Memphis dominated Conference USA this season and was the conference’s only team to make the NCAA tournament. The conference’s second-best team, Southern Miss, has been making a solid run in the NIT. That run came to an end Wednesday night, though, as the Golden Eagles fell to BYU.
BYU brought an 11-point lead into the halftime break and coasted the rest of the way, winning 79-62 at Reed Green Coliseum in Hattiesburg, Miss. The Cougars shared the basketball and tallied 24 assists on 29 made field goals, led by Matt Carlino with 15 points and nine assists.
The scoring was concentrated in the hands of Carlino, Brock Zylstra, who had 23 points, and Tyler Haws, who had 25. Brandon Davies was one of two Cougars to register a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Cougars missed out on the NCAA tournament of the West Coast Conference, though Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s made the Field of 68. Gonzaga was a No. 1 seed and lost to Wichita State in the Round of 32. Saint Mary’s won its First Four game, but lost to Memphis in the Round of 64.
BYU now moves on to play the winner of Providence-Baylor. That game is currently underway.
The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 10.3 points per game, while shooting 42 percent from three, as a freshman. He, along with Malcolm Hill and Michael Thorne Jr., is one of three returning players who averaged double figures last season.
This could prove to be a make-or-break year for John Groce, who enters his fifth season at the helm. He guided the Illini to an NCAA Tournament in his first season, but hasn’t been back since.
The key for the Illini is health. Abrams gives them experience and leadership, but it won’t be a surprise if there’s some rust in his game after spending the past two seasons on the sideline. Having a healthy Coleman-Lands will help stabilize the backcourt, while Hill, an all-conference caliber forward, and Thorne anchor the frontcourt.
Like Alkins, Jones was a sought-after scorer. The 6-foot-4 two-guard was rated No. 69 overall in the Class of 2016 by Rivals. He picked Indiana over offers from Cal, Cincinnati, Georgetown and more than a dozen other high-major programs.
Jeter, the 6-foot-10, played in a reserve role as a freshman, averaging 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds per game last season. He will be part of a loaded frontline that includes heralded freshmen Harry Giles and Marques Bolden, as well as redshirt senior Amile Jefferson, who returns to the lineup following a foot injury.
The greatest player in Auburn program history will honored with a statue outside of the team’s home arena.
The university announced that Charles Barkley, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer, will be the fourth athlete to be given a statue, joining Heisman Trophy winners Bo Jackson, Pat Sullivan and Cam Newton.
“It just means a great deal to me,” Barkley said in a statement. “Being a kid from Alabama, going to Auburn. I think everybody knows what Auburn means to me. It’s going to be pretty cool.”
Barkley, currently working as an analyst for TNT, was the SEC Player of the Year in 1984, as well as a second team All-American. He averaged 14.1 points and 9.6 rebounds per game in 84 appearances for the Tigers.