Saturday Recap: Deandre Ayton leads Arizona to Pac-12 title; Villanova, Virginia, Kansas win titles

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

The talk of college basketball on Saturday night centered around the play of Arizona freshman center Deandre Ayton. The big man dominated the Pac-12 Tournament for the second consecutive night as Ayton finished with 32 points and 18 rebounds in a championship game win over USC.

A night after putting 32 and 14 on UCLA in a win, Ayton was just as ridiculous on Saturday as he went 14-for-20 from the field and scored on a number of high-level shots. Putting up his 23rd double-double of the season — tying him with Kevin Love for the Pac-12 freshman record — Ayton appears to be peaking at the right time as Arizona looks like a really dangerous team entering the 2018 NCAA tournament.

RELATED: All of Saturday’s Bubble Banter in one place

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • JALEN BRUNSON, Villanova: The NBCSports.com Player of the Year poured in 31 points as the Wildcats claimed an overtime victory over Providence for the Big East Tournament title. Brunson also finished with six rebounds and four assists.
  • ROB GRAY, Houston: Earning its biggest win of the season, Houston is headed to the AAC Tournament finals behind Gray’s 33 points in a win over Wichita State. Gray had a key steal and assist down the stretch as he was also 13-for-15 from the free-throw line.
  • TREY KELL, San Diego StatePumping in a game-high 28 points, the senior made numerous clutch shots down the stretch to help San Diego State secure another NCAA tournament bid in the Mountain West with a win over New Mexico. Battling injuries throughout the season, Kell picked a great time to have his best game of the year.
  • JON ELMORE, Marshall: The Thundering Herd are headed to the Big Dance for the first time in 31 years thanks to Elmore’s monster second half. The junior guard had 20 of his 27 points in the second half to lead Marshall to victory over Western Kentucky.

TEAM OF THE DAY

By claiming the ACC Tournament title over North Carolina, Virginia staked a firm claim as the No. 1 team in college basketball entering the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

In a year full of parity in the sport, the Cavaliers dominated the ACC throughout this season as they claimed the regular-season title and the conference tournament title. But can Virginia carry the momentum of that No. 1 status into a Final Four appearance?

CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on Virginia here.

GAME OF THE DAY

The America East Tournament title game has become an underrated treasure in college hoops thanks to its early Saturday start time the day before Selection Sunday.

Saturday’s contest didn’t disappoint.

Jairus Lyles knocked in the game-winning three-pointer to lift UMBC to a road win over Vermont for the America East autobid. A tight back-and-forth game throughout, this game only adds to the legend of the America East title game as this will be a hard act to follow for next season.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Providence head coach Ed Cooley got so animated on the sidelines during the Big East Tournament title game that he split his suit pants.

This resulted in Cooley having to wear towels around his waist to coach the rest of the game in an overtime loss to Villanova.

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Without starting big man Udoka Azubuike, Kansas was still able to outlast the field and claim the Big 12 Tournament title. The Jayhawks took down West Virginia in the finale as Malik Newman paced Kansas with 20 points.

Tennessee and Kentucky will meet for the SEC title on Sunday after the two teams earned blowout wins over Arkansas and Alabama.

Cincinnati will face Houston for the AAC title on Sunday after the Bearcats rallied to take down Memphis.

The Atlantic 10 title game will feature Rhode Island battling Davidson for the autobid. The Rams were able to outlast Saint Joseph’s for a three-point win while the Wildcats kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive with a win against St. Bonaventure.

Autobids were decided in a number of leagues on Saturday. North Carolina Central claimed the MEAC, Texas Southern won the SWAC, Montana won the Big Sky, Stephen F. Austin reclaimed the Southland, New Mexico State is back representing the WAC and Marshall is back in the field for the first time in 31 years by winning Conference USA.