Late Night Snacks: Bubble teams take center stage

Leave a comment

GAME OF THE NIGHT: Missouri 86, Arkansas 85 

Jabari Brown’s shot with 10.2 seconds remaining was the difference as the Tigers denied the Razorbacks a much-needed SEC road victory. Arkansas still has just one conference road win to its credit this season, and that came at Vanderbilt last week.

As for the Tigers, Jordan Clarkson scored 27 points and Brown added 25 (14-for-15 FT) as they ended their three-game losing streak. How many teams will the SEC place in the NCAA tournament field? Outside of Florida and Kentucky that’s anyone’s guess, and games such as this one will determine the answer.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1) St. John’s 68, Seton Hall 67

A Chris Obekpa free throw with 2.1 seconds remaining moved the surging Red Storm to 7-1 in their last eight games. Losing to the Pirates would have been a tough enough blow, but the fact that Seton Hall played without suspended seniors Brian Oliver and Eugene Teague made this one even more important for St. John’s. St. John’s turned the ball over 19 times but did shoot 53.2% from the field, and they made just one less three-pointer than Seton Hall (three to the Pirates’ four) despite the fact that the Pirates attempted ten more (20 to ten).

2) No. 21 Wisconsin 78, Minnesota 70 

Ben Brust scored 20 points and grabbed six rebounds to lead the Badgers to their second consecutive victory, with Frank Kaminsky and Nigel Hayes added 17 and 15 points respectively. The difference in this one was the free throw line, with Wisconsin outscoring Minnesota 30-15 from the charity stripe.

3) No. 18 Creighton 68, Butler 63

Doug McDermott’s three-pointer with 45 seconds remaining gave the Bluejays the lead for good at Hinkle Fieldhouse, moving Creighton back into a tie for first place with No. 6 Villanova. McDermott finished the game with 26 points and five rebounds, and Will Artino added 11 key points off the bench. Kellen Dunham led the Bulldogs with 22 points.

STARRED

1) Isiah Umipig (Seattle)

Umipig racked up 32 points (12-for-20 FG), seven rebounds and two assists in the Redhawks’ 71-57 win at WAC leader Utah Valley.

2) Sherman Blanford (Eastern Illinois) 

Blanford tallied 32 points (13-for-20 FG) and 18 rebounds in the Panthers’ 88-83 loss at Austin Peay.

3) Andrew Rowsey (UNC Asheville)

In the Bulldogs’ 102-92 loss at Radford, Rowsey accounted for 41 points and four assists, shooting 14-for-28 from the field.

STRUGGLED

1) Ryan Weber (Youngstown State) 

Weber shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring two points and committing five turnovers in the Penguins’ 71-40 blowout loss to Green Bay.

2) Chris Fouch (Drexel) 

Fouch made just two of his ten shots from the field, scoring six points in Drexel’s 47-46 loss at College of Charleston.

3) Brett Comer (FGCU) 

Comer shot 2-for-10 from the field and finished with as many turnovers (four) as assists (four) in FGCU’s 89-81 loss at East Tennessee State.

NOTABLES

  • No. 9 Michigan State beat Northwestern 85-70, remaining tied with rival Michigan for first place in the Big Ten as a result. Adreian Payne finished with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
  • Kyle Anderson racked up 22 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds to lead UCLA to a 92-74 win over Colorado, with the margin not indicative of the game’s competitiveness.
  • Karvel Anderson scored 28 points to lead Robert Morris to a 66-60 win over Saint Francis (PA), moving the Colonials to 10-1 in NEC play.
  • Green Bay rebounded from its second Horizon League loss with a 71-40 win over Youngstown State. Alec Brown scored 24 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
  • Drew Kelly scored 19 points to lead Morehead State to a 69-67 win over Jacksonville State, keeping the Eagles a game behind Belmont in the loss column atop the OVC East.
  • Chad Frazier scored 20 points in UAB’s 84-60 win over Southern Miss, handing the Golden Eagles their second loss in Conference USA play.
  • Gonzaga bounced back from its loss at Memphis on Saturday night with an 83-68 win over Pepperdine.
  • UCSB moved to 7-2 in Big West play with 65-64 win at Long Beach State. Michael Bryson’s layup with one second remaining gave the Gauchos, who are tied for first with UC Irvine, the win.
  • Utah picked up its first road victory of the season, beating USC 79-71 due in large part to the tandem of Delon Wright (20 points, nine rebounds and five assists) and Jordan Loveridge (19 points, eight rebounds and four assists).
  • Marcus Georges-Hunt’s four-point play with seven tenths of a second remaining gave Georgia Tech a 74-71 win over Boston College.
  • Saint Mary’s is now in sole possession of second place in the WCC after beating San Diego 69-57, with BYU falling 89-82 at Pacific. The Gaels and Cougars meet on Saturday.

No. 2 Michigan State beats Wisconsin, wraps up Big Ten

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Cassius Winston scored 20 points and went 6 for 6 from the 3-point line, and No. 2 Michigan State held off Wisconsin 68-63 on Sunday to earn the outright regular-season Big Ten title.

Winston hit two 3s during an 11-2 run in the second half — the second with a defender in his face from well beyond the arc — to lead the Spartans (28-3, 16-2).

Brad Davison finished with 30 points for Wisconsin (14-17, 7-11), including a 3 with 4.7 seconds left that had hometown fans holding out hope for an upset.

Miles Bridges wrapped up the Spartans’ 12th straight win with two foul shots.

It was a milestone victory in what has been a challenging season off the court for Michigan State basketball.

One issue involved Bridges. The star forward had 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting in his first game since getting cleared by the NCAA following a Yahoo! Sports article on Friday that identified him as one of many players who may have received improper benefits.

Winston and Nick Ward, who had 14 points, picked up the scoring slack. Winston’s 3 with 4:45 left gave the Spartans a 58-51 lead, a huge cushion in what had been a tight game.

Davison nearly single-handedly brought Wisconsin back, giving the Badgers a huge boost even after aggravating a left shoulder injury. The freshman sprinted to the locker room with a trainer with about 14 minutes left before returning a couple minutes later and checking right back into the game to rousing applause.

He scored Wisconsin’s next six points, popping perimeter jumpers to electrify an already vocal home crowd in the regular season finale.

The teams dueled the rest of the way until Bridges’ late foul shots.

Michigan State muscled its way to a 34-27 halftime lead by taking control of the paint early before softening up the perimeter for Winston. The sophomore sharpshooter made 3 of 4 from beyond the arc in the first half, with a couple buckets coming quickly in transition.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Documents in the Yahoo! story showed that the star forward may have improperly accepted benefits from an agency implicated in a federal investigation into bribery and other misdeeds in college basketball. The team said Saturday that the school’s compliance office conducted a “thorough internal review” and presented findings to the NCAA, which then cleared Bridges. … The Spartans had too much bulk up front for Wisconsin, building an early edge on points in the paint and finishing with a 40-28 edge on the boards.

Wisconsin: The team honored three reserve seniors in its final regular-season game, including fifth-year forward Aaron Moesch. He is the last link to the Badgers’ back-to-back Final Four appearances in 2014 and ’15, a little-used backup on each of those squads. The Badgers’ reliance on freshmen to play key roles in the rotation, especially in the backcourt, led to growing pains this season. They’ve shown signs of maturity of late, winning three straight games before Sunday.

UP NEXT

Michigan State: Opens play in the conference tournament in New York on Friday after earning a double bye as the top seed.

Wisconsin: Locked into the Big Ten tourney as the No. 9 seed, where it will play Maryland on Thursday.

No. 11 Cincinnati rallies for 82-74 win over Tulsa

Michael Hickey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Gary Clark led a 24-4 run that put Cincinnati ahead to stay early in the second half, and the 11th-ranked Bearcats held on for an 82-74 victory over Tulsa on Sunday that preserved their one-game lead in the American Athletic Conference heading into the final week.

Cincinnati (25-4, 14-2) stayed ahead of No. 13 Wichita State (23-5, 13-3) in the race for the regular-season title. The Shockers won on Cincinnati’s home court 76-72 a week ago.

Wichita State plays at UCF on Thursday and hosts Cincinnati next Sunday in a potential showdown game. The Bearcats play at Tulane on Thursday before heading to Wichita State.

The Bearcats struggled defensively, giving up a season-high 14 3-pointers, but made a season-high 15 from beyond the arc. Clark and Jarron Cumberland had 17 points apiece.

Tulsa (17-11, 10-7) led by eight points early in the second before Clark scored during the decisive run. Junior Etou scored 21 for Tulsa, which had its six-game winning streak snapped.

Cincinnati completed its season playing at Northern Kentucky University while its on-campus arena is renovated, going 14-1 at BB&T Arena.

BIG PICTURE

Tulsa: The Golden Hurricane is wrapping up a regular season that marks a step up for the program. Tulsa went 15-17 last season and 8-10 in the AAC, finishing seventh. It’s fourth in the league with two games to go.

Cincinnati: Even though the Bearcats rank second nationally in defense, they’d given up a lot of open shots in the previous two games, a concern to coach Mick Cronin. The Golden Hurricane got plenty of those, too, while shooting 59 percent in the first half. The Golden Hurricane led 47-44 at the break, the most points Cincinnati has allowed in a half this season.

UP NEXT

Tulsa: Golden Hurricane plays at East Carolina on Thursday. Tulsa opened AAC play by beating ECU 79-53 on Dec. 28.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats have won four straight and 14 of 15 against Tulane, including a 78-61 victory last season.

Bubble Banter: Sunday Funday on the bubble

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As we will do every day throughout the rest of the season, here is a look at how college basketball’s bubble teams fared on Sunday.

It’s worth reminding you here that the way winning are labeled have changed this season. Instead of looking at all top 50 wins equally, the selection committee will be using criteria that breaks wins down into four quadrants, using the RPI:

  • Quadrant 1: Home vs. 1-30, Neutral vs. 1-50, Road vs. 1-75
  • Quadrant 2: Home vs. 31-75, Neutral vs. 51-100, Road vs. 76-135
  • Quadrant 3: Home vs. 76-160, Neutral vs. 101-200, Road vs. 136-240
  • Quadrant 4: Home vs. 161 plus, Neutral vs. 201 plus, Road vs. 240 plus

The latest NBC Sports Bracketology can be found here.

YET TO PLAY

TEMPLE
UCLA
PENN STATE
NEBRASKA
N.C. STATE

Georgia’s Mark Fox ‘disgusted’ by investigation into college basketball

3 Comments

Georgia head coach Mark Fox did not hold back when asked about the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball, calling is “disgusting” and pleading with coaches and the institutions that employ them to do right.

“It starts with our coaches, and then you ask how the NCAA has handled it,” Fox said. “The NCAA is made up of member institutions. How are the institutions handling it? That’d be my first question. How are they handling it? Putting their head in the sand and looking the other way? I’m past anger, sadness. It’s just disgusting, and we’re really hurting the game, and the game has been so good to everybody.”

Fox is in a difficult position. He’s regarded as one of the nicer coaches in the business and is considered to be ‘clean’. He team also appears headed for another NIT, which could end up costing him his job.

“We’ve had some situations where we didn’t get players because of that reason, and other teams have, too,” Fox said.

“I’m disgusted,” he added. “I’m disgusted with how people have treated our game. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

Cuonzo Martin: ‘No timetable’ for a Michael Porter Jr. return

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There still is not clarity on whether or not Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. will return to the court this season.

On Saturday, he participated in Missouri’s shootaround at Kentucky but did not run through warmups and did not play in the game.

“I don’t have a timeline,” Missouri head coach Cuonzo Martin said after Saturday’s 87-66 loss. “He wants to play.”

“We have to make sure he’s ready to go.”

Porter has only had one full practice since he underwent surgery on his back in November, and that came on Friday. A source confirmed to NBC Sports that Porter was, in fact, cleared for full contact on Thursday afternoon after a visit with a doctor.

Porter is expected to continue practicing with the team. He told reporters earlier this month that he would like to get a few games prior to the start of tournament play if he happens to take part in any games.