Brad Tinsley, Bradley Beal

Florida back in the Elite Eight with win over Marquette

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Bradley Beal had 21 points, six boards, four assists, two steals and two blocks while shooting 8-10 from the floor as No. 7 seed Florida advanced past No. 3 seed Marquette 68-58 and into the Elite Eight.

It is the second straight year that Florida has made it to the Regional Final, and while that’s nowhere near as impressive as winning back-to-back national titles, it should put some of the rumblings that “Billy Donovan has lost it” to rest.

Perhaps the most impressive part of the win for the Gators was that they did it despite Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combining to shoot 5-19 from the floor. If anything, this game should tell you that this Florida team is at their best when they play through Brad Beal. He’s the most consistent player the Gators have on their roster.

The other guy that deserves a ton of credit for this win is Patric Young. He didn’t score much, but he did grab five offensive rebounds. Young also made one of the biggest plays of the game. With just over two minutes left, he grabbed an offensive rebound after Marquette had cut what was once a 14 point lead to six. Marquette ended up with Jamil Wilson guarding Walker, and when the Golden Eagles tried to switch, Walker attacked, pulling up for what turned out to a dagger. He drilled a three to push the lead to nine.

As has been the norm in this tournament, the game ended with some controversy. With less than a minute left, an errant elbow from Boynton caught Wilson in the face. The referees went to the monitor to review it, but instead of calling a flagrant foul on the Florida guard, they ruled that the elbow was a “basketball play” and gave Florida two free throws.

If a flagrant 1 had been called, which many believed would have been the correct call, Marquette would have gotten two free throws and the ball back.

Florida will advance to play No. 4 seed Louisville, who knocked of No. 1 seed Michigan State, for the right to go to the Final Four. It sets up one of the most intriguing matchups of the tournament — Billy Donovan taking on his mentor and former head coach Rick Pitino.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.

Creighton lands 2016 combo guard

Greg McDermott
Associated Press
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Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.

News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.

Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.

Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.

Three-star power forward commits to WVU

Bob Huggins
Associated Press
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Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.

6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.

West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.

Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.