The 15 best games from the 2011-2012 season

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1. December 10th: Indiana 73, No. 1 Kentucky 72: After the rematch that took place in the Sweet 16, we should all be well-versed in what happened on that Saturday afternoon. Indiana took advantage of foul trouble for Anthony Davis and a poor showing from Terrence Jones to jump ahead by as many as ten points during the second half, but Kentucky came storming back to take the lead in the final seconds. After missing a couple of free throws late, Kentucky missed on a chance to foul the Hoosiers when they were up two on the final possession, setting up this memorable buzzer-beater from Christian Watford.

There was more to this game than the simple fact that Indiana and Kentucky, two heated rivals, were playing. The Hoosiers made a statement for themselves that they were back and once again relevant nationally.

2. February 25th: No. 3 Kansas 87, No. 5 Missouri 86 OT: Playing in what could end up being the final edition of the Border War, the Tigers and the Jayhawks certainly did not disappoint. Missouri opened up a 19 point lead early in the second half, but Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor led Kansas back. The Jayhawks finished their rally when Robinson scored a three-point play with 16 seconds left. In overtime, Kansas jumped out to a lead, answering every Marcus Denmon jump shot, before Taylor won the game with two free throws with 8.3 seconds left.

3. December 3rd: No. 1 Kentucky 73, No. 5 North Carolina 72: This game had more preseason hype than any this year, and it certainly did not disappoint. The Tar Heels got up early and went into the halftime break with a 43-38 lead, but the Wildcats came back in the second half. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist had a bit of a coming out party, finishing with 17 points and 11 boards, but it was Anthony Davis’ block of a John Henson jumper with six seconds left that sealed the game. UNC missed an opportunity to foul in the final seconds and extend the game.

4. February 8th: No. 9 Duke 85, No. 5 North Carolina 84: The Blue Devils hung around with a very impressive first half, but UNC seemed to turn things on in the second half of the first battle between the two Tobacco Road rivals this year. The Tar Heels kept control of the game, but couldn’t seem to pull away down the stretch, allowing Duke to stay within 8-to-10 points. That cost them, as the Blue Devils used an impressive run to erase a 10 point lead in the final 2:30. The comeback was capped with a 3-pointer from Austin Rivers at the buzzer.

5. February 4th: No. 4 Mizzou 74, No. 8 Kansas 71: In the first game of the rivalry this season, it was Missouri’s opportunity to make a run and comeback on the Jayhawks. Down eight with three minutes left in the game, the Tigers went on an 11-0 run sparked by Marcus Denmon. He hit two ridiculous three and also finished a 3-point play in that stretch.

6. March 16th: No. 15 Norfolk State 86, No. 2 Missouri 84: Like any upset of a No. 2 seed, Norfolk State just refused to go away. Every time it looked like the Tigers were going to make a bit of a run, the Spartans would answer with s tough pull-up jumper or a banked-in three. Missouri just couldn’t escape. With the score finally tied and just under a minute left, Kyle O’Quinn — who finished with 26 points and 14 boards — followed up a missed shot with an and-one, and Norfolk State had their win.

7. November 30th: UNLV 94, UCSB 88 2OT: The wildest part about this game is that it wasn’t even on TV. UNLV, fresh off of their upset of then-No. 1 North Carolina, got the best that Orlando Johnson had to offer, as he finished with 36 points. UCSB forced the first OT when they missed the second free throw and tied it on an offensive rebound putback with just a second left. The second overtime was forced with Chace Stanback hit a game-tying three with 1.7 seconds left. UNLV pulled away in overtime.

8. March 22nd: No. 1 Syracuse 64, No. 4 Wisconsin 63: Wisconsin was absolutely unconscious from three, hitting 14-27 on the game and making six in a row on six straight possessions midway through the second half. But through it all, Syracuse never went away, managing to take a one point lead into the final possession. Unfortunately for the Badgers, they couldn’t make a 15th three, as Jordan Taylor missed at the buzzer in the Sweet 16.

9. March 8th: Cincinnati 72, No. 14 Georgetown 70 2OT: The Hoyas and the Bearcats traded haymakers down the stretch as Cincinnati outlasted Georgetown when a Henry Rims three bounced harmlessly off the rim.

10. February 14th: George Mason 62, VCU 61: Mason erased a five-point lead in the final minute despite the fact that VCU went 5-6 from the free throw line and didn’t commit a single turnover. The game ended like this.

11. November 30th: No. 22 Creighton 85, San Diego State 83: Doug McDermott scored 25 points and grabbed 12 boards as Creighton fought all the way back from 17 down in the first half at Viejas Arena. SDSU was down three in the final seconds, but Creighton opted to foul.

12. March 18th: No. 6 Cincinnati 62, No. 3 Florida State 56: Cincy capped off a comeback when Dion Dixon slammed home a dunk off of a steal to give the Bearcats the lead for good with 1:32 left in the game.

13. January 12th: Manhattan 75, Iona 72: Manhattan was down 18 points with eight minutes left in the game, but they managed to put together a furious rally to knock off the Gaels at home. The run was capped by this game winning three.

14. February 18th: Creighton 81, Long Beach State 79: Doug McDermott scored 36 points and grabbed 11 boards as the Bluejays fought back at home in their BracketBusters game with the 49ers. Antoine Young ended up hitting the game-winning shot with 0.3 seconds left.

15. January 7th: Stanford 103, Oregon State 101 4OT: With 37 seconds left in the fourth overtime, Chasson Randle scored his 24th point to give the Cardinals the win over the Beavers. 12 players scored in double figures.

Grand Canyon lands Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson

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Grand Canyon landed an important piece for its NCAA tournament push on Saturday night as Oregon graduate transfer guard Casey Benson pledged to the Antelopes.

The 6-foot-3 Benson will be eligible right away as spent the past three seasons with the Ducks as a key reserve guard, helping Oregon to multiple deep NCAA tournament runs. Benson picked Grand Canyon over Wisconsin for his final season of college basketball as Benson’s brother, T.J., is an assistant coach with the Antelopes.

Benson shot 40 percent from three-point range last season while also being a steady ball handler over the course of his career at Oregon as he has only 81 career turnovers in over 2,600 career minutes with the Ducks. While Benson wasn’t asked to score a lot for a loaded Oregon team that featured multiple bucket-getters, he could be asked to do more at Grand Canyon.

Grand Canyon is eligible for the NCAA tournament for the first time next season as the addition of Benson gives them an experienced guard who should be more of a factor in the WAC. The Antelopes are coming off of a 22-9 season in which they finished 11-3 in conference play.

With great facilities and a quickly-growing fan base, head coach Dan Majerle has the potential makings of a perennial mid-major conference contender if he continues to recruit well to Grand Canyon.

Colorado adds commitment from Class of 2017 point guard McKinley Wright

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Colorado landed one of the best available point guards for next season on Friday as Class of 2017 floor general McKinley Wright committed during an official visit.

A former Dayton commit who opted out of his recruitment after former head coach Archie Miller took the Indiana job, Wright was one of the best available point guards left as he played last weekend on the adidas Gauntlet in front of college coaches with D1 Minnesota.

The 6-foot-0 Wright gives the Buffaloes another ball handler and distributor as he was Minnesota’s Mr. Basketball during this past season. As a senior, Wright averagedΒ 22.9 points, 8.1 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.

It’s always hard to say if spring recruits who elevate a level in recruiting after decommitting are making the correct decision, but Wright looked the part of a high-major lead guard last weekend, and Colorado wasn’t the only high-major program that was pushing hard to add Wright at this late stage.

Oral Roberts to hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills

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Oral Roberts has found its new head coach as they will hire Baylor assistant coach Paul Mills, as first reported by NBCSports.com’s Rob Dauster.

Mills had been on staff with the Bears since 2003 as he’s been a big factor in why head coach Scott Drew has been able to turn around that program. A graduate of Texas A&M, Mills has been a full-time assistant at Baylor since the 2009 season.

“I am honored to accept this role of representing this historic institution, its students and its mission,” Mills said in a release. “Making this commitment today is a highlight of my career and I look forward with excitement to the basketball season directly ahead. Go Golden Eagles.”

Mills will replace former head coach Scott Sutton, who was relieved of his duties this offseason after 18 years at the helm.

 

Iowa commit Connor McCaffery to redshirt in basketball to pursue baseball

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Iowa commit Connor McCaffery is in a unique spot when he starts his freshman year in Iowa City next year.

Not only is the 6-foot-4 guard the son of basketball head coach Fran McCaffery, while being a four-star national basketball prospect, but Connor also has a bright future in baseball.

There was a lot of speculation as to what Connor might do for his future in athletics and he gave more clarification on what he might be looking to do on Friday.

McCaffery has decided to redshirt in basketball next season to focus on the beginnings of his baseball career at Iowa. A walk-on for both sports, the move enables Connor McCaffery to potentially play three years of basketball with his younger brother, Patrick, who is also a heralded basketball recruit for Iowa. This move also gives Connor the best chance to pursue both sports while he’ll also help out a young Iowa basketball team with its tough scholarship scenario.

Butler, Chris Holtmann agree to a contract extension

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Butler has agreed to a contract extension with head coach Chris Holtmann, the school announced on Friday, that will keep him under contract through 2025.

“Butler truly is a special place, and my family and I are thankful to be part of a great academic institution and an athletics department that is a source of pride for those who embrace Butler and The Butler Way,” said Holtmann. “Our student-athletes, our staff, and so many throughout our campus are remarkable at what they do, and I’m excited to continue to work alongside them.”

Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Sweet 16. In three years with the program, Holtmann has a record of 70-31.

“Chris is a tremendous ambassador for Butler and the Butler Way, and his leadership has resulted in success both on and off the court for the talented young men in our program,” said Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier. “This commitment – both by our university and by Chris – allows the momentum within our program to continue.”

Holtmann was in the mix for a couple of jobs this spring, including N.C. State and Missouri.