Friday’s Shootaround: A busy night for college hoops

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No. 15 Georgetown 70, Memphis 59: See here.

No. 8 Missouri 78, No. 24 Illinois 74: Missouri blew a 13 point lead with just 13 minutes left in the game, allowing the Illini to come all the way back and take the lead, but the Tigers had just enough left in the tank to pull out the victory late. Illinois led 70-68 after DJ Richardson hit two free throws at the two minute mark, but the Tigers responded with seven straight points to take control of the game.

Phil Pressey, who wasn’t named a Cousy Award finalist, had 18 points and five assists for Mizzou. Joseph Bertrand came off the bench to score 19 points for the Illini — on 9-9 shooting no less — and Meyers Leonard added 14 points, 13 boards and five assists. Illinois deserves a ton of credit for the comeback that they made on the road, and while the loss will no doubt sting, they have no reason to hang their head after this one.

Long Beach State 68, No. 15 Xavier 58: Xavier had Tu Holloway back in the lineup, but the Musketeers still lost their second straight game following the Crosstown Punchout. Holloway had 17 points and four assists, but without Mark Lyons and Dez Wells in the lineup, a balanced LBSU attack was simply too much. Mike Caffey led five players in double figures with 14 points as the 49ers advanced to the semifinals of the Diamondhead Classic.

This is a good win for LBSU even without Xavier at full-strength, but for this tournament to be considered a success, the 49ers need to, at the very least, make the finals. Losing to Auburn will make much more noise than beating them tomorrow night, and with a potential date with Kansas State in the final, LBSU has a chance to notch two more wins over power conference opponents.

No. 12 Florida 82, Florida State 64: The Gators got 21 points out of Bradley Beal and 15 points out of Patric Young — whose most impressive play was a highlight reel block — as they put together their most dominating offensive performance of the season. All five starters reached double figures, the Gators hit 10 threes and shot 48.3% from the field against a very good defensive team in the Seminoles.

No. 9 UConn 79, Fairfield 71: UConn got up 20 at the break, and then they got lazy. Fairfield was able to claw their way all the way back to within three points before the Huskies finally sealed the game on a Ryan Boatright three-pointer in the final minutes. Shabazz Napier finished with 24 points, six boards and five assists. UConn will be playing their next three games without Jim Calhoun, who will be serving the suspension for his program’s recruitment of Nate Miles.

No. 21 Creighton 87, Northwestern 79: The Bluejays overcame an early lead from Northwestern — and first half foul trouble for Doug McDermott — as they knocked off the Wildcats in an entertaining game in Omaha. McDermott scored 18 of his 27 points in the second half while Grant Gibbs added 12 assists and eight boards. Drew Crawford had 34 points to lead the way for Northwestern, who missed out on a big-time opportunity to notch a quality non-conference win.

No. 7 Baylor 72, St. Mary’s 59: After a horrific start to their non-conference schedule, Baylor has notched their second straight quality win after knocking off St. Mary’s. Quincy Miller led four Bears in double figures with 15 points while Perry Jones added 14 points, nine boards and four blocks. Baylor looks better and better and the season progresses. Things to worry about: Baylor had seven assists on 26 field goals and turned the ball over 15 times. At least they rebounded better in this one.

College of Charleston 77, Coastal Carolina 70: Charleston opened up a 16 points lead early in the second half, and while the Chanticleers had a run in them — they cut the lead to 61-58 — a late 10-0 spurt by the Cougars put the finishing touches on this one. Andrew Lawrence led the way for CofC with 18 points.

Rice 65, Texas A&M 58: Rice got 13 points from Tamir Jackson and used a late first half run to take a lead they didn’t relinquish in the second half. In fact, the Aggies never even challenged in the final 20 minutes. It was Rice’s first Division I win since 11/30. Making matters worse is that A&M lost Kourtney Roberson for 4-6 weeks with a fractured ankle.

Butler 71, Stanford 66: If Stanford was really a contender for the Pac-12 title, they would win games at home against a rebuilding Butler team that can’t score.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 1 Syracuse80, Tulane 61: The Orange used a big first-half run that was keyed by five consecutive three-pointers to open up a commanding lead on Tulane. The Green Wave would never recover.

No. 2 Ohio State 69, Miami OH 40: The final score really isn’t all that impressive, but the Redhawks were never in this. OSU scored the first 11 points of the game and never looked back. Sullinger had 11.

No. 3 Kentucky 87, Loyola MD 63: Kyle Wiltjer, starting in the place of Terrence Jones, had 24 points and helped key a 17-2 second half run that broke open a game that was closer than just about anyone expected.

No. 10 Marquette 64, Milwaukee 50: Junior Cadougan was the offensive catalyst for the Golden Eagles, scoring 15 points and grabbing seven boards as Marquette knocked off their crosstown rivals.

No. 11 Kansas 63, USC 47: The Jayhawks got 14 points from Elijah Johnson and 13 points from Connor Teahan as they slowed their game down to matchup with the more deliberate Trojans. Kansas only gave up 13 first half points.

No. 18 Mississippi State 82, Northwestern State 67/: Not surprisingly, Arnett Moultrie was simply too much inside. He finished with 24 points, 14 boards (11 offensive) and four assists.

No. 18 Indiana 89, UMBC 47: The Hoosiers were banged up, but they still managed to hang 89 points on UMBC. Matt Roth came off the bench to score 14 points while Christian Watford went for 22 points and 10 boards.

No. 19 Michigan 77, Bradley 66: Evan Smotrycz had 20 points and 10 boards as the Wolverines overcame a slow start to knock off Bradley, who count John Beilein’s son as a member of their staff.

No. 20 Michigan State 90, Lehigh 81: Michigan State overcame a slow start — caused, in part, by Draymond Green getting benched to start the game after showing up seven minutes late for a team meeting — to knock off a gritty Lehigh team.

No. 25 Harvard 63, Florida Atlantic 51: Keith Wright had 12 points and 11 boards as the Crimson knocked off a talented FAU team.

Other notable scores:

– Kansas State 83, SIU 58
– Mercer 65, Georgia Tech 59
– UMass 73, Davidson 65
– Miami FL 76, Charlotte 61
– LSU 67, North Texas 58
– West Virginia 70, Missouri State 68 OT
– Southern Miss 53, South Florida 51
– Iowa 81, Boise State 72
– BYU 89, UC-Santa Barbara 75
– Utah State 81, Kent State 62

Alabama coach Nate Oats gets new 6-year, $30 million deal

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Marvin Gentry/USA TODAY Sports
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama coach Nate Oats has agreed to a new six-year, $30 million contract amid the program’s best regular season in decades.

Oats will average $5 million plus incentives over the deal running through the 2028-29 season under a deal approved Friday by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees Compensation Committee.

It makes him the fourth-highest paid basketball coach in the Southeastern Conference and among the Top 10 nationally, athletic director Greg Byrne said.

Oats, who is in his fourth season, will make $4.5 million for the first year with $200,000 annual raises. The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (19-3, 9-0 SEC) has the team’s highest ranking this deep into a season since 1976-77.

“I am honored and humbled to receive a contract extension from the University of Alabama,” Oats said in a statement. “As I have said many times, my family and I love this community, the city of Tuscaloosa and the university.

“I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to build during our time at UA which is a direct reflection of the student-athletes, coaches and staff who have all played a big part in our success. I am excited for what’s happening in the future of our program and the direction we are heading.”

Alabama has gone 80-39 under Oats, winning the 2021 SEC regular season and tournament championships.

“Coach Oats has done an outstanding job leading our men’s basketball program, and we want him to continue doing so for many years to come,” Byrne said in a statement. “He and his staff have lifted the program back to national prominence and built a product that is exciting to be a part of for our team and for our fans.

“We were confident Nate was going to be an outstanding coach for us when we hired him, and he is not only that, but also a great leader of our young men.”

The new contract comes nearly three weeks after Alabama basketball player Darius Miles and another man were charged with capital murder following a fatal shooting near campus. Miles, a reserve forward, was removed from the team and suspended from the university following his arrest.

Duke women’s coach Kara Lawson says men’s ball used vs. FSU

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Duke coach Kara Lawson said her team played with a men’s basketball for the first half of a loss to Florida Stated.

The 16th-ranked Blue Devils lost to the Seminoles 70-57 in Tallahassee, Florida – the team’s second Atlantic Coast Conference loss of the season.

After her team beat Pittsburgh 53-44 , Lawson ended her news conference by speaking animatedly.

“This would never happen in a men’s game. This would never happen. It’s embarrassing for our sport,” she said.

The circumference of a women’s ball is about an inch smaller than a men’s ball and it is typically 2 ounces lighter. While it may not seem like a lot, that’s a big difference.

Lawson said throughout the first half, Duke players were “complaining about the ball.” The Blue Devils were 7 for 34 from the field in the opening 20 minutes of that game. They were 12 for 38 in the second half. Florida State made 10 of its 30 shots in the first two quarters and 14 of 31 in the second half.

“To have a game that, at the end of the season, could be the difference between a seed, between a title, my players don’t deserve that and neither do their players,” Lawson said. “It’s a complete failure. And you can figure out who the people I’m talking about that failed the sport and our players and both teams.”

Lawson said assistant coach Winston Gandy went to the scorer’s table at the half to check on the ball when he realized what the problem was. She said the game officials changed the ball to start the second half.

“We have concluded through our investigation that it was a men’s ball,” Lawson said. “The conference and Florida State is saying that it wasn’t.”

The ACC said it did a comprehensive review talking with game officials, administrators, the table crew and both schools.

“Following the thorough and objective review process, there was no evidence found to support the claim,” the conference said in a statement. “Per NCAA playing rules, there is no appeal or protest process.”

The ACC has instituted a procedural change that the game ball will be brought to the pregame meeting with the captains for approval.

“It’s very frustrating that (the game) … was not treated with the utmost respect that players on both teams deserve,” she said.

This wasn’t the first time this has happened in women’s basketball. In 2017, the College of Charleston played home games and practiced with men’s balls for most of its season until the error was was discovered.

“Let me be clear: Florida State beat us. They beat us playing with a men’s ball in the first half and a women’s ball in the second half. But I can’t say if we’d have played with a women’s ball in the first half and the second half that we would have won. But they can’t say that either,” Lawson said.

No. 1 South Carolina wins 28th straight 87-69 over ‘Cats

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Jeff Blake/USA TODAY Sports
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COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dawn Staley’s pleased South Carolina had made its once-lopsided series with UConn more competitive the past few years.

She hopes her top-ranked team can accomplish another milestone when the teams meet for a top-five showdown on Sunday.

“It still stands true that we haven’t won up there,” Staley said.

Aliyah Boston had 14 points and 14 rebounds as South Carolina prepared for the top-five showdown with an 87-69 victory over Kentucky on Thursday night.

The Gamecocks (10-0 Southeastern Conference) improved to 22-0 and won their 28th straight, a run that included a 64-49 victory over the Huskies in Minneapolis last April to win the national championship.

Staley had lost her first seven games as South Carolina coach against UConn. The Gamecocks have won three of the past four matchups since.

“This particular class committed to each other,” Staley said. “When you have that type of commitment and you just want to win, you find yourself winning some games that you haven’t won before.”

Against Kentucky, reigning AP player of the year Boston extended her school mark with her 75th career double-double and moved within 11 of the SEC record of 86 games with a double-double held by LSU great Sylvia Fowles.

Things weren’t perfect for South Carolina, which fell behind early, then had its 15-point halftime lead cut to 54-48 midway through the third quarter.

Still, its dominant inside game – South Carolina outscored the Wildcats 62-14 in the paint – was more than enough to shut down Kentucky (10-12, 2-8), the last team to defeat the defending national champions at the SEC Tournament last March.

The Wildcats went on top 16-15 after a pair of baskets by Adebola Adeyeye.

That’s when South Carolina, fueled by its bench, took control with a 17-2 run. Ashlyn Watkins had three inside shots and Kamilla Cardoso scored four points during the surge.

The Wildcats used a 13-4 burst to start the third quarter to give South Carolina a few uncomfortable moments. But the Gamecocks got going once more with an 11-0 run to extend their margin.

Cardoso, the 6-foot-7 reserve, had 14 points and five of South Carolina’s 14 blocks. Defensive ace Brea Beal had 10 including both of the Gamecocks’ 3-pointers.

Beal thought the team held together well to blunt Kentucky’s runs and regain control. “I think it’s our mental aspect of the game and us believing in each other,” she said.

Robyn Benton had 24 points to lead Kentucky, which has lost three of its past four games.

Wildcats coach Kyra Elzy said South Carolina is difficult to match up with because of its deep bench. “They have depth after depth after depth,” she said. “They keep coming.”

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats are the not the same team that featured two-time SEC player of the year Rhyne Howard the past few seasons. They have 10 newcomers – and six freshmen – who are still learning how to play against the SEC’s top teams like South Carolina.

South Carolina: Forgive the Gamecocks if their focus wasn’t fully on this one at first with a big week ahead. In an eight-game span, South Carolina will face No. 5 UConn and No. 3 LSU, a pair of high-profile games could expose any flaw – or show how powerful the Gamecocks are in chasing a second straight NCAA crown.

UCONN KARMA

South Carolina has opened 22-0 twice under coach Dawn Staley, in 2014-15 and the following year. Both runs ended against UConn. Next up for Gamecocks are the Huskies, although South Carolina has won three of the past four games over UConn including last April’s 64-49 victory to win the NCAA Tournament title.

UP NEXT

Kentucky returns home to face Alabama on Feb. 9.

South Carolina heads to No. 5 UConn on Sunday.

Miles, Citron lead No. 9 Irish past Boston College 72-59

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BOSTON — Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron had already scored 10 straight points to put away Boston College when they turned their attention to other things.

“I told Sonia I needed two more assists for the double-double. And she was like, `All right, I’ve got you,”‘ Miles said after helping No. 9 Notre Dame beat BC 72-59 on Thursday night.

“That’s just kind of our communication on the court,” said Miles, who found Citron for baskets on the next two Irish possessions to complete a 14-0 run – with all 14 points from Miles and Citron. “We just really play off each other really well.

Miles scored 22 points with 10 assists and eight rebounds, and Citron scored 23 for the Irish (18-2, 9-1 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Maria Gakdeng scored 16 points, T’Yana Todd had 13 and Andrea Daly scored 10 with eight rebounds for BC (14-11, 4-8). The Irish beat BC at home 85-48 on New Year’s Day but hadn’t won in Chestnut Hill since 2019.

“This is such a tough place to play,” said Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey, whose team faces No. 16 Duke next. “We’ll celebrate it until about 12:30, and then we’ve got film. Tomorrow we start focusing on Duke.”

BC came within five points, 55-50, before the Irish ran off 14 points in a row – nine by Citron, and five by Miles. That put an end to what had been a back-and-forth game in which the Irish opened big leads and then frittered them away.

“I always feel like we’re close,” BC coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee said. “They’re young; I think consistency comes with experience.

“I think it’s a big improvement from the first time we played Notre Dame,” she said. “I still want to see more, and I want to see us grow up as fast as humanly possible because I think we do have a dangerous team when we going well.”

Notre Dame led by 11 in the first quarter and held a 38-30 lead with two minutes gone in the third. BC scored 13 of the next 18 points, capitalizing on back-to-back Irish turnovers to tie it 43-all with three minutes left in the quarter.

But Natalija Marshall put back the rebound of her own miss, Miles drove to the basket, Maddy Westbeld added a pair of baskets and then Miles stole the ball and found Citron on the fast break to make it 53-43.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame bounced back from their first league loss of the season, a 69-65 defeat at North Carolina State on Sunday. Now they face No. 16 Duke.

The Eagles, who beat Pittsburgh on Sunday to snap a five-game losing streak, were looking for their second victory over a Top 25 team this season, having also beaten then-No. 10 N.C. State on Jan. 5.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame: Hosts No. 16 Duke on Sunday.

Boston College: Visits Syracuse on Sunday.

No. 16 Xavier beats No. 17 Providence 85-83 in OT thriller

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Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY NETWORK
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CINCINNATI — Jack Nunge had 23 points and 14 rebounds as No. 16 Xavier held off No. 17 Providence 85-83 in an overtime thriller Wednesday night.

Colby Jones and Souley Boum each scored 20 for the Musketeers, who won a first-place showdown in the Big East without injured forward Zach Freemantle.

Noah Locke had 22 points and Ed Croswell added 21 for Providence (17-6, 9-3), which had beaten Xavier three straight times.

A layup by Boum put the Musketeers (18-5, 10-2) ahead 82-79 with 51 seconds remaining in overtime. A turnover by the Musketeers led to a layup by Devin Carter that cut Xavier’s lead to one with 24 seconds left.

Boum hit one of two free throws, and Jared Bynum’s 3-point attempt from the left corner rimmed out at the buzzer as the Musketeers held on.

Xavier played its first game without Freemantle, the team’s leading rebounder and second-leading scorer. He is expected to miss four weeks with a left foot injury, the same foot that required surgery in 2021.

Jerome Hunter, who has excelled off the bench for the Musketeers, made his first start of the season and scored nine points with eight rebounds. Xavier had used the same starting lineup in each of its previous 11 Big East games.

Things started well for the Musketeers. who went on a 12-1 run to build a 25-11 lead.

With Boum on the bench with two fouls, the Musketeers didn’t have a field goal in the final 4:18 of the first half and the Friars pulled to 39-35 at halftime.

Providence outscored Xavier 8-2 to start the second half and took its first lead, 43-41, with 17:41 left.

There was a frantic finish to the second half, with Adam Kunkel’s 3-pointer putting Xavier ahead 76-73 with 55 seconds left. But then Bynum banked in a tying 3 and Boum missed two long shots to send the game to overtime.

BIG PICTURE

Providence: The Friars, who won their first Big East regular-season title last year, entered the night tied atop the conference standings with Xavier and No. 14 Marquette, which hosted Villanova later. Providence was picked fifth in the preseason.

Xavier: Hunter, who averages 14 minutes, left with three minutes remaining in OT with an apparent cramp in his right leg. With Freemantle out, Hunter played 36 minutes.

UP NEXT

Providence: Hosts last-place Georgetown on Wednesday.

Xavier: Will host St. John’s on Saturday.