Late Night Snacks: Devonte Brown, Indiana State lead exciting night of conference tournaments

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Games of the Day

Indiana State 51, Evansville 50

Devonte Brown blocked Ned Cox’s layup attempt as time expired as the Sycamores held on to top the Aces 51-50 in the quarterfinal of the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinal. Brown’s block was a great counter to a long in bounds pass that landed in the hand of Cox. Brown led Indiana State with 11 points. Justin Gant knocked down a free throw to give the Sycamores the one-point lead.

Loyola Marymount 60, Santa Clara 58

What is Loyola Marymount doing? The team that lost 14 straight, now has won three straight. The team that won one conference game has now won three straight … all in the West Coast Conference Tournament. Anthony Ireland hit a shot to put the Lions up one, but LMU fouled on the ensuing possession. Brandon Clark missed the front-end of the one-and-one and LMU hit a free throw to sneak out a 60-58 win. Loyola Marymount will attempt to keep the magic going against (ahem) Gonzaga, (ahem) the No. 1 team in the nation.

UW-Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 63

Rare we go three games of the day, but it’s March and Sultan Muhammad forced his way in when he hit a 3-pointer with 1.7 seconds remaining, pushing Green Bay past ICU in the Horizon League quarterfinals.

Important Outcomes

Kent State 68, Akron 64

This could be the downfall of the Zips. Alex Abreu is suspended indefinitely after being arrested and Akron is without an experienced point guard and knockdown 3-point shooter. The Golden Flashes are the second team to top the Zips in three games, after Akron rallied off 19 consecutive wins.

Harvard 56, Columbia 51

The Crimson had regained the lead of the Ivy League following a win over Columbia and Yale upsetting Princeton. Harvard had lost two straight, including one to Princeton, which lost them the top spot in the smartest league in the nation. The Crimson wrap up the season Saturday at home against Cornell. If the Crimson win and Princeton losses one of its last two games, Harvard will be dancing for the second straight season.

San Diego 72, BYU 69

BYU’s comeback fell short when Matt Carlino’s last-second three didn’t fall. The Cougars needed to make a run in the WCC Tournament and after the upset loss to San Diego, BYU will dread Selection Sunday.

Starred

Isaiah Canaan, Murray State

The senior point guard has his Racers in the Ohio Valley Conference championship game following his 29-point, six-assist performance in an 81-73 win over Eastern Kentucky.

Doug McDermott, Creighton

The national player of the year candidate dropped 23 points and grabbed seven boards in a win over Drake in the Missouri Valley Conference quarterfinals.

Anthony Ireland, Loyola Marymount

Ireland has his Lions alive, as LMU reached the semifinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament, thanks in large part to his 23 points and seven steals. The Waterbury, Conn. native also hit a shot to put the Lions up for good with 5.2 seconds remaining. He’ll need to be just as good in the semifinals when the Lions take on top-ranked Gonzaga.

Struggled

Daniel Barnes, Illinois-Chicago

The Flames second leading scorer (12.1 points per game) was held to 1-of-10 shooting, en route to a five-point performance in a heartbreaking loss to UW-Green Bay in the Horizon League quarterfinals.

Akron 3-point shooting

The Zips struggled from behind the arc, shooting a dismal 22 percent of 6-of-27 3-point shooting. Alex Abreu was not in action after being suspended indefinitely. Abreu is shooting 39 percent from behind the arc on the season.

Colton Ryan, Evansville

The Aces’ leading scorer was held to more than half his season average of 20 points per game. In a one-point loss to Indiana State, Ryan shot 4-for-18 from the field for eight points. He dropped 31 points on Indiana State six days earlier.

Conference Tournament Recap

Atlantic Sun

Mercer 72, USC Upstate 64
Florida Gulf Coast 72, Stetson 58

Mercer and Florida Gulf Coast advance to conference finals

Horizon League

Wright State 66, Youngstown State 59
UW-Green Bay 64, Illinois-Chicago 63

Winners advance to semifinals

Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference

Siena 70, Marist 64
Fairfield 54, St. Peter’s 47

Winners advance to quarterfinals

Missouri Valley Conference

Creighton 65, Drake 53
Indiana State 51, Evansville 50
Witchita State 69, Missouri State 59
Illinois State 73, Northern Iowa 65

Winners advance to the semifinals

Ohio Valley Conference 

Belmont 82, Tennessee State 73
Murray State 81, Eastern Kentucky 73

Belmont and Murray State advance to conference finals

Southern Conference

Georgia Southern 60, Wofford 44
Furman 55, Sanford 51
UNC Greensboro 87, Chattanooga 81
Western Carolina 76, Citadel 61

Winners advance to quarterfinals

Sun Belt Conference

Western Kentucky 74, LA-Monroe 60
LA-Lafayette 74, North Texas 55
Troy 81, Florida Atlantic 79 OT

Winners advance to quarterfinals

West Coast Conference

Loyola Marymount 60, Santa Clara 58
San Diego 72, BYU 69

Winners advance to semifinals

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s touching tribute to his mother will melt your heart

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Frank Martin advanced to the Final Four for the first time in his career on Sunday afternoon, and the South Carolina head coach — who has blazed an unlikely trail to the pinnacle of the college basketball world — thanked the most important person to his success in the most beautiful way imaginable afterwards.

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.”