Rob Dauster

VIDEO: Northwestern earns first tournament win after Vanderbilt commits intentional foul up one

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No. 8 Northwestern won the first NCAA tournament game in the history of the program thanks to some clutch shooting and a bone-headed foul committed by No. 9 Vanderbilt.

The Wildcats and the Commodores traded baskets for the final two minutes of this game, with the lead changing hands seven times in that stretch. After Vandy’s Riley LaChance scored a tough runner with just under 20 seconds left in the game to give the ‘Dores a 66-65 lead, teammate Matthew Fisher-Davis lost his mind and committed an intentional foul in the back court:

Bryant McIntosh would hit both free throws and LaChance missed a go-ahead three with five seconds left, as the Wildcats would go on to win, 68-66.

Fisher-Davis said he thought Vandy was down 1. When Commodores coach Bryce Drew pointed for him to pick up McIntosh, Fisher-Davis thought he was saying to foul him.

“It was a collective effort in coming back, and it was my dumb mistake why we lost,” Fisher-Davis said after the game.

This is just such a brutal was for a team to lose a game, and I cannot imagine being in Fisher-Davis’ shoes right now. This was the only tournament game being played at the time — the late tips didn’t start for another 10 minutes and the only other afternoon tip had ended 10 minutes before the foul — meaning that everyone saw this happen. He’s not going to live that down, and the cruel irony is that if it wasn’t for his 22-point performance, Vandy would never have been in a position for him to make this mistake.

Northwestern’s win is March at its absolute best.

But what Fisher-Davis is going to go through is the other side of it, a heartbreaking loss and a career-defining mistake that will never leave him.

McIntosh finished with 25 points for Northwestern, making big shot after big shot down the stretch. The Wildcats were up by 15 points midway through the second half, but Vanderbilt made a run.

Northwestern advances to take on No. 1 seed Gonzaga on Saturday in the second round.

Affidavit: Josh Jackson threatened to ‘beat’ women’s player

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — One day before top-seeded Kansas opens NCAA Tournament play, court officials release an affidavit that says freshman star Josh Jackson threatened to “beat” a women’s basketball player during a confrontation in December.

Douglas County District Court officials released the affidavit to The Lawrence Journal-World detailing statements from McKenzie Calvert and two other Kansas women’s basketball players who witnessed the argument Dec. 9 outside The Yacht Club in Lawrence. The affidavit was filed by police to justify a court summons Jackson was served March 7; he is charged with misdemeanor criminal damage.

Coach Bill Self suspended Jackson for the quarterfinal game in the Big 12 Tournament that Kansas lost to TCU as punishment for an accumulation of embarrassing incidents. Self has been adamant that Jackson will play Friday when the top-seeded Jayhawks face UC Davis in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The incident began inside the bar when Calvert threw a drink at her ex-boyfriend, Lagerald Vick, another Kansas player. She said she was upset because Vick attended the party with his new girlfriend.

Calver told police Jackson followed her to her car and “was yelling for her to get out of the car and that he would beat her ass,” the affidavit says. Jackson is scheduled to appear in court April 12. His attorney did not return a call Thursday from The Associated Press.

The affidavit said the bumper, grille, fender, windshield, left tail lamp assembly and driver’s side front door were all damaged, with a total repair cost of about $3,150. Witnesses reported Jackson only damaging the door and tail light, with an estimated damage of $1,127, and District Attorney Charles Branson said Jackson was not charged with felony criminal damage because it couldn’t be proved that the player caused all the damage.

Josh Jackson has been charged with criminal damage to property. Jackson apologized in a statement shortly after he was arrested and “offered to pay for any damage that I directly caused.”

Women’s basketball player Caelynn Manning-Allen told police she tried to restrain Jackson by grabbing his arms and he kicked Calvert’s car before she was able to get him away from the vehicle. Another women’s player, Eboni Watts, said she witnessed Jackson kick Calvert’s driver’s door twice and kick the tail light.

According to the affidavit, Self joined Jackson at McCarthy Hall, where the men’s basketball team lives, as he was interviewed by police about 5:45 a.m. the day of the confrontation.

The Jayhawks have been dogged by a number of off-the-court problems this season. The most serious is an alleged sexual assault at McCarthy Hall. No suspects have been identified in connection with the incident the night of Dec. 17, though five players are listed as witnesses.

Forward Carlton Bragg also was charged with possession in a drug case and was briefly suspended before being granted diversion. Vick was also accused of hitting a female student two years ago, but the school investigated and recommended school probation.

And hours after the Jayhawks wrapped up the Big 12 regular-season title, junior guard Devonte Graham was arrested for failing to appear in court. Graham had been ticketed for driving with expired license plates, and said that the car belonged to an ex-teammate and he thought the ticket had been paid.

Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, http://www.ljworld.com

No. 4 Florida stifles No. 13 East Tennessee State in second half

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Devin Robinson scored 24 points and Kasey Hill chipped in with 14 points, five boards, five assists and a pair of steals as No. 4 seed Florida used a big second half run to pull away from a scrappy East Tennessee State team, 80-65.

Robinson was terrific in the second half, but Hill was probably Florida’s best player. In addition to stuffing the stat sheet, he was also the guy tasked with face-guarding ETSU star T.J. Cromer during Florida’s game-changing run. The Buccaneers took a 35-33 lead in the first minute of the second half, but Florida responded by going on a 26-8 run over the next ten minutes, a stretch where ETSU looked incapable of running offense.

Hill was a major reason for that, as he took Cromer out of the game during that stretch.

To his credit, Cromer finished with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting, but the ETSU just couldn’t survive the surge from the Gators.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this win is that Florida was able to get it done despite the fact that KeVaughn Allen, the program’s leading scorer, finished with just seven points on 1-for-11 shooting on the day. The one field goal that he did hit, however, came early in the 26-8 run, a three that pushed Florida’s lead to eight points for the first time in the second half.

With the win, Florida advances to take on No. 5 Virginia, who knocked off No. 12 UNC Wilmington earlier in the day.

No. 1 Gonzaga advances in slugfest against No. 16 SDSU

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It didn’t go quite as smoothly as Mark Few would have liked, but at the end of the day, No. 1 seed Gonzaga got out of their first round matchup with No. 16 South Dakota State without too much of an issue, winning 66-46.

The Jackrabbits made some noise early. They doubled the post by completely ignoring whichever Gonzaga big man was playing on the perimeter, and the Zags struggled to find a rhythm from the perimeter.

It was just a weird, ugly game that was perfectly summed up by my buddy Eamonn Brennan:

Jordan Mathews had 16 points to lead the Zags, who shot 8-for-30 from beyond the arc and less than 40 percent from the floor, while Josh Perkins, Przemek Karnowski and Zach Collins chipped in with 10 points apiece.

But Gonzaga’s most impressive performance might have come from Jonathan Williams III, who scored just six points and was the liability on the offensive end of the floor. He did the heavy-lifting against SDSU’s Mike Daum, the nation’s second-leading scorer that had just 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting, doing much of his damage after the outcome of the game was already decided.

Williams added 14 boards and a pair of blocks as well.

The Zags will advance to face the winner of No. 8 Northwestern vs. No. 9 Vanderbilt on Saturday.

No. 5 Virginia lands comeback win to avoid upset vs. No. 12 UNC Wilmington

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London Perrantes finished with 24 points and Marial Shayok added 23 as No. 5 seed Virginia erased a 15-point first half deficit to knock off upset-minded No. 12 seed UNC Wilmington, 76-71, in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Orlando.

The Cavs were a trendy pick to be a first round upset in this year’s tournament, and it looked like that would come to fruition early on, as the Seahawks gave the Cavaliers trouble at the start of the game. Tony Bennett made the decision to field the smallest lineup he may ever field. Virginia went to a five-guard look, with the likes of Shayok and Devon Hall and Darius Thompson manning the front court, as Virginia was able to counteract the UNCW press that was so effective early in the game.

UNCW had 12 points off of turnovers in the first 12 minutes of the game. They had two points off of turnovers in the final 28 minutes of the game.

Perrantes was, as you would probably expect, the hero, hitting a pair of critical runners in the lane after appearing to injure his shoulder in the second half. His performance in the second half of this game was peak Perrantes. It never felt like he was in total control of what was happening, but he was. Shayok hit the dagger, a banked-in 12-footer over two defenders with less than 30 seconds left.

It’s a shame that this UNCW run is likely going to come to an end like this. Head coach Kevin Keatts is in the mix with just about every high-major job opening on the market, and there are a couple of key pieces on this roster that are seniors. The Seahawks probably deserved a tournament win at some point during this run, but it just wasn’t in the cards.

Virginia will advance to take on the winner of No. 4 Florida and No. 13 East Tennessee State, which will be played later this afternoon.

Indiana has fired head coach Tom Crean

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Tom Crean has been fired by Indiana after nine seasons as head coach.

“After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program,” athletic director Fred Glass said in a statement released at the exact moment that the NCAA tournament kicked off on Thursday afternoon.

Crean was coming off of a Big Ten regular season title and a Sweet 16 appearance in 2016, but the Hoosiers took a step back this season. After knocking off Kansas and North Carolina in November, Indiana missed the NCAA tournament and lost in the first round of the NIT. That was a road game despite the fact that the Hoosiers were a higher seed, a decision that was made to hide the fact that Assembly Hall would have been empty.

The Hoosiers went 18-16 this season and just 7-11 in the Big Ten.

The decision to part ways with Crean is not all that surprising. There was some speculation that he may get another year, but another year wouldn’t have solved the problems. The relationship between Crean and the Indiana fan base had reached the point where there wasn’t going to be a reconciliation. This was a marriage that needed to end so both parties could move on.

And let it be known, Tom Crean had a successful run with the Hoosiers. He won the outright Big Ten title in 2013 and 2016. He rebuilt a program that was driven into the ground by Kelvin Sampson.

But this was a move that needed to happen.

You may love your ex-wife, but that doesn’t mean you should still be married.

The question now becomes who Indiana can and will target, and that list is where things get fun.

The first name that Indiana has to call is Brad Stevens, the former Butler and current Boston Celtics head coach. He’s probably going to say no, but Indiana has to shoot their shot.

Once Stevens says no is when things get interesting. The trendy name of late has been Steve Alford, the former Indiana star and native Hoosier whose son is graduating from UCLA this year. But Indiana is a job that can attract some big names, names that have said no to other high-major openings in the past — Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall, Dayton’s Archie Miller, Xavier’s Chris Mack — and I’d be surprised if Butler Chris Holtmann didn’t get a look as well.

Indiana was the big domino that needed to fall.

Now the coaching carousel can kick into high gear.