Morris leads No. 23 Iowa St past Cowboys in Big 12 tourney

Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Monte Morris had the ball in his hands with Iowa State’s victory assured, knowing he was only an assist shy of the second triple-double in the history of the Big 12 Tournament.

The senior star held the ball until teammate Naz Mitrou-Long came over and took it so he’d get the turnover instead when the shot clock ran out.

The moment at the conclusion of the No. 23 Cyclone’s 92-83 victory over Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals Thursday was evidence of two things: How selfless and mature Morris has become during his career in Ames, and how respected he is by Mitrou-Long and the rest of his teammates.

“People were telling me about the triple-double,” said Morris, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, “but you can play for stats or you can play for the win.”

Well, the win pushed the Cyclones (21-10) into a semifinal matchup with either No. 1 Kansas or TCU on Friday night.

As for the stats? They had some gaudy ones, too.

Deonte Burton finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mitrou-Long hit three of the Cyclones’ 12 3-pointers and had 14 points. Darrell Bowie and Matt Thomas added 13 points apiece.

“They were terrific,” first-year Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said. “They were the better team.”

Sophomore guard Jawun Evans did everything he could to keep the Cowboys (21-11) afloat, pouring in 29 points and handing out four assists. Backcourt mate Jeffrey Carroll added 21 points and Phil Forte had 12, but not even that offensive output was enough to keep pace with the Cyclones.

The matchup to kick-off the quarterfinals was entertaining from start to finish, the shot clock rarely a factor as the teams raced up and down the floor during a frenetic 40 minutes.

Iowa State was clinging to a 62-57 lead with about 10 minutes left when the intensity finally boiled over. Morris was tied up near midcourt and several players got into a shoving match, the Cowboys’ Brandon Averette and the Cyclones’ Donovan Jackson getting hit with technical fouls.

The Cyclones retained possession and Morris quickly scored, beginning a brief charge that gave the 2014 and ’15 tournament champions a cushion that they were never in danger of losing.

“We spent the majority of the week working on the defensive end, but give them credit,” Underwood said. “Monte Morris, an assist away from a triple-double? Pretty effective day at the office.”

Indeed, the only question down the stretch was whether Morris would get one more assist.

He had the ball in his hands on a couple of possessions, and a couple fans seated courtside were aware of his stat line, yelling for him to get one more assist. But the Cowboys often were quick to foul and Morris wound up short of his second career triple-double. Texas Tech’s Kasib Powell had the only one in Big 12 Tournament play against Texas in 2003.

“I love the kid,” said Iowa State coach Steve Prohm, adding he was glad the triple-double didn’t happen on a meaningless basket. “I don’t think he’d have wanted it that way. I wouldn’t have.”

COUSY SNUB

Morris was not among the 10 finalists for the Bob Cousy Award, given annually to the nation’s top point guard. And that certainly caught Prohm’s attention. “I don’t know what tape they’re watching,” he said, “that he’s not one of the top guards in the country. I’m going to make my own award for him at the end of the season. You couldn’t have a better representative.”

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State had won 10 of its last 13 games after losing six straight to start Big 12 play, and that should be enough to get the Cowboys into the NCAA Tournament. But the biggest strike against them is their record against Top 25 foes, which dropped to 1-8. “We put ourselves in a place to play in the tournament and hopefully get a good seed,” the Cowboys’ Leyton Hammonds said. “Going to be exciting.”

Iowa State relied on its usual barrage of 3-pointers but also a massive crowd advantage. Cyclones fans always paint the Sprint Center red during the tournament, even for an early tipoff.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State awaits its fate on Selection Sunday.

Iowa State prepares for the semifinals on Friday night. The Cyclones split the season series with Kansas and with TCU.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

AP
2 Comments

The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.

NCAA President Mark Emmert got a $500,000 raise in 2016

Tim Bradbury/Getty Images
1 Comment

NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.

That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.

But there’s not enough money to pay the players.

Nope.

Everyone is broke.

Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.