Texas guard Jones, who fought leukemia, to enter NBA draft

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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AUSTIN, Texas – Texas shooting guard Andrew Jones, whose college basketball career was interrupted for nearly two years by leukemia, has announced he will skip a final season with the Longhorns and turn pro.

Jones ranks ninth in scoring in program history with 1,620 points. He announced his decision to enter the NBA draft in a statement posted Sunday night on social media.

“We have shared every emotion possible together and I will always cherish the experience I had with you all,” Jones said. “As I officially enter my name into the 2022 NBA draft, I am excited and most importantly ready for this next chapter of life.”

Jones considered turning pro after his freshman season but opted to return to Texas for the 2017-2018 season. But just a few games into his sophomore season, Jones was sidelined with leukemia that left him fighting for his life.

He posted several short videos of himself as he fought through treatment and recovery, including one showing him standing still and trying to shoot a basketball into a hoop barely taller than he was.

He finally returned to the court full-time in the 2019-2020 season, when he averaged 11.5 points and was named the Big 12’s Male Sportsperson of the Year.

The NBA draft is June 23.

Defending champion Stanford tops Texas 59-50 in Elite Eight

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
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SPOKANE, Wash. – Lexie Hull scored 20 points in front of her hometown crowd, Haley Jones added 18 points, including four key free throws in the closing moments, and defending national champion Stanford toppled No. 2 seed Texas on Sunday night for a return trip to the women’s Final Four.

The Cardinal (32-3) will play in the national semifinal for the 15th time in program history, facing either North Carolina State or Connecticut in Minneapolis.

The Spokane Regional final was tightly contested throughout and reinforced the resolve that Stanford was missing earlier in the season when it lost to Texas at home on the night it received its rings from the 2021 championship.

Stanford (32-3) was the tougher team this time around, especially in the second half.

Hull made a key 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter and had a three-point play that gave Stanford a 53-48 lead with 2:29 remaining. Texas never got closer than two in the final moments and Stanford spent the final seconds celebrating around Hull and her twin sister Lacie.

Hull made 7-of-14 shots on a night scoring was at a premium. Jones was just 4-of-11 shooting but made 10-of-11 free throws and Stanford was 18 of 22 at the foul line. Jones also grabbed 12 rebounds.

Cameron Brink added 10 points for Stanford, all in the third quarter, and the Cardinal extended the longest win streak in the country to 24 games.

Texas (29-7) lost in the Elite Eight for the second straight season; last year’s unexpected run as a No. 6 seed stopped with South Carolina. Joanne Allen-Taylor led Texas with 15 points before fouling out. Rori Harmon, the Big 12 freshman of the year, was limited to 14 points and Audrey Warren added 11 points off the bench. Texas’ second-longest win streak in the country snapped at 14 games.

Stanford’s return trip to the Final Four keeps alive the hope of being the first team other than Connecticut to repeat as national champions since Tennessee in 2007 and 2008. But the Cardinal had to get through the fourth quarter – both Sunday and in November.

Texas thrived in the fourth in the first meeting, trailing by five to start the quarter that day before outscoring the Cardinal by 10 for a 61-56 victory.

On Sunday, Texas also trailed by five to start the fourth and pulled within three on an Allen-Taylor jumper. It took Stanford nearly three minutes into the quarter before Lexie Hull hit an open 3-pointer from the wing – just the third 3 of the game of the Cardinal.

Jones pushed the lead to 50-43, but Warren’s jumper and three free throws cut it to 50-48 with 3:35 left.

That’s when Hull drove to the rim and scored while being fouled for what proved to be the decisive points. The Cardinal made 6 of 8 free throws in the final two minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Texas: The Longhorns were in the Elite Eight for the 11th time in program history, but have not been to the Final Four since 2003. Texas coach Vic Schaefer has coached in the Elite Eight in five straight tournaments but has lost his last three regional final games.

Stanford: The Cardinal have not lost since falling to South Carolina on Dec. 21. They may get a chance at seeing the Gamecocks again, but it would be in the national title game.

Purdue finally solves Beard in March, beats Texas 81-71

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Purdue’s Jaden Ivey had to hear from Courtney Ramey all night as Texas’ tenacious, talkative guard followed the future lottery pick up and down the court.

With just over a minute left, Ivey delivered the last word.

Purdue was clinging to a 74-71 lead when Ivey made a move to get clear of Ramey before sinking a 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining. That started a 7-0 run to end the game as Purdue outlasted Texas 81-71 in a second-round NCAA Tournament game Sunday night.

“All game he was chirping, just trying to get me out of rhythm,” Ivey said. “I just stayed poised the whole game. That’s what it comes down to. People are going to try to get you out of rhythm and try to talk to you. You’ve just got to stay focused on the main goal, and I felt like I did that.”

Ramey sure made him work for it, though.

Ivey didn’t score in the first 16 minutes of the game and didn’t have a single basket in the first half. The Associated Press All-America second-team selection kept working and finished with 18 points to make sure Purdue finally got past Texas coach Chris Beard in March.

“Ramey’s one of the best defenders in the country,” Beard said. “Ivey’s obviously a special player. We held him to four made field goals tonight. … He got loose from us a few times. And give him all the credit. He’s one of the quickest, fastest players that I’ve ever seen on tape and he was just as fast in person.”

The third-seeded Boilermakers (29-7) gave away an early 14-point lead but recovered and advanced to an East Region semifinal on Friday in Philadelphia against this year’s out-of-nowhere tourney darling, the 15th-seeded Saint Peter’s.

“Just knowing what I’ve been through with those guys, it means a lot to be in this position,” said Trevion Williams, who led Purdue with 22 points. “This is what we work for.”

Purdue made the most of its size advantage and capitalized on a major disparity at the free-throw line. Purdue had 46 attempts, making 33, while the Longhorns went 7 of 12 on free throws.

Timmy Allen, Texas’ leading scorer at 12.3 points per game, scored two points in 18 minutes before fouling out with 6:25 left. Christian Bishop also fouled out for Texas after getting 10 points and seven rebounds.

“Really the differential in the game, you guys know this, the free throws,” Beard said. “(I’ve got to) be careful what I say. 46-12, there hasn’t been a lot of games in the NCAA Tournament like that.”

Beard had won each of his two previous NCAA Tournament matchups with coach Matt Painter’s Boilermakers, who had the better seeding each time. Beard’s Little Rock squad knocked off Purdue in the first round in 2016, and he led Texas Tech past the Boilermakers in a 2018 regional semifinal.

Marcus Carr led sixth-seeded Texas (22-12) with 23 points and Andrew Jones scored 17.

Big man Zach Edey had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Purdue, which also got 11 points from Eric Hunter Jr.

Purdue took a 28-14 lead after going on a 20-0 run as Texas went scoreless for a stretch of 9:44. But the Longhorns rallied to take the lead with just under 16 minutes left, and the game went back and forth from there.

“It just showed how tough we are, how determined we were to stay in this game,” Jones said.

It was tied when Ivey drove and passed to Hunter, who sank a 3-pointer from in front of Purdue’s bench with 9:17 left. Purdue stayed in front the rest of the way, though Texas kept it interesting.

Texas shrunk a 10-point deficit to three points in the span of a minute. Carr’s 3-pointer made it 74-71 with 1:31 left.

Ivey then drained his long 3 and Texas never threatened again.

“To finish it the way we did is great,” Ivey said. “I’m super proud of all our guys.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas: The Longhorns showed in Beard’s first year that they’re ready to end their recent string of postseason misfortune. Their first-round victory over Virginia Tech was their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014. “This culture’s strong, the coaching staff is strong, and players just got to come along with it and trust it,” Jones said.

Purdue: The Boilermakers have won each of the last 31 games they’ve led at halftime, continuing a streak that began last season. They’ve outrebounded their first two NCAA Tournament foes 83-61 and have outscored them 60-13 from the foul line.

UP NEXT

Purdue is two wins away from its first Final Four berth since 1980.

Texas beats Hokies 81-73 for 1st NCAA tourney win since 2014

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — Texas’ Marcus Carr says he doesn’t leave the gym on most practice days until he makes at least one halfcourt shot.

“Sometimes it takes me one rep,” Carr said. “Sometimes it takes me 11. However many it takes.”

Practice made perfect for Carr on Friday.

Carr beat the halftime buzzer by banking in a shot from roughly 60 feet away to put Texas ahead for good in an 81-73 victory over Virginia Tech that gave the Longhorns their first NCAA Tournament victory since 2014.

The sixth-seeded Longhorns (22-11) advance to a second-round East Region game Sunday against No. 3 seed Purdue (28-7). The Boilermakers trounced Yale 78-56 on Friday.

“Just so happy for our guys that never won a game in a tournament, never been in the tournament,” Texas coach Chris Beard said. “This whole deal’s about our players. I think after the season it will be a chance to reflect, but we’re in this tournament to win six games.”

After Virginia Tech’s Storm Murphy made two free throws with 2.1 seconds left in the first half to give the Hokies a 32-31 lead, Carr got about one-third of the way up the court before firing away.

Carr had taken just a couple of steps beyond the 3-point arc on the opposite end of the floor and hadn’t even reached the “S” on the “March Madness” logo when he launched his shot.

“Anybody who knows me knows I shoot that shot a lot,” said Carr, who had 15 points, nine assists and only one turnover. “It wasn’t really a surprise when it went in.”

Carr’s coach vouched for him.

“He was able to get two dribbles and get a pretty high-percentage shot,” Beard said. “It’s not a 50% shot, but for Marcus that might be a 20% shot. He can make one out of five from that area.”

Texas built on the momentum and led by 17 with 5 1/2 minutes left. Virginia Tech’s Hunter Cattoor sank a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left to cut Texas’ lead to 76-69, but the Hokies couldn’t get any closer.

Andrew Jones scored 21 points to lead five Texas players in double figures as the Longhorns shot 10 of 19 from 3-point range. Timmy Allen had 14, Christian Bishop 11 and Courtney Ramey 10 to go along with Carr’s 15.

The Longhorns ended a five-game NCAA Tournament losing streak. They were seeking to improve those postseason fortunes last year when they hired Beard, a former Texas student manager who led Texas Tech to the national championship game in 2019.

Beard improved to 5-0 in NCAA Tournament first-round games.

“We basically set it up for our guys as we’ve got to go beat one of the best teams in the country in the first round,” Beard said. “So this will be a confidence builder as the tournament goes on because I do think we just beat one of the best teams in the tournament. We’ll have to go through several teams like this.”

Virginia Tech’s Sean Padulla scored 19 points, with 13 coming in the last 4 1/2 minutes. Keve Aluma had 15 and Cattoor added 12 as Virginia Tech lost for just the third time in 16 games.

The 11th-seeded Hokies (23-13) had played their way into the NCAA field by winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title last week.

“At the end of the day when you look at the big picture, when you look back, we’re the first team at Virginia Tech to ever be ACC champs, so no one will ever be able to take that away from us,” Cattoor said. “The relationships we build with each other and the coaching staff, it’s more about life, it’s not all about basketball. The relationships we take away from this, growing as humans, I’ll be forever grateful for it.”

KEY STAT

Heading into this game, Virginia Tech was ranked third in 3-point percentage (.393), while Texas was ranked 250th (.323). Yet the Longhorns outscored the Hokies 30-12 from beyond the arc as Virginia Tech went 4 of 12 on 3-point attempts.

BIG PICTURE

Texas: Beard overhauled his roster by bringing in plenty of transfers, and those newcomers made an impact Friday. Carr played at Minnesota last season. Allen played at Utah. Creighton transfer Bishop scored 11 points. But it was a holdover from former coach Shaka Smart’s tenure who led the team in scoring. Jones shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range and had 17 points by halftime.

Virginia Tech: This marks the second straight first-round NCAA Tournament loss for the Hokies, who fell to Florida in overtime last season. … In the second half, the Hokies had nine turnovers and allowed Texas to shoot 64% from the floor.

UP NEXT

Texas will be trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since a 2008 regional final appearance when it faces Purdue on Sunday.

McCormack leads No. 6 Kansas past No. 21 Texas, 70-63, in OT

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Texas coach Chris Beard made the calculated decision to take away the flotilla of Kansas sharpshooters in their showdown at Allen Fieldhouse, where the sixth-ranked Jayhawks were trying to clinch a share of the Big 12 title Saturday.

It worked for 40 minutes.

It didn’t work for the 5 minutes of overtime.

With few other options on offense, the Jayhawks turned to bruising big man David McCormack, who responded with a memorable senior night sendoff. He poured in 22 points with 10 boards, going 10 for 10 from the foul line and throwing down the clinching dunk in the extra session, as Kansas persevered for a 70-63 victory.

“You can’t take away everything,” Beard said. “If you double McCormack, the shooters are ready. There were a couple possessions we’d like to have back, but give him a lot of his credit. A lot of his field goals were just tough March baskets.”

Jalen Wilson had 17 points and 13 rebounds, and Christian Braun had 13 points and 11 boards, helping to make up for an off game from Ochai Agbaji and help the Jayhawks (25-6, 14-4) clinch the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.

They will play the Kansas State-West Virginia winner in Thursday’s quarterfinal round in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Jayhawks tied the game 61-all when Agbaji, who was 0-for-10 shooting at that point, hit his only field goal with 2:37 left in overtime. Courtney Ramey came up empty at the other end for Texas, and McCormack made two foul shots to give Kansas the lead before Wilson added two more to provide some breathing room.

McCormack’s dunk punctuated a big performance on senior night for the bruising big man.

“It was definitely a battle throughout the game,” he said. “They fought hard. We’re playing at home. We knew the stakes on the line. We did what we were supposed to do. It’s just a great feeling, all the practices and workouts we put in.”

Ramey finished with 18 points for the Longhorns (21-10, 10-8), who will be the No. 4 seed and open against fifth-seeded TCU in the league tourney. Andrew Jones added 12 points while Timmy Allen had nine on 2-for-15 shooting.

“I’m a big believer in March you need to have three or four special performances,” Beard said. “We get big games from Ramey and Jones and we’re kind of missing that third guy today.”

The Jayhawks nearly won the game in regulation.

They drew up the final play for Agbaji, their national player of the year candidate, but he was bottled up and had to call timeout with 2.2 seconds left. Kansas got the inbound to him, too, but the ball was ripped away and ended up with Jalen Coleman-Lands, whose swish from the corner in front of his own bench came just after the buzzer.

The Jayhawks didn’t let it come down to the final seconds in overtime.

“We battled one of the best teams in the country,” Ramey said, “and just ran out of time.”

Texas controlled most of the first half, going 5 of 8 from beyond the arc after a 3-for-20 performance against the Jayhawks in February. And the Longhorns held Agbaji, the Big 12’s leading scorer, to an 0-for-6 effort from the field.

Not exactly the farewell to Allen Fieldhouse that Agbaji had in mind.

Still, the Jayhawks closed on a big run to take a 35-33 lead into the break.

Braun did most of the work: He drilled a tying 3-pointer with just over 2 minutes to go, then knocked down another with a minute left, and should have added a couple free throws if not for a questionable offensive charging foul.

In fact, the officials spent most of the second half trying to wrestle control of a game trending toward a rock fight.

That was reflected in the Longhorns’ rapidly worsening foul trouble. By the time Christian Bishop picked up his fourth with 5:21 left, sending Kansas to the double bonus, coach Chris Beard had three on the verge of fouling out: Marcus Carr, his No. 2 scorer, and 6-foot-6 Brock Cunningham, who’d been forced to battle in the paint all game.

It was only fitting that a game nobody led by more than six in regulation came down to the wire.

Jones hit his only 3-pointer to knot it 55-all, then the teams traded free throws, with Ramey making the first of his two with 54 seconds left, putting the game all square and eventually into overtime.

The Jayhawks took care of things from there.

“We needed to beat Texas,” Braun said. “It didn’t matter if it was ugly.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas sent the Jayhawks to the foul line 36 times, where they made 28 shots, and that proved to be the difference. The Longhorns also committed 15 turnovers and were outrebounded, 49-42.

Kansas was playing for the third time in five days thanks to a rescheduled game against TCU, but the Jayhawks managed to gut out another senior night win. They’ve won 39 straight since the 1983-84 season.

UP NEXT

The Jayhawks and Longhorns prepare to play their quarterfinal games Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri.

Gonzaga, Arizona remain atop AP Top 25 in week of changes

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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The top six and seven of the top nine teams in the AP Top 25 lost on the same day last week, an unprecedented day of chaos that led to some big changes in this week’s poll – everywhere but at the top.

Gonzaga and Arizona remained the top two teams in the poll released Monday, holding steady despite both losing their most recent games.

The Zags received 43 first-place votes from the AP’s 61-person media panel after being a unanimous pick last week. No. 3 Baylor had four first-place votes and No. 4 Duke picked up 11. Auburn rounded out the top five.

Gonzaga, Arizona, Auburn, Purdue, Kansas and Kentucky all lost on Saturday, marking the first time in the AP poll era (1948-49) that the top six teams lost on the same day. No. 9 Texas Tech also lost, setting another record for most top-10 teams losing in one day.

“It’s kind of life in late February and early March, especially on the road,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said after the Zags’ 67-57 loss to No. 19 Saint Mary’s to close out their regular season.

Baylor was the biggest beneficiary of its Saturday win, moving up seven spots after beating Kansas 80-70. The Jayhawks fell one spot to No. 6 with the loss.

Auburn lost three spots from last week after losing to No. 13 Tennessee. No. 7 Kentucky fell a spot after losing to No. 14 Arkansas and Purdue dropped four places to No. 8 with its loss to Michigan State.

Got all that?

In all, every team but four got shuffled in this week’s poll; only Gonzaga, Arizona, No. 14 Houston and No. 16 Southern California held steady.

No teams fell out or moved into the poll, but things are getting awfully interesting with conference tournaments just around the corner.

BATTLING BEARS

Baylor, the reigning national champion, looked like a good bet to get back to the Final Four at the start of the season after opening 15-0 while holding the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 for five weeks.

Then things got a little shaky.

The Bears lost consecutive home games for the first time since 2015-16, then injuries began piling up, including a gruesome leg injury to forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua.

After tumbling down the poll, Baylor may be finding its footing. The Bears won a rematch over Oklahoma State in Stillwater and did the same against Kansas on Saturday, improving to 10-1 against top-10 teams the past two seasons.

“I know our team looked a little bit different in the beginning of the year than we do now but don’t count these guys out,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “They persevere.”

RISING/FALLING

Baylor’s jump was the biggest of the week by gaining seven spots. Tennessee, Arkansas and Saint Mary’s all climbed four spots.

No. 17 UCLA and No. 20 Illinois had the biggest drops (five spots). The Bruins lost to Oregon before beating Oregon State last week and the Illini lost to No. 23 Ohio State before knocking off Michigan.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Big Ten and Southeastern conferences led the way again this week, each with five teams ranked. The Big 12 had four ranked teams, with the Pac-12 and Big East getting three each. The West Coast Conference had two ranked teams for the second straight week, with the Atlantic Coast, American Athletic and Ohio Valley conferences at one each.