Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Duke, No. 10 San Diego State among the big winners

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Saturday’s Bubble Banter

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Iowa State 85, Oklahoma State 81

Oklahoma State didn’t foul in the final seconds of regulation and Naz Long made them pay, hitting a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime. And while each team was without a key player in the extra session, Oklahoma State not having Marcus Smart proved to be more of an issue than Iowa State not having Melvin Ejim. The Cyclones will be the four-seed in the Big 12 tournament, but just as important is the fact that Oklahoma State will now have to play on Wednesday.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 4 Duke 93, No. 14 North Carolina 81

Jabari Parker scored 30 points and Rodney Hood added 24 as the Blue Devils avenged their loss in Chapel Hill last month. The biggest problem for North Carolina was their performance on the boards, as Duke rebounded more than 53% of its missed shots and scored 20 second-chance points. As a result of this game Duke gets the three-seed in the ACC tournament and North Carolina the four-seed.

2) No. 1 Florida 84, No. 25 Kentucky 65

The top-ranked Gators became the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in conference play, soundly defeating the Wildcats in Gainesville. Florida led by as much as 22 in the first half, putting together their run in spite of the fact that Scottie Wilbekin was on the bench with two fouls. To Kentucky’s credit they would cut the margin to six in the second half, getting the ball inside on a more regular basis. But the Gators would once again flex their muscle, regaining control of the game down the stretch.

3) Oregon 64, No. 3 Arizona 57 

The Ducks, who have now won seven in a row, are headed to the NCAA tournament with their win over the Wildcats being icing on the cake. Jason Calliste scored 18 points off the bench and as a team Oregon shot 10-for-19 from beyond the arc, with this stat being one of the key factors in the win. As for Arizona, they can ill-afford to have Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York combine to score two points as they did on Saturday.

STARRED

1) F Doug McDermott (Creighton)

McDermott scored 45 points on 17-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds in the Bluejays’ 88-73 win over Providence. He also became the eighth player in the history of NCAA Division I to reach the 3,000-point mark.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Wiggins’ Jayhawks didn’t win on Saturday, losing 92-85 at West Virginia, but the freshman was sensational in defeat. Wiggins scored 41 points (12-for-18 FG, 15-for-19 FT) to go along with eight rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.

3) Javon McCrea (Buffalo) 

McCrea celebrated Senior Day with a 34-point, six-rebound, four-assist performance in Buffalo’s 88-65 win over Bowling Green. McCrea made 13 of his 18 shots from the field.

STRUGGLED

1) Zach LaVine (UCLA) 

LaVine wasn’t the only Bruin to struggle in their 73-55 loss at Washington State, but he went scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting from the field.

2) Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier (UConn) 

UConn’s talented guard tandem combined for one of their worst games of the season in an 81-48 loss at No. 11 Louisville, shooting 4-for-24 from the field. They combined to score 14 points and commit nine turnovers, with Napier responsible for six of those miscues.

3) Naadir Tharpe (Kansas) 

Tharpe struggled in the Jayhawks’ 92-86 loss at West Virginia, playing just 16 minutes and finishing with zero points (0-for-3 FG), zero assists and one turnover.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • America East: All chalk at Albany
    Not only did the top four seeds all win in Saturday’s quarterfinals, but all four won by double digits. The closest game was top-seed Vermont’s 77-60 win over New Hampshire. Next up for Vermont: host Albany, who beat UMBC 86-56. The other semifinal will match two-seed Stony Brook and three-seed Hartford, who beat Maine and Binghamton respectively.
  • Big South: Winthrop, Coastal Carolina advance to Sunday’s final
    Eight-seed Winthrop continued its run, with Keon Johnson scoring the final five points of the game in their 80-79 win over UNC Asheville. They’ll take on the host Chanticleers, who beat VMI 66-62.
  • CAA: Northeastern’s the lone lower seeded winner
    Four-seed Drexel wasn’t as fortunate as the other three “home” teams on Saturday, dropping a 90-81 decision to Northeastern. Scott Eatherton accounted for 23 points and 15 rebounds in the victory. Next up for the Huskies is top-seed Delaware, with the Blue Hens outlasting Hofstra. The second semifinal will match two-seed Towson and three-seed William & Mary.
  • Horizon: Milwaukee eliminates regular season champion Green Bay
    Green Bay, the prohibitive favorite to win the Horizon League tournament, lost to Milwaukee 69-64 in overtime in one semifinal. Jordan Aaron led the winners with 28 points, hitting multiple key shots in both regulation and overtime. Keifer Sykes injured his ankle in the first half but he toughed it out for the Phoenix, who will now have a stressful eight-day wait to see if they can squeak into the NCAA tournament field. As a result of Green Bay’s loss Wright State will host the title game as a result of their 68-63 win over Cleveland State.
  • MAAC: No surprises in Springfield
    The top four seeds all advanced in the quarterfinals, with Canisius holding off Siena 71-65 in the tightest contest of the four. Top-seed Iona rolled to a 94-71 win over Rider to set up a matchup with the Golden Griffins, and Manhattan will face a Quinnipiac team that won both regular season meetings in the other semifinal.
  • MVC: No. 2 Wichita State moves to 33-0
    Gregg Marshall’s Shockers keep on rolling, as they overwhelmed Missouri State 67-42 in a semifinal matchup. Wichita State will face Indiana State in the title game, with the Sycamores surviving Southern Illinois by a final score of 62-59.
  • Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s upsets Wagner
    Jamion Christian’s Mountaineers pulled off the road upset, beating Wagner 77-72 on Staten Island. Mount St. Mary’s advances to the title game and they’ll be on the road again, with regular season champion Robert Morris holding off rival Saint Francis (PA) 60-57.
  • OVC: Eastern Kentucky punches its ticket
    Jeff Neubauer’s Colonels became the second team to cement its spot in the 68-team field, beating Belmont 79-73 for the OVC tournament title. Corey Walden led the way with 29 points, and EKU beat the top two seeds in the event on consecutive nights (beating Murray State on Friday).
  • Patriot: Top two seeds advance to title game
    Regular season champion Boston University and two-seed American both picked up home wins, advancing to Wednesday’s title game. BU, which beat Army 91-70, will get to host that game. American beat Holy Cross 57-46 in the other semifinal.
  • Southern: Georgia Southern eliminates Chattanooga
    Will Wade’s Mocs were knocked out of the SoCon quarters by Georgia Southern, which beat Chattanooga 62-55. Next up for the Eagles is Wofford, with the Terriers beating The Citadel 68-51. In the other semifinal top-seed Davidson (77-54 win over Samford) faces Western Carolina, with the Catamounts beating Elon 66-64.
  • Summit: IPFW rolls over IUPUI
    IPFW took care of business in the lone Summit League tournament game, whipping IUPUI 85-47. Luis Jacobo led four Mastodons in double figures with 19 points.
  • WCC: Top-seed Gonzaga survives
    Gonzaga nearly found itself in the unenviable position of scoreboard watching, but the Bulldogs are still alive after David Stockton’s layup with 1.6 seconds remaining gave them a 77-75 win over Santa Clara. Next up for Gonzaga is rival Saint Mary’s, which beat Pepperdine 80-69. The other semifinal matches BYU and San Francisco and keep an eye on the Dons, who have now wow six straight after beating San Diego 69-60.

NOTABLES

  • No. 11 Louisville and No. 15 Cincinnati clinched shares of the American Athletic Conference title, with the Cardinals whipping No. 19 UConn 81-48 and the Bearcats holding off Rutgers 70-66. Cincinnati won the coin flip, which means they’ll be the top seed in next week’s conference tournament.
  • No. 20 Memphis beat No. 18 SMU 67-58 but the Mustangs will still be the three-seed in the American conference tournament. Memphis will be the five, taking on UConn in the quarterfinals.
  • No. 10 San Diego State won the outright Mountain West title, beating No. 21 New Mexico 51-48.
  • The Pac-12’s Bay Area teams picked up needed home wins, with Stanford beating Utah 61-60 and Cal beating Colorado 66-65 in overtime.
  • Josh Newkirk’s basket at the end of regulation forced overtime, with Pittsburgh beating Clemson 83-76 in overtime.
  • Of the three SEC bubble teams only one made a positive statement, with Tennessee blowing out a reeling Missouri squad 72-45. As for Arkansas, they lost 83-58 at Alabama.
  • Dayton, which won at Saint Louis earlier this week, took care of business Saturday night by beating Richmond 60-48.
  • Jon Ekey’s three-pointer with five tenths of a second remaining gave Illinois a 66-63 win at No. 24 Iowa. The Hawkeyes have lost five of their last six heading into the Big Ten tournament.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 6 Villanova 77, Georgetown 59
  • No. 12 Michigan 84, Indiana 80
  • No. 23 Oklahoma 97, TCU 67

No. 1 Kansas dominates No. 4 Purdue in style

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Kansas, the top-seeded team in Midwest region, didn’t just beat No. 4 Purdue, it did so in style. Fast break after fast break, dunk after dunk, the Jayhawks ran the Boilermakers off the floor, advancing to the Elite Eight with a 98-66 win on Thursday night in Kansas City.

Kansas went on an 11-0 run in the second half, forcing four Purdue turnovers during that stretch. Once the Boilermakers finally got back on the board, the Jayhawks led 69-56. That run broke open the game en route to the 32-point victory.

Frank Mason II and Devonte Graham each had 26 points. Mason added seven rebounds and seven assists. Purdue’s Caleb Swanigan ended his season — and perhaps, his college career — with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Kansas advances to play No. 3 seed Oregon on Saturday in the Elite Eight.

WATCH: LaGerald Vick’s 360 dunk

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It takes a lot of confidence to throw down a dunk better suited for pre-game lay-up lines than the middle of a NCAA Tournament game.

But Kansas sophomore guard LaGerald Vick thought this breakaway opportunity in the second half of a Sweet 16 matchup against No. 4 seed Purdue was the perfect time to throw down a 360 dunk.

Jordan Mathews three sends No. 1 seed Gonzaga past No. 4 West Virginia

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Jordan Mathews hit a three with less than a minute left and West Virginia missed a pair of threes on the final possession of the game as No. 1 seed Gonzaga won a dogfight, 61-58, over No. 4 seed Gonzaga in the Sweet 16 on Thursday night.

Mathews, who finished with 13 points on the night, spent 4:30 on the bench before checking into the game right before hitting the eventual game-winning three. It came on a possession fitting of this game, which was the embodiment of the mantra ‘a close game is not always a good game.’ Nigel Williams-Goss, who played arguably his worst game as a member of the Zags, turned the ball over immediately after gathering a defensive rebound. But West Virginia’s Nathan Adrian had a shot blocked at the rim and, after corralling the loose ball, Williams-Goss found Mathews open in the wing for a three that put the Zags up 60-58 with 37 seconds left.

What’s going to be talked about after this game is the final possession for West Virginia.

Jevon Carter, who finished with 21 points and who, prior to that final possession, continued to hit big jumper after big jumper for the Mountaineers, airballed a three and, after West Virginia gathered the rebound, threw up another tough three that bounced off the front rim. West Virginia again got the loose ball, and after Carter dribbled 15 seconds off the block, he gave the ball up to Daxter Miles, who didn’t have enough time to get the shot off:

That possession is going to haunt Carter for a long, long time, and West Virginia was rightfully criticized for the way that they “executed” on that possession — I wonder if Bob Huggins regrets not saving a timeout for the end of the game — but it’s impossible to criticize West Virginia without also mentioning that Gonzaga’s defense was as good as it gets.

Not just just on that possession, either.

The Zags made life difficult for West Virginia all night long, and that should not come as a surprise to anyone that has been paying attention to this Gonzaga team. West Virginia shot 26.7 percent from the floor. They were 5-for-23 from three, and if it wasn’t for the 20 offensive rebounds they grabbed — more than the 16 field goals they made on the night — Gonzaga would have walked out of the SAP Center with a comfortable win. They are, quite literally, the best defensive team in college basketball, according to KenPom, and they made the plays they needed to make down the stretch to get the win. That’s what championship-caliber teams do.

And if you still don’t believe that Gonzaga can win a national title this season, than I’m not sure what else you need to see.

West Virginia was a terrible matchup for Gonzaga. Their guards, as good as they’ve been all season long, are not cut out for playing against a back court that is that much tougher, that much quicker, that much more aggressive and that much more athletic than them. Williams-Goss, who was a second-team NBC Sports All-American, was exposed. He finished the evening 2-for-10 from the floor with five turnovers and just a single assist before finding Mathews for the game-winning three. As a team, Gonzaga turned the ball over 16 times. Josh Perkins didn’t even get a shot off. Silas Melson was 2-for-7 from the floor. Throw in Zach Collins, who had just a single point, and four of Gonzaga’s top seven players were flat out bad on Thursday night.

That was, unequivocally, a game played the way West Virginia wanted it to be played. The Mountaineers controlled the game.

And yet, Gonzaga is still headed to the Elite 8, one game — against the winner of No. 2 Arizona and No. 11 Xavier — away from the right to go to the Final Four.

The knock on this Gonzaga team was their toughness, both physical and mental. Would they be able to handle a team that plays the way that West Virginia plays? Would they be able to handle the game pressure of playing to the final possession in the Sweet 16?

The answer is yes.

That doesn’t mean Gonzaga is going to win the national title.

But they are certainly good enough to get it done.

No. 3 Oregon advances after thriller with No. 7 Michigan

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Oregon is returning to the Elite Eight for the second consecutive season following a thrilling, 69-68, victory over No. 7 Michigan in the Sweet 16 in Kansas City on Thursday night.

In a game in which neither team could fully grasp control of the game, it came down to the wire. Michigan held a 3-point lead with two minutes to play. Jordan Bell, who was unquestionably the deciding factor in this contest, came up with the first of several critical hustle plays down the stretch. He knifed in on a missed free throw, for the second-chance bucket, cutting the deficit to one.

On the ensuing Michigan possession, Bell didn’t block it but affected Derrick Walton Jr.’s shot enough to force the miss. Tyler Dorsey, the other hero for the Ducks, continued his stellar play this month with a go-ahead layup after he spun through the Wolverine defense. Bell’s close out on D.J. Wilson sent his 3-point attempt way off the mark. Bell would corral another offensive rebound on the other end of the floor, and while Dylan Ennis left the door open for Michigan following another missed free throw, Bell, deservedly, rebounded Walton’s miss as time ran out.

“Do whatever you can to win,” Bell told reporters after the game. “Me, get every rebound, offense or defense, help my team out as much as possible.”

Bell had 16 points and 13 rebounds. Tyler Dorsey poured in 20 points. Walton Jr., who front-rimmed a potential game-winner at the buzzer, ended his collegiate career with stat-line of 20 points, eight assists, and five rebounds. Zak Irvin added 19.

Dillon Brooks is without a doubt the star, but Bell and Dorsey round out a big three that could lead the Ducks to Phoenix.

Before the start of the Pac-12 Tournament championship game on March 11, Oregon announced that Chris Boucher would miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. How would this effect Oregon’s defense days before it began its quest for a Final Four?

Bell has helped answer those questions on Thursday night. He’s a big reason why Oregon outscored Michigan, 34-16, in points in the paint. But his greatest impact was how he slowed down the two-headed monster of Moe Wagner and D.J. Wilson, two forwards whose increased production is a big reason why Michigan’s unlikely run extended into the second weekend of the tournament. The duo scored a combined 19 points off 7-of-20 shooting.

The other for Oregon was the continued offensive tear of Dorsey. In six postseason games, the sophomore two-guard is averaging 23.0 points per game. He went toe-to-toe with Walton, who was playing as good as any guard in the country, in the final minutes and got the better of the battle. Playing at this level, Oregon has another go-to scorer, one who has no issue taking a big shot late in the game. In either matchup in the next round, that should come in handy. Dillon Brooks, one of college’s toughest matchups, will either be busy with Purdue’s massive frontline or locked in an all-out war with Kansas’ Josh Jackson the perimeter.

“I’m really fortunate to have Jordan for three years and Tyler for two and Dillon Brooks,” Oregon head coach Dana Altman said. “We’ve just been really fortunate. We’ve got good players and guys that are unselfish. They want to win. They’re competitive. We got down four there and guys could have gave into it. They didn’t. They fought their way back. Shows you what kind of competitive spirit they’ve got.”

The Ducks, the No. 3 seed in the Midwest region, will face the winner of top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue on Saturday night at the Sprint Center.

“We know Purdue is really big and Kansas is Kansas,” Altman said.

WATCH: Steve Alford end practice with half-court shot

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UCLA head coach Steve Alford ended practice on Thursday by drilling a half-court shot on the first attempt.

According to the Associated Press, this has been a season-long battle between the UCLA coaching staff and the players.

“Truth be told, we’ve been getting slaughtered. We’ve got guys like Lonzo (Ball) literally takes a jump shot from the timeline. We were just lucky that they only got one shot at it. I think coaches are down about eight on the half-court shots this year. I told them, though, that the coaches are ahead at the Sweet 16. I don’t think they’re buying it.”

No. 3 seed UCLA is set to play No. 2 seed Kentucky in the Sweet 16 on Friday night in Memphis. The Bruins defeated the Wildcats, 97-92, in a non-conference matchup on Dec. 3.