Late Night Snacks: Gators beat Gators in our Game of the Night

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Yeah, you read that right.

Game of the Night

No. 8 Arizona 65, No. 5 Florida 64 – Mark Lyons hit a crazy floater, and Florida kept a timeout in the pocket while going for the last-second shot in an epic comeback at the McKale Center. Arizona was down 64-58 at home when Scotty Welbekin hit a three-pointer with 2:44 left in the second half. The Gators would not score again, tossing up a barrage of missed treys and turning the ball over three times as the game slipped away. Solomon Hill dropped 18 for the victorious home team.

Meaningful Outcomes

No. 3 Michigan 81, West Virginia 66 – The John Beilein Invitational Brooklyn Hoops Winter Festival was won by the school currently coached by John Beilein, at the expense of the school formerly coached by John Beilein. Following a big week seven days ago, Kevin Noreen reverted back to his bench-warmer ways, while Michigan’s Trey Burke played like Superman yet again, posting 27 points, five boards, eight assists and three steals. The Wolverines moved to 11-0 and should be the nation’s No. 2 team behind Duke come Monday.

No. 4 Syracuse 85, Canisius 61 – The Orange also look to move up by staying undefeated at 9-0. Jim Baron’s Golden Griffins actually led the game twice in the first half, but ‘Cuse turned on the gas in the second behind James Southerland’s 21-point explosion. Michael Carter-Williams continued his positively ridiculous passing exhibition, posting 14 assists in the win.

No. 9 Kansas 89, Belmont 60 – We know Belmont is a strong, well-coached team, but they weren’t likely to win in Allen. Still a worthy result, as Kansas saw more of the spot-shooting of Andrew White III, who put up 15 (3-5 from deep) in the big win. Jeff Withey, Ben McLemore and Elijah Johnson cracked double figures as well.

No. 14 Gonzaga 68, Kansas State 52 – Kelly Olynyk led the Zags with 20 in their bounce-back win after losing to Illinois at home last week. The big man fouled out with five minutes left in the game, but it made no difference. Only Angel Rodriguez came to play for the Wildcats, scoring 14 points in the Battle in Seattle loss.

Starred

Trey Burke – 27 points sounds like something a gunner would do, but Burke kept his teammates involved by dishing eight assists as well. He didn’t slack on defense, either, knocking away three steals from the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Alex Barlow – Barlow and Rotnei Clarke combined for 25 points on the night. Of course, Barlow was only responsible for six of those, but his gritty two at the end, when more talented teammates were blanketed by the Hoosiers, were the stuff that legends are made of.

Five Eagles – Georgia Southern waltzed into Blacksburg, VA and dealt a stinging loss to Virginia Tech. The Eagles of the SoCon got just two points from their bench, and every starter was in double figures, led by C.J. Reed’s 22.

Struggled

Kenny Boynton – Boynton was 1-7 from behind the arc at the McKale Center, but he refused to stop gunning. It was Boynton who missed consecutive three-pointers in the waning minutes of the game when the Gators needed high-percentage shots, and it was Boynton who missed his only free throw of the night during that same stretch. In late-game minutes, situational awareness >>>>> cojones.

D.J. Cooper – Ohio’s star player had a bad night against Winthrop, hitting just three of his twelve shots from the floor, and one of three from the stripe. His eight-point performance came at a lousy time, as the Eagles nipped the Bobcats by one point, 50-49.

Southern Methodist – The Mustangs got straight clowned by Rhode Island, who came into the game 2-7. 22 turnovers, with a full 15 coming from the starting guards, handed the Rams an easy 72-50 win over an SMU team that started the season riding high.

Tweet of the Night

No. 2 Michigan State beats Wisconsin, wraps up Big Ten

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 20 points and went 6 for 6 from the 3-point line, and No. 2 Michigan State held off Wisconsin 68-63 on Sunday to earn the outright regular-season Big Ten title.

Winston hit two 3s during an 11-2 run in the second half — the second with a defender in his face from well beyond the arc — to lead the Spartans (28-3, 16-2).

Brad Davison finished with 30 points for Wisconsin (14-17, 7-11), including a 3 with 4.7 seconds left that had hometown fans holding out hope for an upset.

Miles Bridges wrapped up the Spartans’ 12th straight win with two foul shots.

It was a milestone victory in what has been a challenging season off the court for Michigan State basketball.

One issue involved Bridges. The star forward had 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting in his first game since getting cleared by the NCAA following a Yahoo! Sports article on Friday that identified him as one of many players who may have received improper benefits.

Winston and Nick Ward, who had 14 points, picked up the scoring slack. Winston’s 3 with 4:45 left gave the Spartans a 58-51 lead, a huge cushion in what had been a tight game.

Davison nearly single-handedly brought Wisconsin back, giving the Badgers a huge boost even after aggravating a left shoulder injury. The freshman sprinted to the locker room with a trainer with about 14 minutes left before returning a couple minutes later and checking right back into the game to rousing applause.

He scored Wisconsin’s next six points, popping perimeter jumpers to electrify an already vocal home crowd in the regular season finale.

The teams dueled the rest of the way until Bridges’ late foul shots.

Michigan State muscled its way to a 34-27 halftime lead by taking control of the paint early before softening up the perimeter for Winston. The sophomore sharpshooter made 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in the first half, with a couple buckets coming quickly in transition.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Documents in the Yahoo! story showed that the star forward may have improperly accepted benefits from an agency implicated in a federal investigation into bribery and other misdeeds in college basketball. The team said Saturday that the school’s compliance office conducted a “thorough internal review” and presented findings to the NCAA, which then cleared Bridges. … The Spartans had too much bulk up front for Wisconsin, building an early edge on points in the paint and finishing with a 40-28 edge on the boards.

Wisconsin: The team honored three reserve seniors in its final regular-season game, including fifth-year forward Aaron Moesch. He is the last link to the Badgers’ back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and ’15, a little-used backup on each of those squads. The Badgers’ reliance on freshmen to play key roles in the rotation, especially in the backcourt, led to growing pains this season. They’ve shown signs of maturity of late, winning three straight games before Sunday.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Opens play in the conference tournament in New York on Friday after earning a double bye as the top seed.

Wisconsin: Locked into the Big Ten tourney as the No. 9 seed, where it will play Maryland on Thursday.

No. 11 Cincinnati rallies for 82-74 win over Tulsa

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Gary Clark led a 24-4 run that put Cincinnati ahead to stay early in the second half, and the 11th-ranked Bearcats held on for an 82-74 victory over Tulsa on Sunday that preserved their one-game lead in the American Athletic Conference heading into the final week.

Cincinnati (25-4, 14-2) stayed ahead of No. 13 Wichita State (23-5, 13-3) in the race for the regular-season title. The Shockers won on Cincinnati’s home court 76-72 a week ago.

Wichita State plays at UCF on Thursday and hosts Cincinnati next Sunday in a potential showdown game. The Bearcats play at Tulane on Thursday before heading to Wichita State.

The Bearcats struggled defensively, giving up a season-high 14 3-pointers, but made a season-high 15 from beyond the arc. Clark and Jarron Cumberland had 17 points apiece.

Tulsa (17-11, 10-7) led by eight points early in the second before Clark scored during the decisive run. Junior Etou scored 21 for Tulsa, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

Cincinnati completed its season playing at Northern Kentucky University while its on-campus arena is renovated, going 14-1 at BB&T Arena.

BIG PICTURE

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane is wrapping up a regular season that marks a step up for the program. Tulsa went 15-17 last season and 8-10 in the AAC, finishing seventh. It’s fourth in the league with two games to go.

Cincinnati: Even though the Bearcats rank second nationally in defense, they’d given up a lot of open shots in the previous two games, a concern to coach Mick Cronin. The Golden Hurricane got plenty of those, too, while shooting 59 percent in the first half. The Golden Hurricane led 47-44 at the break, the most points Cincinnati has allowed in a half this season.

UP NEXT

Tulsa: Golden Hurricane plays at East Carolina on Thursday. Tulsa opened AAC play by beating ECU 79-53 on Dec. 28.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats have won four straight and 14 of 15 against Tulane, including a 78-61 victory last season.

Bubble Banter: Sunday Funday on the bubble

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As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

TEMPLE
UCLA
PENN STATE
NEBRASKA
N.C. STATE

Georgia’s Mark Fox ‘disgusted’ by investigation into college basketball

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Georgia head coach Mark Fox did not hold back when asked about the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, calling is “disgusting” and pleading with coaches and the institutions that employ them to do right.

“It starts with our coaches, and then you ask how the NCAA has handled it,” Fox said. “The NCAA is made up of member institutions. How are the institutions handling it? That’d be my first question. How are they handling it? Putting their head in the sand and looking the other way? I’m past anger, sadness. It’s just disgusting, and we’re really hurting the game, and the game has been so good to everybody.”

Fox is in a difficult position. He’s regarded as one of the nicer coaches in the business and is considered to be ‘clean’. He team also appears headed for another NIT, which could end up costing him his job.

“We’ve had some situations where we didn’t get players because of that reason, and other teams have, too,” Fox said.

“I’m disgusted,” he added. “I’m disgusted with how people have treated our game. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Cuonzo Martin: ‘No timetable’ for a Michael Porter Jr. return

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There still is not clarity on whether or not Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. will return to the court this season.

On Saturday, he participated in Missouri’s shootaround at Kentucky but did not run through warmups and did not play in the game.

“I don’t have a timeline,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said after Saturday’s 87-66 loss. “He wants to play.”

“We have to make sure he’s ready to go.”

Porter has only had one full practice since he underwent surgery on his back in November, and that came on Friday. A source confirmed to NBC Sports that Porter was, in fact, cleared for full contact on Thursday afternoon after a visit with a doctor.

Porter is expected to continue practicing with the team. He told reporters earlier this month that he would like to get a few games prior to the start of tournament play if he happens to take part in any games.