Pitt holds Iowa State to 23 percent shooting in 59-41 first-round win

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Nelly Cummings scored 13 points and No. 11 seed Pittsburgh held sixth-seeded Iowa State to 23% shooting in a 59-41 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Jamarius Burton added 11 points and Greg Elliott had 10 for coach Jeff Capel’s Panthers, who stormed to a 22-2 lead after Iowa State missed its first 11 shots. Things didn’t get much better for the Cyclones, who had three stretches in which they missed at least eight consecutive shots.

Pitt (24-11), which edged Mississippi State in the First Four, moves on to Sunday’s second-round Midwest Region game against third-seeded Xavier, which had to rally from 13 points down to beat No. 14 seed Kennesaw State.

“What an unbelievable defensive performance,” Capel said. “We were a really good defensive team for the majority of the year except for the last month of the season – and we’ve really dialed back in these past two games and played at an elite level.”

Gabe Kalscheur and Jaren Holmes each had 12 points for Iowa State (19-14), which reached the Sweet 16 last year in coach T.J. Otzelberger’s first season.

The Cyclones, who had lost nine of their previous 13 games, didn’t make a field goal until Holmes’ short jumper with 9:53 left in the first half, which drew a sarcastic cheer from Iowa State fans.

Iowa State’s poor start came while shooting at the same basket that officials worked to fix before the game, causing a brief delay.

“Iowa State asked us during pregame warmups to check if the rim was level,” the NCAA said in a statement. “Building personnel checked it and made a minor adjustment prior to the game beginning. We offered them additional warmup time but they declined.”

Otzelberger said he wasn’t sure if the issue with the basket might have gotten into his players’ heads and contributed to their poor shooting, saying, “you’d have to ask the players.”

Kalscheur said it wasn’t, adding that players are trained to handle adversity.

The Cyclones clawed within 30-23 at the break but started the second half much like they did the first – making two of their first 19 shots.

When Pitt’s Nike Sibande was fouled on a 3-pointer from the left corner with under five minutes left and made the ensuing free throw to put the Panthers up by 20, it was all but over.

The Cyclones went nearly eight minutes without a field goal in the second half before Tamin Lipsey made a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:13 left to cut the lead to 19.

One the biggest highlights for Pitt came late in the second half when wiry 7-foot center Jorge Diaz Graham lofted a perfect pass to his identical twin brother Guillermo for a dunk, causing the Panthers’ bench to erupt in celebration.

The brothers don’t see many minutes on the floor together since they’re freshmen and play the same position.

“It was a blast of energy,” Guillermo Diaz Graham said. “That ball coming from my brother especially … it was amazing.”

Added Jorge Diaz Graham: “The funny thing is yesterday in practice he dunked on me and (teammate) Nate (Hinson) and he was talking trash. So I told him, ‘OK, you want to talk now, but just do it in a game.’ And so he did, and now I have to shut up and say thank you for making my assist.”

Pitt also got an emotional boost from center Federiko Federiko, who received a huge ovation from the Panthers faithful when he checked into the game in the first half. Federiko sat out with a knee injury against Mississippi State and the Panthers were outrebounded by 21.

“We’ve had something to prove since the preseason ranked us 14th our conference,” Cummings said. “We’ve had a chip on our shoulder the first time we seen that. Dayton (the First Four site) was just another example of us having to put a chip on our shoulder again. We’re definitely looking forward to proving more.”


Pitt: The Panthers knocked down eight 3s against one of the better defenses in the country when they beat Mississippi State for their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014. They stayed hot against Iowa State, making their first three shots from beyond the arc.

Iowa State: Despite playing in the competitive Big 12, the Cyclones weren’t quite ready for the big stage, enduing one of the poorest shooting performances in recent memory.

“We’re a team that is fueled by our defense and felt like early we didn’t dictate and disrupt quite as well as we needed to to get our natural rhythm going,” Otzelberger said.

No. 3 Kansas beats Iowa State 71-58, moves to Big 12 title game

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Kansas coach Bill Self spoke to his team remotely during breakfast Friday, while the Hall of Famer continued his recovery from an emergency medical procedure earlier this week, and told the Jayhawks that he was proud of their quarterfinal performance in the Big 12 Tournament.

Their semifinal showing might have been even better.

Jalen Wilson had 25 points and 10 rebounds, Gradey Dick made a couple of crucial baskets during a second-half run to help Kansas regain control, and the third-ranked Jayhawks cruised past Iowa State 71-58 on Friday night to move within one more win of defending their tournament title.

“It was great to talk to him, hear his voice,” Wilson said of Self, who went to the hospital Wednesday night and is out for the tournament. “He was super proud of how we did last game and I’m sure he’ll be proud of us this game.”

Dick finished with 15 points for the top-seeded Jayhawks (27-6), who fell behind early in the second half before the defending champs rallied to reach Saturday night’s title game against No. 7 Texas.

Longtime assistant Norm Roberts, serving as the acting coach, said Self was “doing a lot better.” It’s still unknown whether he will be available when the Jayhawks begin the defense of their NCAA championship next week.

“We talked to him today, earlier this morning, going over the game plan – how we wanted to guard, what we wanted to do – and he was good with that,” Roberts said. “He talked to us right after the game and was so excited about the way the guys played. He said, ‘Hey, we really guarded today.’ He was really happy for our guys.”

Jaren Holmes had 16 points to lead the No. 5 seed Cyclones (19-13). Robert Jones finished with 11.

“They were more aggressive from the start,” Iowa State coach TJ Otzelberger said. “They got going offensively, espeically Wilson early, and they’re a really good team. I’m proud of our guys for how they fought back, and gained the lead in the secnod half, but we weren’t able to string together stops.”

The first half between two teams very familiar with each other was sloppy and disjointed. They combined to commit 20 turnovers, some of them byproduct of tight defense but many entirely unforced.

Wilson got off to a hot start, hitting a trio of 3-pointers among his first four shots. The Cyclones weathered the barrage and were still within 29-25 late in the half, but Wilson’s basket in the closing minute and another turnover that led to a runout dunk by KJ Adams sent the regular-season champs to the locker room with a 33-25 lead.

The Jayhawks’ turnover trouble continued after the break, and Iowa State used a 10-2 run out of the locker room and another spurt moments later to take a 39-38 lead – its first of the game – with just under 15 minutes to go.

Yet the Jayhawks showed again the poise and precision that have made them so good come March.

Wilson answered Iowa State with a couple of free throws, starting the Jayhawks’ own 10-2 run to retake control. Backup big man Ernest Udeh Jr. threw down a thunderous dunk off a nifty assist from Dajuan Harris Jr., who also had 11 points, and the lead unspooled again as Kansas fans began to drown out their Cyclone counterparts.

The Jayhawks were never threatened down the stretch as they clinched their spot in the title game.

“Our guys were fired up to play, excited to play today,” Roberts said, “and we really did a good job defenisvely of kind of taking them out of what they wanted to do in a lot of ways.”


Kevin McCullar Jr., the Jayhawks’ defensive stopper who has been dealing with some back spasms, pulled himself from the game in the second half. He had six points in 12 minutes before watching the rest of the game on the bench.

“We told the guys, ‘Step up. Step up. Make a play,’” Roberts said, “and our guys did that.”


Iowa State has adjusted to life without 3-point specialist Caleb Grill, who was dismissed from the team last week. Gabe Kalscheur and Holmes, who struggled from the field Friday night, have become an prolific backcourt duo that could cause some fits in the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas has played well while Roberts has been the acting coach. Along with two wins in the Big 12 Tournament, it went 4-0 with him on the bench when Self served a school-imposed four-game suspension to start the season. That included a win over Duke in the Champions Classic.


Kansas will play for the fourth time in the last five championship games Saturday night at T-Mobile Center.

Iowa State waits to learn whether a Big 12 quarterfinal win over Baylor clinched its at-large NCAA tourney berth.

Iowa State knocks out No. 10 Baylor 78-72 in Big 12 quarters

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Iowa State coach T.J. Otzelberger’s main talking points heading into a quarterfinal against No. 10 Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament centered on the basics: rebounding and points in the paint.

The Cyclones must have taken the message to heart.

Sure, Gabe Kalscheur knocked down six 3-pointers and scoring 24 points. But everyone else wearing red had a hand in the huge advantage on the boards, including a 21-5 edge on the offensive glass, and that allowed the fifth-seeded Cyclones to beat the fourth-seeded Bears 78-72 on Thursday and advance to the semifinal round.

“The things we really focused on,” Otzelberger said with a hoarse voice, “our guys did a great job.”

Jaren Holmes added 17 points, Tamin Lipsey had 12 and Tre King 10 for the Cyclones (19-12), who followed up a win over the Bears on Saturday by beating them for the fifth time in six conference tournament games.

Iowa State will play third-ranked Kansas on Friday night for a spot in the title game. The Jayhawks, playing without ailing coach Bill Self, beat West Virginia 78-61 in their quarterfinal matchup.

As for Bears, well, the game plan for Iowa State to beat them was simple.

“Our coaches did a great job of telling us to take away their 3s,” Kalscheur said. “Jalen Bridges was knocking down 3s – a lot of them were open – but we kind of limited their other guards from going off.”

Bridges, who was held to five points on 1-for-9 shooting against Iowa State last weekend, went 10 of 11 from the field, topped his career high with a 3 early in the second half and finished with 28 points for Baylor (22-10).

It wasn’t enough against the Cyclones, who are trying to repeat their 2019 title as the No. 5 seed.

They outhustled the Bears to just about every loose ball. They crashed the offensive glass, often getting three or four shots in each trip down floor. And they had Kalscheur and Co. lighting it up from beyond the arc.

“It’s about rebounding. It’s about toughness. It’s about want-to,” Bridges said, “and right now, we don’t have that.”

The first of the four quarterfinal games, each featuring a pair of teams that could be in the NCAA Tournament next week, was mostly played before vast sections of empty seats at T-Mobile Center. Many of them finally filled in the closing minutes with Kansas fans that were eagerly waiting their game against the Mountaineers.

Those late arrivals missed a typical, physical Big 12 showdown: The Bears’ Adam Flagler was trapped near midcourt and hit the deck early, sending him limping off the floor, and fellow guard Dale Bonner was similarly trapped and raked across his face in the final seconds, leaving him writhing around in pain.

Flagler returned to hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer that gave Baylor a 41-38 lead at the break.

Bridges was the one giving Iowa State the most fits, though. He drilled a couple of his 3-pointers early in the second half, and was 9 of 9 from the field and 6 of 6 from the arc before missing his first shot with 11:45 to go. But when he finally missed, the Cyclones were there to capitalize on his missed jumper.

Holmes dropped a 3 of his own from the top of the key at the other end, giving the Cyclones a 54-53 lead and forcing Bears coach Scott Drew to call a timeout, and Iowa State kept drawing away down the stretch.

“We tried to get Jalen going on that matchup, and that worked. Twelve assists and 11 turnovers, that worked,” Drew said. “It came down to rebounding. Period. That’s it. Simple thing. Football, it’s turnovers. Basketball, you got to rebound. Normally we always win second-chance points. Even if we break even, we win the game. It’s that simple.”


Iowa State: Finished with a 44-17 advantage on the glass, and that translated to a 36-14 edge on points in the paint. That gave the Cyclones, who are known for their 3-point shooting, a balanced attack that Baylor couldn’t match.

Baylor: Didn’t get enough offensive efficiency to help Bridges out. Star freshman Keyonte George scored 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting before fouling out, Flagler had 14 points on 3-of-11 shooting and LJ Cryer was 3 for 10 for 10 points.


Iowa State: Plays the No. 1 seed Jayhawks in Friday night’s semifinal round.

Baylor: Awaits its NCAA Tournament seed on Sunday.

Houston, Alabama top AP Top 25; Marquette climbing, Pitt in

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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The top five spots in The Associated Press men’s college basketball poll remained the same. The rest of the AP Top 25 was a big jumble.

Houston was No. 1 for the second straight week in the poll released Monday, receiving 49 first-place votes from a 62-person media panel. No. 2 Alabama had five first-place votes and No. 3 Kansas received eight.

UCLA and Purdue rounded out the top five. The Boilermakers held at No. 5 despite losing to No. 15 Indiana.

In the rest of the poll, only No. 20 Providence kept the same position from last week as teams get ready for conference tournaments next week and the start of March Madness.

Alabama held its spot after winning two games despite a challenging week off the court. Brandon Miller had a pair of huge games since police alleged that he brought a gun to former teammate Darius Miles, who is charged with capital murder in a fatal shooting.

Against Arkansas on Saturday, Miller’s regular pregame introduction with a Crimson Tide reserve player giving him a pat down didn’t sit well with coach Nate Oats – or anyone else.

“I can assure you it definitely will not happen again the remainder of this year,” Oats said.

Miller had 24 points in the 86-83 win over the Razorbacks after scoring 41 in a two-point win over South Carolina.


Marquette has made a quick rise under coach Shaka Smart.

The Golden Eagles wrapped up a share of their first Big East regular-season title in a decade with a 90-84 win over DePaul on Saturday and climbed four spots in this week’s poll to No. 6. It is Marquette’s highest ranking hitting No. 1 in 1977-78.


Houston moved into the top spot last week and held onto it after a pair of routs last week. The Cougars’ 76-57 win at East Carolina on Saturday clinched the American Athletic Association regular-season championship, the fourth time in five seasons they’ve at least shared the conference title.

“Our kids know how to win – I say that a lot,” Houston coach Kelvin Sampson said. “But we’ve figured out how to play our system, be unselfish.”


Marquette matched No. 14 UConn and No. 18 San Diego State with the week’s biggest jump among teams in the poll, each climbing four spots.

No. 13 Virginia took the biggest tumble, losing seven spots following losses to Boston College and North Carolina last week.


No. 21 Maryland is back in the AP Top 25 after wins over Minnesota and then-No. 21 Northwestern.

No. 23 Kentucky returned to the poll after a seven-week absence. The Wildcats had a rapid fall from being No. 4 in the preseason poll, but reeled off wins over No. 12 Tennessee, Florida and Auburn.

No. 25 Pittsburgh is ranked for the first time since 2016 after beating Georgia Tech and Syracuse last week.

Northwestern’s return to the poll for the first time in two years didn’t last long. The Wildcats dropped out this week after losses to Maryland and Illinois.

Iowa State fell out from No. 23 after three straight losses and consecutive losses knocked out Creighton from No. 19.

Markquis Nowell scores 20, No. 12 Kansas State beats No. 19 Iowa State 61-55

Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Markquis Nowell hit a 3-pointer from near midcourt with 2:42 remaining to help boost No. 12 Kansas State to a 61-55 win over No. 19 Iowa State.

Nowell finished with 20 points. Keyontae Johnson had 15 points for the Wildcats (20-7, 8-6 Big 12). Nowell scored 18 of his points in the second half.

“I just wanted to win,” Nowell said. “I wanted to do anything possible to win today, and that was my mindset.”

Aljaz Kunc led Iowa State (17-9, 8-6) with 15 points.

Without their 3-point leader, Caleb Grill, in the lineup, the Cyclones worked the inside. They had 24 points inside and relied on balanced scoring, led by Kunc.

“We just weren’t as intentional defensively, so I felt like it threw our game off balance,” Iowa State head coach T.J. Otzelberger said. “Credit to K-State for the job they did defensively, but it played a role in stretching us out more.”

Cyclone guards Jaren Holmes and Gabe Kalscheur went a combined 6 for 30 from the floor.

Iowa State entered the game leading the Big 12 in steals and boasting the conference’s best turnover margin. The Wildcats entered with 84 turnovers in the last five games. Yet, Kansas State kept the turnover rate under control with only 11 and generated more points off turnovers with 19.

“Turnovers have been our Achilles heel,” Kansas State head coach Jerome Tang said. “Our guys really locked in on that.”


Kansas State: After losing its last two games to unranked opponents, the Wildcats stayed above .500 in the conference and tied with Iowa State in the standings heading into the final four games of the season.

Iowa State: The Cyclones had an opportunity to sweep the regular-season series against the Wildcats and are in the heart of a tight race inside the top four of the conference. Seeding could become crucial in the Big 12 tournament in March.


Kansas State: Hosts No. 9 Baylor on Tuesday.

Iowa State: Visits No. 6 Texas on Tuesday.

No. 22 Iowa State women snap three-game skid, beat No. 17 Texas

Nirmalendu Majumdar/Ames Tribune / USA TODAY

AMES, Iowa – Ashley Joens scored 24 points, Emily Ryan had 12 points and eight assists and No. 22 Iowa State beat No. 17 Texas 66-61 on Monday night to snap a three-game losing streak.

Joens completed a three-point play with 2:37 left to give Iowa State a 61-55 lead, but she missed two free throws at 1:45 and Texas took advantage when Rori Harmon sank a baseline jumper to make it 61-57. Iowa State had two chances at the other end following an offensive rebound and Denae Fritz made a 3-pointer from the corner for a seven-point lead. Joens added two free throws with 14.2 seconds left to seal it.

Lexi Donarski had 11 points and Fritz scored 10 for Iowa State (16-7, 8-5 Big 12). Donarski and Joens had three 3-pointers apiece as the Cyclones went 8 of 15.

Joens and Donarski each made a 3-pointer in the final minute of the third quarter to help Iowa State extend its lead to 52-40. Donarski added an open 3-pointer in the opening 70 seconds of the fourth quarter for a 15-point lead.

Texas’ first 3-pointer of the game, in 12 attempts, came with 4:18 left in the fourth. Shay Holle added another 3-pointer on the Longhorns next possession to get within 57-53 after a 13-2 run.

Harmon scored nine of her 19 points in the first quarter and Ndjakalenga Mwenentanda added 10 points for Texas (20-7, 11-3), which had a seven-game winning streak end. The Longhorns were 5 of 12 from the free-throw line compared to 12 of 20 for Iowa State.