Final Four dream died, but Carsen Edwards still heads home a March legend

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What do you remember about the 2008 NCAA Tournament?

Can you tell me who was in the Final Four? Off the top of your head, do you know who won the title that year?

Kansas fans sure do. Memphis fans probably do as well. But for the rest of America, the lasting image of that NCAA tournament was some skinny 20-year old from Davidson setting the world on fire. That was the year that Stephen Curry became Steph. He put 40 on Gonzaga in the first round. He had 30 against No. 2 seed Georgetown and Roy Hibbert in the second round. No. 3 seed Wisconsin caught 33 in the Sweet 16, setting up a showdown with Bill Self for the right to get to the Final Four.

The Wildcats would end up losing in the Elite Eight despite 25 points from Curry, but that didn’t change the fact that the 2008 tournament was Steph’s tournament.

This year’s tournament is far from over, but it has the distinct feel of being an event we remember for Carsen Edwards going nuclear as much as anything else.

Edwards had 42 points on Saturday night in Purdue’s overtime loss to Virginia. It was the second time in the span of six days that he dropped 42 points, something that had not happened in the NCAA tournament in 15 seasons prior to this year. One of those 42-point performances came against the reigning national champs, Villanova. The other came against the best defensive basketball program in the sport in UVA. In the proces, he became the first player to score at least 25 points in each of the first four games of the NCAA tournament since Steph did it in 2008.

The show that he put on in the Yum! Center on Saturday night is not something that is soon going to be forgotten.

The man they call C-Boogie came to the tourney to dance, and he danced all over anyone that got in his way.

Edwards was probably always going to be drafted whenever he decides to leave school, but what he during over the course of the last nine days might be enough to get his name called in the first round as early as this June. The NBA is always looking for athletic, shot-making microwave scorers that can come off the bench and put up 25 points on a given night, and Edwards should be able to thrive in that role. And while NBA scouts have known for a long time that this kind of shot-making is something that Edwards is capable of, seeing him to it to this degree on this stage against this defense is staggering.

When you consider the context of what Edwards did, you’ll understand.

As I detailed in the video breakdown below, what Purdue wants to do on the offensive end of the floor is to run dribble-handoff actions to create shots for Ryan Cline and chances for Carsen Edwards to turn a corner and get downhill with a defender on his hip. Virginia completely took this away by guarding these DHOs like they would a ball-screen, with the big — Mamadi Diakite and Jack Salt — hedging hard and forcing Edwards and Cline further out than they want to be.

What this forced Purdue to do was to turn their offense into the Carsen Edwards Show, allowing him to work off of ball-screens and, eventually, just clear-out 1-4 low and allow Edwards to go make a play:

Put simply: There is no defense in college basketball that is more difficult to do this against, particularly when the guy guarding you is De’Andre Hunter.

And Edwards scored 26 of his 42 points in the second half.

It was one of the most impressive individual performances that I have seen in an NCAA tournament game, one that I am not going to forget anytime soon.

That certainly won’t be any consolation for Edwards or the Boilermakers, as they head back to West Lafayette instead of north to Minneapolis, and it shouldn’t be. I’m sure Edwards would trade every single one of those points for a win, and there is no doubt that he’d trade anything up to a appendage for one more chance at the final possession, a turnover he committed when Purdue had a chance to tie with 5.9 seconds left.

But it is something that Purdue fans will always be able to remember. And it’s the performance from the first two weekends of the tournament that I will carry with me for the longest amount of time.

67 of the 68 teams in the NCAA tournament are going to head home with a loss.

If you’re not going to win the thing, you might as well leave a legacy as a March legend.

(Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Green Bay fires Will Ryan after 11th straight loss

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay fired Will Ryan three days after the Phoenix suffered their 11th consecutive loss.

Ryan, the son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, posted a 15-61 record in 2 1/2 seasons. Freddie Owens, who had been an assistant coach on Ryan’s staff, will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“UW-Green Bay is committed to continuing its legacy as an outstanding Division I athletics program in the future, and Phoenix men’s basketball needs to help lead the way as we work to elevate all of our programs and be a shining light for this region and beyond,” athletic director Josh Moon said in a news release announcing the move.

Moon thanked Ryan and his family for their contributions to the program and said that “we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Stadium first reported Ryan’s firing.

Green Bay dropped to 2-19 overall and 1-9 in the Horizon League with a 72-38 home loss to Robert Morris.

Ryan was hired by Green Bay after going 14-13 in his lone season as the head coach at Division II program Wheeling (West Virginia). Green Bay went 8-17 in Ryan’s debut season and finished 5-25 last year.

Ryan had taken over for Linc Darner, who went 92-80 and posted a winning record in four of his five seasons.