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Ja’Quan Newton buzzer-beater gives Miami key road victory

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After going through a three-game losing streak, with two of those losses coming against a Boston College team that won’t be in the NCAA tournament and a Syracuse squad that’s currently on the bubble, Miami entered Tuesday’s game at No. 9 North Carolina on a two-game win streak. While Jim Larrañaga’s team was in good shape with regards to simply getting into the NCAA tournament, another marquee win would go a long way when it comes to the Hurricanes’ seeding.

Enter Ja’Quan Newton, whose three-pointer from just inside of the mid-court line as time expired gave Miami a 91-88 win over the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.

Newton’s game-winner capped a wild final 9.2 seconds, a sequence he began with two made free throws to give Miami an 88-85 lead. Joel Berry II would hit a three over Newton’s outstretched hand to tie the game with 4.1 seconds remaining, but Newton had one last play to make. Not only does the win boost Miami’s NCAA tournament profile, but it also keeps the Hurricanes in the conversation for a double-bye in next week’s ACC tournament.

Newton’s shot was the game’s biggest play, but on a night in which six players scored in double figures the Hurricanes did not lack for contributors. Chris Lykes, who may be one of the ACC’s most exciting freshmen, scored a game-high 18 points and dished out four assists. While the 5-foot-7 freshman did commit five turnovers, he’s willing to go out and look to make plays which is a big deal with Bruce Brown out with a foot injury.

Counting Tuesday’s performance Lykes has now reached double figures in six of Miami’s last seven games, giving Miami another perimeter scoring option. Dewan Huell added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Lonnie Walker IV 13 points, with D.J. Vasiljevic and Ebuka Izundu combining to score 22 points off the bench.

Izundu, who entered Tuesday’s game averaging 4.8 points per game on the season, scored all 12 of his points in the first half as Miami took an eight-point lead into the half. While the progression of Lykes has been key over the last month or so, Izundu’s play over the last three games is worth noting as well. The 6-foot-10 junior chipped in with 14 points and eight rebounds in last week’s win over Notre Dame, and if Izundu can continue on this path he gives Miami another interior option they can rely on consistently.

With Bruce Brown not expected to return until some point during the NCAA tournament, Miami’s margin for error is even smaller than it was with the talented sophomore on the court. But when it receives solid efforts across the rotation as it did Tuesday night, Miami’s capable of being a handful.

Offensively the Hurricanes were able to work their way into the paint against North Carolina, outscoring the Tar Heels 36-24 in the paint and shooting 54.8 percent from the field and 11-for-20 from three. Add in 20 points off of 13 North Carolina turnovers, and Miami did the work required to put itself in position to leave Chapel Hill with the win. Things got interesting late thanks to North Carolina’s comeback, but the Hurricanes had one last play to make.

And Ja’Quan Newton rose to the occasion, with the senior guard spoiling the night for North Carolina’s senior class.

Ball State’s Tayler Persons hits another game-winning three

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When the chips are down in games involving Ball State, it’s a given that Tayler Persons is going to end up with the basketball in his hands.

Tuesday night the redshirt junior hit his third game-winning three of the season, as his shot with seven tenths of a second remaining gave the Cardinals a 59-56 win over Bowling Green.

Persons’ first two game-winning threes came in back-to-back games, as he beat then-No. 9 Notre Dame and Valparaiso.

VIDEOS: Fan reactions to Villanova’s win over North Carolina

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While No. 2 Villanova had plenty of fans make the trip to Houston from various points across the country, there were also those who remained on campus to watch the action. The school hosted a watch party at The Pavilion, and as one would expect the night produced some images that will be remembered for years to come.

Below are two videos of the fan reactions to Kris Jenkins’ game-winning three, with the first including the call from Villanova play-by-play announcer Ryan Fannon courtesy of WPVI-TV Philadelphia.

And here’s another high-quality reaction, although it did not take place at The Pavilion.

VIDEO: Jay Wright’s reaction to the Kris Jenkins game-winner

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Kris Jenkins’ three-pointer as time expired gave No. 2 Villanova a 77-74 win over No. 1 North Carolina in Monday’s national title game, the program’s second national title. But for as stunning as the finish was for many who watched it all unfold, beginning with Marcus Paige’s incredible double-clutch three with 4.7 seconds remaining, one key figure didn’t seem stunned at all.

That person was none other than Villanova head coach Jay Wright. As he watched Jenkins rise up for the game winner the head coach simply said “bang,” and he didn’t have much of a reaction after the fact either.

Never in doubt.

Credit: The Cauldron

VIDEOS: Villanova wins second national title on wild sequence


After two duds in Saturday’s national semifinals, No. 2 Villanova and No. 1 North Carolina produced a national title game we won’t soon forget.

The Wildcats won 77-74 on a Kris Jenkins three as time expired, but his heroics came 4.7 seconds after North Carolina’s Marcus Paige hit a double-clutch three to tie the game.

And here’s the game-winner from Jenkins, who’s earned the nickname “Big Smooth” from his teammates, with Villanova winning its second national title in program history. The first came in 1985, when the Wildcats knocked off Big East rival Georgetown.

Josh Hagins, No. 12 Little Rock knock off No. 5 Purdue in 2OT

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Leading by 13 with 3:19 remaining, No. 5 seed Purdue looked to be well on its way to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The problem for the Boilermakers: they took their foot off the gas too early.

No. 12 Little Rock ramped up the defensive pressure, forcing multiple turnovers while doing enough offensively to get themselves in position tie the game in the final seconds of regulation. Josh Hagins delivered, hitting a three-pointer with 6.8 seconds remaining to force overtime. From there the Trojans and Boilermakers traded punches through two overtimes, with Little Rock ultimately winning in double overtime 85-83.

Essentially the difference was Hagins, who ran the point well for the Trojans and finished with 31 points, seven rebounds, six assists and five steals. Little Rock’s been one of the best stories in college basketball thanks to the work of first-year head coach Chris Beard, and the presence of a point guard as good as Hagins has certainly helped the Sun Belt champions.

As for Purdue, the questions about their perimeter play and whether or not they had enough to be a factor in the NCAA tournament have been asked all season long. And down the stretch against the Trojans it was easy to see why many remained concerned.

Purdue struggled to take care of the basketball against the Little Rock defense, committing 18 turnovers with many of those coming as they were trying to put the game away. Just as bad for the Boilermakers was their inability to get A.J. Hammons the ball, thus failing to take advantage of the one matchup that was in their favor. Hammons finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds and six blocks, but after scoring with 16:28 remaining in regulation he didn’t score again until the second overtime.

Hammons got the occasional touch, with Little Rock doubling down to get the ball out of his hands, but far too often Purdue’s offense consisted of wasted motion followed by a challenged shot late in the shot clock. That kind of execution won’t get it done in March, especially against a team that defends as well as Little Rock.

Next up for the Trojans is No. 4 Iowa State, which took care of No. 13 Iona in the first game of the day. And after picking up the program’s first NCAA tournament victory in 30 years, Little Rock has designs on their first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.