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

No. 13 Notre Dame lands come-from-behind win to beat No. 6 Wichita State in Maui

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Notre Dame led twice during Wednesday night’s Maui Invitational title game.

At 4-2, and, after Martinas Geben hit the second of two free throws with 2.3 seconds left, at 67-66.

That score would end up being the final, as the 13th-ranked Irish erased a 14-point second half deficit to knock off No. 6 Wichita State and bring home that Maui trophy.

Bonzie Colson led the way with 25 points and 11 boards while Matt Farrell chipped in with 15 points, four assists, four boards and three steals. Geben chipped in with 12 points, including those two free throws that served as the eventual game-winners.

Beyond the simple fact that they did it against one of the best teams in the country, what makes this comeback so impressive is that the Irish didn’t rely on a flurry of threes to change the course of the game. This comeback came through grit, toughness defensively and, if we’re being honest, a little bit of luck.

With less than 20 seconds left on the clock and the Irish down by three points, Colson airballed a pretty good look at a three from the top of the key. On the ensuing inbounds, Farrell stole the ball and happened to find Colson under the rim for a layup. The lead was cut to one, and Wichita State proceeded to miss the front end of a one-and-one after being fouled.

The ball once again ended up underneath Notre Dame’s basket, but this time it was the Irish ball, and after a gorgeous inbounds play, Geben headed to the line for two shots. The first shots somehow managed to go down after bouncing off the back of the rim, the backboard and the front of the rim twice.

And with that, Notre Dame would get off of the islands with another quality win for their résumé and a title to their name.

No. 8 Kentucky finally has it easy against Fort Wayne, 86-67

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Nick Richards had career highs of 25 points and 15 rebounds, and 70 percent first-half shooting propelled No. 8 Kentucky to an 86-67 rout of Fort Wayne on Wednesday night.

Kentucky’s 19-of-27 shooting before halftime countered the Mastodons’ eight 3-pointers that kept them close for a while. Once Fort Wayne started missing, it couldn’t match the length or speed of the young Wildcats (5-1), who eventually led 78-48 with 6:50 remaining on the way to their most decisive win this season.

Richards thrived in both halves and on both ends, making 9 of 10 from the field and all seven free throws for his first career double-double. The 6-foot-11 freshman’s previous highs were 10 points against Utah Valley and nine rebounds against Kansas last week.

Quade Green, Kevin Knox and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander each added 11 points as Kentucky shot a season-best 33 of 55 (60 percent) and dominated the rebounding 44-21.

Junior guard John Konchar had 19 points and Bryson Scott 18 for Fort Wayne (3-2), who had won three in a row before losing on 40 percent shooting.

BIG PICTURE

Fort Wayne: A year after upsetting Indiana, the Mastodons led Kentucky 37-36 with 3:51 left in the first half behind 8-of-22 shooting from long range. They went cold from outside and elsewhere after that and the Wildcats pounced to lead at the break and stretch the advantage to 30 points in the second half. The Mastodons’ 12 3-pointers were their third-highest total this season.

Kentucky: Something had to give after all those tense performances and the Wildcats thrived because of their size and best shooting effort this season. Richards couldn’t be stopped on either end, and teammates seemed in sync for the first time. Sophomore forward Wenyen Gabriel came up just short of a double-double with 10 rebounds and nine points.

UP NEXT

Kentucky hosts Illinois-Chicago on Sunday to wrap up the Rupp Classic before getting a few days off.

Fort Wayne visits East Tennessee State on Saturday. ETSU lost 78-31 to Kentucky last Friday.

VIDEO: Providence beats Belmont on Kyron Cartwright’s buzzer-beating three

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We got the first wild buzzer-beater of the college basketball season on Wednesday night, as Kyron Cartwright answered a Belmont bucket with 3.7 seconds left by going 94-feet to hit a leaning three at the buzzer:

Providence won the game 65-63.

Cartwright finished with 17 points in the win.

Four Takeaways from N.C. State’s upset win over No. 2 Arizona

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Five games into the Kevin Keatts era and N.C. State already has themselves a signature win.

The Wolfpack upset No. 2 Arizona in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, 90-84, sending Sean Miller home without reaching the Final Four once again. Allerik Freeman led the way with 24 points, while Braxton Beverly chipped in with 20 points off the bench and the combination of Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven combined for 21 points and 17 boards.

This wasn’t a fluky win, either.

N.C. State had control throughout. They were up 15-6 before Arizona woke up, they didn’t trail in the first half and they were the ones that made the Wildcats chase them down in the second half. It was quite impressive, as Keatts had this group playing hard and pressing for 40 minutes. It’s been a while since N.C. State fans can say that they’ve seen that.

Here are three things to takeaway from that win.

1. Arizona is going to have some things to figure out on the defensive end of the floor if they want to win a national title: Deandre Ayton is a man amongst boys. In his first college basketball game against competition that actually deserved to be on the same floor as him, Ayton finished with 27 points and 14 rebounds, a performance that makes me so damn excited to see just how good Marvin Bagley III, Miles Bridges and players of that ilk are if Ayton does not end up being the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.

Trier struggled in the first half, but he still managed to put together a 27-point performance, with 24 of those 27 coming in the second half. They put up 84 points. That wasn’t the issue.

The 90 points they allowed was.

Even more concerning was the fact that the Wolfpack scored those 90 points on just 73 possessions. The bottom-line is this: That’s not good enough, not when N.C. State is hardly a contender for the Final Four, let alone a national title challenger.

2. Kevin Keatts is making the most of the talent Mark Gottfried squandered: I’m not sure quite how good the Wolfpack actually are. I don’t think it’s possible to tell this early, even after a win over a team like Arizona. But what is undeniable is the simple fact that this N.C. State team plays are and with most passion and intensity than any Mark Gottfried team did.

They look like they are trying. They look like they care. And frankly, that often matters more than the simple stock-piling of talent. There’s no way anyone could look at this N.C. State roster and think that it has more talent on it than, say, a team with Dennis Smith Jr. or a team with T.J. Warren. The Wolfpack may not have a future lottery pick on this roster. But they do have guys that play their tails off, that play as if they have a point to prove and that play as if they are being coached.

It makes you wonder what could have been had Keatts been in Raleigh last season.

3. Braxton Beverly getting ruled eligible is going to be a big deal for N.C. State: Earlier this fall, Braxton Beverly was one of the biggest stories in college basketball, believe it or not. He had transferred to N.C. State from Ohio State after enrolling in summer courses prior to Thad Matta’s firing. He was ruled ineligible for this season with the Wolfpack, and it turned into the cause celebre for college basketball media members looking to circle the wagons and bash the NCAA.

It took longer than it should have, but Beverly was eventually cleared by the NCAA. He’s eligible to play this season, and he just so happens to be the point guy on the N.C. State press and one of their best shooters. He put up 20 points on the No. 2 team in America. I think he’s going to be relevant this season.

4. Arizona’s point guard issues rose to the forefront: When the Wildcats made their push in the second half, they did it on the strength of hustle plays and transition buckets. Jumping passing lanes and going coast-to-coast. Beating N.C. State’s press and getting a layup. Points that came off of offensive rebounds. Where they struggled was with their half court execution. The question with this team entering the season was with the point guard play. Was Parker Jackson-Cartwright going to be good enough to carry this team to a title? I’m not sure we can truly say we got on answer on Wednesday – N.C. State’s pressure, which was ratcheted up by the fact that Arizona couldn’t get a stop, played more of a role than anything – but Jackson-Cartwright certainly did not put in the kind of performance that would make Arizona fans feel comfortable.

Walker struggles in return home, No. 11 Miami beats La Salle

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READING, Pa. (AP) — Prized freshman Lonnie Walker IV struggled in his return home, but Dewan Huell scored 16 points and No. 11 Miami did just enough to get by La Salle 57-46 on Wednesday night and remain unbeaten.

Part of Miami’s recruiting pitch for the projected NBA lottery pick was a game in his hometown. Walker was held to five points and 2-of-8 shooting, and his woes were contagious. Miami (4-0) shot 37 percent from the field and the Explorers were 0 of 15 from 3-point range.

B.J. Johnson scored 16 points on 6-of-20 shooting and Pookie Powell added 15 on 5-of-15 from the field for La Salle (3-3) in its third straight loss.

La Salle traveled about 60 miles from campus, but it was a Miami home game and the crowd was solidly behind their local hero’s team. Walker has provided a needed boost to a struggling city northwest of Philadelphia.

Once a bustling railroad and mill town of 120,000, Reading has been in a steady decline for decades. It ranked as the poorest city in the nation in the 2010 Census based on median household income. Population has plummeted to under 88,000.

Walker and his Reading High School team had given the city something to be proud of in March, winning its first state title.

Many in the crowd wore red Reading High state champion T-shirts and sweatshirts, with sprinkles of Miami orange and La Salle blue and gold sprinkled in.

Walker didn’t start — he hasn’t yet this season — but the crowd roared as he got off the bench and walked to the scorer’s table 4 minutes in.

While Walker didn’t appear to have any issue with the left ankle he turned in a win over Florida A&M last week, it was a struggle. He missed his first three shots before finally bringing the crowd to its feet with a nifty crossover dribble and bank shot in the lane in the final seconds of an ugly first half that made it 19-19.

Walker couldn’t get it going in the second half, either. But he fed Bruce Brown Jr. for a 3-pointer with 3:23 left to put Miami up 49-39 during an 8-0 run.

Huell hit 8 of10 shots and added seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

La Salle: The Explorers dropped their third straight game to a Power 5 team (Northwestern, Boston College), but this was one they could have won with a decent shooting performance. They shot 29 percent from the field.

Miami: It was tough to tell if Walker was 100 percent with his ankle. He likely had some nerves. It was far from the performance he would have liked. Walker has been held to single digits in three straight games.

UP NEXT

La Salle hosts Big 5 rival Temple on Sunday before departing for a two-game tournament in Northern Ireland next week.

Miami returns home to face North Florida on Saturday before traveling to No. 14 Minnesota next Wednesday.