College Basketball Conference Reset: The ACC’s best players and biggest story lines

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College basketball’s non-conference season is coming to a close, and to help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.

Today, we’re taking a look at the ACC.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Luke Kennard, Duke

I’ve written about this quite a bit in our Player of the Year Power Rankings this season, but to me, Kennard deserves to be a first-team all-american as of today. If it wasn’t for the fact that Josh Hart, Frank Mason III and Lonzo Ball have been straight ballin’ on teams that could win a national title, Kennard would have a legitimate argument as National Player of the Year through the first six weeks of the season. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 5.8 boards and 3.1 assists with shooting splits of 53.2/42.2/88.5, and he’s been the best player on the floor for Duke in their biggest games, including last Monday, when he was maybe the only reason Duke didn’t get taken to the wire by Tennessee State.


  • Luke Kennard, Duke
  • Joel Berry II, North Carolina
  • Justin Jackson, North Carolina
  • Michael Young, Pitt
  • Amile Jefferson, Duke

RESETS: ACC | Big Ten | Big East |Pac-12 | SEC | Big 12


  1. Does Duke have reason to be concerned?: We thought they were going to be awesome. You’ve heard this 1,000 times over by now, so I’ll keep it brief: Grayson Allen, Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles III – before the knee scope – were supposed to be the guys that were all-america candidates on this team. Six weeks into the season, Luke Kennard has been a first-team all-american and Amile Jefferson isn’t too far behind. But last week, it looked like Duke’s season was on the verge of going off the rails. There was Grayson Allen’s trip and meltdown, but perhaps more concerning was that Duke won two games they were favored in by a combined 53.5 points by just 21 points total. And then there were Kennard’s comments, which questioned the selfishness of this team.
  2. North Carolina will push the Blue Devils: The Tar Heels lost Marcus Paige and Brice Johnson to graduation and haven’t skipped a beat. Part of that is because Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson have both been terrific this season. Berry is playing like the point guard we’ve wanted him to be since he got to campus, and Jackson has embraced his role as the team’s go-to scorer. Their front line isn’t great, but it doesn’t need to be. As long as Kennedy Meeks, Isaiah Hicks, Tony Bradley and Luke Maye keep getting to the glass and keep getting opposing bigs in foul trouble, that should be enough. Kenny Williams’ improvement is also noteworthy, as is the fact that Theo Pinson hasn’t yet suited up for a game.
  3. Not as top heavy, but there may be more balance: Both Louisville and Virginia are elite defensively, but with Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel failing to improve as much as some (namely me) thought and with Austin Nichols getting the boot, those two look like they’re a step below the Tobacco Road blue-bloods, even with last week’s wins over Kentucky and at Cal, respectively. That said, teams like Notre Dame and Florida State have been impressive in non-conference play while the likes of Virginia Tech, N.C. State, Pitt, Clemson and Miami all look as if they’ll be good enough to put together a tournament profile worthy of at-large consideration, at the least. And then there’s Syracuse, who has the talent to be a top 25 team but has yet to have the performances on the court to back that up.

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  1. Another Challenger outside of Tobacco Road?: Duke and North Carolina are the two best teams in the league. I say that because I think both of those teams are among the top six teams in the country – along with Kentucky, Kansas, Villanova and UCLA – and I think there’s a pretty clear delineation between the top six and the rest of the country. That said, there are a trio of teams that are at least worth mentioning here. Louisville has proven to have the nation’s best defense, but there are enough question marks with their shooting that we cannot put them in the same breath as the blue-bloods. Virginia is essentially dealing with the same problem: They’re elite defensively but do they scare you offensively? Notre Dame is the exactly opposite. The Irish don’t turn the ball over at all and they shoot the lettering off the ball. But are they tough enough to get stops in crunch time? For my money, I don’t think any of those three will mount a serious regular season title challenge.
  2. How many bids will the league get?: This will be the most interesting debate once we get near Selection Sunday. The conference is loaded. That we know. But how many bids can it actually support? My guess is that 11 will get in, as the league’s overall depth will bring up their computer numbers, but for that to happen, two things must be true: Duke, UNC and Louisville drop games to some of the teams on the bubble, and none of those bubble teams drop games to the likes of Boston College and Wake Forest.
  3. Just how good will Duke be?: People are going to be sick of hearing about this pretty soon. Hell, I’m getting sick of writing it at this point. But at the end of the day, the Blue Devils have as much raw talent on their roster as anyone that I can remember, including the 2014-15 Kentucky team that started out the season 38-0. That doesn’t guarantee anything, not when Harry Giles III is clearly still getting into game shape, Duke is without a true point guard on the roster and Grayson Allen can’t stop tripping people, but it does set us up for what could end up being a fascinating season that does down as one of the most memorable, good or bad, Coach K’s career.
CHAMPAIGN, IL - NOVEMBER 29: Dennis Smith Jr. #4 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack drives to the basket during the game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center on November 29, 2016 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated North Carolina State 88-74. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
Dennis Smith Jr. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

BETTER THAN THEIR RECORD: N.C. State is currently sitting at 10-2 on the season, but they have yet to do much to prove themselves. They’ve lost to Creighton and Illinois and their best win came at home in overtime against Tennessee State. But consider this: Maverick Rowan only recently returned to the lineup after suffering a concussion early in the season and Omer Yurtseven, a potential first round pick, only got eligible three games ago. Throw in the fact that freshman Dennis Smith Jr. is starting to play like the guy that’s projected as a top five pick and the Wolfpack are a team flying under the radar.

BEAT SOMEONE AND WE’LL TALK: Virginia is ranked No. 12 in the AP Poll and is currently sitting at 11-1 on the season with a win at Cal. It’s foolish, at this point, to overlook a Tony Bennett-coached program, but after losing Malcolm Brogdon and Anthony Gill to graduation and with Austin Nichols off the team, I think they need to prove they’re still ACC title contenders.

Florida State also should be mentioned here. They have a ton of talent on their roster and a gaudy record, but their best win is against Florida at home. In other words, we know they’re good. Are they really top 25 good? We’ll find out in ACC play.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Brad Brownell has not been to the NCAA tournament since his first season with the Tigers. That was six years ago. This group has the pieces on the roster to get back – Jaron Blossomgame is awesome, Donte Grantham is underrated, Elijah Thomas will be eligible soon. And if it doesn’t? How many high major head coaches have been able to survive missing the NCAA tournament for six straight seasons?

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: Justin Jackson #44 of the North Carolina Tar Heels drives to the basket against De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the CBS Sports Classic at T-Mobile Arena on December 17, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kentucky won 103-100. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Justin Jackson (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


Tourney teams

  • 1. Duke: The Blue Devils are just so loaded, but the one thing to watch for is the thing we’ve been warning you about since Derryck Thornton transferred: Does Duke have a point guard? When they faced a stingy defensive team in Tennessee State, the Blue Devil offense looked bad.
  • 2. North Carolina: This team is going to go as far as Joel Berry II and Justin Jackson take them. Their front court is good enough, they have good role players that can do a job and Roy Williams has as much experience in the tournament as anyone. But Berry and Jackson are the difference-makers, and they’ve unquestionably made a difference this season.
  • 3. Louisville: I’m still not really sure what to make of the Cardinals, although that win over Kentucky sure seemed pretty convincing. They’re elite defensively but they haven’t shot consistently. Their front court length has actually been the strength of this team through 12 games, and while that’s a good thing for Rick Pitino, I’m not sure this team has Final Four potential if Donovan Mitchell and Deng Adel aren’t the two most indispensable pieces on the roster.
  • 4. Notre Dame: I really do love this Notre Dame team. The way they spread the floor, the way that over-looked players like Matt Farrell and Bonzie Colson have been playing at an all-ACC level, the way that Mike Brey is totally willing to roll with four guards and a 6-foot-5 “big man”. They have to get tougher, however, and learn to close out wins.
  • 5. Virginia: As I mentioned earlier, the Cavaliers are going to be a nightmare to try and score on regardless of who they put on the floor, but my concern with this team is on the offensive end of the floor. I don’t know who the points are going to be coming from with Austin Nichols out of the mix. No one on the team is averaging double-figures.
  • 6. Florida State: I think the Seminoles are real this season, real enough that a top four finish isn’t out of the question. We know about the talent they have offensively – Dwayne Bacon, Jonathan Isaac, Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Terrence Mann – but it’s their return to a grind-em-down defensive mindset that has me more intrigued.
  • 7. Virginia Tech: The Hokies are flying under the radar at this point. They’re 10-1 on the season with a win at Michigan and their only loss coming by three points to Texas A&M on a neutral. Overloooked is probably exactly the way that Buzz Williams likes it.
  • 8. N.C. State: The Wolfpack are the team that I’m most intrigued with in the ACC. We’re only just now seeing what they can be when they’re at 100 percent, as they played the majority of their non-conference slate without Maverick Rowan and Omer Yurtseven, who are both starters. Throw in top five pick Dennis Smith Jr. and a stable of scorers on the perimeter, and I think this is a team capable of both making a Final Four and missing the NCAA tournament.
  • 9. Miami: Miami, to date, hasn’t taken a bad loss this year. But they also lost to the two teams they’ve faced that rank inside KenPom’s top 75, and their only top 100 win is against a Stanford team that hasn’t been very good. On paper I like this group, but they have some work to do.
  • 10. Pitt: I think Kevin Stallings is going to get it done and get back to the Big Dance. A lot of that is depending on the fact that A) SMU won’t look like a bad loss come March and B) that win at Maryland is going to be a road win over a top six team in the Big Ten on Selection Sunday. Michael Young and Jamel Artis deserve a trip to the tournament.

NIT teams

  • 11. Clemson: I think Clemson is going to be the victim of numbers in the ACC. They’re probably good enough to be a tournament team in any other conference, but not everyone can win enough games to be at-large viable, and someone has to be 12th.
  • 12. Syracuse: The Orange have been the most disappointing team in the conference to date, although that is probably due to the fact they were overrated entering the season. This team has a ceiling of top five in the conference, but unless they learn to rebound out of that zone and Tyler Lydon plays like he did against Georgetown the rest of the year, they’re in trouble. If they lost at home by 33 to St. John’s, what happens when they host good teams in league play?
  • 13. Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are actually better than I expected this season. John Collins has been one of college basketball’s biggest surprises, but Danny Manning’s boys are still probably a year or two away from really competing for a bid.

Autobid or bust

  • 14. Georgia Tech: Josh Pastner took this job knowing what he was going to get himself into. Hey, at least he’s not at BC. Shout out to Ben Lammers for being awesome, though.
  • 15. Boston College: The bright spot for Boston College this season: Jerome Robinson is a stud. That may be enough to get the Eagles at least one ACC win this season.

Miami coach Jim Larrañaga asks for transparency on NIL deals

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Miami coach Jim Larrañaga wants to know how much money athletes at other schools are making through name, image and likeness deals.

It’s only fair, he said, since no school has had the values of its athletes’ deals publicized more than Miami.

“I think everybody should be transparent,” he said at a news conference Saturday ahead of his team’s NCAA Tournament Midwest Region final aganst Texas. “Why is it hidden behind the curtain? Why? You can go on a website and check out anybody’s salary in the NBA.

“There are a lot of schools that do the same thing we do. We just don’t know about it because it’s not public knowledge. Why not? Why are we afraid of sharing that information?”

Larrañaga said full disclosure is important for competitive reasons and also so the NCAA or Congress can have more information at their disposal when, and if, they bring clarity and uniformity to NIL rules.

Nijel Pack’s two-year, $800,000 contract with Miami booster John Ruiz is the most publicized NIL deal since the NCAA began allowing college athletes to make money off their popularity. ACC player of the year Isaiah Wong’s $100,000 deal with Ruiz also became public knowledge.

Though the terms of twins Haley and Hanna Cavinder’s deals have not been publicized, the two reportedly have made millions of dollars during their time playing women’s basketball at Fresno State and now Miami.

Larrañaga said television networks, shoe companies, universities, athletic directors and coaches make lots of money off college sports and that the athletes deserve a cut.

“I hope they get as many great deals as they can because I think eventually they have to learn how to handle money,” he said. “So at their young age, if they learn it, maybe they’ll find out. I don’t know how many of these guys are spending every cent they get, but I know a lot of NBA guys did that and ended up bankrupt. I think that’s a learning experience. That’s why you’re in college anyway.”

There have been concerns raised that publicizing the amount of money athletes make could cause jealousy and splinter locker rooms.

Larrañaga said NIL hasn’t changed the dynamic, as far as he’s concerned.

“These guys have to get along on the court and off the court,” he said. “If you can’t handle that as a coach, you probably couldn’t handle it when a guy was complaining about playing time or ‘I didn’t get enough shots.’”

Wong disputed a report last year that, upon learning of Pack’s deal, he threatened through his agent to transfer if his NIL deal wasn’t beefed up.

Larrañaga said he’s seen no problems between the two.

“They hit it off day one,” he said. “Why? Because they love playing basketball.”

Jordan Miller vouched for his coach, especially when it comes to Pack’s deal.

“At the end of the day, he’s our teammate, and everybody’s happy for him,” Miller said.

Larrañaga said he couldn’t speculate on whether athletes would be paid as employees of universities some day.

For now, the most important thing is to set firm guidelines for NIL and to make sure athletes are educated about how to manage their money.

“Guys like Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson and LeBron (James), they make life-changing money, life-altering money,” Larrañaga said. “These young kids, they might not get that chance beyond this. So they need an education about it.”

Texas blows out Xavier 83-71 for spot in NCAA Elite Eight

texas xavier
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Tyrese Hunter scored 19 points, Marcus Carr and Christian Bishop added 18 apiece, and second-seeded Texas rolled to an 83-71 victory over No. 3 seed Xavier on Friday night to reach the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years.

Playing most of the way without ailing star Dylan Disu, the Longhorns – the highest seed left after No. 1s Alabama and Houston lost earlier in the night – built a 42-25 lead by halftime. They quickly pushed it past 20 before cruising the rest of the way into a matchup with fifth-seeded Miami on Sunday night for a spot in the Final Four in Houston.

Sir’Jabari Rice had 16 points and Timmy Allen added 11 for the Longhorns (29-8), who kept Souley Boum and the rest of Xavier’s perimeter threats in check while making life miserable for Jack Nunge down low.

Adam Kunkel hit five 3-pointers and led the Musketeers (27-10) with 21 points. Nunge scored 15 but needed 19 shots to get there, while Colby Jones also had 15 points. Boum didn’t hit a field goal until early in the second half and finished with 12 points.

The job the Longhorns did in shutting down Xavier was merely the latest example of some masterful work by interim coach Rodney Terry. The longtime assistant took over in December, when Chris Beard was suspended and later fired over a since-dropped domestic violence charge, and Terry has not only kept the season from falling apart but sent his team soaring.

Things won’t get any easier against Miami, which romped to an 89-75 win over the Cougars.

And especially without Disu, who led the Longhorns to a Big 12 tourney title and earned MVP honors on the same floor just over two weeks ago, and who’d been dominant through the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

Disu tried to play through a left foot injury that the Longhorns had successfully kept secret Friday night, but he lasted only a couple of minutes before limping off the floor and straight to the locker room. When he returned to the bench, he was wearing a big walking boot, a black hoodie and a grim expression.

Relegated to a 6-foot-9 cheerleader, Disu at least had plenty to celebrate.

Carr got the Longhorns off to a fast start, spinning through the lane like a Tilt-A-Whirl for tough buckets at the rim, and even knocking down a spinning, desperation 3 as the shot clock expired. And when Musketeers coach Sean Miller traded out a man-to-man defense for a zone, the Longhorns began to pound the ball to Bishop in the paint.

With dozens of family and friends on hand, the Creighton transfer from the Kansas City suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, went to work. Bishop threw down one dunk on Carr’s alley-oop lob, then slammed down another a few minutes later.

By the time Allen banked in a half-court heave, the Longhorns had established a 42-25 halftime advantage – and had to be redirected from the Xavier tunnel, where they were busy celebrating, toward their own locker room.

Xavier tried to creep back a couple of times, but the Longhorns never allowed their lead to sniff single digits. And that gave Terry, who returned to Texas after head coaching jobs at Fresno State and UTEP, a chance to breathe deeply and enjoy the moment.

The 54-year-old from the small Texas town of Angleton was on Rick Barnes’ staff the last time the Longhorns reached the Elite Eight, back in 2008. He was on the 2003 staff that guided them all the way to the Final Four, too.

Now, he’s one step away from taking Texas on another improbable trip to college basketball’s biggest stage.

Creighton ends Princeton’s March Madness run with 86-75 win

creighton princeton
Jamie Rhodes/USA TODAY Sports

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Creighton used its size, 3-point shooting and a swarming second-half defense to end the March Madness run of Princeton, beating the 15th-seeded Tigers 86-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16.

The sixth-seeded Bluejays (24-12) advanced to their first regional final since they were part of an eight-team NCAA Tournament in 1941. Creighton will play No. 5 seed San Diego State in Sunday’s South Region final, with each team seeking its first Final Four.

Ryan Kalkbenner, the two-time Big East defensive player of the year, scored 22 points to lead the Bluejays to their sixth win in seven games. Baylor Scheierman made five 3s and finished with 21 points.

“Kalk, he impacts us at the rim on both ends of the floor and defensively provides so much for us,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott said. “I thought he really got going late in the first half and carried it over to the second half. Baylor just plays at every level. He can make the mid-range. He shoots the 3. He sees the floor incredibly well, and believe it or not, he’s become a pretty good defender.”

The Tigers (23-9) were led by Ryan Langborg with 26 points and Ivy League player of the year Tosan Evbuomwan with 24 points, six rebounds and nine assists.

Princeton shook up brackets everywhere by beating No. 2 seed Arizona in the first round, then blew out seventh-seeded Missouri last weekend in Sacramento, California.

Playing in its first Sweet 16 since 1967, Princeton was hoping to become the first Ivy League champion to make the Elite Eight since Penn’s Final Four run in 1979, the first Tigers squad to reach the Final Four since Bill Bradley led them there in 1965, and the second straight No. 15 seed to play in a regional final. Saint Peter’s last year became the first 15 seed to achieve that feat.

Princeton’s offense bore no resemblance to the back-cutting, deliberate style that defined the late Pete Carril’s coaching tenure. Instead, the Tigers went toe to toe against Creighton’s fast-paced offense until they stalled out at the start of the second half.

Creighton used a 9-2 run to take 56-45 lead, a four-minute stretch during which Princeton coach Mitch Henderson called two timeouts and Evbuomwan drew his third foul.

The Bluejays just wouldn’t stop. When Princeton cut the deficit to 61-52, Creighton answered with seven more points and the Tigers couldn’t get closer than seven points after that.

“Princeton’s really good at establishing their pace, so you’ve just got to take them out of it,” Kalkbrenner said. “Their whole goal is to take us out of our pace.”

After beating North Carolina State and third-seeded Baylor in Denver last weekend, drawing confidence from not needing oxygen masks like their opponents, Creighton eliminated the suddenly popular Ivy Leaguers. Now, the Bluejays are one win away from the national semifinals.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been a dream come true. This is why I came to Creighton in the first place, to make a run with this group of guys,” Scheierman said. “It’s just been an incredible experience. I’m looking forward to continuing that on Sunday.”

Miami beats No. 1 seed Houston; all four top NCAA seeds out

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Nijel Pack and Miami hit shots from near and far against the stingiest defense in the country to beat Houston 89-75 on Friday night in the Sweet 16, leaving the NCAA Tournament without a single No. 1 seed among its final eight teams for the first time since seeding began in 1979.

Miami (28-7), only the fifth team this season to score at least 70 points against Houston (33-4), will play second-seeded Texas or No. 3 seed Xavier in the Midwest Region final for the chance to go to the Final Four.

About 30 minutes before Houston’s loss, top overall seed Alabama fell to San Diego State in Louisville, Kentucky. Fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas lost during the tournament’s first weekend.

The fifth-seeded Hurricanes reached a regional final for the second straight year just a few hours after Miami’s ninth-seeded women’s team hung on to beat Villanova and advance to the Elite Eight for the first time. Miami and UConn are the only schools with teams remaining in both tournaments.

This is the first time in three years Houston didn’t make it to the Elite Eight.

The Cougars simply couldn’t stop a multifaceted Miami offense led by Pack’s 3-point shooting. He had season highs of seven 3-pointers on 10 attempts and 26 points.

Isaiah Wong’s mid-range game helped get the ‘Canes out to a fast start, and he finished with 20 points. Jordan Miller hurt the Cougars with his penetration and had 13 points, and Norchad Omier was his usual rugged self under the basket while recording his 16th double-double with 12 points and 13 rebounds.

It resulted in a heartbreaking end for a Cougars team that was in the Sweet 16 for a fourth straight time, had won 15 of its last 16 games and had the season-long goal of playing in next week’s Final Four in its home city.

Miami coach Jim Larrañaga, much to his players’ delight, busted out dance moves in the locker room befitting a 73-year-old man harkening to the disco era. Then Wooga Poplar and Joseph Bensley joined him up front for an impromptu line dance.

Larrañaga will seek his first Final Four with Miami and second overall – he took George Mason there as an 11 seed in 2006.

Miami used a 16-5 run spanning the halves to go up by double digits, with Omier’s three-point play and Jordan Miller’s short bank-in with the left hand making it 47-36 and forcing Houston coach Kelvin Sampson to call timeout less than two minutes into the second half.

Houston battled back to make it a two-point game, but then Pack made three 3s and Miller and Wooga Poplar hit one each to fuel a 16-2 run that put the Canes ahead 70-53. The lead grew to as much as 17 points, and Houston never got closer than 11 the rest of the way.

There was no denying it was Miami’s night after Houston made a mini run with under five minutes to play. With the shot clock running down, Omier was forced to put up a jumper just inside the free-throw line. It bounced off the front of the rim, then the backboard, then the front of the rim again before dropping through. A minute later, Houston’s Jarace Walker missed from point-blank range.

Walker led the Cougars with 16 points. Jamal Shead added 15 and All-American Marcus Sasser and Tramon Mark had 14 apiece for the Cougars, who shot just 37% overall and 29% from distance.

Houston – which came into the game as a 7.5-point favorite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook – found itself behind at half for the second straight game after the Hurricanes played their sharpest half of the tournament.

Miami turned the ball over just once the first 20 minutes, converted Miami’s six turnovers into 15 points and shot 6 of 14 from distance against the second-best 3-point defense in the country.

Pack made four of them, and all were timely. His first three gave Miami leads and his fourth broke a 31-all tie.

San Diego State ousts No. 1 overall seed Alabama from NCAAs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Darrion Trammell and San Diego State used a dominant defensive performance to knock top overall seed Alabama out of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night, bottling up All-America freshman Brandon Miller in a 71-64 victory in the Sweet 16.

Trammell scored 21 points while Miller, whose outstanding season was marred by off-the-court complications, was held to nine points on 3-of-19 shooting and had six turnovers.

The fifth-seeded Aztecs (30-6) will face either Creighton or Princeton on Sunday in the West Region final as they seek their first Final Four in program history. With fellow No. 1 seeds Purdue and Kansas losing during the tournament’s first weekend, Houston – which played Miami on Friday night – was the only top-seeded team remaining.

San Diego State trailed 48-39 midway through the second half before going on a 12-0 run and controlling the game from there. The Aztecs finished with eight blocked shots – five by Nathan Mensah – and forced 14 turnovers.

The March Madness run of Alabama (31-6) was clouded by its response to the Jan. 15 fatal shooting of a 23-year-old woman in Tuscaloosa, which led to capital murder charges against a then-Crimson Tide player, Darius Miles.

Miller was at the scene of the shooting and has not been charged, but police have said in court documents that Miles texted Miller to bring him his gun. Authorities have said Miller is a cooperating witness, and he did not miss any playing time. Miller has received armed security protection during the tournament.

Mark Sears had 16 points and Jahvon Quinerly and Charles Bediako scored 10 each for Alabama, which shot 32% overall and a miserable 3 of 27 (11.1%) from 3-point range. The Crimson Tide fell short of the second Elite Eight berth in school history.

“Alabama’s a great team. They have a lot of talented players and individuals,” Trammell said. “We knew it was going to be hard. It was a dogfight. Very physical.”

Sears’ layup got Alabama within 66-64 with 46 seconds remaining, but Matt Bradley made two free throws and Micah Parrish followed by making three of four attempts, including two with 17 seconds left.

Jaedon LeDee finished with 12 points for the Aztecs.