Wednesday’s Shootaround: Champion’s Classic


No. 3 Ohio State 81, No. 8 Florida 74: This game had the same, familiar theme as the two that took place at the Champion’s Classic in New York. The underdog — Florida here — got off to a hot start and opened up a lead, but the favorite — the Buckeyes — made a strong push at the end of the first half and took control early in the second half. Florida did a good job of limiting the touches for Jared Sullinger on the low-block, but Thad Matta’s club proved that they have more than just one weapon. William Buford went for 21 points, DeShaun Thomas added 15 and Aaron Craft and 13 points and seven assists in the win.

For Florida, the good news was the performance that Billy Donovan got out of Erik Murphy. He’ll be a real weapon on the offensive end as he will be able to keep the court spread, creating space for the Gator’s talented back court to penetrate and giving Patric Young room to operate inside. Murphy had 14 points last night on 5-6 shooting, 4-4 from beyond the arc. Florida’s back court struggled a bit. Erving Walker was 1-6 from the floor and finished with just five points. Brad Beal led the way with 17 points, but he was 6-16 from the floor and had five turnovers. Mike Rosario played just 19 minutes and took only four shots. Kenny Boynton was the best of the group, going for 15 points on 5-10 shooting.

No. 10 Memphis 97, Belmont 81: I was very, very impressed with Memphis on Tuesday afternoon. The Tigers, who were playing at 11:00 am local time, absolutely man-handled a good, experienced Belmont club that had just come a point from upsetting Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium. The matchup was, frankly, less-than-ideal for Belmont, who struggled with the Tiger’s length and athleticism (especially around the rim, where the Bruins must have missed 15 shots from point black range), but that should only drive home just how good this Tiger team can be.

In terms of talent, this group is top five in the country. They aren’t at the same level as Kentucky and North Carolina, but there is an argument to be made that this Tiger team has more talent up-and-down their roster than UConn does. Joe Jackson finally showed the country why all the recruitniks made such a big deal about him in high school, finishing with 20 points and seven assists, including a pair of sensational passes as the Tigers rans through the Belmont press. Wesley Witherspoon finally looked like the guy that was thought to be a potential lottery pick, finishing with 22 points on 8-8 shooting. Will Barton’s length and athleticism is going to make him very difficult to stop in the mid-range. He finished with 23 points. Adonis Thomas showed flashes of the strength and athleticism that made him such a highly-regarded recruit. And the guy that folks in Memphis were the most excited about this year — Tarik Black — struggled to find a rhythm as he battled four trouble.

The issue for this Memphis team is going to be discipline and attitude. Will they play this hard every single game? Is Wesley Witherspoon going to get frustrated when he realizes that he is the third or fourth option offensively? Will Memphis be able to run an offensive set when they play a team more equipped to defend them? Whether or not Josh Pastner gets this group to buy into his game plan is the question mark and, admittedly, one of the most important story lines of the season from a national perspective.

Champion’s Classic:

No. 2 Kentucky 75, No. 11 Kansas 65: The Wildcats looked terrible in the first half against Kansas. Everything was 1-on-1, the team was breaking off plays early, they were turning the ball over (led by six from Marquis Teague in the first half) and they were missing open looks. And you know what happened? Kentucky went into halftime tied with the Jayhawks. The second half was a different story. Anthony Davis took over on the defensive end of the floor, Teague started picking his spots better and finished at the rim and Doron Lamb and company knocked down a couple three balls, and Kentucky steamrolled an overmatched Kansas team. I’ll have much more on this game coming this afternoon.

No. 6 Duke 74, Michigan State 69: Andre Dawkins was the after thought in Duke’s perimeter attack. With Seth Curry and Austin Rivers sharing the back court, Dawkins was the guy that had everyone saying “yeah, and that kid will start too”. But he proved just how dangerous he could be on Tuesday night. Dawkins carried the Blue Devils in the first half, going for 14 of his 26 points and hitting four of his six threes while putting on a clinic on how to run off of screens. The Blue Devils struggled offensively in the early going, and if it wasn’t for Dawkins, Michigan State would have been able to build a bigger lead. I’ll have a post coming on the Spartans this afternoon.

Villanova 76, La Salle 69 OT: La Salle got 24 points and five assists out of Tyreek Duren, but they blew a five-point lead in the final 1:23 of regulation. Villanova took over in overtime. The Wilcats were led by 22 points from Maalik Wayns, but he also led the way in poor shooting. Wayns was 5-16 from the floor and 2-7 from beyond the arc as Villanova shot 35.2% from the floor and 4-23 from beyond the arc. La Salle is a bottom-feeder in the Atlantic 10. I guess you can never predict a Big 5 game.

Texas 100, Rhode Island 90: The Longhorns are going to score a lot of point this season. J’Covan Brown went off for the second straight game, finishing with 35 points and six assists, while Myck Kabongo added 18 points and nine assists. The issue for Texas is going to be on the inside; their four big men combined for 26 points and 22 boards.

Weber State 73, Utah State 63: The Wildcats got 28 points and seven threes out of Scott Bamforth and 17 points from Damian Lillard as Weber State stated their case as being the best team in the state of Utah. Morgan Grimm led Utah State with 19 points.

High-Majors fall hard:

Middle Tennessee State 86, UCLA 66: That score is correct. Look it up. And it comes just days after the Bruins lost their opener to Loyola Marymount by 11. The worst part? The problems aren’t exactly fixable for the Bruins. Their leading returning scorer and rebounder, Reeves Nelson, was suspended for this contest because of an attitude problem; there’s speculation that he doesn’t even want to be on the team. Their dominant low-post presence, Josh Smith, is too fat and out of shape to be the star he should be. They have no perimeter shooting and their point guard play is, frankly, embarrassing for the program that produced Jordan Farmar, Darren Collison, and Russell Westbrook. Another storyline to follow? If UCLA doesn’t improve, is Shabazz Muhammad, the nation’s No. 1 recruit that most consider a UCLA-lean, still going to want to play there, especially when he sees Kentucky dominating blue-bloods on national television?

Kent State 70, West Virginia 60: It would be unfair to Kent State to call this game an upset. One of the favorites in the MAC along with Akron, the Golden Flashes brought back essentially their entire team from 2010-2011. It showed against West Virginia. After getting pounded on the glass in the first half and heading into the break with a five-point deficit, KSU turned up their defensive pressure, forcing turnovers and using a 15-3 run to take a 51-44 lead. West Virginia, who is a freshmen-heavy team this season, crumbled against the pressure, eventually getting down by as many as 15 points. The Mountaineers are going to need to get much better play out of their back court of Jabarie Hinds and Truck Bryant.

Pepperdine 66, Arizona State 60: As if things weren’t already bad enough for the Pac-12. Pepperdine is a bottom-third team in the WCC. They have a new head coach and lost their most talented player last season. But the Waves hit 8-11 from beyond the arc and held everyone not named Trent Lockett to 10-42 shooting from the field. Herb Sendek’s seat has to be getting hot in Tempe.

Drake 74, Iowa State 65: Fred Hoiberg’s transfer experiment hasn’t started off too well. Royce White finished with 21 points and 14 boards, but in-state rival Drake got 24 points from Ben Simons and 18 points from Rayvonte Rice as they opened up a lead as big as ten on the Cyclones last night. Its another big win for the Missouri Valley in non-conference play.

Coastal Carolina 71, LSU 63: No one really expected LSU to be any good this season, but I doubt that anyone truly expected them to get smacked around by a Coastal Carolina team that was devastated by injuries and New York Times investigations last season. Coastal Carolina out rebounded LSU 53-34, and while I know rebounding margin is not a great stat, that’s still an astonishing number.

Elon 58, South Carolina 53: Maybe this is why Bruce Ellington decided to play football. Elon got 16 points out of Lucas Troutman and 12 points from Ashley Hamilton as they opened up a big first half lead on the Gamecocks and held off a late-game rally.

The rest of the Top 25

No. 5 Syracuse 98, Albany 74: Kris Joseph and James Southerland led the way for Syracuse, scoring 19 points apiece, as the Orange surprisingly played another New York team at the Carrier Dome.

No. 12 Baylor 77, San Diego State 67: Baylor is just as big and just as athletic as we all thought. But I don’t think they’ve answered their point guard question. This team still looks rudderless offensively. That said, Quincy Miller had 20 points and has now scored 54 points in three games.

No. 14 Xavier 86, IPFW 63: Tu Holloway had 24 points and six assists in his first game back from suspension and Mark Lyons added 21 points for the Musketeers.

No. 20 Cincinnati 73, Jacksonville State 59: The Bearcats built a 27 point lead on the strength of 16 first half points from Dion Dixon (he finished with 20), but they allowed Jacksonville State to battle their way back. Cashmere Wright led the way with 23 points.

No. 20 Vanderbilt 80, Bucknell 68: Jeff Taylor had 14 points to lead five players in double figures as the Commodores bounced back from a tough loss to Cleveland State. More importantly, they did so without John Jenkins or Festus Ezeli, and Bucknell is a good team.

No. 22 Cal 72, Austin Peay 55: This was over by halftime, when Cal opened up a 40-13 lead.

Other notable scores:

– Drexel 80, Rider 62
– Virginia Tech 78, Florida International 63
– Harvard 73, Holy Cross 64
– Butler 57, Chattanooga 46
– Miami (FL) 72, Rutgers 57
– Virginia 69, Winthrop 48
– Oklahoma State 73, Arkansas-Pine Bluff
– George Mason 71, Monmouth 39
– UT-San Antonio 78, Oral Roberts 77

Top Performers:

Dorenzo Hudson, Virginia Tech: Hudson had 31 points as the Hokies knocked off Florida International to earn a trip to New York in the Preseason NIT.

J’Covan Brown, Texas: Brown had 35 points, six boards and six assists in a win over Rhode Island. Through two games, Brown is averaging 31.5 ppg, 7.0 apg and 5.0 rpg.

Scott Bamforth, Weber State: Bamforth had 28 points and hit seven threes as Weber State stated their claim to the throne of the best team in the state of Utah with a 73-63 win over Utah State.

Francisco Cruz, Wyoming: Cruz went for 30 points and five boards as the Cowboys knocked off Northern Colorado.

Ike Azotam, Quinnipiac: More impressive than the 17 points, 18 boards (nine offensive) and four blocks that Azotam had in QU’s win over Yale? The five points he helped hold Greg Mangano too.

Harold Washington and Alshwan Hymes, Canisius: Washington and Hymes combined for 54 points as the Golden Griffins knocked off Longwood.

Chase Tapley, San Diego State: Tapley scored 28 points, but it wasn’t enough for the Aztecs to upset Baylor on the road.

Gerardo Suero, Albany: Suero had 31 points in a losing effort against Syracuse.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Miller, Wong rally Miami past Texas 88-81 for 1st Final Four

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — On the eve of Miami playing for a place in its first Final Four, the quiet conversation floating through the team hotel did not revolve around all that the Hurricanes had accomplished this season. Instead, they talked about what had happened to bring last season to a close.

The sting of an Elite Eight defeat was fresh to those who were there. And they made everyone else feel it, too.

“That loss sat with me for a really long time,” the Hurricanes’ Jordan Miller said. “It doesn’t go away, and the fact that we had the opportunity to come back and make amends, make it right, that’s what was pushing me.”

Miller responded with a perfect performance against second-seeded Texas in the Midwest Region final Sunday. Along with Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Isaiah Wong and March dynamo Nijel Pack, Miller rallied the Hurricanes from a 13-point second-half deficit for an 88-81 victory that clinched that long-awaited trip to the national semifinals.

“How hard we fought to come back in this game, especially on a stage like this, it’s an amazing feeling,” said Pack, one of Miami’s newcomers. “I know how much these guys wanted to win this game, especially being here last year and losing the Elite Eight, and now being able to take it to the Final Four is something special.”

Miller finished with 27 points, going 7 of 7 from the field and 13 of 13 from the foul line, while Wong scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half against the Longhorns, who had been the top remaining seed in a topsy-turvy NCAA Tournament.

Now, the No. 5 seed Hurricanes (29-7) have a date with No. 4 seed UConn on Saturday night in Houston. Two more Final Four newbies, fifth-seeded San Diego State and No. 9 seed Florida Atlantic, will play in the other national semifinal.

It’s the first time since seeding began in 1979 that no team seeded better than No. 4 made the Final Four, so perhaps it is fitting that Miami coach Jim Larrañaga is involved. He took George Mason there as an 11 seed 17 years ago to the day.

Miami was a 10 seed last year when it lost 76-50 to eventual national champion Kansas in a regional final.

“No one wanted to go home,” said Miller, coincidentally a George Mason transfer, who joined Duke’s Christian Laettner as the only players since 1960 to go 20 for 20 combined from the field and foul line in an NCAA tourney game. “We came together. We stuck together. We showed really good perseverance and the will – the will to just want to get there.”

After Miami climbed back from a 64-51 deficit with 13:22 to play, the game was tied at 79-all when Norchad Omier was fouled by the Longhorns’ Brock Cunningham while going for a loose ball. He made both of the foul shots to give the Hurricanes the lead, then stole the ball from Texas star Marcus Carr at the other end, and Wong made to more free throws with 34 seconds remaining to keep them ahead for good.

Miller kept drilling foul shots down the stretch to ice the Midwest Region title for the Hurricanes.

Wooga Poplar scored 16 points, and Pack followed up his virtuoso performance against top-seeded Houston with 15, as the same school that once dropped hoops entirely in the 1970s advanced to the game’s biggest stage.

“You just love when your players accomplish a goal they set out before the season,” Larrañaga said.

Carr led the Longhorns (29-9) with 17 points, though he was bothered by a hamstring injury late in the game. Timmy Allen added 16 and Sir’Jabari Rice had 15 in the finale of a season that began with the firing of Chris Beard over domestic violence charges that were later dropped and ended with interim coach Rodney Terry consoling a heartbroken team.

“These guys more than any group I’ve worked with in 32 years of coaching have really embodied, in terms of staying the course, being a team,” Terry said, choking up so hard on the postgame dais that he could barely speak. “They were so unselfish as a team, and they gave us everything they had. They really did.”

The Longhorns revealed about 90 minutes before tipoff that Dylan Disu, the Big 12 tourney MVP and early star of the NCAA Tournament, would miss the game with a foot injury. He hurt it in the second round against Penn State and only played about 90 seconds in the Sweet 16 against Xavier before watching the rest of that game in a walking boot.

Without their 6-foot-9 star, the Longhorns’ deep group of dangerous guards resorted to potshots from the perimeter against Miami’s porous defense. Rice hit two 3s early, Carr two of his own, and the Longhorns stormed to a 45-37 halftime lead.

On the other end, Texas tried to keep Pack and Wong from producing a sequel to their 3-point barrage against Houston.

Pack, who dropped seven 3s in the regional semifinal, didn’t even attempt one until there were 7 1/2 minutes left in the first half, and his best shot – a looping rainbow as he fell out of bounds – didn’t even count because it went over the backboard.

Wong took as many shots and scored as many points (two) as he had turnovers in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Longhorns’ advantage stretched to 13 in the second half, and tension built on the Miami bench. At one point, Harlond Beverly and Larrañaga got into a verbal spat and the 73-year-old coach yanked the backup guard from the game.

Fortunately for the ’Canes, Pack and Wong were poised, Poplar and Miller seemingly possessed.

Still trailing 72-64 with about eight minutes to play, Pack and Wong joined Miller and Omier in turbocharging a 13-3 run to give the Hurricanes a 77-75 lead, their first since the opening minutes. When Rice answered at the other end for Texas, Miller calmly made two go-ahead free throws to begin his late-game parade to the line.

Carr made a nifty turnaround jumper to tie the game again for Texas, but the Miami momentum never slowed. Omier made two free throws with a minute left, swiped the ball from Carr at the other end, and Miller and Co. finished it off.

“We just all bought into staying together, keeping that hope alive,” Miller said, “and the way we just willed this one through, I think everybody played really well, and I think it really shows the poise of this squad.”

San Diego State muscles past Creighton, makes 1st Final Four

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell converted a go-ahead free throw after he was fouled on a floater with 1.2 seconds left, and San Diego State muscled its way into its first Final Four, grinding out a 57-56 victory over Creighton on Sunday in the NCAA Tournament’s South Region final.

Lamont Butler scored 18 points and Trammell had 12 for the fifth-seeded Aztecs (31-6), who slowed down the high-scoring, sixth-seeded Bluejays (24-13) and became the first Mountain West Conference team to reach the national semifinals.

The experienced Aztecs, in their sixth season under coach Brian Dutcher, will play the surprising East Region champion, ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic, on Saturday in Houston for a spot in the national title game.

With the game tied at 56-all on San Diego State’s final possession, Trammell drove toward the free-throw line, elevated for the shot and was fouled by Creighton’s Ryan Nembhard. Trammell missed the first free throw but converted the second.

Creighton’s Baylor Scheierman threw the ensuing inbound pass the length of the floor. San Diego State’s Aguek Arop and Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma both jumped for it and the ball deflected out of bounds. Officials reviewed the play and determined that time had expired, and the celebration was on for the Aztecs.

Scheierman had tied the game at 56-all when he stole an inbounds pass and converted a layup with 34 seconds remaining.

Ryan Kalkbrenner scored 17 points and Scheierman and Arthur Kaluma had 12 apiece for the Bluejays, who went 2 of 17 from 3-point range.

The Aztecs, who got this far thanks to defense and physical play, held the Bluejays to 23 second-half points on 28% shooting. Creighton shot 40% overall.

San Diego State shot 38% but got clutch baskets from Nathan Mensah, whose jumper gave the Aztecs a 56-54 lead with 1:37 left, and Arop, who made two straight shots to put San Diego State ahead 54-50 with 3:03 remaining.

Creighton, which beat San Diego State in overtime in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament, fell just short of joining Big East rival UConn in the Final Four.

Kaluma played against his brother, San Diego State’s Adam Seiko. Their parents sat a few rows up at midcourt, sitting quietly before joining Seiko to celebrate.

UConn routs Gonzaga 82-54 for first Final Four in 9 years

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LAS VEGAS — Jordan Hawkins scored 20 points and UConn overwhelmed its fourth straight NCAA Tournament opponent, earning its first trip to the Final Four in nine years with an 82-54 blowout of Gonzaga on Saturday night.

The Huskies (29-8) have felt right at home in their first extended March Madness run since winning the 2014 national championship, playing their best basketball of what had been an up-and-down season.

“The Big East Conference is the best conference in the country, so we went through some struggles,” UConn coach Dan Hurley said. “But once we got out of that league and started playing nonconference teams again, we’ve been back to that team that looked like the best team in the country.”

UConn controlled the usually efficient Bulldogs at both ends in the West Region final, building a 23-point lead early in the second half to waltz right into the final section of the bracket.

The Huskies’ two NCAA Tournament first-round exits under Hurley are now well in the rearview mirror.

“If you’re playing for him, you’ve got to play up to that standard or else you’re not going to be out there,” UConn guard Andre Jackson Jr. said.

These elite Huskies did what the UConn women couldn’t for once and are headed to Houston, where they will play either Texas or Miami.

The Bulldogs (31-6) didn’t have the same second-half magic they had in a last-second win over UCLA in the Elite Eight.

Gonzaga allowed UConn to go on a late run to lead by seven at halftime and fell completely apart after All-American Drew Timme went to the bench with his fourth foul early in the second half.

The Zags shot 33% from the field – 7 of 29 in the second half – and went 2 for 20 from 3 to stumble in their bid for a third Final Four since 2017.

Timme had 12 points and 10 rebounds, receiving a warm ovation after being taken out of his final collegiate game with 1:50 left.

Alex Karaban scored 12 points and Adama Sanogo had 10 points and 10 rebounds for UConn.

The Zags started off like they had a Vegas hangover, firing off two air-balled 3-pointers and a wild runner by Timme. Once Gonzaga shook out the cobwebs, the Bulldogs kept the Huskies bridled with defense, with hard hedges on screens and Timme sagging off Jackson to protect the lane.

UConn countered by getting the ball into the strong hands of Sanogo, the facilitator. The UConn big man picked apart Gonzaga’s double-teams for five first-half assists, including two for layups. Karaban hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to put the Huskies up 39-32 at halftime.

It got worse for Gonzaga to start the second half.

UConn pushed the lead to 12 and Timme picked up his third and fourth fouls in the opening 2 1/2 minutes – one on a charge, another on a box-out under the rim.

The Huskies really got rolling when Timme took a seat, using their defense to get out in transition and set up 3-pointers. A 14-3 run put UConn up 60-37 and Gonzaga coach Mark Few took the calculated gamble of bringing Timme back in.

It made little difference.

UConn kept up the pressure and kept making shots, blowing out yet another opponent and looking an awful lot like the favorite to win it all.

UConn’s Final Four streak ends with 73-61 loss to Ohio State

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SEATTLE — UConn’s record Final Four run is over, thanks to a monumental performance by Ohio State.

The Buckeyes ended UConn’s unprecedented streak of reaching 14 consecutive Final Fours, beating the Huskies 73-61 on Saturday in the Sweet 16 of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

“The problem with streaks is the longer they go, you’re closer to it ending than you are to the beginning of it,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “It’s just a matter of time. I mean, it’s not if it’s going to happen. It’s just a matter of time when it’s going to happen. And it was going to happen sooner rather than later.”

Cotie McMahon scored 23 points for the Buckeyes, who snapped their three-decade Elite Eight drought. The Buckeyes hadn’t made a regional final since 1993, when they eventually lost in the title game to Texas Tech.

“When I had the opportunity to come to Ohio State, this was certainly the goal and the vision to go farther than they have been going,” said coach Kevin McGuff, who had never beaten UConn. “It’s not easy to get here, obviously. But I’m really proud of our team and our program of how we’ve evolved to be able to get to this point.

“Like I said, I mean, I have so much respect for Geno and his staff and all that they have accomplished. So for us to be able to win this game in the Sweet 16 is obviously extremely significant. They’re just hard to beat. They’re so well-coached. So this is a great win for us.”

The third-seeded Buckeyes (28-7) forced No. 2 seed UConn (31-6) into 25 turnovers, ending the Huskies’ season before the national semifinals for the first time in 14 seasons. UConn hadn’t been eliminated this early since 2006.

“It’s an impossibility to do what we have done already,” Auriemma said. “What’s the next highest streak? … And you take that in stride and you say, yeah, it was great while it lasted and it’s a credit to all the players that we had and all the times that you have to perform really, really well at this level.”

Ohio State will play Virginia Tech on Monday night in the Seattle 3 Region final with a trip to Dallas at stake. The Hokies beat Tennessee 73-64.

Ohio State, which had to rally from a double-digit deficit in the first round against James Madison, used full-court pressure to disrupt the Huskies’ offense.

“Our press is what we rely on, and sticking together and talking through it,” said Ohio State’s Jacy Sheldon, who had 17 points and went 10-for-10 from the foul line. “We knew UConn was going to be ready for us, so we knew we were going to have to stay consistent throughout the game.”

This has been the most trying year of Auriemma’s Hall of Fame career. UConn was beset by injuries and illnesses to both players and coaches, including a torn ACL that sidelined star Paige Bueckers all season. It got so bad the Huskies had to postpone a game when they didn’t have enough scholarship players. They also saw their unbelievable run of 30 years without consecutive losses come to an end.

“We picked the worst day to actually be doing the things that we’ve been struggling with all year long,” Auriemma said in a sideline interview during the game.

Lou Lopez Senechal scored 25 points for the Huskies, Azzi Fudd had 14, and Ohio State transfer Dorka Juhasz finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

The Huskies led 17-9 before Ohio State started scoring and turning UConn over with its full-court press. The Buckeyes scored the next 17 points, forcing 11 turnovers during that stretch, which spanned the first and second quarters. UConn had eight turnovers to start the second quarter, leaving Auriemma exasperated on the sideline.

McMahon was converting those turnovers into points for the Buckeyes as the freshman finished the half with 18 points – equaling the number of turnovers the Huskies had in the opening 20 minutes. Ohio State led 36-26 at the break.

This was only the sixth time UConn had trailed by double digits at the half in an NCAA Tournament game, according to ESPN. The Huskies lost all of those.

UConn did a better job of taking care of the ball in the second half and cut the deficit to 44-39 on Senechal’s layup with 3:53 left in the third quarter. Ohio State responded and still led by 10 after three quarters.

The Buckeyes didn’t let the Huskies make any sort of run in the fourth quarter. UConn got within nine with 4:30 left, but McMahon had a three-point play to restore the double-digit lead. The Huskies never threatened after that.

Now the Huskies will start their offseason sooner than any time in the past 17 years.


This was the first win for Ohio State over UConn in seven tries. The teams’ last meeting was in the 2019-20 regular season. … UConn was a paltry 7-for-15 from the foul line while Ohio State went 22-for-30. … UConn’s season high for turnovers was 27 against Princeton.


The Seattle Regionals are being played in Climate Pledge Arena – home of the Seattle Storm. UConn and Storm great Sue Bird was in the stands, sitting a few rows behind the scorers’ table. She received a loud ovation from the crowd when she was shown midway through the first quarter on the videoboards.


Juhasz graduated from Ohio State two years ago and flourished there, earning all-Big Ten honors twice. She came to UConn last year looking for a new challenge and wanting to play for a team that could compete for national championships. She’ll leave without one.

There is a mutual respect between Juhasz and the Buckeyes’ coaching staff.

FAU holds off Nowell and K-State to reach 1st Final Four

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NEW YORK — Alijah Martin, Vlad Goldin and ninth-seeded Florida Atlantic became the first and lowest-seeded team to reach this year’s Final Four as the Owls withstood another huge game by Kansas State’s Markquis Nowell to beat the Wildcats 79-76 on Saturday night.

FAU (35-3), making just its second appearance in the NCAA Tournament, won the East Region at Madison Square Garden and will head to Houston to play the winner of Sunday’s South Region final between Creighton and San Diego State.

In one of the most unpredictable NCAA Tournaments ever – all four No. 1 seeds were out by the Elite Eight – the Owls from Conference USA typified the madness.

“I expect the prognosticators to pick us fifth in the Final Four,” fifth-year FAU coach Dusty May said.

The winningest team in Division I this season had never won an NCAA Tournament game before ripping off four straight, all by single digits, to become the first No. 9 seed to reach the Final Four since Wichita State in 2013 and the third to get that far since seeding began in 1979.

Nowell, the 5-foot-8 native New Yorker, was incredible again at Madison Square Garden, with 30 points, 12 assists and five steals, coming off a Sweet 16 game in which he set the NCAA Tournament record with 19 assists. He didn’t get enough help this time.

Nae’Qwan Tomlin was the only other player in double figures for Kansas State (26-10) with 14 points. Keyontae Johnson, the Wildcats’ leading scorer, fouled out with nine points.

Martin scored 17 points, including a huge 3 down the stretch, the 7-foot-1 Goldin had 14 points and 13 rebounds, and Michael Forrest made four clutch free throws in the final 20 seconds for the Owls, who held steady as the Wildcats made a late push.

Cam Carter made a 3 from the wing with 22.8 seconds left to cut FAU’s lead to 75-74 and Kansas State fouled and sent Forrest to the line with 17.9 seconds left. The senior made both to make it a three-point game.

Nowell found Tomlin inside for a layup with 8.6 seconds left to cut the lead to one again, and again K-State sent Forrest to the line. With 6.9 remaining, he made them both.

With no timeouts left, Nowell rushed down the court, gave up the ball to Ismael Massoud outside the 3-point line, and never got it back. FAU’s Johnell Davis swiped it away and time ran out.

“It was trying to get Ish a shot,” Nowell said. “Coach wanted to Ish to set the screen, and I waved it off because I felt like on the right side of the court, that’s where Ish hits most of his shots. And they closed out hard to him, and he didn’t get his shot off.”

Nowell was named the most outstanding player of the region, but FAU turned out to be the best team. As the Owls built their lead in the final minutes, Kansas State fans who had packed the building became anxiously quiet and the “F-A-U!” chants started to rise.

The Owls rushed the floor to celebrate a historic moment for the school. FAU didn’t even have a basketball program until the late 1980s and has only been in Division I for the last 30 years.

“I’m living the dream right now,” Forrest said.

FAU held up to Tennessee’s bully ball in the Sweet 16 and dropped a 40-point second half on the best defense in the nation to eliminate the Southeastern Conference team.

Against one of the Big 12’s best, FAU dominated the boards, 44-22, and became the first team from C-USA to reach the Final Four since Memphis in 2008.

The Owls aren’t hanging around much longer. They’re moving to the American Athletic Conference next season. But first: a trip to Texas.