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No. 1 Villanova tops Seton Hall 92-76, fans chant for Eagles

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PHILADELPHIA — Omari Spellman had 26 points, 11 rebounds and helped No. 1 Villanova kick off a rousing day in Philadelphia sports with a 92-76 win over Seton Hall on Sunday.

The Wildcats (22-1, 9-1 Big East) won their ninth straight game in front of a crowd dotted with green jerseys and chanting for the Eagles just hours before the Super Bowl.

Villanova’s win served as the sports appetizer for a city absolutely whipped into a frenzy, with fans lined up hours before kickoff around the block to get into sports bars to watch the Eagles play the New England Patriots.

Mikal Bridges, who scored 17 points, hit a 3 with 2:22 left for a 21-point lead that seemed to serve as the cue for fans to turn their full attention toward the Super Bowl. They put on dog masks (an Eagles rallying symbol) and chanted “We Want Brady!”

For about 25 minutes, the Pirates (17-6, 6-4) gave the Wildcats a serious scare.

Eric Paschall slammed into the court with such a thump it could be heard in the nose bleeds and subbed out for a quick breather on the bench. Paschall’s timeout was brief. He hit a 3 that tied the game at 48-all.

Jalen Brunson, a top candidate for national player of the year, followed with another 3 that snapped a tie game and seemed to signal the part of the game where Nova usually goes on a decisive run.

It was that time.

Paschall dunked on the next possession and Bridges came flying out of nowhere down the baseline to put back a missed shot that sent the roaring crowd to their feet in appreciation.

Khadeen Carrington, who averages 14.2 points, was whistled for his fourth foul just 6 1/2 minutes into the half and Bridges blocked a shot that sent the ball soaring over Seton Hall’s bench.

Myles Powell steadied the Pirates with a pair of 3s that kept pulled them to 62-60. Spellman hit a 3 and Bridges nailed a three-point play to help the Wildcats start to pull away. Powell hit one more 3 that gave Seton Hall a feint glimmer of hope but that’s about all teams get these days against Nova.

Seton Hall was one underdog Philly had no interest in rooting for an upset.

The “Good Luck, Philadelphia Eagles!” sign flashed on the big screen as fans belted out “Fly, Eagles, Fly!” and the Wells Fargo Center soon turned into the site of a Super Bowl pep rally.

The Pirates played the first half like the team that spent most of the season in the AP Top 25 and reached as high as No. 13. Seton Hall shot 49 percent from the floor and Angel Delgado hurt Villanova inside with 10 points and six rebounds. Delgado finished with 18 points and Desi Rodriguez had 20.

Seton Hall and Butler have been the only thorns in Villanova’s Big East side since the conference was reconfigured in 2013. Each team had defeated Villanova three times — or, six of the program’s 12 losses over that span.

Spellman hit three 3s in the first half and scored 15 points to give the Wildcats a 41-37 lead at the break.

BIG PICTURE

Seton Hall fell to 3-2 this season against Top 25 teams.

Villanova coach Jay Wright, an Eagles season-ticket holder, had said this week he planned to watch the Super Bowl in downtown and enjoy the experience with the rest of the city. The Wildcats were the last area team to win a major championship when they won the 2016 national title.

DOUBLE TECHNICAL

Powell shoulder bumped Donte DiVincenzo then shoved him in the chest late in the second half. Both players were whistled for technical fouls.

Washington appears tourney-bound after beating No. 9 Arizona at the buzzer (VIDEO)

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Noah Dickerson finished with 25 points and seven boards, but it was Dominic Green coming off the bench for 14 points — including this game-winning three at the buzzer — as Washington completed a sweep of the Arizona schools with a 78-75 win over No. 9 Arizona:

I cannot stress enough just how important this weekend was for the Huskies.

They were already in a good position to make a run at an NCAA tournament berth given their win over Kansas on a neutral floor, but knocking off both Arizona and Arizona State this weekend like puts them into the 8-9 when brackets update on Monday morning.

Think about that for a second.

Just last season, with essentially everyone that is on this current roster not named Jaylen Nowell, the Huskies won nine games with the guy that was the No. 1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft over Jayson Tatum, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma, etc.

The difference?

Instead of being coaching by Lorenzo Romar, Washington is now coached by former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins.

And it makes you wonder: How does Romar feel about all of this? Now an assistant, he was given a standing ovation by Washington fans when he walked onto the floor on Saturday night, and his new team — one loaded with blue-chip recruits and future NBA players — proceeded to lose at the buzzer to the team that he himself built and got fired with.

It’s a fascinating dynamic and a situation that I cannot imagine we’ve seen before or will see again.

Brown, Heron lead No. 11 Auburn past Vanderbilt, 93-81

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AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Bryce Brown scored 25 points and Mustapha Heron had 23 to lead hot-shooting No. 11 Auburn to a 93-81 win over Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

The two high-scoring guards alternated taking over for the Tigers (21-2, 9-1 Southeastern Conference) in the second half.

It was almost as if they were trying to one-up each other against the last-place Commodores (8-15, 2-8). Heron scored 13 straight Auburn points, including three 3-pointers. Then Brown topped that with a 15-point run that also included a trio of 3s, one of which he turned into a four-point play.

Auburn made a season-high 17 3-pointers on 26 attempts to snap a 13-game losing streak against Vanderbilt.

Jared Harper scored 14 points and had 14 assists for Auburn, making three 3-pointers in the first nine minutes. Chuma Okeke hit a pair of 3s and had 12 points.

Jeff Roberson had the hot hand for the Commodores, pouring in 30 points and making 5 of 9 from beyond the arc. Riley LaChance scored 13.

Auburn raced to a 22-point lead in the first half after making 7 of 11 3-pointers. The Commodores got back into it with their own outside shooting. Roberson and LaChance punctuated a quick 11-0 run with back-to-back 3s, and Vandy cut it all the way to down to seven.

Then Okeke scooped up a loose ball and hit a 3 with 2 seconds left to give Auburn a 45-35 halftime lead.

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt: The Commodores kept fighting back but still fell to 0-9 against Top 25 teams this season.

Auburn: The SEC-leading Tigers are now two games ahead of No. 18 Tennessee and three ahead of Florida and Kentucky, which both lost. The Tigers haven’t held sole possession of first this late since winning the regular-season conference title in 1998-99 and have won five straight.

No. 5 Michigan St. beats Indiana 63-60 for 6th straight win

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Matt McQuaid scored 12 points and made the decisive 3-pointer with 1:08 to play Saturday night, leading No. 5 Michigan State past Indiana 63-60.

The Spartans (22-3, 10-2 Big Ten) have won six straight to stay two games behind Purdue in the conference title chase.

Juwan Morgan had 23 points and 11 rebounds for Indiana (12-12, 5-7), which has lost four straight overall. Freddie McSwain Jr. finished with eight points and 16 rebounds.

Indiana, which lost to the Spartans 85-57 earlier this season, had a chance to force overtime, but Devonte Green’s 70-foot heave bounced high off the back of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

It was deliberate, old-school basketball at its finest.

The teams regularly went deep into the shot clock, and Michigan State eventually hung on because of size and defense.

Despite shooting a season-low 28.8 percent from the field, the Hoosiers sure made it tough.

Indiana trailed 58-50 with 5:05 left before Morgan scored seven straight points to get the Hoosiers within one. After Miles Bridges missed a 17-footer on Michigan State’s next possession, Indiana had a chance to take the lead. But Robert Johnson’s layup rolled out and McSwain missed two free throws after grabbing the offensive rebound.

McQuaid’s final 3 made it a four-point game and after Green’s three-point play with 3.7 seconds to go made it 63-60, the Hoosiers got one last chance when Joshua Langford missed two free throws.

Langford and Jaren Jackson Jr. each had 10 points and Jackson finished with seven blocks.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: Offensively, the Spartans struggled. But defensively, they showed just how good they can be with their size and length. Just eight minutes into the game, Michigan State had eight blocks. It finished the half with nine with 13. The only downfall was that the Hoosiers took advantage of second chances and managed to keep it close.

Indiana: After getting blown out by the Spartans on Jan. 19 in East Lansing, the Hoosiers inserted McSwain into the starting lineup and turned it around. No, they didn’t get the win. But the young Hoosiers showed how much they had learned from the first matchup and they can go toe-to-toe with any team.

KEY STATS

Michigan State: Bridges finished with seven points and eight rebounds. …. Langford had 10 points. … The Spartans pushed their single-season school record for blocks to 204. … Michigan State was 9 of 18 on 3s and 8 of 17 on free throws.

Indiana: Morgan recorded his seventh double-double of the season. … The Hoosiers made only 2 of its first 22 shots, 9.1 percent, and went more than 8½ minutes in the first half without a basket. …Indiana had a 53-29 rebounding edge including a 25-3 advantage on the offensive end against the best rebounding team in Division I. … The Hoosiers have played three straight ranked opponents.

No. 19 North Carolina ends 3-game skid, beating Pitt 96-65

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Luke Maye scored 26 points to help No. 19 North Carolina beat Pittsburgh 96-65 on Saturday night, ending its first three-game losing streak in four years.

The Tar Heels (17-7, 6-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) found themselves in a close game late in the first half with a team that had yet to win a league game, but they blew it open with a big run spanning halftime.

Graduate transfer Cameron Johnson scored eight points against his former team in UNC’s 14-3 half-ending flurry, which grew to 25-5 when Joel Berry II hit his fourth 3-pointer for a 56-37 lead with 16:48 left.

Freshman Marcus Carr scored 22 points for the Panthers (8-16, 0-11), who hit eight first-half 3s to hang around but made 2 of 16 after halftime as the Tar Heels’ lead ballooned.

That sent Pitt to its 11th straight loss, the longest skid in program history.

BIG PICTURE

Pittsburgh: Things just keep getting worse for the Panthers. They entered Chapel Hill ranked last in the league in major categories such as scoring offense, shooting percentage, rebounding margin and turnover margin. Now they’ve lost 15 straight regular-season ACC games and are approaching a year since their last win.

UNC: The Tar Heels were facing the possibility of their first four-game losing streak since February 2010, the only one of the Roy Williams era. And the past week in particular had been bumpy: There was an overtime home loss to North Carolina State last weekend, a loss at No. 20 Clemson on Tuesday and the suspension of freshman guard Jalek Felton from the university for unspecified reasons. This win — a relatively easy get-right cruise in front of a friendly home crowd — might have helped drain a bit of the tension that had built during the skid.

Saturday Recap: Duke goes down, Kansas loses at home, Texas beats Trae Young

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PLAYERS OF THE DAY

Trae Young is the name everyone knew as No. 12 Oklahoma head to Austin to take on Texas, but it was another freshman point guard — Matt Coleman — who left as the star of the show.

Coleman finished with 22 points and a pair of assists, doing quite a bit of the work defensively on Young, who finished with 19 points and 14 assists but shot 7-for-22 from the floor and 2-for-14 from three.

It’s great to see Coleman playing well. Texas is trying to cope with the fact that one of the players on the roster (sophomore Andrew Jones) is in a battle with leukemia, and that means that more of the load has been hoisted upon Coleman. He’s answered the call.

So has Kerwin Roach, who finished with 19 points, four boards and four assists. He’s become arguably the best perimeter player for the Longhorns in recent weeks, scoring at least 16 points in five of the six games since returning from injury.

RELATED: All of Saturday’s Bubble Banter in one place

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • SHAMORIE PONDS, St. John’s: Ponds finished with 33 points — including a pair of massive shots in the final 75 seconds — as the Johnnies knocked off No. 4 Duke at home.
  • COLLIN SEXTON, Alabama: Sexton finished with 17 points, eight boards, six assists, two steals and a block as the Crimson Tide went into Gainesville and knocked off No. 23 Florida by 18 points.
  • JEROD HARPER, Auburn: 14 points and 14 assists isn’t a bad night. That’s what Harper did as Auburn whipped up on Vanderbilt.
  • JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: Landale was terrific, finishing with 34 points, 18 boards and four assists as No. 13 Saint Mary’s won at San Diego.
  • TREVON BLUIETT, Xavier: Bluiett finished with 31 points on 9-for-16 shooting on Saturday as the Musketeers held off Georgetown. He made this shot to force the overtime.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Oklahoma State desperately needed to win at No. 7 Kansas on Saturday if they wanted any chance of getting back to the NCAA tournament this season, and they did just that.

The Pokes were up by as many as 18 points in the first half, as the Jayhawks spent 40 minutes playing like they thought all they had to do to win at home was to show up. Kendall Smith led the way with 24 points, five boards and five assists for OSU while Cameron McGriff chipped in with 20 points.

This is the third game that Kansas has lost in Phog Allen this year. Bill Self entered the season having lost just 11 times in that building in his tenure with Kansas.

Kansas, on the other hand, is now tied with Texas Tech for first place in the Big 12.

GAME OF THE DAY

(UPDATE: Actually, it was this game.)

I don’t know how Indiana did it, but somehow they shot 28.8 percent from the floor and 4-for-19 from three and still managed to have a potential game-tying heave at the buzzer bounce off the back of the rim.

The Spartans got up double-figures early and seemed to throw this thing into cruise control. The Hoosiers slowly but surely chipped away, creating another mind-bending stat: Michigan State, with the biggest front line in college basketball, finished with 29 total rebounds and just three offensive boards on Saturday while Indiana had 25 offensive rebounds despite starting a front line that stands 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-8.

The final score ended up being 63-60 despite Michigan State’s best efforts to give this one away.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

St. John’s entered Saturday having lost 11 straight games.

It is February, and the Red Storm do not own a single win in the Big East. It’s been something of a disaster for Chris Mullin, one that has him fully on the hot seat.

So obviously, with No. 4 Duke coming to town, the Johnnies … played their best game of the year?

Shamorie Ponds popped off for 33 points while Bashir Ahem added 19 points and Tariq Owens chipped in with 17 as St. John’s erased a seven-point halftime deficit to beat the Blue Devils. Duke was absolutely torched by Mike Krzyzewski after the game — and deservedly so — which has me asking: How is a team as talented as Duke is so reliant on Marvin Bagley III?

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Remember when we thought that No. 21 Kentucky making that thrilling comeback and winning at West Virginia would be the turning point in their season? LOL. After needing overtime to beat Vanderbilt at home during the week, the Wildcats lost at Missouri in a game were the Tigers were more or less in control throughout. Kentucky was a trainwreck in the first half, digging themselves too big of a hole to dig out of. Kassius Robertson had 16 points and four assists to lead the way for Mizzou.

Whatever funk No. 10 Texas Tech was in earlier this year, they are out of it now. The Red Raiders won their fourth straight game on Saturday, knocking off TCU at TCU. The final score was 83-71, but it really wasn’t that close.

Whatever funk No. 15 West Virginia was in the last three weeks, they look to be out of it now. The Mountaineers beat Kansas State by 38 points.

The two best teams in the SEC continue to be No. 18 Tennessee and No. 11 Auburn. The Volunteers absolutely smashed Ole Miss on Saturday, eventually winning by 33 points, while the Tigers held off Vanderbilt at home. It’s a shame these two teams already played this season. It didn’t get near the fan fare it deserved.

Deandre Hunter had 15 points and six assists off the bench for No. 2 Virginia as they knocked off Syracuse, 59-44.

Corey Sanders went for 31 points, seven boards and three assists, but it wasn’t enough as No. 3 Purdue beat Rutgers in Piscataway, 78-76.

No. 19 North Carolina got back to their winning ways, snapping a three-game losing streak against Pitt. The most noteworthy part? Theo Pinson was healthy, finished with 13 points and eight assists and played as the back-up point guard.

Jacob Evans had 19 points as No. 8 Cincinnati knocked off UConn in Hartford.

Isaiah Washington did everything he could — 26 points in total — to get Minnesota a win in Ann Arbor, but it was not meant to be. No. 24 Michigan won 76-73 in overtime.