Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched

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Games of the Night

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89 (OT)

Kansas trailed by six points with close to four minutes remaining, but freshman Ben McLemore hit a clutch bank three-pointer with one second remaining to tie the game at 79-79. The Jayhawks controlled overtime and got the victory. McLemore finished with 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Both Kevin Young and Jeff Withey posted double-doubles for Kansas. Credit Iowa State, though, for staying in the game and giving Kansas a challenge. Six players scored in double figures for the Cyclones, including a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds from Melvin Ejim.

Boise State 63, Wyoming 61

Down by one point with just over nine seconds remaining, Boise State brought the ball up the floor and set up for the win. Igor Hadziomerovic drove the baseline after getting a hand-off on the wing and kicked it out to Jeff Elorriaga, who buried a three at the buzzer to win it. Wyoming loses on its home floor and its previously unblemished record is no more. Elorriaga finished with 18 points.

Also of Note: Towson 99, William & Mary 86 (2OT)

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

The Orange struggled to pull away from the scrappy Friars on Wednesday night, but C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams were able to lead their team to a win. Fair finished with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds.

2. No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

We know the Big Ten is going to be a battle all season long, but No. 8 Minnesota has now distinguished itself as perhaps the legitimate third contender in the conference behind No. 2 Michigan and No. 5 Indiana. Joe Coleman had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Gophers.

3. No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

Butler got its first taste of what Atlantic 10 conference play is like and responded with a hard-fought win. Rotnei Clarke had 28 points to pace the Bulldogs from the perimeter and Andrew Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds on the interior. Brad Stevens has his team rolling after it knocked off No. 1 Indiana.

Starred

1. Ben McLemore, Kansas (33 points, 10-of-12 FG, 6-of-6 3pt FG)

McLemore played with the poise of a seasoned veteran in his team’s gusty win over Iowa State Wednesday night. He was a perfect 6-of-6 from behind the three-point line and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Kansas needed a hero to beat the Cyclones, and McLemore was there to deliver. NBA scouts are taking notice.

2. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (39 points, 13-of-19 FG)

The Missouri Valley is turning out to be another wild conference and Early’s 39 points kept No. 23 Wichita State from being upset at the hands of a Southern Illinois team that is now 0-4 in conference play. He added six rebounds and two blocks, as well.

3. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State (20 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks)

To go along with that impressive stat line, he led the Aztecs to a win and had this ridiculous dunk, throwing the ball to himself off the backboard and slamming it home. Franklin continues to distinguish himself as one of the best players in the Mountain West and will undoubtedly be in the conversation for Conference Player of the Year.

Also of Note: Jerrelle Benimon, Towson (26 points, 12 rebounds) | Jeff Elorriaga (18 points, Game-winning buzzer beater) | Mike Fitzgerald, Air Force (30 points, 9-of-10 FG)

Struggled

1. Dez Wells, Maryland (2-of-9 FG, 5 points)

In a three-point loss to Florida State, Wells’ lack of production hurt Maryland. He was seven points off his season average and was never able to find his rhythm against the Seminoles.

2. California’s scoring combo, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs (Combined 7-of-27 FG, 18 points)

Already working through injuries, coach Mike Montgomery turns to Crabbe and Cobbs for an average of 37 points per game together. Both struggled from the floor against Washington, leading to a 15-point loss in Berkeley.

Three Facts 

1. The Mountain West Conference is going to be the best conference in the country west of the Mississippi River this season. If Wednesday night is any indication (New Mexico tough win over UNLV, San Diego State escaping vs. Fresno, Boise State sinking Wyoming), the conference tournament in Las Vegas is going to be wild.

2. Kansas extended its winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse to 31 straight games with its win over Iowa State.

3. Towson beat William & Mary in double overtime, 99-86. The Tigers have now won four straight, the first time that has happened since 2000.

Marshall Henderson Shot Tracker

Ole Miss’ Henderson finished with 32 points in a win over Tennessee on Wednesday night, but shot just 3-of-12 from three-point range. He was helped by his ability to get to the line, going 13-of-14 from the stripe.

Top 25 Scores

No. 2 Michigan 62, Nebraska 47

No. 3 Louisville 73, Seton Hall 58

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89

No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

No. 11 Florida 77, Georgia 44

No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

VIDEO: Luke Maye gets standing ovation in class after game-winning shot

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You want to talk dedication to ones studies?

How about this: Luke Maye, just 13 hours after hitting a game-winning shot to beat Kentucky in the Elite 8, got a standing ovation in his Business 101 class at 8 a.m. on Monday morning.

Check out the video:

Luke, you’re a celebrity now. Going to an 8 a.m. class after your weekend heroics is iffy at best, but if you’re going to do it, we need you to start dressing a little better than this.

VIDEO: De’Aaron Fox, Bam Adebayo inconsolable after Elite 8 loss

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Bam Adebayo and De’Aaron Fox, the two freshmen on Kentucky’s roster that aren’t Malik Monk, were sitting next to each other in the locker room following Kentucky’s loss to North Carolina on Sunday night, and the Wildcat stars were inconsolable.

As weird as this may sound, and as tough as that video is to watch at times, I love it. The problem with one-and-done kids is that it, at times, feels like they’re mercenaries, that they are players that are strictly in college because they have to be, because they can’t make millions in the NBA yet.

Fox and Adebayo certainly do fall into that category, but it doesn’t come with the typical shortcomings.

They clearly care about their school, about their teammates and about that loss.

I’ve grown cynical, I guess, and while I’ll readily admit that video was too tough for me to watch in its entirety, it is refreshing to see just how much they care.

Even if they are only making a seven month stop over in Lexington.

VIDEO: Kentucky, UNC fans react to insane finish to Elite 8 game

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The finish last night between No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Kentucky was one of the greatest and most exhilarating endings to a basketball that we’ve seen in the NCAA tournament.

It was capped by Luke Maye answering Malik Monk’s jumper with a jumper of his own, sending the Tar Heels to the Final Four for the second straight season.

That’s a roller coaster of emotions to go through in 10 seconds, and perhaps no one embodies that more than the dude in the No. 11 jersey here:

(Does anyone know him? Can we confirm he’s OK?)

Anyway, that emotion was nothing compared to what the Kentucky team went through. De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo were inconsolable in the locker room after the game:

North Carolina fans, however, were just a little bit happier:

Like his career, Frank Martin has built South Carolina from the ground up

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NEW YORK — It was after he finished watching South Carolina cut down the Madison Square Garden nets, after he had spent the better part of 30 minutes giving interviews on the court, after he was spotted by the CBS cameras, with a fist raised and tears pooling under his eyes, that the enormity of what he had just witnessed hit Darius Rucker.

“Gosh,” he said to everyone and no one in particular as he left the arena floor and made his way through the bowels of the Garden, “I can’t believe that just happened.”

The ‘that’ that Rucker, South Carolina’s most famous and, quite possibly, biggest fan, was referring to was a 77-70, come-from behind win over No. 4 seed Florida that jettisoned the seventh-seeded Gamecocks through the Elite 8 and into the Final Four. Prior to this season, the Gamecocks hadn’t been to the NCAA tournament in 13 years. They had been to four NCAA tournaments in the previous 43 seasons, and they had never won back-to-back tournament game.

As in not ever.

“We’re in the Garden, watching the Gamecocks play to go to the Final Four,” Rucker said. “If you’d have told me that ten years ago I’d have told you that you were on crack.”

That’s the program that Frank Martin inherited in 2012, when he left Kansas State following a falling out with his athletic director, John Currie. Like South Carolina, Kansas State was hardly considered a destination job when Martin was at the helm, but he was able to build off of a foundation created by Bob Huggins. Martin had been to four NCAA tournaments in five years with Kansas State when he made the decision to leave. Nothing is more important to Martin than loyalty. “He’s always had a core group of people that he’s counted on,” his agent, Bret Just, said, and Currie was not one of those people.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came during the 2012 NCAA tournament. Kansas State was a No. 8 seed, squaring off with No. 1 seed Syracuse when Martin was informed by Currie that Jamar Samuels, one of his best players, would not be allowed to suit up. The school had stumbled upon information that Samuels had received a wire transfer for $200 from his AAU coach, and he was going to be suspended.

And that was that.

Martin was off to South Carolina.

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

“It was a situation where we had to go,” associate head coach Matt Figger, who has been with Martin for the last decade, said, and it wasn’t exactly the easiest or smartest decision to leave. Most understood why Martin had to make the change that he made — he was offered a hefty raise and he had the chance to leave a place of employment where he did not get along with his boss — but it wasn’t as if Martin was climbing the ladder. If anything, South Carolina was a step backwards, as Martin took over a program with less pedigree and with a significant building job in front of them.

“I didn’t really know until I got into it. It was a much different deal. It looked easier on the surface than what it really was,” Figger said. “The best players transferred. Bruce Ellington, he’s with the 49ers now, he was the one guy that we could trust and he played football half the year. Couple of the guys that were the holdovers, I don’t think they believed in what our vision was. After a year, some of them left.”

“We had to start this from scratch.”

The process was slow in the early stages. Martin replaced Darrin Horn, who had won just 10 games and finished dead last in the SEC in his final season on campus, and didn’t post a .500 record until his third season in Columbia. Even then, that team went just 17-16. He won 15 SEC games in his first three years combined. After a late season swoon cost South Carolina a shot at the 2016 NCAA tournament, there was speculation that another year without a trip to the Big Dance could spell the end of Martin’s time with the Gamecocks.

“It was hard!” Martin’s wife, Anya, said. “You see he’s losing his hair. It’s all turning white. It was tough in the beginning. I had to ask him a couple of times, ‘Why here?’”

The easy answer is that it wasn’t Kansas State, but the truth is more complicated than that.

Martin is not a man that is afraid of a challenge. He’s not intimidated by a job that isn’t easy to do, not when you come from where he’s come from, when you’ve coached on the path that he has coached.

Martin got his first job when he was 12 years old, working at a Dairy Queen to help his mom pay the bills when his dad walked out on them. His coaching career started a year after he graduated high school, when he was just 19 years old.

“I tore my ACL the year before,” Martin said, “and my high school coach asked me to come help him, because the kids in the neighborhood respected me so much.”

He was nothing more than an assistant with the team at Miami Senior High School, helping out when and where he could, when the head coach of the JV team didn’t show up for work one day. Shakey Rodriguez, a legend in the Miami High School basketball community, told Martin he would be coaching that day, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“By his second season,” Martin’s mother, Lourdes, beaming as she held back tears of joy, said, “he was 22-0.”

Even as Martin was coaching, he was still working on the side, most famously as a bouncer in Miami’s nightclub scene. He needed a degree, so he took night classes at Miami-Dade College before enrolling part-time at FIU. His future was capped if he didn’t graduate.

“He made it out,” she added, holding on to her grandson to steady herself as the moment washed over her. “He had many, many jobs, and then God was up there and blessed him.”

Martin would go from the high school ranks to Northeastern, taking a paycut just to get his foot in the door. He spent four years as an assistant and met his wife — “My wife turned me down seven times to go out on a date,” he said. “Seven. Seven. And the day she made the mistake of going out on a date with me, I never let her go.” — before moving on to Cincinnati, where he joined forces with Bob Huggins, spending two seasons with the Bearcats before following Huggins to Kansas State. He replaced Huggins as Kansas State’s head coach a year after joining the program and just seven years after he joined the collegiate coaching ranks. He would take the Wildcats to more NCAA tournaments in his five seasons at the helm than they had been to in the previous two decades combined.

“Frank’s never steered away from a challenge as long as I’ve known him,” Anya said. “He’s overcome any obstacle in his way, just ‘I’m going to make it work.'”

“He’s a builder,” Just said.

And he’s done just that at South Carolina.

“I’m happy as any mom could be,” Lourdes said. “Speechless, but not all the way. I have to talk to him about my air ticket.”

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Martin spoke many times about the dream of leading this team to this moment, but he didn’t always believe that the dream of taking the Gamecocks to the Final Four was a realistic possibility.

“When we beat Duke, Frank said ‘Why not us?’” Figgers said, a motto that had become something of a rallying cry for the Gamecocks during the East Regional. “That’s the first time we really talked about [winning a title].”

The team and the coaching staff weren’t the only ones that never really gave this possibility much thought. College basketball at large — the fans, the media, opposing coaches — all had the same thought: “South Carolina in the Final Four? The same team that put up 86 points in four overtimes against Alabama? Lulz.”

They showed us.

Over and over again.

South Carolina’s star guard Sindarius Thornwell, who was named Most Outstanding Player in the East Region, mentioned in every press conference this weekend that no one paid attention to or respected the program prior to this run. Martin ranted earlier this year about the lack of local media coverage his team gets, particularly when they play on the road.

At this point in the season, most players get burned out of the media attention they get, answering the same questions over and over and over again.

I don’t blame them.

On Sunday evening, after spending 25 minutes up on the dais for a postgame press conference, Thornwell was finally en route back to the locker room to celebrate with his team when he was pulled aside by a television reporter that needed just a couple more minutes of his time.

Thornwell, decked out in a East Regional Champs shirt and hat with the remnants of a net dangling around his neck, didn’t mind.

“You gotta talk a lot,” Thornwell said, “when you win.”

Drake hires Furman’s Niko Medved to be new head coach

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Drake has hired Furman head coach Niko Medved to the same position, the school announced on Sunday.

The 43-year-old Medved has led the Paladins to back-to-back CIT appearances as he’s been the head coach there for four seasons. Also an assistant coach at Minnesota and Colorado State, Medved is a noted recruiter.

“I am ecstatic about the opportunity to be the next men’s basketball coach at Drake University,” Medved said in the release. “Drake University’s tremendous reputation partnered with its strong leadership and the thriving Des Moines community make this a special place.  I was born and raised in the Midwest and have so many strong roots in this part of the country.  My family and I can’t wait to get started.”

Medved was named the Southern Conference’s 2017 Coach of the Year for helping lead Furman to the regular-season title in the league.

The Bulldogs are coming off a last-place finish in the Missouri Valley Conference as former head coach Ray Giacoletti was relieved of his duties in January. Drake only has one NCAA Tournament appearance since 1971 (coming in 2008) as the Bulldogs have struggled to remain relevant in a tough league.