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Desperate Texas gets big 87-79 win over No. 20 West Virginia

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AUSTIN, Texas — Their season fading and their big man still on the bench with a sprained toe, the Texas Longhorns were in desperate need of a big win to bolster their NCAA Tournament hopes.

They got it Saturday with an 87-79 overtime win over No. 20 West Virginia, spurred by guards Matt Coleman and Kerwin Roach II and a barrage of 3-pointers.

“We knew we were really going to have to fight,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “We also knew there was a ton on the line. We made that point … By the way, it’s not over.”

Roach and Coleman each scored 22 points and Jericho Sims added 17 points and eight rebounds for the Longhorns.

Texas (18-13, 8-10 Big 12) has struggled to gain traction or play with consistency in Smart’s third season. Missing the NCAA Tournament — Texas still isn’t guaranteed an at-large bid — would be a major blow to a program that finished last in the Big 12 last season.

“It would hurt a lot, especially after not making it last year. We have to play every game like it’s our last,” Roach said.

Texas has fought through its share of struggles. Shooting guard Andrew Jones has been out since early January after being diagnosed with leukemia. In just the last 10 days, freshman forward Mo Bamba, one of the top shot blockers in the country, injured his toe, and shooting guard Eric Davis Jr., has been held out for three games since his name surfaced in a report alleging he may have taken money from an agent representative.

Even with those players out, the worst offensive team in the Big 12 found an offensive symmetry Saturday it has lacked nearly all season. The Longhorns shot 57 percent and made 11-3 pointers, including two by Coleman and Jacob Young in the overtime.

“We can compete with anybody regardless of who we have on the team,” Roach said.

West Virginia led 48-42 early in the second half before Texas ripped off a 15-2 run keyed by a pair of 3-pointers from Dylan Osetkowski, who made five in the game. The Mountaineers forced overtime on Jevon Carter’s driving reverse layup with 1.6 seconds left in regulation.

Coleman put Texas up 76-74 with a 3-pointer from the right corner and made a short jumper before Young’s 3 pointer stretched the lead to seven and the Longhorns held on the rest of the way.

Lamont West scored 15 points for West Virginia (22-9, 11-7), which had five players score in double figures.

Texas hasn’t missed the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons since 1988, when the Longhorns were mired in a nine-year drought and Smart was 10 years old. Smart said he had to be careful about putting too much pressure on his players.

“You can’t build up this mindset in your head that if a certain game doesn’t go your way, you’re gonna jump off the top of a building,” Smart said.


West Virginia: The Mountaineers had already at least a tie for second place in the Big 12 and could have clinched the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a win. West Virginia’s press defense was effective in the first half, but did little to disrupt Texas in the second half and overtime. The Longhorns had five turnovers in the first five minutes, then just four the rest of the game. The Mountaineers’ inability to cover the 3-pointer kept Texas in the game early and proved especially costly in overtime.

“I have backed off of this team practicewise more than maybe any team I’ve ever coached. It’s probably a terrible mistake,” Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins said. “You hear so much about `They gotta have legs.’ We can’t shoot anyway when we do have legs. What difference does it make?”

Texas: The Longhorns are seeing a late-season emergence from Sims with Bamba out. Sims was 6 of 7, showing some power on dunks and rebounds and a deft touch with a soft sky hook. Sims’ first basket was a strong move around WVU forward Sagaba Konate for a two-handed flush in the opening minutes.

“I was trying to get revenge from the last time we played them,” Sims said. “With Mo being out, I’m trying to be more aggressive.”


Smart said Bamba, who is projected among this summer’s top picks in the NBA draft, wants to return but couldn’t say if that would be in the Big 12 tournament or the NCAA tournament if the Longhorns make it.

“We’re undermanned,” Smart said. “We’re really optimistic he’s going to play … hopefully in Kansas City,” at the Big 12 tournament, Smart said.


As impressive as Texas was shooting, the Longhorns muscled up against one of the toughest-rebounding teams in the Big 12 and won the boards 37-32. The Mountaineers dominated the Longhorns under the basket when these teams met back in January, a 35-point WVU victory

“West Virginia is a team that if you don’t stay connected, they can take your will from you,” Smart said. “We had that happen to us a month ago.”


West Virginia will play in the Big 12 Tournament

Texas will play in the Big 12 Tournament

Late run sparks Villanova past West Virginia, into Elite Eight

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.”