Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Jackson scores 18 as No. 16 Ohio State routs Rutgers 79-52

1 Comment

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Coming off two tough road losses that dropped them out of first place in the Big Ten, the No. 16 Ohio State Buckeyes got a feel-good win when they needed it.

A couple of underclassmen carried the Buckeyes on an emotional senior night. C.J. Jackson came off the bench to score 18 points, and freshman Kaleb Wesson added 14 as Ohio State routed Rutgers 79-52 on Tuesday.

After being upset by Penn State on Thursday and then Michigan on Sunday, the Buckeyes (23-7, 14-3 Big Ten) exploded in the second half, just as the Scarlet Knights folded.

“We were ready to get back on the court and try to get that bitter taste out of our mouths,” said guard Andrew Dakich, a graduate transfer who has contributed greatly as a ball-handler this season after playing three years at Michigan.

Keita Bates-Diop, Ohio State’s best player who likely was playing his last game at Value City Arena, called it a “perfect storm” of motivation.

Kam Williams, also playing in his last home game, had 13 points including a trio of 3-pointers. Senior Jae’Sean Tate contributed nine points and 10 rebounds.

Corey Sanders had 12 points for the Scarlet Knights (13-17, 3-14), who have lost eight of their last nine. They were hurt by the absence of Geo Baker, the team’s third-leading scorer who was out with the flu.

Ohio State led 32-27 at the half. The Buckeyes had built a 19-point lead coming off an 11-0 run with 5:41 left in the half but then went cold. Rutgers put together a 16-2 run to finish the half, during which Ohio State went 1 for 8 from the floor.

But Rutgers opened the second half 1 for 8, and Ohio State took control with an 18-2 run, and the rout was on.

“I thought we weren’t good offensively, but our defense kind of kept us around in the first half,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said. “Obviously we couldn’t sustain that in the second half. Our inability to score really affected our defense in the second half.”


Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights took advantage of a short period of cold shooting by Ohio State at the end of the first half that gave them hope, but they didn’t have nearly enough talent to keep it up in the second half.

Ohio State: Buckeyes did what was expected against a poor-shooting team after dropping two on the road and giving up eight spots in the AP Top 25.

“Young people today, they sometimes have a hard time recovering from tough stretches,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “Just to see the ball go in was good for them.”

They’ll need some help to win the regular-season conference title but have been one of the college basketball’s best stories this season.


Bates-Diop continued to struggle with his shooting. After starting the month as the likely candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year, he has had trouble scoring against more aggressive defenses.

He had just six points against Rutgers on 3-for-11 shooting, after grinding out 10 in the loss to Penn State and 17 against Michigan. In the two losses, he was a combined 9 for 28 from the floor, and 4 for 8 from 3-point range.

“This is a good team, and if I’m not hitting shots, everyone else is,” Bates-Diop said. “That’s all I care about.”

He has a year of eligibility remaining but likely will leave for the NBA. He graduated from Ohio State in December.


Rutgers: Finishes regular season Sunday at Illinois.

Ohio State: Finishes Friday at Indiana.


More AP college basketball at and

Late run sparks Villanova past West Virginia, into Elite Eight

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Leave a comment

BOSTON — It is always just a matter of time before the avalanche comes.

And when it does, you better hope that lead you have is big enough to withstand what’s coming.

For No. 5-seed West Virginia, it was not. With 11 minutes left on Friday night in Boston’s TD Garden, the Mountaineers led 60-54 and had seemingly wrestled control of the game from the No. 1-seed in the East Region. Less than five minutes later, after the Wildcats hit four of their next five threes, Villanova had taken a 76-66 lead by going on a 22-6 run, and West Virginia was never able to recover.

Jalen Brunson led the way for the top-seeded Wildcats with 27 points and four assists while Omari Spellman finished with 18 points, eight boards and three blocks and Mikal Bridges chipped in with 16 points despite playing relatively poorly — by his standards — on Friday.

With a 90-78 win, Villanova advanced to the Elite Eight and a date with the winner of tonight’s game No. 2 Purdue-No. 3 Texas Tech.

That’s the way that it works with this Villanova team. Armed with the most potent, high-volume three-point shooting attack in college basketball — maybe in the history of college basketball — fans of their opponents are just waiting for the inevitable.

On Friday night, Villanova shot 13-for-24 from three, which is damned-impressive and exactly what we expect at the same time, but the game was won during that five-minute surge when West Virginia just didn’t have an answer.

VIDEO: Omari Spellman, Eric Paschall with mammoth dunks for Villanova

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Villanova took the lead on West Virginia and turned the tide of momentum with a pair of emphatic dunks in transition.

It started with Omari Spellman, who had an unbelievable sequence, spiking a shot into the floor before throwing down a put-back dunk all over a defender:

A couple of possessions later, Eric Paschall finally did the impossible.

He dunked on Sagaba Konate:

I am having way too much fun at this game.

No. 1 Kansas into Elite Eight with win over No. 5 Clemson

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

OMAHA, Neb. — Once Kansas found its stride, Clemson had little chance of keeping pace – even after a late stumble.

The No. 1 Jayhawks ran away from the No. 5 Tigers with a second-half flurry that powered them to a 80-76 victory Friday night at CenturyLink Center to put them in the Elite Eight on Sunday against either Duke or Syracuse.

Kansas moves on to the Midwest Region final on the back of a second-half offense that Clemson had nearly no success in slowing until the final minutes, when the Tigers turned a 20-point laugher into  a six-point nail-biter.

Malik Newman paced Kansas with 17 points while Devonte Graham 16 and Udoka Azubuike 14 and 11 rebounds.

Clemson got 31 points from senior Gabe DeVoe, but there just wasn’t enough help around him for the Tigers to keep things competitive after the Jayhawks hit them with three-consecutive 3s in the opening minutes of the second half to open up a 20-point lead.

Clemson was already hanging on by a threat after it shot just 35.7 percent from the floor and committed eight turnovers. DeVoe’s 12 first-half points kept the Tigers afloat, but they never enjoyed a lead before halftime.

The Jayhawks, meanwhile, had five players  score at least six points in the first half, including 10 from Azubuike, Their usual strengths – 3-point shooting (4 of 13) and Devonte Graham (1 of 7) – were absent in the first half, but Clemson was unable to take advantage as Kansas continued to get quality looks inside and stops on defense.

The Jayhawks previously played Syracuse in December, beating the Orange by 16 on a neutral floor in Miami. They haven’t faced the Blue Devils, though they have already shared a building with them once this year in the Champion’s Classic. Kansas topped Kentucky, 65-61, while Duke defeated Michigan State, 88-81, that November night in Chicago.

VIDEO: Mikal Bridges tries to dunk on Sagaba Konate, gets denied

Screengrab via @CBSSports
Leave a comment

There really is nothing better in this world than seeing someone who is typically a great dunker take flight to try and dunk on Sagaba Konate of West Virginia, because it never, EVER ends well for the dunker.

See: Bridges, Mikal:

Auburn AD Greene gives Bruce Pearl a vote of confidence

Andy Lyons/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Speaking publicly for the first time about head coach Bruce Pearl, new Auburn athletic director gave his embattled head coach a vote of confidence.

Greene was on an in-house podcast produced with the voice of Auburn sports, and was asked about Pearl’s standing in a pod that lasted less than five minutes and felt more like a press release than anything else.

“He’s been a tremendous blessing for the Auburn family,” Greene said. “The FBI investigation is a long process. We’re going through that process to make sure that we, as a university, are doing what it is that we’re supposed to do to comply. Coach Pearl has been excellent in that regard and I look forward to continuing to work with him as we continue to do the very best to support he, his staff and the student athletes of Auburn University.”

This is the first time since former assistant coach Chuck Person was arrested that a member of the Auburn athletic department had spoken so positively about Pearl. In the fall, Auburn’s president Steven Leath lamented Pearl’s lack of cooperation in the investigation, but just last week released a statement saying Pearl is “working with university officials as part of our due diligence.” Pearl said after his team’s 84-53 loss to Clemson in the second round of the NCAA tournament that he would like to return.

There has been speculation that Pearl’s job was in jeopardy ever since Auburn was mixed up in the FBI’s complaint. Two players were forced to sit out this entire season after the FBI alleged they had received money funneled through Person from a runner for an agent and a financial advisor.

“One of the challenges that we have facing the industry is college basketball,” Greene said. “We want to make sure we work incredibly hard to clean up the game, to make it as pure as it can possibly be so that our student-athletes can enjoy the intercollegiate athletic experience. one of the things that we have to keep in mind is that the state of college basketball is not in a good place right now and I’m a little bit disappointed that auburn is involved in that, but that doesn’t take away from the excellent job that Coach Pearl has done.”