NCAA Tournament Day 1 recap and awards

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The first day of March Madness was everything we hoped for.

Well, at least the early games were.

Four of the first five finishes ended with a shot made with less than five seconds on the clock. One of a certified buzzer beater. Another came with 0.4 seconds left on the clock. All told, seven of the 16 games were decided by five points or less, and even Michigan State’s disappointing first round exit featured a comeback from 23 points down and a shot to win the game.

There may have been some snoozers later in the day — I’m looking at you, UConn — but all in all is was an eventful and exciting first day of hoops.

Here’s a recap of everything the folks that celebrated St. Patrick’s Day missed. Or forgot…

Game of the Day: Butler 60, Old Dominion 58

This game was just as good as we all hoped it would be. Neither team led by more than six points. The lead changed hands 21 times. It’s only fitting that a game between two grind-it-out, blue collar teams was decided when a 50-50 ball ended up in Matt Howard’s hands, who layed it in only tenths of a second before the buzzer went off.

The Monarchs came in with the reputation as one of the country’s best rebounding teams, but it was the play of Butler’s frontcourt that made the difference. Matt Howard and Andrew Smith combined for 26 points, while Khyle Marshall and Garrett Butcher had 12 boards, eight of which came on the offensive end. Butler advanced to play Pitt in the second round.

Team of the Day: Morehead State Eagles

With Kenny Faried and Demonte Harper struggling — they combined to go 7-28 from the floor for just 20 points — it was the play of Terrance Hill and Ty Proffit that made the difference. They combined for 36 points on 8-12 shooting from beyond the arc to keep Morehead State within striking distance.

In the clutch, however, coach Donnie Tyndall relied on his stars. Harper drilled a three at the top of the key with 4.5 seconds left that gave Morehead State a 62-61 lead with 4.5 seconds left, and Faried blocked Mike Marra’s shot — it looked like close to being a foul, but looking at replays Faried made a clean defensive play — that sealed the win. Morehead State will play Richmond in the second round.

Player of the Day: Marquise Carter, Gonzaga

Carter has really come on late in the season. He averaged 13.1 ppg in the Zags’ last seven games, combining with David Stockton to solidify the point guard spot. But easily his best game of the season came against the Johnnies, as Carter exploded for a career-high 24 points, six assists, and six boards in an 86-71 win.

Gonzaga has desperately needed a playmaker all season. The knock on this team was that they haven’t been able to replace Matt Bouldin’s production. Expecting this kind of performance out of Carter for the rest of the tournament is too much, but if he can become a consistent playmaker in the tournament the way he was down the stretch of the season, Gonzaga becomes a much more dangerous team.

THURSDAY’S RUNDOWN

Temple 66, Penn State 64: The Owls survived a tough test against a scrappy Penn State team. The started slow — neither team is known for their potent offense or exciting style of play — but the finish was classic. The two team traded baskets over the last five minutes, with Temple opening up a three point lead in the final minute. But the Owls lost track of Talor Battle, who drilled a deep three to tie the game. At the other end of the floor, Juan Fernandez — who had 23 points, which tied for the team-high with Ramone Moore — hit a tough, leaning 15 footer with 0.4 seconds left for the win.

Kentucky 59, Princeton 57: Brandon Knight struggled, but John Calipari put the ball in his hands on the final possession, and Knight delivered. He scored on a driving layup that gave Kentucky a 59-57 lead with 2.0 seconds left, he first points of the game. Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb also struggled, but Kentucky’s veterans stepped up. Josh Harrellson had 15 points and 10 boards while Darius Miller went for 17. Kentucky will face West Virginia Saturday.

Richmond 69, Vanderbilt 66: Kevin Anderson hit three threes in a 1:41 span during the second half as the Spiders’ 12-0 run to erase a 48-39 deficit. Down the stretch, Vandy could not execute offensively. They missed three free throws in the final minute, turned the ball over with a chance to tie, and then failed to get a good look on an out-of-bounds play with 2.5 seconds left. The Spiders, behind 25 points from Anderson, advance to play Morehead State.

UCLA 78, Michigan State 76: UCLA didn’t win as much as it survived. The Bruins opened up a 64-41 lead with 8:30 remaining. When the Spartans finally woke up — and, more importantly, finally started defending — they were able to make their run. A Keith Appling three with 4.4 seconds left cut the lead to one, but after the Bruins went 1-2 from the line, Kalin Lucas traveled and was unable to get off a potentially game-winning heave. Draymond Green led the comeback charge with 23 points, 11 boards, and 10 assists. Tyler Honeycutt led four players in double figures with 16 points, five boards, five assists, three steals, and three blocks.

West Virginia 84, Clemson 76: Clemson looked great early, jumping out to a double-digit lead. But the Mountaineers used a 15-1 run that spanned both halves, eventually taking a 46-41 lead and pushing that out to double digits. The Mountaineers allowed Clemson to cut the lead to 74-71 with 90 seconds left, but Dalton Pepper, playing the top of the Mountaineer’s 2-3, picked off three consecutive passes — two of which led to layups — as WVU used a 6-0 run in the span of about 15 seconds to put the game away. The Mountaineers advance to face Kentucky.

Kansas State 73, Utah State 68: Jacob Pullen overcame a bout with the flu to score 22 points and hand out five assists as the Wildcats knocked off the Aggies. Don’t be fooled, this was an impressive win. Utah State is a senior-laden team that is tough defensively with a couple of offensive weapons. The final score was only five, but Kansas State controlled the second half. It should be fun to see the Wildcats take on the Badgers on Saturday.

BYU 74, Wofford 66: The Cougars struggled early against Wofford, allowing the Terriers to take a six point lead midway through the first half, but the Jimmer and company were just too much. Fredette finished with 32 points and seven assists, but it was the fact that BYU held Wofford, who was 42nd in the nation in offensive efficiency coming in, to under 40 percent shooting from the field while grabbing nine steals.

Wisconsin 72, Belmont 58: It turns out that Wisconsin was just too much for Belmont. Jon Leuer had 17 of his 22 points in the second half and Jordan Taylor added 21 points as the Badgers pulled away in the second half.

Cincinnati 78, Missouri 63: After falling behind 9-2 in the first few minutes, Cincinnati asserted its will on this game. The Bearcats handled Missouri’s press and obliterated the Tigers in the paint and in the halfcourt. Yancy Gates led four players in double figures with 18 points and 11 boards.

San Diego State 68, Northern Colorado 50: Devon Beitzel scored 25 points to keep this thing close for a while, but in the the Aztecs were too much. Kawhi Leonard had 21 points and 10 boards while Billy White added 12 and 13. The Aztecs advance to face Temple.

Pitt 74, UNC-Asheville 51: Pitt was Pitt. They dominated the offensive glass and Ashton Gibbs scored 26 points on 6-9 shooting from deep. Pitt gets Butler next.

Florida 79, UC Santa Barbara 51: Florida was the first team of the day to flex their muscles over an inferior opponent. Erving Walker and Kenny Boynton combined for 31 points on 11-17 shooting.

UConn 81, Bucknell 52: Beat. Down. The final score doesn’t do it justice. Kemba finished 18 points, 12 assists, and eight boards.

Three Things To Know: Memphis embarrassed; Luka Garza shows out again

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The story of the night in hoops was Zion Williamson’s return to the basketball court.

But there was plenty of action in the college ranks that is worthy of talking about.

Here are the three things that you need to know:

1. No. 20 MEMPHIS LOST BY 40 TO TULSA

That is not a typo.

The 20th-ranked team in the country went into Tulsa, Okla., and lost to the Golden Hurricane, 80-40. Tulsa was up 40-17 at halftime. This was a butt-whooping that was so bad that all Tulsa needed to do was score a single point in the second half and they would have been able to get the win.

Memphis shot 28 percent from the floor. They were 2-for-21 from three. They finished the night with more turnovers (20) and fouls (22) than field goals (16). This was the worst loss that a top 25 team has suffered against a ranked team in 27 years, since UConn beat then-No. 12 Virginia by 41 points.

For Tulsa, this is a massive, massive win. They are currently sitting all alone in first place in the American standings, a half-game up on Houston.

So good for Frank Haith.

But the story here is Memphis, because the Tigers, considered title contenders before the season began, look anything-but right now.

“We let our defense dictate our offense,” head coach Penny Hardaway told reporters after the game. “We didn’t play any defense today. I think today was the first day we’ve done that ll year. I don’t know if guys overlooked Tulsa because of the name. We did our due diligence as a coaching staff to let them know what was going to happen with the matchup zone and how hard they play.

“It’s pretty embarrassing.”

2. LUKA GARZA WENT NUTS AGAIN

If it seems like Garza is putting up monster numbers every games, it’s because he is.

On Wednesday night, the Hawkeyes welcomed newly-ranked Rutgers to campus and sent them home with an entertaining, hard-fought, 85-80 win. And Garza was the star of the show. He finished with 28 points, 13 boards, four blocks and two steals in the win, anchoring the paint as Iowa out-scored Rutgers 47-37 in the second half.

The big fella is now averaging 23 points and 10.5 boards.

Iowa has now won four straight games to move into a tie for third in the Big Ten standings — with Rutgers, among others — and they have won eight straight games in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. They are a third of the way through a three-game homestand as well.

3. VIRGINIA TECH TAKES DOWN NORTH CAROLINA

Virginia Tech kept up their push to finish as the fourth-best team in the ACC with a 79-77 double-overtime win over North Carolina.

The Hokies are now 14-5 overall and 5-3 in the ACC, but the more interesting story might actually be the Tar Heels.

They are 8-10 on the season and 1-6 in the ACC. They have been a disaster for the last month, but there may be some reinforcements on the way in the shape of Cole Anthony. If he returns and the Tar Heels, who are 2-7 in his absence but have wins over Alabama and Oregon with him, get things back on the right track, they are likely going to find themselves in an incredibly awkward situation on Selection Sunday.

Big 12 hands down Kansas-Kansas State fight suspensions

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The Big 12 handed down suspensions to four Kansas and Kansas State players for their role in the fight that occurred in Phog Allen Fieldhouse on Tuesday night.

Silvio De Sousa, who tried to fight three different Kansas State players and picked up a stool during the melee, received a 12 game suspension from the conference. David McCormack, who went into the stands to confront James Love III, received a two game suspension. Love was given eight games for part in the fight, while Antonio Gordon, the freshman that turned a messy situation into a fight, was hit with a three game suspension.

“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated and these suspensions reflect the severity of last evening’s events,” said Commissioner Bob Bowlsby.  “I am appreciative of the cooperation of both institutions in resolving this matter.”

In the final seconds on Tuesday night, after DaJuan Gordon stole the ball from him at halfcourt, De Sousa blocked Gordon’s shot and towered over him. That sparked an incident that turned into a full-fledged brawl, as De Sousa threw punches at three different players on Kansas State before picking up a stool as the fight spilled into the handicapped section of Kansas seating.

Self called the fight “an embarrassment” after the game, adding on Wednesday that “we are disappointed in [De Sousa’s] actions and there is no place in the game for that behavior.”

McCormack will be eligible to return for Kansas on Feb. 1st when they play Texas Tech at home. De Sousa will be available to play in the final game of the regular season at Texas Tech. Gordon can return on Feb. 3rd, when the Wildcats host Baylor, while Love will be out until late February. But he has played just one game and two minutes on the season, so there is no clear indication of when he will actually put on a Kansas State jersey again.

The four most important questions after Kansas-Kansas State fight

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Very other sport can treat brawls like comedy, and I think it’s about time that we did the same for basketball.

So let’s take a look at the four funniest moments from last night’s Kansas-Kansas State fight. Shouts to Jomboy:

1. IS THE KANSAS MASCOT OK?

Throughout the entire fight, the mascot is just in utter disbelief. He cannot believe what he just saw, and he certainly cannot be consoled:

2. CAN JEREMY CASE START AT LINEBACKER FOR KU’S FOOTBALL TEAM?

Case is the video coordinator for Kansas. He’s also a former Kansas point guard. He knows what this rivalry is all about, and he also is not going to be afraid to get in the middle of it.

Case starts out on the wrong side of the melee:

But when he sees De Sousa and Love squaring up and throwing punches, he intervenes by throwing himself into a player six inches taller than him:

3. WHAT HAPPENED TO JAMES LOVE III’S SHOE?

James Love the third has played in exactly one game this season. He has spent more time on the court fighting that he has actually playing, but he still found a way to get into the middle of this fight and, in the process, lost his shoe:

He’s not dressed for the game.

Did he bring an extra pair of shoes? Did he have to head back onto the bus without a shoe on this right foot? So many questions, so few answers.

4. WHO IS THE MAN IN THE ORANGE HAT?

He’s some kind of photographer.

He got his shot, that’s for sure:

Kansas-Kansas State fight: Nuance, context the key in Silvio De Sousa discussion

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So I wanted to elaborate on a point that I made on twitter this morning because 280 characters just is not enough to be able to parse through the nuance of this situation.

If you missed it, the thread is here.

First and foremost, everyone involved in this needs to be punished. Silvio De Sousa needs to be suspended. Antonio Gordon needs to be suspended. James Love III needs to be suspended. David McCormack, and potentially Marcus Garrett, probably need to be suspended, although I’m not sure either of them actually through a punch. Point being, anyone else that threw a punch needs to be suspended.

Full stop.

I am not saying otherwise.

But I think that it is important to add some context to the conversation, and I also think that it is important to say this: This doesn’t make any of the young men involved in this fight bad people. Silvio De Sousa is not inherently a bad person because he picked up a stool, and the faux-trage of people calling for him to get booted out of school, arrested or even deported are, at best, completely over-reacting and, at worst, showing off a bit of their racial bias.

Before I get into this, one more thing: I am not condoning any of it. Fights like this should not happen.

But the reality of hyper-competitive athletics is that in emotionally charged situations, fights are going to happen. And if you’ve ever been in a fight like this, you know that things happen incredibly quickly. You’re not thinking, you’re reacting. You can’t call a 20 second time out to come up with a way to defend yourself when someone is throwing haymakers, you just do what you can in the moment.

So let’s talk about the moment, shall we?

De Sousa is the guy that set this entire thing in motion with the way that he reacted to DaJuan Gordon’s steal and layup attempt. The reason the Kansas State bench rushes over to the scene is because De Sousa is towering over one of their freshman teammates, and the reason the Kansas sideline runs over is because the Kansas State sideline does. What turned this incident into a full-fledged brawl was Antonio Gordon flying in and shoving De Sousa over the back of the basket stanchion. De Sousa reacts by throwing punches at two different Kansas State players when a third player — James Love III, in the black polo — comes flying in and squares up with him. They both throw a few punches at each other, knocking De Sousa back over the stanchion again as Kansas staffer Jeremy Case comes flying in to break them up.

Put yourself in De Sousa’s shoes here. In the span of 10 seconds, he’s fought three different Kansas State players, sees nothing but purple in front of him and just got knocked to the ground. Is he getting jumped? Does he have to fight them 1-on-3? That’s when he grabs the stool, to defend himself, and when he sees that no one is coming after him anymore, he drops it:

Context.

He should be suspended for 8-10 games.

He set this entire thing in motion.

But maybe, just maybe, tone down the rhetoric.

Women’s Wednesday: A new column dedicated to the women of college basketball

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Welcome to CBT’s first ever weekly women’s basketball column. I’m here to help provide you with some insight into the world of women’s college hoops.

Women’s sports are reaching new heights, especially in basketball. The WNBA announced a new collective bargaining agreement starting in the 2020 season that includes a 53 percent raise, maternity benefits, a base salary and performance-based bonuses. This year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament will be broadcasted in its entirety on ESPN, with the semifinals and championship game premiering in primetime.

Female athletes are beginning to garner the attention they deserve. Sabrina Ionescu is drawing national attention for a historic senior season, as she has 22 career triple-doubles and became Oregon’s all-time leading basketball scorer in her career-high 37-point performance against Stanford last week. In the WNBA, women such as Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi, and more are shattering gender stereotypes and proving that women can play basketball at a high level, just as men can.

While women’s sports have made a push into the public eye, there is still quite a way to go. It’s important to place an emphasis on the women who excel in their sport and give them the spotlight they deserve. Too many times women are only given credit through a masculine lens, whether that’s only getting attention after receiving praise from men, being compared to a male counterpart, or being a footnote in a male athlete’s story. Female athletes deserve to be their own story.

That’s what I’m hoping to do with this column over the rest of the season — give women a place to shine. I’d like to use this space to highlight some of the amazing women that play in the NCAA and hear from them about their experiences, the records they’re setting and their basketball journey. While I won’t even begin to make a dent in the breadth of talent available in women’s college basketball, I hope to use this column each week to take a deeper dive into some incredible women, as well as give you an idea of what’s happening around the country that week.

WEDNESDAY’S NEWS AND NOTES

South Carolina sits atop the world of college hoops, earning 22 first-place votes from the AP panel to nab the No. 1 spot. The Gamecocks have an 18-1 record with wins over ranked opponents such as Maryland, Baylor, Kentucky and most recently Mississippi State.

Baylor — the reigning national champs —- sits in the No. 2 spot in the rankings after dethroning UConn and ending its dominant 98-game winning streak at home. The Lady Bears received six of the first-place votes from the AP committee.

The rest of the top five is filled out by UConn at No. 3, Oregon at No. 4 after beating then-No. 3 Stanford, and Louisville rounds it out at fifth, receiving the last two first-place votes.

In a monster performance against Stanford, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu had a career-high 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. She has four triple-doubles on the season and has a chance to become the NCAA’s first player to eclipse 2,000 career points, 1,000 career rebounds and 1,000 career assists. As of Jan. 18, she has 2,265 points, 904 rebounds and 928 assists.

DePaul remains unbeaten in the Big East, with Chante Stonewall leading the team with 17.9 ppg while Kelly Campbell has 102 assists on the season, ranking No. 8 in the country.

Baylor’s 40-point victory over then-No. 17 West Virginia is their 45th consecutive Big 12 win.

Mississippi State’s JaMya Mingo-Young and Aliyah Matharu combined for 24 points and four steals off the bench in a close 79-81 loss to South Carolina on Monday.

Star freshman and No. 1 recruit Haley Jones suffered an apparent right knee injury and left Stanford’s Sunday win over Oregon State. She is scheduled to have an MRI but the team has given no further updates.

North Carolina State’s Elissa Cunane has 20+ points in four of her last six games and 10 double-doubles on the season, helping the Wolfpack to a dominant win over Florida State last week.

UCLA became the last undefeated team to fall with a double overtime loss to USC — who hadn’t yet won a Pac-12 matchup —  on Friday.

Northwestern made its debut this season in the Top-25, coming in at No. 22 — its first ranking since the 2015-2016 season.

No. 3 Oregon faces rival No. 7 Oregon State on Friday in a crucial Pac-12 matchup.

Stanford freshman Fran Belini threw down a one-handed dunk in pregame warmup before facing Oregon that you HAVE to see: