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TCU stuns No. 1 Kansas in Big 12 Tournament

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Trailing by double digits in the second half, No. 1 Kansas rallied but blew a late lead as TCU pulled off the upset, 85-82, on Thursday afternoon in a stunning upset in the Big 12 Tournament.

With the game tied, Horned Frogs freshman Desmond Bane was fouled by Svi Mykhailiuk while shooting a corner three-pointer with 2.5 seconds left and buried all three free throws to clinch the win for the Horned Frogs. Kansas junior Devonte Graham missed a tying three-point attempt at the buzzer after a length-of-the-floor pass on the ensuing Jayhawk possession.

Playing without freshman star Josh Jackson (one-game suspension for violation of team rules), the Jayhawks struggled to find their footing until the final stretch of the second half. After taking the lead in the final few minutes, Kansas blew a four-point lead with the ball with under two minutes left as the Horned Frogs never blinked when they were down.

TCU (19-14) was led by Kenrich Williams with 18 points as they had a balanced effort with five double-figure scorers. This is the Horned Frogs’ first ever win in a Big 12 Tournament quarterfinal game. Bane added 16 points for TCU while Alex Robinson (13 points), Brandon Parrish (12 points) and Vladimir Brodziansky (11 points) also finished in double-figures.

Senior Frank Mason helped Kansas (28-4) come back with 29 points and six assists while Svi Mykhailiuk had 18 points. Playing through a leg injury that was suffered in the first half, Devonte Graham finished with 10 points while senior Landen Lucas had a good game on the interior with 13 points and 14 rebounds.

TCU moves on to face No. 4 seed Iowa State as their NCAA tournament stock becomes something to keep an eye on since they just beat a potential No. 1 seed. It’s likely a bit too late for the Horned Frogs to make a move on an at-large bid after a seven-game Big 12 losing streak late in the season but this win is one of the best any team will have all season. For a team that has lost so many close games during Big 12 play, this was a monumental win for head coach Jamie Dixon in his first season.

It’s hard to say if this win can catapult TCU into the NCAA tournament this year but it is the kind of statement win the program was looking for when they brought in Dixon. This win shows that TCU can hang with the baddest team in the Big 12 in postseason play and this young roster will remember that in future seasons.

Kansas was a legitimate contender for No. 1 overall seed until this loss. We’ll have to see what the committee decides to do with them from here. Obviously, having Jackson back will help quite a bit on both ends of the floor.

Don’t freak out over this loss; Kansas is still a national title contender and they can still have a No. 1 seed depending on how some other things play out. But this loss is still concerning because the Jayhawks blew a four-point lead with the ball with 1:40 left because of turnovers on back-to-back possessions. The Jayhawks have usually closed out games this season but this kind of letdown is very concerning heading into the tournament.

We know the Jayhawks are going to be tested in close games during March and we’ll have to see how they respond after this surprising loss.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.

South Carolina fans raise money to send “Gamecock Jesus” to Final Four

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South Carolina fans are sending one of their most recognizable compatriots to represent them this weekend.

Gamecock Jesus is heading to the Final Four.

South Carolina super fan Carlton Thompson is following the Gamecocks to Glendale as his fellow fans have raised over $7,500 to send the man known as “Gamecock Jesus” to Arizona for the team’s Final Four meeting with Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Thompson’s long hair, beard and presence at South Carolina games, even in lean times, earned him his nickname and apparently a following fervent enough to foot the bill for quite the trip.

“I’ve always dreamed it would be like this,” Thompson said last week about fan support at Gamecock games to the Post and Courier. “For years and years, it was so sparse with the crowds at the games. But once they started winning, the crowds started coming.”

Thompson is a 63-year-old VA hospital nurse, and has been attending South Carolina games for nearly 50 years.

Maryland’s Melo Trimble declares for the NBA Draft

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Melo Trimble’s career as a Maryland Terrapin is coming to an end. The junior guard is declaring for the NBA Draft and will sign with an agent.

“I am confident and excited to pursue an opportunity to play in the NBA,” Trimble said in a release. “I am proud of what my teammates and I were able to accomplish these past three seasons at Maryland. I developed many great relationships and friendships and together we able to create some very special moments for Maryland basketball. I want to thank Coach Turgeon for all of his support. He always believed in me. He challenged me and really helped in the development of my overall game. I am a more complete basketball player because of Coach Turgeon and the coaching staff. To stay at home and attend the University of Maryland is the best decision that I ever made and it was truly special to play in front of my family, friends and our amazing fans. Maryland will always be home.”

There was no better winner in college basketball the last three years than Melo. He changed the trajectory of Mark Turgeon’s program, winning 79 games in three years and ending his career 30-8 in games decided by six points or less. As a junior, Trimble and the Terps earned a No. 6 seed to the NCAA tournament, but they lost in the first round to Xavier. It was the only time in Trimble’s career that he didn’t reach the Sweet 16.

“Melo Trimble is a winner,” Mark Turgeon said on twitter. “Humble, hard-working, dedicated. Words can’t express what he’s done for our program. Always #StayMelo!”