Late Night Snacks: Two top 15 teams lose at home

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Texas 86, No. 14 North Carolina 83

The Tar Heels remain the toughest team in college basketball to figure out. After knocking off Kentucky to pick up their third win over a preseason top three team, the Heels were once again atrocious from the charity stripe, losing to Rick Barnes and the Longhorns. North Carolina now has arguably the three best wins in the country and three losses to unranked teams. Go ahead. Try and explain that to me. You can’t.

As far as Texas is concerned, good for them. Rick Barnes took more heat than any coach in the country over the course of the the offseason. The consensus among the media was that he was essentially already fired. I heard more talk about who would get the Texas job than I did what Barnes could do to win games with this team. But here he is, sitting at 9-1 on the season with a road win over a top 15 opponent.

THE OTHER GAME OF THE NIGHT: Stanford 53, No. 10 UConn 51

UConn’s reliance on Shabazz Napier came back to bite them. The Huskies struggled from the floor and went ice cold from three in the second half as they lost to a Stanford team that desperately needed a win. The Cardinal are now sitting at 9-2 on the season with a chance to truly solidify their non-conference resume against Michigan on Saturday.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) Kenny Chery missed a layup that could have won the game in regulation, but No. 12 Baylor’s starting point guard made up for it in the extra frame by scoring 12 of his 20 points in overtime as the Bears outlasted Northwestern State 91-84. The Bears struggled, playing their first game in 10 days after taking some time off for finals. Isaiah Austin was benched for the first half and played just nine minutes on the night.

2) T.J. Warren popped off for 21 points and 11 boards as N.C. State went into Knoxville and put a whipping on Tennessee. The final score was 65-58, but the Vols were down by 17 at the break. Jordan McRae had 21 points, but shot 6-for-22 from the floor. Both Jarnell Stokes and Jeronne Maymon finishied with double-doubles but it wasn’t enough. Tennessee just does not look like a very good basketball team right now. No point guard and no role players is not usually a successful combination.

3) LSU’s best player, Jordan Mickey, struggled with fouls, but the Tigers put four players in double-figures as they went into Texas Tech and knocked off the Red Raiders in Lubbock, 71-69.

STARRED

1) Aaric Murray scored a Division I-high 48 points to lead Texas Southern to a win at Temple.

2) The two most important players on No. 3 Ohio State’s roster, LaQuinton Ross and Amir Williams, combined for 30 points and 17 boards in a win over Delaware.

3) Halil Kanicevic had 27 points, 14 boards, four assists and two blocks while shooting 12-for-13 from the floor as St. Joe’s beat Drexel, 75-55.

STRUGGLED

1) Jake Odum finished with seven turnovers and just nine points as Indiana State lost 83-66 at St. Louis.

2) At one point, Southern Utah trained No. 24 San Diego State 35-4. Ouch.

3) Ohio’s defense was a bit leaky on Wednesday. No. 22 UMass shot 61.5% from the floor and 9-for-14 from three.

NOTABLES

  • Marshall Henderson scored 26 points and hit three of his six threes in succession to lead Ole Miss to a 75-62 win over UL-Monroe.
  • Jelan Kendrick at 18 points off the bench for UNLV in a 81-62 win over Radford.
  • San Jose State outlasted UC-Davis in triple-overtime, 89-85.

Sunday’s NCAA Tournament Elite Eight schedule, tip times, and announcer pairings

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Regional Finals – Sunday, March 26

2:20 p.m.,CBS, New York
No. 7 South Carolina vs. No. 4 Florida (Verne Lundquist, Jim Spanarkel, Allie LaForce)

5:05 p.m., CBS, Memphis
No. 1 North Carolina vs. No. 2 Kentucky (Jim Nantz, Grant Hill, Bill Raftery, Tracy Wolfson)

Steve Alford: ‘I’m very happy at UCLA’

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford was still processing an 86-75 season-ending loss to Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night when he had to answer questions about another blueblood program.

Sine the dismal of Tom Crean at Indiana, Alford has been one of the names rumored to be in the mix for the coaching vacancy. A reporter in the press conference in Memphis didn’t even get a chance to finish his question before Alford cut him off and a publicly state that he was happy in Westwood.

“I said it last week, and I’ll reiterate it again even more so, I guess, that I love Los Angeles,” Alford said. “To begin with, it’s a beautiful place, and our family has fallen in love with it. I’ve got two sons now, Kory first and now Bryce, that have graduated. Bryce is done, so he’s graduating from UCLA, so I’ve got two sons that are graduates from there, a daughter that loves the school she’s going to in Thousand Oaks. I’m very happy. I’m at UCLA. I don’t know of a lot of people that are out there wanting to leave UCLA.

“This is a pretty special place. We’ve worked awfully hard. Our staff has worked hard. We’ve got the No. 2 recruiting class coming in next year. We’re opening a brand-new, state-of-the-art, 60-plus million practice facility, Mo Ostin Center, that is going to be spectacular that we’ve worked awfully hard to be a part of that, and I want to see that through, and we’ve got some special kids that are coming to join us.

“I’m very, very happy where I’m at, and hopefully, that’ll continue.”

Alford won a national championship with the Hoosiers in 1987, scoring more than 2,400 points in his career under head coach Bob Knight. He has been with UCLA since 2013, reaching the Sweet 16 in three of his four seasons with the Bruins.

Crean was fired on March 16 after nine season in Bloomington.

Lonzo Ball has officially declared for the 2017 NBA Draft

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Following a season-ending loss in the Sweet 16 of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, UCLA freshman point guard unsurprisingly announced that he will enter the NBA Draft.

“That was my final game for UCLA. I appreciate the fans,” Ball told reporters.

The 6-foot-6 point guard has a strong case to be the No. 1 overall pick. It could be almost too enticing for the Los Angeles Lakers to pass on a Southern Cal product if the ping pong balls fall in their favor. New Lakers president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka were in Memphis for Friday night’s Sweet 16 matchup with Kentucky.

Ball, in an All-American freshman season with the Bruins, averaged 14.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a nation’s best 7.6 assists per game, while shooting 56 percent from the field and 42 percent from three.

He ended his college career with an 86-75 loss to the Wildcats, scoring 10 points, off 4-of-10 shooting, with eight assists.

VIDEO: Florida’s Chris Chiozza beats Wisconsin at the buzzer

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NEW YORK — So you didn’t think the NCAA Tournament had enough excitement this year?

Wisconsin and Florida solved that problem for you.

The Badgers started things, as they erased a 12-point deficit in the final 4:15 to force overtime, a stretch that included an 8-0 run at the end of regulation that was capped by a Zak Showalter running three with 2.5 seconds left on the clock to tie the game at 72.

Wisconsin jumped out to a lead in overtime, but the combination of an inability to make free throws and and this epic chasedown block from Canyon Barry left the door open for the Gators, who eventually won the game on this running three from Chris Chiozza:

What.

A.

Game.

If we get a better one than this, I just hope I’m courtside for it.

KeVaughn Allen led the way for the Gators with 35 points, and no one else on the Gators scored more than eight points, but it didn’t matter. The Gators are still headed to the Elite 8, and Mike White will have a chance to play for the right to go to the Final Four in his first NCAA Tournaments.

Replacing a legend like Billy Donovan was never going to be easy, but White is doing an admirable job.

The other subplot here: With the win, Florida becomes the third member of the SEC in the Elite 8, and with a regional final against South Carolina on Sunday afternoon, it guarantees that there will be at least one SEC team in the Final Four.

While there were celebrations in the Florida locker room, Wisconsin’s was one of devastation.

The Badgers started four seniors, including tournament stalwarts Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes, who played in their 17th career NCAA Tournament games.

Hayes had 22 points, but he’s going to be haunted by the free throws he missed. He was 7-for-14 from the line on the night, including four missed freebies in overtime. The end was similarly heart-breaking for Koenig, as he was a non-factor in overtime due to an injury he suffered on the possession before Showalter’s game-tying three.

Both of them are going to spend years thinking ‘What if?’ That’s how the NCAA Tournament works.

Everyone leaves in tears, either because they’re cutting down the nets at the Final Four or because their season — their career — just came to an end.

Hayes and Koenig were no different.

VIDEO: Canyon Barry saves Florida with epic chase down block

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Florida’s Canyon Berry had the best chase down block since LeBron James in the 2016 NBA Finals.

It kept Wisconsin’s lead at two points and gave the Gators a chance to tie and, eventually, win the game.

Look at this: