Arkansas to open against Louisville in Maui Invitational

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LAHAINA, Hawaii — Arkansas will face Louisville in the opening round of a loaded 2022 Maui Invitational bracket.

The eight-team bracket announced for the November event will include six teams that went to the 2022 NCAA Tournament, including three that reached the Sweet 16.

Arizona faces Cincinnati in the opening round after reaching the Sweet 16 in coach Tommy Lloyd’s first season. Texas Tech, another Sweet 16 team last season, plays Creighton and San Diego State faces Ohio State in the tournament’s return to the Lahaina Civic Center on Nov. 21-23.

The 2020 tournament was held in Asheville, North Carolina, and last year’s was played in Las Vegas.

Arkansas has reached the Elite Eight the past two seasons under coach Eric Musselman.

Creighton rallies, gets 72-69 OT victory over San Diego St

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Trey Alexander converted a go-ahead, three-point play late in overtime, and Creighton rallied for a 72-69 victory over San Diego State in an NCAA Tournament opener Thursday night.

The Bluejays hadn’t led since the first five minutes of the game when Alexander, who also had the tying bucket late in regulation, drove right and was fouled on the layup. The free throw put Creighton ahead 71-69 with 1:08 remaining.

Down by two, the Aztecs had the ball with 4.3 second left when Matt Bradley inbounded to Aguek Arop, then ran around him for the handoff. Bradley lost control of the ball before getting a shot off, and Creighton secured it with 0.8 to to go.

Alexander scored 18 points, and Ryan Kalkbrenner had 16 points and 10 rebounds before leaving with an apparent left leg injury in overtime.

The ninth-seeded Bluejays (23-11) will play Saturday against the winner between Kansas, the top seed in the Midwest Region, and Texas Southern. Creighton reached the Sweet 16 last year.

Chad Baker-Mazara scored 15 of his 17 points in the first half for the Aztecs (23-9), who were in position for their first tournament win since 2015. Gus Bradley added 15.

Bradley had a chance to give San Diego State the lead on free throws with 6.4 seconds left in regulation when Alex O’Connell fouled him on a drive. Bradley missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Arthur Kaluma dribbled the length of the court before lofting an air ball from the baseline as time expired.

The Aztecs had led by at least five points since the middle of the first half when O’Connell hit just the second 3-pointer of the game for Creighton to get the Bluejays within four just inside the two-minute mark.

After a steal led to a layup from Kalkbrenner, Creighton forced another turnover before getting two shots blocked at the other end. The Bluejays thought they had the tying basket on another steal after the second block, but an official ruled San Diego State called timeout.

That ruling was reversed on replay, and Alexander hit the tying layup with 11 seconds to go.

Kalkbrenner went down and grimaced after a posting up Arop as they made contact with each other early in overtime. The 7-foot-1 sophomore got up, tried to take a couple of steps and went back down, holding his left knee. After several minutes, Kalkbrenner was helped off the floor without putting weight on his left leg.

Baker-Mazara had a bucket and a three-point play during a 7-2 run that gave the Aztecs their first double-digit lead in the first half, then converted a four-point play to get the margin back to double digits at 27-15.

BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Blue Jays missed their first 10 3-point tries before Arthur Kaluma hit one to get them within five with 4:33 remaining. Creighton finished 2 of 14 from deep after coming in ranked 313th out of 350 teams beyond the arc. But O’Connell, who had 15 points, hit a big one late in regulation.

San Diego State: Nathan Mensah, the defensive player of the year in the Mountain West Conference, wasn’t much of a factor because of foul trouble. He picked up his fourth early in the second half, then his fifth.

Memphis holds off Boise State rally for 64-53 1st-round win

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports
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PORTLAND, Ore. — DeAndre Williams had 14 points, Jalen Duren made a crucial basket down the stretch and No. 9 seed Memphis held off a second-half rally by Boise State for a 64-53 victory Thursday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Tigers (22-10), whose poor start to the season had coach Penny Hardaway dropping expletives in a press conference, are into the second round in the West Region and will play top-seeded Gonzaga or Georgia State on Saturday.

Duren finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Tigers, who were 9-8 after 17 games but went on a late-season charge to reach the tournament for the first time since 2014. The Tigers have now won 13 of their past 15 games.

Abu Kigab had 20 points to lead the eighth-seeded Broncos (27-8), the Mountain West regular-season and tournament champs, who were making their first appearance in the tournament since 2015..

Boise State trailed by 19 at the half but, taking advantage of a cold snap by the Tigers, narrowed the gap to 42-35 with 9:45 left. The Tigers had scored just four second-half points before Williams’ dunk with 9:18 left got them going again.

Kigab hit a 3-pointer and a short jumper to get Boise State within 49-43 with 5:55 remaining, but Williams answered again with a 30-pointer for the Tigers. And when the Broncos closed to 56-51 with 1:26 left on Naje Smith’s layup, and the teams traded foul shots, Duren’s layup pushed the margin to 60-53 and gave Memphis some breathing room.

Alex Lomax, hobbled in the first half by an ankle injury, added some clinching free throws for the Tigers.

It was a disappointing finish to a dream season for longtime coach Leon Rice, whose Boise State teams had been dumped from the NCAA Tournament in First Four games their past two trips. The Broncos beat San Diego State to win the Mountain West tourney title and their 27 wins set the school record for a single season.

If it was a dream season for the Broncos, a good chunk of it was a nightmare for Hardaway and the Tigers. They had one of the nation’s top recruiting class, led by Duren and fellow early arrival Emoni Bates, but Hardaway struggled to find a solid lineup until January – Bates had not played since Jan. 27 because of a back injury.

The Tigers have hit their stride down the stretch, though, reaching the title game of the American Athletic Conference tourney before losing to Houston. And they kept that momentum going into Thursday’s first-round game, going on an 8-0 run early to take a 27-17 lead when Bates hit a 3-pointer with 4:26 left in the half.

Lomax hit a 3 a few minutes later that gave Memphis a 38-19 lead at the break, but he came down hard and appeared to injure his left ankle. He was limping as he headed for the Tigers’ bench but returned to start the second half.

BATES IS BACK

Bates, who reclassified as a freshman, traveled to Portland with the team but it wasn’t certain he would play until the moment he stepped on the court. He warmed up before tipoff and was in uniform for the game, finally checking in with 5:57 left in the first half. His 3-pointer was his only points of the game.

BIG PICTURE

Memphis, which beat Boise State in last year’s NIT, had a big advantage on the boards (39-30) to overcome 15 turnovers and pull away down the stretch. But it will take a better performance on the offense end if the Tigers want to beat their likely second-round opponent Gonzaga, the national runner-up a year ago.

Boise State, which ranked 17th in the nation for defensive efficiency, had not trailed by more than seven points at halftime before Thursday. The Broncos nearly overcame the deficit but it proved to be simply too much.

UP NEXT

Memphis faces Gonzaga or Georgia State for a spot in the Sweet 16.

Collins provides spark, Michigan beats Colorado State 75-63

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INDIANAPOLIS — Freshman Frankie Collins made a starting debut that Michigan fans won’t soon forget.

With starting point guard DeVante’ Jones stuck on campus in the concussion protocol and the Wolverines struggling with turnovers, Collins scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and helped 11th-seeded Michigan overcome a shaky start to beat sixth-seeded Colorado State 75-63 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

“I’ve always been impressed with his skill set and I think his style fits our style of play,” coach Juwan Howard said.

Michigan (18-14), after a turbulent journey to the field of 68, now faces either third-seeded Tennessee or 14th-seeded Longwood in the second round of the South Region.

Looking shaky without Jones, Michigan committed nine turnovers in the first 12 1/2 minutes and trailed 28-13. Out of options, Howard called on Collins, who averaged less than 10 minutes per game, to turn things around. He went 6 of 7 from the field, produced season bests in points and rebounds and had just one turnover in 31 minutes.

“They just told me to be Frankie and I felt great going into the game,” Collins said. “It’s just basketball. I’ve been practicing and playing basketball my whole life, so it’s just going out there doing the things I’ve been working on my whole life.”

Big man Hunter Dickinson led Michigan with 21 points on 8-of-10 shooting.

After reaching last year’s regional semifinals, the Wolverines squeaked into this year’s tournament thanks largely to their stout schedule. Howard was suspended for the final five regular-season games for hitting a Wisconsin assistant in the face during a postgame handshake line, and Michigan hasn’t won two straight games in more than a month.

Dischon Thomas scored 15 points on 5-of-7 3-point shooting for Colorado State (25-6), and Mountain West Conference player of the year David Roddy had 13 points and six rebounds.

But the Rams could not take advantage of the highest seed in school history, the momentum from nine wins in their previous 11 games or the big, early lead.

“Disappointed, obviously,” Rams coach Niko Medved said. “I thought the game was in the balance. We had our chances. Michigan was the better team today, clearly in the second half.”

Collins had the biggest impact.

He scored seven straight to cut the 15-point deficit to eight and helped Michigan close within 36-29 at the half.

Collins continued the charge early in the second half, capping a 6-0 spurt with a steal and dunk to make it 38-35. And when Caleb Houstan made back-to-back 3s midway through the half, Michigan led 53-49.

The Wolverines never trailed again, closing it out at the free-throw line.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: A year ago, the Wolverines won the Big Ten regular-season crown and came within one win of reaching the Final Four. Most of those players opted to return to chase Michigan’s second national title. After teetering early, the Wolverines gave themselves a chance – especially if Jones returns this weekend.

Colorado State: The Rams had all five starters return from last season’s third-place NIT squad. They’re not likely to be as fortunate next fall. While this was likely Medved’s best coaching job, it wasn’t the way the Rams anticipated heading home.

STAT PACK

Michigan: Eli Brooks had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. .. Houstan scored 13 points. … The Wolverines had a 36-25 rebounding advantage and outscored Colorado State 34-16 in the paint.

Colorado State: James Moore had 10 points. … Isaiah Stevens had eight points and four assists before fouling out. … The Rams were 12 of 35 on 3s but went 4 of 15 in the second half when they shot 29% from the field. … Colorado State finished the season with two straight losses.

HE SAID IT

“If I remember, coach (Steve) Fisher started five freshmen,” Howard said when asked about starting three freshmen, referring to his time with the Wolverines’ famed Fab Five.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Seeks a fifth straight Sweet 16 appearance.

Colorado State: Will use this offseason to regroup and reload.

Indiana, Wyoming one win from big bracket

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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Indiana coach Mike Woodson talked about the NCAA Tournament as a goal during the course of the 2021-22 season.

The Hoosiers (20-13) achieved that objective by putting together a run in the Big Ten tournament. Indiana brings momentum as a 12 seed when they face 12th-seeded Wyoming in a First Four matchup on Tuesday in Dayton, Ohio.

The winner will fly to Portland, Ore., to face fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s on Thursday in an East Region matchup.

Indiana, a blueblood program with five national titles, is making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016. As a player at Indiana from 1976-80, Woodson was part of two NCAA Tournaments in four seasons.

“It’s a beautiful thing,” Woodson said. “I’m so thrilled because these guys have worked their butts off to get to this point, and I want to see them move on. I want to see us continue to win. That’s what it’s all about.”

Indiana made a late push to secure a big by pulling of back to back wins over Michigan and Illinois in the Big Ten tournament before falling to eventual Big Ten tourney champion Iowa 80-77 on a last-second shot by Jordan Bohannon.

Trayce Jackson-Davis, who was named to the All-Big Ten tournament team, fueled Indiana’s tournament run by averaging 25.3 points and 8.7 rebounds over the three games.

“I don’t think anyone wants to see us right now,” Jackson-Davis said. “I think we’ve proven not only to the Big Ten but to the country that we’re also a team, a top team that can compete with anyone. So took the last-second three to beat us to the hottest team in the Big Ten right now and it stings, but at the same time I feel like we’ve got a lot of ball left.”

Point guard Xavier Johnson has also played at a high level for the Hoosiers late in the season. Johnson has scored in double figures in eight straight games, averaging 18.1 points and 6.8 assists during that stretch.

“Maybe he wasn’t too comfortable early on with me kind of in his ear a lot,” Woodson said. “But I was just trying to get him to play the right way and he’s done that here the last eight to 10 games.”

Wyoming (25-8) finished fourth in the Mountain West Conference under second-year coach Jeff Linder and are coming off a 68-61 loss to Boise State in the MWC tournament semifinals. The Cowboys are making their 16th NCAA Tournament appearance in school history and first appearance since 2015.

Wyoming has been led this season by sophomore center Graham Ike (19.6 ppg, 9.6 rpg), who is just one of four players nationally averaging more than 19 points and six rebounds per game. Hunter Maldonado, a 6-foot-7 guard, is another strong all-around player who is averaging 18.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 6.3 assists for the Cowboys.

“It’s a great opportunity for our team and the University of Wyoming,” Linder said. “The beauty of the First Four is that you’re the only games on that night. You get a lot of exposure for your program, the school and the state.”

Bradley, Aztecs hand No. 20 Colorado State first loss, 79-49

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego State had just blown out previously undefeated No. 20 Colorado State when coach Brian Dutcher said the Aztecs are still trying to find their rhythm and that their best basketball is still ahead.

That’s a scary thought, especially if the Aztecs continue to play defense like they did Saturday.

Matt Bradley scored 26 points and the short-handed Aztecs raced past the Rams 79-49 in a game that wasn’t supposed to be played until March 1. Chad Baker-Mazara added 14 points for SDSU, (10-3, 2-0 Mountain West), which outscored the Rams 43-17 in the second half for its largest margin of victory ever against a ranked team.

Colorado State had been one of three undefeated teams left in Division I coming into Saturday. But the Rams were held to just 27.9% shooting from the field and were outrebounded 38-21. The Aztecs also blocked eight of the Rams’ shots.

“It’s just our culture,” Dutcher said. “We just say from Day 1 when you get here, `You’re going to defend and rebound if you’re going to play at San Diego State.’ That’s it. You have to defend and rebound. And we don’t use being short-handed as an excuse. I tell them, `I never worry about who I don’t have. I’ve just got to get the ones I do have ready to play.”‘

Isaiah Stevens had 19 and David Roddy 17 for Colorado State.

Lamont Butler, who returned from a broken wrist, had 11 for SDSU while Aguek Arop and Keshad Johnson had 10 apiece.

“When we score like that, I mean it is hard to beat us,” Butler said. “Every game we’re going to come out with a high defensive mentality. It’s what we do. It’s our culture. If we play together on the offensive end, it’s going to be hard to beat us, for sure.”

The Aztecs were scheduled to play Nevada on Saturday but the game was postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Wolf Pack. The Rams (11-1, 1-1) were supposed to have played at Boise State on Friday night, but that game also was postponed due to COVID-19 concerns. The Mountain West adjusted the schedule on Wednesday and sent the Rams to San Diego.

Bradley, a senior transfer from California, came on strong late in the first half and stayed hot in the second half in his highest-scoring game of the season. He hit consecutive 3-pointers to help the Aztecs extend a four-point halftime lead to 40-34, and just a few minutes later made consecutive turnaround jumpers to push the lead to 49-36.

“Matt Bradley was sensational,” Dutcher said. “He got to his spot and he was shooting contested shots over people, foul line, 3-pointers, mid-post. He was just going to work.”

Bradley hit a 3-pointer to give SDSU a 19-12 lead with just more than nine minutes left in the first half. The Rams came back to tie it several times, the last at 30-30 on two free throws by Roddy with 2:03 left. Bradley then hit a jumper to put the Aztecs ahead and then had a layup right before the buzzer to give him 14 points at the break.

Baker-Mazara scored seven straight points late in the game – on consecutive dunks and then a 3-pointer. The first dunk was set up when Butler came flying in to block a 3-pointer by John Tonje and the second one came after Baker-Mazara’s steal.

BIG PICTURE

Colorado State: The Rams appeared to be at close to full strength. They have been ranked in the AP Top 25 for four straight weeks, a first in school history. The last time they were in the AP poll was late December 2014.

San Diego State: Butler returned after missing five games with a broken left wrist. But Adam Seiko and Joshua Tomaic, regulars in the rotation, were among several members of the SDSU program who missed the game due to the COVID-19 protocol (including walk-ons and managers).

“Coach always says, regardless of who’s here, as long as we’ve got five dudes we’re going to get the job done,” Bradley said. “We had more than five, and with the group we had, we definitely dialed in. We knew we were counted out in this game and we trusted each other and we counted on each other and competed. I’m really happy for our guys.”

UP NEXT

Colorado State: Hosts Utah State on Wednesday.

San Diego State: At Wyoming on Wednesday.