Bynum’s 27 points lift No. 11 Providence over Xavier in 3 OT

Kris Craig / USA TODAY NETWORK
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence coach Ed Cooley has been hearing a lot about how lucky his team has been to keep winning close games.

He hopes to start hearing about how much talent his 11th-ranked Friars have as well.

Jared Bynum scored 27 points, including a key 3-pointer to help Providence hold off Xavier 99-92 in triple overtime Wednesday night.

A.J. Reeves added 16 points and Al Durham had 13 to help the first-place Friars (23-3, 13-2 Big East) win their second consecutive overtime game. They are 3-0 in OT this season – all in the past four games – and it’s the first time in school history Providence has notched 13 Big East wins.

“We’re just really fortunate. For whatever reason we play well in close games,” Cooley said. “That luck better come from somewhere. It’s called talent.”

It was the first triple-overtime game in the Big East since St. John’s beat DePaul 90-82 on March 5, 2010. It was Providence’s first game of at least three OTs since it lost 79-77 in five overtimes to Dayton on Jan. 28, 1982.

A charter member of the Big East in 1979, the Friars can clinch their first regular-season conference championship by winning one of their final two games. They host Creighton on Saturday and visit No. 8 Villanova next Tuesday.

Adam Kunkel had 20 points and Paul Scruggs added 19 for Xavier (17-10, 7-9), which has lost two straight and seven of 10. Scruggs hit a tying 3-pointer as time expired in the second overtime.

“Those guys, they emptied the tank out there,” Musketeers coach Travis Steele said. “Give their guys credit, they made some big plays.”

A putback by Nate Watson put the Friars up 94-92. Kunkel missed a 3 on Xavier’s next possession and Bynum’s 3-pointer increased Providence’s lead to five with 27.8 seconds left.

Xavier missed a 3 and putback attempt on its next touch and Noah Horchler was fouled. He hit two free throws and, after another Musketeers miss, Providence was able to run out the clock.

“I’ll be lucky anytime of the day if we keep winning like this,” Watson said.

The last sequence followed wild finishes in each of the first two extra periods.

Zach Fremantle scored the first five points of the first OT to put Xavier up 75-70. But the Friars scored the final five points to send it to a second.

They carried that momentum forward and Bynum scored four quick points in the second OT to give the Friars a 79-75 lead.

The lead was down to 79-77 when a turnover gave the ball back to the Musketeers. Scruggs was fouled and hit both free throws to tie it.

The Friars turned it over again and Kunkel sank a floater in the lane with 1:43 left.

Bynum was fouled but made only one of two free throws.

Xavier missed its next time down the floor and Bynum knocked down a 15-foot jumper that gave Providence an 82-81 lead.

Kunkel got caught in the air in the lane and turned it over, leading to a Xavier foul. Alyn Breed, who hadn’t attempted a shot to that point, sank two free throws to make it 84-81.

Scruggs got it back to a point with his basket on the other end before two more free throws by Breed.

Two more free throws by Scruggs cut it to 86-85, but Xavier fouled Watson before the next inbounds – a flagrant foul. Watson made one of two, but Providence was immediately fouled again with six seconds left.

Breed hit the first but missed the second, allowing Scruggs to race up the court and swish a tying 3 from the wing at the buzzer.

BIG PICTURE

Providence hasn’t played its cleanest basketball over the past two games, but remains in the driver’s seat to capture its first Big East regular-season title with two games to play. The Friars had three conference games canceled because of COVID-19.

IN REGULATION

Providence struggled to find an offensive flow in Sunday’s overtime win at Butler without Durham, who sat out with a sports hernia. He returned to the starting lineup, but some of the same issues again cropped up against the Musketeers.

Xavier led by as many as five in the second half before Reeves’ 3-pointer tied the game at 60 with 5:08 to play in regulation.

The Musketeers responded with a backdoor layup by Scruggs, followed by a corner 3-pointer by Horchler.

A short jumper by Kunkel put the Musketeers back in front 64-63.

The Friars missed twice coming out of a timeout, then turned it over when Justin Minaya’s inbounds pass was intercepted by Scruggs and passed ahead to Dwon Odom for a layup with 2:43 left.

Play was then stopped after condensation began to form on the court. The delay lasted about 15 minutes before play resumed.

Reeves knocked down a 3 to tie it on the ensuing possession, followed by a steal by Durham. He was fouled but connected on only one of two free throws to make it 67-66.

A tip-in by Jack Nunge put Xavier back in front before Watson went 1 for 2 at the foul line to leave the game tied.

Fremantle then got free for a layup to give the Musketeers a 70-68 edge with 45.2 seconds to go.

A turnaround jumper by Durham tied it again with 23 seconds left.

UP NEXT

Xavier returns home to host Seton Hall on Saturday.

Providence celebrates Senior Day on Saturday when it hosts Creighton.

Biden celebrates LSU women’s and UConn men’s basketball teams at separate White House events

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WASHINGTON – All of the past drama and sore feelings associated with Louisiana State’s invitation to the White House were seemingly forgotten or set aside Friday as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcomed the championship women’s basketball team to the mansion with smiles, hugs and lavish praise all around.

The visit had once appeared in jeopardy after Jill Biden suggested that the losing Iowa team be invited, too. But none of that was mentioned as both Bidens heralded the players for their performance and the way they have helped advance women’s sports.

“Folks, we witnessed history,” the president said. “In this team, we saw hope, we saw pride and we saw purpose. It matters.”

The ceremony was halted for about 10 minutes after forward Sa’Myah Smith appeared to collapse as she and her teammates stood behind Biden. A wheelchair was brought in and coach Kim Mulkey assured the audience that Smith was fine.

LSU said in a statement that Smith felt overheated, nauseous and thought she might faint. She was evaluated by LSU and White House medical staff and was later able to rejoin the team. “She is feeling well, in good spirits, and will undergo further evaluation once back in Baton Rouge,” the LSU statement said.

Since the passage of Title IX in 1972, Biden said, more than half of all college students are women, and there are now 10 times more female athletes in college and high school. He said most sports stories are still about men, and that that needs to change.

Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex in federally funded education programs and activities.

“Folks, we need to support women sports, not just during the championship run but during the entire year,” President Biden said.

After the Tigers beat Iowa for the NCAA title in April in a game the first lady attended, she caused an uproar by suggesting that the Hawkeyes also come to the White House.

LSU star Angel Reese called the idea “A JOKE” and said she would prefer to visit with former President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, instead. The LSU team largely is Black, while Iowa’s top player, Caitlin Clark, is white, as are most of her teammates.

Nothing came of Jill Biden’s idea and the White House only invited the Tigers. Reese ultimately said she would not skip the White House visit. She and co-captain Emily Ward presented team jerseys bearing the number “46” to Biden and the first lady. Hugs were exchanged.

Jill Biden also lavished praise on the team, saying the players showed “what it means to be a champion.”

“In this room, I see the absolute best of the best,” she said, adding that watching them play was “pure magic.”

“Every basket was pure joy and I kept thinking about how far women’s sports have come,” the first lady added, noting that she grew up before Title IX was passed. “We’ve made so much progress and we still have so much more work to do.”

The president added that “the way in which women’s sports has come along is just incredible. It’s really neat to see, since I’ve got four granddaughters.”

After Smith was helped to a wheelchair, Mulkey told the audience the player was OK.

“As you can see, we leave our mark where we go,” Mulkey joked. “Sa’Myah is fine. She’s kind of, right now, embarrassed.”

A few members of Congress and Biden aides past and present with Louisiana roots dropped what they were doing to attend the East Room event, including White House budget director Shalanda Young. Young is in the thick of negotiations with House Republicans to reach a deal by the middle of next week to stave off what would be a globally calamitous U.S. financial default if the U.S. can no longer borrow the money it needs to pay its bills.

The president, who wore a necktie in the shade of LSU’s purple, said Young, who grew up in Baton Rouge, told him, “I’m leaving the talks to be here.” Rep. Garret Graves, one of the House GOP negotiators, also attended.

Biden closed sports Friday by changing to a blue tie and welcoming the UConn’s men’s championship team for its own celebration. The Huskies won their fifth national title by defeating San Diego State, 76-59, in April.

“Congratulations to the whole UConn nation,” he said.

Marquette’s Prosper says he will stay in draft rather than returning to school

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Olivier-Maxence Prosper announced he is keeping his name under NBA draft consideration rather than returning to Marquette.

The 6-foot-8 forward announced his decision.

“Thank you Marquette nation, my coaches, my teammates and support staff for embracing me from day one,” Prosper said in an Instagram post. “My time at Marquette has been incredible. With that being said, I will remain in the 2023 NBA Draft. I’m excited for what comes next. On to the next chapter…”

Prosper had announced last month he was entering the draft. He still could have returned to school and maintained his college eligibility by withdrawing from the draft by May 31. Prosper’s announcement indicates he instead is going ahead with his plans to turn pro.

Prosper averaged 12.5 points and 4.7 rebounds last season while helping Marquette go 29-7 and win the Big East’s regular-season and tournament titles. Marquette’s season ended with a 69-60 loss to Michigan State in the NCAA Tournament’s round of 32.

He played two seasons at Marquette after transferring from Clemson, where he spent one season.

Kansas’ Kevin McCullar Jr. returning for last season of eligibility

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Kevin McCullar Jr. said that he will return to Kansas for his final year of eligibility, likely rounding out a roster that could make the Jayhawks the preseason No. 1 next season.

McCullar transferred from Texas Tech to Kansas for last season, when he started 33 of 34 games and averaged 10.7 points and 7.0 rebounds. He was also among the nation’s leaders in steals, and along with being selected to the Big 12’s all-defensive team, the 6-foot-6 forward was a semifinalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year award.

“To be able to play in front of the best fans in the country; to play for the best coach in the nation, I truly believe we have the pieces to hang another banner in the Phog,” McCullar said in announcing his return.

Along with McCullar, the Jayhawks return starters Dajuan Harris Jr. and K.J. Adams from a team that went 28–8, won the Big 12 regular-season title and was a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, where it lost to Arkansas in the second round.

Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks landed Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, widely considered the best player in the portal, to anchor a lineup that was missing a true big man. They also grabbed former five-star prospect Arterio Morris, who left Texas, and Towson’s Nick Timberlake, who emerged last season as one of the best 3-point shooters in the country.

The Jayhawks also have an elite recruiting class arriving that is headlined by five-star recruit Elmarko Jackson.

McCullar declared for the draft but, after getting feedback from scouts, decided to return. He was a redshirt senior last season, but he has another year of eligibility because part of his career was played during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a big day for Kansas basketball,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “Kevin is not only a terrific player but a terrific teammate. He fit in so well in year one and we’re excited about what he’ll do with our program from a leadership standpoint.”

Clemson leading scorer Hall withdraws from NBA draft, returns to Tigers

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Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports
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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson leading scorer PJ Hall is returning to college after withdrawing from the NBA draft on Thursday.

The 6-foot-10 forward took part in the NBA combine and posted his decision to put off the pros on social media.

Hall led the Tigers with 15.3 points per game this past season. He also led the Tigers with 37 blocks, along with 5.7 rebounds. Hall helped Clemson finish third in the Atlantic Coast Conference while posting a program-record 14 league wins.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Hall gained experience from going through the NBA’s combine that will help the team next season. “I’m counting on him and others to help lead a very talented group,” he said.

Hall was named to the all-ACC third team last season as the Tigers went 23-10.

George Washington adopts new name ‘Revolutionaries’ to replace ‘Colonials’

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WASHINGTON — George Washington University’s sports teams will now be known as the Revolutionaries, the school announced.

Revolutionaries replaces Colonials, which had been GW’s name since 1926. Officials made the decision last year to drop the old name after determining it no longer unified the community.

GW said 8,000 different names were suggested and 47,000 points of feedback made during the 12-month process. Revolutionaries won out over the other final choices of Ambassadors, Blue Fog and Sentinels.

“I am very grateful for the active engagement of our community throughout the development of the new moniker,” president Mark S. Wrighton said. “This process was truly driven by our students, faculty, staff and alumni, and the result is a moniker that broadly reflects our community – and our distinguished and distinguishable GW spirit.”

George the mascot will stay and a new logo developed soon for the Revolutionaries name that takes effect for the 2023-24 school year. The university is part of the Atlantic 10 Conference.