Late Night Snacks: Oregon holds off Arizona State in battle of Pac-12 undefeateds

Leave a comment

Game of the Day: Oregon 68, Arizona State 65 

When the season began who expected tonight’s meeting between the Ducks and Sun Devils to be a matchup of teams still undefeated in conference play? Not sure if even the most passionate of fans of the two teams would have envisioned such a scenario but that’s exactly what happened in Eugene. Once again Dana Altman’s team relied on its offensive balance as they completed a 2-0 weekend against the Arizona schools, with four starters reaching double figures.

Carlos Emory, Damyean Dotson and Tony Woods scored 14 points apiece and Dominic Artis added ten for Oregon who is now 3-0 in Pac-12 play. Jahii Carson led all scorers with 20 points (seven rebounds and four assists as well) but a Carrick Felix shot as time expired fell left on the basket as ASU dropped to 3-1 in the conference. If there’s one statistic that stuck out in Oregon’s victory it’s the fact that they outscored Arizona State by nine at the foul line. The Ducks shot 14-of-15 from the charity stripe while Arizona State made just five of their eight attempts.

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 15 Ohio State 56, No. 2 Michigan 53

Thanks to the Buckeyes there are no more undefeated teams in college basketball. Deshaun Thomas was the lone Buckeye to reach double figures as he led all scorers with 20 points, but Ohio State’s defense (Michigan did help them out by settling for three-pointers down the stretch instead of attacking the basket on occasion) helped make up for a cold second half from the field. Trey Burke (15 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (12) led the way for the Wolverines but shot a combined 9-of-28 from the field in doing so. The question now: who should be number one in the polls come Monday?

2.  Evansville 71, No. 23 Wichita State 67 

The Shockers were far too generous with the basketball on Sunday afternoon and the Purple Aces made sure to take advantage, scoring 27 points off of 22 Wichita State turnovers. Malcolm Armstead scored 21 points and Cleanthony Early added 16 to lead Wichita State, who shot 54.3% from the field and 42.9% from beyond the arc while also out-rebounding Evansville 33-19. But those turnovers and the 24 points and eight assists tallied by Evansville guard Colt Ryan proved to be too much to overcome.

3. No. 22 Michigan State 66, Nebraska 56 

Essentially there were two victories in this one for the Spartans: the game itself and the fact that Branden Dawson was able to return to the game after having his left leg buckle on a drive to the basket in the second half. Without Brandon Ubel (fractured elbow) the Huskers hung around for much of the game (David Rivers led the way with 18 points and six rebounds) but the Spartans closed the game on an 11-2 run (6-of-6 FT). Derrick Nix led the way for Michigan State with 17 points and five rebounds, and Adreian Payne added 14 off the bench.


1. G Sean Armand (Iona) 

When Armand gets rolling from deep look out. That’s what happened in the Gaels’ 97-87 win over Canisius as Armand hit nine three-pointers and finished with 32 points. He also tallied five rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.

3. G Colt Ryan (Evansville) 

Ryan shot 9-of-19 from the field but without him the Purple Aces don’t upset No. 23 Wichita State. Ryan finished with 24 points and eight assists and had a hand in every field goal made by Evansville in the second half (scoring three himself and assisting on the other six).

3. G Chaz Williams (UMass) 

Williams tallied 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds in the Minutemen’s 77-73 win at Fordham. UMass moves to 1-1 in the Atlantic 10 with the victory, and if they’re to contend this was a game they had to have after losing at Saint Louis on Thursday night.


1. Maryland and Miami

The Hurricanes left with the 54-47 win and that’s the objective. But neither team shot the ball well at the Bank United Center. The worst numbers: Maryland shooting 31.6% from the field, the two teams shooting a combined 8-of-35 from three and the Hurricanes going 5-of-13 from the foul line. Another issue Maryland needs to address: Nick Faust and Pe’Shon Howard continue to struggle (1-of-13 combined, two points).

2. Seton Hall 

Wichita State wasn’t the only team to do itself in with turnovers, as the Pirates committed 15 of their 17 turnovers in the first half of a 67-55 loss to Providence. The other problems for Seton Hall: Providence scoring 23 second chance points on 22 offensive rebounds and another front court injury. Brandon Mobley left the game in the first half with a right shoulder injury and will undergo an MRI on Monday.

3. Penn State 

Without Tim Frazier the Nittany Lions are bound to have rough games offensively and that’s exactly what happened in their 60-42 loss at Purdue. As a team Penn State shot 25.9% from the field and the three players expected to pick up the slack with Frazier done for the year, D.J. Newbill, Jermaine Marshall and Brandon Taylor, combined to shoot 10-of-39 from the field (that means the rest of the team shot 5-of-19).

The Bonus

In No. 20 NC State’s win over No. 1 Duke on Saturday the students stormed the floor, with Will Privette being one of the revelers. The wheelchair-bound Privette discussed his experience with Nicole Auerbach of USA Today hours after the game (credit C.J. Leslie with an important assist) and today he posted the video he shot with his iPhone on YouTube.

Video credit: @thrill21

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

VIDEO: This is the shot that ended Kentucky’s season

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barry Brown has spent all season being underrated.

And Kentucky found that out the hard way on Thursday night.

This bucket with 18 seconds left gave Kansas State a lead they would never relinquish in a win over Kentucky in the Sweet 16.

Florida State advances past Gonzaga to Elite Eight

Harry How/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Terance Mann scored 18 points and No. 9-seed Florida State held fourth-seeded Gonzaga to 35 percent shooting as the Seminoles advanced to their first Elite 8 since 1993 with a 75-60 win on Thursday night.

The Seminoles will advance to take on No. 3-seed Michigan with a trip to the Final Four on the line. They have not been to a Final Four since 1972.

The Zags entered this game short-handed, as their starting five-man Killian Tillie was unable to go due to a hip injury that he aggravated during warmups, but that would not have made all that much of a difference in the Staples Center.

The issue was guard play.

Florida State’s pressure simply overwhelmed Gonzaga’s guards. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Zach Norvell were a combined 10-for-36 from the floor and had a nightmare-of-a-time trying to get the ball into the lane. The Zags committed 13 turnovers, trailed by 12 within the first ten minutes of the game and never really made a run keeping this thing within striking distance.

Kansas State on to Elite Eight after beating Kentucky

Getty Images

Out are Cincinnati and Tennessee. Virginia and Arizona are long gone.

And after Kansas State defeated Kentucky, 61-58, on Thursday, all that remains of the South Region is Bruce Weber’s 9th-seeded Wildcats and No. 11 Loyola.

The South is in shambles. The brackets have gone wild. March has gone mad.

Kansas State – which lost to Tulsa, got beat by West Virginia by 38 points and took a 19-point home L to Texas Tech – is not only just one win away from the Final Four. The only thing that stands between them and San Antonio is a double-digit seed. A double-digit seed with a glass slipper and a 98-year-old nun in its corner, but a double-digit seed nonetheless.

Even for an event known for its unpredictability, hailed for its chaos and beloved for its ridiculousness, this year’s South Region is a little nutty.

It’s see the first-ever one-seed – what’s up, Virginia? – go down to a 16, Arizona’s wild and weird season upended, and both Cincy and Tennessee got got by mid-majors. One region packed a ton of entertainment into just 13 games.

Kansas State’s journey to the Elite Eight hasn’t been a glorious march to the Promised Land. It’s been a testament to survive and advance. They toppled No. 8 Creighton in the opener, ruined UMBC’s story in a nasty 50-43 affair and then proved to have just a little bit more than a critically flawed Kentucky team. And they did most of it without one of their best players, junior forward Dean Wade, who continues to battle a foot injury.

Against Kentucky, Kansas State shot just 35.2 percent from the floor, committed 30 fouls and putted UK on the line 37 times. Three of their players fouled out. Wade didn’t play in the second half. Kentucky shot 52.6 percent in the second half.

Still, Kansas State is in the Elite Eight, and Kentucky isn’t.

It’s a stunning result, powered by 22 points from Xavier Sneed, 15 Kentucky turnovers and a non-existent transition offense from John Calipari’s team. Barry Brown’s 13 points – including two critical ones in the final seconds – did plenty to help, too.

For Kentucky, it’s a disappointing end to a frustrating season. The South Region had unfurled a red carpet to San Antonio for them. A 12, 13, 9 and 11 were all that stood in their way. And the nine got ‘em.

Kentucky teased at being able to come together into a team commensurate with its individual talent in the three weeks as it won the SEC tournament and blasted Buffalo in the second round, but the flaws that forced them into four-straight losses in February never went away. They remained, and they were enough to keep Kentucky from a rock fight against a so-so Kansas State squad.

So now Bruce Weber is back in the Elite Eight for the first time since taking Illinois to the title game in 2005. It’s been a bumpy ride for him in Manhattan since splitting a Big 12 title in his first season in west Kansas in 2013. There were plenty of forceful voices who wanted him out not only after back-to-back NCAA tournament misses, but after last year’s First Four team.

Now, if he can beat Loyola, it’s a second Final Four appearance.

That may seem bananas, but it’s the South Region. Bonkers is business as usual.

Sister Jean: “I don’t care that you broke my bracket.”


As Missouri Valley Conference player of the year Clayton Custer came off the floor after Loyola earned its spot in the Elite Eight after beating Nevada, he had to make a quick apology.

He had to tell the Ramblers’ star fan Sister Jean he was sorry. She, of course, had picked Loyola’s Cinderella run to end in the Sweet 16 in her bracket before the start of the tournament.

The apology was quickly accepted.

“I said I don’t care that you broke my bracket,” Sister Jean said. “I’m ready for the next one.

“For a nice little school like ours, we are just so proud of them.”

Michigan rolls past Texas A&M into Elite Eight

Getty Images

Historically known as a team that lived and died with the three-ball, No. 3-seed Michigan had spent the first weekend of the NCAA tournament proving history wrong.

In an ugly game in their opener against Montana, the Wolverines shot 5-for-16 from three while turning the ball over 14 times and managing a measly 61 points. Against Houston in the second round, Michigan shot 8-for-30 from beyond the arc, with one of those threes coming courtesy of Jordan Poole at the buzzer, sending the Wolverines into the Sweet 16 with a 64-63 win.

Put another way, Michigan looked the part of the defensive grinder that they turned into this season.

Against No. 7-seed Texas A&M in the Sweet 16, however, the Wolverines turned into the Golden State Warriors.

Michigan bested the number of three that they had made in the tournament to date, hitting 14-of-24 bombs while shooting 62 percent from the floor in a 99-72 win over an Aggies team that had finally, for the first time since November, looked the part of the SEC title contender that they have the talent to be.

Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman led the way with 24 points, seven assists and five boards for Michigan. Mo Wagner chipped in with 21 points — 14 of which came in the first 15 minutes of the game — while Zavier Simpson added 11 points, five boards, five assists and five steals. Charles Matthews had 18 points. Duncan Robinson busted out of his slump with 10 points, including a couple of threes and a dunk to boot.

Put another way, the Wolverines were firing on all cylinders.

And that should terrify everyone on the left side of the bracket.

Entering this weekend’s games, Michigan was the best defensive team left in the tournament. They ranked third-nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, and that’s not a fluke or a flaw within KenPom’s formula. The Wolverines can absolutely grind teams down defensively. They are so much more athletic on the perimeter than they have been in past seasons, and with Simpson playing as the point man for them on that end of the floor, they’ve simply overmatched everyone that has gotten in their path on that end of the floor.

That’s why they were able to win two games in the first weekend of the tournament despite scoring a total of just 125 points.

At some point, you knew they were going to find a way to be better on the offensive end, and the Aggies were the team they needed to see.

Texas A&M’s strength in their front line. Tyler Davis, Robert Williams, D.J. Hogg. They have so much size along that front line that it can overpower just about anyone this side of Duke. But what those big, burly dudes bring in the paint they lack on the perimeter, and Michigan was able to spread them out and beat them down the floor in transition. It didn’t help matters that the Aggies struggled with the idea of passing the ball to the guys in maroon instead of the guys in yellow during the first half, and the end result was a Michigan team that found their confidence.

At one point, they were 9-for-12 from three. They made 10 of their 14 threes in the first half. The score at one point was 52-23. It was a three-point avalanche of Villanovian proportions.

And here’s the kicker: The Aggies actually did manhandle Michigan inside. Tyler Davis and Robert Williams combined for 36 points on 17-for-25 shooting.

It didn’t matter.

Michigan will advance to face the winner of No. 4-seed Gonzaga and No. 9-seed Florida State tonight, and regardless of who they end up getting in the Elite 8, they will be taking on a team that is much, much, much better suited to matching up with Michigan’s spread attack.

But Michigan has their confidence back.

I don’t expect that we’ll be seeing them shoot 28 percent from three on Saturday.

And that defense?

It’s not going anywhere.

And the Wolverines won’t have to face a team seeded higher than them until the national title game.

This run may not be close to over yet.