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Pac-12 all-star team to tour Australia in July

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While the majority of summer tours in college basketball consist of teams making the trek overseas (or to Canada) together, there are all all-star teams put together to represent a conference or some other entity. The Pac-12 has put together an all-star team of sorts in recent years, and on Tuesday they announced the 12-member squad that will visit Australia to play three games in early July.

Two of those games will be played against the Australian men’s national team, which will be preparing for the Summer Olympics to be played in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.

The coaching staff will be led by Mike Montgomery, who led the programs at both Stanford and California before retiring in 2014, with former Stanford head coach Trent Johnson and former Stanford players Casey Jacobsen and Brevin Knight serving as his assistants. Ten of the conference’s 12 teams will be represented on the roster, with Oregon (which has some players hoping to reach the Olympics for other countries) and UCLA being the teams without a player making the trip.

Also of note for Oregon is the fact that they’ll be taking a summer trip to Spain in August, so their players are already set up for a busy summer.

Arizona and Oregon State will each have two players on the roster, with Kadeem Allen and Chance Comanche making the trip representing Sean Miller’s program and Drew Eubanks and Stephen Thompson Jr. doing so for Wayne Tinkle’s program. Of the 12 players two earned honorable mention all-conference honors (USC’s Jordan McLaughlin and Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson), and Colorado’s Wesley Gordon was a Pac-12 All-Defensive Team selection.

Below is the full roster, and the team is scheduled to depart for Australia from Los Angeles July 7.

G Kadeem Allen (Arizona)
C Chance Comanche (Arizona)
G Tra Holder (Arizona State)
G Stephen Domingo (California)
F Wesley Gordon (Colorado)
F Drew Eubanks (Oregon State)
F Stephen Thompson Jr. (Oregon State)
G/F Dorian Pickens (Stanford)
G Jordan McLaughlin (USC)
G Lorenzo Bonam (Utah)
F Matisse Thybulle (Washington)
F Josh Hawkinson (Washington State)

No. 9 UConn rallies in second half to eliminate No. 8 Colorado

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No. 9 seed UConn had trouble with No. 8 seed Colorado in the first half of their South region matchup in Des Moines Thursday afternoon, trailing by as much as 11 as they failed to come up with an answer for senior forward Josh Scott. Scott scored 13 points in the first half, as he was able to operate in 1-on-1 situations within the Buffaloes’ offense. Add in a sluggish showing on the offensive end of the floor, and the Huskies had some major adjustments to make.

Kevin Ollie’s team managed to turn things around, keeping Scott scoreless over the first ten minutes of the second half as they took control of the contest. Despite struggling against the Colorado press late, UConn won 74-67 to advance to the second round where they’ll play No. 1 Kansas or No. 16 Austin Peay on Saturday.

UConn opened the second half on a 24-6 run and outscored Colorado 47-31 during the game’s final 20 minutes, and down the stretch their superior foul shooting made the difference. The top foul shooting team in the country, UConn made 22 of their 23 attempts on the day. By comparison Colorado shot 19-for-30 from the charity stripe, a big reason why the Buffaloes’ season has come to an end.

Rodney Purvis and Daniel Hamilton, both of whom got going in the second half, finished with 19 and 17 points respectively. UConn shot just 39.7 percent from the field for the game, but most of those issues came in the first half when they spent too much time watching one player attempt to crack Colorado’s pack line defense with dribble penetration.

There was better ball movement in the second half for UConn, and that resulted in better shots. Also key was their decision to send more double teams at Scott in the low post, essentially daring the Colorado guards to make the plays needed to put points on the board and they were unable to do so. UConn will have a much tougher task Saturday (if Kansas does what’s expected today) from a defensive standpoint, but this is a program that’s made a habit of going on runs in March.

No. 15 Arizona holds on to beat Colorado 82-78 at Pac-12

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Arizona played a near-flawless first half, pouring in shots, shutting Colorado down, threatening to turn the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal into a blowout.

The momentum shifted dramatically in the second half as the Wildcats let up and the Buffaloes erased nearly all of a 22-point deficit.

The Wildcats held on to move on to the semifinals, but it was much harder than it needed to be.

Allonzo Trier scored 23 points, Ryan Anderson had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and No. 15 Arizona held off Colorado 82-78 on Thursday.

“I guess if you’re the coach, you can look at it this way: Hey, everything’s fine. We’re in the semifinals against Oregon. Awesome job. We advanced. A lot of teams would have loved to,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said. “Or you can really say our effort level is as bad as I’ve ever seen in the last 20 minutes. I choose to focus on the second one.”

Arizona (25-7) has been plagued by inconsistency, only playing well for a half in many of its games.

Most games, the Wildcats struggle early and wear teams down late.

This time, they almost got run over.

Up 17 at halftime, Arizona watched as the Buffaloes raced past them for one offensive rebound after another – 25 in all – to chip away at the lead.

Colorado had the Wildcats on their heels and were within reach, pulling within two on George King’s 3-pointer with 3 seconds left.

Arizona managed to escape, pushing the lead to four on Gabe York’s two free throws, but will need to play a full game if it’s going to beat No. 8 Oregon in the semifinals Friday night.

“If you hold our team to the standards of the past at Arizona or you look at us as competing for this tournament’s championship, we’re not going to be able to advance and be the same team that we’ve been,” Miller said of his team only playing well for one half.

Colorado (22-11) clawed its way back from a huge hole by hitting the offensive glass, but couldn’t overcome its shaky shooting. The fifth-seeded Buffaloes shot 34 percent and made 5 of 19 from 3-point range, leaving their NCAA Tournament fate in the hands of the selection committee.

King had 22 points, and Josh Scott finished with 16 points and 13 rebounds for Colorado, which had 26 second-chance points.

“The one thing about our team is there is no give-up,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said. “They’ve got tremendous fight, tremendous resolve and I’m really proud of the comeback that we staged to get ourselves back in the game.”

Colorado opened the tournament with a dominating performance, beating Washington State 80-56 behind King’s 21-point night.

That earned the Buffaloes a shot at the Wildcats, who were itching for a rematch after losing in Boulder on Feb. 24.

Arizona rallied from a 10-point, second-half deficit in that game, but couldn’t make the plays down the stretch or stop Scott, who had a season-high 26 points.

The Wildcats turned the rematch into a rout from the opening tip.

Smothering the Buffaloes defensively, Arizona set up easy baskets in transition while opening with a 14-2 run, setting off a chant of “U of A!”

The Wildcats kept it rolling, building a 37-20 halftime lead York’s 11 points.

Colorado had more turnovers than field goals – nine to eight – and missed all six of its 3-point attempts.

“Our guys were down. They were disappointed,” Boyle said. “But, again, there is no quit in these guys. There wasn’t any question in my mind.”

He was right.

The Buffaloes found their rhythm a bit in the second half, gaining a surge a momentum midway through while cutting into Arizona’s lead.

Trier stemmed the tide briefly with a couple of athletic shots in transition, but Colorado fought back one more time, pulling to 64-57 on Scott’s three-point play with 5 minutes left.

The Buffaloes kept clawing back every time Arizona tried to pull away, but couldn’t make it all the way back, finishing just short.

TIP INS

Colorado: The Buffaloes had a 51-35 rebounding advantage. .. Colorado made 21 of 25 free throws.

Arizona: The Wildcats blocked 11 shots, including three by Anderson. … York finished with 15 points and Kadeem Allen had 12.

WHAT’S NEXT

Colorado has to wait until Sunday to find out if it will play in the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona faces No. 8 Oregon in the semifinals Friday night.

Pac-12 Conference Tournament Preview and Postseason Awards

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The expectation entering the season was that there were at least five teams capable of winning the Pac-12. Sure enough many of the expected contenders remained a factor for a significant portion of the season, with Oregon eventually rising as the class of the conference. Dana Altman’s Ducks went undefeated at home in Pac-12 play and finished above .500 on the road, which is generally a good formula to at the very least contend for a conference title. The play of Dillon Brooks, Elgin Cook and company may make Oregon the favorites in Las Vegas, but they’ll have plenty of challengers as well.

Utah has the conference’s Player of the Year in sophomore center Jakob Poeltl, Arizona and California both have talented rotations and teams such as Colorado, Oregon State, USC and Washington are all capable of making a run as well. As of right now the Pac-12 could be a seven-bid league depending upon not only what happens in Las Vegas but also in other conference tournaments across the country. This much is certain: given how balanced and talented the league is, whoever cuts down the nets Saturday night will have been pushed to their limit.

The Bracket

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When: March 9-12

Where: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas

Final: March 12, 10:00 p.m. (FS1)

Favorite: Oregon

The Ducks may have just a seven-man rotation, but it’s the versatility within that group that makes them so difficult to deal with. Dillon Brooks, Elgin Cook and Dwayne Benjamin are three forwards who can play just about anywhere on the floor. Freshman Tyler Dorsey can play either guard spot, and big man Chris Boucher is a 6-foot-10 senior who can score in the paint and also on the perimeter.

Both Boucher and Jordan Bell run the floor like gazelles and are incredibly active defensively, and point guard Casey Benson’s improved throughout the course of the season. They’ll score points thanks to the talent and Dana Altman’s offensive schemes. But if Oregon can make things happen defensively and get out in transition, they’re an incredibly tough team to beat.

And if they lose?: Utah

Utah’s rise from team that appeared to be headed towards the NCAA tournament bubble to second place in the Pac-12 is due in large part to the development of their perimeter rotation. Brandon Taylor’s embraced the facilitator role down the stretch, and Lorenzo Bonam’s made strides as well. The Runnin’ Utes can surround elite big man Jakob Poeltl with shooters, thus keeping the spacing that ultimately produces quality shots on a regular basis. Utah ranked second in the conference in field goal percentage defense and fourth in three-point percentage defense, and even with the occasional offensive issues they’ve been solid defensively.

Other Contenders:

  • Arizona: The Wildcats are still formidable, even with the end of their streak of two straight Pac-12 regular season titles. Gabe York’s been on fire of late, and with Ryan Anderson and Allonzo Trier leading the way Sean Miller’s team doesn’t lack for talent either.
  • California: The Golden Bears were the team many were waiting for to get going, and down the stretch they did. The return of Tyrone Wallace helped, and they’ve got two of the nation’s top freshmen Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb. But they’ve had their issues away from Berkeley, so we’ll see what they can do in Las Vegas.

Sleeper: USC

The Trojans have struggled a bit down the stretch, losing six of their final eight games of the regular season. That being said, USC’s offensive balance and tempo could lend itself to a run in Las Vegas. Jordan McLaughlin and Julian Jacobs make up a very good point guard duo, and the Trojans have capable scoring options both in the front court and on the perimeter (six players averaging double figures). They’ll need to keep the turnovers to a minimum, but Andy Enfield’s team is one to keep an eye on.

The Bubble Dwellers:

  • Colorado: The Buffs are in the field. But a loss to a bad Washington State team could make the wait more nerve-wracking than it should be.
  • Oregon State: The Beavers may have been overlooked by some when it comes to their NCAA tournament hopes. Beat Arizona State, and that should be enough.
  • USC: The Trojans arrive in Las Vegas in solid shape to land a bid. Avoiding a bad loss against UCLA in their tournament opener should be enough to make them feel comfortable.

Pac-12 Player of the Year: Jakob Poeltl, Utah

Poeltl was the preseason pick for the award, and despite Utah’s occasional issues on the perimeter he’s been very consistent for Larry Krystkowiak’s team. In conference play Poeltl averaged 17.3 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, shooting a Pac-12 best 62.4 percent from the field.

Pac-12 Coach of the Year: Dana Altman, Oregon

Three times in the last four seasons Altman’s won this honor, with this most recent award being for leading the Ducks to a regular season Pac-12 title. Oregon navigated injuries early in the season, most notably the loss of the player expected to run the point in Dylan Ennis, and found their groove in conference play when all healthy pieces were back in the fold. And in a season in which road teams had an incredibly hard time picking up wins on a consistent basis, Oregon was one of two teams to sweep two Pac-12 road trips this season (Utah being the other).

First-Team All Pac-12:

  • Jakob Poeltl, Utah(POY)
  • Andrew Andrews, Washington: Andrews has been the unquestioned leader for a very young squad, and in conference games he averaged 22.3 points (first in Pac-12) and 5.1 assists (third) per game.
  • Gary Payton II, Oregon State: Payton’s was named the league’s best defender for a second straight year, and there’s also his versatility. The senior ranked in the top ten in the league in rebounding (ninth), assists (first), steals (first) and assist-to-turnover ratio (third), and 11th in scoring.
  • Dillon Brooks, Oregon: As good as Brooks was as a freshman, he was even better this season. Averaging 17.1 points per game in Pac-12 play, Brooks was a serious contender for Pac-12 Player of the Year.
  • Ryan Anderson, Arizona: In his lone season on the court for Arizona, the Boston College transfer averaged 16.0 points and 10.2 rebounds per contest. He was one of two Pac-12 players to average a double-double in conference play (Washington State’s Josh Hawkinson).

Second Team All Pac-12:

  • Jaylen Brown, California
  • Rosco Allen, Stanford
  • Dejounte Murray, Washington
  • Elgin Cook, Oregon
  • Josh Scott, Colorado

Defining moment of the season: Oregon ends Arizona’s 49-game home win streak

CBT Prediction: Oregon’s the pick here, but it would not be a surprise if any of the top four teams left Vegas with the crown.

No. 18 SMU stays unbeaten with 70-66 win over Colorado

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Nic Moore scored 16 points to lead No. 18 SMU past Colorado 70-66 on Wednesday night in the Las Vegas Classic championship game. The Mustangs remain one of five unbeaten Division I teams.

SMU (11-0) used a late 14-1 run to overcome a seven-point deficit with just under 7 minutes left and end Colorado’s 11-game winning streak.

Moore, the tournament’s MVP, was 7 of 18 from the field.

Shake Milton added 14 points, while Markus Kennedy had 12 for the Mustangs, who had coach Larry Brown return from his nine-game suspension to win on consecutive nights at the Orleans Arena.

The Mustangs hit six of seven free throws over the final 1:06.

Josh Fortune led Colorado (11-2) with 15 points, including a desperation 3-pointer with 20 seconds left that made it 68-66.

Milton made two free throws with 13 seconds left to seal it.

Josh Scott had 12 points and 12 rebounds, while Dominique Collier had 12 points for Colorado.

Colorado took a 19-12 lead with 11:43 left in the first half. But the Mustangs scored the next eight points, taking the lead on a layup by Kennedy with 8:45 to go. Ben Moore’s layup with 5:05 remaining gave SMU the lead and the Mustangs were up 35-30 at halftime.

Colorado rallied and took the lead on a layup by Xavier Talton with 11:18 left.

The Buffaloes took a 54-46 lead, their largest of the game, with 8:29 left on a dunk by Wesley Gordon.

Colorado finished 12 of 27 from 3-point range. SMU missed all five 3-point attempts. The Mustangs shot 29 of 60 from the field (48 percent), while Colorado was 23 of 58 (40 percent). SMU was outrebounded 38-34.

UP NEXT:

SMU is at Tulsa next Tuesday.

Colorado is at California on Jan. 1.

Report: Providence transfer Josh Fortune visits LSU; Colorado, Minnesota in the mix

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The initial reports suggested Josh Fortune transferred out of Providence to be closer to his home in Hampton, Virginia. Based on his recent travel schedule, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

A month since announcing his departure from Providence, Fortune has heard from programs across the nation, and has recently taken visits to several schools.

According to Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports, the former Friar shooting guard visited LSU on Tuesday. The 6-foot-5 Fortune has previously racked up the miles on trips to Colorado and Minnesota. Rothstein also mentioned Valparaiso as a team in the mix. Two weeks ago, Fortune’s mother, Angela, spoke with the Daily Press and listed Cal, Dayton and Purdue were all in pursuit of her son while Virginia had also expressed interest.

As a sophomore, he started all 35 games for a team that reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade. He averaged 8.4 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 33 minutes per game. His offensive production improved later in the season, scoring 11.4 points per contest in the Friars’ final 14 games of the season.

Fortune will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules. Fortune will have two years of eligibility left starting in the 2015-2016 season.