Rob Dauster

Indiana forward Troy Williams (5) goes up for a dunk over Purdue center Isaac Haas (44) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

No. 22 Indiana survives late-comeback by No. 17 Purdue

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No. 22 Indiana put together their best performance of the season on Saturday, knocking off No. 17 Purdue, 77-73, in Assembly Hall.

The final score is somewhat misleading. The Boilermakers hit a flurry of threes in the final four minutes, cutting what was at one point a 19-point lead all the way down to two with 45 seconds left. But after a Yogi Ferrell layup was goaltended by A.J. Hammons, Purdue was unable to get another shot off, and the Hoosiers moved into sole possession of first place in the conference.

So credit Purdue for not giving up when this one seemed over.

But don’t let that blind you to just how impressive Indiana’s performance was.

Because the Hoosiers did something that I never thought I would see out of this group: They out-toughed a bigger, stronger and more physical Purdue team.

They were the ones that made the plays defensively. They were the ones that seemed to come up with every loose ball. They were the ones that got the big stops, that hit the big shots, that took the Boilermakers out of everything they wanted to do on the offensive end of the floor.

And in the end, that was really what the difference was.

You don’t need me to tell you that the question mark surrounding this Indiana team was their strength on the interior and their ability to defend in the half court. Playing against the biggest and most physical front line in the country, the Hoosiers gave up just four offensive rebounds and five second chances points. Hammons, Caleb Swanigan and Isaac Haas did combine for 39 points on 15-for-20 shooting from the floor, but the Hoosiers not only made it tough for Purdue to run offense. The Boilermakers thus struggled to get them the ball where they could be effective, and Indiana was able to take advantage of their mismatches at the other end of the court.

Max Biefeldt and Thomas Bryant combined for 20 points and knocked down three threes, the threat of their shooting ability pulling Purdue’s bigs away from the rim and opening up driving lanes for Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams. Those two finished with 39 points combined.

The Hoosiers are never going to be a great defensive team. But they were very, very good for the first 35 minutes on Saturday night.

When they play like that — that tough, that physical, that disciplined — they’re dangerous simply because their offense is so potent.

The question we’ll be looking to get answered in Indiana’s final three regular season games: Was this effort level simply the result of a heated in-state rivalry finally being relevant again, or is this who the Hoosiers are going to be for the rest of the season?

VIDEO: Georgia Tech’s Marcus Georges-Hunt beats No. 19 Notre Dame at buzzer

Georgia Tech's Marcus Georges-Hunt, right, hits a three-point basket in front of Virginia Tech's Devin Wilson, left, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 16, 2016, in Atlanta. Virginia Tech won 78-77. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
(AP Photo/David Goldman)
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No. 19 Notre Dame’s hopes of winning at least a share of the ACC regular season title took a major hit on Saturday afternoon as the Irish fell at Georgia Tech, 63-62.

Marcus Georges-Hunt was the hero, hitting this shot in the paint over Notre Dame’s big front line to give the Yellow Jackets the win:

Georges-Hunt finished with 19 points and seven assists and helped hold Notre Dame’s talented back court of Demetrius Jackson and Steven Vasturia to just 8-for-23 shooting from the floor.

The loss drops the Irish to fifth-place in the conference, two games off of North Carolina’s pace.

No. 2 Kansas blows lead, escapes K-State with 72-63 win

Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr., right, wrestles the ball away from Kansas State forward D.J. Johnson during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Manhattan, Kan., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016. Kansas defeated Kansas State 72-63. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
(AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Second-ranked Kansas had to show plenty of fight to hold off Kansas State on Saturday.

Perry Ellis has the wounds to prove it.

The Jayhawks’ leading scorer missed a long stretch in the second half with a gouge behind his right ear that required 12 stitches. Then, Ellis got scratched in the eye by teammate Wayne Selden Jr. during a flurry with the game in the balance, sending the senior forward to the bench once again.

Kansas wound up getting just enough from everyone else down the stretch for a 72-63 victory.

“We knew once we lost Perry, we had to come together as a team, do some things differently,” point guard Frank Mason III said, “and the guys off the bench did a good job of coming in and making plays.”

Ellis still managed 14 points, and Mason had 15 as the Jayhawks (23-4, 11-3 Big 12) squandered most of a 17-point second-half lead before holding on for their first win at Kansas State in three years.

Stephen Hurt and Barry Brown scored 13 points apiece for the Wildcats (15-12, 4-10), who got within 65-62 with less than 2 minutes to go. But that’s when Devonte Graham hit his first field goal after five straight misses, and the Jayhawks pulled away from the foul line to secure the victory.

“They’re so unselfish and they play together,” Kansas State coach Bruce Weber said. “They have a lot of guys who can make plays, and when you have guys coming off the bench, that makes a big difference.”

After third-ranked Oklahoma beat No. 10 West Virginia earlier in the day, Kansas has a two-game lead over the Sooners, Mountaineers and No. 25 Baylor with four games left in the conference race.

The Jayhawks have won at least a share of 11 consecutive Big 12 championships.

“We’re in decent position,” Mason said, “but we’re not satisfied with the team we are right now.”

The Jayhawks trailed 25-21 before going on a 12-0 run to take control, and Ellis scored at the rim in the closing seconds of the first half to give the defending Big 12 champions a 39-29 lead.

The story of the first half wasn’t the score, though. It was the fouls.

The teams combined for 21 of them, resulting in a disjointed 20 minutes that lacked any sort of rhythm. Kansas State had a trio of players with two fouls apiece, and Austin Budke had three, while the Jayhawks paraded to the foul line 19 times – yep, nearly once per minute.

Weber was probably hoarse by the time he reached the locker room.

The Jayhawks stretched the lead to 52-35 early in the second half, and still led 55-41 when Ellis was banged under the rim and blood began pouring from a cut behind his right ear. The Jayhawks’ leading scorer spent the next 6 minutes getting treatment for it in the locker room.

“The serious deal is Wayne scratched him in the eye,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We’ll go back and have an eye doctor look at it. If it’s a scratch, he’ll be OK, but we just don’t know.”

Kansas State took advantage of Ellis’ absence, pounding the ball to Hurt and D.J. Johnson in the paint. The duo combined to score 16 consecutive points for the Wildcats, and the 6-foot-11 Hurt’s third 3-pointer got Bramlage Coliseum rocking and made it 62-58 with 4 minutes left.

But the Wildcats couldn’t make a stop when they needed it down the stretch.

“It was great to have the crowd behind us,” Hurt said. “I just wish we could have gotten the win.”

CLOSE CALLS

Kansas State has lost eight games by 10 points or fewer, including double-overtime defeats against West Virginia and Baylor. “When we spot teams a lot of points, it’s hard to come back,” senior guard Justin Edwards said.

TIP-INS

Kansas: Landen Lucas and Jamari Traylor fouled out in the final minutes. … Mason reached the 1,000-point mark for his career. … The Jayhawks wound up shooting 30 free throws.

Kansas State: Johnson and Edwards scored 11 points apiece. … Johnson was 9 of 10 from the foul line. … Kansas State has not won three straight over Kansas at home since 1981-83.

UP NEXT

Kansas visits No. 25 Baylor on Tuesday night.

Kansas State plays No. 24 Texas on Monday night.

YOU MAKE THE CALL: Should Isaac Humphries have gotten a technical for this? (VIDEO)

The White Squad's Skal Labissiere, bottom, avoids the defense of the Blue Squad's Isaac Humphries during a Kentucky NCAA college basketball scrimmage, Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015, in Lexington, Ky. (AP Photo/James Crisp)
(AP Photo/James Crisp)
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The best moment of Isaac Humphries’ basketball career turned into the worst moment in the span of about five seconds.

In his first truly meaningful minutes for the Wildcats, Humphries was having an unbelievable game. He had six points, 12 boards and two blocks for Kentucky, the majority of which came in the second half and helped solved the issue of Texas A&M’s offensive rebounding.

In overtime, with less than 15 seconds left and Kentucky up by one, Humphries blocked a shot and secured the rebound, a play that would give Kentucky a pair of free throws with a chance to push the UK lead to three.

The problem?

His celebration included this awkward spike, which earned him a technical foul from Pat Adams:

Should he have been called for the T here?

Personally, I don’t think so. I understand that spiking the ball is an automatic technical foul, but I think there’s room for nuance in that interpretation. Humphries wasn’t trying to show up the referee or any of Texas A&M’s players. He was a freshman that was far too exuberant about making the biggest play of his life and did something that he immediately regretted.

The worst part about this?

Humphries fouled out. The T was his fifth foul. And after Texas A&M made two free throws to take a 77-76 lead and Skal Labissiere, Humphries’ replacement, hit one to tie it at 77, the Aggies did this:

That offensive rebound came after Labissiere was tossed around like a rag doll by Tyler Davis. Humphries? He had 10 defensive boards on the night.

Lethargic LSU is playing their way out of the NCAA tournament

Ben Simmons
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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Ben Simmons did not start for LSU against Tennessee — head coach Johnny Jones termed it an “academic matter” — instead entering the game with 15:30 left in the first half.

But based on Simmons’ effort on Saturday night, he may as well have spent the entire game on the bench. The potential No. 1 pick sulked throughout much of the game, putting in as much effort on the defensive end of the floor as you would playing the day’s last game of pickup at the YMCA.

Despite Simmons putting up 21 points and nine boards — to go along with his eight turnovers — Jonathan Givony of Draft Express described Simmons’ Saturday as disgraceful, and that’s probably being kind. Because his effort permeated the rest of the roster, as the Tigers were run out of Thompson-Boling Arena by a Tennessee team that had lost two in a row and five of their last games.

[   BUBBLE BANTER: Analysis of all of today’s bubble action   ]

Oh, and they were playing without their leading scorer and best player, Kevin Punter.

Tennessee’s season is more or less over. They’re playing for SEC tournament seeding.

LSU?

They have an at-large bid on the line.

The Tigers have been one of the most discussed bubble teams in the country for a couple of reasons, the most obvious being they have the nation’s most talented player on their roster. But early in the season, when they were waiting for Craig Victor to get eligible and Keith Hornsby to get healthy, LSU took three bad losses. It was easy to write those losses off as the Tigers simply not being at full strength.

When their starting five is intact, they can do things like beat Kentucky and beat Texas A&M and win at Alabama, which is a tougher thing to do than you probably realize (Mississippi State not withstanding).

That was the argument.

But now they’ve lost to Tennessee by 16 points on a day where Tennessee didn’t have their best player. And they lost to Wake Forest when they had their entire team available. They now have five sub-100 losses — and that doesn’t include their loss to Houston — compared to just three top 50 and six total top 100 wins. Their RPI was 81 entering the day, and getting an at-large bid with an RPI of 81 would already have been a record.

In other words, this was a must-win game for LSU because this was a game that they absolutely could not lose.

And they came out with that effort.

Which makes me believe they don’t care about playing in the NCAA tournament.

So why should we continue to argue for them to get in?

Hart, Jenkins lead No. 1 Villanova past Butler 77-67

Villanova's Kris Jenkins (2) celebrates with Josh Hart (3) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Butler, Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Villanova, Pa. Villanova won 77-67. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Josh Hart had 22 points and 12 rebounds and Kris Jenkins added 20 points to lead No. 1 Villanova over Butler, 77-67 on Saturday.

It was the seventh straight victory for the Wildcats (24-3, 13-1 Big East).

Kelan Martin scored 19 points for Butler (18-9, 7-8).

It was the first time in Villanova history that a No. 1 team played at the Pavilion, the Wildcats’ on-campus home.

Hart, Villanova’s leading scorer at 14.8 points per game, struggled in the last two contests, scoring a combined 11 points on 3-for-15 shooting in wins over St. John’s and Temple. But he came alive against Butler, particularly in the second half when he scored 13 points.

Butler erased a nine-point halftime deficit and took a 37-36 lead with a 12-2 run over the first 4:49 of the second half. Martin had eight points during the Bulldogs’ spurt that was helped by Villanova missing its first five shots of the half.

And the Bulldogs still had the lead, 45-43, with 11:04 left when Andrew Chrabascz scored on a layup before Villanova’s offense picked up.

Jenkins and Hart combined on the next 16 Wildcats points and Hart’s 3 with 7:18 remaining put Villanova ahead 59-51. The Bulldogs never got closer than six points the rest of the way.

Hart finished 8 for 16 from the field, including 3 for 8 from the behind arc.

Butler went ahead 17-16 on Roosevelt Jones’ bank shot with 6:54 left in the first half before the Wildcats ran off 12 straight points, capped by Jalen Brunson’s 3-pointer, over the next 3 1/2 minutes to go up 28-17.

Hart’s turnaround jumper as the shot clock expired with 8 seconds left in the half gave Villanova its largest lead, 34-22. But the Bulldogs quickly got the ball up court and Martin drained a 3-pointer from the left wing as time expired to trim Villanova’s lead to 34-25.

Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu were honored before the game, along with Villanova’s other seniors, on Senior Day. The duo has been part of 106 victories, the most by a single class in program history.

TIP-INS

Butler: Six of Butler’s eight Big East losses have come against ranked opponents. . F Jackson Davis slipped on a drive with 3 minutes left in the first half and appeared to injure his groin. Davis returned late in the second half.

Villanova: The Wildcats improved to 7-0 all-time against Butler. . Villanova won its 37th straight game at the Pavilion, where it is 281-61 all-time. . The Wildcats swept the season series, defeating the Bulldogs 60-55 on Jan. 10 at Butler.

UP NEXT

Butler: At Georgetown next Saturday.

Villanova: At No. 8 Xavier on Wednesday.