.
MEN’S FRIDAY NIGHT ROUNDUP
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges made a 3-pointer and bounced on his toes with joy, enjoying a game he and Michigan State desperately needed.
Bridges scored 22 points to help the ninth-ranked Spartans respond to adversity with an 85-57 win over Indiana on Friday night.
The Spartans (17-3, 5-2 Big Ten) had a confidence-boosting performance after going from a top-ranked team to a reeling one. They were slumping after a 16-point loss at Ohio State, an overtime win over Rutgers and an 82-72 setback to Michigan at home.
“I was just trying to prove that we weren’t soft and that we can compete with any team,” Bridges said. “We were trying to prove a point.”
Michigan State took control with an 18-0 run midway through the first half, led by as much as 23 and was ahead 42-23 at halftime.
“We were aggressive and played our game,” Bridges said. “We had a great sense of urgency.”
Nick Ward had 18 points and 13 rebounds, Cassius Winston had 10 points, eight assists and only one turnover and Jaren Jackson had 10 points, six rebounds and three blocks and for the Spartans.
The Hoosiers (11-8, 4-3) lost for the first time in four games, falling into a fourth-place tie with the Wolverines and Nebraska.
Indiana’s Robert Johnson had 21 points and the rest of his teammates struggled offensively. Josh Newkirk scored 14, but missed 12 of 17 shots.
“If those two guys can continue to play well, I think we’ll be OK,” coach Archie Miller said.
The Hoosiers were held to 34 percent shooting.
“It wasn’t a good offensive showing and they had a lot to do with it,” Miller said.
WISCONSIN 75, ILLINOIS 50
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — He scores, he rebounds, he leads the press break at 6 feet, 10 inches tall.
Not an everyday combination for a post player, but Ethan Happ doesn’t want you to forget he played point guard early in his high school career before he shot up.
It all added up Friday to 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as Happ as Wisconsin broke out of an offensive slump to beat Illinois 75-50.
“The biggest thing was we played as a unit tonight,” Happ said. “There wasn’t one guy trying to do it himself.”
On paper, Illinois (10-10, 0-7 Big Ten) should have given Wisconsin (10-10, 3-4) fits. The Illini like to pressure the perimeter, the Badgers’ backcourt has been thinned by injury and starting point guard Brad Davison went to the bench midway through the first half with his second foul.
But the Badgers didn’t miss a beat.
Up 24-18 about two minutes after Davison went out, Wisconsin went on a 16-6 run over the next five minutes to take control.
Suddenly, a team that had lost its first six Big Ten games by an average of 3.5 points was in a double-digit hole from which it would not recover despite trying to press the Badgers and switching to a zone defense for spurts.
Illinois coach Brad Underwood said the Badgers “just picked us apart” by being patient and taking advantage of poor defensive rotations. He also said it was the first time this season his team lacked effort.
“The team that gets you deep in the shot clock, they’re just going to wait until you make mistakes, and we made mistakes,” he said.
Leron Black scored 16 to lead Illinois, while Trent Frazier added 11.
The Badgers snapped a streak of three straight conference losses in which they failed to score more than 60 points. But they cracked that mark with more than 11 minutes to go, and their 43 points to open the contest was their best mark for a half in Big Ten play this season.
Four Badgers scored in double figures, led by Brad Davison’s 18. Brevin Pritzl scored 16 shooting 3 for 6 from the 3-point line, including one that banked in as the shot clock expired.
“It was ugly. But sometimes it bounces your way,” he said.
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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Loryn Goodwin scored 14 of her 30 points in the fourth quarter to help No. 24 Oklahoma State pull away and beat No. 17 West Virginia 79-73 on Wednesday night.
Oklahoma State (13-4, 4-2 Big 12 Conference) rebounded from a 16-point loss at Kansas State on Saturday and improved to 2-3 against Top 25 opponents. West Virginia (15-4, 3-4) has lost consecutive games and four of its last six.
Goodwin now has three 30-point games, the most since Toni Young had three for the Cowgirls in the 2010-11 season. Braxtin Miller added 23 points, and Kaylee Jensen had 17 points and 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season.
Miller and Goodwin made back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 21-12 surge that stretched the Cowgirls’ two-point lead to 74-63 with 2:46 left. West Virginia pulled within six points with 40 seconds left before Miller and Jensen combined for 5-of-6 shooting at the line to seal it.
Naomi Davenport scored 25 points and Teana Muldrow had 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead West Virginia.
No. 4 BAYLOR 79, IOWA STATE 50
AMES, Iowa (AP) — Just 20 seconds into her first career start, Baylor freshman Didi Richards scored on a putback.
That would be as close as Iowa State would ever get.
Kalani Brown scored 25 points, Lauren Cox had 21 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks, and No. 4 Baylor beat Iowa State 79-50 on Wednesday for its 13th straight win.
Kristy Wallace scored 16 points for the Lady Bears (16-1, 6-0 Big 12), who never trailed in picking up their sixth straight league win by at least 22 points.
“Our defense is pretty good. I thought we helped each other a lot,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, whose team held the Cyclones to 24.6 percent shooting. “It’s a road win. Road wins are tough to come by.”
Baylor outscored the Cyclones (8-10, 2-5) by 38 in the first half two weeks ago in Waco, and it was nearly as dominant early on in the rematch. The Lady Bears stormed out to a 19-2 lead after a quarter — with Iowa State missing 19 of its first 20 shots — and pushed their lead to 26-4 less than 13 minutes into play.
It was all keyed by Brown and Cox, whose interior play suffocated the Cyclones.
“Just good defense. Coach (Mulkey) puts emphasis on that all the time, and I tried to move my feet. I had to play inside and out,” Cox said.
Though the outcome was never really in doubt, Baylor let Iowa State climb back to 45-30 in the third quarter. But Wallace drilled a corner 3 to put the Lady Bears back ahead by 20.
Bridget Carelton had 24 points for the Cyclones, who’ve lost five of six.
“They’re a monster,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “I guess the only good thing about tonight is that we don’t have to play them again.”
Baylor rested senior Dekeiya Cohen after she played 36 minutes against Oklahoma. Cohen, a co-captain, is averaging 10.8 points and 7.4 rebounds a game.
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Former California women’s basketball player and current WNBA All-Star guard Layshia Clarendon has filed a lawsuit against Cal claiming she was sexually assaulted by a longtime member of the athletic department
The school acknowledged the lawsuit Wednesday night and said the staff member, Mohamed Muqtar, had recently been placed on paid leave. The assistant director of student services, Muqtar has been working for the university for just more than 25 years, the school said. An e-mail to Muqtar’s Cal email account was not immediately returned.
Cal said in a statement “the University is aware of the complaint, but has not received a copy of the lawsuit nor had the benefit of reviewing the allegations.”
Clarendon, who plays for the Atlanta Dream and was at Cal from 2009-13, posted on Twitter her thoughts about the lawsuit.
She said in three separate tweets:
— “Regarding the news today: I want the shame to not be my own anymore, because it’s not my shame to carry, but it’s something that I’ve had to carry. It’s a horrible thing to live in silence, to carry that pain and that weight and the guilt.”
— “My biggest hope is that he never does this to anyone else. That no one else has to suffer under his hand, or him violating their bodies again. That this would be the end of him assaulting people. #TimesUp.”
— “It feels there is a big level of responsibility there for me, to make sure this doesn’t continue. And he doesn’t continue to harm other people.”
Cal explained in its statement that this case goes beyond the athletic department for investigation.
The statement reads: “Our department policy states that once anyone in Cal Athletics is made aware of any instance or allegation of a violation of University policy involving a coach, staff member or student-athlete, those matters are referred to the appropriate departments on campus responsible for investigating them. Athletics does not have its own specific conduct process nor does it investigate allegations or cases on its own, but follows the University’s policy and works in concert with campus professionals who are responsible for those areas. All university staff are also required to complete sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention training, and those programs have increased in recent years. Cal Athletics is and will always be committed to fostering a culture where everyone feels safe, welcome and respected. We encourage anyone who is feeling distressed or troubled to contact the PATH to Care Center and other campus resources.
“Layshia holds a special place in our history for her contributions to Cal women’s basketball both on and off the court and we are saddened to hear of the allegations that are coming to light today.”
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LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) — Keenan Evans scored 20 points, Brandone Francis had a career-high 17 and No. 8 Texas Tech won the first Top 10 matchup on its home court, beating second-ranked West Virginia 72-71 on Saturday.
Evans hit a lean-in jumper to give the Red Raiders (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) a four-point lead in the final minute and send the first sellout crowd of the season into a frenzy. The Mountaineers had their nation-leading 15-game winning streak stopped.
Jevon Carter scored 28 points — one off his career high — for West Virginia (15-2, 4-1). Esa Ahmad added 18 in his season debut following an NCAA academic suspension.
MICHIGAN 82, No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE 72
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Moritz Wagner scored a career-high 27 points for Michigan.
The Wolverines (15-4, 4-2 Big Ten) have won eight of nine games overall and two straight against their rivals.
The Spartans (16-3, 4-2) have lost two of three games with an overtime win over Rutgers in between the setbacks.
Michigan State’s Miles Bridges had 19 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals.
No. 1 VILLANOVA 78, ST. JOHN’S 71
NEW YORK (AP) — Donte DiVincenzo hit six 3-pointers and scored 25 points to help Villanova silence a rowdy crowd and hold off upset-minded St. John’s at Madison Square Garden.
Shamorie Ponds came close to leading the Red Storm (10-8, 0-6 Big East) to their first win over a No. 1 team in 33 years. Ponds scored a career-high 37 points in front of 17,123 fans.
The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1) were flawless from the free-throw line over the final minute to avoid the startling upset. Mikal Bridges had 15 points and 11 rebounds for Villanova. The Wildcats went 13-for-30 on 3-point range.
No. 5 PURDUE 81, MINNESOTA 47
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Vincent Edwards scored 25 points in 29 minutes on 9-for-14 shooting for Purdue in its 13th consecutive victory.
Isaac Haas pitched in 14 points and five rebounds for Purdue (17-2, 6-0), which produced its best Big Ten start since going 8-0 to begin conference play in the 1989-90 season.
Jordan Murphy had 10 points and four rebounds for the Gophers (13-6, 2-4), who have lost all three games since center Reggie Lynch was suspended and small forward Amir Coffey was sidelined by a shoulder injury. This was the second-largest margin of defeat at home in program history, behind only a 90-51 loss to No. 1 UCLA on Dec. 20, 1968.
No. 5 WICHITA STATE 72, TULSA 69
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Landry Shamet and backcourt mate Conner Frankamp each scored 16 points and Wichita State held off Tulsa.
Shamet made the first of two free throws with 8 seconds left for a three-point edge. After Shamet missed his second shot, the Shockers fouled Sterling Taplin. He missed the front end of a one-and-one with 4.9 seconds left, Junior Etou rebounded and passed back to Taplin, whose 3-point try rimmed out.
Taplin scored 26 points. Markis McDuffie added 10 points and nine rebounds for Wichita State (15-2, 5-0 American Athletic Conference). Henderson had 14 points for Tulsa (10-8, 3-3).
No. 7 DUKE 89, WAKE FOREST 71
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Marvin Bagley III had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Duke, which was without Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski due to a virus.
With longtime assistant Jeff Capel in charge, the short-handed and illness-ravaged Blue Devils (15-2, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won their second straight and moved their conference record over .500 for the first time this season.
Bryant Crawford scored 21 points and Keyshawn Woods had 15 to lead Wake Forest (8-9, 1-4), which hasn’t won at Cameron Indoor Stadium in 21 years.
No. 9 OKLAHOMA 102, No. 16 TCU 97, OT
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young scored 29 of his 43 points after halftime for Oklahoma, which won in overtime.
Young, the freshman who leads the nation in scoring and assists, also had 11 rebounds and seven assists. Brady Manek added 22 points for the Sooners (14-2, 4-1 Big 12), who made a school-record 19 3-pointers.
Jaylen Fisher had a career-high 22 points and Vlad Brodziansky added 21 for TCU (13-4, 1-4), which lost its second overtime game of the week.
No. 10 XAVIER 92, No. 25 CREIGHTON 70
CINCINNATI (AP) — Trevon Bluiett emerged from his shooting slump with 24 pointsa and Kaiser Gates responded to getting dropped from the starting lineup by scoring 16, as Xavier recovered from back-to-back road losses.
The Musketeers (16-3, 4-2 Big East) shook up their starting lineup and got back in form after losses to Providence and No. 1 Villanova. They pulled ahead by 27 points midway through the second half.
The Bluejays (14-3, 4-2) gave up a season high in points and took their most lopsided loss.
No. 11 Arizona State 77, Oregon State 75
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Shannon Evans scored seven of his 22 points in a late 10-0 run for Arizona State.
Cody Justice added 14 points, including four 3-pointers, for the Sun Devils (14-3, 2-3 Pac-12), who were coming off an upset home loss to Oregon on Thursday night.
Stephen Thompson Jr. scored 21 for the Beavers (10-7, 2-3), including five 3s (in 10 attempts).
Arizona State prevailed despite an off night from point guard Tra Holder. The Pac-12’s leading scorer at 20.9 points per game made 1 of 9 shots for four points.
Tres Tinkle scored 18 for Oregon State but missed a 3-pointer that would have won the game at the buzzer.
No. 12 KANSAS 73, KANSAS STATE 72
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Devonte Graham had 23 points, and Malik Newman hit the go-ahead foul shots with 15 seconds left for Kansas.
Udoka Azubuike added 18 points and eight rebounds for the Jayhawks (14-3, 4-1 Big 12), who beat their Interstate 70 rival for the sixth straight time and 12th in a row at Allen Fieldhouse.
Dean Wade had 22 points to lead Kansas State (12-5, 2-3).
No. 13 SETON HALL 74, GEORGETOWN 61
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Desi Rodriguez and Myles Powell each scored 19 points to lead Seton Hall.
The Pirates (15-3, 4-1 Big East), who remained undefeated at home (11-0), received 11 points and 13 rebounds from Angel Delgado.
The Hoyas (12-5, 2-4) were led by Marcus Derrickson, who scored 18 points while Jahvon Blair and Jessie Govan scored 11 points each.
No. 14 CINCINNATI 78, SOUTH FLORIDA 55
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Jarron Cumberland scored 18 points and Cincinnati shrugged off a slow start.
Jacob Evans III had 16 points and Kyle Washington added 14 to help the Bearcats (15-2, 4-0) remain unbeaten in American Athletic Conference play. The victory was the eighth straight for Cincinnati, which shot 70 percent while outscoring the Bulls 43-22 in the second half.
USF (7-11, 0-5) has lost six in a row, remaining winless in the AAC, where it has been beaten by an average of nearly 25 points per game. Payton Banks led the Bulls with 22 points.
No. 15 GONZAGA 75, SAN FRANCISCO 65
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Johnathan Williams scored 17 points and Josh Perkins added 16 to lead Gonzaga to 18th straight road victory in the West Coast Conference.
The Bulldogs (16-3, 6-0) got a rare test in conference play after winning their first five games by at least 29 points. But they were up to the task with help from two key blocked shots late by Rei Hachimura.
Souley Boum scored 22 points and Frankie Ferrari added 18 for the Dons (10-9, 2-4). San Francisco has lost 14 straight games against ranked opponents since beating Gonzaga at home 66-65 on Feb. 12, 2012.
No. 17 ARIZONA 90, OREGON 83
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Allonzo Trier scored 25 points and Deandre Ayton added 24 for Arizona.
Arizona (14-4, 4-1 Pac-12) scored eight straight points to go up 84-77 with 72 seconds left. The Wildcats shot 53 percent from the field.
Elijah Brown scored 25 points and MiKyle McIntosh had 20 for the Ducks (12-6, 2-3).
No. 19 CLEMSON 72, No. 18 MIAMI 63
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Donte Grantham had 18 points, including four 3-pointers, and Mark Donnal had 12 points, including two critical second-half 3s, for Clemson.
The Tigers (15-2, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) continued their best start in nine seasons and bounced back from their first ACC defeat that snapped a 10-game win streak at North Carolina State on Thursday night.
Clemson made a season-high 12 3-pointers.
Anthony Lawrence II and Lonnie Walker IV had 16 points each for Miami (13-3, 2-2).
No. 20 NORTH CAROLINA 69, NOTRE DAME 68
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Joel Berry II hit two free throws with 7.1 seconds left as North Carolina earned its first Atlantic Coast Conference road victory of the season.
Berry finished with 15 points while Luke Maye had 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (14-4, 3-2). Sophomore point guard T.J. Gibbs got a game-high 19 points and six assists for the Irish (13-5, 3-2).
Gibbs dribbled downcourt and got off an errant shot but got a rebound which spun out at the buzzer.
No. 21 KENTUCKY 74, VANDERBILT 67
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Kevin Knox scored five straight points to put Kentucky ahead to stay.
With the score tied at 59, Knox hit a jumper with 3:48 left and hit the free throw that put Kentucky ahead for good. He added a layup on the next possession for the Wildcats (14-3, 4-1 Southeastern Conference). Wenyon Gabriel added a tip-in, and Hamadou Diallo knocked down a 3-pointer for a 10-2 run clinching the victory.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led Kentucky with 22 points. Knox finished with 17.
Jeff Roberson led Vanderbilt (6-11, 1-4) with 20 points.
No. 22 AUBURN 76, MISSISSIPPI STATE 68
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Bryce Brown scored 23 points and Mustapha Heron and Desean Murray both added 14 for Auburn.
Auburn (16-1, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) won its 14th straight game despite trailing by 13 points early in the second half. It’s the program’s longest winning streak since the 1999-2000 season, when the Tigers also won 14 in a row.
Quinndary Weatherspoon had 14 points for Mississippi State (13-4, 1-3).
No. 23 FLORIDA STATE 101, SYRACUSE 90, 2OT
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Briain Angola scored 24 points, including five in the second overtime, and Christ Koumadje added a career-high 23 for Florida State.
Tied at 82 at the end of the first overtime, the Seminoles scored the first six points of the second extra session to take control. Two free throws by Tyus Battle cut FSU’s lead to 88-84 but it scored nine of the next 11 points to put it out of reach.
Phil Cofer added 16 points for Florida State (13-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), which played without leading scorer and rebounder Terance Mann, who missed the game due to a concussion.
Battle, who had five points at halftime, led the Orange (12-6, 1-4) with 37 points,
No. 24 TENNESSEE 75, TEXAS A&M 62
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jordan Bowden scored 15 points as Tennessee handed Texas A&M its fifth consecutive loss.
Kyle Alexander had 14 points, Admiral Schofield scored 12 and Jordan Bone added 10 as Tennessee (12-4, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) won its third straight in Volunteers coach Rick Barnes’ 1,000th career game. Barnes improved his head coaching record to 647-353.
After being ranked fifth in the nation at the start of SEC play, Texas A&M (11-6, 0-5) hasn’t won since.
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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Phil Booth hit five 3s and scored 21 points and Jalen Brunson had 17 to lead No. 1 Villanova to an 89-65 win over Xavier on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (15-1, 3-1 Big East) returned to the top spot of the poll on Monday.
The Wildcats raced to a 22-9 lead. Booth hit three 3s in the first half and Brunson was solid both from long range and in attacking the basket to make it 40-28 at the break.
Naji Marshall had 13 points for Xavier (15-3, 3-2),
No. 4 MICHIGAN STATE 76, RUTGERS 72, OT
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges ended his scoreless start with 7:43 left in regulation and finished with just 11 points for Michigan State.
The Spartans (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) were coming off a lopsided loss at Ohio State and the setback seemed to have lingering effects for the team and their sophomore star.
The Scarlet Knights (11-7, 1-4) took a one-point lead on Corey Sanders’ step-back jumper with 1 minute left. Sanders missed a long jumper with 16 seconds left.
Bridges was fouled with 8 seconds left, but made only the second free throw to tie the game.
With a chance to win, Sanders missed a shot near the top of the key with a second left in regulation. Sanders made a game-tying floater with 1:21 left in overtime. He made a layup to pull Rutgers within two with 9 seconds left, but Cassius Winston sealed the win with two free throws to put the Spartans ahead by six.
Sanders scored 22 points for the Scarlet Knights.
Michigan State’s Nick Ward had 17 points.
No. 7 DUKE 87, PITTSBURGH 52
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marvin Bagley III scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds for Duke.
Bagley recorded his 13th double-double of the season, one shy of the Duke freshman record shared by Jabari Parker and Gene Banks.
The Blue Devils (14-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) never trailed and needed less than 17 minutes to build a 30-point lead.
Jared Wilson-Frame led the Panthers (8-9, 04) with 17 points.
TEXAS 99, No. 16 TCU 98, 2OT
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Jericho Sims made a free throw with 5 seconds left, then Texas watched as TCU’s Jaylen Fisher missed a layup off the rim at the final buzzer in the second overtime.
Sims had missed his second free throw and the Horned Frogs got the play they wanted with Fisher driving the lane for a point-blank layup that somehow bounced out.
Texas got it biggest win of the season hours after the school announced that sophomore guard Andrew Jones has been diagnosed with leukemia and has started treatment. Further details on his diagnosis and condition have not been released.
TCU had rallied from 13 down in the second half and led 94-90 in the second overtime. The game was tied at 98 when Desmond Bane of TCU missed a shot and Kenrich Williams fouled Sims on the rebound.
Eric Davis scored 22 points to lead Texas (11-5, 2-2 Big 12). Williams scored 26 for TCU (13-3, 1-3), which made 15 3-pointers but none in the second overtime.
LOUISVILLE 73, No. 23 FLORIDA STATE 69
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Deng Adel scored 16 points and Louisville rallied from a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat to snap Florida State’s 28-game home winning streak.
Ray Spalding added 15 points for the Cardinals (12-4, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who made six 3-pointers in the second half. Ryan McMahon, who scored 11 points, had three 3-pointers in the final 20 minutes, including one that gave the Cardinals the lead and another with 59 seconds remaining that pushed the lead to 71-66.
Terance Mann tied a career high with 25 points and Braian Angola added 18 for Florida State (12-4, 1-3).
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Ae’Rianna Harris scored 13 points and Purdue held Rutgers to 10 points in the first half en route to a 47-33 win on Wednesday night that ended the No. 21 Scarlet Knights’ 11-game winning streak.
Andreona Keys added 10 points for the Boilermakers (11-7, 2-2 Big Ten Conference), who spoiled Rutgers’ first appearance in the Top 25 since March of 2015.
The Scarlet Knights made the first and last basket of the first period and missed 10 to trail 10-4 after one quarter. Their shooting in the second quarter was 3 for 12 and the Boilermakers scored the last seven to lead 25-10. Rutgers’ shooting was 5 of 24 (21 percent), including 0 for 9 from 3-point range.
The highlight of the night for Rutgers (16-3, 4-1) was their last basket of the first half, scored by Tyler Scaife at the 4:36 mark that pushed the fifth-year senior into the exclusive 2,000-point club.
The Scarlet Knights made five field goals in each of the last two quarters. Ciani Cryor made a long shot that made it 41-33 with 1:01 to play but Purdue scored the last six points of the game. Rutgers’ second-half totals were 1 of 11 from distance, 10 of 32 overall (31 percent) for final 1 of 20 behind the arc and 15 of 56 overall (27 percent).
Both teams had 20 turnovers and Purdue shot just 24 percent in the second half and 33 percent (16 of 48) overall.
No. 15 WEST VIRGINA 74, KANSAS 54
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Naomi Davenport hit four 3-pointers and finished with 22 points and Teana Muldrow had 19 points, nine rebounds, two blocks and two steals to help the No. 15 West Virginia women defeat Kansas 74-54 on Wednesday night.
Katrina Pardee added 15 points and senior Chania Ray had 12 points and a season-high tying 10 assists for West Virginia (15-2, 3-2 Big 12). The Mountaineers have won five in a row against Kansas (11-5, 2-3).
Davenport hit two 3s, while Muldrow and Pardee scored five points apiece, during a 16-1 run that gave West Virginia a 52-33 lead with four minutes left in the third quarter. Kylee Kopatich sandwiched a 3-point play and a layup around two free throws by Tyler Johnson as the Jayhawks scored the first seven fourth-quarter points to trim their deficit to 55-44. Muldrow had nine points from there as the Mountaineers pulled away.
Kopatich had 17 points and Austin Richardson scored 10 on 4-of-16 shooting for Kansas. The Jayhawks shot just 35 percent (19 of 54) from the field, including 3 of 12 from 3-point range.
West Virginia scored 24 points off 17 Kansas turnovers.
TCU 79, No.7 TEXAS 77
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — TCU guard Kianna Ray stood at the free throw line with 6 seconds left and a chance to beat her hometown team.
Ray made both free throws, giving the Horned Frogs a huge upset, 79-77 over No. 7 Texas on Wednesday night for their first win over a Top 10 team in more than eight years.
“I really wasn’t,” said Ray, the sophomore from Austin, when asked what she was thinking then. “We shoot those every day. … Just take deep breaths and shoot it like I do every time.”
Ray was fouled by Ariel Atkins on a drive to the basket. That came after Atkins tied the game, and the second time in the final 38 seconds the two traded baskets. Atkins had made a short runner in the lane before Ray’s open 3-pointer put Frogs up 77-75.
TCU (11-5, 2-3 Big 12) had lost its last 13 games against ranked teams, and hadn’t beaten a Top 10 team since a 56-54 home victory over No. 10 Texas A&M on Dec. 12, 2009.
“It’s just a fun win. It’s a fun win, and I don’t really know how you can define a signature victory in the moment,” fourth-year TCU coach Raegan Pebley said. “I think you have to see what happens after it. So we’re just going to love on it right now and go to work.”
Atkins had 25 points to lead Texas (13-2, 4-1), which had won six in a row since its only loss at Tennessee a month earlier. Lashann Higgs had 18 points, though her desperation 3 at the buzzer was way off the mark, and Audrey-Ann Cardon-Goudreaux had 11.
“I’m not shocked at all, actually,” Higgs said. “We didn’t come to play. We didn’t play defense like we know how to play.”
The Longhorns had a 10-point lead late in the first quarter, and then trailed by 12 before halftime. They led 69-64 with 4 1/2 minutes left after consecutive jumpers by Atkins.
“They played with more urgency and a lot more passion to win,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “We played in spurts. … Really good in some spurts and disinterested in some spurts.”
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Asia Durr credits her Louisville women’s basketball teammates for creating opportunities that have allowed the junior guard to score from all over the court.
Durr is putting up career-best offensive numbers while making sure other Cardinals are involved. Their unselfish philosophy is one reason they’re unbeaten and enjoying the best start in school history — and have an eye on winning the national championship.
Louisville’s chances begin with Durr, who’s showing growth on the defensive end as well.
“I don’t want to be one-dimensional, just a pure scorer,” Durr said. “I want to be a player who passes the ball well, who can rebound the ball well and can guard. I’m trying to become a player who can do more than one thing.”
The Douglasville, Georgia, native is succeeding in many areas for Louisville (18-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which seeks its third Final Four appearance under coach Jeff Walz and first since 2013. Durr began the week tied for 31st nationally in scoring at 20.2 points per game, an average jump-started by her school-record 47-point performance in the Cardinals’ 95-90 overtime win at then-No. 5 Ohio State on Nov. 12.
Durr shot 9 of 15 from long range against the Buckeyes and offered a hint that this season could be different for her and Louisville. The first team all-ACC selection has remained accurate from behind the arc and ranks seventh nationally in 3-point shooting at nearly 48 percent, with her 56 baskets on 118 attempts tying for 10th.
“I really worked on my shot,” said Durr, who is currently 13th in career scoring at Louisville with 1,378 points. “My teammates are doing a really great job of finding me on the court and the staff is doing a great job of putting together a great game plan to give my teammates a chance to find me on the court.”
Durr’s 47-percent shooting is more than five points better than last season and her solid defensive numbers have held steady. Her approach to defense is what pleases Walz most.
“She has taken pride in that, but defensively is where I’ve been impressed,” the coach said of Durr, who averaged a team-best 12.7 points playing under him last summer on the U.S. Under-23 squad. She also participated in the National Team camp with teammate and senior forward Myisha Hines-Allen.
Walz added, “She is rebounding the ball better. All of the things that you might not look at first on the stat sheet, she’s really focusing on.”
Good as Durr has been, the Cardinals’ depth and selflessness means she doesn’t have to do everything.
Hines-Allen, a two-time All-ACC selection, is having another strong season at 13.2 points per game. Louisville’s three other starters — forwards Sam Fuerhing and Jazmine Jones and junior point guard Arica Carter — average from 6.5 to 8.9 points per contest. Freshman reserve guard Dana Evans has a team-high 71 assists.
The Cardinals’ rotation can go 10 deep, flexibility they’ll need in Thursday night’s ACC showdown against No. 2 Notre Dame (15-1, 4-0). The Irish’s lone loss came against top-ranked UConn, which Louisville visits on Feb. 12.
Louisville has lost its last 11 to the Irish and is 4-14 lifetime against them. As Walz tries to focus on big-picture goals for his team, he acknowledges this meeting’s importance towards the Cardinals’ hopes of winning its first ACC title.
Then again, wins against Top 25 opponents this season — Ohio State, Michigan, Oregon and Duke — have Louisville believing it can beat powerhouse programs and establish itself as a title contender.
Durr sets the tone for the Cardinals.
She has combined for 30 first-quarter points the past two contests, demonstrating the green light Walz has given her.
“Sometimes he has to tell me to stop shooting,” Durr said, laughing. “But it’s a good thing when he has to tell a player to stop because that means you’re being very aggressive.”
Louisville is hoping all those good things happening for Durr — and the Cardinals — continue.