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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA TODAY SPORTS) —- As part of a three-team deal, the Oklahoma City Thunder have reached an agreement to trade forward Carmelo Anthony and a top-14 protected 2022 first-round draft pick to the Atlanta Hawks for guard Dennis Schroder, two people with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports. If the pick doesn’t convey, it will become two second-round picks.
The people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly until the deal is official.
The Hawks will send forward Mike Muscala to the Philadelphia 76ers, and the 76ers will trade Justin Anderson to the Hawks and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot to the Thunder.
The Hawks plan to waive Anthony, who will then become a free agent after he clears waivers. Atlanta has the ability to absorb Anthony’s contract, but the price for taking him off Oklahoma City’s roster was a first-round draft pick – a good move for Hawks general manager Travis Schlenk who is rebuilding the roster.
By shedding Anthony’s salary in the trade, the Thunder will save nearly $73 million in payroll and luxury taxes, according to ESPN front-office insider and former Brooklyn Nets assistant general manager Bobby Marks.
The Thunder had been exploring options for Anthony, including waiving him and stretching the $27.9 million left on the final year of contract over multiple seasons. However, that still would’ve resulted in money counting against Oklahoma City’s salary cap.
This deal gets the Thunder out of the contract, reducing their total team salary and luxury tax bill.
Houston has been considered the strong favorite to land Anthony once he’s waived.
The Hawks recently acquired Jeremy Lin and drafted Trae Young, both moves which likely expedited Schroder’s exit in Atlanta.
*1. LeBron James – Agreed to four-year, $154 million deal with Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have missed the playoffs the previous five seasons, the longest such streak in franchise history. James, no doubt, will help shift the balance of power back to one of the league’s most illustrious franchises.
*2. Kevin Durant – Agreed to two-year, $61.5 million deal to stay with Golden State. Durant had said many times that he planned to re-sign with the defending champs, and that’s exactly what he did. And so the dynasty continues …
*3. Paul George – Agreed to four-year, $137 million deal to stay with Oklahoma City. George, who was widely believed to be destined for Laker Land, is sticking it out with Russell Westbrook and the Thunder after his first season with the franchise ended in the first round of the playoffs. Kudos to Thunder general manager Sam Presti for this one.
*4. Chris Paul – Agreed to four-year, $160 million deal to stay with Houston. Paul, who forced his way out of Los Angeles last summer after six seasons with the Clippers, is coming off a disappointing finish to a phenomenal season. As elite as Paul is, will the Rockets regret giving the 33-year-old a long-term deal?
*5. DeMarcus Cousins – Agreed to one-year, $5.3 million deal with Golden State. In the biggest stunner of the summer, Cousins will become the fifth All-Star on the Warriors. He suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in January, but, contingent on his health, he offers a dominant, low-post presence that the Warriors haven’t had – though have rarely needed.
*6. Nikola Jokic – Reportedly agreed to five-year, $146.5 million deal to stay with Denver. This was a done deal before free agency began. Jokic is one of the most talented young big men in the league and the Nuggets’ franchise centerpiece. He wasn’t going anywhere.
7. Clint Capela, Houston (Restricted)
*8. DeAndre Jordan – Reportedly agreed to one-year, approximately $24 million deal with Dallas. Jordan is headed to Dallas — again. We have a feeling this will be different than the summer of 2015, when Jordan changed his mind after agreeing to a deal with the Mavericks and returned to L.A.
*9. Julius Randle – Agreed to two-year, $18 million deal with New Orleans. The fourth-year big man is coming off a career year (16.1 points, eight rebounds per game) and will be a welcome addition in New Orleans alongside Anthony Davis.
*10. Aaron Gordon – Agreed to four-year, $82 million deal to stay with Orlando. Injuries limited Gordon to 58 games last season, but the 22-year-old still took a significant step forward in his development. He’s one of the most promising young power forwards in the league.
*11. Zach LaVine – Agreed to four-year, $80 million deal to stay with Chicago. The former lottery pick is just 23, and, when healthy, is one of the league’s most explosive guards.
*12. Tyreke Evans – Agreed to one-year, $12 million deal with Indiana. Evans had his best all-around season in 2017-18, averaging 19.4 points and shooting a career-best 39.9 percent on 3-pointers. He also averaged 5.2 assists and 5.1 rebounds. He’s a nice addition to a Pacers backcourt with Most Improved Player Victor Oladipo.
*13. Marcus Smart – Agreed to a four-year, $52 million deal with Boston. The Celtics are bringing back their gritty, two-way guard who Boston fans have come to love. He infuses their defense with energy and typically puts clamps on opponents’ best backcourt playmaker.
*14. JJ Redick – Agreed to one-year deal to stay with Philadelphia. Keeping Redick is big for the Sixers, who again expect to be one of the top teams in the East. The 34-year-old sharpshooter averaged a career-high 17.1 points per game last season, his first in Philadelphia.
*15. Jusuf Nurkic – Reportedly agreed to four-year, $48 million deal to stay with Portland. He’s solid on both ends of the floor and is only 23 years old, but as a 7-footer who doesn’t stretch the floor, what’s Nurkic’s ceiling?
*16. Derrick Favors – Agreed to two-year, $36 million deal to stay with Utah. Favors fits at power forward in a big lineup and center in a small lineup and, though he’s more of a traditional big man, he began to extend his range a bit last season, hitting 14 3-pointers.
*17. Trevor Ariza – Agreed to one-year, $15 million deal with Phoenix. This is an interesting move for Ariza, who will go from key cog on a 65-win Houston team to a veteran presence on a rebuilding Suns squad.
18. Jabari Parker – Agreed to a two-year, $40 million deal with Chicago. The Bucks rescinded Parker’s qualifying offer, allowing him to negotiate as an unrestricted free agent.
*19. Avery Bradley – Reportedly agreed to two-year, $25 million deal to stay with Los Angeles Clippers. Bradley, who’s coming off season-ending abdominal surgery, struggled to find the right role after being traded from Boston, but he provides value as a defender and improved scorer.
*20. Isaiah Thomas – Agreed to one-year minimum deal with Denver. The Nuggets were already an explosive offensive team, but adding Thomas — assuming he can stay healthy — on such a small deal is a win for Denver.
*21. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – Agreed to one-year, $12 million deal to stay with Los Angeles Lakers. Caldwell-Pope, who averaged 13.4 points per game last season and shot a career-high 38.3 percent on 3-pointers, will be a nice fit alongside James.
*22. Will Barton – Reportedly agreed to four-year, $54 million deal to stay with Denver. Barton has developed into one of the top sixth men in the league, and the Nuggets weren’t ready to let him walk. Of players who came off the bench in more than 40 games last season, Barton was tied for third with 13.7 points per game.
*23. Fred VanVleet – Agreed to two-year, $18 million deal to stay with Toronto. The Sixth Man of the Year finalist shot 41.4 percent from 3-point last year, his second NBA season.
*24. Luc Mbah a Moute – Reportedly agreed to one-year, $4.3 million deal with Los Angeles Clippers. Many of his contributions don’t show up in the box score, but make no mistake: Mbah a Moute was a big part of what made Houston so dangerous last season. The Rockets’ defensive rating was 101.2 with him on the court, 105.4 with him off.
*25. Rajon Rondo – Agreed to one-year, $9 million deal with Los Angeles Lakers. Another interesting addition for the Lakers, Rondo, 32, reinvigorated his career during his lone season in New Orleans. An interesting move for the Lakers and a big loss for the Pelicans.
*26. Rudy Gay – Reportedly agreed to one-year, $10 million deal to stay with San Antonio. Gay, who signed with the Spurs last summer after suffering a ruptured Achilles in January 2017, opted out of the final year of his contract last week, turning down $8.8 million. He’s not the 20 point per game scorer he once was, but he can still contribute.
*27. Kyle Anderson – Agreed to four-year, $37.2 million deal with Memphis. Anderson took a significant step forward in his fourth NBA season, taking advantage of additional minutes due to Kawhi Leonard’s absence.
*28. Lance Stephenson – Agreed to one-year, $4.5 million deal with Los Angeles Lakers. Lance and LeBron in L.A.? This is just too good.
29. Brook Lopez – Agreed to one-year, $3.3 million deal with Milwaukee. Lopez is headed to Milwaukee on the Bucks’ bi-annual exception. He should solidify the frontcourt and help stretch the floor for new coach Mike Budenholzer.
30. Wayne Ellington – Reportedly agreed to one-year, $6.3 million deal to stay with Miami. Ellington, who finished last season ranked sixth in the NBA with 227 3-pointers made, is the type of veteran floor spacer any team can benefit from having.
31. Rodney Hood, Cleveland (Restricted)
*32. Nerlens Noel – Agreed to two-year deal with Oklahoma City. Noel, the No. 6 overall pick in 2013, is coming off the worst season of his career, but this is a great opportunity for him to get back on track.
*33. Seth Curry – Reportedly agreed to two-year deal with Portland. Curry didn’t play last season as a result of a stress fracture in his leg, but Steph’s younger brother had a stellar 2016-17 campaign with Dallas, especially after the All-Star break (averaged 16.2 points and made 45.3 percent of his 3-pointers).
34. Joe Harris – Agreed to two-year, $16 million deal to stay with Brooklyn. The Nets clearly saw the value in the 26-year-old forward, who shot a career-high 49.1 percent from the field and 41.9 percent from beyond the arc last season.
35. Greg Monroe, Boston (Unrestricted)
36. Dwyane Wade, Miami (Unrestricted)
*37. Dante Exum – Agreed to three-year, $33 million deal to stay with Utah. Injuries robbed Exum of much of his first four seasons, but he did have a promising end to his 2017-18 campaign. Exum was drafted fifth overall in 2014, and the Jazz still clearly have faith in his talent.
38. Michael Beasley, New York (Unrestricted)
39. Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Clippers (Restricted)
*40. Elfrid Payton – Reportedly agreed to one-year deal with New Orleans. Payton, the No. 10 overall pick in 2014, averaged 12.7 points, 6.2 assists and 4.3 rebounds with Orlando and Phoenix last season.
*Dwight Howard –Expected to join Washington on two-year, $11 million deal after clearing waivers. This will be Howard’s fifth team since being traded by Orlando in 2012. The eight-time All-Star averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds last season in Charlotte.
*JaVale McGee – Agreed to one-year, $2.4 million deal with Los Angeles Lakers. A surprising addition to the LeBron-led Lakers, McGee is coming off two solid years with Golden State, where he provided the Warriors with some much-needed rim protection.
*Jonas Jerebko – Plans to sign with Golden State. The stretch-4 shot 41 percent from 3-point range with Utah last season.
*Doug McDermott – Agreed to three-year, $22 million deal with Indiana. The Pacers were one of the NBA’s biggest surprises last season, and adding McDermott will only make them better. He’s a career 40.3 percent shooter from beyond the arc.
Ersan Ilyasova – Agreed to three-year, $21 million deal with Milwaukee. The 31-year-old journeyman will be a solid addition to Milwaukee, where he spent the first seven seasons of his career. He averaged 10.8 points and 6.7 rebounds after signing with Philadelphia in February.
*Aron Baynes – Agreed to two-year, $10.6 million deal to stay with Boston. Baynes may not be as high profile as the Celtics’ stars or the members of their young core, but he still provides the team with some valuable energy and physicality.
*Jerami Grant – Agreed to three-year, $27 million deal to stay with Oklahoma City. Athletic and young, Grant is coming off a solid season with the Thunder, who clearly view him as a part of their future.
Marco Belinelli – Agreed to two-year, $12 million deal with San Antonio. Belinelli, who won a championship with the Spurs in 2014, shot 37.7 percent from 3-point territory last season with Atlanta and Philadelphia.
*Raul Neto – Agreed to two-year, $4.4 million deal to stay with Utah. The 26-year-old floor general only played 12.1 minutes per game last season, but he made 40.4 percent of his 3-pointers.
Derrick Rose – Agreed to one-year, $2.4 million deal to stay with Minnesota. He’s not the player he once was, but Rose showed some promise with the T-Wolves in their first-round playoff loss to Houston, averaging 14.2 points in five games.
*Jeff Green – Reportedly agreed to one-year minimum deal with Washington. Green had his moments for Cleveland in the playoffs (19 points and eight rebounds in Game 7 vs. Boston on the road), and he should be a nice complementary piece for a Wizards team in need of some frontcourt help.
*Michael Carter-Williams – Reportedly agreed to one-year minimum deal with Houston. The 2014 Rookie of the Year will join his fifth NBA team. He spent last season in Charlotte, where he averaged a career-low 4.6 points per game.
*Raymond Felton – Reportedly agreed to one-year, $2.4 million deal to stay with Oklahoma City. Felton’s return pushes the Thunder into uncharted territory: They are currently projected to pay $150 million in luxury tax, according to ESPN, pushing total team spending to $300 million.
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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) — Sweden’s height advantage got to South Korea.
In an effort to compensate for the disparity, South Korea coach Shin Tae-yong decided to use a backup player in goal because he is the tallest of the team’s three keepers.
The gamble worked, but a penalty still gave the Swedes a 1-0 victory on Monday at the World Cup.
“We evaluated all of our goalkeepers and we felt like with the very tall Swedish players, we thought Jo Hyeon-woo would be the best and we thought he’d be a little bit quicker,” Shin said. “So we chose him.”
At 1.89 meters (6-foot-3), Jo is tallest of the South Korean goalkeepers. But he is normally No. 3 on the list when it comes to playing time.
Shin is well-known for pulling surprises.
In World Cup warm-up matches, he switched the numbers of his players around, arguing Swedish scouts would be confused because he says “it’s very difficult for westerners to distinguish between Asians.”
Shin mentioned Sweden’s height advantage about a dozen times after the match. He even acknowledged his players “were a little bit psychologically concerned about the height of the Swedish players.”
Sweden’s starting players averaged about 1.90 meters (6-3), while South Korea’s starters averaged about 1.83 meters (6 feet).
Shin also started with Kim Shin-wook as his primary striker. He is the tallest player on South Korea’s team at 1.97 meters (6-5 1/2).
Jo did his job in goal, making a half-dozen sprawling saves until he was beaten on a second-half penalty by Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist.
Asked to name South Korea’s most important player, Sweden coach Janne Andersson didn’t hesitate.
“I think definitely,” Andersson said, “the goalie was their best.”
The 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is upon us, so it’s time to start thinking about the future before the end of the group stage on June 28. Who has the easiest path to the knockout stage? Is it Lionel Messi and, with , and in their group? What about Neymar and , paired with , and ? Nobody knows for sure, but that’s why it is always fun to guess.
So who makes a deep run at the 2018 World Cup? And which nation lifts the trophy? Visit SportsLine now to get the complete optimal bracket for the World Cup, and see which favorites fail to advance past the quarterfinals, all from the model that’s returned an 1800 percent profit on bookmakers’ closing odds.
Below you’ll find the standings and schedule broken down by each group:
Thursday, June 14:
Friday, June 15:
Tuesday, June 19: Russia vs. Egypt, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 20: Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 25: Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Monday, June 25: Uruguay vs. Russia, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
Friday, June 15:
Friday, June 15:
Wednesday, June 20: Portugal vs. Morocco, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Wednesday, June 20: Iran vs. Spain, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 25: Iran vs. Portugal, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 25: Spain vs. Morocco, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Saturday, June 16:
Saturday, June 16:
Thursday, June 21: Denmark vs. Australia, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Thursday, June 21: France vs. Peru, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Tuesday, June 26: Australia vs. Peru, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 26: Denmark vs. France, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
Saturday, June 16:
Saturday, June 16:
Thursday, June 21: Argentina vs. Croatia, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Friday, June 22: Nigeria vs. Iceland, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Tuesday, June 26: Iceland vs. Croatia, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 26: Nigeria vs. Argentina, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 17:
Sunday, June 17:
Friday, June 22: Brazil vs. Costa Rica, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Friday, June 22: Serbia vs. Switzerland, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 27: Serbia vs. Brazil, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 27: Switzerland vs. Costa Rica, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Sunday, June 17:
Monday, June 18:
Saturday, June 23: Germany vs. Sweden, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Saturday, June 23: South Korea vs. Mexico, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Wednesday, June 27: South Korea vs. Germany, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Wednesday, June 27: Mexico vs. Sweden, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
Monday, June 18: Belgium vs. Panama, 11 a.m. ET, FS1
Monday, June 18: Tunisia vs. England, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Saturday, June 23: Belgium vs. Tunisia, 8 a.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 24: England vs. Panama, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Thursday, June 28: England vs. Belgium, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Thursday, June 28: Panama vs. Tunisia, 2 p.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 19: Colombia vs. Japan, 8 a.m. ET, FS1
Tuesday, June 19: Poland vs. Senegal, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 24: Japan vs. Senegal, 11 a.m. ET, Fox
Sunday, June 24: Poland vs. Colombia, 2 p.m. ET, Fox
Thursday, June 28: Japan vs. Poland, 10 a.m. ET, FS1
Thursday, June 28: Senegal vs. Colombia, 10 a.m. ET, Fox
|Saturday, June 30|
|Match 50: Group C winner vs. Group D runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Kazan||Fox|
|Match 49: Group A winner vs. Group B runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Sochi||Fox|
|Sunday, July 1|
|Match 51: Group B winner vs. Group A runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Moscow||Fox|
|Match 52: Group D winner vs. Group C runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Nizhny Novgorod||Fox|
|Monday, July 2|
|Match 53: Group E winner vs. Group F runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Samara||FS1|
|Match 54: Group G winner vs. Group H runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Rostov||Fox|
|Tuesday, July 3|
|Match 55: Group F winner vs. Group E runner-up||10 a.m. ET||Saint Petersburg||FS1|
|Match 56: Group H winner vs. Group G runner-up||2 p.m. ET||Rostov||Fox|
|Friday, July 6|
|Match 57: Match 49 winner vs. Match 50 winner||9 a.m. ET||Nizhny Novgorod||FS1|
|Match 58: Match 53 winner vs. Match 54 winner||1 p.m. ET||Kazan||FS1|
|Saturday, July 7|
|Match 60: Match 55 winner vs. Match 66 winner||9 a.m. ET||Samara||Fox|
|Match 59: Match 51 winner vs. Match 52 winner||1 p.m. ET||Sochi||Fox|
|Tuesday, July 10|
|Match 61: Match 57 winner vs. Match 58 winner||1 p.m. ET||Saint Petersburg||Fox|
|Wednesday, July 11|
|Match 62: Match 59 winner vs. Match 60 winner||1 p.m. ET||Moscow||Fox|
|Saturday, July 14|
|Match 63: Match 61 loser vs. Match 62 loser||9 a.m. ET||Saint Petersburg||Fox|
|Sunday, July 15|
|Match 64: Match 61 winner vs. Match 62 winner||10 a.m. ET||Moscow||Fox|
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(PhatzRadio Sports / USA TODAY SPORTS) — A week away from the draft, while it looks like the No. 1 pick is set, teams are still gathering information and having players in for workouts.
Big men Marvin Bagley and Mo Bamba recently worked out for the Atlanta Hawks, and Jaren Jackson Jr. had a stellar workout for the Phoenix Suns. Many lottery teams are still gathering information on Michael Porter Jr., whose medical history is integral to this process.
At this point it’s important to be wary of smokescreens, and remember, trades are still possible.
USA TODAY Sports canvassed multiple league executives in shaping its latest mock draft. The actual NBA draft will be held next Thursday in New York.
Arizona • Center • Freshman
Height: 7-1 • Weight: 250
The Suns worked out several of the top prospects likely as due diligence, but it’s going to be Arizona center Deandre Ayton. Suns GM Ryan McDonough called Ayton’s workout “phenomenal,” and it would be a shock if they went another route.
Missouri • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 211
The Kings are known to be enamored with Porter but are still trying to gather the latest medical information. If they’re convinced that he’s fully healthy, he could be the combo-forward they’ve been searching for. A trade down could also be possible if they believe they could get him lower, as the Kings have no first rounders in 2019.
Duke • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 234
If Bagley learns to rely on his three-pointer a bit more, he’ll be a matchup nightmare for opposing big men. The Hawks would get immediate offensive help with this pick, and Bagley would be afforded time to improve his defense.
Real Madrid • Guard
Height: 6-8 • Weight: 220
The Grizzlies are several pieces away from contending for the postseason, but Doncic, the EuroLeague MVP, is the most polished and accomplished prospect among the elites. He immediately gives Memphis another primary ballhandler and someone capable of stretching the floor.
Michigan State • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-11 • Weight: 236
Viewed as perhaps the prospect with the most room to grow both physically and offensively, Jackson Jr. is an immediate asset on the defensive end. His length and timing are outstanding, and given his comfort from the perimeter, he could be the prototypical NBA big man in a few years.
Texas • Center • Freshman
Height: 7-1 • Weight: 225
Similar to Jackson, Bamba is already NBA-ready on the defensive end, and there’s a question as to how far he’ll be able to stretch the floor when he’s not demoralizing defenses with his patented alley-oop finishes. Bamba, who will have the longest wingspan in the NBA at 7-10, is the kind of physical freak teams may regret passing on.
Duke • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-10 • Weight: 251
Carter Jr. represents a safe, solid pick with low risk. He’s a polished, but not plodding, big man with great footwork and high basketball IQ.
Oklahoma • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-2 • Weight: 177
Is anyone surprised that Young wasn’t able to maintain his furious scoring pace for an entire season? The Cavs may benefit because other teams tried to poke holes in his obvious talent.
Alabama • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-2 • Weight: 183
Sexton is an aggressive, confident scorer who could thrive as the lead guard. The guard-depleted Cavs are known to be interested in Sexton as well.
Villanova • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 210
Given Bridges’ experience and strengths, he’s likely an immediate contributor at the next level, filling a wing position that nearly every team covets.
Michigan State • Forward • Sophomore
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 220
The Hornets need help all over, and Bridges is a position-less wing who could play small forward and power forward in smaller lineups. He’s a bit of a tweener in terms of ideal fit, but his raw athleticism and stature make him lottery worthy.
Miami • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 196
The Clippers are in a unique position to draft back-to-back lottery players, affording them a chance to make a riskier move with one of their picks. Walker, a raw, physical guard, offers them a scoring mindset combined with a versatile profile on the defensive end.
Texas A&M • Center • Sophomore
Height: 6-10 • Weight: 241
As for that risk, it comes in the form of Williams. Athletic and rim-running, Williams has tantalizing tools at center for the modern NBA. He also doesn’t have much of an offensive arsenal anywhere outside of the paint, and the 47% free throw percentage is scary.
Kentucky • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-9 • Weight: 215
Not many forwards can create offense off the bounce like Knox, and it’s impossible to ignore his versatility. He’s needs to add muscle to his frame and any team must be patient with him, but there’s significant upside as he continues to develop.
Kentucky • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-6 • Weight: 180
Give him a few years to develop more of an offensive repertoire, and Gilgeous-Alexander is an ideal NBA point guard. His length, passing and defense are all intriguing, but don’t expect him to orchestrate an NBA offense as a rookie.
Texas Tech • Guard • Freshman
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 198
Smith is a freak athlete without much more that teams can bank on. He’s stunning in transition and finishes dunks that hardly look feasible. His defensive instincts are there, too, but teams will have to grapple with what else he’s able to create on offense.
UCLA • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-1 • Weight: 185
Holiday would be less of a risk than the Bucks are typically accustomed to drafting. He’s a poised, crafty ballhandler, and with two brothers already in the league, he’s got an obvious NBA pedigree.
Oregon • Forward • Freshman
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 208
There’s potentially a lot of value in Brown, who does a lot of things well but nothing great. His defensive instincts are probably his best asset, and with the right coaching and system, he could develop a more enhanced offensive game.
Pau-Orthez (France) • Guard
Height: 6-3 • Weight: 180
The lefty guard has good outside touch, a quick first step and a deft midrange game. There usually aren’t many potentially starting-caliber guards left this late in the draft.
Cedevita (Croatia) • Forward
Height: 6-9 • Weight: 195
Musa needs to add significant bulk to his frame, not necessarily to compete offensively but because he could be a liability on defense. He’s a rangy shooter and a creative finisher with good vision; offenses won’t stall with him in the rotation.
Maryland • Forward • Sophomore
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 190
No one helped themselves more at the NBA draft combine than smooth-shooting forward Kevin Huerter, who excelled in the scrimmage portion. There is a belief that Huerter may have secured a promise, which could have swayed his decision to stay in the draft.
Boise State • Guard • Senior
Height: 6-7 • Weight: 197
There’s also a belief that Hutchison, who pulled out of the NBA draft combine, may have a first-round promise from Chicago. If that’s the case, the athletic, four-year wing would fit the bill of prospects the Bulls have drafted in the past.
Villanova • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 200
DiVincenzo parlayed his strong Final Four and draft combine showing into a likely first-round pick. He’s a downhill scorer, crafty finisher from multiple angles and someone who makes his teammates better.
Ohio State • Forward • Junior
Height: 6-8 • Weight: 223
Bates-Diop has good mobility, anticipation and athleticism, and his face-up game was an asset in college. As a redshirt player, there are legitimate questions as to how much he’ll improve.
Southern California • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-3 • Weight: 193
Despite withdrawing from USC earlier this season, Melton remains an intriguing prospect thanks to his defensive intensity and transition ability. At the draft combine he also mentioned how special it would be for him to play for his hometown Lakers.
Boston College • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-5 • Weight: 188
It’s not hard to see what scouts like about Robinson. He’s a poised, steady guard with good size who can occasionally explode to the rim. He’s a comfortable scorer who could easily command a second unit off the bench.
Georgia Tech • Guard • Sophomore
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 213
Okogie has good size and a great motor, but his offensive instincts can feel a little hectic at times. He should immediately be able to hold his own on the defensive end.
Creighton • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-4 • Weight: 200
Steady and with great length, Thomas is a low-risk, heady guard who won’t make unforced mistakes and can immediately stretch the floor with his offense.
Cincinnati • Guard • Junior
Height: 6-6 • Weight: 210
With good size and strength for his position, Evans can be an immediate contributor on the defensive end and should have no trouble in a switch-heavy defense. His three-point shooting ability could be a bonus.
Chalmette High School • Center
Height: 7-0 • Weight: 233
Robinson might be the most enigmatic prospect in the draft, with a range as high as just outside the lottery all the way until the second round. The size and talent are there, but teams could have questions about his drive and commitment after skipping his lone year in college basketball.
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CHICAGO (AP) — Phoenix general manager Ryan McDonough was on stage moments after the NBA draft lottery ended, talking about the future of the Suns and mentioning how they had the best odds of picking No. 1 overall.
And then he stopped to correct himself.
“We have No. 1,” McDonough said. “I’ve got to adjust to that.”
It’s an adjustment that he and the Suns will happily be making.
The worst team in the league this season will pick first in the NBA draft on June 21, after the Suns won the draft lottery on Tuesday night. It’s the first time the Suns will have the chance to make the first overall selection.
“It’s great for our franchise,” said McDonough, whose club went 21-61 this season and missed the playoffs for an eighth consecutive year. “It’s something that you say coming into it, you don’t have any control over it so you’re not going to get nervous. And I was here dying. I could barely breathe. I needed an oxygen tank.”
The Suns have three great candidates for No. 1, all with ties to either Arizona or new Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov. Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton is widely expected to be a strong candidate to go No. 1 overall, and he was at the lottery to watch the Suns win the pick. So was Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, an Arizona native.
And Kokoskov is particularly familiar with Slovenia’s Luka Doncic, who will be coming to the NBA from Real Madrid. Kokoskov coached Slovenia — and Doncic — to the gold medal at the European championships last summer.
“We have a small target grouping in mind, but we’re not going to rule anything out at this point,” McDonough said. “I think we’ll have a great choice, no matter who we select.”
The Suns were big winners.
So were Sacramento and Atlanta.
Sacramento will pick No. 2 and Atlanta got the No. 3 pick — both of them moving up and bucking some odds to get there. The top three spots were determined by the lottery, and then spots 4-14 fell in line of reverse order of record.
Sacramento had a 18.3 percent chance entering the lottery of moving into the top three, while Atlanta’s move-up was really just a slightly bigger upset than a coin-flip — the Hawks came into the night with a 42.3 percent chance of getting picks 1, 2 or 3.
“No big deal. It’s a deep draft,” Kings vice president and general manager Vlade Divac said. “We’re going to do our job and obviously, I’m glad that we played the last two years to develop guys and try to win games. You cannot develop guys if you don’t teach them how to win.”
The Hawks, like the Suns, got their lottery result one day after introducing a new coach. Lloyd Pierce is taking over in Atlanta, with a reputation of helping great young talent develop — he’s worked with Joel Embiid, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and LeBron James, among many others.
“For Hawks fans, it’s a big deal,” said Hawks owner Jami Gertz, who represented the franchise on stage at the lottery. “I say to Atlanta, we are on our way. Championships down the road, sooner than later. Let’s go.”
The rest of the slots, in order, went to No. 4 Memphis, No. 5 Dallas, No. 6 Orlando, No. 7 Chicago, No. 8 Cleveland, No. 9 New York, No. 10 Philadelphia, No. 11 Charlotte, No. 12 and No. 13 Los Angeles Clippers, and No. 14 Denver.
The draft is June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
The lottery has been around since 1985, was tweaked to a weighted system in 1990 and will be changing again next year in an effort to discourage teams from tanking.
Going forward, the three teams with the worst regular-season records will all have 14 percent chances of winning the No. 1 pick, the fourth-worst team will have a 12.5 percent chance and the fifth-worst 10.5 percent. So there will still be a benefit to being bad, but the odds will be so similar among the bottom five teams — a 3.5 percent differential in the race for No. 1, instead of the 16.2 percent gap like this year — that the reward for losing might be lessened.
“I don’t like that word, what is it, tanking?” Divac said. “I hate it.”
Josh Jackson, who just completed his rookie season with Phoenix, represented the Suns on the stage, for the public announcement of what was drawn in secret about an hour earlier. Only a handful of team representatives, NBA officials and media knew the outcome of the lottery before it was revealed publicly and they were all sequestered until the results were aired.
Jackson said he thinks the Suns need a big man. That means his vote, for now anyway, is Ayton.
“He’s got so much potential,” Jackson said.
The Suns feel the same way about themselves. They have three picks in the first 31 in this draft, plus have some cap room to work with this summer. The plan, McDonough said, is to add some veterans to mold what will be a young core led by the likes of Devin Booker, Jackson and potentially whoever the No. 1 pick is next month.
With some more luck, Jackson won’t be going to more lotteries.
“Hopefully we won’t be sitting up here too much longer,” Jackson said.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — SAN ANTONIO – To sum things up, Villanova was feelin’ it Saturday night.
Like every night that ends in “Y” for the Wildcats.
Like all these games where they walk away with a “W” and leave their opponents shaking their heads.
Villanova moved within a win of another title, sinking a Final Four-record 18 3-pointers, while cementing itself as the most-prolific 3-point-shooting team in college history in a 95-79 runaway over Kansas.
“Well, that was just one of those nights,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said.
Normally the third or fourth option on a team full of shooters, junior wingman Eric Paschall led the barrage, going 4 for 5 from 3, 10 for 11 overall, and finishing with a career-high 24 points.
But the hoop was as wide as the Alamodome for pretty much everyone in a Wildcats jersey.
Seven `Nova players made 3s. Villanova tied the Final Four record for 3s in game with 3:45 left in the first half. The Wildcats shot 45 percent from 3 – 5 points higher than their season average, which ranked 15th in the nation this season.
Next up is Michigan, which will try to guard the perimeter Monday night when Villanova (35-5) goes for its second title in three seasons.
Good luck with that.
Nobody has had much success this season, and in what turned out to be an unexpectedly lopsided matchup between top seeds, Kansas (31-8) certainly didn’t Saturday night. AP Player of the Year Jalen Brunson made three 3s and finished with 18 points. Omari Spellman made three, as well, in a 15-point, 13-rebound monster game.
“As good a team as I’ve played against that I can remember,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We got spread out on defense. The game plan went to crap. You get caught in between on defense, and it’s the worst thing you can do.”
About a minute into the second half, Paschall drained a 3 for Villanova’s 14th of the game, breaking a Final Four record first set by UNLV in 1987.
Much earlier, at about the 13-minute mark of the first half, Collin Gillespie spotted up and swished for `Nova’s sixth 3 of the game, which gave it the NCAA record for 3s in a season, with 442.
VMI set that record in 2007. Very few remember that team, though, because even though the importance of the long shot has grown as the decades have passed, it’s never been thought of as a guaranteed way to win consistently.
Wright’s team is laying waste to that theory and, at times, making other teams look bad while doing it.
On Saturday, the typical Villanova possession involved working the ball down low on the wing, then a skip pass across the bottom of the paint, followed by one, two or three passes around the arc until somebody got open. It usually worked. Against both the Jayhawks’ man defense and their zone. Most of `Nova’s 18 makes barely skimmed the net.
“We knew they’d have to miss some pretty decent looks, but they got anything they wanted early, and they knocked everything down,” Self said.
Villanova attempted 40 shots from 3, and only 25 from 2.
Gillespie’s record-setter gave Villanova a 22-4 lead, and at that point, Kansas had as many turnovers as points and had taken as many timeouts as it had field goals.
Self did what he could, urging his 7-foot center, Udoka Azubuike, out of the paint and into the faces of this group of hybrid forward-guards, all of whom can shoot. The big fella couldn’t get there.
The Jayhawks, back in the dome where they cut down the nets 10 years ago after their last title, made mini runs. But the deficit never got below double digits.
Devonte Graham, the senior guard who has been the glue in this Final Four season, led Kansas with 23 points. Malik Newman, who pushed his game into overdrive during the postseason, had 21. They combined to make 6 of 13 3-pointers themselves, but didn’t get much help.
Much of that was credit to the Villanova defense. Wright and co. spent more time in the postgame talking about defense and rebounding than the shooting clinic they put on.
“If we didn’t get stops, it was getting back to being a five- or six-point game,” Wright said.
But they did.
And it didn’t.
About the only drama in the second half was whether the Wildcats would top Loyola Marymount’s NCAA Tournament record of 21 3-pointers in a game (against Michigan in 1990). Didn’t happen, mainly because they didn’t need it too.
But there’s still Monday.
“They’ll be hard for anyone to deal with,” Self said, “if they shoot the ball like that.”
MICHIGAN 69, LOYOLA-CHICAGO 57
SAN ANTONIO – Staring down a 10-point, second-half deficit against an underdog that seemed nothing short of blessed during the madness of March, Moe Wagner and Michigan clamped down on Loyola-Chicago and ended one of the most memorable NCAA Tournament runs ever.
Wagner scored 24 points, Charles Matthews added 17 and the Wolverines rallied to beat the Ramblers 69-57 Saturday night in the Final Four.
The third-seeded Wolverines (33-7) will take a 14-game winning streak, the longest in the nation, into their first national championship game appearance since 2013, and second under coach Jon Beilein.
“We’re not done yet,” Michigan senior Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman said.
Michigan became the first team to reach the national title game without beating a top-five seed along the way. That changes Monday night at the Alamodome. No. 1 seed Villanova stands in the way of the Wolverines’ first NCAA title since 1989.
Lovable Loyola (32-6), with superfan Sister Jean courtside and their fans behind the bench standing for pretty much the entire game, could not conjure another upset. The Ramblers were the fourth 11th-seeded team to make it this far and like the previous three, the semifinals were the end of the road.
Coach Porter Moser said he was proud of players Ben Richardson, Aundre Jackson and Donte Ingram for holding it together during a postgame news conference, answering questions with red eyes and long faces.
“But it was as tough a locker room as I’ve seen because they believed they belonged and they believed like they wanted to advance,” Moser said.
Loyola had no answers for the 6-foot-11 Wagner, and its offense, so smooth and efficient on the way to San Antonio, broke down in the second half and finished with 17 turnovers.
Wagner, playing in front of his parents who made the trip from Germany, had 15 rebounds and was 10 for 16 from the field. Matthews, the Kentucky transfer and Chicago native, had a run-out dunk with 1:33 left that made it 63-53. And that was that.
Wagner became the third player in the last 40 years with a 20 and 15 game in a Final Four game , joining Hakeem Olajuwon of Houston in 1983 (then known as Akeem) and Larry Bird of Indiana State in 1979.
“Wow. If you put it like that, it’s probably cool,” Wagner said. “But to be honest, I kept looking possession by possession. We had trouble scoring the first half. We scored 22 points and that was kind of the only way we found our way to the basket, grab offensive rebounds and get second-shot opportunities.
“And I honestly just tried to do my job.”
Or, as Michigan guard Jaaron Simmon, put it: “He was a beast tonight.”
Wagner also went flying off the elevated court, chasing a loose ball, avoiding injury but taking out CBS commentator Bill Raftery’s eye glasses. It was a full night.
As the seconds ticked off, Wagner pumped his fist to the many Michigan fans who made the trek to San Antonio, while Loyola’s Jackson, who got the Ramblers rolling with a late game-winning 3 in the first round against Miami, looked toward the roof and shook his head.
Cameron Krutwig, Loyola’s big man, scored 17 points and Clayton Custer had 13 of his 15 after halftime. But facing one of the best defensive teams in the country, the best defensive team Beilein has ever had in 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, the Ramblers scored just 16 points in the final 14 minutes.
“Their length. They close the gap of opportunity really fast,” Moser said.
Custer scored seven straight points for Loyola at one point to put the Ramblers up 41-31 with 14:08 remaining.
“I don’t know if they had magic on their side,” Beilein said. “They’re good.”
Michigan refused to fade, even with point guard Zavier Simpson – whose solid play has been critical to the Wolverines’ late-season surge – playing terribly. Simpson had no points and four turnovers.
Simmons, Simpson’s backup, made a 3 and Duncan Robinson hit another a few minutes later and the deficit was down to 45-42 with 10 minutes left.
“Not dropping our heads, that was the main thing,” Simmons said. “We haven’t been down in a game for a long time. So not dropping our heads was one of the main adjustments we had to make.”
Wagner hit a 3 from right in front of the Michigan bench with 6:50 left to tie it, and moments later the Wolverines were back on top, 49-47, when Jordan Poole made two free throws.
Loyola turned it over on three straight possessions and Wagner tipped in a miss by Poole, was fouled and converted the 3-point play to put Michigan up 54-47 with just under five minutes left.
The Ramblers’ 14-game losing streak is over, along with an incredible feel-good story at a time that college basketball, engulfed in a corruption scandal, could truly use one. Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt and her favorite team , the Missouri Valley Conference champions, making their first NCAA appearance since 1985, will return to Chicago as heroes, regardless.
“It’s special to see kind of what stage we were able to get to,” said Richardson, a senior who grew up in Kansas with Custer and then convinced his friend to transfer from Iowa State to Loyola. “Despite going out this way, were going to never forget this. I think a lot of people will remember this run for a long time.”
Michigan has more work to do. The Wolverines, unranked to start the season and sitting at 19-7 in early February, will now resume the underdog role they have played much of the season, trying to win their second NCAA championship.
“This team’s had no attention at all,” Beilein said. “Until we went up to beat Michigan State we weren’t nationally ranked. Now we’re playing on Monday night.”
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The maddest of Marches is winding down, the college basketball season now headed into April. All those upsets, crazy finishes and stellar performances have brought us to San Antonio, where a Cinderella and its telegenic nun join three power programs in the Final Four.
Based on the way the bracket has gone so far, don’t be surprised if there is more madness in store.
To get you ready, we’ve got a rundown of the teams, the top players, the coaches and other tidbits about this year’s Final Four.
Villanova. The Wildcats shoot 3-pointers like no other, play suffocating defense and have that look — the one they had winning a national title two years ago.
Kansas. The other No. 1 seed to get through, the offensively gifted Jayhawks are back in San Antonio, where Bill Self won his only title in 2008.
Michigan. Stingy D or raining 3s, these scrappy Wolverines find ways to win.
Loyola-Chicago. Sister Jean gets much of the attention, but the Ramblers have rambled into the Final Four with a free-flowing, nothing-to-lose style.
Jalen Brunson, Villanova. The Wildcats’ unassuming leader is racking up player of the year awards — and possibly a second national championship.
Devonte’ Graham, Kansas. Similar attributes as Brunson, only with an added dash of dynamic-ness.
Moritz Wagner, Michigan. The big German is crafty inside, can step out to hit 3s, can guard multiple positions — a matchup nightmare.
Clayton Custer, Loyola. The sharpshooting guard gets mistaken for a non-player off the court, and is often the best in the game on it.
Cameron Krutwig, Loyola. The burly freshman gives the little Ramblers the presence they need inside at both ends.
Malik Newman, Kansas. The athletic sophomore has become dynamic No. 2 option to Graham.
Mikal Bridges, Villanova. Bridges and Brunson may be the Final Four’s best 1-2 punch.
Charles Matthews, Michigan. His late-season emergence is a big reason the Wolverines reached San Antonio.
Bill Self, Kansas. This may be the best coaching job of his career.
Jay Wright, Villanova. The coolest — and best-dressed — coach in college basketball has changed the game and put the Wildcats in position for a second national title in three years.
John Beilein, Michigan. Redefined his team and himself by turning the Wolverines into one of the nation’s top defensive teams.
Porter Moser, Loyola. A nation of college basketball fans are learning what everyone at Loyola already knew: Moser can flat-out coach.
4 — No. 11 seeds to reach the Final Four: LSU (1986), George Mason (2006), VCU (2011) and Loyola (2018).
29 — Years since Michigan’s lone NCAA title.
43.2 — Percentage of Michigan’s shots taken from 3-point range.
55 — Years since Loyola’s lone NCAA championship.
77.2 — Shooting percentage of Kansas big man Udoka Azubuike, leading the nation.
86.6 — Points per game by Villanova, tops in Division I.
Michigan: Actors James Earl Jones, Gilda Radner, Lucy Liu; H&R Block founder Henry R. Bloch; iPod inventor Tony Fadell; Walgreen’s founder Charles Walgreen; playwright Arthur Miller; Nobel Prize winner Stanley Cohen; singer Madonna; NFL player Tom Brady; MLB player Derek Jeter; President Gerald Ford.
Villanova: Actors Bradley Cooper and Maria Bello; country singer Toby Keith; singer Jim Croce; second lady of the United States Jill Biden; Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; Connecticut Gov. John G. Rowland; NFL Hall of Famer Howie Long.
Kansas: Actors Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Scott Bakula and Mandy Patinkin; NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain; NFL Hall of Famer Gale Sayers; Kansas Sen. Bob Dole; FBI Director Clarence Kelley; basketball inventor Dr. James Naismith; golfer Gary Woodland.
Loyola: Actors Bob Newhart, Leslie David Baker and Jennifer Morrison; Chicago Bears owner George Halas Jr.; Chicago Cubs owner Todd Ricketts; Disturbed singer David Draiman; Smashing Pumpkins and Perfect Circle guitarist James Iha; Dr. Scholl’s founder William Scholl; US Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The high-motion, position-less offenses are the shiny objects of this Final Four. Crisp passing, alley-oop dunks, cavalcades of 3-pointers — what’s not to like?
Behind the eye-catching, highlight-reel-inducing sparkle is a gritty underbelly.
One of sports’ deepest-rooted clichés is defense wins championships. Tired and not necessarily true, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
The Final Four of Villanova, Kansas, Michigan and Loyola-Chicago all play different brands of D and it will be worth watching that side of the ball when they hit the floor Saturday in San Antonio.
The Wolverines had been the type of team that tried outscoring teams by raining 3-pointers. Defense was what always held them back.
Coach John Beilein has made defense a point of emphasis in recent years, and Michigan has become better for it. With the help of former Illinois assistant and defensive guru, Luke Yaklich, Beilein has transformed the Wolverines from one of the Big Ten’s worst defensive teams to one of the nation’s best.
While most teams have one, maybe two strong on-the-ball defenders, Michigan has three: Charles Matthews, Zavier Simpson and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman.
The trio is quick, physical and good with their hands, making every move by ball handlers and cutters a chore.
German big man Moe Wagner is by no means a hulking presence inside, but he’s active, athletic and moves his feet well, allowing him to keep smaller players in front or soar in for backside blocks.
The Wolverines are No. 3 nationally in defensive efficiency and completely shut down an athletic Florida State team to reach the Final Four.
“If you do play good defense, it will give you a chance to win every day,” Beilein said.
The Wildcats lost a few games during the regular season they probably would like to have back, in part because their defense was nowhere near their uber-efficient offense.
Villanova’s run to a second Final Four in three years can be attributed, at least in part, to its increased ability to shut opponents down.
The Wildcats have long, athletic players with mostly interchangeable skills, allowing them to switch on screens a majority of the time. Mikal Bridges and Eric Paschall are versatile, so they can guard multiple positions and players of varied skills.
Big man Omari Spellman has become a better post defender and is more active after reshaping his body.
The Wildcats are holding teams to 36 percent shooting in the NCAA Tournament and are 14th in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com.
“They were so efficient offensively and picked up so many things that we were teaching offensively, that I thought it might be really tough to get them to be a good defensive team,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “They stuck with it and they’re becoming one of our best defensive teams, which I would have never thought midway through the season.”
As a mid-major team, the Ramblers are almost always undersized when going against Power Five schools.
They make up for it with discipline, tenacity and a commitment to coach Porter Moser’s methods.
Loyola’s perimeter players are active, have quick hands and often switch on the perimeter. The Ramblers also like to switch on ball screens and keep freshman center Cameron Krutwig, their last line of defense, in the paint.
Loyola is a superb transition defensive team because it rarely sends players to the offensive glass and triggers its own run-outs and transition 3-pointers with aggressive defense.
The Ramblers are 19th in adjusted defensive efficiency and have held their last 10 opponents to 68 points or less.
“It’s five guys, about being connected, working together to get a stop,” said Loyola guard Ben Richardson, the Missouri Valley Conference defensive player of the year. “We’re outsized in a lot of positions, but we have a lot of techniques to tap into to make up for the size.”
The Jayhawks, on paper, are the worst defensive team left in the bracket, coming in at 40th in adjusted D.
Kansas is exceptionally strong in one defensive area: Defending without fouling.
Because they don’t have a lot of depth, the Jayhawks can’t afford to foul a lot, but that also limits the number of easy points opponents get from free throws.
Udoka Azubuike is a load in the post at 7-foot, 280 pounds, and can soar in for backside blocks if a teammate gets beat. Svi Mykhailiuk showed off his defensive chops in the Elite Eight, when he repeatedly knocked Duke All-American Marvin Bagley III off the block and beat the freshman to his spots.
The Jayhawks also are playing harder after coach Bill Self called them soft midseason.
“I probably had verbally gotten after this team more and been more critical in some ways,” Self said. “But also with that being said, I think I’ve also made it real clear in many ways I’m more proud, too, because we have altered our personality traits to the point that it’s given this team the best chance.”
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — The Final Four had been set for decades: Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky were crowned as college basketball’s royalty.
They are the bluebloods of basketball — where deep NCAA Tournament runs are the norm, NBA prospects play, hardwood rules the sports landscape and an air of superiority reigns in programs rich in tradition and with alumni rich enough to help fund state-of-the-art practice facilities or arenas.
Grandpa might tell you UCLA or Indiana should still be in the mix. Maybe the kids like Michigan State or Arizona.
But a fifth team has firmly crashed the field: Villanova. Its fans turn up their noses at the Philly schools while the team turns up the heat in the Big East and is positioned for a second national championship in three years.
The road to the best program in hoops may start where the original rules of the game are housed at Kansas, hit Tobacco Road, head to the home of the one-and-done prospect in Lexington but it ends on the Main Line, a wealthy stretch of Philadelphia suburbs home to Villanova.
Let’s take a look at the Wildcats’ resume by the numbers headed into Saturday’s Final Four game against Kansas (31-7).
— 134. Wins (and counting). The most by any program over a four-year span.
— 30. The magic number for Villanova. The Wildcats have won 33, 35, 32 games the previous three years and are 34-4 this season.
— 6. Sweet 16s under Wright.
— 3. Final Fours since 2009.
— 1. National championship under coach Jay Wright in 2016.
— 420. Wins under Wright, the most in team history.
There’s another number worth noting: $60 million. It’s the expected cost of the renovation funded by donors of Villanova’s on-campus arena when it reopens next season. The Wildcats played this season at the home of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, the Wells Fargo Center — where they went a sparkling 11-1.
Any way you count it, the Wildcats decade of dominance has turned their blood as blue as their “V” logo.
“We consistently had very good players,” Wright said. “It’s a part of guys staying healthy, guys staying in the program, good recruiting, getting lucky in recruiting over a period of time.”
The Wildcats soared to the top of the AP Top 25, earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and won another Big East Tournament title without a senior on the roster. Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth, Mikal Bridges and Donte DiVincenzo carried the Wildcats in stretches in tournament wins over Radford, Alabama, West Virginia and Texas Tech. Brunson was named Tuesday to the AP All-America team.
The 2016 team trumps the underdog ’85 champs that shocked the sport for best in Nova history.
With two more wins, this year’s team should stand alone.
KU-Villanova is regarded as a real title game of sorts before the winner plays Loyola or Michigan on Monday in San Antonio.
“The good thing is, I think our guys have a good understanding and respect for everybody in this tournament, so I don’t think they would even think that this is the national championship game,” Wright said. “Our guys wouldn’t think that way.”
Villanova might have seem more worthy of a spot alongside the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, Jayhawks and Kentucky Wildcats to the causal fan had it not been for some upsets as a single-digit seed in the tournament. The Wildcats lost in the first weekend as a 1 or 2 in 2010, 2014, 2015 and 2017. Surely another Final Four or two would have made them a more popular pick to win it all in office pools rather than a potential target as an upset special.
But it can’t be ignored that Wright has brought the program to heights that not even his mentor and 1985 championship coach Rollie Massimino could achieve.
The idea of christening a dazzling new arena with a championship banner raised to the rafters would be appropriate — hanging in the rarified air as college basketball’s top team.
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ATLANTA (AP) — Porter Moser stood in front of the scarf-clad Loyola cheering section, a bit dazed but beaming from ear to ear.
“Are you kidding me! Are you kidding me!” the Ramblers coach screamed over and over.
Loyola is headed to the Final Four .
An improbable NCAA Tournament took its craziest turn yet Saturday night, when Ben Richardson scored a career-high 23 points and the 11th-seeded Ramblers romped to a 78-62 victory over Kansas State to cap off a stunning run through the bracket-busting South Regional.
The Ramblers (32-5) matched the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the Final Four, joining LSU (1986), George Mason (2006) and VCU (2011). Those other three all lost in the national semifinals.
Don’t bet against Loyola, which emerged from a regional that produced a staggering array of upsets. The South became the first regional in tournament history to have the top four seeds — including overall No. 1 Virginia — knocked out on the opening weekend.
In the end, it was the Ramblers cutting down the nets.
After three close calls, this one was downright easy.
“We believed that we could do something like this — do something really special — because we knew we had such good chemistry and we’ve got such a good group,” said Richardson, who was named MVP of the regional. “Everyone would say we were crazy. If we said this was going to happen, people would call us crazy, but you’ve just got to believe.”
No one believes more than their 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt , who led a prayer in the locker room before the game. When it was done, she was pushed onto the confetti-covered court in her wheelchair to join the celebration.
Sister Jean donned a Final Four cap — she even turned it around backward, just to show she’s hip to the kids — and gave a gleeful thumbs-up.
She’s already looking forward to a bigger game next weekend.
“I’m going to San Antonio,” she said. “That’s going to be great.”
Also joining the celebration were several players from the Ramblers’ 1963 national championship team , which played one of the most socially significant games in college basketball history on its way to the title. It was known as the “Game of Change,” matching the Ramblers and their mostly black roster against an all-white Mississippi State team at the height of the civil rights movement, setting up an even more noteworthy contest three years later when Texas Western, with five African-American starters, defeated Kentucky in the national championship game.
Les Hunter, a member of that ’63 team, said these Ramblers are capable of bringing home another title.
“I think they’re the best right now,” Hunter said. “They work so well together. They can play with anybody — anybody — right now.”
Even with a title on its resume, this Loyola performance came out of nowhere. The Ramblers had not made the tournament since 1985 until they broke the drought by winning the Missouri Valley Conference.
Then, as if benefiting from some sort of divine intervention, the Ramblers won their first three tournament games by a total of four points .
Finally, with the Final Four on the line, they turned in a thoroughly dominating performance against the ninth-seeded Wildcats (25-12), the other half of the first 9-vs.-11 matchup in tournament history.
Not the least bit intimidated, Loyola came out in attack mode right from the start against a Kansas State team that rode a stifling defense to the regional final. Moving the ball just as you’d expect from a veteran squad with two seniors and two fourth-year juniors in the starting lineup, the Ramblers kept getting open looks and bolted to a 36-24 halftime lead.
“They jumped out to that big lead and it was tough for us to come back,” said Xavier Sneed, who led Kansas State with 16 points. “They kept their foot on the gas.”
The Ramblers shot 57 percent against a team that is used to shutting opponents down, including 9 of 18 from 3-point range.
Kansas State hit just 35 percent from the field — 6 of 26 beyond the arc.
Early on the second half, Richardson swished a 3-pointer as he was fouled by Kamau Stokes , winding up flat on his back, flashing a huge smile with his arms raised above his head. He knocked down the free throw to complete the four-point play, stretching the lead to 44-29.
Loyola led by as many as 23.
“We’re just a bunch of guys that everybody laughed at … when we thought we were going to play Division I basketball,” Clayton Custer said. “Nobody thought we could do any of this.”
They do now.
MICHIGAN 58, FLORIDA STATE 54
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michigan is headed to its first Final Four in five years with another upset-minded opponent waiting.
The Wolverines (32-7) have tamped down three consecutive teams with designs on pulling surprises — No. 6 seed Houston, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 9 Florida State.
Now they’ll face the most improbable opponent of all — 11th-seeded Loyola-Chicago in San Antonio.
“I don’t think any of us cares about rankings, seedings or none of that,” forward Moe Wagner said. “It’s about who is going to play better. They must be a really good team, that’s why they’re in the Final Four, and that’s all that matters.”
The third-seeded Wolverines withstood their own poor shooting to beat Florida State 58-54 and win the West Region title on Saturday night for their 13th straight victory. They haven’t lost since Feb. 6 against Northwestern.
Loyola (32-5) made a stunning run through the South, beating Kansas State 78-62 in the regional final to equal the lowest-seeded team ever to reach the Final Four.
The Ramblers have Sister Jean, too. Their 98-year-old team chaplain, Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, has been a social media and TV sensation during the tournament.
Not that West Regional Most Valuable Player Charles Matthews had a clue.
“I don’t know who Sister Jean is, no disrespect,” he said.
Not so for Wagner, the 6-foot-11 forward plucked out of Germany by coach John Beilein.
“I know that she didn’t have Loyola-Chicago in the Elite Eight,” Wagner said. “I know that.”
Wolverines forward Isaiah Livers knows one of Loyola’s players, having played AAU basketball against each other in Chicago.
“I’ve been watching them. They’re a really good team,” he said. “From now on, you’re going to play nothing but good teams. They’re here for a reason.”
So are the Wolverines, whose NCAA Tournament victories have involved wild swings.
They scored 99 points in the regional semifinal and 58 in the final, a 41-point swing that is the largest two-game scoring difference by any team in this year’s tournament.
After beating No. 14 Montana by 14 points in the first round, Michigan escaped by 1 against Houston on Jordan Poole’s 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Wolverines trounced Texas A&M by 27 points in the regional semifinals, hitting 10 of their 14 3-pointers in the first half.
Michigan got into a close one against the Seminoles, clinging to a 55-52 lead with 1:14 remaining. The Wolverines made 3 of 5 free throws in the closing seconds to hang on for their school-record 32nd win.
“I feel like we all believe in one another, but that is the special thing about this group of guys,” Matthews said. “We just take everything one day at a time and we stay connected through it all. When you have guys like that who are truly your brothers, anything’s possible.”
After playing in front of 19,665 mostly pro-Michigan fans in Los Angeles, the Wolverines can likely expect much of the country to be rooting against them in San Antonio.
“Loyola-Chicago, those people should be so proud of that team and come out strong,” Beilein said. “Loyola’s going to sell every ticket they can get. Well, Michigan’s going to sell every ticket we can get, too.”
More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org ; https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 and https://www.podcastone.com/ap-sports-special-events
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports / AP) — After starting with 68 teams, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to just eight.
The Elite Eight.
The March Madness upsets continued through the Sweet 16, with Cinderella No. 11 Loyola-Chicago staying out for at least one more dance after defeating No. 7 Nevada, followed by No. 9 seeds Florida State and Kansas State.
Here is everything you need to know regarding coverage for Saturday’s game, along with must-read stories as one of the wildest NCAA tournaments in recent memory continues.
Time, TV: 6:09 p.m. ET, TBS
RADIO CALL: Listen to the game via TuneIn
Why Kansas State will win: What the Wildcats lack in post presence with leading scorer Dean Wade still sidelined, they make up for with moxie, physicality and a knack for timely plays. Guard Barry Brown, Jr., is a beast on the defensive end — just look at what he did to Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — and they’re also getting unexpected contributions from players like guard Mike McGuirl, who averaged just 3.2 points in the regular season, and Xavier Sneed, who made five 3-pointers against Kentucky.
Why Loyola-Chicago will win: If the Ramblers can beat a physical, defensive-oriented team like Tennessee, why not a team like Kansas State that was a lesser version of the Vols for most of the season? Loyola will probably do the one thing Kentucky couldn’t: Make perimeter shots. The likes of Clayton Custer (46% from the 3-point line), Donte Ingram (39.6%) and Marques Townes (38%) make it easy for the Ramblers to play small if they have to, and freshman big man Cameron Krutwig will be hard to handle given Kansas State’s lack of post depth.
Time, TV: approx. 8:49 p.m. ET, TBS
RADIO CALL: Listen to the game via TuneIn
Why Michigan will win: When the offense clicks like it did Thursday in a rout of Texas A&M, the Wolverines are going to be hard to beat. They blew the game open in the first half by shooting better than 60% from three-point range — led by Moritz Wagner — and they ended up shooting better than 60% from the field on the day. Michigan, which has won 12 in a row, also has stepped it up on defense, allowing opposing teams to score only 63 points a game. That’s a winning combination.
Why Florida State will win: The Seminoles, who did not close the regular season with any particular fire, happen to be on a roll in the NCAA tournament. After beating Missouri in the opening round, they rallied from 12 down to beat top-seeded Xavier, then took out No. 4 Gonzaga in dominant fashion. Florida State has size, depth and knows how to share the ball.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — In a wild NCAA Tournament full of upsets, it’s somehow appropriate that the first ticket to the Final Four will go to a No. 9 or No. 11 seed.
And the second could go to another 9-seed.
Welcome to the madder half of the March Madness bracket. The Elite Eight games Saturday in the South and West lack the Selection Sunday favorites and instead feature a surging 3-seed (Big Ten champion Michigan), two teams who were power-conference also-rans (No. 9 seeds Florida State and Kansas State) and the upstart (11-seed Loyola-Chicago).
The Wildcats and the Ramblers meet in the first regional final to wrap up the South bracket in Atlanta, then the Wolverines and Seminoles meet in Los Angeles.
Further down the line, one of those teams will end up playing for the national championship in San Antonio.
It’s quite a feat considering three of those teams faced at least some bubble uncertainty in the final month of the regular season. And that was particularly true of the Ramblers (31-5) , who went 15-3 in their Missouri Valley Conference but could have easily been left out of the field of 68 had they not won the league tournament.
Yet, the Ramblers beat 6-seed Miami 64-62 in the first round on 3-pointer by Donte Ingram with 0.3 seconds left. Then came a 63-62 second-round win against third-seeded Tennessee on another late shot, this one a jumper from Clayton Custer with 3.6 seconds left. And finally, they held off No. 7 seed Nevada 69-68 in the Sweet 16, putting them a win away from the national semifinals for the first time since winning the 1963 national title .
“I think there’s a lot of parity in the game, and I love it for our league,” Ramblers coach Porter Moser said. “There was a lot of talk that we weren’t going to get in if we didn’t win the tournament, and we know in the Missouri Valley how good a league it is from top to bottom. And for us to get in here, I think it’s going to spark conversation about this, and I know the committees have such a hard job.”
Now they’re meeting the Wildcats in the first 9-vs-11 game in NCAA Tournament history.
Kansas State (25-11) caught a break when UMBC pulled the first 16-vs-1 upset of top overall seed Virginia, allowing the Wildcats to avoid the Cavaliers in the second round. Kansas State beat UMBC then took out Kentucky’s latest crop of touted freshmen to reach its first regional final since 2010 and second since 1988.
“We know that every team right now is trying to make history,” Kansas State guard Barry Brown Jr. said.
Here are things to know about the NCAA Tournament’s second week:
ROLLING AGAIN: For the second straight season, the Wolverines (31-7) got hot late in the year to win the Big Ten Tournament title and reach the NCAA regional rounds. Now they’re the closest thing to a favorite in their half of the draw.
Last year’s team lost by one to Oregon in the Sweet 16, but Michigan blew out Texas A&M on Thursday to reach its third regional final in six seasons.
“I’d prefer more games like that,” coach John Beilein said afterward. “I don’t think we’ll see any more, but I’d prefer it.”
For the record, Michigan has won 12 straight and hasn’t lost since falling at Northwestern on Feb. 6 .
LONG WAIT: The last time Florida State was in a regional final, two-sport point guard Charlie Ward was months away from claiming the Heisman Trophy as the Seminoles’ quarterback, the Fab Five ruled at Michigan — and the Seminoles were blown out by a Rick Pitino-coached Kentucky team featuring Jamal Mashburn.
That was 1993.
The balanced Seminoles (23-11) got here by upending 1-seed Xavier then beating a 32-win Gonzaga team in the Sweet 16.
“We just don’t care who plays or who scores the basket, as long as everybody’s happy,” FSU’s Braian Angola said. “We buy into the system, and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
SEMBLANCE OF ORDER: The other half of the bracket looks much closer to form.
In the East, Jalen Brunson was fantastic in leading top-seeded Villanova past Press, umm, West Virginia in Friday’s Sweet 16. That pushed the Wildcats — the highest overall seed left — into Sunday’s regional final in Boston to face third-seeded Texas Tech, which beat 2-seed Purdue.
And in the Midwest, bluebloods Kansas and Duke advanced to a chalk regional final in Omaha, Nebraska. Neither had an easy time of it, with the top-seeded Jayhawks holding off fifth-seeded Clemson while the second-seeded Blue Devils beat No. 11 seed Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference-heavy doubleheader.
CONFERENCE BREAKDOWN: The Big 12 and ACC are leading the way entering the Elite Eight.
The Big 12 earned seven bids and has three teams (Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas State) still alive to go with an 11-4 tournament record (.733). The ACC tied its own record with nine bids and has two left (Duke and FSU) to go with a 12-7 record (.632).
The Big East (Villanova), Big Ten (Michigan) and Missouri Valley Conference (Loyola-Chicago) have the other spots.
FAIL: ESPN says there were 17.3 million entrees into its bracket contest. And zero —as in nary a one— got the Elite Eight teams correct. So maybe you don’t have to feel so badly about your up-in-smoke picks?
Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA Today Sports) —- Loyola-Chicago and its game-planning nun are headed to the Elite Eight. So too are Kansas State, Florida State and Michigan in this maddest of Marches.
Day 2 of the Sweet 16 has Villanova’s Jalen Brunson vs. West Virginia’s Jevon Carter, Duke’s athletes trying to solve Syracuse’s zone and the arm brace saga of Purdue’s Isaac Haas. Oh, and all those athletes between Kansas and Clemson.
No wonder sports fans love this time of the year so much.
The marquee matchup comes in the East Region Friday in Boston, where Villanova, one of two No. 1 seeds remaining, faces Press Virginia.
The Wildcats have been on a tear while everyone has been tearing up their brackets, making 31 combined 3-pointers in lopsided opening NCAA Tournament wins over Radford and Alabama. Villanova (32-4) has been even better on defense, holding its first two opponents to 37 percent shooting and less than 60 points per game.
West Virginia (26-10) is known for its defense, but rode its hot-shooting offense into the Sweet 16 for the third time in four years. The Mountaineers shot at least 50 percent in their NCAA opening wins over Murray State and Marshall, averaging 84 points per game. They also play that relentless, pressure-all-time defense that gives teams fits, especially this time of year.
“The matchup with West Virginia, it’s what you get at this point in the tournament,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “Sweet 16, you’re going to play a great team that’s playing on all cylinders. You can’t get this far unless you’re really clicking right now.”
The game also will have two of the nation’s top players at the top of their games: Brunson and Carter.
Brunson is a front-runner for national player of the year. Carter is one of the nation’s top one-on-one defenders. Could be the best individual match-up of the bracket right there.
“What makes him tough? He’s smart. He’s very smart,” Carter said of Brunson. “He’s crafty. He knows how to use his body well. He knows about angles and stuff.”
BLUE DEVILS VS. ORANGE ZONE: Syracuse was not exactly an offensive juggernaut in the NCAA Tournament, scoring 60 points once in three games. The Orange (23-13) reached the Sweet 16 behind coach Jim Boeheim’s 2-3 zone, which has limited teams to 54 points per game and limited No. 3 Michigan State to 26 percent shooting to reach the Sweet 16.
Syracuse faces its toughest test yet against the Blue Devils (28-7) in Omaha. Duke has a superb inside-out game with super frosh Marvin Bagley III in the middle and is averaging 85 points per game in the NCAA Tournament.
Something has to give.
HAAS AND THE BRACE: Purdue suffered a huge blow when Hass, the Boilermakers’ 7-foot-2 match-up nightmare, broke his right elbow in its opener against Cal State-Fullerton. Haas has not given up on the season just yet, though.
The senior big man tried to wear a brace in Purdue’s round of 32 game against Butler, but the NCAA nixed it because the brace had metal in it.
In steps Purdue’s engineering students. Given NCAA guidelines by the Purdue staff, the engineering whizzes worked through the night Monday to create a one-of-a-kind brace to hold Haas’ elbow in place.
Even with his new elbow accessory, Boilermakers coach Matt Painter all but ruled Haas out for Friday’s game against Texas Tech. Haas is still holding out hope.
“If I did play, it would just be really short minutes, I’m sure,” Haas said. “But I’ll play as many as I’m asked of.”
TIGERS AND JAYHAWKS: Kansas (29-7), the No. 1 seed in the Midwest, won its record 14th straight Big 12 title and opened the NCAA Tournament by beating Penn and Seton Hall behind a stingy defense. The Jayhawks have one of the biggest stars left in the bracket in Devonte Graham, but fifth-seeded Clemson (25-9) is on a roll, coming off a 31-pont thrashing of No. 4 seed Auburn, the third-largest win by a lower seed since 1979.
“I think we have moments where we don’t play very tough, but I also think we have some moments where our experience and our toughness definitely shows,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
SEC OUT: The SEC had the second-most teams in the NCAA Tournament with eight. Now there are none.
With Kentucky’s 61-58 loss to Kansas State Thursday night, the SEC does not have a team left in the bracket through the first half of the Sweet 16. The Wildcats were the conference’s last team standing after Texas A&M was blown out by Michigan earlier Thursday.
NEW FINAL FOUR: With Gonzaga’s loss to Florida State, this year’s Final four is guaranteed to have four different teams than last season.
Defending national champion North Carolina, which beat the Zags in the title game a year ago, lost its second-round game against Texas A&M. South Carolina and Oregon did not make this year’s NCAA Tournament.
7:07 p.m. ET, CBS
Listen: Hear game via TuneIn
Why Kansas will win: A balanced offense (all five starters average at least 12 points) could be fully functional. After missing the Big 12 tournament and playing limited minutes in the first two rounds while nursing a sprained knee, sophomore center Udoka Azubuike is expected to return to the starting lineup. When Azubuike is healthy, he complements a four-guard lineup that is a very difficult matchup for defenses.
Why Clemson will win: The Tigers blew out Auburn in the second round with a superlative defensive performance to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1997. Clemson’s interior defense has been very good all season, and led by junior Marcquise Reed, its trio of athletic guards will be a handful on both ends for Kansas’ perimeter players.
7:27 p.m., TBS
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Why Villanova will win: Much is made of Villanova’s offense, and rightly so. Its 86.9 points is almost a point more — .8, to be exact — than anyone else averaged this year, and it has made 12 or more three-pointers in 21 of its 36 games, including 17 in the second-round win vs. Alabama. But the Wildcats have become a much better defensive team throughout the season, limiting their last five opponents to 70 points or fewer. Radford and Alabama, its first two opponents in the NCAA tournament, were held to 37% shooting and 59 points.
Why West Virginia will win: Sagaba Konate. Second in the country with 113 blocks, he changes the game around the basket. Avoid the rim, and your shooting percentage is going to suffer. Go at him, and you risk drawing an offensive foul. Making him all the more difficult is that Villanova hasn’t faced a player like him yet this season. The Wildcats will be figuring out how to deal with him on the fly.
Approx. 9:37 p.m. ET, CBS
Listen: Hear game via TuneIn
Why Duke will win: Despite its youth — four freshman starters — Duke might be the most talented team in the Sweet 16. That starts with freshman big man Marvin Bagley III, who led the ACC in scoring (21.2) and rebounding (11.3). After struggling defensively during the first half of the season, the Blue Devils went almost exclusively to zone — a la Syracuse — and have won nine of 11. It plays into Syracuse’s weakness (32% three-point shooting). In the teams’ regular-season meeting, Duke allowed 44 points and won by 16.
Why Syracuse will win: The Orange barely made it into the NCAA tournament but won a play-in game, then two more with Jim Boeheim’s trademark zone — which held Michigan State to 25.8% shooting. When it’s operating well, it doesn’t just cause opponents trouble, it frustrates them, which leads to more bad shots and further frustration. Although Syracuse lost the earlier meeting, it held Duke to 60 points, its lowest offensive output. Sophomore guard Tyus Battle (19.3-point average) hasn’t really gotten going in the tournament, but has potential for a big game.
9:57 p.m., TBS
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Why Purdue will win: Isaac Haas hopes a brace made for him by Purdue’s mechanical engineering students will allow him to play a week after breaking his right elbow, but coach Matt Painter made it sound unlikely. That’s a blow, no question. But the Boilermakers figured out how to make do without their second-leading scorer in the second-round win against Butler, and the confidence and reassurance that gives them — freshman Matt Haarms in particular — is no small thing.
Why Texas Tech will win: The Red Raiders are crafty defensively. Jarrett Culver, Keenan Evans and Zhaire Smith each average more than a steal per game, giving them a chance to disrupt a Purdue offense that’s still adjusting to the loss of Haas. Also, the Red Raiders have come back from deficits in each of their first two games, so they aren’t out until the final buzzer sounds.
1. Michigan shows up as the title contender we’ve been looking for. Finally, the Wolverines that looked so fabulous in the Big Ten tournament, notching wins over Michigan State and Purdue, have returned. And it’s a team that’s got national title written all over it. Michigan hammered Texas A&M, a team that beat defending champ North Carolina convincingly last weekend, by 27 points on Thursday.
Coach John Beilein’s team was firing on all cylinders. A team that needed a thrilling buzzer-beater to get to the Sweet 16 due to a stale offense, now looks like a title favorite right alongside Duke and Villanova. An exceptional defensive team, the Wolverines proved how unstoppable they can be when their offense is really clicking — shooting 62% from the floor and 58% from beyond the arc. Mo Wagner broke out of a mini slump with 21 points, while guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman cashed in with 24 points and seven assists.
NCAA TOURNAMENT BRACKET: See how the field of 68 has been trimmed
2. Loyola-Chicago is the most balanced clutch team left in the Dance. Loyola-Chicago is the ultimate Cinderella of 2018’s March Madness, advancing to the Elite Eight on three consecutive last-second, game-winning jumpers — over No. 6 Miami, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 7 Nevada, respectively. Except there’s no Steph Curry on this upstart mid-major. And that’s what makes the sum-of-all-the-parts Ramblers so unique and fun to watch. There’s no superstar (outside of Sister Jean, of course), but a handful of sharpshooters who can come up clutch.
In Thursday’s 69-68 win over Nevada, it was Marques Townes with the dagger with six seconds left to help Loyola punch its Elite Eight ticket. His three-pointer, assisted by Clayton Custer, shows how many weapons coach Porter Moser has at his disposal.
SportsPulse: Loyola-Chicago continues to dance in the NCAA tournament and will make an Elite Eight appearance for the first time since 1963. USA TODAY Sports
3. Kentucky choked big time. This was one of the most disappointing losses in the John Calipari era at Kentucky, as the fifth-seeded Wildcats crumbled against a Kansas State team that played tougher and with more drive. Kentucky had a red carpet rolled out to get to the Final Four, with No. 1 Virginia, No. 2 Cincinnati, and No. 4 Arizona all gone. But poor free-throw shooting and defensive blunders (especially on a Barry Brown game-winning lay-up) cost this freshman-laden group against a KSU team that was playing without its best player and had major foul trouble down the stretch.
4. Kansas State continues to silence doubters. Coach Bruce Weber made sure his K-State players knew where his Wildcats were ranked on Sweet 16 boards before Thursday’s tip. He wanted them to go out and play with a chip on their shoulder. Mission accomplished. The Wildcats were impressive in their win over Kentucky, getting just enough offense and imposing their defensive will on a heavily-favored UK squad (KSU’s allowing just 51 points a game in NCAAs). Bruce Weber has put forth one of the most impressive coaching jobs in the tournament this March.
5. Florida State is a No. 9 seed playing like a No. 2. Coach Leonard Hamilton’s team was the aggressor from the get-go against a very sound Gonzaga squad and FSU used its press to frustrate the offensively potent ‘Zags. More than that, the Seminoles are stellar in transition and used a balanced offensive attack (five FSU players scored seven points or more) to advance to their first Elite Eight since 1993.
A seemingly inconsistent team that went 9-9 in ACC play has found its groove at just the right time, knocking off Xavier in the second round and using Thursday’s Sweet 16 stage to prove it belongs and is far from the No. 9 seed it earned from a back-and-forth regular season.
“Every time we thought we had something going forward, they took it right back and got a big stop or a big bucket,” Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert told reporters of FSU after the game. “A credit to how tough they are.”
(PhatzRadio Sports / USA TODAY SPORTS) — It’s called March Madness for a reason.
After an upset-filled opening weekend, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament rolls on Thursday, where the first four teams will look to advance to the Elite Eight.
While we won’t be seeing a No. 1 seed play on the opening day of the Sweet 16, Thursday’s action will feature the underdogs: Sister Jean and No. 11 Loyola-Chicago, No. 9-seeds Florida State and Kansas State and No. 7-seeds Texas A&M and Nevada.
Here is everything you need to know regarding coverage, along with must-read stories as one of the wildest NCAA tournaments in recent memory continues.
7:07 p.m. ET, CBS
Listen: Hear the game via TuneIn
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
Listen: Hear the game via TuneIn
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
Listen: Hear the game via TuneIn
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
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Results from the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday:
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Michigan freshman Jordan Poole drained a long 3-pointer at the buzzer after Houston squandered a chance to lock up a spot in the Sweet 16, giving the third-seeded Wolverines a heart-stopping victory.
Devin Davis had a chance to seal the win, but the Cougars’ gritty forward missed a pair of foul shots with 3.6 seconds left. The Wolverines (30-7) called timeout to set up a final play, and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman found Poole on the wing, and the shot hit nothing but net.
The officials reviewed it to make sure, but Poole had clearly gotten the shot away.
Michigan advanced to Los Angeles for a West Regional semifinal against North Carolina or Texas A&M next week.
Rob Gray scored 23 points and Davis finished with 17 for the Cougars (27-8), who were trying to reach their first Sweet 16 since the last of the Phi Slama Jama teams went to the Final Four in 1984.
GONZAGA 90, OHIO STATE 84
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Zach Norvell Jr. had 28 points, Rui Hachimura added 25 and Gonzaga reached the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season.
Norvell hit the late tiebreaking 3-pointer against UNC-Greensboro in the opening round to help the Zags (32-4) advance. The confident freshman made 6 of 11 from beyond the arc against Ohio State.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a big early lead, withstood a second-half Ohio State charge and made the big plays down the stretch to earn a spot in the West Region semifinals against the Xavier-Florida State winner in Los Angeles.
The resilient-all-season Buckeyes (25-9) rallied from an abysmal start and an 11-point halftime deficit to take a brief second-half lead before Gonzaga went on an 11-0 run to snatch it back. Keita Bates-Diop had 28 points for Ohio State, and Kam Williams finished with 19.
LOYOLA OF CHICAGO 63, TENNESSEE 62
DALLAS (AP) — Clayton Custer made a go-ahead jumper with 3.6 seconds left, sending 11th-seeded Loyola of Chicago to the Sweet 16.
Custer’s winner, which took a friendly bounce off the rim, came two days after Donte Ingram’s buzzer-beating 3 for Loyola against Miami, surely to the delight of Sister Jean Dolores Schmidt, the 98-year-old nun, team chaplain and primary booster watching from her wheelchair on a platform near the main TV cameras.
The Ramblers (30-5) broke the school record for wins set by the 1963 NCAA championship team. The small Catholic college in the heart of Chicago will play the Cincinnati-Nevada winner in the regional semifinals Thursday in Atlanta.
No. 3 seed Tennessee (26-7) took its only lead of the second half on a three-point play by Grant Williams with 20 seconds remaining.
After Loyola almost lost the ball on an out-of-bounds call confirmed on replay, Custer took the inbounds pass with 10 seconds left, dribbled left and then right, pulled up and let go of the winner.
KENTUCKY 95, BUFFALO 75
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander scored 27 points and Kentucky pulled away for the victory.
Gilgeous-Alexander went 10 for 12 and made both of his 3-point attempts to send fifth-seeded Kentucky (26-10) to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season.
Coming into the day, the basketball world was still reverberating from Maryland-Baltimore County’s 16 vs. 1 stunner over Virginia the night before. Villanova and Duke both rolled early; the evening slate started with Kentucky, and the Wildcats, with their all-freshman starting lineup, trailed only once: 2-0.
It wasn’t a runaway until the last 7 minutes.
Buffalo (27-9), which got here with a 21-point blowout over Arizona, twice trimmed a double-digit lead to five midway through the second half.
Gilgeous-Alexander answered both times — once with a 3-pointer to extend the lead to eight, then again a few minutes later with a three-point play that started a 12-2 run and put the game away.
VILLANOVA 81, ALABAMA 58
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mikal Bridges scored 23 points, helping No. 1 seed Villanova to an impressive victory.
The Wildcats (32-4) are in the Sweet 16 for the first time since they won the 2016 national championship. Bridges, Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth — and yes, The Big Ragu — look every bit the favorite to make it two in three years.
Villanova plays Friday in Boston against the Marshall-West Virginia winner.
Collin Sexton led Alabama (20-16) with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. The star guard has to decide if he’ll join the ranks of the one-and-done freshman.
TEXAS TECH 69, FLORIDA 66
DALLAS (AP) — Keenan Evans made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes left, sending Texas Tech to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005.
Evans finished with 22 points, and Zhaire Smith had 18 points, nine rebounds and seven assists. The third-seeded Red Raiders (26-9) will face Purdue or Butler next Friday night in Boston.
Jalen Hudson scored 23 points for Florida (21-13). Egor Koulechov had 12 points, and Chris Chiozza finished with 11.
KANSAS 83, SETON HALL 79
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Malik Newman scored 28 points, Udoka Azubuike stood toe-to-toe with Seton Hall’s bruising Angel Delgado, and No. 1 seed Kansas advanced to its third consecutive Sweet 16.
Svi Mykhailiuk added 16 points and Lagerald Vick had 13 for the Jayhawks (29-7), who converted on every crucial play down the stretch to advance to the semifinals of the Midwest Region.
They’ll take on the winner of Sunday’s game between Auburn and Clemson in Omaha, Nebraska.
Delgado finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds in a virtuoso effort for the No. 8 seed Pirates (22-11), who snapped a four-game NCAA Tournament skid in the opening round.
Khadeen Carrington finished with 28 points, many of them on 3-pointers in the closing minutes, and Myles Powell added 14 as the pair of guards tried in vain to keep Seton Hall alive.
DUKE 87, RHODE ISLAND 62
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Marvin Bagley had 22 points and nine rebounds, leading Duke to its 26th trip to the Sweet 16.
It was Mike Krzyzewski’s 1,099th victory, breaking a tie with late Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt for the most wins by a basketball coach in NCAA history.
Duke shot 57 percent (29 of 51) from the floor and finished with 20 assists. The Blue Devils (28-7) will play either Michigan State or Syracuse in the Midwest Region semifinals in Omaha, Nebraska next Friday.
E.C. Matthews led Rhode Island (26-8) with 21 points but the Rams looked confounded at times by Duke’s much improved zone defense. A weakness during a mini-swoon in late January, the Blue Devils are no longer treating defense like a chore they’re forced to complete before getting the ball back in their hands.
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) —- Results from the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday:
PURDUE 74, CAL STATE FULLERTON 48
DETROIT (AP) — Purdue center Isaac Haas broke his right elbow during a win over Cal State Fullerton and will miss the rest of the NCAA Tournament.
The 7-foot-2, 290-pound senior went down while taking a hard foul midway through the second half. Haas, who averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game, had nine points and 10 rebounds in the first-round victory.
The second-seeded Boilermakers (29-6) will play Butler on Sunday.
Kyle Allman scored 21 for the Titans (20-12).
MARSHALL 81, WICHITA STATE 75
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jon Elmore scored 27 points and 13th-seeded Marshall toppled fourth-seeded Wichita State for its first NCAA Tournament victory.
The Thundering Herd (25-10) had been 0-5 in the tourney, with its last appearance in 1987.
Marshall became the second No. 13 seed to win this week. Buffalo did it Thursday night, beating Arizona.
Conner Frankamp scored 27 points for Wichita State (25-8).
WEST VIRGINIA 85, MURRAY STATE 68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jevon Carter scored 21 points, had eight assists and six steals as No. 5 seed West Virginia overwhelmed 12th-seeded Murray State.
The Mountaineers (25-10) advanced to the round of 32 for the third time in the past four seasons. Next up for West Virginia is a Mountain State showdown with 13th-seeded Marshall far away from home.
Terrell Miller scored 27 points for Murray State (26-6).
BUTLER 79, ARKANSAS 62
DETROIT (AP) — Kelan Martin scored 27 points and Kamar Baldwin added 24 to lift 10th-seeded Butler over seventh-seeded Arkansas.
The Bulldogs (21-13) raced to a 21-2 lead in the opening minutes. Although Arkansas wiped out that entire deficit before halftime, Butler took control again early in the second.
The Bulldogs now play an in-state rival, second-seeded Purdue.
Jaylen Barford scored 15 points for Arkansas (23-12).
UMBC 75, VIRGINIA 54
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — It finally happened — a 16 ousting a 1 in March Madness.
Senior guard Jairus Lyles scored 28 points, and the University of Maryland-Baltimore County pulled off the most shocking upset in NCAA Tournament history, defeating Virginia 74-54 on Friday night to become the first No. 16 seed ever to beat a No. 1 seed.
Virginia entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed after going 31-2 this season, including 20-1 in ACC competition.
But the Cavaliers couldn’t get anything generated on offense and the nation’s top-ranked defense couldn’t contain American East Conference champions.
The 74 points were the most Virginia had allowed this year.
Lyles was the catalyst.
He diced up Virginia’s defense in the second half, getting the hole easily on six different occasions and making easy layups. He also knocked down a pair of 3-pointers as UMBC built a 16-point lead.
Lyles finished with 23 of his points in the second half and Joe Sherburne finished with 14 points.
The game was tied at halftime, but the Retrievers came out confident and motivated in the second half and built a double-digit lead that Virginia could never erase.
Sherburne scored on an and-one drive and then knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key after a behind-the-back pass from KJ Maura. After Virginia made a foul shot, the shifty 5-foot-8, 140-pound Maura drove the lane for uncontested layup.
A Tony Bennett timeout couldn’t stop the bleeding, as Lyles hit two more 3’s and Sherburne hit one to extend UMBC’s lead to 14 with 14:57 left in the game. Lyles was fouled on a 3-point shot and suddenly the Retrievers led by 16.
A corner 3-pointer and a layups off a fastbreak by Arkel Lamer gave UMBC its biggest lead at 67-48. From there, the party was on as chants of “UMBC” rang through the arena.
It was yet another early exit for the Cavaliers in a season that seemed to hold so much promise.
UMBC: Despite being undersized and unknown, they shocked the world and made history with an epic game.
Virginia: This isn’t the first time Virginia has struggled as the No. 1 seed. The Cavaliers trailed by five at halftime in 2014 to Coastal Carolina but went on to win 70-59.
UMBC: Will face No. 9 seed Kansas State on Sunday in the second round.
CINCINNATI 68, GEORGIA STATE 53
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jarron Cumberland set career highs of 27 points and 11 rebounds as Cincinnati recovered after blowing a 10-point lead in the second half.
The second-seeded Bearcats (31-4) advanced to play seventh-seeded Nevada.
After trailing 42-32 early in the second half, 15th-seeded Georgia State (24-11) rallied to take a pair of one-point leads, its last one coming on a driving bank shot from D’Marcus Simonds with 9:30 left.
NEVADA 87, TEXAS 83, OT
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Caleb Martin scored 18 points and made two huge 3-pointers in overtime as seventh-seeded Nevada rallied for its first NCAA Tournament victory since 2007.
Nevada (28-7) erased a 14-point, second-half deficit and tied it at 68 when Jordan Caroline hit one of two free throws with 3.8 seconds left in regulation. The Wolf Pack trailed by four early in an overtime period that featured 34 total points.
Kerwin Roach II had a career-high 26 points for Texas (19-15).
KANSAS STATE 69, CREIGHTON 59
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Barry Brown scored 18 points and ninth-seeded Kansas State never trailed despite playing without top scorer Dean Wade.
Mike McGuirl added 17 points for the Wildcats (23-11). Wade had been expected to play after suffering a stress fracture in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament, but never got on the floor.
Marcus Foster, thrown off the Kansas State team after the 2015 season for multiple violations of team rules, finished with five points on 2-of-11 shooting for Creighton (21-12).
CLEMSON 79, NEW MEXICO STATE 68
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Shelton Mitchell scored a season-high 23 points, Gabe DeVoe had 22 and Clemson beat New Mexico State to out a perfect first round for No. 5 seeds.
The 5-12 line is usually one of the top spots for March Madness upsets, but Clemson (24-9) shot 56 percent from the field while advancing out of the first round for the first time since 1997. It was the Tigers’ first win in the NCAA tourney since the First Four in 2011.
Clemson was nearly flawless at the offensive end against the 12th-seeded champions of the WAC. It made 9 of 11 shots during one stretch on its way to a 12-point lead at halftime.
Zach Lofton led New Mexico State (28-6) with 29 points.
SYRACUSE 57, TCU 52
DETROIT (AP) — Marek Dolezaj scored 17 points before fouling out and 11th-seeded Syracuse shut down sixth-seeded TCU.
The Orange (22-13) won for the second time in the tournament, holding off the Horned Frogs with another impressive defensive effort. Both teams shot under 40 percent from the field.
TCU (21-12) is still without an NCAA Tournament victory since 1987, when coach Jamie Dixon was a player. This was the school’s first appearance since 1998, and it was short-lived.
There was little doubt who won the much-anticipated matchup between TCU’s excellent offense and Syracuse’s zone defense. The Horned Frogs were held 31 points below their season average.
MICHIGAN STATE 82, BUCKNELL 78
DETROIT (AP) — Miles Bridges outlasted Zach Thomas, scoring 29 points and grabbing nine rebounds to help third-seeded Michigan State beat Bucknell.
Thomas fouled out on a technical with 6:06 left and finished with 27 points. He put on a show in the first half, scoring 20 points and making all three of his shots beyond the 3-point arc.
The Spartans (30-4) made the most of playing about 75 miles from campus.
Leading by 15 points with 2 minutes left, Michigan State won by a slim margin after Bucknell (25-10) made a late flurry of long-range shots.
AUBURN 62, COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON 58
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Jared Harper made a clutch 3-pointer with 1:17 to go — his only basket of the game — and Auburn held off No. 13 College of Charleston.
The Tigers (26-7) avoided being the second No. 4 seed to be upset at Viejas Arena. Marshall beat fourth-seeded Wichita State earlier in the day.
Auburn, playing under the cloud of a federal investigation, survived a poor shooting performance to win in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2003.
Jarrell Brantley scored 24 for the Cougars (26-8), the CAA champs who made their first NCAA Tournament since 1999.
FLORIDA STATE 67, MISSOURI 54
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ninth-seeded Florida State has lots of guys who can score, and the Seminoles used that depth to win their fourth straight NCAA Tournament opener.
Mfiondu Kabengele scored 14 points, and Florida State beat No. 8 seed Missouri.
PJ Savoy had 12 points and Phil Cofer scored 11. A total of 10 Seminoles scored at least two points apiece — by halftime — as they wore out Missouri, which had only eight healthy players available.
This was the first trip to the tournament for every player on the roster for Missouri (20-13). Even with new players and a new coach in Cuonzo Martin, the Tigers head home from their first NCAA trip since 2013 with the program’s fourth straight loss in a first round.
XAVIER 102, TEXAS SOUTHERN 83
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Xavier looked every bit like a No. 1 seed its first time around in the role at an NCAA Tournament.
J.P. Macura scored 18 of his career-high 29 points in the first half, and Xavier routed No. 16 seed Texas Southern in its tournament opener.
Trevon Bluiett added 26 points and Kerem Kanter had 24 for the Musketeers (29-5).
Texas Southern (16-20) came in having won the first NCAA Tournament game in program history, a First Four win over North Carolina Central in Dayton on Wednesday night.
NORTH CAROLINA 84, LIPSCOMB 66
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kenny Williams scored 18 points and defending national champion North Carolina took its time before opening up to beat Lipscomb.
Theo Pinson had 15 points and flirted with a triple-double for the second-seeded Tar Heels (26-10). North Carolina next plays Texas A&M.
Playing for the first time in the NCAA tourney, the 15th-seeded Bisons (23-10) held an early six-point edge. They led 33-31 with under four minutes left in the first half before North Carolina went on a 12-1 run to take control by the break.
TEXAS A&M 73, PROVIDENCE 69
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Admon Gilder scored 18 points to help Texas A&M hold off Providence.
Robert Williams and Tyler Davis both had double-doubles for the seventh-seeded Aggies (21-12). The teams were tied at 50 with about 9 minutes left but Texas A&M responded with a 12-2.
Rodney Bullock scored 22 points for the 10th-seeded Friars (21-14).
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(PhatzRadio Sports / AP) — DAYTON, Ohio – The basketball was still high in the air – flung to start the celebration – when the buzzer sounded and the Bonnies’ long-awaited March celebration commenced. Players chest-bumped on court. Coach Mark Schmidt jumped and waved his arms.
The crowd at the University of Dayton Arena – a place where St. Bonaventure is usually booed – got caught up in the moment, too. And why not? It had been 48 years since anyone saw something like this out of St. Bonaventure.
Courtney Stockard returned from a hamstring injury and scored 26 points, and Jaylen Adams hit a jumper and three free throws in the final minute Tuesday night, rallying the Bonnies to a 65-58 victory over UCLA and their first NCAA Tournament victory since 1970.
At long last, it was time to party in March .
“It can’t get better,” Schmidt said.
They’ll have more chances. The 11th-seeded Bonnies (26-7) will play sixth-seeded Florida (20-12) in Dallas on Thursday night in the East region. They did interviews, showered and headed for a flight to their next destination.
“Florida’s got four or five days on us, so we’ll be watching tape on the plane,” Schmidt said. “We’ve got a 2 a.m. flight, but it couldn’t be a better flight. Ever.”
St. Bonaventure set a school record with its 26th win. Stockard got the Bonnies in position for the drought-busting tournament victory by leading a late 12-0 run. Adams – who missed 14 of his first 15 shots – closed it out in the final 49 seconds.
“I’m still not 100 percent,” Stockard said, “but I’m feeling way better than when I did when I left the Richmond game. So I can’t really let an opportunity like this pass.”
UCLA (21-12) was surprised that it got relegated to the First Four for the first time in its history – the Bruins have been to 18 Final Fours. They had trouble making shots against the Bonnies’ zone defense and matched their season high with 20 turnovers, a disappointing ending to a season that started with an international incident .
Freshmen Jalen Hill, Cody Riley and LiAngelo Ball were accused of shoplifting during a trip to China in November. All three were suspended for the season, and Ball left the school.
UCLA’s Aaron Holiday led the Pac-12 in scoring but couldn’t put his touch on the First Four game. He scored 20 points but had 10 turnovers, including three in the final 29 seconds as the game slipped away.
“I felt like we matched them pretty well,” Holiday said. “We just turned the ball over too much.”
Adams is the Bonnies’ all-time leading scorer as a guard but had a rough time as well until the final minute. He finished with eight points on 2-of-16 shooting.
RADFORD 71, LIU-BROOKLYN 61
DAYTON, Ohio – Carlik Jones had a substantial and loud cheering section at University of Dayton Arena, a lot of folks traveling about an hour up Interstate 75 from his Cincinnati hometown to see him play for Radford in a First Four game.
Jones didn’t disappoint them. The redshirt freshman guard was the engine that drove the Highlanders, scoring 12 points to go with career highs in rebounds with 11 and assists with seven as Radford beat LIU Brooklyn 71-61 on Tuesday night to get its first-ever NCAA Tournament win.
“It’s just big to be able to come back home and perform in front of my family and friends that haven’t been able to see me play,” Jones said. “And it’s just been a good feeling.”
Radford didn’t play its prettiest game, but the team from rural southwest Virginia will celebrate briefly before heading to Pittsburgh to play No. 1 seed Villanova on Thursday. The Big South champion Highlanders are making their third tournament appearance and first since 2009.
Ed Polite Jr. had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Travis Fields Jr. also scored 13 for Radford.
Despite hitting just 7 of 23 shots from the floor in the second half, LIU Brooklyn managed to stay within striking distance, even taking the lead briefly early in the second half. The Northeast Conference champion Blackbirds got to within a point with five minutes left, but a 9-1 surge by the Highlanders opened up the lead.
“We remained calm,” Polite said. “Basketball is about a game of runs. So we knew they’re a good team, so they’re going to make shots. So we just had to remain focused and go with the game plan. And that’s to pressure them even though they’re a fast-paced team and don’t give them any easy baskets.”
The Blackbirds went without a field goal in the last seven minutes of the game and shot 30.4 percent in the second half. Each team committed 15 turnovers.
“I thought (Radford) did a nice job grinding it out on the offensive end of the floor and taking time off the clock to where we couldn’t get moving.” LIU Brooklyn coach Derek Kellogg said.
Jashaun Agosto scored 16 points and Raiquan Clark added 14 for LIU Brooklyn, which is winless in seven trips to the tournament.
Radford led 30-28 at the end of a sloppy first half after leading by as many as nine. The Blackbirds scored 11 of their points on nine turnovers by Radford but were just 3 for 13 from beyond the 3-point line in the half.
(PhatzRadio Sports / AP / USA Today Sports) — From the top seed in the NCAA Tournament – Virginia – to those that barely made it into the bracket – Arizona State and Syracuse – it feels as though everyone involved in March Madness is on the bubble this year.
College basketball is in trouble.
The brackets came out Sunday, replete with the usual fanfare that accompanies America’s biggest office pool. Villanova, Kansas and Xavier joined Virginia as No. 1 seeds, but they, along with the other 64 contenders, will play against the backdrop of an investigation-riddled season in which bribes and payoffs made bigger headlines than 3s and layups.
The tournament begins Tuesday with opening-round games featuring a matchup of bubble teams UCLA and St. Bonaventure, then kicks into full swing Thursday and Friday at eight sites around the country.
The Final Four is March 31 and April 2 in San Antonio. Shortly after that, a commission led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to deliver recommendations from an investigation triggered by an FBI probe that led to charges last fall against assistant coaches, agents, employees of apparel companies and others.
No fewer than a dozen teams in the tournament have been named either in the FBI investigation or in media reports that allege coaches and others have directed payments and improper benefits to recruits and players – thus, breaking rules that go to the core of the amateur-sports code that defines both the NCAA and the “student-athletes” who make this billion-dollar business run.
They range from teams that made it into the tournament off the so-called bubble – Alabama – to one of the best teams in the country. Arizona, a No. 4 seed in the South, has been roiled by a report that wiretaps caught coach Sean Miller discussing a $100,000 payment to freshman Deandre Ayton. Miller has strongly denied the accusation, though the story line figures to follow the Wildcats through what could be a long run in the tournament.
The chairman of the NCAA selection committee, Bruce Rasmussen, has said the investigations played no part of the bracket-filling process.
And yet, it’s hard to imagine there weren’t some sighs of relief in the NCAA offices when some bubble teams’ names were left out of the field. For instance, Louisville has lost its coach (Rick Pitino), athletic director (Tom Jurich) and latest national title (2013) in the culmination of scandals that have slammed that program for the better part of this decade.
Given the widespread nature of this corruption, there’s at least a chance that whoever cuts down the nets in San Antonio could eventually suffer the same fate as the Cardinals.
More certain is that once this party is over, change of some sort will be coming.
“I don’t think it’s just going to be a little blip on the radar,” said John Tauer, the championship-winning coach at Division III St. Thomas in Minnesota, who doubles as a social psychology professor. “I think this runs deep enough and involves enough people in programs that something’s got to change.”
For now, though, hoops – and there was plenty to discuss after the Big Reveal:
Middle Tennessee coach Kermit Davis thinks this year’s team is better than last year’s team that knocked off Minnesota in the first round of the NCAAs and 2016’s team that pulled off perhaps the greatest bracket-buster of all-time in an upset of Michigan State as a No. 15 seed.
“I think we have a Sweet 16 team,” Davis told USA TODAY Sports by phone. “That’s the frustrating part, you know you have a team that’s built for the second-weekend, but you’ve got to get that opportunity.”
BRACKET ANALYSIS: Selection committee valued early wins, not late failures
The Blue Raiders, sadly, won’t get the opportunity to play Cinderella again this year, and were one of the first teams left out of the field of 68 as a notable snub on Selection Sunday. MTSU (24-7) lacked marquee wins, but had the most true road wins of any team in the country (12), presented a top-10 non-conference strength of schedule and held a 33 RPI.
“We did exactly what the selection committee wanted us to do,” Davis said. “We did everything we possibly could. Of course, we’d like to have more wins (the Blue Raiders lost one-possession games to Auburn, USC and Miami). At our level, it’s trying to be literally perfect. …It is a tough world we live in (as a mid-major conference member). It’s a grind for us because you cannot slip up one bit. You lose just one game to a C-USA team and then all the pundits put us out.”
It was likely the Blue Raiders’ early Conference USA tourney exit to Southern Mississippi, a gigantic résumé stain, that knocked them out of the NCAA field. Two losses to eventual tourney champ Marshall, a team that went down-to-the-wire against Xavier, didn’t help MTSU’s cause but were way less costly. Middle Tennessee had won 11 games in a row and was playing some of its best basketball before losing to Marshall in the regular-season finale on March 3 and Southern Miss. this past week.
“We just had a six-day period where we weren’t playing our best basketball offensively,” Davis said. “It just happened at the wrong time. You hope you can be judged based on an entire season instead of a six-day period by the committee, but unfortunately those two losses (were costly).”
Davis had his team practice on Friday, with the idea that the Blue Raiders would be playing Tuesday regardless — in the NCAAs for a play-in game in Dayton or the NIT as a No. 1 seed for a home game. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the latter.
Here’s a look at six other teams that got snubbed the selection committee this March.
The biggest head-scratcher of Selection Sunday — outside of Syracuse making the field — is how the Trojans (23-11, 12-6) got snubbed, especially after reaching the Pac-12 tournament final before falling to Arizona. UCLA, which beat the Trojans twice, got in. USC had a 34 RPI. this pick is a testament to the committee paying no attention to conference standings, where USC finished second behind only Arizona and proved to be the second-best team in the league in the tournament in Vegas. The committee instead honored a team that struggled in the Pac 12, Arizona State, based on a pretty non-conference portfolio.
Coach Randy Bennett’s team has been here before. And once again, a weak schedule is the culprit to a snub. Of the Gaels’ 28 wins, 24 of them came against teams outside the top 100. Just breathe that in. Saint Mary’s (28-5, 16-2) beat Gonzaga but its RPI in the 40s and strength of schedule in the 160s weren’t enough to make up for the lack of marquee victories on this deceiving profile.
Notre Dame was the team knocked out by Davidson’s last-second win against Rhode Island in the Atlantic 10 final, according to the committee chair Bruce Rasmussen — surely a hard pill for this group to swallow. The Fighting Irish (20-14, 8-10) might have needed one more marquee win to punch their ticket and came up short against Duke in the ACC tourney quarterfinals. Coach Mike Krzyzewski said after that game, “I hope they can get in because I think they can beat anybody.” Notre Dame was a completely different team since Bonzie Colson, a preseason All-American, came back from injury. But as lenient as the committee can be to injuries (ND lost seven in a row with Colson out), it still wasn’t enough, as it was hard to rationalize Notre Dame’s résumé (RPI in the 60s, non-conference strength of schedule of 170, just two Q1 wins) over some of the at-large candidates that snuck in.
The Golden Eagles (19-13, 9-9 Big East) have an RPI in the 50s and non-conference strength of schedule of 137, but the Big East Conference figured to be a saving grace, as it made their overall SoS top-25. There’s no good eye candy on the résumé as far as marquee victories go, but Marquette did have two victories over fellow bubble team Creighton, which squeaked into the field of 68. Did the wrong Big East team get in?
The Cardinals (20-13, 9-9 ACC) likely had their season dashed on a buzzer-beating loss to Virginia on March 1. They managed to beat Florida State in the ACC tourney but there’s still not enough meat on this profile (just three top-50 wins). There are no bad losses and an RPI in the 30s to make a serious case, but Louisville just didn’t capitalize on the many Quadrant 1 opportunities it had in the ACC, and that’s something the committee will harp on.
The Cowboys (19-14, 8-10) swept Kansas in the regular season — a feat that looks all the more better following the Jayhawks’ impressive Big 12 tournament title and No. 1 NCAA seed status. OSU also has wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech. Ah, the luxuries of playing in the Big 12. But that served as a doubled edged sword that came in the form of a stretch that saw OSU lose seven of 10. That and the rest of the Cowboys’ portfolio is relatively bare. There are no bad losses on this résumé, but no other bubble team had an RPI in the 80s (flirting with the 90s) and a staggeringly ugly non-conference strength of schedule of 295. Baylor also didn’t make it from the Big 12, but the Cowboys were ahead of the Bears on USA TODAY Sports’ final bracketology.
NCAA tourney language explainer
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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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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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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.
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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Napheesa Collier had 25 points and 11 rebounds and No. 1 Connecticut remained unbeaten with a 100-49 rout of South Florida on Saturday night.
The Huskies (13-0, 3-0 American Athletic Conference) never trailed, shooting 54 percent from the field and hitting the century mark for the fourth time this season while playing stifling defense in holding USF sta, Kitija Laksa scoreless.
Collier made 12 of 15 shots en route to her fourth double of the season and 21st overall. Katie Lou Samuelson sat out much of the first half with three fouls, but finished with 15 points in 22 minutes. Azura Stevens added 15 points off the bench.
Laksa entered the game ranked second in the AAC in scoring at 21.5 points per game. She missed all 11 shots she attempted, including eight 3-pointers.
Laura Ferreira also had a tough night shooting for USF (12-4, 2-1), missing all nine of her 3-points attempts and finishing 1 for 16 for two points. Overall, the Bulls shot 27.8 percent (20 of 72) from the field, including 7 of 31 (22.6 percent) from 3-point range.
No. 6 BAYLOR 83, KANSAS 48
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kalani Brown scored 22 points and Dekeiya Cohen had 15 to help Baylor rout Kansas for its 11th straight victory.
The Lady Bears’ Big 12-best defense smothered the Jayhawks, limiting them to 28.6 percent shooting.
Lauren Cox added 11 points and 10 rebounds, and Cohen had eight rebounds for Baylor (14-1, 4-0).
Christalah Lyons led Kansas (11-4, 2-2) with 14 points, and Brianna Osorio had 12. Scoring leader Kylee Kopatich was held to seven.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Maite Cazorla hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:32 left and had 18 points to lead No. 9 Oregon over Southern California 70-66 on Friday night.
The Ducks (14-2, 3-0 Pac-12) also got 16 points from Sabrina Ionescu, who was 9 of 10 from the free throw line. Cazorla added six assists.
The Trojans (10-4, 0-3) were led by Aliyah Mazyck’s 21 points. USC leading scorer Kristen Simon was scoreless in the first half but finished with 18 points and eight rebounds.
It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for the Ducks. They started the night averaging 89.2 points per game, fourth-most in the country.
No. 14 UCLA 84, No. 16 OREGON STATE 49
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Monique Billings scored 19 points and UCLA ended Oregon State’s eight-game winning streak.
Billings was 8 of 12 from the field and had six rebounds and three steals for the Bruins (11-3, 2-1 Pac-12). They have won four of their last five.
Marie Gulich had 16 points for Oregon State (11-3, 2-1).
No. 21 VILLANOVA 75, XAVIER 57
VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) — Kelly Jekot scored 10 of her 21 points in the decisive third quarter and Villanova beat Xavier.
Jekot hit three 3-pointers, grabbed five rebounds and had six assists. Megan Quinn had 10 points, and Alex Louin added eight points and a career-high eight assists for Villanova (12-2, 2-2 Big East).
Jada Byrd scored 12 points for Xavier (8-5, 1-2).
No. 25 ARIZONA STATE 80, No. 23 CALIFORNIA 71
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Kianna Ibis scored 26 points and Arizona State beat California.
Jamie Ruden added 14 points, and Robbi Ryan had for 13 for the Sun Devils (12-3, 3-0) in their fifth straight victory.
Asha Thomas had 25 points, and Kristine Anigwe, a junior from Phoenix, added 24 points and seven rebounds for the Golden Bears (10-14, 1-2).
No. 24 STANFORD 61, ARIZONA 46
TUCSON, Ariz. (AP) — Alanna Smith and Kiana Williams had 12 points each for Stanford.
DiJonai Carrington added 10 points and nine rebounds for the Cardinal (9-6, 3-0 Pac-12).
Lucia Alonso scored 15 points Arizona (4-10, 0-3).
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Marina Mabrey scored 21 points, Arike Ogunbowale had 20 despite struggling from the field and No. 2 Notre Dame beat Miami 83-76 victory on Thursday night.
Jessica Shepard had 12 points, Jackie Young added 11 and Kathryn Westbeld scored 10 for the Irish (14-1, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference).
Ogunbowale hit her first shot and then missed her next 12, going 28 minutes without a basket, before scoring on a rebound and hitting a free throw for a 62-57 Irish lead with 7:28 to play.
Erykah Davenport scored 24 points for Miami (11-4, 1-1).
No. 3 LOUISVILLE 66, No. 17 DUKE 60
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Asia Durr had 22 points and came back from a first-half leg injury to grab a key rebound late that helped Louisville survive Duke’s fourth-quarter rally.
Louisville (17-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) appeared in control with a 15-point lead midway through the third quarter. But the Cardinals made just 7 of 26 shots in the second half, allowing Duke (11-4, 0-2) to and get to 63-60 on Haley Gorecki’s 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining.
Gorecki led Duke with a career-high 25 points.
No. 4 SOUTH CAROLINA 88, MISSISSIPPI 62
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — A’ja Wilson had 25 points and 15 rebounds, Alexis Jennings and Doniyah Cliney had 14 points apiece and defending national champion South Carolina beat Mississippi.
The Gamecocks (13-1, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) had an answer for every Rebel rally and eventually pulled away in the fourth quarter. South Carolina shot 38 percent, including 8 for 27 from 3-point range.
Madinah Muhammad scored 29 points for Rebels (10-5, 0-2).
No. 5 MISSISSIPPI STATE 111, ARKANSAS 69
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Victoria Vivians scored 29 points, Morgan William added a season-high 18 and Mississippi State beat Arkansas,
Mississippi State (16-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) broke a fairly tight game open in the third quarter by outscoring Arkansas 30-18. Vivians made all seven of her shots during the run.
Jailyn Mason scored 15 points for Arkansas (10-5, 1-1).
No. 7 TENNESSEE 70, AUBURN 59
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Jaime Nared scored 19 points, Evina Westbrook made a tiebreaking basket with 1:43 left and Tennessee outlasted Auburn to remain unbeaten.
Tennessee (14-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference) withstood a season-high 28 turnovers and continued its best start since winning its first 18 games in 2005-06
Daisa Alexander scored 16 points for Auburn (10-4, 1-1). The Tigers have won seven in a row.
No. 10 OHIO STATE 91, MINNESOTA 75
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Stephanie Mavunga scored 25 points and Kelsey Mitchell added 21 for Ohio State.
Mavunga was sensational in hitting 11 of her 15 shots from the floor and grabbing five rebounds before leaving the game with 7:49 left.
Ohio State (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) won its seventh in a row, including all six games in the month of December. Destiny Pitts led Minnesota (12-4, 1-2) with 28 points.
No. 11 FLORIDA STATE 69, CLEMSON 47
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Nausia Woolfolk scored a career-high 18 points and Florida State beat Clemson for the 17th straight time.
The Seminoles (14-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) have won four straight since their 87-72 loss at No. 8 Texas on Dec. 17. Alexis Carter had 16 points for Clemson (10-5, 0-2).
No. 13 MARYLAND 80, No. 18 IOWA 64
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Kaila Charles scored 12 of her 24 points in the first quarter, and Blair Watson had nine of her 13 in the fourth quarter for Maryland.
Maryland (14-2, 3-0 Big Ten) won its 12th straight and ended Iowa’s winning streak at seven.
Megan Gustafson had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Iowa (14-2, 2-1).
LSU 69, No. 15 MISSOURI 65.
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Chloe Jackson scored 22 points, including four free throws in the last 10.4 seconds, and LSU ended Missouri’s 13-game winning streak.
With Amber Smith scoring 16 of her career-high 27 points in the fourth quarter, Missouri (13-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) erased most of an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter, but LSU (10-3, 2-0) made 8 of 10 free throws to hold on.
Jordan Frericks had 19 points and 15 rebounds for Missouri.
No. 19 TEXAS A&M 74, KENTUCKY 70
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Khaalia Hillsman scored 20 points and Danni Williams added 19 in Texas A&M’s victory over Kentucky.
The Aggies (12-4, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) rebounded from a 61-59 loss to No. 4 South Carolina in on Sunday. Maci Morris scored 22 points for Kentucky (8-8, 0-2).
No. 22 MICHIGAN 80, WISCONSIN 57
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Katelynn Flaherty scored 20 of her 25 points in the second half, Hallie Thome added 20 points and Michigan gave coach Kim Barnes Arico the most wins in school history.
The Wolverines (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten) never trailed en route to giving Barnes Arico her 124th win in six seasons. Barnes Arico had been tied with Sue Guevara.
Courtney Frederickson had 16 points for Wisconsin (7-9, 0-3).
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Katie Lou Samuelson scored 19 points and No. 1 Connecticut routed East Carolina 96-35 on Wednesday.
Gabby Williams added 18 points, Napheesa Collier had 14 points and Azura Stevens matched a season high with 16 rebounds for the Huskies (12-0, 2-0 American Athletic Conference).
They shot 53 percent and scored 31 points off the Pirates’ 20 turnovers while extending their Division I record road winning streak to 42 and winning their 142nd in a row against unranked opponents.
Alex Frazier and Destiny Campbell had eight points apiece for East Carolina (8-7, 0-2).
No. 6 BAYLOR 89, IOWA STATE 49
WACO, Texas (AP) — Natalie Chou had 17 points and hit five of Baylor’s 12 3-pointers and the Lady Bears overwhelmed Iowa State.
Dekeiya Cohen and Lauren Cox each scored 14 points, and Kalani Brown had 13 points and 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double this season. Baylor (13-1, 3-0 Big 12) started the game with a 10-0 run and won its 10th straight. The Lady Bears led by 18 points after the first quarter and had their largest halftime lead ever in a Big 12 game at 52-16.
Bridget Carleton led Iowa State (7-7, 1-2) with 15 points and five rebounds.
No. 8 TEXAS 84, No. 20 OKLAHOMA STATE 79
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — LaShann Higgs scored a career-high 30 points and Brooke McCarty added 21 to help Texas rally late to beat Oklahoma State.
Texas (12-1, 3-0) shot 56 percent and went 12 of 13 from the free throw after not getting to the line until there were less than three minutes left in the third quarter.
Braxtin Miller scored 23 points for Oklahoma State (11-3, 2-1 Big 12), and Loryn Goodwin and Kaylee Jensen each had 20 points.
KANSAS STATE 60, No. 12 WEST VIRGINIA 52
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Peyton Williams had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Kaylee Page scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth quarter and Kansas State handed West Virginia its second straight loss.
The Wildcats (9-5, 1-2 Big 12) had lost three straight. Teama Muldrow had 25 points and 10 rebounds for the Mountaineers (13-2, 1-2). They had won 10 straight at home.
NEW YORK (AP) — One week after seeing its 17-year run in the poll end, Stanford is back in the Top 25.
The Cardinal re-entered the poll at No. 24 on Monday after beating then-No. 11 UCLA and Southern California. Stanford fell out of the poll last week after being ranked in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for 312 consecutive weeks.
It was tied for the third longest streak in the history of the poll.
UConn remained the unanimous No. 1 choice from the 32-member national media panel. The top eight remained unchanged with Notre Dame, Louisville, South Carolina, Mississippi State, Baylor, Tennessee and Texas following the Huskies.
Oregon moved up a spot to ninth and Ohio State is 10th.
Arizona State came back into the poll at No. 25 while South Florida and Green Bay dropped out of the rankings.
The Cardinal and Sun Devils play in Arizona on Sunday.
Other tidbits from the poll:
FALLING PHOENIX: Green Bay fell out of the poll after losing to Northern Kentucky (3-10) this week. It was the first time that the Norse had beaten the Phoenix in program history.
UNBEATENS: And then there were four. UConn, Louisville, Mississippi State and Tennessee are the final four undefeated teams left. Louisville is off to the best start in program history with a 16-0 mark after Sunday’s win over N.C. State.
“I’ve really been proud of our kids, the fight that they’ve shown,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “Now we’ve got to continue to grow.”
UConn visits East Carolina on Wednesday and South Florida on Saturday. Louisville hosts No. 17 Duke and Virginia Tech this week. Mississippi State plays Arkansas and LSU. Tennessee hosts Auburn and Vanderbilt.
NEW YORK (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu closed out 2017 with a record performance.
Oregon’s sophomore guard had her NCAA record eighth career triple-double in the 10th-ranked Ducks victory over Washington on Sunday.
She had 24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to help the Ducks win their fifth straight game. She broke the mark in her 48th career game with an assist on Lexi Bando’s 3-pointer with 1:47 to play.
“It’s pretty surreal to be honest,” Ionescu said. “I don’t think I’ve really realized that I just broke it, but I’m just happy that we won and got better.”
Penn State’s Suzie McConnell (128 games) and Louella Tomlinson (125) of Saint Mary’s shared the mark with Ionescu until Sunday.
It was Ionescu’s fourth triple-double in 15 games this season.
“As long as we continue to win, that’s what’s important to me,” she said. “The triple-doubles just come.
“Coach (Kelly Graves) was joking that I almost got a quadruple-double with my (seven) turnovers, so maybe I should have turned it over a little more and set another record.”
Ionescu’s efforts helped Graves win his 500th game.
Other tidbits from the week:
WINNING IN ATHENS: Mississippi State’s Vic Schaefer walked out of Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum with a win Sunday for the first time in 21 years.
“I have never won here,” said Schaefer, speaking of his time as an assistant coach and as a head coach. “It is good to finally walk off with a victory.”
Teaira McCowan had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the No. 5 team to an 86-62 victory. It was Mississippi State’s first win in Athens, Georgia, since a 72-71 squeaker in 2002.
POLL WATCH: One week after dropping out of the poll for the first time in 17 years, Stanford most likely will come back into the Top 25 after victories over No. 11 UCLA and Southern California.
SLAYING THE PHOENIX: Northern Kentucky beat No. 19 Green Bay on Saturday for the first time in program history after five losses since 2016.
AP Women’s Basketball Poll Week 9
|RANK||TEAM||RECORD||POINTS||FIRST PLACE||BALLOTS||LAST WEEK|
Others Receiving Votes: South Florida 65, Rugers 47, Green Bay 46, Miami 14, New Mexico 14, Syracuse 3, Georgia Tech 3, North Carolina State 2, Brown 1, Virginia Tech 1, DePaul 1, Navy 1
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gabby Williams scored 20 points, making all 10 of her shots, to lead six UConn players in double figures as the top-ranked Huskies routed Memphis 97-49 in the conference opener for both teams Sunday.
Kia Nurse had 16 points and Napheesa Collier added 14 for the Huskies (11-0) who have never lost in 83 American Athletic Conference games.
The win was their 71st straight conference win in the regular season to go along with all four post-season tournament titles.
Brea Elmore had 20 points for Memphis (5-9), which came into the game on a four-game winning streak.
No. 2 NOTRE DAME 96, WAKE FOREST 73
WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — Arike Ogunbowale scored 25 points and Marina Mabrey added 22 to help Notre Dame beat Wake Forest.
The Fighting Irish (13-1, 2-0 ACC) made their first six shots en route to taking a 24-6 lead late in the first quarter. Notre Dame shot 56 percent from the floor to win its sixth straight game since losing at top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 3.
The loss ended a six-game winning streak for Wake Forest (8-6, 0-1), which was led by Elisa Penna’s 24 points.
No. 3 LOUISVILLE 55, NORTH CAROLINA STATE 47
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Myisha Hines-Allen had 17 points and 12 rebounds to help Louisville beat North Carolina State.
Asia Durr also scored 17 points for the Cardinals (16-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who set a program record for most consecutive wins to start a season. With its 16th consecutive victory, Louisville tied the 2013-14 team for the longest winning streak in program history.
Louisville began the game on a 26-1 run as N.C. State missed its first 24 shots from the field. The Cardinals led 41-18 midway through the third quarter and held on after their lead was trimmed to 47-43 late in the fourth.
Kiara Leslie scored 18 points to lead N.C. State (12-3, 1-1).
No. 4 SOUTH CAORLINA 61, No. 22 TEXAS A&M 59
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A’ja Wilson scored 25 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1.3 seconds left, as South Carolina rallied from 11 points down in the final 13 minutes to upend Texas A&M to open Southeastern Conference play.
The Gamecocks (12-1) looked like they were finished as the Aggies (11-4) took a 47-36 lead on Chennedy Carter’s 3-pointer with 2:32 to play in the third quarter. But South Carolina, behind their 6-foot-5 All-American in Wilson, used a 15-2 spurt to go up 51-49.
Texas A&M was not done. Danni Williams’ jumper with 1:05 to go gave the Aggies a final lead, 59-57, before Wilson tied things with a short jumper in the lane.
After two bad turnovers by the Aggies — a 10-second call and a double-dribble violation by Williams’ as she tried to gather in the ball — Wilson came through once more. She drove across the lane and banked in a short basket for the winning points.
Carter finished with 36 points — 19 of those in the third quarter — but was clearly out of gas as the game wound down. She was 1 of 7 in the final period.
No. 5 MISSISSIPPI STATE 86, GEORGIA 62
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Teaira McCowan had 26 points and 13 rebounds to help Mississippi State remain unbeaten with a win over Georgia in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams.
McCowan scored nine of Mississippi State’s (15-0, 1-0 SEC) 16 points in the first quarter when not much else was going right. She gathered in 12 of her 13 rebounds in the first half.
Victoria Vivians added 20 points for State while Roshunda Johnson had 16.
Georgia (12-2, 0-1 SEC) got 13 points from Caliya Robinson and 10 apiece from MacKenzie Engram and Haley Clark.
No. 6 BAYLOR 97, TEXAS TECH 49
WACO, Texas (AP) — Kalani Brown had 26 points and 10 rebounds and Baylor beat Texas Tech.
The Lady Bears (12-1, 2-0 Big 12) turned a one-point deficit in the first quarter into a 25-8 lead with a 17-2 run, and they maintained a double-digit lead the rest of the way. Baylor shot 79 percent (11 for 14) in the first quarter and 53 percent for the game (37 for 70).
Lauren Cox added 21 points and nine rebounds for Baylor, which had a 58-30 advantage in the paint and outrebounded Texas Tech 53-21.
Erin DeGrate scored 12 to lead Texas Tech (6-7, 0-2).
No. 7 TENNESSEE 63, KENTUCKY 49
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Evina Westbrook scored 17 points, Mercedes Russell added 16 and Tennessee started quickly against Kentucky and didn’t let up in rolling to a victory in the Southeastern Conference opener for both schools.
Playing their first game since beating then-No. 18 Stanford 10 days ago, the Lady Vols (13-0) scored the game’s first 10 points and led 26-7 after one quarter. Their lead grew to as many as 23 midway through the third as they remained unbeaten while handing the Wildcats (8-7) their sixth consecutive loss.
Maci Morris had 18 points for the Wildcats.
No. 8 TEXAS 79, No. 9 WEST VIRGINIA 58
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Brooke McCarty scored 17 points and Texas beat West Virginia.
Texas (11-1, 2-0 Big 12) held West Virginia scoreless for seven minutes starting late in the second quarter and without a field goal for more than 12 minutes. The Longhorns put together an 18-0 push during that span. Texas led by 30 in the fourth quarter.
Freshman Rellah Boothe scored a season-best 14 points, converting 6 of 8 shots in 13 minutes. Alecia Sutton scored 11 points, while Jatarie White produced 10 points and nine rebounds.
Naomi Davenport led West Virginia (13-1, 1-1) with 20 points.
No. 10 OREGON 94, WASHINGTON 83
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Sabrina Ionescu set an NCAA record with her eighth career triple-double to lead Oregon to a victory over Washington.
Ionescu had 24 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to help the Ducks (13-2, 2-0 Pac-12) to their fifth consecutive win. She broke the mark in her 48th career game with an assist on Lexi Bando’s 3-pointer with 1:47 to play.
Penn State’s Suzie McConnell and Louella Tomlinson of St. Mary’s shared the mark with Ionescu until Sunday.
Ruthy Hebard added 23 points and 11 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season, and Bando had 20 points.
Amber Melgoza had 23 of her 31 points in the final quarter for the Huskies (6-7, 0-2).
No. 11 UCLA 82, No. 20 CALIFORNIA 46
BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — Monique Billings scored 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for her third straight double-double and UCLA beat California.
Jordin Canada, who is third in the NCAA in assists (5.8), had 16 points and nine assists for UCLA (10-3, 1-1 Pac-12). Kennedy Burke added 10 points, five assists and four steals as the Bruins had 26 assists on 34 field goals.
The Bruins finished the second quarter on a 13-1 run for a 34-19 halftime lead. The Golden Bears were held without a field goal for 9:25 of the second quarter for a record-low-tying four points.
Kristine Anigwe opened Pac-12 play with back-to back double-doubles to pace Cal (10-3, 1-1). She had 15 points and 10 rebounds.
No. 12 OHIO STATE 85, INDIANA 70
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Kelsey Mitchell scored 22 points and Stephanie Mavunga and Linnae Harper turned in double-doubles to lead Ohio State to a victory over Indiana.
Mitchell, the all-time Division-I leader for career 3-pointers, was only 1 of 8 from the arc but 8 of 11 otherwise in passing Penn State’s Kelly Mazzante (2000-04) for second on the Big Ten’s career scoring list with 2,938 points.
Mavunga had 14 points, 16 rebounds and five blocks for her eighth double-double this season with Harper picking up her sixth with 19 points and 10 boards for the Buckeyes (12-2, 2-0 Big Ten).
Tyra Buss scored 24 points and Kym Royster a career-high 22 for the Hoosiers (7-8, 0-2).
No. 13 FLORIDA STATE 103, NORTH CAROLINA 65
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Imani Wright sank a school record eight 3-pointers and finished with a career-best 33 points to propel Florida State to a win over North Carolina in an Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
Wright missed just four of her 12 shots from behind the arc and finished with 11-for-18 shooing overall as Florida State (13-1) dominated from long range, sinking 10 of 20 while holding North Carolina to just 1 for 13.
Shakayla Thomas added 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.
After a tight first quarter, Florida State opened the second quarter with an 18-3 run to make it 41-24 and took a 57-36 advantage into the halftime break.
Janelle Bailey and Paris Kea led North Carolina (10-4) with 17 points apiece.
MIAMI 51, No. 14 DUKE 48
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Erykah Davenport had 13 points and 14 rebounds and Miami picked up a rare win over Duke, outlasting the Blue Devils in an Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
Shaneese Bailey also had 13 points for the Hurricanes (11-3), who are now 3-14 all-time against Duke (11-3), where Miami’s 13-year coach Katie Meier was a standout player. Both teams entered the game with five-game winning streaks.
After Duke’s Leaonna Odom tied the game at 45 with 4:45 remaining, Miami scored its final six points from the foul line, shooting 4 of 6 while going 0 for 3 from the field. Duke missed five straight shots before Lexi Brown swished a 3-pointer from the left corner with 27 seconds left to make it 50-48. The Blue Devils, who lead the ACC at 40 percent behind the arc, were 0 for 8 in the second half and 2 of 14 overall before Brown’s basket.
Duke finished 3 of 16 behind the arc and 19 of 55 overall (24.5 percent) and had 22 turnovers.
No. 15 MARYLAND 69, PENN STATE 65
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Stephanie Jones scored the final four points and Maryland pulled out a win at Penn State, pushing their win streak to 11 games.
Penn State called a 30-second timeout with 1:19 to go and tied at 65, but were unable to inbound and the turnover resulted in Jones getting fouled and going to the line for the first time. She made both free throws and, after a Penn State miss, the Terps went deep into the shot clock before Jones scored with 12 seconds remaining. Penn State missed two final shots.
Penn State is winless against Maryland since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2015.
Maryland (13-2, 2-0 Big Ten) opened conference play by dropping 100 on Illinois Thursday, but the outcome against Penn State (9-6, 0-2) was in doubt until Jones found her shooting touch in the last minute.
No. 16 MISSOURI 62, ALABAMA 57
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Jordan Chavis made four 3-pointers and scored 17 points, Sophie Cunningham added 13 points and Missouri beat Alabama to open SEC play.
Alabama went on an 11-0 run, with eight points from Hannah Cook, to cut Mizzou’s lead to 57-54 with under a minute to play, but Chavis was fouled shooting a 3-pointer with 15.5 seconds left and made all three free throws for a 60-54 lead.
Lauren Aldridge added two 3-pointers and eight points as Missouri (13-1) was 10 of 22 from distance. The Tigers have won 13 straight since a season-opening 79-76 loss to Western Kentucky.
Cook and Shaquera Wade each scored 11 points for Alabama (10-4).
No. 17 OREGON STATE 71, WASHINGTON STATE 53
CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — Kat Tudor hit seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points, both career highs, Marie Gulich and Mikayla Pivec had double-doubles and Oregon State pulled away from Washington State for its eighth-straight win.
Gulich had 22 points and a season-high 14 rebounds and Pivec 10 and 10 for the Beavers (11-2, 2-0 Pac-12), who outscored the Cougars 22-10 in the third quarter after trailing 31-29 at the half.
Chanelle Molina had 13 of her season high 17 points in the first half and Alexys Swedlund added 13 for the Cougars (7-7, 0-2).
No. 23 IOWA 82, No. 21 MICHIGAN 72
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Megan Gustafson had 27 points and 11 rebounds for her NCAA-leading 14th double-double, sophomore Kathleen Doyle set career-highs with 23 points and nine assists, and Iowa beat Michigan.
Iowa (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) is off to its best start since the 1995-96 season when the Hawkeyes opened at 20-1.
Michigan went on a 7-0 run to pull within 64-62 but Iowa answered with an 8-0 spurt, capped by Gustafson’s layup with 1:21 to go. The Hawkeyes’ lead didn’t dip below nine points the rest of the way.
Alexis Sevillian added 10 points on 3-of-13 shooting for Iowa. Gustafson went 11 of 11 from the free-throw line for the second straight game and she was 8 of 9 from the field.
Katelynn Flaherty, ranked seventh nationally with 22.7 points per game, led Michigan (12-3, 1-1) with four 3-pointers and 24 points.
No. 24 OKLAHOMA STATE 76, KANSAS STATE 68
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Loryn Goodwin and Kaylee Jensen had double-doubles and Oklahoma State held on to defeat Kansas State after giving up most of an 18-point lead in the second half.
Goodwin had 21 points and 11 rebounds, Jensen 19 and 18 for the Cowgirls (11-2, 2-0 Big 12), who won their fifth straight. Mandy Coleman scored 17.
Coleman opened the game with two 3-pointers and Oklahoma State opened a 10-0 lead on the Wildcats (8-5, 0-2). It was 19-13 after one quarter and a 10-0 run in the second quarter helped stretch the margin to 19 before KSU cut it to 42-26 at the half.
Kayla Goth had 17 points, Peyton Williams 15 and Rachel Ranke 13 for Kansas State.
No. 25 SOUTH FLORIDA 75, TULANE 46
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Maria Jespersen had 17 points and 11 rebounds and South Florida opened American Conference play with a win over Tulane.
Tamara Henshaw and Kitija Laksa added 14 points apiece and Laia Flores had 11 assists for the Bulls (11-3).
Meredith Schulte led the Green Wave (8-6), who had a three-game winning streak snapped, with 10 points on 5-of-6 shooting. Kolby Morgan, who averages 21.8 points, was held to eight on 3-of-19 shooting.