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No. 3 Xavier beats Providence 84-74 for 1st Big East title

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CINCINNATI — Trevon Bluiett grabbed the scissors in his right hand, climbed the stepladder and started hacking at the net, grimacing as the threads refused to cut.

Finally, he had everything well in hand , just as he had so many times during his four-year career and Xavier’s breakthrough season.

The senior guard scored 23 points in his final game at the Cintas Center, and No. 3 Xavier never trailed while beating Providence 84-74 on Wednesday night to clinch at least a share of its first Big East championship.

The Musketeers (26-4, 14-3) can win it outright by beating DePaul on Saturday and end Villanova’s run of four straight regular season titles.

“It just shows that despite maybe from game to game we’re not at our absolute best, but we are the most consistent team,” coach Chris Mack said.

Bluiett will leave Xavier as its second all-time scorer. He made the game’s first basket on a driving layup, and finished off the Friars with a dunk and a pair of free throws in the final minute.

“We came out aggressively, especially Tre,” senior forward Sean O’Mara said.

The Musketeers sensed the enormity of the game at the outset, missing eight of their first 10 shots from beyond the arc, many of them uncontested. But they made the plays in the big moments, one of their traits as they’ve won a lot of close games and, now, a title.

“Being that it was one of our goals at the beginning of the season and now actually achieving our goal, it’s kind of unreal,” said Quentin Goodin, who added 18 points, one shy of his career high.

The league title was another major step in a record-setting season for Xavier. The Musketeers moved up to No. 3 for the first time this week. Their latest win matched the school record for victories in the regular season. And they got the best of one of only three teams to beat them this season.

Providence (18-12, 9-8) won 81-77 on Jan. 6 but couldn’t pull off the sweep after getting off to a slow start and getting into foul trouble. Top scorer Rodney Bullock fouled out with 4:42 left after managing only six points. Maliek White led with 15 points.

Xavier opened with a 21-8 run, but wasted chances to build on the fast start. Providence made 12 of its last 14 shots in the half, cutting the deficit to 40-37. Xavier found its touch to start the second half and made eight of its first 10, rebuilding the lead to 12 points. Providence never got closer than six the rest of the way.

The Friars had 17 turnovers that set up 22 of Xavier’s points.

“Those guys are playing for a No. 1 overall seed and a conference championship,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “You don’t have to play perfect, but you have to play well enough to have a chance to beat them.”

BIG PICTURE

Providence: The Friars have a pair of wins over Top 5 teams this season for only the second time in their history, but couldn’t get a third. The Musketeers were No. 5 when they beat them in January. They also knocked off No. 3 Villanova 76-71 at Providence on Feb. 14. The Friars are 2-4 against ranked teams this season.

“I’d be excited to play them again, if we’re fortunate enough,” Cooley said.

Xavier: The Musketeers’ last conference title was 2011 in the Atlantic 10, where it won or shared nine regular season titles. When the buzzer sounded, the team gathered around a championship trophy at midcourt as confetti and streamers were shot off from the rafters. They then cut down the net in front of their bench.

SMILE

Xavier coach Chris Mack took a selfie with the fan-filled court behind him before cutting down the rest of the net.

SENIOR GOODBYES

Xavier honored seniors Bluiett, J.P. Macura, O’Mara, Kerem Kanter and Matt Singleton pregame.

T’d OFF

Providence’s Alpha Diallo got a foul for shoving Macura to the ground. They both got technicals when Macura got up and got in Diallo’s face and they exchanged words.

FOUL TROUBLE

Providence’s Kyron Cartwright picked up his third and fourth fouls 18 seconds apart with 15:22 left. Bullock got his fourth with 12:40 left, limiting two of the Friars’ top threats.

UP NEXT

Providence: Friars host St. John’s on Saturday. They opened Big East play by beating the Red Storm 94-72 on Dec. 28. The Friars will honor seniors Cartwright, Bullock, Jalen Lindsey and Tom Planek.

Xavier: Musketeers play at DePaul on Saturday. They beat the Blue Demons 77-72 at the Cintas Center on Dec. 30, Xavier’s seventh straight win in the series.

Former Mizzou tutor plans to reveal ‘full list’ of participants in academic fraud case

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A former Missouri tutor that admitted in 2016 to providing improper academic benefits to multiple Tiger athletes on Monday said that she has been named in a new Notice of Allegations and intends to expose more people attached to the investigation.

Yolanda Kumar tweeted that she is planning on releasing “the full list of students, classes and coordinators on twitter” at 6:39 p.m. on Wednesday, adding that she was dropped from the original NOA but was added back into the latest version after she refused to sign a confidentiality agreement.

Missouri responded on Monday by acknowledging they had met with the Committee on Infractions and that the result of the investigation will prove that they acted with “integrity.”

“On June 13, 2018, the University appeared before the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions to review its investigative findings, and the Committee has since added a previously unnamed involved party and given notice of the Committee’s allegation to that individual,” a statement Missouri released to ESPN said. “While the University may not disclose the names of any involved student due to FERPA, we remain confident that this review will reveal that the University, as well as its student-athletes and staff, have shown great integrity in responding to the allegations raised. In order to protect the investigation’s integrity and in accordance with NCAA rules relative to ongoing investigations, we are unable to comment further any part of the process until it is completed.”

In 2016, Kumar told the Kansas City Star that she had been asked to offer special assistance to football and men’s basketball players, and confirmed to compliance officials that she had acquiesced, helping a dozen athletes. That led to the NCAA’s investigation, and as a result, a defensive tackle named A.J. Logan was suspended for six games.

Kumar also tweeted in 2017 that she was willing to sell the information she had involving the case for the $3,000 fee she needed to pay Missouri to get her transcripts from the school. On Monday, she tweeted that her debt was cleared by a couple from Kansas City.

All of this allegedly occurred during the tenure of former Missouri head coach Kim Anderson.

Michigan, John Beilien ink five-year extension

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Michigan announced on Wednesday that head coach John Beilein has signed a five-year contract extension with the school that will keep him in Ann Arbor through the 2023 season, at least.

“I am grateful for the opportunity the University of Michigan has given to me over the past 11 years,” said Beilein. “Kathleen and I love Ann Arbor, our University, our fans and the state of Michigan. We will continue to work very hard in the future to have our basketball team reflect the greatness of this University. I thank Mark Schlissel and Warde Manuel for their faith and commitment to our coaching staff and basketball program. The future of men’s basketball is bright and I am excited to be a part of it.”

The deal that Beilein signed is a rollover deal, which means that the contract will renew every year. In other words, as long as Beilein and Michigan want the option picked up each April, he will have a five-year contract with Michigan regardless of how long he coaches at the school.

This is Beilein’s 12th year with the Wolverines. Last season, they won a program-record 33 games and reached the Final Four, losing in the national title game for the second time in six seasons.

He is already Michigan’s all-time leader in wins with 248, and, through 41 seasons as a college coach, has amassed a career record of 799-461. In 11 seasons in Ann Arbor, Michigan has made eight NCAA Tournament appearances with four Sweet 16s and three Elite Eights in addition to the two trips to the Final Four. He was named the he 2013 Big Ten Coach of the Year and has won two Big Ten regular-season titles as well as the last two Big Ten Tournament titles.

There was some speculation earlier this month that Beilein would be leaving Michigan after he had an interview with the Detroit Pistons, but he withdrew from that search after the news became public and it seemed likely that Dwayne Casey would be hired.

Former Michigan athletes Austin Hatch, Abby Cole tie the knot

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The life of former Michigan basketball player Austin Hatch has not been without its challenges, as during his pre-college years he survived two separate plane crashes that took the lives of his parents, a stepmother and two siblings.

Hatch’s scholarship offer to Michigan was honored by head coach John Beilein despite the impact that the crashes had on Hatch physically, and Hatch would go on to earn his degree and land a job at the corporate office for Domino’s. This past spring, Hatch was honored during the team’s Senior Day festivities.

By that point Hatch was already engaged to Abby Cole, who played volleyball at Michigan from 2013 to 2016. And over the weekend, the two tied the knot in what was a highly emotional day for all involved. Below is a video of their wedding day, which was chronicled by Derek Postma.

Congratulations and best wishes to Abby and Austin on their marriage.

Arizona lands Cornell forward Stone Gettings for 2019-20 season

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Arizona landed its first addition for the 2019-20 season on Monday, as an Ivy League power forward revealed his intention to join Sean Miller’s program as a graduate student.

6-foot-9 forward Stone Gettings, who averaged 16.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game at Cornell last season, picked Arizona over Stanford and Vanderbilt according to Evan Daniels of 247Sports.com. A second team All-Ivy selection, Gettings is on course to graduate from Cornell in December. Instead of using his final season of eligibility at Cornell, Gettings will sit out this season before playing at Arizona.

Gettings does have a connection to the Arizona program, as one of his high school teammates was former point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright. The addition of Gettings will give Arizona a front court player who can score around the basket and from the perimeter, as he shot nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc last season.

Gettings isn’t the first Ivy League player to make his decision regarding a new school well in advance of his being able to move as a grad transfer, as former Yale point guard Makai Mason took a similar approach. Mason, who missed the entire 2016-17 season with a torn ACL, announced prior to last season that he be joining the Baylor program as a grad transfer for the 2018-19 campaign.

Not counting Gettings, Arizona has four scholarship front court players on its current roster who will have eligibility remaining in 2019-20, in current junior Chase Jeter, sophomores Emmanuel Akot and Ira Lee and freshman Omar Thielemans.

Bill Self: Silvio De Sousa’s eligibility not in jeopardy ‘at this stage’

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One of the biggest question marks heading into the 2018-19 season for the Kansas Jayhawks is the eligibility status of Silvio De Sousa.

If you’ve forgotten, a player that is believed to be De Sousa was referenced in a second round of indictments handed by the FBI. In those documents, De Sousa’s guardian is alleged to have asked an Adidas rep for at least $20,000 to repay a rival apparel company for a payment that was made to secure De Sousa’s commitment to another school. Prior to a surprise commitment to Kansas, De Sousa was long considered a Maryland lean. His AAU program and high school team were both sponsored by Under Armour, whose flagship program is Maryland.

According to Kansas head coach Bill Self, at this point De Sousa is still eligible.

“Nobody at this stage has given us any information that he could be in jeopardy at this stage,” Self said.

This is not surprising.

The way that I would expect this to play out is similar to the way it played out for players that were referenced in the indictments that came down last fall. Kansas is going to string this thing along until we get to a point in time close to the start of the season, when they will announce that De Sousa is being held out of competition. It is better for Kansas to bite the bullet and play without De Sousa than it would be for them to risk knowingly suiting up a player that can be retroactively ruled ineligible.

That sucks for De Sousa.

The good news for Kansas, however, is that Udoka Azubuike is back, as is Mitch Lightfoot, while both Dedric and K.J. Lawson will be eligible as they add freshman David McCormack. There is more than enough frontcourt depth to withstand the loss of De Sousa.