Fred VanVleet, Cleanthony Early

Don’t let Sunday’s loss sully what Wichita State accomplished this year

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ST. LOUIS — Wichita State finishes the 2013-14 college basketball season at 35-1 and as one of the biggest historical question marks in recent college basketball history.

The No. 1 seed Shockers were the first team to go undefeated into the NCAA Tournament since UNLV in 1991 but many questioned how good Wichita State legitimately was, not only this season, but historically speaking.

The Shockers made the Final Four last season and lost to Louisville in a close contest, but head coach Gregg Marshall’s team only played five NCAA Tournament teams this season — Tulsa, BYU, Saint Louis, Tennessee and North Carolina Central — and many questioned how good the Shockers could actually be if they played such a weak schedule.

RELATEDHype was justified | How good can Kentucky be?

Those questions were answered — in full — on Sunday afternoon when Wichita State lost on its final shot of the season against preseason No. 1 Kentucky.

Many talked about Kentucky potentially going 40-0 in the preseason; Wichita State nearly lived it.

A Shocker team led by a junior college transfer, a former walk-on and a vast array of under-recruited “mid-major” prospects came one missed three-pointer away from beating a team with seven All-Americans after those All-Americans threw their best combination in a 15-round heavyweight fight.

“That was an Elite 8 game,” Kentucky head coach John Calipari said after the game. “The winner of that game could have gone to the Final Four.”

College basketball hasn’t seen a mid-major storyline like this since Gordon Hayward nearly gave Butler a national championship in front of its home crowd in Indianapolis against powerhouse Duke.

Media members were buzzing in the hallways of the Scottrade Center on Sunday about the high caliber of play from both teams with many asking aloud if it was the greatest Round of 32 game ever played.

“It’s just tough to end such an amazing run like this,” sophomore guard Ron Baker said. “(We) lost to a very good team that came out and played well. And I feel like if they continue to play like that throughout the tournament, they will be tough to beat.”

Wichita State should feel no shame for going on college basketball’s biggest stage — with Sunday’s game being the only game televised at the time — and shooting 55 percent from the field and 47 percent from the three-point line. Like Butler, the Shockers came one shot away from beating one of college basketball’s biggest perennial juggernauts.

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“You know, it’s hard. You mention the finality of it. We won’t be able to coach these seniors anymore. But it’s been such a fun, enjoyable, magical season. I mean, it’s literally been a magic carpet ride that I mentioned a week or so ago. And to have it end is going to be something that we have to get used to,” Marshall said. “But I still think in retrospect we will look back at it and just be so proud. I hope that you’re around when we come back for the ceremony in 20 years or whatever it’s going to be and we can reminisce and it’s pretty special.”

Wichita State was not a “mid-major” program this season. Or last year for that matter. The Shockers only had six wins come within single digits and only one win went to overtime. The Shockers didn’t just beat people, they dominated them.

College basketball hasn’t seen a mid-major program sustain a two-year period of success like this since Butler made back-to-back national title games in 2010 and 2011. Now, Brad Stevens is coaching the Boston Celtics and the Bulldogs reside in the Big East.

With a tremendously loyal fan base and a blossoming program, Wichita State might be the next team to make a similar leap to the permanent big leagues of power conference play.

And they deserve it.

Cleanthony Early, Baker, Tekele Cotton and Fred VanVleet were household names this season — receiving every team’s best shot along the way — and they still held court 35 straight times.

“It’s bittersweet. I wanted it to end a little different, but I have to understand certain facts,” Early said. “I’m sure I’ll continue working really hard to be successful. I am sure my teammates will, and it is what it is.”

“I feel for their team and I feel for their coach,” Calipari said. “And Gregg, understand what he did to keep these guys on point was nothing short of miraculous. I have done it where I had to coach teams that were 26-0, 20-0. I’m telling you, each game there is more and more pressure to win.”

Wichita State might have lost to Kentucky on Sunday — and its perfect season to boot — but they should take pride in knowing that they gave one of college basketball’s most talented teams of all-time all that it could handle.

College basketball fans will be talking about this game for a long time.

“I don’t have any control over what folks want to believe or think that they saw. I know what’s in my heart, I know what I saw,” Marshall said. “I thought I saw a very high-level basketball game between two incredibly gifted teams, that one team won by one play, one basket, two points. And to take anything away from what these young men have done all season long, and more importantly, how they’ve done it, if they want to do that, so be it, good for them.”

PHOTO: Drake wears jersey of Zion Williamson, 2018 recruit

Drake
AP Photo
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Drake, who is famous for jumping on bandwagons and Canada’s most well-known Kentucky basketball fan, was spotted in an Instagram post wearing the jersey of Zion Williamson, one of the best players in the Class of 2018:

@mikewillmadeit @troubledte6

A photo posted by champagnepapi (@champagnepapi) on

This Williamson kid is good, too.

Well, he’s great for the mixtapes.

Because he does stuff like this:

2017 McDonald’s All-Americans announced

Atlanta, GA - MAY 27: Nike EYBL. Session 4. Michael Porter, Jr. #1 of KD Mokan Elite dribbles. (Photo by Jon Lopez)
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Rosters for the 2017 McDonald’s All-American game were announced on Sunday night as the game is headlined by Kentucky (four) having the most committed prospects in the game for the second consecutive season. Duke and UCLA also have two All-Americans each while seven players remain uncommitted.

Alabama, Arizona, Kansas, Miami, Michigan State, Oregon, USC, Washington and Western Kentucky all have one McDonald’s All-American each.

The 40th McDonald’s All-American game is scheduled for March 29 at the United Center in Chicago.

Here are the rosters for the East and West:

EAST

Mohamed Bamba, 6-foot-11, Westtown School (West Chester, PA) — undecided
Wendell Carter, 6-foot-9, Pace Academy (Atlanta, GA) — committed to Duke
Trevon Duval, 6-foot-3, IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL) — undecided
Quade Green, 6-foot-1, Neumann Goretti High School (Philadelphia, PA) — committed to Kentucky
Kevin Knox, 6-foot-8, Tampa Catholic High School (Tampa, FL) — undecided
Nick Richards, 6-foot-11, The Patrick School (Hillside, NJ) — committed to Kentucky
Mitchell Robinson, 6-foot-11, Chalmette High School (Chalmette, LA) — committed to Western Kentucky
Collin Sexton, 6-foot-3, Pebblebrook High School (Mableton, GA) — committed to Alabama
Lonnie Walker, 6-foot-4, Reading High School (Reading, PA) — committed to Miami
P.J. Washington, 6-foot-8, Findlay Prep (Henderson, NV) — committed to Kentucky
Kris Wilkes, 6-foot-7, North Central High School (Indianapolis, IN) — committed to UCLA
Jarred Vanderbilt, 6-foot-8, Victory Prep Academy (Houston, TX) — committed to Kentucky

WEST

DeAndre Ayton, 7-foot-0, Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, AZ) — committed to Arizona
Brian Bowen, 6-foot-7, La Lumiere School (LaPorte, IN) — undecided
Troy Brown Jr., 6-foot-7, Centennial High School (Las Vegas, NV) — committed to Oregon
Jaylen Hands, 6-foot-3, Foothills Christian High School (El Cajon, CA) — committed to UCLA
Jaren Jackson, 6-foot-11, La Lumiere School (LaPorte, IN) — committed to Michigan State
Brandon McCoy, 6-foot-11, Cathedral Catholic High School (San Diego, CA) — undecided
Charles O’Bannon Jr., 6-foot-6, Bishop Gorman High School (Las Vegas, NV) — committed to USC
Michael Porter Jr., 6-foot-10, Nathan Hale High School (Seattle, WA) — committed to Washington
Billy Preston, 6-foot-10, Oak Hill Academy (Mount of Wilson, VA) — committed to Kansas
Gary Trent Jr., 6-foot-5, Prolific Prep (Napa, CA) — committed to Duke
M.J. Walker, 6-foot-5, Jonesboro High School (Jonesboro, GA) — undecided
Trae Young, 6-foot-2, Norman North High School (Norman, OK) — undecided

Conference breakdown of McDonald’s All-Americans

Pac-12: 6
SEC: 5
ACC: 3
Big 12: 1
Big Ten: 1
Conference USA: 1
Undecided: 7

VIDEO: Tom Crean loses his mind at garbage time alley-oop

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Indiana landed a 76-57 win over Rutgers on Sunday, a win that the Hoosiers badly needed; well, maybe the better way to phrase it is that Indiana couldn’t afford to lose this game.

Whatever the case is, the bottom-line is this: Indiana got a win in impressive enough fashion that they could clear the bench at the end of the game.

That resulted in Devonte Green attempting to throw an alley-oop to Freddie McSwain at the buzzer.

While up 19.

And that, in turn, cause Tom Crean to lose his mind:

WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 basketball doubleheader Sunday on NBCSN

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 13: A detailed view of a Spalding basketball during a quarterfinal game between the Davidson Wildcats and La Salle Explorers in the 2015 Men's Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 13, 2015 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
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The Atlantic 10 invades NBCSN and the NBC Sports app on Sunday with two games that will air as part of a doubleheader.

It starts with UMass at Rhode Island at 2:30 p.m. and concludes with George Washington heading to La Salle at 4:30 p.m.

CLICK HERE to watch the Atlantic 10 on NBCSN

No. 13 Oregon routs Oregon State 85-43

EUGENE, OR - DECEMBER 11: Dillon Brooks #24 of the Oregon Ducks shoots the ball over Ar'Mond Davis #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of the game at Matthew Knight Arena on December 11, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) Payton Pritchard and No. 13 Oregon made the 40-mile bus ride a wasted trip for Oregon State in the latest leg of college basketball’s most-played rivalry.

As it turned out, the 347th Civil War wasn’t much more than a neighborhood skirmish.

Pritchard had 17 points and Oregon scored the game’s first 21 points in an 85-43 victory over Oregon State on Saturday night.

“Defense,” Pritchard said of the fast start. “When we start off going hard on defense, locking up, that’s going to happen for us.”

Dylan Ennis added 16 points to help the Ducks (16-2, 5-0 Pac-12) win their 14th consecutive game – their longest such streak in 70 years – and 36th in a row at home. Dillon Brooks and Casey Benson each had 11 points.

Drew Eubanks had 19 points to lead the Beavers (4-14, 0-5), and Stephen Thompson Jr. added 10 points. They have lost 10 of their last 11 games.

“I think we were nervous,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said. “They came out and got physical with us and we had a couple of guys that didn’t know how to respond to their physicality.”

So dominant was Oregon from the opening tip that Oregon State needed more than nine minutes to make a field goal and had four of its first nine attempts blocked. The Beavers didn’t have more points than turnovers until Eubanks hit two free throws to cut the Ducks’ lead to 31-11 after 14 minutes.

“Our defensive intensity was really good to start the game,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “I liked our activity the whole first half. Guys really flew around pretty good.”

Oregon State shot 4 of 24 (16.7 percent) in the first half. Eight of those 20 misses were blocked.

After leading 41-13 at the half, Oregon started the second on a 16-5 run to go up by 37 points. The Ducks’ largest lead was 43 in the final minute.

Oregon had assists on its first eight field goals and finished with 23 assists while shooting 27 of 52 (51.9 percent) overall and 11 of 23 (47.8 percent) from 3-point range.

“I don’t think we made a 3 that wasn’t off an assist tonight,” Altman said. “When our ball movement was good, we scored baskets.”

Jordan Bell had four of Oregon’s 12 blocks, one off the school record, and Chris Boucher had three. Oregon now has 137 blocks on the season to lead the nation.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State is now 2-10 since losing leading scorer Tres Tinkle, who averaged 20.2 points through the first six games, to a broken right wrist in late November. His status remains indefinite.

Oregon is one victory away from matching the school record for consecutive wins (15), which dates back to 1913. The Ducks have won 14 straight for the sixth time in their history but only the second time since World War II.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oregon, after climbing eight spots in the past two weeks, may improve its position with at least two teams ranked above it having lost.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Oregon’s 42-point margin was its largest in 161 Civil War victories. Oregon State has 187 wins in the series, including one by 43 points.

HE SAID IT

Altman said Boucher, who leads the Ducks in scoring at 13.7 points, told him before the game that he was fine continuing to play off the bench. Boucher hasn’t started since missing two games with a sprained ankle in mid-December. “For a player to say, `Use me however you’ve got to use me to win the game,’ that’s unselfish and that creates chemistry,” Altman said.

WAY TO GO, CHARLIE

The biggest cheer from what remained of the announced sellout crowd of 12,364 came when senior walk-on Charlie Noebel hit a 3-pointer with 39 seconds left for his first points of the season and his second field goal in 21 games spanning three seasons.

UP NEXT

Oregon State will try to break its five-game losing streak when it hosts Stanford on Thursday night.

Oregon stays home to face California on Thursday night and Stanford on Saturday.