Arizona State picks up valuable resume-building win over No. 2 Arizona

3 Comments

In the first meeting between No. 2 Arizona and Arizona State, the Sun Devils were without a key piece. Due to a hip injury, senior guard Jermaine Marshall was held out, and his absence contributed to the Wildcats winning by a comfortable margin in Tucson. Friday night the tables were turned to a certain extent, with Marshall back in the fold while Arizona was playing its third full game without injured forward Brandon Ashley.

And in the end Marshall’s presence made the difference as the Sun Devils beat the Wildcats 69-66 in double overtime, with the Penn State transfer scoring 29 points to lead all scorers. Marshall scored eight of Arizona State’s final ten points, the most important of which came on a layup with 14 seconds remaining to give the Sun Devils a 67-66 lead.

A Jordan Bachynski block led to a Jahii Carson dunk with seven tenths of a second remaining, and when Nick Johnson’s jumper as time expired fell short the Sun Devils had itself an important win for its resume. However the result doesn’t come without controversy, thanks to the way in which the game ended.

Following Carson’s dunk students rushed the floor, and the same went for the players on the bench, with time remaining on the clock. But because the officials deemed the play dead (that was their explanation to the ESPN announcers) no technical foul was called. Of course many also wondered about whether or not Carson should have been hit with a technical foul for hanging on the rim as well. But no calls were made.

In regards to the quality of this game, both teams struggled mightily offensively. Some credit should be given to the respective defenses, and with both teams ranking in the top three in the Pac-12 in defensive efficiency (in conference games) that shouldn’t come as a surprise. But on far too many occasions offensive sets came to a halt, resulting in the teams having to hoist up hurried attempts at the end of the shot clock.

Arizona State scored 0.85 points per possession and Arizona was slightly worse as they could muster only 0.83 points per possession. With this being the case whoever could make things happen individually would win the game, and that player was Jermaine Marshall. Marshall was quiet for much of the second half, and that combined with Arizona’s 54-35 edge on the boards could have spelled doom for Arizona State.

However Arizona converted its 18 offensive rebounds into just five second-chance points, and they were also outscored in the paint 28-26. Even with the offensive struggles some credit for this should go to Bachynski, who blocked seven shots and changed other looks around the rim. His block in the final seconds marks the third time this season the senior has preserved an Arizona State lead in the final seconds, and his presence is the biggest reason why Arizona State’s performed well defensively.

Carson received much of the publicity before the season began, and given how well he played as a freshman that’s certainly fair. But for Arizona State to make its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009, he wasn’t going to lead the way by himself. And due to the presence of Marshall and Bachynski the Sun Devils, provided they take care of business down the stretch, may have punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament.

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

Leave a comment

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’

Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
1 Comment

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

Rob Carr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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: