Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images

DeVoe leads No. 16 Clemson to 72-48 win over Pitt

Leave a comment

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) — Gabe DeVoe wants the ball if he is open. Especially these days.

DeVoe matched his career high with 25 points, helping No. 16 Clemson beat Pittsburgh 72-48 on Thursday night.

DeVoe was 7 for 11 from 3-point range. The senior is shooting 65 percent (22 of 34) from behind the arc during the Tigers’ four-game win streak.

“I feel no pressure. I’m shooting without a conscious,” he said.

DeVoe has led Clemson in scoring in four of five games since the Tigers lost forward Donte Grantham to a knee injury.

Shelton Mitchell made three 3s on his way to 12 points, and Elijah Thomas had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers (20-4, 9-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).

Clemson led 32-22 at halftime and then put Pitt away with an impressive stretch on offense. The Tigers scored on nine of their first 10 second-half possessions.

Mitchell hit back-to-back 3s to make it 56-28 with 14:21 left. Clemson shot 12 for 27 from beyond the arc.

“When they start making shots, they are hard to beat,” Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said.

Terrell Brown led Pitt with 19 points on 9-of-15 shooting. No other Panther made more than two shots.

Pitt (8-17, 0-12) shot 39.1 percent (18 for 46) from the field. It also committed 15 turnovers, leading to 22 points for Clemson.

It was Clemson’s second double-digit victory in nine ACC wins this season. Pitt has lost all but two of its ACC games by at least 10 points and is losing its league games by an average of more than 18 points.

PANTHERS’ WOES

Stallings didn’t like the way his team practiced this week and he really didn’t like the way they played, either.

“I didn’t think our performance was really good on either end, to be honest with you,” Stallings said.

When things get tough, Stallings said the Panthers panic and try to make plays on their own like they did in high school.

“At some point, they’re going to realize that life is over with because this is the ACC and you can’t go solo in this league and beat anybody,” he said.

FLU SEASON

Marcquise Reed, Clemson’s leading scorer at nearly 16 points a game, had just four points in 23 minutes. He is recovering from the flu.

BIG PICTURE

Pitt: The Panthers are two-thirds of the way through the ACC schedule without a win. Since joining the Big East in 1983, Pitt has never won fewer than four conference games, which happened in its inaugural ACC season last year. There is hope. The Panthers have three of the other four worst ACC teams left on their schedule. The ACC hasn’t had a winless team since Maryland in the old eight-team league in 1987.

Clemson: The win keeps Clemson in second place in the ACC behind just Virginia. The Tigers might have been the ACC appetizer Thursday night to Duke-North Carolina, but those teams are at least percentage points behind the Tigers in the standings. The only time Clemson has finished above the Blue Devils and Tar Heels was in 1990, which remains its only regular-season ACC title. The Tigers also reached 20 wins faster than all but two other Clemson teams.

UP NEXT

Pitt hosts Louisville on Sunday.

Clemson heads to Florida State on Wednesday.

Dominant first half pushes No. 4 Virginia Tech into second round

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Leave a comment

East Region No. 4 Virginia Tech earned the program’s first NCAA tournament victory in 12 years Friday night, as it rode a dominant first half to a 66-52 win over No. 13 Saint Louis.

Buzz Williams’ team limited the Billikens to 18 first half points, taking a 22-point lead into the half as a result. The Hokies weren’t at their best offensively in the second half, but the work done in the first half was more than enough as Saint Louis could get no closer than nine points.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker led the way for Virginia Tech with a game-high 20 points to go along with six rebounds and three steals, with Kerry Blackshear adding 15 points and Ahmed Hill ten. The Hokies shot just 41.7 percent from the field, but a 22-for-27 night from the foul line and a 12-point edge in points from the charity stripe made up for that.

Defensively the Hokies were outstanding in the first half, and would limit the Billikens to 37.3 percent shooting from the field and 4-for-23 from three. Travis Ford’s team, which erased halftime deficits in three of its four wins at last week’s Atlantic 10 tournament, outscored Virginia Tech 34-26 in the second half.

Javon Bess, who sparked the second half rally with some big shots, led three SLU players in double figures with 14 points, with D.J. Foreman adding 12 points and Tramaine Isabell Jr. 11.

Friday’s game also marked the return of Virginia Tech point guard Justin Robinson, who had not played since late January due to a foot injury. The senior finished the game with nine points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, and while he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well (2-for-7 from the field) Robinson’s presence will only help the Hokies as they look to play deep into the tournament.

Next up for Virginia Tech will be No. 12 Liberty, which upset No. 5 Mississippi State in the first game of the evening session in San Jose.

No. 11 Ohio State advances after landing upset of No. 6 Iowa State

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Leave a comment

Chris Holtmann has been to five straight NCAA tournaments since he took over as the interim head coach at Butler during the 2014-15 season.

And after his No. 11-seed Ohio State Buckeyes outlasted No. 6-seed Iowa State, Holtmann can say that his streak remains intact: He has still never lost a game in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Kaleb Wesson scored 21 points and grabbed 11 boards, overpowering a smaller Iowa State team in the paint and carrying the Buckeyes back to the second round of the dance for the second straight season with a 62-59 win over the Cyclones. Wesson missed a front end of a one-and-one with 10 seconds left in the game, but Nick Weiler-Babb missed a wide-open three from about 23 feet that would have tied the game.

And with that, the Buckeyes will advance to take on No. 3-seed Houston for the right to play in the Sweet 16.

But the talking point coming out of this game isn’t going to be Ohio State vs. Houston, it’s going to about the future of the Iowa State head coaching position. Avery Johnson is negotiating a buyout with Alabama. Steve Prohm grew up in Georgia and is an Alabama alum. There is more than a little smoke surrounding his potential move to Tuscaloosa, and if that does happen, it opens the door for what was almost unthinkable a couple of months ago: A return to Ames for former Iowa State head coach Fred Hoiberg.

And that, in turn, has repercussions that will reverberate throughout the college coaching world. Because Hoiberg was fired by the Chicago Bulls earlier and has been heavily linked with a move to Nebraska to replace Tim Miles, who has not been fired or seen his season come to an end.

This will be fascinating to see get put into motion and where these coaches will land.

But what’s clear is that this process couldn’t start until Iowa State’s season came to an end.

Here we are.

No. 9 UCF beats No. 8 VCU, earns first-ever NCAA tournament win

AP Photo/Sean Rayford
Leave a comment

East Region No. 9 UCF made history Friday night, picking up the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament victory as it beat No. 8 VCU by a 73-58 final score. The reward for the Knights is a shot at top overall seed Duke Sunday night, with head coach Johnny Dawkins facing his mentor for the second time in his coaching career.

UCF grabbed control of Friday’s matchup with a 19-0 run that began in the first half, with VCU going nearly eight minutes without scoring a point. Mike Rhoades’ team rallied in the second half but could get no closer than nine points before the Knights put the game away.

B.J. Taylor led three double-digit scorers with 15 points, and 7-foot-6 center Tacko Fall was the difference-maker in the front court. In addition to scoring 13 points the senior big man also accounted for 18 rebounds and five blocked shots. In addition to the blocks there were shots that Fall altered, and even a couple forced turnovers in which VCU paid the price for making rushed decisions around the basket.

Aubrey Dawkins added 14 points, with Terrell Allen and Frank Bertz scoring nine apiece. With UCF’s win the 9-seeds were 4-0 in first round matchups in this year’s tournament, and three of the wins (UCF, Washington and Oklahoma) were by 15 points or more.

Malik Crowfield led the way for the Atlantic 10 regular season champions with 11 points and De’Riante Jenkins added ten, but VCU shot just 31.1 percent from the field and 6-for-26 from three on the night. UCF used multiple defenses throughout the night, going to a zone when Fall was on the floor and man-to-man when the center was on the bench. The Knights will use a similar formula Sunday in hopes that it will slow down Duke’s talented freshman scorers.

2019 NCAA Tournament: Sunday second round tip times, announcers

Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Leave a comment

All times Eastern

12:10 p.m.: South No. 10 Iowa vs. No. 2 Tennessee (Columbus; CBS); Brian Anderson/Chris Webber/Allie LaForce

Approx. 2:40 p.m.: Midwest No. 9 Washington vs. No. 1 North Carolina (Columbus; CBS); Anderson/Webber/LaForce

5:15 p.m.: East No. 9 UCF vs. No. 1 Duke (Columbia; CBS); Jim Nantz/Bill Raftery/Grant Hill/Tracy Wolfson

6:10 p.m.: West No. 6 Buffalo vs. No. 3 Texas Tech (Tulsa; TNT); Brad Nessler/Steve Lavin/Jim Jackson/Evan Washburn

7:10 p.m.: East No. 12 Liberty vs. No. 4 Virginia Tech (San Jose; TBS); Spero Dedes/Steve Smith/Len Elmore/Ros Gold-Onwude

Approx.: 7:45 p.m.: South No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Virginia (Columbia; truTV); Nantz/Raftery/Hill/Wolfson

Approx. 8:40 p.m.: Midwest No. 11 Ohio State vs. No. 3 Houston (Tulsa; TNT); Nessler/Lavin/Jackson/Washburn

Approx.: 9:40 p.m.: South No. 13 UC Irvine vs. No. 12 Oregon (San Jose; TBS); Dedes/Smith/Elmore/Gold-Onwude

North Carolina shakes off slow start, runs over Iona

Grant Halverson/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The ACC sent three No. 1 seeds to the NCAA tournament, and all three of them decided that they didn’t need to show up for the first half.

Virginia trailed Gardner-Webb by as many at 14 points before going on to win by 15. Duke trailed North Dakota State deep into the first half before taking a 31-27 lead into the break, but they went on to win by 23 points.

North Carolina completed the trifecta, digging themselves a 38-31 hole and taking a five-point deficit into the break before they finally found their rhythm, running No. 16-seed Iona off the floor, 88-73.

Cam Johnson led the way with 21 points, seven boards and four assists for UNC while Nassir Little chipped in with 19 points on 9-for-13 shooting from the field. As a team, the Tar Heels grabbed 19 offensive boards.

That said, the final box score doesn’t tell the whole story.

North Carolina was bad in the first half. They couldn’t get out in transition. They gave up 10 Iona three-pointers. It was the furthest thing from a quintessential North Carolina performance, the kind of showing that will get the Tar Heels on a plane back to Chapel Hill if they play this way against Washington in the next round.

It should be easier to be ready to play when the Pac-12 champs are on the other end of the floor.