LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 12 Creighton outlasts Ole Miss

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 12 Creighton 86, Ole Miss 77

After putting 100 points on Washington State, and more impressively, against N.C. State, the Bluejays jumped 10 spots in the rankings as they took on Ole Miss in the U.S. Virgin Island Paradise Jam championship game. However, No. 12 Creighton found itself down by double digits in the first half thanks to the sharp shooting of Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks coupled with the Rebels ability to control the pace. Marcus Foster kept Creighton within striking distance, at 46-40, with 17 first half points.

The Jays caught fire in the second half, dropping 46 points after halftime. Defensively, they stood strong, holding the Rebels had only one field goal over the final five-plus minutes.


Georgetown 65, No. 13 Oregon 61: Georgetown nearly surrendered a 17-point halftime lead, as the Ducks to a brief 43-42 edge in the second half. However, the Hoyas countered with a run of their own and were able to hold on to a signature win after a week in which they suffered a late-game collapse against Maryland followed by a wire-to-wire loss to Arkansas State. Oregon saw its All-American candidate, Dillon Brooks, make his season debut after offseason foot surgery. He was limited to only 13 minutes, but showed flashes of what we can expect from him.

Winthrop 84, Illinois 80 (OT): This could be a pivotal year for John Groce, in his fourth season in Champaign. After a 4-0 start, the Fighting Illini dropped an overtime loss to Big South favorite Winthrop. Keon Johnson erupted for 38 points in the victory.

Oklahoma State 97, UConn 90: A preseason top-20 team, UConn falls to 1-3 with losses to Wagner and Northeastern, and now finds itself on the wrong side of the Maui Invitational bracket. The Huskies fell behind by double figures early before a late-game comeback attempt came up short.

Northwestern 77, No. 22 Texas 58: The Wildcats will meet Notre Dame in the Legends Classic final as they rolled past the Longhorns. Shaka Smart has talent on the perimeter, but does he have a point guard? Texas ended with double the turnovers as it had assists.


  • Rodney Pryor, Georgetown: The Robert Morris graduate transfer helped spark a 16-4 run to close out the half, giving the Hoyas a 17-point lead. Georgetown nearly blew the large lead in the second half, but behind Pryor’s 26 points and 10 rebounds, the Hoyas landed a signature win over No. 13 Oregon after back weekend back in D.C. Georgetown gets to play No. 16 Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational semifinals on Tuesday.
  • Keon Johnson, Winthrop: The frontrunner to be Big South Player of the Year, dropped 38 points, off 15-of-21 shooting, in a road win over Illinois on Monday night. Johnson also added six boards and three assists.
  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: The undersized junior forward registered his first double-double of the season, posting 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in an 89-83 win over Colorado in the Legends Classic. Several of Colson’s boards kept secure the win, as the Buffaloes attempted to pull off a double-digit comeback late in regulation.
  • Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: One of the criminally-unknown players in college basketball dropped 35 points on the Huskies. Sure, it took him 24 shots to do so, but he also had six assists and committed only a single turnover.

TOP 25

  • No. 4 North Carolina cruised past Chaminade, 104-61, in the Maui opener.
  • The perimeter of Frank Mason, Devonte Graham and Josh Jackson combined for 48 points in an No. 5 Kansas’ 83-63 win over a good UAB team in CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
  • Northern Colorado put No. 8 Arizona on upset alert with a 31-30 halftime lead. But behind Lauri Markkanen’s 17 points and 13 rebounds — the first double-double of his collegiate career — the Wildcats held on for a 71-55 win. How long before the absence of Allonzo Trier catches up with ‘Zona?
  • Ole Miss not only jumped out to an 11-point lead, but the Rebels controlled the pace. Despite that, No. 12 Creighton still dropped 86 points to capture the Paradise Jam title. Marcus Foster, who dropped 25 points took home MVP honors.
  • No. 13 Oregon got Dillon Brooks back, but took its second loss of the non-conference schedule, as Georgetown, which needed to stop the bleeding, held on for a 65-61 win in the Maui Invitational quarterfinals.
  • No. 16 Wisconsin got a scare from Tennessee, but Nigel Hayes, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, hit some timely threes to halt the upset bid.


  • Dennis Smith Jr. had a season-high 24 points, as N.C. State gets back in the win column in a consolation win over Saint Joseph’s
  • The first three games of the Gulf Coast Showcase were decided by a total of six points
    • Vermont 60, Wofford 59
    • Hofstra 92, Bradley 90
    • South Dakota 80, Kent State 77
  • In the final Gulf Coast Showcase wasn’t as close, as Rob Gray Jr. scored 23 points in a 93-56 win over George Mason
  • Blue Mountain College, an NAIA team, defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff in triple overtime, 77-74
  • Aaron Menzies posted 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Seattle’s win over Louisiana Monroe in a Legends Classic regional game
  • J.J. Frazier’s 18 points paced Georgia in a win over George Washington in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic
  • Zach Denny’s three in the final minute gave Bowling Green its first win of the season, as the Falcons topped Murray State 78-77
  • Nana Foulland, one of the best mid-major players no one talks about, recorded 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Bucknell defeated Vanderbilt on the road
  • Rodney Bullock had
  • Bogdan Bliznyuk had a 32-point game for Eastern Washington in a victory over Bryant
  • Central Michigan topped Pepperdine, 88-77, behind 36 points and seven assists from Marcus Keene
  • Eric Mika had his third double-double in four games, leading BYU over Saint Louis, 92-62, in the MGM Grand Main Event.
  • Underclassmen forward Nate Fowler and Joey Brunk combined for 27 points off the bench for Butler

2018 NCAA Tournament: Azubuike’s presence huge as No. 1 Kansas holds off No. 8 Seton Hall

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It turns out Kansas is a whole heck of a lot better when Udoka Azubuike is in the floor.

Who knew?

The sophomore center returned Saturday for extended minutes after being limited with a knee injury to help the No. 1 Jayhawks to a 83-79 win over No. 8 Seton Hall to earn a spot in the Sweet 16.

Azubuike had 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks, but the strongest stat in his column was his plus-minus. When he was on the floor, Kansas bested the Pirates by 21 points. When he was off, the Jayhawks got outscored by 17, and there is noise in that number as Seton Hall continued to put them on the foul line in the last minute with Azubuike on the bench.

The 7-footer’s importance to Kansas has been apparent all season, but it was even starker against the Pirates, whose Angel Delgado feasted when Azubuike wasn’t on the floor.  Seton Hall’s double-double machine finished with 24 points and 23 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to power the Pirates into next week. Neither was Khadeen Carrington’s 28 points, all but two of which came after halftime.

Azubuike’s critical role for Kansas is three-fold. First, he’s very talented. Second, he makes the four-out offense possible. Third, the drop-off behind him – apologies to Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa – is rather significant.

Kansas, which got 28 points from Malik Newman, has to play a very specific way offensively with guard-heavy roster. The Jayhawks have to get up a ton of 3s, and they’ve got to make a bunch of them. Without Azubuike in the middle drawing attention and making it difficult for defenders to stay hugged-up on shooters on the perimeter, the architecture of the offense can crumble in on itself.

Azubuike certainly isn’t a perfect or dominant player, but he rebounds well, blocks shots and makes about three-quarters of his shots. Which, of course, means he fits his role perfectly for maybe the most vulnerable Kansas team in Bill Self’s tenure. The Jayhawks’ margin for error, at least at this juncture against the competition they’re going to see in Omaha, is pretty small. Deviate from the plan and things can get away from them quickly. Duke and Michigan State, Kansas’ presumptive opponents in the Elite Eight, will punish them for any missteps or holes in their gameplan.

Azubuike is the linchpin. When he’s in place, things hold together. When he’s not, there’s trouble.

No. 11-seed Loyola-Chicago beats No. 3 Tennessee to advance to Sweet 16

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Cinderella is headed to the Sweet 16!

For the second time in this tournament, trailing 62-61 on the final possession of the game, Loyola-Chicago has won.

On Thursday, the Ramblers got the benefit of a missed Lonnie Walker free throw and a game-winning three from Donte Ingram to beat No. 6-seed Miami, 64-62.

On Saturday, the situation was almost the same — the Ramblers had the ball with 10.5 seconds left on the clock — but the execution was different.

Clayton Custer hit a jumper with 3.6 seconds left to answer Grant Williams’ and-one and send Loyola-Chicago to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

In the immortal words of Gus Johnson, the slipper still fits:

Loyola was in control of this game for the majority of the second half and led by eight points at the under-four time out, but a pair of threes from Tennessee set up Williams’ and-one on Tennessee’s final possession. Jordan Bone had a shot to win the game at the buzzer that bounced off the back of the rim.

Aundre Jackson led the Ramblers 16 points off the bench as No. 11-seed Loyola landed their second upset of the weekend, beating No. 3-seed Tennessee, 63-62, in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Those 16 points that Jackson scored were the most that any Loyola player scored in either of their games this weekend. The 10 shots that Jackson took in the first round win over No. 3-seed Miami was the only time in those two games that a Rambler player had double-digit field goal attempts. They held Miami and Tennessee to a combined 116 points.

I say all that to say this: Loyola is not a typical Cinderella team. They don’t have some superstar scorer that carried them to this point in the tournament, like a Jairus Lyles from UMBC or a Jon Elmore from Marshall. They’re not a high-scoring team or a team that just-so-happened to catch fire from three at the right time. What they are is a smart, tough and extremely well-coached group that is everything you think of when you picture Missouri Valley basketball.

They aren’t going to give up penetration defensively. They are going to pound the defensive glass. They aren’t going to commit silly turnovers or take dumb shots. They’ll run their offense and trust that whatever their coach calls is going to get them the shot they need to get.

They will not beat themselves, and if you are going to beat them, you’re going to work for every possession.

And it’s worked.

Loyola will advance to Atlanta where they will face the winner of Sunday’s game between No. 2 Cincinnati and No. 7 Nevada. With Buffalo losing and either No. 10-seed Butler or No. 11-seed Syracuse counting as anything close to a mid-major, Loyola, Marshall and UMBC are the only true Cinderella teams left in the tournament. The 16th-seeded UMBC Retrievers, who became the first No. 16 seed to get to the second round of the tournament after a Friday night win over top overall seed Virginia, take on No. 9-seed Kansas State on Sunday while No. 13-seed Marshall gets a date with in-state an rival, No. 5 West Virginia.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander paces No. 5 Kentucky past No. 13 Buffalo

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Its deficit cut to five, Buffalo zipped down the floor in transition. The ball found Jeremy Harris, who stepped into his 3-point shot attempt and let it fly as the crowd in Boise was ready to blow the roof off Taco Bell Arena, hopeful they’d have the chance to will the Bulls to an upset of Kentucky. The shot barrelled toward the basket, carrying Buffalo’s Sweet 16 dreams with it.

The ball, along with control of the game, clanged off the rim and bounced into Kentucky’s hands.

The No. 5 Wildcats turned away No. 13 Buffalo, 95-75, on Saturday to advance to the NCAA tournament’s second weekend.

Buffalo got 26 points from Wes Clark and 18 from CJ Massinburg, and made the Wildcats sweat deep into the second round until things spiraled away from them. Making just 7 of 31 shots from 3-point range and your opponent shooting 56.3 percent from the floor is no recipe for an upset.

Even with a rough shooting day, Buffalo threatened Kentucky time and again, but at every turn, the Wildcats had Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

The 6-foot-6 freshman was simply spectacular, scoring 27 points on 10 of 12 shooting. He added six rebounds and six assists for good measure.

Gilgeous-Alexander was an unsolvable problem for Buffalo. The Bulls were never able to find a way to corral or deny him. He just got what he wanted when he wanted it, and what he wanted was buckets. Lots of them.

Inconsistency has been the pock on Gilgeous-Alexander’s rookie campaign, but in recent weeks he’s found his groove. He’s scored in double-digits in nine-straight games. He’s either made shots or gotten to the free-throw line. Sometimes both.

For a Kentucky team without a dominant player, Gilgeous-Alexander’s emergence as a go-to and consistent scorer is huge. The Wildcats are going to have an athletic advantage in almost every game they play. If they’ve got a guy other than Kevin Knox they can count on for 15-plus, that’s going to take a lot of pressure off an offense that doesn’t have the benefit of much in the way of shooting.

The path for Kentucky to the Elite 8 looks incredibly navigable after Virginia’s stunning and historic loss Friday to UMBC. The Wildcats will have to beat a nine or 16 seed to be just 40 minutes from another Final Four.

If Gilgeous-Alexander can continue to be the offensive weapon he’s turned into over the last month, San Antonio may very well be hosting Big Blue Nation in April.

VIDEO: Buffalo’s Nick Perkins posterizes Kevin Knox

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Buffalo and Kentucky are locked in an entertaining battle on Saturday afternoon, and while Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been completely dominant, the play of the day comes courtesy of the Bulls.

After Kentucky pushed their lead to 10 points with less than nine minutes left, Nick Perkins — who is known for as a three-point shooter than anything else — dunked on Kentucky’s soon-to-be lottery pick, Kevin Knox, emphatically:

Bettor wins $16,000 on UMBC wager

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The whole country became UMBC fans throughout Saturday night as the Retrievers attempted – and ultimately pulled off – the first-ever 16-over-1 upset in the NCAA tournament against Virginia.

There may have been one person at The Venetian in Las Vegas cheering a little more than most, though. They had a little more on the line. The moneyline, to be exact. 

One bettor won $16,000 on a $800 wager that UMBC would beat the Cavaliers, which is exactly what they did, 74-54, in Charlotte.

While the bet paid off this time and it makes for an all-time story, it’s probably best not to make this your betting strategy. If you would have bet 800 bucks on every 16 seed every year, you would have been $108,000 in the hole before getting your Retriever payout and riding a rough 135-bet losing streak. Can’t win without buying a ticket, though, right?

And it’s not like that the person who just cashed a $16,000 check cares about that at the moment. Also no word on how they’re betting UMBC against Kansas State, either. The Wildcats are 10.5-point favorites, if you were wondering.