(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.
Follow Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson
NEW YORK (AP) — Buffalo and Central Michigan are crashing the women’s Sweet 16.
The two 11 seeds from the Mid-American Conference pulled off stunning road upsets of Florida State and Ohio State on Monday night to advance to the regional semifinals for the first time in school history.
It’s the first time a school from the MAC has advanced this far since Bowling Green reached the regional semifinals in 2007.
Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack said she spoke on the phone with Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara after their game was over. Buffalo was the first team from the conference to earn an at-large berth in 22 years.
“Our goal was to let people know that the MAC was alive and well,” Legette-Jack said.
They sure are.
“We are excited to see success come from two teams in the MAC because it’s always been a one-bid league,” the Bulls’ Stephanie Reid said. “For as long as I have been here, for I know as long as Coach (Legette-Jack) has been here, for a long time, it’s been a one-bid league. They finally opened up to us and accepted us into the tournament at-large and now we are showing why.”
Both Buffalo and Central Michigan won by double digits.
“This team will not fold,” Guevara said. “This team is very tough, this team is very focused. We know what we had to do and we went out and did it.”
While making the Sweet 16 is new for both those schools, UConn is headed to its 25th consecutive regional semifinals.
Huskies coach Geno Auriemma wasn’t surprised to see a few newcomers in the regionals.
“If you look around the country, mid-major programs are better than people think and they’re one of the best,” he said. “Women’s basketball mid-majors don’t get any respect. On the men’s side they do, but not on the women’s side. So for this year to have what’s happening with the mid-majors (winning), I think that’s the best thing that’s ever happened. I mean, I’m glad it didn’t happen more. I think it happened just enough times.”
The Huskies beat Quinnipiac to advance to the Albany Regional. All four No. 1 seeds advanced to the Sweet 16 for the ninth consecutive season.
Here are a few other tidbits from the Sweet 16:
CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: The Atlantic Coast Conference and Pac-12 have four teams apiece in the regionals. The Southeastern Conference has three while the Big 12 joins the MAC with two. The American has one.
LUCKY 11: Gonzaga was the last 11 seed to advance to the Sweet 16, doing so in 2015. Three years earlier was the last time that two 11 seeds advanced to the regional semifinals, when Kansas and the Zags both advanced this far.
FAMILIAR TEAMS: Eleven of the 16 teams in the Sweet 16 advanced that far last season. The only other new teams besides the MAC squads are Texas A&M, Duke and N.C. State. The Wolfpack are back there for the first time in 11 years.
— Carly Fabbri grew up dreaming of wearing a Quinnipiac uniform and playing for her mom.
She’s left her mark for the Bobcats, winning 113 games in her four years at the school where her mother, Tricia, has coached since 1995. While they aren’t the first mother/daughter combo in women’s basketball, they have been able to build a program into a consistent NCAA Tournament team and that’s something they will always share.
“It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve watched her my entire life coach. Just being able to have the opportunity to play for her has been awesome,” Carly Fabbri said. “Obviously, we’ve won a lot and that’s been incredible. These past two seasons especially, being able to get to the NCAA Tournament, making that historic run last year.
“Obviously, trying to make some more magic happen this year. She’s a really hard worker. It’s great to see success and being able to be part of it is really special, so again, just trying to make more magic happen this year, but it’s been a really fun ride.”
The Bobcats season ended Monday night when they lost to top-seeded UConn. Coach Fabbri will always cherish the past four years.
“It’s so special and it’s so special to do this with her because of where the program is and how much it means to her,” she said. “She’s been just as invested as the head coach. That’s pretty special to say.”
This year’s women’s tournament had a lot of familial bonds. Besides the Fabbris and of course the father-daughter pair of Mississippi State’s Vic Schaefer and Blair, there were 11 pairs of sisters in the tournament when it started. That has been whittled down over the opening weekend.
University at Buffalo twins Katherine and Liisa Ups came to the upstate school from Australia. Having each other to lean on nearly 10,000 miles from home has made it a lot easier for the seniors. They helped the school reach its first Sweet 16 on Monday night, shocking third-seed Florida State.
They admit they didn’t know what they were getting into coming to Buffalo. An assistant coach told them that it wasn’t cold in the city.
“She was originally from Las Vegas and hadn’t actually spent a winter in Buffalo when she recruited us,” Liisa Ups remembered, laughing. “It was her first summer there.”
Katherine Ups quickly chimed in, “She lied.”
The identical twins said they haven’t pulled many tricks on their teammates or coaches, but laugh that some of them still can’t tell them apart.
“I think some days coach Jack is trying to figure it out,” Katherine Ups said.
Liisa said that most people got it pretty quickly which sister was which although her roommate still calls her “twin” sometimes.
Missouri sisters Bri and Cierra Porter are two of eight siblings in their family. Two of their brothers play on the Missouri men’s team that also lost in the NCAA Tournament.
Going anywhere but Missouri was never really up for debate when they were younger.
“The head coach is our aunt. She talked about us playing for her since we were really little,” Bri Porter said. “Then when I was a freshman in high school and my sister was an eighth-grader we just gave her a verbal commitment. So it’s honestly been like forever that we’ve been planning on it.”
Bri Porter has been sidelined since injuring a knee ligament in 2016. Having her sister around has made it a little easier.
“That’s really helped me stay emotionally engaged just because some part of me does feel like it’s on the court when she is because my heart is so close to hers so when she succeeds I feel like I succeed,” she said. “So that’s been helpful to me for sure. It’s not easy to just sit on the sides all the time.”
The Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament is set as the second round saw game-winners, record-breaking performances and tournament firsts with a pair of No. 11 seeds continuing Cinderella runs for the first time in each school’s history,
Here’s a look back at the second round of the women’s basketball tournament by the numbers:
3,402 –– Career points for Ohio State guard Kelsey Mitchell. Although the Buckeyes’ season ended with a 95-78 loss against Central Michigan Monday evening, Mitchell scored 28 points and finished second all time in NCAA women’s basketball history in career points, trailing only Washington’s Kelsey Plum who set the mark last season.
115 –– Steals this season by Duke guard Lexie Brown. Brown finished with seven steals to help the Blue Devils to a 66-40 win over Georgia on Monday. She surpassed Alana Beard, who recorded 114 in 2001-02. Brown is just the third player in program history to reach triple-digit steals in a seaosn after Beard did so three times and Jasmine Thomas had 100 in the 2009-10 season.
101 –– Points scored by Oregon in its 101-73 win over Minnesota on Sunday. That is the Ducks’ program record for points scored in an NCAA tournament game, and it also marks the first time in program history that Oregon has made back-to-back Sweet 16s. The Ducks reached the Elite Eight last season.
80 –– Points scored by Baylor’s starters in its 80-58 win over Michigan Sunday night. The Bears’ starting five did all of the scoring in their second-round victory, with Lauren Cox leading the way with 18, followed by 17 from Alexis Morris and Juicy Landrum, 16 courtesy of Kalani Brown and 12 from Dekeiya Cohen.
79 –– Number of wins UConn’s senior class finished with in the state of Connecticut. One of the most decorated graduating classes in women’s basketball history finished their careers an astonishing 79-0 in the state after defeating Quinnipiac 71-46 in the second round Monday evening. Additionally, Gabby WIlliams, Azura Stevens and Kia Nurse went 32-0 in games play on campus at Gampel Pavilion.
34 –– Wins by Mississippi State this season. One year after shocking the women’s basketball world with a Final Four win over UConn to end the Huskies’ NCAA-record 111-game winning streak, the Bulldogs equaled its program record with 34 wins this season after topping Oklahoma State 71-56 on Monday. Mississippi State (34-1) can break the record when it faces NC State in the Sweet 16 on Friday.
25 –– Consecutive Sweet 16 appearances by UConn. The numbers and accolades keep getting crazier for the Huskies as they are among the 16 remaining contenders left for the 25th straight year under Geno Auriemma. What’s happened in the sports world during that same span?
17.5 –– Average margin of victory for the Mid-American Conference’s pair of Sweet 16 teams this tournament. Has there been a crazier story in the 2018 NCAA women’s basketball tournament than the schools from the MAC? Central Michigan and Buffalo, both 11-seeds, not only scored back-to-back upsets to advance to the second weekend of the tournament, but did so in convincing fashion. The Bulls defeated No. 6 South Florida 102-79 in the first round and shocked No. 3 Florida State Monday night 86-65. The Chippewas also have dominated their two games, beating No. 6 LSU 78-69 and No. 3 Ohio State 95-78.
11 –– Years since the MAC had a team advance to the Sweet 16, before Monday night. More MACtion! The last time a MAC school was still dancing in the second weekend was in 2007 with Bowling Green. Prior to this year, neither Buffalo or Central Michigan had won a game in the NCAA tournament. Now each have two.
2.8 –– Seconds remaining when Texas A&M’s Chennedy Carter drilled the game-winning 3-pointer to give the Aggies an 85-84 win over DePaul Sunday evening. In just her second career collegiate tournament game, the 5-7 freshman guard sent Texas A&M into the Sweet 16. She finshed with a game-high 37 points in the win.
2 –– Consecutive years that Tennessee has failed to reach the Sweet 16. A staple in women’s basketball, the Lady Vols were eliminated in the first weekend for the second straight year for the first time in school history.
AP Sports Writers Janie McCauley, Pat Eaton-Robb and Joe Reedy contributed to this story.
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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 women’s NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
No. 1 UCONN 140, No. 16 SAINT FRANCIS (Pa.) 52
STORRS, Conn. — Azura Stevens scored 26 points to lead six UConn players in double figures and the Huskies opened their NCAA Tournament with a record-setting rout of Saint Francis (Pa.).
The tournament’s top seed set a record for points in a tournament game and all-time NCAA records for points in a period (55 in the first) and a half (94 in the first).
And UConn’s 88-point margin of victory was the second-biggest in tournament history. Baylor beat Texas Southern by 89 in the 2017 tournament.
The previous record for points in a tournament game was 121. The previous mark for points in a half was 80 and for a quarter was 45.
No. 3 FLORIDA STATE 91, No. 14 LITTLE ROCK 49
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Shakayla Thomas scored 26 points and Florida State defeated Little Rock.
It is a tournament high for Thomas, eclipsing the 23 she scored against Western Illinois in the first round last year. Thomas, a 5-foot-11 senior forward who was playing in her 12th NCAA Tournament game, was 11 of 15 from the field in 19 minutes. She scored Florida State’s first six points and had 16 in the first half as the host team was ahead 53-30 at halftime.
The Seminoles (26-6), who were 35 of 60 from the field, put the game out of reach by going on a 23-0 run during an 8-minute span in the second and third quarters.
Chatrice White and Nikki Ekhomu each scored 13 points and AJ Alix added 12 for Florida State. White also had 10 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season.
Tori Lasker led the Trojans (23-10) with 13 points and Keanna Keys added 11.
No. 4 GEORGIA 68, No. 13 MERCER 63
ATHENS, Ga. — Caliya Robinson had 23 points and 16 rebounds, Mackenzie Engram added 21 points and 10 rebounds, and Georgia held off Mercer.
Que Morrison finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the fourth-seeded Lady Bulldogs (26-6), who advanced to face Duke on Monday night.
Kahlia Lawrence scored 23 points and KeKe Calloway had 15 for No. 13 seed Mercer (30-3). The Bears had won a school-record 27 straight, the nation’s third-longest active streak.
Georgia had the game’s biggest lead at 11 early in the third, but let Mercer pull within one twice in the fourth quarter. After Robinson scored her team’s last field goal with 2:14 remaining, the Lady Bulldogs put Mercer away by hitting seven of their last eight foul shots.
No. 5 DUKE 72, No. 12 BELMONT 58
ATHENS, Ga. — Leaonna Odom scored a career-high 25 points, including nine in Duke’s dominant third period, and the Blue Devils beat Belmont in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
Duke (23-8) led only 32-31 at halftime before outscoring Belmont 21-9 in the third period.
Kylie Smith led Belmont with 20 points.
Duke’s Rebecca Greenwell, who had 18 points, opened the third period with a layup and closed the quarter by sinking a 3-pointer to give Duke a 53-40 lead.
Belmont (31-4) saw its 22-game winning streak end. The Bruins were denied in their bid for their first NCAA win.
No. 11 BUFFALO 102, No. 6 SOUTH FLORIDA 79
Cierra Dillard scored a career-high 36 points and Buffalo got its first women’s NCAA Tournament victory as it defeated South Florida.
It is the first time in an NCAA Tournament game that a Mid-American Conference team has gone over 100 points. It is also the first time since 1995 that Buffalo has scored more than 100 points.
Buffalo, which is making its second NCAA appearance, trailed 29-18 midway through the second quarter but went on a 20-7 run the remainder of the quarter to take a 43-38 lead at halftime. Wilkins had eight points during the run and Stephanie Reid added six.
Buffalo (28-5) was 14 of 27 from the 3-point line, including 7 of 13 from Dillard. Courtney Wilkins added 23 points and Reid 19. Buffalo was also strong from the foul line, making 22 of 24.
Kitija Laksa led South Florida (26-8) with 28 points and Maria Jespersen added 23 points and 11 rebounds. USF was 32 of 63 from the field, but was 7 of 23 on 3-pointers.
No. 9 QUINNIPIAC 86, No. 8 MIAMI 72
STORRS, Conn. — Jen Fay led a balanced ninth-seeded Quinnipiac offense with 19 points and the Bobcats beat Miami, eliminating the Hurricanes from the women’s NCAA Tournament for a second consecutive season.
Paula Strautmane added 15 points and Edel Thornton and Carly Fabbri each had 14 for Quinnipiac (28-5), which extended its winning streak to 23 games, a new school record.
Next up for Bobcats is a game against in-state neighbor UConn. It’s the first meeting between the schools in 20 years.
Erykah Davenport led all scorers with 21 points for Miami. Emese Hof scored 16 and Endia Banks added 15 points in the losing effort.
No. 3 OHIO STATE 87, No. 14 GEORGE WASHINGTON 45
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Stephanie Mavunga scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Ohio State routed George Washington.
Alexa Hart had 12 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 11 points and seven rebounds as the Buckeyes (28-6) never trailed, took off in the second half and overwhelmed the Colonials (19-10), who had earned a tournament bid by winning the Atlantic 10 Tournament.
Ohio State moves on to Monday to play Central Michigan, which outlasted LSU in the first game on Saturday.
Briana Cummings led GW with 14 points, and Neila Luma had 12 before fouling out late in the game.
No. 11 CENTRAL MICHIGAN 78, No. 6 LSU 69
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tinara Moore scored 25 points to help Central Michigan get its first women’s NCAA Tournament win, beating LSU.
The Chippewas, who had lost in their first three trips to the NCAAs, got in the tournament for the first time in five years by upsetting Buffalo in the Mid-American Conference Tournament.
Moore and Central Michigan dominated inside, outrebounding the Southeastern Conference team 40-27 and creating more second chances. Reyna Frost 12 points and 12 boards for the Chippewas before fouling out late in the game.
Central Michigan led by as many as 11 in the second half. A 6-0 LSU run reduced the lead to five, but the Tigers couldn’t get any closer, despite limiting their opponents to only foul shots in the last 2:43.
Micaela Kelly had 17 points for Central Michigan, and Presley Hudson added 12.
Chloe Jackson had 24 points, and Ayana Mitchell had 16 points and nine rebounds for LSU.
KANSAS CITY REGION
No. 1 MISSISSIPPI STATE 95, No. 16 NICHOLLS 50
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Victoria Vivians scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Mississippi State past Nicholls.
Mississippi State (33-1) started the game slowly, but scored 33 points in the second quarter to take a 54-24 lead into halftime and eventually cruise to the win. Teaira McCowan scored 18 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Blair Schaefer also scored 18 points.
Mississippi State shot 50 percent from the field, including 47 percent from 3-point range, and had a 51-29 rebounding advantage.
The Bulldogs bounced back from their only loss of the season, a 62-51 setback to South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference tournament final. Mississippi State won a program-record 32 straight games to open the season.
Nicholls (19-14) was led by Tykeria Williams, who scored 16 points.
No. 2 TEXAS 83, No. 15 MAINE 54
AUSTIN, Texas — Jatarie White scored 17 points and Texas used an overwhelming first half to romp to a win over Maine.
Hosting the first two rounds for the third consecutive year, Texas smothered the America East Conference tournament champions from the opening tip. The Longhorns led 45-18 by halftime with a combination of dominant rebounding and speed in transition led by guards Lashann Higgs and Brooke McCarty. Higgs scored 15 and Ariel Atkins scored 16 for Texas.
The Longhorns (27-6) didn’t let Maine (23-10) even grab a rebound the first eight minutes. Higgs had 11 points and Atkins scored 10 by halftime as the Longhorns emptied their bench early in the second quarter. Texas shot 68 percent and outrebounded Maine 25-4 in the first half.
No. 3 UCLA 71, No. 14 AMERICAN UNIVERSITY 60
LOS ANGELES — Monique Billings scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds, Kennedy Burke added 15 points to lead UCLA to a win over American University.
Jordin Canada had 10 points and 11 assists for the Bruins (25-7), who advance to the second round.
Cecily Carl led American (26-7) with 22 points and 10 rebounds and Elina Koskimies added 13 points and Maria Liddane scored 12 points.
After the Eagles took an early lead to start the game, the Bruins countered with a 22-3 run over the final 4:33 of the opening quarter to build a double-digit advantage and take control.
No. 11 CREIGHTON 76, No. 6 IOWA 70
LOS ANGELES — Jaylyn Agnew scored 24 points and Sydney Lamberty added 20 to lead Creighton to a win over Iowa.
The Bluejays (19-12) advances to the second round and will play UCLA on Monday.
Agnew and Lamberty combined to make 16 of 26 shots. Lamberty also had six assists and five rebounds and Audrey Faber added 12 points for Creighton.
Megan Gustafson scored 29 points and had 17 rebounds for the Hawkeyes (24-8).
No. 7 ARIZONA STATE 73, No. 10 NEBRASKA 62
AUSTIN, Texas — Robbi Ryan scored 16 points and Kianna Ibis added 14 to lead Arizona State over Nebraska.
The Sun Devils opened up a tight, defensive struggle with a 14-0 run late in the third quarter. Jamie Ruden scored five in the stretch and the Sun Devils pushed the lead as high as 16 early in the fourth quarter when Reili Richardson converted a 3-point play.
Arizona State moves on to the second round for the fifth straight season with a chance to make the Sweet 16 for the second time in four years.
Taylor Kissinger scored 15 points for Nebraska (21-11).
No. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE 84, No. 8 SYRACUSE 57
STARKVILLE, Miss. — Freshman Jaden Hobbs scored a career-high 27 points, Loryn Goodwin and Kaylee Jensen added 19 and Oklahoma State beat Syracuse.
The 5-foot-8 Hobbs made 8 of 9 3-point attempts, blowing the game open single-handedly by making four 3-pointers in quick succession late in the third quarter.
Oklahoma State (21-10) ended the first half on an 11-0 run to take a 40-32 halftime lead. The rally was punctuated in the final seconds by a perfect pass from Goodwin to Maria Castro, who made a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded.
The Cowgirls never trailed again, thanks to solid defense and Hobbs, who had never scored more than 12 points in a college game before Saturday. Oklahoma State shot 13 of 23 (56 percent) from 3-point range.
No. 4 STANFORD 82, No. 13 GONZAGA 68
STANFORD, Calif. — Alanna Smith scored 20 points, freshman Kiana Williams made a sensational women’s NCAA Tournament debut, and Stanford beat cold-shooting Gonzaga.
Williams scored 21 points and calmly pushed the pace on offense as the Cardinal created opportunities in transition. Early in the third, she stole the ball from Gonzaga’s Emma Stach and drove it the length of the court for a layup.
Stanford (23-10) used a 9-0 run late in the third to pull away and overcame a tough shooting performance by Brittany McPhee, who had 11 points on 4-for-12 shooting. She also contributed 11 rebounds, six assists and a pair of steals.
Jill Barta scored 21 points for the Zags (27-6).
No. 12 FLORIDA GULF COAST 80, No. 5 MISSOURI 70
STANFORD, Calif. — China Dow scored 21 points and played stingy defense in the paint against Missouri star Sophie Cunningham, and Florida Gulf Coast pulled off an upset in the Lexington Regional.
Cunningham took over on the low block to get Missouri (24-8) going and scored a season-high 35 points — most by a Tigers player in an NCAA tournament game — and made 14 of 16 free throws. But she didn’t get much help.
Dow made two free throws with 1:12 left as the Eagles kept pushing until the final buzzer to run their winning streak to 11 games with a 21st victory in the last 22 games.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Results from the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday:
PURDUE 74, CAL STATE FULLERTON 48
DETROIT (AP) — Purdue center Isaac Haas broke his right elbow during a win over Cal State Fullerton and will miss the rest of the NCAA Tournament.
The 7-foot-2, 290-pound senior went down while taking a hard foul midway through the second half. Haas, who averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, had nine points and 10 rebounds in the first-round victory.
The second-seeded Boilermakers (29-6) will play Butler on Sunday.
Kyle Allman scored 21 for the Titans (20-12).
MARSHALL 81, WICHITA STATE 75
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jon Elmore scored 27 points and 13th-seeded Marshall toppled fourth-seeded Wichita State for its first NCAA Tournament victory.
The Thundering Herd (25-10) had been 0-5 in the tourney, with its last appearance in 1987.
Marshall became the second No. 13 seed to win this week. Buffalo did it Thursday night, beating Arizona.
Conner Frankamp scored 27 points for Wichita State (25-8).
WEST VIRGINIA 85, MURRAY STATE 68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jevon Carter scored 21 points, had eight assists and six steals as No. 5 seed West Virginia overwhelmed 12th-seeded Murray State.
The Mountaineers (25-10) advanced to the round of 32 for the third time in the past four seasons. Next up for West Virginia is a Mountain State showdown with 13th-seeded Marshall far away from home.
Terrell Miller scored 27 points for Murray State (26-6).
BUTLER 79, ARKANSAS 62
DETROIT (AP) — Kelan Martin scored 27 points and Kamar Baldwin added 24 to lift 10th-seeded Butler over seventh-seeded Arkansas.
The Bulldogs (21-13) raced to a 21-2 lead in the opening minutes. Although Arkansas wiped out that entire deficit before halftime, Butler took control again early in the second.
The Bulldogs now play an in-state rival, second-seeded Purdue.
Jaylen Barford scored 15 points for Arkansas (23-12).
UMBC 75, VIRGINIA 54
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — It finally happened — a 16 ousting a 1 in March Madness.
Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 74-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed.
Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.
But the Cavaliers couldn’t get anything generated on offense and the nation’s top-ranked defense couldn’t contain American East Conference champions.
The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.
Lyles was the catalyst.
He diced up Virginia’s defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.
Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.
The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.
Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.
A Tony Bennett timeout couldn’t stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3’s and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC’s lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.
A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of “UMBC” rang through the arena.
It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.
UMBC: Despite being undersized and unknown, they shocked the world and made history with an epic game.
Virginia: This isn’t the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.
UMBC: Will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.
CINCINNATI 68, GEORGIA STATE 53
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jarron Cumberland set career highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds as Cincinnati recovered after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half.
The second-seeded Bearcats (31-4) advanced to play seventh-seeded Nevada.
After trailing 42-32 early in the second half, 15th-seeded Georgia State (24-11) rallied to take a pair of one-point leads, its last one coming on a driving bank shot from D’Marcus Simonds with 9:30 left.
NEVADA 87, TEXAS 83, OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Caleb Martin scored 18 points and made two huge 3-pointers in overtime as seventh-seeded Nevada rallied for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2007.
Nevada (28-7) erased a 14-point, second-half deficit and tied it at 68 when Jordan Caroline hit one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left in regulation. The Wolf Pack trailed by four early in an overtime period that featured 34 total points.
Kerwin Roach II had a career-high 26 points for Texas (19-15).
KANSAS STATE 69, CREIGHTON 59
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Barry Brown scored 18 points and ninth-seeded Kansas State never trailed despite playing without top scorer Dean Wade.
Mike McGuirl added 17 points for the Wildcats (23-11). Wade had been expected to play after suffering a stress fracture in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, but never got on the floor.
Marcus Foster, thrown off the Kansas State team after the 2015 season for multiple violations of team rules, finished with five points on 2-of-11 shooting for Creighton (21-12).
CLEMSON 79, NEW MEXICO STATE 68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Shelton Mitchell scored a season-high 23 points, Gabe DeVoe had 22 and Clemson beat New Mexico State to out a perfect first round for No. 5 seeds.
The 5-12 line is usually one of the top spots for March Madness upsets, but Clemson (24-9) shot 56 percent from the field while advancing out of the first round for the first time since 1997. It was the Tigers’ first win in the NCAA tourney since the First Four in 2011.
Clemson was nearly flawless at the offensive end against the 12th-seeded champions of the WAC. It made 9 of 11 shots during one stretch on its way to a 12-point lead at halftime.
Zach Lofton led New Mexico State (28-6) with 29 points.
SYRACUSE 57, TCU 52
DETROIT (AP) — Marek Dolezaj scored 17 points before fouling out and 11th-seeded Syracuse shut down sixth-seeded TCU.
The Orange (22-13) won for the second time in the tournament, holding off the Horned Frogs with another impressive defensive effort. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field.
TCU (21-12) is still without an NCAA Tournament victory since 1987, when coach Jamie Dixon was a player. This was the school’s first appearance since 1998, and it was short-lived.
There was little doubt who won the much-anticipated matchup between TCU’s excellent offense and Syracuse’s zone defense. The Horned Frogs were held 31 points below their season average.
MICHIGAN STATE 82, BUCKNELL 78
DETROIT (AP) — Miles Bridges outlasted Zach Thomas, scoring 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds to help third-seeded Michigan State beat Bucknell.
Thomas fouled out on a technical with 6:06 left and finished with 27 points. He put on a show in the first half, scoring 20 points and making all three of his shots beyond the 3-point arc.
The Spartans (30-4) made the most of playing about 75 miles from campus.
Leading by 15 points with 2 minutes left, Michigan State won by a slim margin after Bucknell (25-10) made a late flurry of long-range shots.
AUBURN 62, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 58
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jared Harper made a clutch 3-pointer with 1:17 to go — his only basket of the game — and Auburn held off No. 13 College of Charleston.
The Tigers (26-7) avoided being the second No. 4 seed to be upset at Viejas Arena. Marshall beat fourth-seeded Wichita State earlier in the day.
Auburn, playing under the cloud of a federal investigation, survived a poor shooting performance to win in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003.
Jarrell Brantley scored 24 for the Cougars (26-8), the CAA champs who made their first NCAA Tournament since 1999.
FLORIDA STATE 67, MISSOURI 54
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ninth-seeded Florida State has lots of guys who can score, and the Seminoles used that depth to win their fourth straight NCAA Tournament opener.
Mfiondu Kabengele scored 14 points, and Florida State beat No. 8 seed Missouri.
PJ Savoy had 12 points and Phil Cofer scored 11. A total of 10 Seminoles scored at least two points apiece — by halftime — as they wore out Missouri, which had only eight healthy players available.
This was the first trip to the tournament for every player on the roster for Missouri (20-13). Even with new players and a new coach in Cuonzo Martin, the Tigers head home from their first NCAA trip since 2013 with the program’s fourth straight loss in a first round.
XAVIER 102, TEXAS SOUTHERN 83
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Xavier looked every bit like a No. 1 seed its first time around in the role at an NCAA Tournament.
J.P. Macura scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, and Xavier routed No. 16 seed Texas Southern in its tournament opener.
Trevon Bluiett added 26 points and Kerem Kanter had 24 for the Musketeers (29-5).
Texas Southern (16-20) came in having won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, a First Four win over North Carolina Central in Dayton on Wednesday night.
NORTH CAROLINA 84, LIPSCOMB 66
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kenny Williams scored 18 points and defending national champion North Carolina took its time before opening up to beat Lipscomb.
Theo Pinson had 15 points and flirted with a triple-double for the second-seeded Tar Heels (26-10). North Carolina next plays Texas A&M.
Playing for the first time in the NCAA tourney, the 15th-seeded Bisons (23-10) held an early six-point edge. They led 33-31 with under four minutes left in the first half before North Carolina went on a 12-1 run to take control by the break.
TEXAS A&M 73, PROVIDENCE 69
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Admon Gilder scored 18 points to help Texas A&M hold off Providence.
Robert Williams and Tyler Davis both had double-doubles for the seventh-seeded Aggies (21-12). The teams were tied at 50 with about 9 minutes left but Texas A&M responded with a 12-2.
Rodney Bullock scored 22 points for the 10th-seeded Friars (21-14).
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — DAYTON, Ohio – The basketball was still high in the air – flung to start the celebration – when the buzzer sounded and the Bonnies’ long-awaited March celebration commenced. Players chest-bumped on court. Coach Mark Schmidt jumped and waved his arms.
The crowd at the University of Dayton Arena – a place where St. Bonaventure is usually booed – got caught up in the moment, too. And why not? It had been 48 years since anyone saw something like this out of St. Bonaventure.
Courtney Stockard returned from a hamstring injury and scored 26 points, and Jaylen Adams hit a jumper and three free throws in the final minute Tuesday night, rallying the Bonnies to a 65-58 victory over UCLA and their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1970.
At long last, it was time to party in March .
“It can’t get better,” Schmidt said.
They’ll have more chances. The 11th-seeded Bonnies (26-7) will play sixth-seeded Florida (20-12) in Dallas on Thursday night in the East region. They did interviews, showered and headed for a flight to their next destination.
“Florida’s got four or five days on us, so we’ll be watching tape on the plane,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got a 2 a.m. flight, but it couldn’t be a better flight. Ever.”
St. Bonaventure set a school record with its 26th win. Stockard got the Bonnies in position for the drought-busting tournament victory by leading a late 12-0 run. Adams – who missed 14 of his first 15 shots – closed it out in the final 49 seconds.
“I’m still not 100 percent,” Stockard said, “but I’m feeling way better than when I did when I left the Richmond game. So I can’t really let an opportunity like this pass.”
UCLA (21-12) was surprised that it got relegated to the First Four for the first time in its history – the Bruins have been to 18 Final Fours. They had trouble making shots against the Bonnies’ zone defense and matched their season high with 20 turnovers, a disappointing ending to a season that started with an international incident .
Freshmen Jalen Hill, Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball were accused of shoplifting during a trip to China in November. All three were suspended for the season, and Ball left the school.
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday led the Pac-12 in scoring but couldn’t put his touch on the First Four game. He scored 20 points but had 10 turnovers, including three in the final 29 seconds as the game slipped away.
“I felt like we matched them pretty well,” Holiday said. “We just turned the ball over too much.”
Adams is the Bonnies’ all-time leading scorer as a guard but had a rough time as well until the final minute. He finished with eight points on 2-of-16 shooting.
RADFORD 71, LIU-BROOKLYN 61
DAYTON, Ohio – Carlik Jones had a substantial and loud cheering section at University of Dayton Arena, a lot of folks traveling about an hour up Interstate 75 from his Cincinnati hometown to see him play for Radford in a First Four game.
Jones didn’t disappoint them. The redshirt freshman guard was the engine that drove the Highlanders, scoring 12 points to go with career highs in rebounds with 11 and assists with seven as Radford beat LIU Brooklyn 71-61 on Tuesday night to get its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
“It’s just big to be able to come back home and perform in front of my family and friends that haven’t been able to see me play,” Jones said. “And it’s just been a good feeling.”
Radford didn’t play its prettiest game, but the team from rural southwest Virginia will celebrate briefly before heading to Pittsburgh to play No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday. The Big South champion Highlanders are making their third tournament appearance and first since 2009.
Ed Polite Jr. had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Travis Fields Jr. also scored 13 for Radford.
Despite hitting just 7 of 23 shots from the floor in the second half, LIU Brooklyn managed to stay within striking distance, even taking the lead briefly early in the second half. The Northeast Conference champion Blackbirds got to within a point with five minutes left, but a 9-1 surge by the Highlanders opened up the lead.
“We remained calm,” Polite said. “Basketball is about a game of runs. So we knew they’re a good team, so they’re going to make shots. So we just had to remain focused and go with the game plan. And that’s to pressure them even though they’re a fast-paced team and don’t give them any easy baskets.”
The Blackbirds went without a field goal in the last seven minutes of the game and shot 30.4 percent in the second half. Each team committed 15 turnovers.
“I thought (Radford) did a nice job grinding it out on the offensive end of the floor and taking time off the clock to where we couldn’t get moving.” LIU Brooklyn coach Derek Kellogg said.
Jashaun Agosto scored 16 points and Raiquan Clark added 14 for LIU Brooklyn, which is winless in seven trips to the tournament.
Radford led 30-28 at the end of a sloppy first half after leading by as many as nine. The Blackbirds scored 11 of their points on nine turnovers by Radford but were just 3 for 13 from beyond the 3-point line in the half.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP / USA Today Sports) — From the top seed in the NCAA Tournament – Virginia – to those that barely made it into the bracket – Arizona State and Syracuse – it feels as though everyone involved in March Madness is on the bubble this year.
College basketball is in trouble.
The brackets came out Sunday, replete with the usual fanfare that accompanies America’s biggest office pool. Villanova, Kansas and Xavier joined Virginia as No. 1 seeds, but they, along with the other 64 contenders, will play against the backdrop of an investigation-riddled season in which bribes and payoffs made bigger headlines than 3s and layups.
The tournament begins Tuesday with opening-round games featuring a matchup of bubble teams UCLA and St. Bonaventure, then kicks into full swing Thursday and Friday at eight sites around the country.
The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 in San Antonio. Shortly after that, a commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to deliver recommendations from an investigation triggered by an FBI probe that led to charges last fall against assistant coaches, agents, employees of apparel companies and others.
No fewer than a dozen teams in the tournament have been named either in the FBI investigation or in media reports that allege coaches and others have directed payments and improper benefits to recruits and players – thus, breaking rules that go to the core of the amateur-sports code that defines both the NCAA and the “student-athletes” who make this billion-dollar business run.
They range from teams that made it into the tournament off the so-called bubble – Alabama – to one of the best teams in the country. Arizona, a No. 4 seed in the South, has been roiled by a report that wiretaps caught coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to freshman Deandre Ayton. Miller has strongly denied the accusation, though the story line figures to follow the Wildcats through what could be a long run in the tournament.
The chairman of the NCAA selection committee, Bruce Rasmussen, has said the investigations played no part of the bracket-filling process.
And yet, it’s hard to imagine there weren’t some sighs of relief in the NCAA offices when some bubble teams’ names were left out of the field. For instance, Louisville has lost its coach (Rick Pitino), athletic director (Tom Jurich) and latest national title (2013) in the culmination of scandals that have slammed that program for the better part of this decade.
Given the widespread nature of this corruption, there’s at least a chance that whoever cuts down the nets in San Antonio could eventually suffer the same fate as the Cardinals.
More certain is that once this party is over, change of some sort will be coming.
“I don’t think it’s just going to be a little blip on the radar,” said John Tauer, the championship-winning coach at Division III St. Thomas in Minnesota, who doubles as a social psychology professor. “I think this runs deep enough and involves enough people in programs that something’s got to change.”
For now, though, hoops – and there was plenty to discuss after the Big Reveal:
Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis thinks this year’s team is better than last year’s team that knocked off Minnesota in the first round of the NCAAs and 2016’s team that pulled off perhaps the greatest bracket-buster of all-time in an upset of Michigan State as a No. 15 seed.
“I think we have a Sweet 16 team,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “That’s the frustrating part, you know you have a team that’s built for the second-weekend, but you’ve got to get that opportunity.”
BRACKET ANALYSIS: Selection committee valued early wins, not late failures
The Blue Raiders, sadly, won’t get the opportunity to play Cinderella again this year, and were one of the first teams left out of the field of 68 as a notable snub on Selection Sunday. MTSU (24-7) lacked marquee wins, but had the most true road wins of any team in the country (12), presented a top-10 non-conference strength of schedule and held a 33 RPI.
“We did exactly what the selection committee wanted us to do,” Davis said. “We did everything we possibly could. Of course, we’d like to have more wins (the Blue Raiders lost one-possession games to Auburn, USC and Miami). At our level, it’s trying to be literally perfect. …It is a tough world we live in (as a mid-major conference member). It’s a grind for us because you cannot slip up one bit. You lose just one game to a C-USA team and then all the pundits put us out.”
It was likely the Blue Raiders’ early Conference USA tourney exit to Southern Mississippi, a gigantic résumé stain, that knocked them out of the NCAA field. Two losses to eventual tourney champ Marshall, a team that went down-to-the-wire against Xavier, didn’t help MTSU’s cause but were way less costly. Middle Tennessee had won 11 games in a row and was playing some of its best basketball before losing to Marshall in the regular-season finale on March 3 and Southern Miss. this past week.
“We just had a six-day period where we weren’t playing our best basketball offensively,” Davis said. “It just happened at the wrong time. You hope you can be judged based on an entire season instead of a six-day period by the committee, but unfortunately those two losses (were costly).”
Davis had his team practice on Friday, with the idea that the Blue Raiders would be playing Tuesday regardless — in the NCAAs for a play-in game in Dayton or the NIT as a No. 1 seed for a home game. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter.
Here’s a look at six other teams that got snubbed the selection committee this March.
The biggest head-scratcher of Selection Sunday — outside of Syracuse making the field — is how the Trojans (23-11, 12-6) got snubbed, especially after reaching the Pac-12 tournament final before falling to Arizona. UCLA, which beat the Trojans twice, got in. USC had a 34 RPI. this pick is a testament to the committee paying no attention to conference standings, where USC finished second behind only Arizona and proved to be the second-best team in the league in the tournament in Vegas. The committee instead honored a team that struggled in the Pac 12, Arizona State, based on a pretty non-conference portfolio.
Coach Randy Bennett’s team has been here before. And once again, a weak schedule is the culprit to a snub. Of the Gaels’ 28 wins, 24 of them came against teams outside the top 100. Just breathe that in. Saint Mary’s (28-5, 16-2) beat Gonzaga but its RPI in the 40s and strength of schedule in the 160s weren’t enough to make up for the lack of marquee victories on this deceiving profile.
Notre Dame was the team knocked out by Davidson’s last-second win against Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 final, according to the committee chair Bruce Rasmussen — surely a hard pill for this group to swallow. The Fighting Irish (20-14, 8-10) might have needed one more marquee win to punch their ticket and came up short against Duke in the ACC tourney quarterfinals. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after that game, “I hope they can get in because I think they can beat anybody.” Notre Dame was a completely different team since Bonzie Colson, a preseason All-American, came back from injury. But as lenient as the committee can be to injuries (ND lost seven in a row with Colson out), it still wasn’t enough, as it was hard to rationalize Notre Dame’s résumé (RPI in the 60s, non-conference strength of schedule of 170, just two Q1 wins) over some of the at-large candidates that snuck in.
The Golden Eagles (19-13, 9-9 Big East) have an RPI in the 50s and non-conference strength of schedule of 137, but the Big East Conference figured to be a saving grace, as it made their overall SoS top-25. There’s no good eye candy on the résumé as far as marquee victories go, but Marquette did have two victories over fellow bubble team Creighton, which squeaked into the field of 68. Did the wrong Big East team get in?
The Cardinals (20-13, 9-9 ACC) likely had their season dashed on a buzzer-beating loss to Virginia on March 1. They managed to beat Florida State in the ACC tourney but there’s still not enough meat on this profile (just three top-50 wins). There are no bad losses and an RPI in the 30s to make a serious case, but Louisville just didn’t capitalize on the many Quadrant 1 opportunities it had in the ACC, and that’s something the committee will harp on.
The Cowboys (19-14, 8-10) swept Kansas in the regular season — a feat that looks all the more better following the Jayhawks’ impressive Big 12 tournament title and No. 1 NCAA seed status. OSU also has wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. Ah, the luxuries of playing in the Big 12. But that served as a doubled edged sword that came in the form of a stretch that saw OSU lose seven of 10. That and the rest of the Cowboys’ portfolio is relatively bare. There are no bad losses on this résumé, but no other bubble team had an RPI in the 80s (flirting with the 90s) and a staggeringly ugly non-conference strength of schedule of 295. Baylor also didn’t make it from the Big 12, but the Cowboys were ahead of the Bears on USA TODAY Sports’ final bracketology.
NCAA tourney language explainer
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — On the day the Kansas City Royals welcomed back Mike Moustakas, they found out Jorge Bonifacio will miss half the season.
Bonifacio was suspended 80 games by Major League Baseball on Saturday after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance.
The outfielder was banned after a positive test for Boldenone. The ban will begin on opening day.
“It really kind of made me sick to my stomach,” Royals manager Ned Yost said.
The 24-year-old Bonifacio made his major league debut last season, hitting .255 with 17 home runs and 40 RBIs in 113 games.
Bonifacio’s suspension cleared a roster spot for Moustakas, who re-signed with the Royals this week after becoming a free agent last fall.
Moustakas set a Royals record with 38 home runs last season, then rejected a $17.4 million offer from the team. But the third baseman never received the multiyear, mega-million dollar contract he and his agent Scott Boras anticipated.
The Royals signed Moustakas to a one-year $6.5 million contract with a mutual option for 2019. He can make another $2.2 million in incentives this year based on plate appearances.
“It feels like I never left,” he said. “It feels great to be back home. I’m excited to be back with the organization I grew up with. I got to see some familiar faces.”
“It’s always great to come into a clubhouse and everybody give you a hug. To have an opportunity to come back to Kansas City and play baseball again, it was a no-doubter, a no-brainer for me,” he said.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel allowed one hit in 3 2/3 innings, striking out five. Jose Altuve went 0 for 3 but stole his first base. Washington managed only two hits – singles by Bryce Harper and Ryan Raburn – until the ninth.
Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy moved along in his recovery from offseason knee surgery, taking batting practice on the field for the first time this spring.
Giancarlo Stanton hit his first home run of the spring – a two-run drive off Mets starter Matt Harvey – and Aaron Judge doubled, singled and scored twice. Harvey gave up five runs on six hits and a walk, pitching 4 2/3 innings. Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman struck out two in a scoreless inning and setup man Dellin Betances allowed one run on two hits in an inning.
Jose Reyes had two hits and stole two bases for the Mets, while Tim Tebow struck out twice in a 0-for-3 day and saw his average drop to .071.
Atlanta top prospect Ronald Acuna Jr. had two hits to raise his average to .433, walked and scored a run while Dansby Swanson homered for the second time. Starter Mike Foltynewicz pitched four shutout innings.
Jordy Mercer hit his first home run for Pittsburgh’s split squad. Starter Trevor Williams gave up three runs in four innings. Felipe Rivero pitched the fifth and allowed two runs on two hits and a walk.
Starlin Castro hit his first home run for Miami. Michael Wacha started for St. Louis, pitching four innings and allowing four runs on six hits and a walk. Projected starter Odrisamer Despaigne pitched the final three innings for the Marlins, allowing one run on two hits and a walk.
Philadelphia starter Vince Velasquez threw four scoreless innings and Odubel Herrera got two hits for the second straight day. Nathan Eovaldi started for Tampa Bay, pitching three innings and allowing one run on four hits. David Olmedo-Barrera homered twice for the Rays.
Manny Machado and Trey Mancini both homered for the third time and Jonathan Schoop added his second for Baltimore. Colby Rasmus had two hits, two RBIs and scored twice.
Chad Kuhl was knocked around in a start for Pittsburgh’s split squad, pitching 2 1/3 innings and allowing eight runs on seven hits and three walks. Starling Marte had two hits, including an RBI triple, to raise his average to .526.
Curtis Granderson hit his fourth home run and tripled for the second time this spring for Toronto. Teoscar Hernandez capped a five-run first inning with a grand slam off Detroit starter Mike Fiers. Jaime Garcia started for the Blue Jays, pitching three scoreless innings and striking out two. Miguel Cabrera doubled and walked for Detroit.
Brian Dozier singled and scored, then hit a two-run homer during Minnesota’s nine-run first inning against Boston in a game that started late before being rained out.
Mike Trout homered, doubled and singled for Los Angeles, driving in two runs and scoring twice. Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun both added two-run singles the Angels’ split-squad team.
Pablo Sandoval drove in two runs for a second straight day for San Francisco’s split squad.
Brandon Belt hit a solo home run and an RBI double and Jarrett Parker and Nick Hundley also homered for San Francisco. Luis Valbuena had two hits, including a three-run homer, and Eric Young Jr. added two hits and a stolen base for Los Angeles’ split squad.
Lucas Giolito struck out eight in four innings for the White Sox, allowing one run and two hits. Top prospect Eloy Jimenez hit a two-run homer.
Kyle Schwarber doubled and scored for the Cubs’ split squad. Kyle Hendricks started, pitching four innings and allowing two runs on five hits while striking out seven.
Jose Ramirez got his first home run for Cleveland, finishing with two hits and two RBIs. Yandy Diaz added a grand slam in the seventh inning. Francisco Lindor had two hits and swiped his first base for the Indians.
Jose Pirela had three hits for San Diego, including his first spring homer, and is batting .458. Travis Jankowski hit a three-run homer.
Lorenzo Cain had two hits for Milwaukee, raising his average to .458, and scored a run on Ryan Braun’s first-inning double. Eric Thames and Jonathan Villar drove in runs and Domingo Santana hit his first home run for the Brewers. Tyler Anderson started for Colorado, pitching three innings and allowing four runs – one earned – on five hits and a walk. David Dahl had a two-run triple.
Elvis Andrus had his first home run and finished with two hits and three RBIs for Texas. Joey Gallo had a two-run single for the Rangers and starter Mike Minor allowed just one hit, pitching four shutout innings. Paul Blackburn started for Oakland, pitching three innings and allowing two runs on two hits and two walks. Jake Smolinski hit his third home run for the Athletics.
David Peralta and Ketel Marte both had three hits for Arizona. Taijuan Walker started for the Diamondbacks, pitching two innings and allowing two runs on three hits and two walks. Jason Hammel also lasted just two innings in his second start for Kansas City, allowing three runs on four hits and two walks. Paulo Orlando drove in a run with his fifth double of the spring for the Royals.
Mike Marjama hit an inside-the-park home run during a five-run sixth inning, and Seattle beat Cincinnati.
M’s starter Ariel Miranda surrendered two runs on four hits in three innings. Mike Ford added a two-run double.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — PHILADELPHIA – Mikal Bridges scored 21 points and Jalen Brunson had 19, leading No. 1 Villanova to its eighth straight win, 98-78 over Creighton on Thursday night.
The Wildcats (21-1, 8-1 Big East) tied a program record with 19 3-pointers and provided a nice diversion for a city consumed with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Super Bowl.
Yes, the best team in college basketball plays across the street from the NFC champs. It just takes a lot to notice around town this week.
Creighton (17-6, 7-4) became the latest team to learn the hard way just talented the Wildcats are and how they can win in almost any possible.
Omari Spellman hit four 3s and scored 14 points, Brunson made 4 of 5 3s and Bridges, Eric Paschall and Donte DiVincenzo each made three.
Marcus Foster led the Bluejays with 20 points.
Obi Enechionyia hit two free throws with 18.1 seconds left in overtime, and Temple beat Wichita State.
Quinton Rose scored 19 points for the Owls (12-10, 4-6 American Athletic Conference), and Josh Brown had 15. Shizz Alston Jr. shook off a poor shooting performance to score 12 points, including the tying bucket at the end of regulation.
Enechioinyia was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound. Markis McDuffie then missed a 3 at the other end, and the rebound caromed into the backcourt as time expired and Temple fans stormed the floor.
The Owls earned another big win alongside upsets of Clemson and Auburn early in the season.
Shaquille Morris had 24 points and nine rebounds and Austin Reaves added 20 points for the Shockers (17-5, 7-3), who have dropped three of five.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Jock Landale bounced back from his lowest scoring game of the season and had 18 of his 26 points in the second half as Saint Mary’s beat San Francisco.
Tanner Krebs scored 12 points on four 3-pointers – all in the first half – while Emmett Naar had eight assists to pull within 18 of the school’s career record while helping the Gaels (22-2, 11-0 West Coast Conference) to their 17th consecutive win. Evan Fitzner added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Landale had just six points and took only four shots in Saint Mary’s win over Portland last week and scored eight in the first half against San Francisco before breaking out in the second half.
Jordan Ratinho had eight points to lead San Francisco (12-12, 4-7).
BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Ruthy Hebard had 20 points and nine rebounds to help No. 7 Oregon beat Colorado 74-55 on Friday night.
Pac-12 scoring leader Sabrina Ionescu added 14 points for Oregon (19-3, 8-1), and Satou Sabally had 12. The Ducks have won 12 of their past 13 games.
Kennedy Leonard led Colorado (11-9, 2-7) with 16 points. The Buffaloes last beat a Top 10 team on March 6, 2015, when they knocked off then-No. 8 Oregon State. Colorado has lost five straight.
No. 13 UCLA 86, WASHINGTON 69
SEATTLE (AP) — Jordin Canada had 22 points on 9-of-15 shooting and UCLA took control in the fourth quarter to beat Washington.
The Huskies scored the first point of the fourth quarter on Amber Melgoza’s free throw that tied it at 62. The Bruins (16-4, 7-2 Pac-12) then scored the next 19 points, making six of their first nine from the field. Japreece Dean’s 3-pointer with 4:43 left capped the 19-0 run at 81-62.
Melgoza had 20 points for the Huskies (7-13, 1-8).
No. 17 OREGON STATE 69, UTAH 58
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Marie Gulich had 18 points and six blocks to help Oregon State beat Utah.
Mikayla Pivec added 14 points and 12 rebounds for her third double-double this season, and Taya Corosdale had 11 points for the Beavers (19-3, 8-1 Pac-12). Megan Huff had a season-high 26 points for Utah (14-6, 5-4).
No. 22 GREEN BAY 65, UIC 36
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Jessica Lindstrom had 12 points and 12 rebounds to lead Green Bay.
Frankie Wurtz and Allie LeClaire each added 13 points for the Phoenix (18-2, 8-1 Horizon League). Taylor Toney and Brittany Byrd led UIC (7-13, 0-9) with 13 points each.
NO. 23 CALIFORNIA 63, ARIZONA 39
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Kristine Anigwe had 12 points and 15 rebounds for California.
Asha Thomas also had 12 points for California (15-5, 6-3 Pac-12).
Destiny Graham had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Arizona (5-15, 1-8).
STANFORD 74, No. 25 ARIZONA STATE 50
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Brittany McPhee became the 39th player in Stanford women’s basketball history to score 1,000 career points, finishing with 24 in the Cardinal’s vitory over Arizona State.
Marta Sniezek added 13 points and six assists, and DiJonai Carrington had 13 points and eight rebounds for the Cardinal (13-8, 7-2 Pac-12). Robbi Ryan scored 11 points for Arizona State (14-7, 5-4).
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges scored 24 points and No. 6 Michigan State beat the Wisconsin Badgers 76-61 on Friday night, less than 12 hours after athletic director Mark Hollis announced his retirement amid the outcry over how the school handled allegations against Larry Nassar.
The Spartans (19-3, 7-2 Big Ten) have won three straight after losing two of the previous three games.
Wisconsin (10-12, 3-6) has lost five of six.
The court was surrounded by a sea of teal T-shirts worn by students, hoping to raise awareness about sexual violence.
Hollis, a close friend of Spartans coach Tom Izzo, is retiring as the latest leader to step away because of a sexual abuse scandal involving a former physician at the school. Michigan State President Lou Anna Simon announced her resignation Wednesday night, hours after Larry Nassar was sentenced to decades in prison this week for molesting girls and young women.
The series of events seemed to create a relatively subdued atmosphere at the usually raucous Breslin Center.
Cassius Winston had 17 points and six assists, Nick Ward had 11 points and 12 rebounds and Jaren Jackson had 11 points, seven rebounds and four blocks for the Spartans.
Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ had 23 points and seven rebounds and Brevin Pritzl scored 13.
Wisconsin: The short-handed Badgers are competing hard, trying to overcome to loss of injured guards D’Mitrik Trice and Kobe King along with the loss of five seniors from last year’s team.
Michigan State: Izzo’s mood the rest of the season will be something to watch. Izzo was the best man at Hollis’ wedding and they were roommates decades ago when they were starting their careers at Michigan State.
Wisconsin: Hosts Nebraska on Monday.
Michigan State: Visit Maryland on Sunday.
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — No. 4 Duke has piled up huge point totals and impressive offensive numbers against every opponent on its schedule.
Now comes the biggest test to date — second-ranked Virginia and the nation’s best defense.
It sets up one of the most intriguing chess matches of the season, and certainly the game of the year in the Atlantic Coast Conference — at least, so far — between the Blue Devils (18-2, 6-2) and the Cavaliers (19-1, 8-0) on Saturday.
“They’re going to play their game — you’re not going to speed them up,” guard Grayson Allen said Friday. “But we’re also going to play our game. … We’re going to stick to what’s been successful.”
Duke brings the nation’s best offense, averaging 91.7 points while scoring at least 80 points in every game but one. The Blue Devils have faced four teams ranked in the top 50 in Ken Pomeroy’s defensive efficiency rankings — three in the top 10 — and still found ways to put up big numbers.
They scored 85 points in an overtime victory over Texas (ranked sixth by KenPom) in the PK80, put up 83 on the road at Miami (ninth) and scored 88 in a neutral-site win over Michigan State (10th) while also outscoring 48th-ranked Florida State 100-93. They have shot at least 39.5 percent in each game and dominated the glass, with an average rebounding margin of plus-11.5 in those four games.
“You’ve got to move the ball. What they’re really good at is, a lot of times, it looks like five guys are defending the ball because everyone’s ready to help and recover,” Allen said. “The ball has to be moved. The offense can’t be stagnant.”
The Cavaliers seemingly have reloaded coach Tony Bennett’s pack-line defense, and after starting the season unranked have reeled off 11 straight wins while climbing to No. 2 in the national polls. Virginia allows just 51.6 points per game, tops in the country, and only two teams — No. 7 West Virginia (68) and Virginia Commonwealth (67) — have scored more than 61 points against it.
But neither of those teams has the offensive explosiveness the Blue Devils do, with Duke averaging roughly 11 more possessions per game than the Cavaliers.
“Every game in this league is big, of course. Duke, at Cameron (Indoor Stadium), all that and there’ll be a big story line made of it and what it will come down to is what it comes down to every game,” Bennett said. “It’s not even who is the best team, it’s who plays the best.”
The key could be whether the Cavaliers can keep Duke’s elite front line — led by freshman big men Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. — in check, whether that’s keeping them off the offensive glass or making it tough for guards Allen and freshmen Trevon Duval and Gary Trent Jr. to rotate the ball and to prevent them from passing into the post.
The Blue Devils rank third nationally in offensive rebounding, averaging nearly 15, and Bagley is eighth individually with an average of four. So the Cavaliers can’t afford to give Duke’s big men all those second chances to score. That’ll be a challenge for a Virginia team that ranks 239th on the defensive glass, and puts pressure on 6-foot-10 center Jack Salt and 6-8 forward Isaiah Wilkins.
“It’s going to be a really good test for us, and we’re looking forward to it,” Virginia guard Kyle Guy said.
AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz Jr. in Charlottesville, Virginia, contributed to this report.
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Top-ranked Villanova led by as many as 44 points — 44! — and gave Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing a rude welcome back to the schools’ rivalry, handing the Hoyas their worst loss in more than 40 years, 88-56 on Wednesday night.
Jalen Brunson led the way with 18 points and seven assists for Villanova (17-1, 5-1 Big East), which finished 17 for 33 on 3s, while Georgetown went 4 for 15.
Mikal Bridges scored 17 for the Wildcats, winners of seven consecutive games against the Hoyas, Villanova’s longest streak in a series that dates to 1922.
The last time Ewing faced Villanova in any capacity was in the last game of his college playing career at Georgetown, a surprising 66-64 victory for the underdog Wildcats in the 1985 NCAA championship game. It was quite clear, quite quickly, on Wednesday that there would be no such tight outcome —nor any chance of an upset by Georgetown (12-6, 2-5).
SMU 83, No. 7 WICHITA ST. 78
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Shake Milton hit five 3-pointers en route to a career-best 33 points and SMU beat Wichita State.
Wichita State (15-3, 5-1 American Athletic Conference) had won 27 straight and 67 of 68 at Koch Arena.
The Mustangs (13-6, 3-3) snapped a three-game skid with their first victory since Dec. 31. It was their first road win against a top-10 team since Jan. 16, 1982 at No. 10 Houston.
Milton was 11 of 14 from the floor and 5 of 6 from deep while playing 40 minutes. Jahmal McMurray scored 16 points for the Mustangs, who shot 63.8 percent.
Landry Shamet led the Shockers with 20 points.
TEXAS 67, No. 8 TEXAS TECH 58
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Kerwin Roach II scored 20 points in a surprise return to the lineup and Texas got another home win over a Top 25 opponent in a week, beating Texas Tech.
Roach, who had missed the previous two games with a fracture in his left, non-shooting hand, was expected to miss a few more. But he suited up for pregame warmups and was cleared to play right before tipoff.
Roach gave the Longhorns (12-6, 3-3 Big 12) a new threat both inside and out with his 3-point shooting and aggressive drives to the basket. The Longhorns — who beat then-No. 16 TCU 99-98 in double-overtime last Wednesday — also played their best defense in weeks, anchored by freshman center Mo Bamba under the basket. Bamba had 15 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
Jarrett Culver scored 16 points to lead Texas Tech (15-3, 4-2).
No. 11 XAVIER 88, ST. JOHN’S 82
CINCINNATI (AP) — Kerem Kanter had 22 points and led a late run that swept Xavier to a victory over St. John’s that gave Chris Mack the Musketeers record for career coaching wins.
Kanter had eight points and an emphatic block during a 17-2 run that kept Xavier (17-3, 5-3 Big East) unbeaten in 13 games at the Cintas Center this season. He also matched his career high with 13 rebounds for his third double-double of the season.
Mack got his 203rd coaching victory at his alma mater, passing Pete Gillen for the school record in his ninth season.
Trevon Bluiett emerged from a shooting slump by scoring 24 points during a 92-70 win over then-No. 25 Creighton on Saturday. He followed with 23 points on Wednesday.
St. John’s (10-9, 0-7) led midway through the second half before Xavier surged ahead 79-67 with 2:56 left. The Red Storm dropped its seventh straight. Justin Simon had a career-high 28 points.
No. 14 ARIZONA 79, CALIFORNIA 58
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 14 Arizona overcame a slow, sloppy start to beat California.
Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 14 points with three 3-pointers during a decisive stretch spanning halftime as the Wildcats won their third straight since losing at Colorado on Jan. 6.
Dylan Smith made all four of his 3s and added 14 points and Allonzo Trier scored 15 as Arizona (15-4, 5-1 Pac-12) played without sophomore guard Rawle Alkins, held out as a precaution with what the school said was mild right foot soreness.
Justice Sueing scored 19 points to lead Cal (7-12, 1-5) but missed all six of his 3-point attempts for the cold-shooting Golden Bears, held to 35.3 percent and outrebounded 36-22.
STANFORD 86, No. 16 ARIZONA ST. 77
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Oscar Da Silva scored eight of his 14 points in the final four minutes and Stanford held on to beat Arizona State.
Reid Travis had 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinal (11-8, 5-1 Pac-12), who nearly squandered a 15-point second-half lead. Dorian Pickens added 19 points.
Romello White scored 19 points for the Sun Devils (14-4, 2-4 Pac-12), who lost their third road conference game in their last four. Kodi Justice added 14 points, Shannon Evans II had 13 and Remy Martin 11.
ALABAMA 76, No. 17 AUBURN 71
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — John Petty scored 27 points, Dazon Ingram added 16, and short-handed Alabama defeated Auburn.
Alabama played without its starting point guard and leading scorer, Collin Sexton, who sat out with an abdominal injury. But Petty more than made up for the loss. The freshman guard made eight of 13 3-point attempts and helped the Crimson Tide (12-6, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) surge ahead of Auburn with a 15-5 run in the second half.
It wasn’t always easy for Alabama. Coach Avery Johnson’s team struggled to take care of the basketball without its primary ball handler. The Crimson Tide turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, just two shy of its average per game this season. Despite the sloppy play, Alabama’s 3-point shooting helped hide some of the mistakes. Petty, who took Sexton’s place in the starting lineup, knocked down three of his 3-point baskets in the first half to help Alabama keep the game close.
Bryce Brown scored a team-high 12 points for Auburn (16-2, 4-1).
CREIGHTON 80, No. 19 SETON HALL 63
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Foster scored 25 points and reserve Ronnie Harrell Jr. had a career-high 18, and Creighton never trailed against Seton Hall.
The Bluejays (15-4, 5-2 Big East) split the season series with the Pirates (15-4, 4-2), avenging a 90-84 road loss last month in which they blew a double-digit lead and failed to score the last 3 ½ minutes.
Creighton led by 16 points early but saw the Pirates pull to 39-32 at half. Harrell scored seven points during a 17-9 run to open the second half that put Creighton up 58-43.
Myles Powell led the Pirates with 19 points. Seton Hall shot a season-low 38.1 percent, committed 17 turnovers and scored its fewest points of the season.
Creighton shot 51.7 percent, making it the first Seton Hall opponent to hit more than half its shots.
MISSOURI 59, No. 21 TENNESSEE 55
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Kevin Puryear had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Missouri rallied in the second half to beat Tennessee.
Jontay Porter added 10 points and seven rebounds for Missouri (13-5, 3-2 Southeastern Conference). The Tigers found their rhythm in the second half, using 3s from Kassius Robertson, Jordan Geist and Porter to fuel a 13-2 run starting with 10 minutes remaining.
Grant Williams led Tennessee (12-5, 3-3) with 15 points. Kyle Alexander had 12 points and Admiral Schofield added 11. The rest of the Volunteers only scored 17 points, and the team as a whole shot 38.9 percent, including 23.8 percent from deep.
OHIO ST. 71, NORTHWESTERN 65
ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Chris Holtmann became the first coach in 95 years to win his first seven Big Ten games as Ohio State defeated Northwestern.
C.J. Jackson had 12 points, eight assists and three steals, Micah Potter scored 13 points off the bench, Jae’Sean Tate added 12 and Keita Bates-Diop had 10 points and eight rebounds for the Buckeyes (16-4, 7-0), who won their sixth straight overall.
Holtmann is the third Big Ten coach to win his first seven conference games, joining Wisconsin’s Walter Meanwell (1911-12) and Iowa’s Sam Barry (1922-23). Holtmann replaced Thad Matta, the program’s all-time wins leader, this season.
Vic Law scored 14 points and Scottie Lindsey added 13 for Northwestern (11-9, 2-5) as the Wildcats suffered their second straight double-digit loss.
No. 24 TCU 96, IOWA ST. 73
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Vladimir Brodziansky had 26 points and TCU snapped a three-game losing streak with a victory over Iowa State while playing for the first time without injured starting point guard Jaylen Fisher.
Alex Robinson, who started at point guard, scored eight points and had a school-record 17 assists for the Horned Frogs (14-4, 2-4 Big 12), who never trailed and shot 60 percent from the field. He had only one turnover in 38 minutes.
Brodziansky shot 11 of 13 for his third 20-point game in five games. JD Miller added 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting with five 3-pointers.
Donovan Jackson had 19 points for Iowa State (10-6, 1-5).
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — The Big 12 can stake a claim as the nation’s best conference. It has the top RPI rating, five teams ranked in the AP Top 25 and eight teams in the top 50 of the KenPom.com rankings.
The only problem: The teams have been beating up on each other since conference play started.
Big 12 teams have bounced around the poll since the first conference games were played just after Christmas and Monday’s AP Top 25 should be no different after more teams went down this week.
No. 2 West Virginia (15-2, 4-1 Big 12) had its highest ranking since 1959 in last week’s poll and extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15 games by edging Baylor 57-54 on Tuesday. The Mountaineers will likely drop in Monday’s poll after losing 72-71 to No. 8 Texas Tech . The Red Raiders (15-2, 4-1) erased an 11-point second-half lead to win their first top-10 match-up at home, sending their fans rushing the court when it was over.
But Texas Tech lost to No. 9 Oklahoma 75-65 on Tuesday, creating a four-way tie atop the Big 12 with West Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas.
“I’ve got a great friend who this week told me, ‘Prince today, frog tomorrow,'” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “I know we’re going to be a frog again at some point — it’s the Big 12 — But I want to be a prince one more day.”
TCU reached No. 10 in the AP Top 25 after winning its first 12 games. Now that the conference season has started and the losses are piling up, the 16th-ranked Horned Frogs could find themselves out of the poll.
TCU (13-4, 1-4) lost to Texas by one in double overtime on Wednesday and by five to No. 9 Oklahoma in overtime on Saturday. The Horned Frogs’ lone Big 12 victory was over Baylor and its four losses have come by a combined 11 points.
“I expressed that to them wholeheartedly in the locker room afterward that I am positive without a shadow of a doubt that we are as good as anybody, and I think we are going to show it down the road,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.
No. 12 Kansas (14-3, 4-1), the conference’s last ranked team, beat Iowa State 83-78 and held off rival Kansas State 73-72 last week.
VIRGINIA RISING: Duke was the preseason ACC favorite and North Carolina is the defending national champion, but Virginia is atop the standings and has the conference’s highest ranking.
The third-ranked Cavaliers (15-1, 4-0 ACC) lost to West Virginia on Dec. 5 but have reeled off seven straight wins since. Virginia beat Syracuse 68-61 on Tuesday and could move up to No. 2 on Monday for its highest ranking since the 2014-15 season after rolling over North Carolina State on Sunday night.
BOILERMAKERS ON THE MOVE: Purdue moved up eight spots in last week’s poll for its highest ranking since 2010 and could see another bump next week. The Boilermakers (17-2, 6-0 Big Ten) beat Michigan and Minnesota this week and are off to their best start through 19 games since 1987-88. Purdue also is off to its best Big Ten start since opening the 1989-90 season 8-0.
SPIRALING SPARTANS: Michigan State became the No. 1 team in the country two weeks ago. The new year has not been kind to the Spartans.
Michigan State (16-3, 4-2 Big Ten) dropped to No. 4 after a loss to Ohio State on Jan. 7, and will likely see another poll tumble after losing 82-72 to rival Michigan and needing overtime to beat Rutgers last week.
“I don’t feel any different about our team,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “We ran into two teams that were pretty good and one team that plays hard.”
VILLANOVA ON TOP: Villanova moved back atop the poll after Michigan State’s loss to Ohio State and should remain there next week. The Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 Big East) rolled over No. 10 Xavier 89-65 and beat St. John’s 78-71 this week.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports / AP) — With conference play in full swing midway through the month of January, two showdowns in the Big 12 Conference and one in the Big East highlight that games we are watching this weekend in college basketball.
A breakdown of the top five matchups:
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Big 12 is shaping up as the deepest conference in the country. If the Mountaineers can separate themselves further from the tough field with a road win, the next couple of months in Morgantown could be very interesting indeed. The Red Raiders sustained their first league loss at Oklahoma after an eye-opening victory at Kansas but are still among the conference’s pleasant surprises.
Saturday, 1 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Speaking of pleasant surprises. … Everybody in Norman knew about Trae Young’s stellar high school career, but he rapidly played himself into the national player of the year conversation. He’ll look to keep it going against the Horned Frogs, who’ve run into some tough luck since being one of the last teams to taste defeat this season. TCU has now dropped three of its four conference games by a total of six points, including Wednesday night’s double-overtime setback at Texas when a last-second layup somehow rimmed out.
Saturday, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
No team in the country is happier than the Musketeers to be coming home. That’s especially true of Xavier’s leading scorer Trevon Bluiett, who struggled mightily in losses at Providence and Villanova. The Blue Jays come into Cincinnati on a four-game winning streak.
Saturday, noon ET, Fox
Since a brief elevation to No. 1, the Spartans have been crunched by Ohio State then needed a late rally to escape Rutgers in overtime. The Wolverines get another opportunity for a resume builder after coming up just short against Purdue earlier in the week.
Saturday, 3 p.m. ET, ESPNU
The Tigers are also glad to be home after a quick turnaround from their late Thursday contest at N.C. State. The Hurricanes, in action for the first time since Sunday’s home win against Florida State, should be better rested but still face a tough challenge on the road.
MEN’S THURSDAY NIGHT ROUNDUP:
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Rauno Nurger scored 14 points and fifth-ranked Wichita State shook off a slow start to roll past East Carolina 95-60 on Thursday night.
Shaquille Morris added 12 points for the Shockers (14-2), who improved to 4-0 in their first season in the American Athletic Conference.
Wichita State trailed 14-9 early after a 3-for-12 shooting start, but the Shockers quickly settled in to take complete control. Wichita State went ahead for good on a 15-0 run, part of a 36-9 avalanche to close the first half and drain the fight out of a once-feisty Minges Coliseum crowd.
B.J. Tyson scored 16 points for the Pirates (7-9, 1-4).
OREGON 76, No. 11 ARIZONA STATE 72
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Payton Pritchard scored 18 points and hit two free throws with 13.8 seconds left for Oregon.
Oregon (12-5, 2-2 Pac-12) used a late spurt to go up eight points and hit four free throws in the final 32 seconds to earn its biggest win of the season.
The Ducks dominated the paint, outscoring Arizona State 38-16 inside and scoring 15 second-chance points on 15 offensive rebounds. Elijah Brown had 18 points and hit two free throws with 32 seconds left for Oregon.
Kodi Justice had 21 points and Shannon Evans II added 19 for Arizona State (13-3, 1-3).
No. 15 GONZAGA 103, PORTLAND 57
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Silas Melson scored a career-high 23 points, making seven 3-pointers, for Gonzaga.
Rui Hachimura added 20 points for Gonzaga (15-3, 5-0 West Coast Conference).
Marcus Shaver Jr. scored 16 points for Portland (6-12, 0-5), which has dropped five games in a row.
Melson hit 7 of 12 from 3-point range and the Zags finished with 13 3s in the game.
No. 17 ARIZONA 62, OREGON STATE 53
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 21 points in the second half and Arizona pulled away from a sluggish, close game in the final 7 1/2 minutes.
Deandre Ayton had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Rawle Alkins scored 11 points, nine in the second half, for the Wildcats (13-4, 3-1 Pac-12), coming off a loss Saturday at Colorado.
Tres Tinkle scored 18 points and Stephen Thompson Jr. had 14 for the Beavers (10-6, 2-2), who have won just once in Tucson in the last 35 years (2010).
NORTH CAROLINA STATE 78, No. 19 CLEMSON 77
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Omer Yurtseven scored a career-high 29 points, and North Carolina State held on to beat Clemson after Gabe DeVoe missed the third of three free throws with 0.2 seconds left that would have forced overtime.
Allerik Freeman finished with 14 points for the short-handed Wolfpack (12-5, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who blew nearly all of a 12-point lead with less than 90 seconds remaining but held on to claim their second home win over a Top 25 opponent in six nights after knocking off then-No. 2 Duke on Saturday night.
Marcquise Reed scored 17 points, Donte Grantham added 16 and Mark Donnal finished with a season-high 13 for Clemson (14-2, 3-1), which had its 10-game winning streak end.
Sam Hunt fouled DeVoe as he flung up a 3-pointer from the corner. DeVoe hit the first two free throws, and after N.C. State coach Kevin Keatts called a timeout, the Clemson guard bounced his last attempt off the left iron.
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HOUSTON (AP) — Scott Frost has one final award to share with the University of Central Florida.
The former UCF coach and new Nebraska boss received the Paul “Bear” Bryant Coach of the Year Award on Wednesday night.
“It’s an honor. Obviously, he’s one of the greats,” Frost said about Bryant. “This is a team award. I’m just happy to represent the players and coaches that had such a phenomenal year.”
Frost is first since former Boise State coach Chris Petersen in 2009 with a non-Power 5 program.
This completes the awards season for Frost. In the past few weeks, Frost also claimed the Home Depot Coach of the Year, American Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year, AP Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year awards.
UCF rolled past Memphis 62-55 in the American Athletic Conference Championship game, and beat Auburn 34-27 in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl to finish 13-0. UCF finished ranked No. 6 in the final AP Poll of the season, receiving four first place votes.
“If this year taught me anything it’s that with the current structure I don’t think a Group of 5 team has a chance,” Frost said. “(The CFB Playoff Committee) kept us at a comfortable distance from the Top 5 and Top 10 for a long time, even when we were undefeated. Continued move two and three loss teams ahead of us. It’s obvious to me that they don’t have that intention to have that debate. Hopefully that will change.”
When asked about the current state of the College Football Playoff, Frost said he believes it should be expanded to eight teams. This would include the five conference champions and then three at-large bids.
Steve Spurrier was honored with the Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award.
“It’s very nice,” Spurrier said. “I was telling somebody I’m the only coach here that Bear Bryant recruited me out of high school. I visited Alabama way back in 1962. Alabama was playing Miami that day. … It was only 3-3 at halftime and Alabama won 36-3. They clobbered them in the second half.”
Spurrier finished his career as the winningest coach at Florida (122-27-1) and South Carolina (86-49).
“He was really good to all the coaches all over the country,” Spurrier said about Bryant. “A really fun guy to be around.”
College football’s lengthy postseason began with Troy defeating North Texas in the New Orleans Bowl and ended with Alabama edging past Georgia in Monday night’s national championship game.
Despite not entering the game until the third quarter, Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa lands at quarterback on the USA TODAY Sports all-bowl team for 2017-18. He’s joined by a number of players from the matchup between Alabama and Georgia, along with postseason standouts representing teams from each Football Bowl Subdivision conference.
QB: Tua Tagovailoa, Alabama
He led the Tide to 20 points in the second half to force overtime and then threw a game-winning touchdown pass from 41 yards out to lift Alabama to its fifth national championship in nine seasons.
RB: Sony Michel, Georgia
Michel torched Oklahoma with 222 yards of total offense and four scores in Georgia’s Rose Bowl win, and added 98 rushing yards in the loss to Alabama.
RB: Rashaad Penny, San Diego State
The Aztecs’ senior star posted the bowl season’s best single-game rushing performance with 221 yards and four scores on 15.8 yards per carry in a 42-35 loss to Army.
WR: Gregory Phillips, Purdue
After entering the postseason with 30 catches on the year and two receiving touchdowns for his career, the senior paced the nation with 14 receptions and doubled his career total with a pair of scores in the Boilermakers’ Foster Farms Bowl win against Arizona.
WR: Cedrick Wilson, Boise State
Boise’s latest win against Oregon, a 38-28 decision in the Las Vegas Bowl, was keyed by Wilson’s 10 receptions for 221 yards and a score.
TE: Tommy Sweeney, Boston College
Sweeney’s 137 receiving yards on seven grabs was highlighted by a career-long 48-yard catch, though his performance wasn’t enough to fend off a loss to Iowa in the Pinstripe Bowl.
OL: Ryan Bates, Penn State
Penn State’s offensive line was so dominant against Washington’s gifted front seven that any one of the starting five could draw accolades, but Bates gets the nod for bouncing back from a late-season injury and excelling at right tackle.
OL: David Forney, Navy
Forney and his compatriots on Navy’s offensive line bulldozed poor and pitiful Virginia to the tune of 452 rushing yards in a 49-7 Military Bowl win.
OL: Bradley Bozeman, Alabama
The man in the middle of Alabama’s offensive front was a stabilizing force as the Tide’s offense first struggled and then turned the reins over to Tagovailoa. (For good measure, Bozeman proposed to his fiancé after the win against Georgia.)
OL: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame
One of the dominant players in college football and an elite NFL talent, Nelson provided one last series of highlights in Notre Dame’s win against LSU.
OL: Jake Brown, Central Florida
The sophomore earned the highest grade of any UCF offensive lineman after the Knights’ front more than held its own in the Peach Bowl matchup against Auburn’s defense.
DL: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
First he had an interception against Clemson, then he grabbed a receiving touchdown against the Tigers, and then he pushed around linemen and collapsed pockets in helping Alabama’s defense stand tall in the second half against Georgia.
DL: Jonathan Ledbetter, Georgia
The Bulldogs’ standout end accounted for a combined nine tackles, two tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks across games against Oklahoma and the Crimson Tide.
DL: Carl Granderson, Wyoming
Granderson’s five tackles and a sack would’ve been good enough on their own, but his 58-yard fumble return for a touchdown was the highlight of Wyoming’s 37-14 win against Central Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl.
DL: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State
With 2.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, Hubbard was the leader of a pass rush that accounted for eight sacks and owned the line of scrimmage in the Buckeyes’ impressive Cotton Bowl manhandling of Southern California.
LB: Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State
Vander Esch gets the nod by a hair ahead of Alabama’s Rashaan Evans and Georgia’s Roquan Smith by filling the box score against Oregon – with 12 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble – in his final college game.
LB: Te’Von Coney, Notre Dame
Coney was here, there and everywhere in the Irish’s narrow win against LSU, making 17 total stops to lead all defenders this postseason.
LB: Shaquem Griffin, Central Florida
Griffin showed why he’s one of the premier players in college football – if somewhat overlooked during award season – by making 12 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks against Auburn.
DB: Amani Hooker, Iowa
Among Hooker’s team-best 12 tackles against Boston College were two that kept the Eagles out of the end zone and proved the difference in a 27-20 win.
DB: Chris Lammons, South Carolina
Lammons led the Gamecocks with three passes defended as part of a secondary that held Michigan to 21 completions in 45 attempts for 203 yards.
DB: Mark McLaurin, Mississippi State
McLaurin was named the MVP of the TaxSlayer Bowl after intercepting Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson three times, the most by any player during bowl play.
DB: Damon Webb, Ohio State
Webb made a splash against Southern California with a handful of game-changing plays, including a recovered fumble and a 23-yard interception returned for a touchdown.
K: Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia
Blankenship made five of his six field-goal attempts during Georgia’s two postseason games, with a make of 50-plus yards against both Oklahoma and Alabama.
P: Michael Dickson, Texas
To control the game from the punter spot, as he did in the Longhorns’ bowl win against Missouri, was a fitting way for Dickson’s college career to come to an end.
RET: Jason Huntley, New Mexico State
Huntley’s 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter helped New Mexico State top Utah State in the Arizona Bowl in the program’s first postseason appearance in 57 years.
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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.
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ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama is the national champ again and the Crimson Tide won the championship with a bunch of freshmen coming off the bunch.
The Tide will keep rolling in 2018 after finishing the 2017 season by beating Georgia to win the College Football Playoff national title . Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press college football poll, becoming the first team since Southern California in 2004 to be preseason No. 1 and national champ in the same season. And that’s probably where Alabama will start next season, too.
The last Heat Check for the 2017 season looks at how they teams in the final poll are set up for ’18 and where they might start in the preseason rankings. There are plenty of players still deciding if they will be back for another season or jump to the NFL. Players likely to leave are noted with -x.
No. 1 Alabama (13-1)
Back: QB Jalen Hurts; OT Jonah Williams; DE Raekwon Davis.
Gone: WR Calvin Ridley-x; S Minkah Fitzpatrick-x; LB Rashaan Evans.
Alabama brings back a two-year starting quarterback that has played in two national title games and the backup (Tua Tagovailoa) might be better. The secondary will need a major rebuild.
First test of 2018: vs. Louisville in Orlando, Florida, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Probably preseason No. 1 again.
No. 2 Georgia (13-2)
Back: QB Jake Fromm; RB De’Andre Swift; OT Andrew Thomas.
Gone: RBs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel; OLB Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy.
The Bulldogs are likely to lose a bunch of juniors, like LB Roquan Smith, to the NFL, and could use a year to retrench before Kirby Smart’s excellent recruiting classes develop.
First test of 2018: at South Carolina, week two.
Heat check for 2018: Could be closer to No. 10 than No. 1 depending on early departures.
No. 3 Oklahoma (12-2)
Back: LB Caleb Kelly; RB Rodney Anderson; OT Bobby Evans.
Gone: QB Baker Mayfield; OT Orlando Brown; TE Mark Andrews.
The Sooners’ seasons will likely swing on how well Kyler Murray does as Mayfield’s replacement, though the backfield should be loaded.
First test of 2018: vs FAU, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Back half of the top 10 because of QB uncertainty.
No. 4 Clemson (12-2)
Back: QB Kelly Bryant; RB Travis Etienne; DT Dexter Lawrence.
Gone: DT Christian Wilkins-x; DE Clelin Ferrell-x; DE Austin Bryant-x.
Three-fourths of that monster defensive line could jump to the NFL early, but 2017 showed Clemson is built to withstand high-level losses.
First test of 2018: at Texas A&M, week two.
Heat check for 2018: In contention for preseason No. 1
No. 5 Ohio State (12-2)
Back: DE Nick Bosa; RB J.K. Dobbins; DT Robert Landers.
Gone: QB J.T. Barrett; DE Sam Hubbard; CB Denzel Ward.
The Buckeyes will replace a lot on defense, but the 2017 recruiting class was loaded, and they should be fine at QB with Dwayne Haskins.
First test of 2018: vs. TCU, week three.
Heat check for 2018: Preseason top five, easily.
No. 6 UCF (13-0)
Back: QB McKenzie Milton; RB Adrian Killins; WR Otis Anderson.
Gone: OLB Shaquem Grffin; DE Jamiyus Pittman; LB Chequan Burkett.
Pressure will be on new coach Josh Heupel, who will have the entire offense back.
First test of 2018: at North Carolina, week three.
Heat check for 2018: If Scott Frost was back, the Knights would be preseason top 10. Now? Probably around 15.
No. 7 Wisconsin (13-1)
Back: RB Jonathan Taylor; QB Alex Hornibrook; LB T.J. Edwards.
Gone: TE Troy Fumagalli; CB Nick Nelson; OLB Garrett Dooley.
The Badgers bring back almost an entire offense.
First test of 2018: at Iowa, week four.
Heat check for 2018: Top five. Certainly not much lower than that.
No. 8 Penn State (11-2)
Back: QB Trace McSorley; WR Juwan Johnson; DE Shareef Miller.
Gone: RB Saquon Barkley; TE Mike Gesicki; S Marcus Allen.
The Nittany Lions have been recruiting well under James Franklin, and that will be tested in 2018 because they lose bunch of big-time upperclassmen.
First test of 2018: vs. Appalachian State, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Top 20 team, but maybe fourth best in the Big Ten East.
No. 9 TCU (11-3)
Back: WR KaVontae Turpin; DE Ben Banogu; LB Ty Summers.
Gone: LB Travin Howard; DE Matt Boesen; QB Kenny Hill.
Under coach Gary Patterson, the Horned Frogs tend to do their best work when expectations are low. Might be tough next season.
First test of 2018: vs. Ohio State at Arlington, Texas, week three.
Heat check for 2018: Around No. 15 to start.
No. 10 Auburn (10-4)
Back: QB Jarrett Stidham; DT Dontavious Russell; DE Marlon Davidson.
Gone: RB Kerryon Johnson; OLB Jeff Holland; CB Carlton Davis.
The Tigers will be retooling around Stidham, but have some promising offensive linemen.
First test of 2018: vs. Washington in Atlanta, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Middle of the Top 25 to start.
No. 11 Notre Dame (10-3)
Back: NG Jerry Tillery; CB Julian Love; QB Brandon Wimbush.
Gone: OT Mike McGlinchey; G Quenton Nelson; WR Equanimeous St. Brown.
The offensive line made the Irish go and it needs a major rebuild.
First test of 2018: vs. Michigan, week one.
Heat check: for 2018: Around No. 20.
No. 12 Southern California (11-3)
Back: RB Stephen Carr; WR Tyler Vaughns; LB Jordan Iosefa.
Gone: QB Sam Darnold; DE Uchenna Nwosu; RB Ronald Jones II.
Matt Finks is next quarterback in line, but the big question is can the offensive line take a big step forward?
First test of 2018: at Stanford, week two.
Heat check for 2018: Top 15.
No. 13 Miami (10-3)
Back: WR Ahmmon Richards; LB Shaquille Quarterman; DE Joseph Jackson.
Gone: DE Chad Tomas; WR Braxton Berrios; TE Christopher Herndon IV.
The Hurricanes head into 2018 with a three-game losing streak, but the arrow is pointing up after an ahead-of-schedule season. QB Malik Rosier likely faces a battle for the starting job.
First test of 2018: vs. LSU at Arlington, Texas, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Just outside top five.
No. 14 Oklahoma State (10-3)
Back: RB Justice Hill; WR Jalen McCleskey; LB Calvin Bundage.
Gone: QB Mason Rudolph; WR James Washington; WR Marcell Ateman.
The Cowboys need a quarterback.
First test of 2018: vs. Boise State, week three.
Heat check for 2018: At best, the Cowboys squeeze into the Top 25.
No. 15 Michigan State (10-3)
Back: QB Brian Lewerke; RB L.J. Scott; LB Joe Bachie.
Gone: C Brian Allen; LB Chris Frey; DE Demetrius Cooper.
The Spartans could return more players who contributed heavily this season than any in the country.
First test of 2018: at Arizona State, week two.
Heat check for 2018: Could sneak into the top 10.
No. 16 Washington (10-3)
Back: QB Jake Browning; DT Greg Gaines; S Taylor Rapp.
Gone: DT Vita Vea; WR Dante Pettis; LB Keishawn Bierria.
The Huskies will get some key players back from injury (OT Trey Adams, WR Chico McClatcher) and Chris Petersen seems to have the Huskies primed to contend yearly.
First test of 2018: vs. Auburn at Atlanta, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Pac-12 favorite and the conference’s only preseason top-10 team.
No. 17 Northwestern (10-3)
Back: LB Paddy Fisher; QB Clayton Thorson; RB Jeremy Larkin.
Gone: RB Justin Jackson; S Godwin Igwebuike; DT Tyler Lancaster.
Thorson coming back healthy from a bowl game knee injury is key to season.
First test of 2018: at Purdue, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Strong finish could put Wildcats into the bottom of the Top 25.
No. 18 LSU (9-4)
Back: LB Devin White; CB Adraez Williams; DT Rashard Lawrence.
Gone: RB Derrius Guice; WR D.J. Chark; DL Christian LaCouture.
Where does LSU coach Ed Orgeron go now for an offensive coordinator with Matt Canada leaving?
First test of 2018: vs. Miami at Arlington, Texas, week one.
Heat check for 2018: LSU always has top-20 talent so it will be a top-20 team.
No. 19 Mississippi State (9-4)
Back: DT Jeffrey Simmons; QB Nick Fitzgerald; DE Montez Sweat.
Gone: OT Martina Rankin; LB Dezmond Harris.
Dan Mullen left new coach Joe Moorhead the makings of a really good team.
First test of 2018: at Kansas State, week two.
Heat check for 2018: Buzzy team for next season, could slip into top 10 if Fitzgerald is in good health.
No. 20 Stanford (9-5)
Back: QB K.J. Costello; TD Kaden Smith; OG Nate Herbig.
Gone: DT Harrison Phillips; LB Peter Kalambayi; OG David Bright.
Does Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love return? How about DBs Justin Reid and CB Quenton Meeks?
First test of 2018: vs. San Diego State, week one.
Heat check for 2018: With Love 18-20. Without, 21-23.
No. 21 South Florida (10-2)
Back: WR Tyre McCants; CB Mazzi Wilkins; LB Nico Sawtelle.
Gone: QB Quinton Flowers; DT Deadrin Senat; RB D’Ernest Johnson.
The Bulls lose a ton of talented leaders, including the best player in program history in Flowers.
First test of 2018: vs. Georgia Tech, week two.
Heat check for 2018: Unranked.
No. 22 Boise State (11-3)
Back: QB Brett Rypien; RB Alexander Mattison; S Kekoa Nawahine.
Gone: LB Leighton Vander Esch; WR Cedrick Wilson; TE Jake Roh.
The Broncos bring back most of a good defense and maybe the best quarterback in the Mountain West.
First test of 2018: at Troy, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Should start no worse than 20th.
No. 23 North Carolina State (9-4)
Back: QB Ryan Finley; WR Kelvin Harmon; RB Nyheim Hines.
Gone: DE Bradley Chubb; TE Jaylen Samuels; DT Justin Jones.
The Wolfpack missed a chance to have a really special season in 2017. Most of the offense returns, but a talented defensive line is gone.
First test of 2018: vs. West Virginia.
No. 24 Virginia Tech (9-4)
Back: QB Josh Jackson; DT Ricky Walker; DT Tim Settle.
Gone: CB Greg Stroman; WR Cam Phillips; LB Tremaine Edmunds-x.
Year three under coach Justin Fuente will be the first for Hokies with an experienced QB. Expectations should be high.
First test of 2018: at Florida State, week one.
Heat check for 2018: Top 15.
No. 25 Memphis (10-3)
Back: RB Tony Pollard; RB Darrell Henderson; NT O’Bryan Goodson.
Gone: QB Riley Ferguson; WR Anthony Miller; LB Genard Avery.
Replacing two of the best players in school history will be difficult.
First test of 2018: TBD (AAC schedule not released yet).
Heat check for 2018: Likely to start unranked.
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Jevon Carter sank the go-ahead 3-pointer with 57.5 seconds left and No. 2 West Virginia escaped with a 57-54 victory over Baylor on Tuesday night.
West Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) struggled to make shots the entire game but extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15, the Mountaineers’ best since winning 22 straight in 1988-89.
Lamont West and Daxter Miles Jr. led West Virginia with 12 points apiece.
Baylor’s Manu Lecomte scored 13 points and Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. had 11 points and 10 rebounds for his eighth double-double of the season.
West Virginia, which had little inside success on offense against the taller Bears (11-5, 1-3), shot 31.1 percent (19 of 61) from the floor and was held to its lowest point total of the season.
But the Mountaineers never trailed in the second half of a close game with few scoring runs. Baylor made one field goal over the final eight minutes.
No. 3 VIRGINIA 68, SYRACUSE 61
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kyle Guy scored 22 points, De’Andre Hunter added 15 and Virginia beat Syracuse.
Guy made five 3-pointers for Virginia (15-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). The Cavaliers attempted a season-high 27 3s and made nine. Devon Hall added 13 points, eight assists and seven rebounds for Virginia.
Frank Howard scored 18 points to lead the Orange (12-5, 1-3). Oshae Brissett added 16 points and Paschal Chukwu scored nine points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but the Orange shot under 40 percent against the nation’s top scoring defense and managed just three assists on 23 baskets.
No. 5 PURDUE 70, MICHIGAN 69
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Isaac Haas made a tiebreaking free throw with four seconds remaining and Purdue remained unbeaten in the Big Ten by edging Michigan.
The Boilermakers (16-2, 5-0 Big Ten) have won 12 in a row, while the Wolverines (14-4, 3-2) had their seven-game winning streak snapped. Purdue is 5-0 in conference play for the first time since 1989-90.
In the final seconds, Michigan rushed the ball up the court and Charles Matthews took a desperation shot just after crossing midcourt that hit the rim but missed.
No. 9 OKLAHOMA 75, NO. 8 TEXAS TECH 65
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Trae Young scored 22 of his 27 points in the second half to help Oklahoma top Texas Tech.
Young, a freshman point guard who leads the nation in scoring and assists, shot just 1 of 12 in the first half. He went 6 for 11 in the second to help the Sooners bounce back from a loss to No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday.
Young also had nine assists and four steals for Oklahoma (13-2, 3-1 Big 12), which won its 11th straight at home. Christian James had 15 points and Khadeem Lattin added 11 points, eight rebounds and seven blocks.
Oklahoma shot 56 percent in the second half. Texas Tech entered the night ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 59 points per game.
Keenan Evans scored 19 points for Texas Tech (14-2, 3-1).
No. 12 KANSAS 83, IOWA STATE 78
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Malik Newman scored a career-high 27 points, Svi Mykhailiuk added 23 and Kansas staved off an upset bid by Iowa State, pulling away in the closing minutes.
Devonte Graham added 11 points for the Jayhawks (13-3, 3-1 Big 12), most of those coming in crunch time, when he shook off a 1-for-11 start from the field to knock down three big jumpers.
Lindell Wigginton had 27 points and Donovan Jackson scored 20 for the Cyclones (9-6, 0-4), whose four straight losses — including back-to-back overtime defeats — have come on the heels of nine straight wins.
Cameron Lard added 15 points and 10 rebounds, though he also committed seven of the Cyclones’ 17 turnovers. Nick Weiler-Babb contributed 13 points, 10 boards and eight assists.
MARQUETTE 84, No. 13 SETON HALL 64
MILWAUKEE (AP) — Andrew Rowsey scored 31 points and Marquette used a 16-0 run in the second half to pull away from Seton Hall.
Sam Hauser added 14 points for the Golden Eagles (12-5, 3-2 Big East). He shot 4 of 9 from 3-point range, including a 3 with 5:25 left for a 73-55 lead.
Energized Marquette outhustled Seton Hall (14-3, 3-1) and held its own in the paint against the Pirates’ dominant center, Angel Delgado (12 points, 10 rebounds). The Golden Eagles set a quick tempo to beat the Pirates on both ends of the floor.
Seton Hall stumbled after reaching its highest ranking in the AP Top 25 poll since Jan. 2, 2001.
No. 20 NORTH CAROLINA 96, BOSTON COLLEGE 66
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Luke Maye had career highs of 32 points and 18 rebounds, and North Carolina’s small lineup got off to a fast start in an easy win against Boston College.
Cameron Johnson added 14 points and 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (13-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who avoided their first three-game losing streak since January 2014. UNC coach Roy Williams juggled his starting lineup to move in Johnson over freshman forward Garrison Brooks — and that wing-heavy unit responded by getting out in transition and on the attack in their active opening minutes.
Maye became the first North Carolina player with at least 30 points and 15 rebounds at home since Antawn Jamison in 1997-98, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Ky Bowman scored 21 points to lead Boston College (11-6, 2-3), which has lost 11 straight against the Tar Heels.
No. 21 KENTUCKY 74, TEXAS A&M 73
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — PJ Washington made a steal that led to Kevin Knox’s go-ahead layup with 2:28 left, then added four points down the stretch to help Kentucky rally past Texas A&M.
Trailing 59-53 with 8:43 remaining, the Wildcats clawed back to tie the game three times before Washington stole a high pass and fed Knox for a 69-67 lead. Washington added a layup between two free throws for a 73-69 edge.
The Aggies weren’t done, taking advantage of missed Kentucky free throws to get within a point with four seconds left on Robert Williams’ tip-in. Two misses by Washington at the line set up a final chance for Texas A&M, but a long pass sailed out of bounds as time expired.
Hamidou Diallo had 18 points as Kentucky (13-3, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) bounced back from last weekend’s loss at No. 24 Tennessee.
Tyler Davis scored 21 for the Aggies (11-5, 0-4), who lost their second consecutive one-point game.
No. 22 AUBURN 85, MISSISSIPPI 70
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Desean Murray had 16 points and eight rebounds to help Auburn erase a 10-point halftime deficit and beat Mississippi.
Auburn (15-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) won its 13th straight game and opened 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2002-03. The Tigers had lost 10 straight against Ole Miss.
Mustapha Heron added 15 points for Auburn, which played its first home game as a ranked team since 2000. Afernee McLemore had 13 points and nine rebounds.
Breein Tyree led the Rebels (9-7, 2-2) with 24 points.
No. 24 TENNESSEE 92, VANDERBILT 84
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grant Williams scored a career-best 37 points as Tennessee rallied from a 10-point deficit in the second half to beat Vanderbilt.
The sophomore forward avoided foul trouble, and Vanderbilt couldn’t handle the 6-foot-7, 241-pound Williams around the basket. Admiral Schofield tied his career high with 22 points as Tennessee (11-4, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) won its second straight.
Jordan Bowden scored all 12 of his points in the second half for the Volunteers.
Saben Lee led Vanderbilt with 21 points. Jeff Roberson added 19 and Riley LaChance had 16 for the Commodores (6-10, 1-3).
No. 25 CREIGHTON 85, BUTLER 74
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Marcus Foster scored 21 of his 23 points in the first half, and Martin Krampelj had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his third straight double-double in Creighton’s victory over Butler.
The Bluejays (14-3, 4-1 Big East) won for the ninth time in 10 games and improved to 11-0 at home. The Bulldogs (12-6, 2-3) lost their third straight since upsetting then-No. 1 Villanova on Dec. 30.
Foster was coming off a season-low nine points on 3-of-14 shooting at Georgetown on Saturday. He took on the role of playmaker in the second half, when he had six of his season-high eight assists, including a couple big ones after Butler pulled within six points late.
Butler star Kelan Martin struggled with Khyri Thomas guarding him. After averaging 25.8 points in the Bulldogs’ first four Big East games, Martin was held to two in the first half and 10 for the game. He did have 11 rebounds.
More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
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ATLANTA (AP) — Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final Associated Press college football poll after the Crimson Tide beat Georgia in the national championship game. Unbeaten Central Florida finished sixth.
The Crimson Tide received 57 of 61 first-place votes from the media panel after its 26-23 overtime win on Monday night. UCF received the other four and finished with the best ranking in the history of the program. The Knights are the first bowl-eligible team to finish the season undefeated and not win a national title since TCU in 2010. Ohio State was 12-0 in 2012, but banned from the postseason by the NCAA.
Georgia finished second, its best ranking since 2007, and Oklahoma was third, followed by Clemson and Ohio State.
The AP national championship is the 11th for the Crimson Tide, three more than any other school, and fifth under coach Nick Saban since 2009. Saban joins the late Alabama coach Paul “Bear” Bryant as the only coaches with five AP titles.
Alabama is the first preseason No. 1 to finish No. 1 since Southern California in 2004 and the 11th overall. For the fourth time, two teams from the same conference finished Nos. 1 and 2. The last three times it has happened involved Southeastern Conference teams at the top (2007, 2011 and now 2017).
Washington State, which lost to Michigan State 42-17 in the Holiday Bowl, was the only team ranked in the final regular-season poll to fall out of the Top 25 after the bowl season. North Carolina State moved in after beating Arizona State 52-31 in the Sun Bowl and finished No. 23.
Big Ten – 5
SEC — 5
ACC — 4
Big 12 — 3
AAC — 3
Pac-12 — 3
Mountain West — 1
Independent — 1
Congratulations to 2017 national champion Alabama. While the Crimson Tide celebrates, it’s on to 2018 for the rest of college football. Here are some of the numerous story lines to follow next season:
This is as much a story of the offseason as the season, but no doubt the ramifications will be felt all the way through 2018.
Three playoff teams, including the two that played for the national title, will have returning starting quarterbacks. None of those players are locks to start next season.
Jalen Hurts has led Alabama to two straight championship games in his first two college seasons, but it was Tua Tagovailoa who came off the bench Monday night to beat Georgia for the national championship.
Jake Fromm led Georgia to the national title game as a freshman, but five-star recruit Justin Fields will be practicing with the Bulldogs this spring. And where does that leave Jacob Eason, the former five-star who was relegated to backup-up behind Fromm?
At Clemson, Kelly Bryant will have to fend off both sophomore Hunter Johnson and five-star incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence. Miami’s Malik Rosier is also likely to face a challenge from N’Kosi Perry, who will be a redshirt freshman and Notre Dame’s Brandon Wimbush will have to reclaim his job after Ian Book led the Fighting Irish to a bowl victory.
Elsewhere, Ohio State will likely turn the team over to Dwayne Haskins. Can incoming freshman Tate Martell be a factor. Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray is the heir apparent to Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma.
HEAT ON HARBAUGH
The offseason’s most interesting coach needs to start having a bigger impact during the season. Part of Michigan’s problem in 2017 was the expectations were a bit out of whack, but that doesn’t let Harbaugh off the hook. The Wolverines’ offense was bad and if you’re a great coach who supposedly has a skill for developing quarterbacks — and Harbaugh is being paid as such — you need to do better than 109thh in the country in yards per pass attempt.
No excuses next season. Harbaugh will have three of his own recruiting class. The defense should be loaded again. The Wolverines could have Shea Patterson at quarterback if the Ole Miss transfer gets eligible, but even if they don’t either Brandon Peters or Dylan McCaffrey should provide at least competency.
Harbaugh needs to start winning big things: rivalry games, division titles, conference championships, playoff spots.
WHO FOR HEISMAN?
Baker Mayfield is gone. So is Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley and Rashaad Penny. That’s four of the top five Heisman Trophy vote-getters.
Also, flashy quarterbacks such as San Darnold and Josh Rosen, who were trendy picks going in this past season, are on their way to the NFL.
So who is the favorite going into 2018? Runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford would be good pick, though the junior could go pro. Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, who ran for nearly 2,000 yards as a freshman, could easily surpass that in 2018. Still, it’s become a quarterbacks’ award, with 15 of the last 18 going to QBs.
The top quarterbacks? Keep an eye out for some of those newcomers and possible first-year starters. Of the established players, Penn State’s Trace McSorley steps out of Barkley’s shadow and Oregon’s Justin Herbert could be the guy with the NFL draft buzz.
JIMBO IN AGGIELAND
It has been 40 years since a coach with a national championship on his resume left one college job for another. Texas A&M paid $75 million dollars for Jimbo Fisher and his championship ring. The Aggies have been stuck in neutral for the past few years under Kevin Sumlin.
A&M is not bereft of talent, but it would be normal for year one to hit some bumps as the program transitions. Thing is $75 million doesn’t buy patience. A good measuring stick? Georgia was 8-5 in its first season and then took off in year two. That’s not to suggest A&M will be in the playoff in 2019, but an underwhelming 2018 is no reason to panic. Still, $75 million.
Other new coaches who will be getting a lot of attention: Chip Kelly at UCLA; Scott Frost at Nebraska; Jeremy Pruitt at Tennessee.
Michigan is not firing Jim Harbaugh so let’s just end that right here. But which coach does enter next season very much in need of a change in trajectory?
Not a lot of really obvious choices though this is probably Kliff Kingsbury’s last chance to get past mediocre at Texas Tech and Vanderbilt needs to show some improvement under Derek Mason after four seasons that have produced an 18-31 record. The most fascinating coaching situation will be at Kansas State, where 78-year-old Hall of Famer Bill Snyder is back with no exit plan in sight.
CAN THE PAC-12 REBOUND?
The West Coast’s conference was a dud in 2017, missing out on the playoff for the second time and then crashing in the postseason with a 1-8 bowl record. Bowl records can be deceiving, but it is compounded by the fact that the conference is having a hard time keeping pace with the other Power Five conferences in revenue and exposure.
Washington should still be a national contender and Stanford can be relied upon for consistent top-20 performance. But coaching changes at UCLA, Oregon and the Arizona schools, in addition to USC trying to replace Darnold, means the Pac-12 could again have a hard time putting a team in the playoff.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrrussoAP
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Texas Tech coach Chris Beard figures his Red Raiders haven’t accomplished all that much yet, even with the eighth-ranked Red Raiders holding the program’s highest ranking in two decades.
His team will get two chances to accomplish a lot more this week.
A week after upsetting Kansas on the road, Texas Tech has a pair of big matchups to headline the week ahead for AP Top 25 teams. First the Red Raiders visit No. 9 Oklahoma on Tuesday night, then they host No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday.
“We’re the same program that’s only been to one NCAA Tournament in the past decade,” Beard said before his team’s weekend win against Kansas State, adding: “We’ve got a lot of guys who understand where we came from and where we’re trying to get.”
Texas Tech (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) vaulted 10 spots in Monday’s poll, earning its highest ranking since being a program-best No. 7 in March 1996.
Texas Tech ranks third nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency (87.6 points per 100 possessions) through Sunday’s games while leading the Big 12 by holding opponents to 37 percent shooting.
“To me, this race doesn’t even start until February,” Beard said of the Big 12. “We’re all just kind of jockeying for position right now. We’re pleased we’ve gotten a couple of wins on the board, but we understand it’s a long, long season and we really haven’t done anything yet.”
TOUGH BIG 12: Oklahoma and freshman star Trae Young have their own pair of games against ranked Big 12 opponents. The Sooners (12-2, 2-1) follow the Texas Tech game by hosting No. 16 TCU on Saturday.
AT THE TOP: Villanova needed just a week to reclaim its lost No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. The Wildcats returned to the top after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke .
The Wildcats got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where they spent three weeks in December. Villanova (14-1, 2-1 Big East) hosts No. 10 Xavier on Wednesday night.
MOUNTAINEERS ROLLING: Second-ranked West Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Big 12) earned 12 first-place votes and secured the program’s highest ranking since December 1959 during Jerry West’s senior season. Coming off a win against Oklahoma , the Mountaineers host Baylor on Tuesday before visiting the Red Raiders on Saturday.
VIRGINIA’S CLIMB: Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3 and earned a first-place vote after an upset-filled week that saw six top-10 teams lose.
Zach Osterman of The Indianapolis Star was the voter with the Cavaliers topping his ballot after their weekend win against reigning national champion North Carolina . He called it “one of the more difficult ballots I’ve thrown together” with so much upheaval at the top, though he pointed to Virginia’s resume featuring a lone loss to West Virginia.
“I think the way they play basketball produces results,” Osterman said of the Cavaliers. “I’ve been high on them for a while. Some other people losing around them this week meant in my eyes they moved up.”
Virginia (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) faces Syracuse on Tuesday then hosts North Carolina State — which has upset wins against Arizona and Duke when both were ranked No. 2 this season — on Sunday.
OTHER RANKED MATCHUPS: Saturday brings two other matchups of ranked teams: Xavier against No. 25 Creighton in the Big East and No. 18 Miami against No. 19 Clemson in the ACC.
WATCH LIST: Notre Dame is in flux with star Bonzie Colson sidelined with an injury , but the Fighting Irish lead all unranked teams in voting and get a Saturday home game against UNC to help their odds of getting back in the poll this week.
Meanwhile, Texas A&M — which went from No. 11 last week to unranked after two Southeastern Conference losses — will have get two chances to make it a short absence from the poll. The Aggies visit No. 21 Kentucky on Tuesday, then travel to No. 24 Tennessee on Saturday.
Villanova needed just a week to reclaim its lost No. 1 ranking in the AP Top 25. West Virginia waited a lot longer — nearly six decades, in fact — to get back to its position at No. 2.
Villanova returned to the top spot in Monday’s new poll after an upset-filled week that included losses by No. 1 Michigan State and No. 2 Duke. The Wildcats got 52 of 65 first-place votes to move up from third to No. 1, where it spent three weeks in December.
The Mountaineers were next to capitalize on a big win, along with the chaos of a week that saw four top-5 teams lose to unranked opponents and six top-10 teams lose overall.
West Virginia — which beat then-No. 7 Oklahoma last week — earned 12 first-place votes and secured the program’s highest ranking since December 1959 during Jerry West’s senior season. Virginia climbed five spots to No. 3 and got the remaining first-place vote, followed by Michigan State after the Spartans’ loss at Ohio State.
Purdue and Wichita State tied for No. 5. Duke, the preseason No. 1-ranked team, fell five spots to No. 7 after losing at North Carolina State. Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Xavier rounded out the top 10.
Villanova (14-1) lost at Butler on Dec. 30, then had to wait a week before beating Marquette on Saturday.
“We try to learn from our wins and losses,” coach Jay Wright said afterward. “We don’t really judge ourselves on whether we won or lost, we judge ourselves on how well we played Villanova basketball. Sometimes we win and we still didn’t play great Villanova basketball. When you lose, that’s when it’s really obvious. The team just refocuses themselves and recommits themselves.”
West Virginia (14-1) hasn’t lost since falling to Texas A&M on opening night. That run includes a December home win against Virginia and Saturday’s win against the Sooners and star freshman Trae Young.
“Our entire men’s basketball program is certainly delighted with our highest national ranking since 1959,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said in a statement. “It’s certainly an exciting time for our storied men’s basketball program, the great state of West Virginia and all of Mountaineer Nation. However, our guys know that we play in the toughest basketball conference in the country, and they know what is ahead of them each and every night when we take the court in Big 12 play.”
No. 8 Texas Tech (14-1) was the week’s biggest climber. It moved up 10 spots after earning its first win at Kansas’ Allen Fieldhouse in 18 tries along with a win against Kansas State for the program’s best ranking since being seventh in March 1996.
Fifth-ranked Purdue (15-2) moved up eight spots for its highest ranking since February 2010 and carries an 11-game winning streak into Tuesday’s trip to Michigan. No. 13 Seton Hall (14-2) also moved up eight spots, matching the biggest one-week AP Top 25 jump in its history.
Reigning national champion North Carolina took the biggest fall of any team that remained in the poll, sliding eight spots from No. 12 to No. 20 after road losses to now-No. 23 Florida State and Virginia . Arizona State fell seven spots to No. 11 after its overtime loss to Colorado.
No. 22 Auburn and No. 25 Creighton were new to the poll this week, though the Bluejays have been ranked in four previous polls this season. It’s a different deal for the Tigers (14-1), who are ranked for the first time since January 2003 after wins against ranked Southeastern Conference opponents Arkansas and Tennessee last week.
Arkansas fell out from No. 22 after losses to Mississippi State and Auburn, while Texas A&M went from 11th to unranked after losses to Florida and LSU.
West Virginia (12)
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NEW YORK (AP) — After a two-year hiatus, C. Vivian Stringer has Rutgers back in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll.
The Scarlet Knights jumped into the AP Top 25 on Monday at No. 21, riding an 11-game winning streak. Rutgers was last ranked on March 2, 2015.
There was a time not so long ago when Rutgers was a staple in the Top 25, but the team went through some lean years before returning to the rankings. Rutgers is in the midst of a remarkable turnaround after going 6-24 last season.
“To go to the low depths we did and to show that perseverance and fight we have is great,” Stringer said. “We had to build everything from scratch. It showed me a lot about myself. I never gave up. We had more resolve to fight.”
The Scarlet Knights visit Purdue on Wednesday.
UConn remained a unanimous choice from the 32-member national media panel after cruising to two victories last week. The Huskies were followed in the rankings by Notre Dame, Louisville, Mississippi State and Baylor. Louisville hosts the Irish on Thursday.
South Carolina dropped from fourth to ninth after losing at Missouri on Sunday while the Tigers moved up three spots to 12th. It’s the Gamecocks’ worst ranking since Jan. 20, 2014.
Tennessee, Texas and Oregon are in front of the Gamecocks while Ohio State rounds out the top 10.
Green Bay also re-entered the poll this week at No. 25. Stanford and Villanova dropped out.
Other tidbits from the poll:
BIG TEN REVIVAL: With Rutgers’ return, the Big Ten has five teams in the Top 25 for the first time since Nov. 23, 2015. Ohio State is 10th, Maryland 11th, Iowa tied for 18th, Rutgers 21st and Michigan 23rd.
“It’s huge,” Stringer said of having so many ranked teams. “I try to treat this as I would the Big East with Notre Dame, Louisville, Connecticut, Rutgers. We had a monster there. If we can continue to play well, the NCAA would consider us to be a strong conference and we’ll get all five schools in.”
MIGHTY DUCKS: After sweeping Southern California and UCLA, Oregon has moved up a spot to eighth, which is the Ducks’ highest ranking ever. The Ducks had been as high as ninth in 1982 and again this season.
“That’s neat,” coach Kelly Graves said. “We don’t talk about it as a team, but it means we had a hell of a weekend.”
Oregon swept the Los Angeles schools for the first time in school history. It is 15-2 on the season, with the losses coming against Louisville and Mississippi State.
“I wouldn’t have guessed we’d be 15-2 against the 13th-toughest schedule in the country at this point with the youngest team in the Top 25. … We’re better right now than I thought we’d be. I got some gritty kids and they’re tough mentally.”
AP Women’s Basketball Poll Week 10
|RANKING||TEAM||RECORD||POINTS||FIRST PLACE||BALLOTS||LAST WEEK|
Others receiving votes: Villanova 49, Stanford 30, South Florida 24, Syracuse 22, Georgia 10, Marquette 5, LSU 4, Utah 3, Brown 2, Ball State 1, Belmont 1, Mercer 1
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ATLANTA (AP) — To add another championship to the greatest dynasty college football has ever seen, Alabama turned to its quarterback of the future, and Tua Tagovailoa proved that his time is now.
The freshman quarterback, who had played mostly mop-up duty this season, came off the bench to spark a comeback and threw a 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith that gave No. 4 Alabama a 26-23 overtime victory against No. 3 Georgia on Monday night for the College Football Playoff national championship.
Tagovailoa entered the game at halftime, replacing a struggling Jalen Hurts, and threw three touchdown passes to give the Crimson Tide its fifth national championship since 2009 under coach Nick Saban.
“He just stepped in and did his thing,” Hurts said. “He’s built for stuff like this. I’m so happy for him.” The Tide might have a quarterback controversy ahead, but first Alabama will celebrate another title.
For the third straight season, Alabama played a classic CFP final. The Tide split two with Clemson, losing last season on a touchdown with a second left.
What was Saban thinking as the winning pass soared this time?
“I could not believe it,” he said. “There’s lots of highs and lows. Last year we lost on the last play of the game and this year we won on the last play of the game. These kids really responded the right way. We said last year, ‘Don’t waste the feeling.’ They sure didn’t, the way they played tonight.”
Smith streaked into the end zone and moments later confetti rained and even Saban seemed almost giddy after watching maybe the most improbable victory of his unmatched career. A few hours later, Alabama was voted No. 1 in the final AP college football poll for the 11th time, three more than any other program.
After Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos missed a 36-yard field goal that would have won it for the Tide (13-1) in the final seconds of regulation , Georgia (13-2) took the lead with a 51-yard field goal from Rodrigo Blankenship in overtime.
Tagovailoa took a terrible sack on Alabama’s first play, losing 16 yards. On the next he found Smith, another freshman, and hit him in stride for the national championship.
Tagovailoa was brilliant at times, though he had a few freshman moments. He threw an interception when he tried to pass on a running play and all his receivers were blocking. He also darted away from pass rushers and made some impeccable throws, showing poise of a veteran. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 7, down seven, the left-hander moved to his left and zipped a pass through traffic that hit Calvin Ridley in the numbers for the tying score with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.
He finished 14 for 24 for 166 yards. The winning play was, basically, four receivers going deep.
“After the sack, we just got up and took it to the next play,” Tagovailoa said. “I looked back out, and he was wide open. Smitty was wide open.” Freshmen were everywhere for the Alabama offense in the second half: Najee Harris at running back; Henry Ruggs III at receiver; Alex Leatherwood at left tackle after All-American Jonah Williams was hurt. It’s a testament to the relentless machine Saban has built.
But this game will be remembered most for his decision to change quarterbacks trailing 13-0.
“I just thought we had to throw the ball, and I felt he could do it better, and he did,” Saban said Tagovailoa. “He did a good job, made some plays in the passing game. Just a great win. I’m so happy for Alabama fans. Great for our players. Unbelievable.”
Saban now has six major poll national championships, including one at LSU, matching the record set by the man who led Alabama’s last dynasty, coach Paul Bear Bryant.
This was nothing like the others.
With President Trump in attendance, the all-Southeastern Conference matchup was all Georgia in the first half before Saban pulled Hurts and the five-star recruit from Hawaii entered. The president watched the second half from Air Force One.
“I don’t know how Coach Saban found me all the way in Hawaii from Alabama,” Tagovailoa said. “Thank God he found me and we’re here right now.”
The Tide trailed 20-7 in the third quarter after Georgia’s freshman quarterback, Jake Fromm, hit Mecole Hardman for an 80-yard touchdown pass that had the Georgia fans feeling good about ending a national title drought that dates back to 1980.
Fromm threw for 232 yards and for a while it looked as if he was going to be the freshman star of the game, the first to true freshman to lead his team to a national title season since Jamelle Holieway for Oklahoma in 1985.
“I mean, if you want to find out about Jake Fromm, go ask those guys on the other side of the ball, and they’ll tell you because that’s a really good defense he just went against,” Georgia coach Smart said.
A little less than a year after the Atlanta Falcons blew a 25-point lead and lost in overtime to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, there was more pain for many of the local fans. Two years ago, Georgia brought in Smart, Saban’s top lieutenant, to bring to his alma mater a dose of Alabama’s Process.
Smart, who spent 11 seasons with Saban — eight as defensive coordinator in Tuscaloosa — quickly built ‘Bama East. It was Georgia that won the SEC this season. Alabama had to slip into the playoff without even winning its division.
With the title game being played 70 miles from Georgia’s campus in Athens, Dawgs fans packed Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but it turned out to be sweet home for Alabama. Now Saban is 12-0 against his former assistants.
But not without angst.
Alabama drove into the red zone in the final minute and Saban started playing for a winning field goal to end the game. A nervous quiet gripped the crowd of 77,430 as ‘Bama burned the clock. With the ball spotted in the middle of the field, Pappanastos lined up for a kick to win the national championship. The snap and hold looked fine, but the kicked missed badly to the left.
For the second straight week, Georgia was going to overtime. The Bulldogs beat Oklahoma in a wild Rose Bowl in double overtime to get here, and after Jonathan Ledbetter and Davin Bellamy sacked Tagovailoa for a big loss on the first play, Alabama was in trouble — second-and-26.
Not for long. Tagovailoa looked off the safety and threw the biggest touchdown pass in the history of Alabama football.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrrussoAP
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ATLANTA (AP) — No. 4 Alabama faces No. 3 Georgia in an all-Southeastern Conference College Football Playoff national championship game Monday night.
Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban tries to tie former Alabama coach Bear Bryant’s record six major poll national championships. Saban has led the Tide to four national championships since 2009, and the last three national championship games.
Georgia, coached by former Saban assistant Kirby Smart, is looking for its first national championship since 1980.
The Bulldogs feature the most prolific running back combination in college football in senior Sony Michel and Nick Chubb. They combined for six touchdowns in the Bulldogs semifinal victory against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.
Alabama has to No. 1 rushing defense in the country and smothered Clemson in the Sugar Bowl semifinal to get here.
1. Score touchdowns in the red zone
Yes, scoring touchdowns is a key for Alabama, as it is for Georgia. To take that one step further, a major factor for success is to convert red-zone trips into touchdowns, which to date has been an issue for the Tide. Only once this year in games against Football Bowl Subdivision competition has Alabama converted each of his trips to the red zone into touchdowns, in a 66-3 win against Mississippi. In its past two games, Alabama has capped just two of its five red-zone stops with touchdowns. Though the title game is unlikely to resemble the Georgia-Oklahoma Rose Bowl — let alone the Tide’s recent championship games against Clemson — every opportunity to turn an extended drive into six points is crucial.
2. Spread the football
Receiver Calvin Ridley (59 receptions for 935 yards) has done the heavy lifting for the passing game. Entering Monday, the junior accounts for roughly a third of the team’s total receptions and almost 40% of the team’s total passing yards. Georgia is aware. So it’s important that Alabama find a way to branch out on passing downs, locating a secondary target who might not carry a huge load but can find a gap downfield to surprise a defensive backfield keying on Ridley as the Tide’s primary option.
3. Feed Damien Harris
Saban and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll have a full and crowded room of running backs, with six backs gaining more than 100 yards for the season, and Hurts (804 yards rushing) adds another aspect to the Alabama ground game. But the offense works best when leaning on junior Damien Harris as the lead back and using backups such as Bo Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs in secondary roles. Here’s a fact to consider: Alabama is 12-0 when Harris earns at least 10 carries. Relying on Harris and Hurts to do the work on early downs would allow the Tide to roll out a fresh Scarbrough to bruise and bully the Georgia defense.
4. Make Fromm into a freshman
Alabama’s No. 1 goal on defense shouldn’t be to stop Georgia’s running game, since that’s an unreachable goal even for the nation’s top defense. Instead, the Tide need to focus on turning Fromm into what he really is: a true freshman starting on the biggest stage in college sports. Good luck. Fromm has improved on a weekly basis, culminating in superb performances in recent wins against Auburn and Oklahoma, and shouldn’t be cowed by the challenge of lining up across from the Crimson Tide. But the Tide can still make him uncomfortable by putting the Bulldogs into unmanageable third-down conversions and getting pressure on the pocket. It can be done — and Alabama needs to get it done in order to win another national title.
1. Keep Fromm clean
It took less than a quarter for Alabama to get Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant out of his comfort zone. The same could happen to Fromm should Georgia’s offensive front not keep him free of pressure in the pocket. Remember that Fromm, while a great athlete, isn’t as mobile as those quarterbacks who often give the Tide trouble — think Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham, for example. So while he could easily break loose of containment and gash the Alabama defense, depending on Fromm to extend plays with his legs is not a recipe for success.
2. Continue to win on first down
No team in college football is as good as Georgia when it comes to running the ball on first down. Despite defenses knowing what’s coming, the Bulldogs enter Monday night having gained 2,150 yards on 6.5 yards per carry on the opening down. The blueprint is simple: Georgia wants to get into manageable situations on second and third down to protect Fromm and keep the Tide on their heels. It’s not a stretch to say that the Bulldogs will have little shot at sustaining extended drives without success running the ball against an Alabama defense that won’t be taken by surprise.
3. Force Hurts to throw
Easier said than done. But Alabama does not want to get into a situation where the offense is relying on Hurts to either move the football himself or to make up any sort of significant margin. Though it might not lead to turnovers — Hurts has just one interception this season — the Alabama offense simply isn’t built to make up ground through the air. Hurts ranks fifth in the SEC in yards gained per pass attempt, at 8.4 yards per throw, and that total falls to just 6.4 yards per attempt in games played away from the friendly confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
4. Start fast
Alabama has been here before; Georgia has not. It stands to reason that a close game eventually will favor the Tide, who know what it takes to secure a championship when the game is on the line in the fourth quarter. But Georgia can put Alabama in a real bind by taking an early lead, which plays into the Bulldogs’ favor on two fronts: one, by making the Tide’s offense rely on Hurts, and two, because it would allow Georgia’s own offense to pound away at Alabama with its deep stable of running backs.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Keita Bates-Diop scored a career-high 32 points, and Ohio State stunned No. 1 Michigan State 80-64 on Sunday.
The overachieving Buckeyes put together an electrifying 12-0 run to finish the first half and kept their foot on the gas to give first-year coach Chris Holtmann a signature win.
Ohio State (13-4, 4-0 Big Ten) won for its third straight in taking down the best team it is likely to see this season. The mistake-prone Spartans (15-2, 3-1) lost for the first time in the last 15 games, dating back to a seven-point loss to then-No. 1 Duke on Nov. 14.
The Spartans, who came in leading the nation with a 53.3 field-goal percentage, shot just 39 percent for the game and committed a dozen turnovers. Joshua Langford and Miles Bridges each scored 17 points.
Bates-Diop hit 12 of 21 attempts from the floor, including 2 of 4 from the 3-point line. His previous career high was 27 points against Iowa three days ago.
C.J. Jackson had 14 points for Ohio State, and Jae’Sean Tate added 13.
NO. 4 ARIZONA STATE 80, UTAH 77
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Shannon Evans scored 22 points, and Arizona State held on for a choppy win over Utah to end a two-game losing streak.
Mickey Mitchell hit two free throws with 21.7 seconds remaining after being fouled on a drive to give Utah a 79-77 lead. Justin Bibbins missed what could have been the game-winning 3-pointer with 6 seconds left.
Kodi Justice scored 20 points and carried the offensive load most of the night for Arizona State (13-2, 1-2 Pac-12), but Evans found a groove late, scoring 10 straight points down the stretch. Tra Holder, the league’s leading scorer, added 11 points.
Bibbins had 22 points and six assists to lead the Utes (10-5, 2-2), who also lost to No. 14 Arizona on this homestand. Sedrick Barefield added 21.
NO. 9 WICHITA STATE 95, SOUTH FLORIDA 57
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Shaquille Morris scored 15 points to lead a balanced scoring effort, and Wichita State blew out South Florida.
Zach Brown had 13 points, and Markis McDuffie scored 12 for Wichita State (13-2, 3-0 American Athletic Conference). Darral Willis scored 11 points.
Morris, Brown and McDuffie were a combined 16 of 19 from the floor, helping the Shockers shoot 62.7 percent.
Malik Martin led South Florida (7-10, 0-4) with 15 points. David Collins scored 12 points, and Terrence Samuel added 10 for the Bulls.
The Shockers had 48 points off the bench in their largest victory since beating Savannah State 112-66 on Nov. 12.
NO. 15 MIAMI 80, NO. 24 FLORIDA STATE 74
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami 5-foot-7 freshman Chris Lykes scored a season-high 18 points, and the Hurricanes withstood a late rally by the Seminoles.
Bruce Brown scored a season-high 23 points and Dewan Huell had 20 points and eight rebounds for the Hurricanes, who took the lead for good in the early minutes and made 13 of their first 14 shots.
Miami (13-2, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won at home for the first time since Dec. 5. The Seminoles (12-3, 1-2) lost for the third time in their past six games.
Florida State cut a 16-point second-half deficit to four with 24 seconds left. Braian Angola then made a backcourt steal but missed a 3-pointer that would have left the Seminoles trailing by one.
Brown made five of six free throws in the final 45 seconds and finished 12-for-14 at the line.
Angola had 16 points for Florida State, which shot a season-low 36 percent.
NO. 19 CINCINNATI 76, SMU 56
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — Jacob Evans III scored 18 points, and Gary Clark had a big second half as Cincinnati pulled away to beat SMU and extend the longest active home-court winning streak in the country.
The game matched the American Athletic Conference’s top defensive teams, and it showed in the first half as they went a combined 15-for-52 from the field and the Bearcats led 34-20.
Cincinnati (14-2, 3-0) broke it open with a 12-point run late in the first half featuring Evans’ 3-pointer. Clark scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half as the Bearcats finally got the ball inside and pushed the lead to 20.
SMU (12-5, 2-2) shot only 35.7 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers that set up 26 of Cincinnati’s points. Jarrey Foster led the Mustangs with 16 points.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — There’s no questioning the talent or the offensive potential for No. 2 Duke with its star freshman class. Finding the defensive play to go with all that hasn’t been easy.
The Blue Devils allowed North Carolina State to shoot 55 percent after halftime in Saturday night’s 96-85 road loss in Atlantic Coast Conference play, one of several upset losses for AP Top 25 teams in the past week.
It was a continuation of shaky defensive play for a young team that trailed the Wolfpack throughout the second half in part because it couldn’t get any stops while giving up a series of drive-and-dish baskets. And the Blue Devils have allowed their first three league opponents combined to shoot nearly 49 percent both from the field and behind the arc.
“We know how to play defense,” freshman guard Trevon Duval said. “We go over it in practice every day. We do it in practice all the time. It’s just translating it to the game and talking. If we talk, then that puts us all in the position to make stops and make the right plays on defense.”
Duke (13-2, 1-2 ACC) ranked 104th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency by allowing 100 points per 100 possessions through Saturday’s games. Duval pointed to communication problems, while Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski said his team would just have to “keep working at it” after a “crappy” defensive showing and must learn how to handle the challenge of facing every opponent’s best shot.
Consider the Boston College loss on Dec. 9 as an example; the Eagles made 15 of 26 3-pointers in that one.
“We’re their opportunity,” Krzyzewski said. “They’ve never experienced anything like that, where the team you see on tape isn’t the team that shows up against you. And we have to be able to handle that.”
Of course, Duke’s 2015 team that won the national championship had its regular-season defensive struggles, too, only to figure things out. That group went from allowing 65.6 points and 43 percent shooting through the first 33 games to allowing 56.3 points and 38 percent shooting through six NCAA Tournament games.
“We’ve got to get better,” Krzyzewski said. “To me, it’s that simple. Now the process of getting there, that’s what we have to figure out. For the most part, we’ve been able to do that. And hopefully we’ll be able to do that again.”
CHANGES COMING: Expect a lot of movement in Monday’s new AP Top 25 poll, starting at the top.
Five top-10 teams — Duke, No. 4 Arizona State, No. 5 Xavier, No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 10 Kansas — and 13 ranked teams overall had at least one loss this week as of Saturday. Then, on Sunday, top-ranked Michigan State joined that list by losing at Ohio State — becoming the fourth team in the top five to lose to an unranked opponent.
Of that group, only third-ranked Villanova emerged unscathed by beating Marquette and could earn a return trip to No. 1 come Monday.
TOUGH DOUBLE: The list of ranked losers included No. 12 North Carolina, which is the midst of a difficult opening ACC stretch. The Tar Heels lost 81-80 at No. 24 Florida State on Wednesday, and then lost 61-49 at No. 8 Virginia on Saturday.
THE BIG MATCHUP: Sixth-ranked West Virginia already has a win against a top-10 team in Virginia. The Mountaineers added another one Saturday against the seventh-ranked Sooners and freshman star Trae Young, the national leader in scoring and assists.
Young finished with 29 points, but the Mountaineers won 89-76 .
DIGGING OUT: No. 23 Tennessee had started 0-2 in the Southeastern Conference after a loss to Auburn, but the Volunteers beat No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday — beating the Wildcats in Knoxville for the third straight year.
MILLER’S LAMENT: It’s been a wild year for Arizona. The Wildcats went from No. 2 to unranked in a week after a 0-3 showing in the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas in November, then climbed back in the rankings after a nine-game winning streak that included last weekend’s win against then-unbeaten Arizona State.
But on Saturday, the Wildcats lost at Colorado — which upset Arizona State on Thursday — and coach Sean Miller was candid afterward.
“You always want your team to play for you, as the coach,” Miller said. “Our guys, they really struggle playing for me, they really do. We’ll see where we go from here.”
Pressed for more details, Miller put it bluntly: “I can’t get them to play hard, I really can’t.”
“With our team, man, it’s really hard to get our guys to run as fast as they can,” Miller said. “And that’s not them, that’s me, that’s me. I have a hard time reaching our guys.”
More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aaronbeardap
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Sophie Cunningham was too much for South Carolina to handle for the second straight year, scoring 27 points to lead No. 15 Missouri to an 83-74 victory over the fourth-ranked Gamecocks on Sunday.
Cunningham, who suffered a right knee sprain last week and sat out Missouri’s loss to LSU on Thursday, returned with a knee brace but showed no ill effects. She made 9 of 10 shots from the field and had seven assists and six rebounds.
Last year, Cunningham scored 26 points and hit the winning shot in Missouri’s home victory over the eventual national champions.
The Tigers (14-2, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) shot 56.3 percent from the field and 61.5 percent from 3-point range. Amber Smith had 20 points and 12 rebounds.
Bianca Jackson and Tyasha Harris led the Gamecocks (13-2, 2-1) with 14 points each.
No. 2 NOTRE DAME 77, GEORGIA TECH 54
ATLANTA (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 25 points, Jackie Young added 14 and Notre Dame had no trouble winning its eighth straight game with a victory over Georgia Tech.
Despite injuries reducing their roster to seven scholarship players and three walk-ons, the Fighting Irish (15-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) used a dominant inside game to put Georgia Tech away early with a 30-point halftime lead.
Kaylan Pugh had 17 points and Francesca Pan scored 11, but they were the only Yellow Jackets to finish in double figures. Georgia Tech (12-5, 1-3) gave itself no chance, missing 22 of their first 27 shots from the field and looking nothing like the team that played No. 3 Louisville tough in a narrow home loss Dec. 28.
No. 3 LOUISVILLE 67, VIRGINIA TECH 56
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Asia Durr scored 21 points to lead Louisville to a victory over Virginia Tech.
The Cardinals (18-0, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) made their first seven shots to jump out to a 16-2 lead midway through the first quarter. Durr made her first five shots and scored 16 in the first period.
Regan Magarity scored 14 points to lead the Hokies (12-4, 1-2).
No. 5 MISSISSIPPI STATE 83, LSU 70
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Teaira McCowan had 31 points and 20 rebounds to help Mississippi State stay unbeaten with a victory against LSU.
McCowan scored Mississippi State’s first nine points after halftime to extend a nine-point lead to 15 after being held to eight in the first half on 3-for-10 shooting. LSU got no closer than 10 points the rest of the game. It’s the second time this season McCowan has had at least 30 points and 20 rebounds in a game.
Morgan William scored 13 points and Chloe Bibby had 10 for Mississippi State (17-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), whose bench outscored LSU’s 16-2.
Chloe Jackson led LSU (10-4, 2-1) with 25 points and Raigyne Louis had 20 despite being limited by foul trouble.
No. 7 TENNESSEE 86, VANDERBILT 73
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mercedes Russell scored a career-high 33 points as Tennessee came from behind in the second half to outlast Vanderbilt and remain unbeaten.
Vanderbilt (4-13, 0-3 SEC) has never beaten the Lady Vols (15-0, 3-0) at Knoxville in 33 attempts. Tennessee capitalized on its superior size to go on an 11-0 run midway through the second half and withstand an unexpected challenge from the Commodores.
Russell already had outscored her previous career high of 26 points by the end of the third quarter and ended up shooting 14 of 20 and pulling down eight rebounds. Cheridene Green shot 7 of 8 and scored 17 points — also a career high — and Jaime Nared added 15 points.
No. 8 TEXAS 75, KANSAS STATE 64
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Lashann Higgs scored 26 points and Texas used a big run to start the second half to beat Kansas State.
Even with leading scorer Brooke McCarty having a rough shooting day as she scored just nine points, the Longhorns (13-1, 4-0 Big 12) had enough to beat the Wildcats.
Kayla Goth scored 17 points to lead the Wildcats (1-3).
No. 9 OREGON 70, No. 14 UCLA 61
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ruthy Hebard scored 19 points, Sabrina Ionescu had 18 and Maite Cazorla 17 in Oregon’s victory over UCLA.
The Ducks (15-2, 4-0) won for the seventh consecutive game and remained perfect in conference play.
Oregon senior Lexi Bando hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 58 seconds left to give the Ducks a 63-59 lead and iced the game with a pair of free throws with 40 seconds left. Bando has the best active career 3-point shooting percentage in the NCAA at 45.7.
The Bruins (11-4, 2-2) had won a school-record 20 consecutive home Pac-12 games.
Monqiue Billings led UCLA with 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Jordin Canada added 19 points.
No. 10 OHIO STATE 78, No. 22 MICHIGAN 71, OT
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Kelsey Mitchell scored 37 points, carrying Ohio State through the final minutes of regulation and leading the Buckeyes to a victory over Michigan.
Mitchell scored Ohio State’s final nine points of the fourth quarter, then added nine more in the extra session, outdueling Michigan’s Katelynn Flaherty in a matchup of two of the nation’s best scorers. Flaherty had 22 points and eight assists, and Hallie Thome added 27 points and eight rebounds for the Wolverines (13-4, 2-2 Big Ten).
SYRACUSE 76, No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 69
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Miranda Drummond scored a career-high 38 points, including 11 straight late in the fourth quarter that lifted Syracuse to a win over Florida State.
Drummonod’s 3-point play put the Orange (14-3, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) on top 58-56, the 13th lead change, with 7½ minutes to go. She followed that with a layup and then hit a pair of 3-pointers for a 66-56 lead at the 2:42 mark.
The Seminoles (14-3, 2-1), who had won four straight, got four quick points but Drummond nailed her seventh 3-pointer and the Orange made 7 of 10 free throws in the last 69 seconds to finish the upset.
No. 12 WEST VIRGININA 57, IOWA STATE 49
MORGANTOWN, Va. (AP) — Naomi Davenport scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and West Virginia beat Iowa State.
Along with Davenport’s fourth double-double this season, Chania Ray added 13 points and eight rebounds and Teana Muldlrow had 14 boards to go with nine points. The Mountaineers (14-2, 2-2 Big-12) snapped a two-game losing streak.
Bridget Carleton scored 14 points for Iowa State (7-8, 1-3), which swept the Mountaineers last season before West Virginia went on to win the Big 12 Tournament.
No. 13 MARYLAND 77, WISCONSIN 44
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Kristen Confroy, Kaila Charles and Eleanna Christinaki combined for 22 points in the first half when Maryland took a 19-point lead on its way to a victory over Wisconsin for the Terrapins’ 13th straight victory.
Maryland is only team in the country that came in with seven players averaging double figures and that balance was evident Sunday. Christinaki finished with 14 points, Confroy 12 on four 3-pointers and Charles 10 with Ieshia Small adding 13, 10 in the second half for the Terps (15-2, 4-0 Big Ten). Maryland shot 46 percent and made 9 of 21 3-point attempts while outrebounding Wisconsin 42-25.
Courtney Fredrickson scored 12 points and Marsha Howard had 10 points and nine rebounds for the Badgers (7-10, 0-4).
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 65, NO. 16 OREGON STATE 61
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kristen Simon scored 21 points as USC rallied to beat Oregon State for its first Pac-12 Conference win of the season.
USC (11-4, 1-3) snapped a three-game losing streak after rallying from a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. Simon made an open basket inside to give the Trojans a 62-61 lead with 54 seconds left.
Oregon State (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) was down by two but a Katie McWilliams turnover — her only one of the game — against pressure by USC with eight seconds left ensured there would be no last-second heroics for the Beavers.
No. 17 DUKE 69, N.C. STATE 56
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Lexie Brown hit a season-high seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 34 points to lead Duke to a win over North Carolina State.
Haley Gorecki added 13 points, making 3 of 4 3-pointers, for the Blue Devils (11-5, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had started 0-2 in the conference for the first time since going 0-9 in 1992-93. Brown made 7 of 13 behind the arc and 10 of 21 overall and was 7 of 9 at the foul line, bouncing back from having her 23-game double-figure scoring streak end.
Kiara Leslie and Chelsea Nelson both had 15 points for NC State (12-5, 1-3), which missed its first 11 shots.
No. 18 IOWA 84, ILLINOIS 71
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Megan Gustafson scored 34 points with 12 rebounds for her 43rd career double-double, Kathleen Doyle had her second double-double and Iowa turned back Illinois.
Alexis Sevillian matched her career-high with 21 points, hitting 5 of 8 3-pointers, for the Hawkeyes (15-2, 3-1 Big Ten) and Doyle had 15 points and 10 assists.
Doyle had her first double-double of 13 and 11 on Thursday when Iowa lost at No. 13 Maryland 80-64. In that game, the Hawkeyes had 23 turnovers but against the Illini, they had a season-low seven turnovers and 24 assists on 29 baskets.
Alex Wittinger had 20 points and 13 rebounds for Illinois (9-9, 0-4), which has lost five straight.
No. 19 TEXAS A&M 82, AUBURN 73
AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Khaalia Hillsman scored a career-high 31 points and Chennedy Carter added 22, combining for 19 points in the fourth quarter, and Texas A&M turned back Auburn.
Danni Williams had 16 points for the Aggies (13-4, 3-0 Southeastern Conference), who handed the Tigers (10-5, 1-2) their first home loss of the 2017-18 athletic year in women’s and men’s basketball and football combined.
McKay was 11 of 11 from the foul line and had 25 points for Auburn, which set a school record by making 16 of 16 free throws. Unique Thompson added 22 points.
No. 20 OKLAHOMA STATE 96, OKLAHOMA 82
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Loryn Goodwin scored 31 points with eight rebounds and five assists to help lead Oklahoma State to a victory over rival Oklahoma.
It was the eighth straight game that Goodwin topped 20 points and her second 30-point outing of the season. Kaylee Jensen added 27 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma State (12-3, 3-1 Big 12), which snapped a three-game losing streak in the intrastate series known as ‘Bedlam.’
Maddie Manning scored 25 points and added eight rebounds, while Vionise Pierre-Louis had 19 points – 15 in the second half – and six rebounds for Oklahoma (7-8, 2-2).
No. 23 CALIFORNIA 53, ARIZONA 51
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Mikayla Cowling hit five 3-pointers and scored 19 points to help California beat Arizona.
Cowling’s final 3-pointer, with 4:09 left in the game, gave the Golden Bears (11-4, 2-2 Pac-12) a 53-45 lead. But it was also their last basket as they missed their only other shot and had four turnovers down the stretch.
The Wildcats (4-11, 0-3), who have lost five straight, only made 2 of 10 shots after Cowling’s basket, but closed within two on two free throws from Sam Thomas with 41 seconds left. Thomas had a steal with 12 seconds left but a final shot wouldn’t fall for Sammy Fatkin.
Thomas and JaLea Bennett both had 13 points for Arizona.
No. 25 ARIZONA STATE 73, No. 24 STANFORD 66
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Charnea Johnson-Chapman scored a career-high 16 points and Arizona State beat Stanford.
Reili Richardson added 11 points for the Sun Devils (13-3, 4-0 Pac-12), who won their sixth straight.
Billed as “Snow Day” with fans invited to play in trucked-in snow before the game, frigid shooting doomed the Cardinals. Brittany McPhee and Kiana Williams scored on consecutive possessions early in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 50. After that, the Cardinal went 3 of 18 until making their last three shots in the final 24 seconds.
Williams had 14 points, DiJonai Carrington had 13 and McPhee 12 for the Cardinal (9-7, 3-1), who were outrebounded 47-24.