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Championship Week recap: Day 11’s best game, top player

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Over the next 13 days, the brackets will start to take shape. Teams with no at-large aspirations will make one final push at the post-season. Teams on the bubble will look to assert themselves as worthy members of “The Big Dance”, and contenders will start priming their engines for a national Championship run. While “March Madness” officially begins following Selection Sunday, the real madness starts now.

Until Sunday, March 11,  this will be your home for Championship Week recaps and previews. The players and teams are starting to prepare for March Madness, so you should too.

Game of the Night: Marshall 105, Tulsa 100 3OT
DeAndre Kane played 54 minutes and scored a career-high 40 points in the first triple-overtime game in the history of Conference-USA. Neither team led by more than seven points, nine players fouled out, and the two teams combined to go 68-of-101 from the charity stripe. Kane scored seven points in the final 31 seconds of the second overtime after Tulsa had taken a four point lead. The game featured 21 ties and 19 lead changes. Eric McClellan led the way for the Golden Hurricanes with 25 points and Steven Idlet chipped in with 20 as well.

– They were good too: Cincinnati 72, Georgetown 70 2OT
The Bearcats trailed by double-digits with less than ten minutes left in the game, but rallied back on the broad shoulders of Yancy Gates, who finished with a game high 23 points. The battle down low between Gates and Henry Sims was terrific, as the big-man traded baskets on several possessions. Hoya freshman Otto Porter sent the game into overtime thanks to a tough jumper with 3.6 seconds left. Gates continued to dominate in overtime, and Sims responded by sending the game into a second overtime with a nice running floater that beat the buzzer. Cashmere Wright won the game in the second session thanks to a nice drive from the top of the key. The Hoyas had a chance to win the game, but a Sims 3-point attempt caromed off the rim.

Player of the Night: Perry Jones III, Baylor
Jones’ toughness and willingness to take over a game has been questioned for the past few months. But the sophomore sensation showed his toughness and determination, scoring a career-high 31 points to lead the Bears over Kansas State 82-74 in the Big-XII quarterfinals. Jones scored 21 points and grabbed eight rebounds in the first half alone, and was the main reason the Bears were able to enact some revenge on the Wildcats, who beat Baylor 57-56 three weeks ago. in that meeting, Jones fouled out with just four points and four rebounds.

– He was good too: Jamal Franklin, San Diego State
Jamal Franklin finished with 19 points, including the game-winning buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat Boise State in the MWC quarterfinals. Nearly everybody in the arena knew Franklin would be the guy to take the final shot, yet the Broncos could do very little to stop him, as the sophomore hit a high-arching 3-pointer over a double team. This was the second buzzer-beater Franklin has made this year, has he drained a 3-pointer to defeat UNLV back in January

Team of the Night: Alcorn State Braves
The No.6-seed in the SWAC Tournament defeated No.3-seed Prairie View A&M 103-79 despite committing a season-high 26 turnovers. Four Alcorn State players scored 15 points or more, and the Braves led 50-17 at the end of the first half. The Braves only took eight 3-point attempts and connected on five of them. Ken McDonald led the way with 26 points on 11-of-12 shooting and Matrevious Sanders added 12 points, seven assists and six steals.

Thursday Results

Atlantic Coast Conference First Round
#10 Virginia Tech 68, #7 Clemson 63
#8 Maryland 82, #9 Wake Forest 60
#6 Miami 54, #11 Georgia Tech 36
#5 North Carolina State 78, #12 Boston College 57

Big East Conference Quarterfinals
#7 Louisville 84 #2 Marquette 71
#4 Cincinnati 72, #5 Georgetown 70 2OT
#3 Notre Dame 57, #6 South Florida 53 OT
#1 Syracuse 58, #9 Connecticut 55

Big-Ten Conference First Round
#10 Minnesota 75, #7 Northwestern 68 OT
#8 Iowa 64, #9 Illinois 61
#6 Purdue 79, #11 Nebraska 61
#5 Indiana 75, #12 Penn State 58

Big-XII Conference Quarterfinals
#6 Texas 71, #3 Iowa State 65
#4 Baylor 82, #5 Kansas State 74
#2 Missouri 88, #7 Oklahoma State 70
#1 Kansas 83, #9 Texas A&M 66

Big West Conference Quarterfinals
#7 UC-Irvine 65, #2 Cal State-Fullerton 59
#4 Cal Poly 66, #5 UC-Riverside 54
#3 UC-Santa Barbara 72, #6 Pacific 52
#1 Long Beach State 80, #8 UC-Davis 46

Conference-USA Quarterfinals
#6 Marshall 105, #3 Tulsa 100 3OT
#2 Southern Mississippi 81, #10 East Carolina 78 OT
#4 Central Florida 64, #5 UAB 54
#1 Memphis 65, #8 UTEP 47

Mid-Athletic Conference Quarterfinals
#4 Kent State 76, #8 Western Michigan 72
#3 Ohio 65, #7 Toledo 57

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Quarterfinals
#11 Florida A&M 65, #3 Delaware State 55 OT
#4 Bethune-Cookman 60, #5 North Carolina Central 59

Mountain West Conference Quarterfinals
#4 Colorado State 81, #5 Texas Christian 60
#3 UNLV 56, #6 Wyoming 48
#2 New Mexico 79, #7 Air Force 64
#1 San Diego State 65, #8 Boise State 62

Pac-12 Conference Quarterfinals
#9 Oregon State 86, #1 Washington 84
#6 Colorado 63, #3 Oregon 62
#4 Arizona 66, #5 UCLA 58
#2 California 77, #7 Stanford 71

Southeastern Athletic Conference First Round
#11 Georgia 71, #6 Mississippi State 61
#8 Louisiana State 70, #9 Arkansas 54
#7 Ole Miss 68, #10 Auburn 54
#5 Alabama 63, #12 South Carolina 57

Southland Conference Semifinals
#4 McNeese State 92, #1 UT-Arlington 72
#3 Lamar 55, #2 Stephen F. Austin 44

Southwestern Athletic Conference Quarterfinals
#6 Alcorn State 103, #3 Prairie View A&M 79
#5 Arkansas-Pine Bluff 60, #4 Alabama State 56 OT

Western Athletic Conference Quarterfinals
#6 Hawaii 72 #3 Idaho 70
#5 Louisiana Tech 72, #4 Utah State 70
#2 New Mexico State 65, #7 Fresno State 49
#1 Nevada 54, #8 San Jose State 44

Troy Machir is the managing editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @TroyMachir.

Kansas forward arrested on suspicion of battery

Douglas County Sheriff
Douglas County Sheriff
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Kansas forward Carlton Bragg Jr. was charged today with one count of battery.

According to a press release sent out by the Douglas County district attorney’s office, police received a call around 1 a.m. from a woman who said that “her boyfriend had struck her and pushed her down stairs during an argument.”

The DA also included a note in the statement that, essentially, said the only reason Bragg wasn’t charged with domestic violence – he was initially arrested on suspicion of domestic battery – was due to a technicality. Since the couple is only dating and not married, under Kansas law, the assault does not constitute domestic violence.

Battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.

Bragg, who was still in custody until an appearance in court on Friday afternoon, was held on bond of $500. Bragg plead not guilty.

“We are still trying to gather information,” head coach Bill Self told The Star. “But it is a charge which we take very seriously.”

Bragg is a 6-foot-8 sophomore that lost his spot in the starting lineup earlier this year. He is averaging 7.8 points and 5.3 boards in 16 minutes. No. 3 Kansas hosts Nebraska on Saturday.

St. John’s to lose center to transfer

PHILADELPHIA, PA - FEBRUARY 13: Josh Hart #3 of the Villanova Wildcats has his shot blocked by Yankuba Sima #35 of the St. John's Red Storm at the Wells Fargo Center on February 13, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Villanova won 73-63. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
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Yankuba Sima will transfer out of the St. John’s program, the school announced on Friday.

“I want to thank the coaching staff and the administration for all of their support since I arrived at St. John’s,” said Sima. “I enjoyed my experience at St. John’s, but right now I feel it is best for me to explore options that will be a better fit for me as I work toward my goals.”

“We wish Yankuba the best of luck,” said head coach Chris Mullin. “I know this wasn’t an easy decision for him, but we respect and understand it. He’s a good basketball player and a good person with a bright future ahead.”

Sima started 26 of the 34 games he played with the Johnnies, including eight starts this season. He was averaging 6.0 points and 3.5 boards this year.

Frank Martin comments on Sindarius Thornwell suspension

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 26:  Sindarius Thornwell #0 of the South Carolina Gamecocks drives to the basket defended by Tyler Lydon #20 of the Syracuse Orange in the second half during the Brooklyn Hoops Holiday Invitational at Barclays Center on November 26, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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South Carolina head coach Frank Martin commented on Sindarius Thornwell’s suspension during his call-in show on Thursday.

Thornwell, who was the leading scorer for the 8-0 No. 19 Gamecocks, was suspended indefinitely last Sunday. Martin has yet to provide a reason for the suspension.

“He’s been with us at practice, he’ll travel with us, he’s excited about our team, his role on the team,” he said, according to South Carolina’s 247 site. “Sindarius is one of my favorite guys I’ve ever come across. He messed up and it is what it is. He’s like a son to me. He messed up and he’s owned up to his mess up.”

“Outside of that, I’m not going to get into anything else. He has my full support. Our job is to prepare our team to play, we don’t prepare individual players to play. It’s no different to someone rolling an ankle. We’re down because of a bad decision. We’ll be fine.”

Thornwell is averaging 18.7 points, 6.0 boards and 4.1 assists. The Gamecocks play Seton Hall in New York City on Monday night.

UCF star point guard out indefinitely with thumb injury

STORRS, CT - JANUARY 22: B.J. Taylor #1 of the Central Florida Knights carries the ball up the court in front of Ryan Boatright #11 of the Connecticut Huskies in the first half during the game at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion on January 22, 2015 in Storrs, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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Sophomore guard B.J. Taylor is out indefinitely after suffering a hand injury, UCF head coach Johnny Dawkins confirmed at a press conference earlier today.

According to a report from 247 Sports’ UCF site, the injury is a broken thumb, which was suffered in Saturday’s win over UMass.

Taylor is not expected to miss the rest of the season but will be out for an extended amount of time. He missed all of 2015-16 season dealing with a foot injury.

On the season, Taylor, a 6-foot-2 point guard, was having an all-AAC caliber season, averaging 17.0 points, 5.0 assists and 4.3 boards.

Weekend Preview: Villanova tested by Notre Dame, bounce-backs for Xavier, Butler

Notre Dame's Steve Vasturia (32), Bonzie Colson (35) and V.J. Beachem (3) talk during the second half of a first-round men's college basketball game against Michigan in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 18, 2016, in New York. Notre Dame won 70-63. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
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SATURDAY’S SHOWDOWNS

No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 23 Notre Dame, Sat. 12:00 p.m.: This is a fascinating matchup for a couple of reasons. For starters, this is the first real test that undefeated Notre Dame is going to be getting this season. We honestly have no idea how good the Irish actually are, and you wouldn’t be alone in needing to see a team starting Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson prove it before buying in.

But we also haven’t see Villanova tested in a while, either. They won at Purdue earlier this season and, since then, have more-or-less coasted to their undefeated mark. This will not only be a nice gauge game for Villanova, but it will also be a chance for them to pad an NCAA tournament résumé that will need to be strong for them to get a No. 1 seed this year.

The other part of this that’s fascinating? Both of these teams play small ball. There are going to be times on Saturday where 6-foot-5 Bonzie Colson is playing center and being guarded by 6-foot-5 Kris Jenkins, who will be at center for the Wildcats.

No. 22 Cincinnati at No. 16 Butler, Sat. 4:30 p.m.: Butler could really use this win. Coming off of a road loss to Indiana State during the week, the Bulldogs will be playing back in Hinkle Fieldhouse on Saturday. But here’s the thing: Cincinnati could really use this win as well, and that Bearcat program already owns a road win over Iowa State.

The matchup here will be intriguing as well. Butler plays a more open, run-and-gun style than they did under Brad Stevens. Tyler Lewis is a show-man in transition, as is Kamar Baldwin, and getting Kelan Martin spotting up or attacking a close out is always a good coaching maneuver. Cincinnati is tough and big and physical. They try to wear you down. They pound the glass. They really, really defend. How does Butler handle it?

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FIVE MORE GAMES TO WATCH

  • No. 17 Wisconsin at Marquette, Sat. 2:00 p.m.: In one of the more under-appreciated rivalries in college basketball, Marquette will be looking to land a marquee win to bolster the non-conference portion of their NCAA tournament résumé. Will
    Nigel Hayes continue to play like an all-american?
  • Utah at No. 13 Xavier, Sat. 5:30 p.m.: The Musketeers have lost back-to-back games and are really struggling to shoot the ball from the perimeter. Utah has struggled this season as they have a young roster waiting on a pair of transfers to get eligible.
  • Michigan at No. 2 UCLA, Sat. 8:00 p.m.: UCLA is now a week removed from their win over then-No. 1 Kentucky in Rupp Arena. This will be the first time they see the floor since then. Michigan had the look of a tournament team earlier in the season, but they’ve lost a pair of winnable games in recent weeks.
  • Hofstra vs. No. 6 Kentucky, Sun. 3:00 p.m.: The Wildcats will square off with Hofstra on Sunday, a game that is only really notable because it will be played in the Barclays Center.
  • No. 21 Florida at Florida State, Sun. 4:00 p.m.: The Gators looked the part of an NCAA tournament team when they lost to Duke in New York City on Tuesday. Florida State is more talented, however, but it’s difficult to trust them. This will be a big win for whoever gets it.

FIVE STORY LINES TO FOLLOW

1. Kentucky’s perimeter shooting is officially a concern: The Wildcats are currently shooting 32.2 percent from beyond the arc, which is 254th nationally. The only real threat they have from three in their starting lineup is Malik Monk, and he’s streaky. They can play Derek Willis at the four, but Willis is such a step-down on the defensive end of the floor from Wenyen Gabriel that it may not end up being a net-positive to play him, not when the Wildcats rely so heavily on their defense to create offense in transition.

I’m not sure what the answer is. I’m not even sure there is an answer. This is just what Coach Cal has to work with this season. Can they improve? Probably. The great thing about being a bad shooting team is that shooting is the easiest thing to develop. Teams without size can’t get bigger. Teams without athleticism can’t get more athletic. The only problem? There are just four months left of the season. How much better can Kentucky really get?

One thing worth noting here: The 2010 Kentucky team, the one with John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe, the one that lost in the Elite 8 because of their shooting issues, finished the season making 33.1 percent of their threes.

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 07:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on December 7, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
De’Aaron Fox (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

2. Let’s see if Notre Dame is for real: The Fighting Irish are one of nine undefeated teams left in college basketball, but as good as they have been this season, Mike Brey’s club still hasn’t really beaten anyone. The Colorado win looks better after the Buffaloes beat Xavier. Beating Fort Wayne, the team that upset Indiana, is good. Northwestern and Iowa are Big Ten teams.

But none of those four wins – none of Notre Dame’s nine wins – have come against a team we know will be in the NCAA tournament. We know Villanova will be, and the interesting thing about this matchup is how well the two teams matchup, particularly up front. Neither the Irish nor the Wildcats have much size inside. If Notre Dame can pull off the upset, it will be time to start talking about them much more.

3. UCLA’s first action since the win at Kentucky: The last time that we saw the Bruins take the court they put up 97 points on Kentucky in Rupp Arena. That’s pretty good. It’s also an easy way to get a big head, especially for a team that has so many freshmen on the roster. UCLA will face off with Michigan at home on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how they come out early on in this one.

4. Bounce-back chances for Big East programs: No. 13 Xavier has lost two games in a row now, both of them coming on the road. They were felled at No. 4 Baylor before getting dropped at Colorado on Wednesday. The Musketeers will host Utah, a winnable game that could help them find a rhythm shooting the ball.

No. 16 Butler is coming off of a loss of their home, having been upset at Indiana State by the Sycamores. The Bulldogs will have a bigger test than the Musketeers, as they host a top 25 team in No. 22 Cincinnati.

5. Jonathan Isaac’s health, Florida State’s tournament hopes?: Isaac is the forgotten top ten pick. He’s been terrific this season and has a chance to play his way into the top ten if he continues doing what he’s been doing, but he’s missed the last two games with a hip injury. This is an important game for the Seminoles, as they host Florida this weekend. Will Isaac be available?