Men's College Basketball
NCAAB News Wire
  • Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Izzo's Spartans do it again, upset Oklahoma
    By The Sports Xchange

    SYRACUSE, NY -- Denzel Valentine snapped out of his first-half funk and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo got his wish.

    • "I get to work another day," Izzo said after his No. 7 seeded Spartans defeated the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners 62-58 at the Carrier Dome to earn a trip to the school's second straight Elite Eight appearance on Sunday against Louisville. "I can't tell you how excited that makes me."

      The win certainly excited Valentine, who scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half after being limited to just two field goals on nine attempts in the first 20 minutes.

      "It's funny, just talking to Travis (Trice), the first half felt like it was my first time playing basketball," Valentine said. "I just kind of snapped out of it. I said 'We're in the Sweet 16 and we have a chance to go to the Final Four.' I just smacked the ground and woke up."

      Valentine woke up the rest of his teammates as well. The Spartans trailed by four at halftime, somewhat of a feat according to Izzo, going to his third Elite Eight in the last six years.

      "I was honestly so happy we were only down by four at halftime," said Izzo. "They got challenged at halftime. It was an interesting locker room and they needed to be challenged. What I liked is that they started to challenge each other."

      Izzo's team has gone through disastrous endings of games at the foul line during the season, but Trice, who led the Spartans with a game-high 24 points, and Valentine hit six straight foul shots down the stretch to preserve the win for the Spartans (26-11).

      "We just got to realize that we're good free throw shooters," said Valentine, an 83 percent shooter from the line. "The team's going to go by us, so if we're missing free throws, the rest of the guys are going to miss free throws. So we have to knock them down."

      While the Spartans didn't revert to its poor shooting from the line, Izzo felt his team regressed in the first half to a style of play that had them on the cusp of missing the NCAA Tournament just a month ago.

      "We started believing about 14 games ago that we had to change our approach. We were a soft team," Izzo said. "The first half, either they were monsters or we reverted back."

      Oklahoma (24-11) had something to do with that.

      "I'm proud of our guys," said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger. "They gave a good fight tonight. Give credit to Michigan State for doing things better down the stretch than we did. Trice, Valentine and (Branden) Dawson, they're really good players and they're playing with a lot of confidence. They made some shots in the second half that were critical to the ballgame. I'm not sure if they changed anything (in the second half). They were a little more aggressive and did a good job on Buddy (Hield) and battled TaShawn (Thomas) inside."

      Hield and Thomas agreed with their coach's assessment.

      "They stepped up a lot," said Hield, who finished with a team-high 21 points.

      "The last 30 minutes I'm guessing Coach Izzo got on them to step up the defense," said Thomas, who chipped in with 16.

      And now Izzo's defenders can set their sights on Lousiville, the third time Izzo and Louisville coach Rick Pitino will face each other in the NCAA Tournament.

      NOTES: The Spartans and Sooners had met once before in the NCAA Tournament, in the 1999 Sweet 16. ... Michigan State held an overall record of 6-3 against the Sooners after Friday. ... Michigan State held its first two NCAA Tournament opponents, Georgia and Virginia, to a 32 percent field-goal shooting, including 19 percent from the 3-point stripe. ... Spartans coach Tom Izzo ranks sixth among active coaches in NCAA Tournament winning percentage. ... The Sweet 16 appearance was Oklahoma's first since 2009 when the Sooners advanced to the round of eight. ... Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger is the first in Division 1 history to lead five different programs to at least one NCAA Tournament win. ... Oklahoma is one of just six teams nationally -- the only one among the Power Five conferences -- that started the same five players in every game.

  • Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Winslow leads Duke past Utah
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON -- Duke answered a challenge from Utah with a little grittiness on the defensive end and a lot of freshman forward Justise Winslow on offense.

    • Winslow scored a game-high 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as top-seeded Duke outlasted fifth-seeded Utah 63-57 on Friday night in an NCAA South Regional semifinal game at NRG Stadium.

      Winslow, the son of Houston Cougar Phi Slama Jama alum Rickie Winslow, celebrated his 19th birthday on Thursday, then went to work leading the Blue Devils' charge in his hometown.

      When Utah began to gain some offensive momentum in the second half, Winslow was there to answer with back-to-back 3-pointers.

      When the Utes cut Duke's 15-point lead to six, Winslow punched back with a three-point play that broke a Utah run and re-established a nine-point edge.

      So Winslow will be rewarded with another game in his hometown. Duke (32-4) advances to face Gonzaga in the South Regional final on Sunday.

      Though Winslow said he had about 100 family and friends in attendance and enjoyed being able to see his mother and siblings in the crowd, he stated that his mind is on basketball.

      "I'm glad to be home, but like I said, it's a business trip and it's just about getting Duke two wins," Winslow said. "We got one down tonight and we've just got one more on Sunday."

      Duke guard Tyus Jones scored 15 points, including making nine of 10 free throws, and guard Quinn Cook pitched in 11.

      Duke center Jahlil Okafor, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, was limited to six points on 3-of-6 shooting. The six points matched a season low for Okafor and was only the second time this season he failed to reach double figures in scoring.

      "Their double team with Jah was great," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Just about took him out of the game and then he made some great passes in the second half that helped."

      Utah guard Brandon Taylor scored 15 points to lead the Utes, center Dallin Bachynski added 11, and Jakob Poeltl and guard Delon Wright each had 10.

      Utah (26-9) couldn't overcome 35-percent shooting from the field and 15 turnovers that resulted in 16 Duke points.

      "I thought our turnovers more than the missed shots put an undue pressure," Utah coach Larry Krystkowiak said. "We had turnovers to start with, nine in the first half, that was the difference. Sometimes when you're presented with open shots, it was a bad combination. We weren't able to make them."

      The Blue Devils built a 15-point lead with an 8-0 run midway through the second half.

      Blue Devils forward Amile Jefferson highlighted the run with a dunk on an assist from Jones that caused Krzyzewski to pump both fists and prompted Krystkowiak to call timeout.

      The Utes fought back by scoring nine straight points, including a pair of baskets each from Taylor and Poeltl, to cut the Duke lead to 49-43.

      But Winslow's three-point play kept Utah from creating a bigger wave of momentum.

      The Blue Devils used an 8-0 run late in the first half to open a double-digit lead when Okafor went to the basket for a layup with 3:04 left.

      Duke began clamping down defensively during the surge, causing four Utah turnovers, including a 10-second backcourt violation.

      "I thought our defense was outstanding," Krzyzewski said. "It's the third straight game in the tournament that we've played, I think, just great defense."

      The Utes struggled offensively, shooting 30 percent from the field in the first half, a problem made worse by their nine first-half turnovers.

      However, Bachynski stopped Duke's run and changed the momentum for the final three minutes of the half. Bachynski made an inside jumper while being fouled by Okafor and completed the three-point play to cut the Blue Devils' lead to 27-22 at halftime.

      "Still to be down five at half, it really felt like we were down 20," Krystkowiak said. "So there was a little bit of hope."

      Bachynski was the only double-digit scorer for either team in the first half with 11 points.

      The Blue Devils didn't score in the final three minutes of the half and saw their lead shrink to five points at the break.

      NOTES: Duke's 24 appearances in the Sweet 16 are tied with Kentucky for the second most all time, behind North Carolina with 26. ... Despite Utah's prominence among college basketball programs and its 17 NCAA Tournament appearances since 1980, Friday was the Utes' first matchup with Duke during the Krzyzewski era. ... Utah defeated Duke 78-75 in the last meeting between the programs in the 1970 NIT. ... Duke defeated Utah 79-77 in the consolation game of the 1966 NCAA Tournament. Texas Western defeated Kentucky in the championship game that year in a game featured in the 2006 film "Glory Road."

  • Saturday, March 28, 2015
    NCAA Tournament roundup: Michigan State upsets Oklahoma
    By The Sports Xchange

    SYRACUSE, NY -- Travis Trice led Michigan State with 24 points, including six points down the stretch, and Denzel Valentine chipped in with 18 to lead the No. 7 Spartans to a 62-58 win over No. 3 Oklahoma in an East Regional semifinal at the Carrier Dome on Friday.

    • The win punched the Spartans' ticket to their second straight trip to the Elite Eight and third in the last six years. The Sooners were seeking their first Elite Eight appearance since 2009.

      Guard Buddy Hield led the Sooners (24-11) with 21 points and forward TaShawn Thomas had 16.

      Duke 63, Utah 57

      HOUSTON -- Duke answered a challenge from Utah with a little grittiness on the defensive end and a lot of freshman forward Justise Winslow on offense. Winslow scored a game-high 21 points as top-seeded Duke outlasted fifth-seeded Utah in an NCAA South Regional semifinal game at NRG Stadium.

      Duke guard Tyus Jones scored 15 points, including making nine of 10 free throws, and guard Quinn Cook pitched in 11. Duke center Jahlil Okafor, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year, was limited to six points on 3-of-6 shooting.

      Utah guard Brandon Taylor scored 15 points to lead the Utes, center Dallin Bachynski added 11, and Jakob Poeltl and guard Delon Wright each had 10.

      Gonzaga 74, UCLA 62

      HOUSTON, Texas -- With Gonzaga struggling from the outside, center Przemek Karnowski put the team on his broad shoulders and carried it to the South Regional final. Karnowski led Gonzaga with 18 points as the Bulldogs rolled past UCLA at NRG Stadium.

      Gonzaga (35-2) earned a spot in the Elite Eight for just the second time in program history.

      Guard Norman Powell and center Tony Parker paced UCLA with 16 each.

      Louisville 75, North Carolina State 65

      SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Add Louisville sophomore guard Anton Gill to the long list of the NCAA Tournament's unexpected heroes. Gill, who was averaging 2.4 points per game, came off the Cardinals' bench to score seven points in the final seven minutes and spark fourth-seeded Louisville's victory over eighth-seeded North Carolina State in an East Regional semifinal game at the Carrier Dome.

      Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell led all scorers with 24 points, and freshman guard Quentin Snider added 14 for the Cardinals.

      Junior guard Trevor Lacey paced the Wolfpack with 18 points.

  • Saturday, March 28, 2015
    Louisville G Gill unlkely hero in win over N.C. State
    By The Sports Xchange

    SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Add Louisville sophomore guard Anton Gill to the long list of the NCAA Tournament's unexpected heroes. It's a list that also includes one of Louisville coach Rick Pitino's former players, Darryl Wright.

    • Gill, who was averaging 2.4 points per game, came off the Cardinals' bench to score seven points in about two minutes late in the second half Friday night to spark fourth-seeded Louisville's 75-65 victory over eighth-seeded North Carolina State in an East Regional semifinal game at the Carrier Dome.

      A few days ago, Pitino had a conversation with Gill, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who had played just two minutes and hadn't scored in the Cardinals' first two NCAA Tournament games. Pitino said Gill was "mentally in a funk," and he reminded his back-up shooting guard that his opportunity could come in this tournament the way it did for Wright in 1987, when he came from nowhere to help Providence reach the Final Four.

      When Louisville senior forward Wayne Blackshear picked up his fourth foul with 8:31 remaining, Pitino said he remembered Gill's positive reaction to that recent conversation and inserted him at small forward instead of freshman Shaqquan Aaron.

      Gill, who played three minutes and didn't score in the first half, hit a spinning shot in the paint, a 3-pointer and a layup within about two minutes to help the Cardinals build a 60-57 lead.

      "Some guys give you lip service (when you talk to them) but he said, 'I got you coach, I'll be ready," Pitino said. "His reaction to my story was the reason I went with him at the three."

      Louisville sophomore guard Terry Rozier took it from there with two old-fashioned 3-point plays, the second of which boosted the Cardinals' lead to 70-59 with just over one minute to play.

      "Late in the game they made a few plays there that made a difference, specifically I think Gill made a couple of tough shots there and I thought that little stretch gave them that cushion was the key to the game," N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said.

      Louisville improved to 27-8 as it avenged a regular-season defeat to the Wolfpack in February. The Cardinals have defeated No. 13-seed UC Irvine, No. 5 Northern Iowa and now No. 8 N.C. State to advance to its 14th Elite Eight and fifth in the last eight years.

      Louisville will face the winner of Friday night's late game between No. 3 seed Oklahoma and No. 7 seed Michigan State in the Elite Eight on Sunday at the Carrier Dome.

      N.C. State finished its unlikely tournament run with a 22-14 record after knocking off No. 9 seed LSU and No. 1 seed Villanova to advance to the Sweet 16.

      "We were down 14 against LSU and came back and beat the No. 1 seed, so this group completely, completely did some amazing things," Gottfried said. "I'm extremely proud."

      Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell led all scorers with 24 points, while Rozier added 17 points and a game-high 14 rebounds and freshman guard Quentin Snider added 14 points and no turnovers in 37 minutes for the Cardinals.

      Junior guard Trevor Lacey paced the Wolfpack with 18 points, while senior guard Ralston Turner added 12 before fouling out late in his final collegiate game.

      Lacey's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7:17 remaining gave N.C. State its first lead (54-53) since early in the second half. The Cardinals then called a timeout, and Gill entered the game.

      But Gill, who's from Raleigh, N.C., and said he was offered a scholarship by the Wolfpack, put the Cardinals ahead to stay with a spinning layup in the paint. He followed with a 3-pointerand then drove the basket for a layup to give Louisville a 62-57 lead.

      "I just had an opportunity," Gill said. "I worked hard all season and didn't want to go home. It's funny now how things worked out,"

      N.C. State guard Anthony Barber came alive at the start of the second half after shooting 0 for 7 in the first half. Barber hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the second half to boost the Wolfpack's lead to 39-31.

      But the Cardinals' Harrell took over the game by scoring eight of Louisville's next nine points in a 14-2 run that included Snider's 3-pointer and gave the Cardinals a 45-41 advantage.

      The Wolfpack led 33-31 at the half after a flurry of 3-pointers in the closing minute. Lacey and Turner sank back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wolfpack their largest lead of the half, 33-28. But Rozier hit a 3-pointer with 12 seconds remaining to pull the Cardinals within two at 33-31.

      N.C. State held an early 10-6 edge, but the Cardinals went on a 12-2 run to take an 18-12 lead. Snider ignited that spurt with back-to-back drives, and Blackshear scored six of the Cardinals' next eight points.

      NOTES: Only three teams have made more Sweet 16 appearances than Louisville's 21 since 1975: Kentucky (26), North Carolina (26) and Duke (24). ... North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried defeated four Hall of Fame coaches this season: Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and Louisville's Rick Pitino. ... Pitino started his coaching career as an assistant at Syracuse after he was famously interviewed and hired on his wedding night by Orange coach Jim Boeheim and then postponed his honeymoon to recruit future Syracuse star Louis Orr. Pitino had dinner with Boeheim and his wife, Juli, on Thursday night and said Boeheim's announced retirement in three years will be "very difficult" and "we would all miss him on the coaching sidelines." ... Six schools reached this year's Sweet 16 and also won a football bowl game: Michigan State, N.C. State, Notre Dame, Utah, UCLA and Wisconsin.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Gonzaga rides Karnowski to oust UCLA
    By The Sports Xchange

    HOUSTON, Texas -- With Gonzaga struggling from the outside, Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski put the team on his broad shoulders and carried it to the South Regional final.

    • Karnowski led Gonzaga with 18 points as the Bulldogs rolled past UCLA, 74-62, Friday night at NRG Stadium.

      Gonzaga (35-2) earned a spot in the Elite Eight for just the second time in program history. The Bulldogs will try to punch their first-ever ticket to the Final Four when they face the Duke-Utah winner on Sunday.

      "It's an awesome feeling and I speak for the players and the staff to be advancing in this tournament," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "Now we're only 40 minutes away from the Final Four and I'm just proud of these guys."

      The Bulldogs survived despite making just 3 of 19 3-point attempts and shooting well below their season average at 40 percent from the field. Instead, they went inside to Karnowski and forward Domantas Sabonis, who finished with 12 points. And Gonzaga out-rebounded UCLA, 25-16, in the second half.

      "We know we're a really talented offensive team," Bulldogs guard Byron Wesley said. "But on nights like tonight when we're able to win by double digits, definitely not having our best shooting night, I think it says a lot."

      UCLA (22-14) lost to Gonzaga for the second time this season. The Bruins shot 39 percent from the field. Guard Bryce Alford went 3 of 11 from the field and two of six from 3-point range and didn't make a 3-pointer until the 2:25 mark of the second half.

      "Both teams struggled making some shots," UCLA coach Steve Alford said. "We just got beat up on the glass and that doesn't happen to us very often."

      Guard Norman Powell and center Tony Parker paced UCLA with 16 each.

      The Bruins scored the first six points coming out of halftime, but Gonzaga surged back with the game's key run.

      "That's what really good teams do, they can withstand a run and respond," Alford said. "They got pushed back and they were able to push back on us."

      Bulldogs guard Gary Bell hit a jumper, then Karnowski scored six straight in the paint, kick starting an 18-3 run that put Gonzaga ahead 53-37 with 9:02 left.

      Few said when UCLA cut the lead to one at the start of the second half, he prioritized going inside on the offensive end.

      "Both teams were kind of struggling shooting the ball, so we made a concerted effort to call a bunch of sets that pretty much demand that the ball goes (inside)," Few said. "The guys did a great job of not only getting it to them, but obviously Przemek and Domantas delivered."

      Karnowski scored eight points, grabbed four rebounds and set up Sabonis for a dunk during the run.

      "Coach did a great job of calling the play," Karnowski said. "We saw that they tried to double me from the other big guy and I just tried to find Domantas and I know he'll finish those plays."

      Gonzaga made just three 3-pointer and was 0-for-6 from beyond the arc in the second half until guard Kyle Dranginis nailed a trey from the right side. Dranginis' basket gave the Bulldogs a 62-45 lead and firm control with 4:22 left.

      Bulldogs guard Byron Wesley scored 14, Sabonis had 12 and guard Kevin Pangos added 10.

      UCLA went more than six minutes without scoring in the first half, but only fell behind by six when Gonzaga guard Eric McClellan hit a pair of free throws for a 16-10 lead at the 8:42 mark. Powell went to the basket for a layup to break the drought with 7:57 left before the break.

      Both the Bruins and Bulldogs struggled to find the range for most of the first half. At a media timeout at the 5:55 mark, UCLA was shooting 32 percent from the field, a shade better than Gonzaga's 30 percent, though the Bulldogs led 20-14 at that point.

      Wesley hit a 3-pointer to extend the Bulldogs' largest lead of the first half to 11 with 5:11 left before the break. Wesley led Gonzaga with nine points in the first half.

      Powell paced UCLA with 12 points in the first 20 minutes.

      NOTES: Gonzaga defeated UCLA, 87-74, earlier this season in mid-December in Los Angeles, handing the Bruins their only home loss this season. ... UCLA and Gonzaga had met only three times before Friday. The Bruins defeated the Bulldogs, 73-71, in the Sweet 16 in 2006 for their only victory in the series. ... UCLA was trying to reach a regional final for the first time since 2008, which was also the last time the Bruins earned a berth in the Final Four. ... Gonzaga is now 2-4 in its previous six trips to the Sweet 16.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    College basketball notebook: Tennessee fires embattled Tyndall
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tennessee Volunteers fired men's basketball coach Donnie Tyndall after only one season.

    • The university announced Friday the decision was based on information Tennessee received during the NCAA's investigation for violations stemming from Tyndall's time as coach at Southern Mississippi.

      "It is disappointing that we have to take this action," Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said. "It is highly likely that coach Tyndall will face significant penalties at the conclusion of the NCAA's infractions process. We believe that this decision is in the best interests of the University of Tennessee."

      Tyndall, 44, met with NCAA representatives in November concerning reports that players at Southern Miss received extra benefits, such as tuition, living expenses and other fees. Tyndall also reportedly met with NCAA investigators on March 16.

      The NCAA reportedly informed Tennessee officials on Thursday of the list of violations it plans to impose against Tyndall, which includes a possible suspension for the 2015-16 season.

      ---St. John's and coach Steve Lavin agreed to part ways after five seasons.

      Lavin led the Red Storm to the NCAA Tournament this season and also in 2011. St. John's lost to San Diego State 76-64 in the second round last Friday night.

      "Coach Lavin returned high expectations to our men's basketball program and represented St. John's in a positive way," athletic director Chris Monasch said. "We appreciate his commitment to the program and to our student-athletes over the past five years."

      The 50-year-old Lavin, who missed one season recovering from prostate cancer surgery, was 81-55, including 40-32 in the Big East, at St. John's. The Red Storm finished 21-12 this season, Lavin's second straight 20-win season and third in five years.

      ---Rick Barnes is not expected to return as coach of the Texas Longhorns.

      Athletic director Steve Patterson has demanded that Barnes revamp his coaching staff, and Barnes is not expected to comply, according to reports by NBCSports.com and 247Sports.com on Friday.

      Russell Springman has been a Texas assistant since 2001, Rob Lanier returned in 2011 after coaching under Barnes in 1999-2001, and former Texas player Chris Ogden joined Barnes' staff in 2008.

      Barnes has coached at Texas since 1998, winning a school-record 402 games and claiming three Big 12 regular-season titles.

      He has led the school to the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 2003.

      This season, the Longhorns disappointed with a No. 11 seed and opening-game loss to Butler.

      ---Rutgers sophomore forward Junior Etou will transfer to another school after he was granted a release on Friday.

      The 6-foot-7 Etou, a Congo native, led the Scarlet Knights in rebounding this season, averaging 6.6 per game. He also averaged 6.6 points in 31 games.

      Etou will have two years of eligibility remaining.

      Rutgers also is losing its top two scorers from this season, with Myles Mack and Kareem Jack graduating.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Rutgers' leading rebounder to transfer
    By The Sports Xchange

    Rutgers sophomore forward Junior Etou will transfer to another school after he was granted a release on Friday.

    • The 6-foot-7 Etou, a Congo native, led the Scarlet Knights in rebounding this past season, averaging 6.6 per game. He also averaged 6.6 points in 31 games.

      Etou will have two years of eligibility remaining.

      "Junior is a quality young man and we appreciate his contributions to our program," Rutgers coach Eddie Jordan said in a statement. "We wish him the best moving forward."

      Rutgers also is losing its top two scorers from this past season with Myles Mack and Kareem Jack graduating.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Reports: Barnes not expected back at Texas
    By The Sports Xchange

    Rick Barnes is not expected to return as coach of the Texas basketball team.

    • Athletic director Steve Patterson has demanded that Barnes revamp his coaching staff, and Barnes is not expected to comply, according to reports by NBCSports.com and 247Sports.com on Friday.

      Russell Springman has been a Texas assistant since 2001, Rob Lanier returned in 2011 after coaching under Barnes in 1999-2001, and former Texas player Chris Ogden joined Barnes' staff in 2008.

      Barnes has coached at Texas since 1998, winning a school-record 402 games and claiming three Big 12 regular-season titles.

      He has led the school to the NCAA Tournament in 16 of his 17 seasons, including a Final Four appearance in 2003, but he has struggled to recruit top in-state players in recent years.

      After failing to make the tournament during the 2012-13 season, the Longhorns rebounded to make it back in the past two years, and Barnes earned a contract extension after 2014.

      This season, however, the Longhorns disappointed with a No. 11 seed and opening-game loss to Butler.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    St. John's parts ways with Lavin after five seasons
    By The Sports Xchange

    St. John's and head coach Steve Lavin mutually agreed to part ways after five seasons.

    • Lavin led the Red Storm to the NCAA Tournament this season and also in 2011. St. John's lost to San Diego State 76-64 in the second round last Friday night.

      "Coach Lavin returned high expectations to our men's basketball program and represented St. John's in a positive way," St. John's athletic director Chris Monasch said in a statement Friday. "We appreciate his commitment to the program and to our student-athletes over the past five years."

      The 50-year old Lavin, who missed one season recovering from prostate cancer surgery, had an overall record of 81-55 and 40-32 in the Big East while at St. John's. The Red Storm finished 21-12 this season, Lavin's second straight 20-win season and third in five years.

      Lavin was the coach at UCLA from 1996-2003 before joining ESPN as a broadcaster for seven years prior to taking over at St. John's in 2010.

      ESPN.com reported earlier this week that Lavin and the school were in talks on a contract extension.

      "In life change is inevitable, so I take the long view. I'm grateful for my time teaching at St. John's University," Lavin said a statement released by the school. "I will take with me the lasting friendships forged during my tenure as head coach. I'm proud of our results both on and off the court -- in particular our memorable runs to the NCAA Tournament in 2011 and 2015."

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Tennessee fires Tyndall amid NCAA investigation
    By The Sports Xchange

    The Tennessee Volunteers fired men's basketball coach Donnie Tyndall after only one season.

    • The university announced Friday the reason was "for cause" and the decision was based on information Tennessee received during the NCAA's investigation for violations stemming from Tyndall's time as head coach at Southern Mississippi.

      "It is disappointing that we have to take this action." Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart said in a statement. "It is highly likely that Coach Tyndall will face significant penalties at the conclusion of the NCAA's infractions process. We believe that this decision is in the best interests of the University of Tennessee."

      Tyndall, 44, met with NCAA representatives in November concerning reports that players at Southern Miss received extra benefits, such as tuition, living expenses and other fees. Tyndall also reportedly met with NCAA investigators on March 16.

      CBSSports.com reported that the NCAA informed Tennessee officials on Thursday of the list of violations it plans to impose against Tyndall in the near future.

      According to ESPN.com, Tyndall would likely receive a suspension for the 2015-16 season.

      Hart said later Friday he would have never hired Tyndall had he known the details of the coach's activities during his tenure at Southern Miss. In the termination letter, Hart said Tyndall acknowledged deleting emails that could have been relevant to the investigation.

      Tyndall was hired last April by Tennessee after compiling a 56-17 record in two seasons at Southern Miss, taking the school to two NIT appearances. He replaced Cuonzo Martin, who took the head coaching job at California.

      Tennessee went 16-16 this season, including a 7-11 record in the Southeastern Conference.

      "I am extremely saddened by my separation from Tennessee," Tyndall said Friday in a separate statement released by his lawyer. "... I apologize to my players, assistant coaches, and the entire UT community that past occurrences led to today's result. I have truly loved my time at Tennessee."

      Tyndall said in his statement that he was "surprised and disappointed" by the allegations at Southern Miss.

      "During my time at Southern Miss, I believed that our program followed NCAA rules and worked well with the university's administration to maintain an atmosphere of rules compliance," Tyndall said.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Arizona advances to rematch with Wisconsin
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- After a win over a scrappy Xavier club, Arizona is focusing its attention on a much-anticipated rematch with Wisconsin.

    • Point guard T.J. McConnell scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, sparking the second-seeded Wildcats to a 68-60 victory over the sixth-seeded Musketeers in an NCAA West Regional semifinal Thursday night at Staples Center.

      Forward Stanley Johnson and center Kaleb Tarczewski each scored 12 points for the Wildcats (34-3), and Tarczewski added 12 rebounds.

      Arizona will meet top-seeded Wisconsin (34-3) on Saturday in a rematch of last year's West final. Once again, a berth in the Final Four will be on the line.

      "After we lost to them, it gave us a long time to think about it," said McConnell, whose club fell to the Badgers in overtime last season in nearby Anaheim. "We watched them go to a Final Four and lose at the buzzer to Kentucky. We thought that should have been us, but that's driven all of us to work as hard as we did over the summer and as hard as we did this season to be as good as we are.

      "We have great respect for Wisconsin, but you know we're going to come out ready and play Arizona basketball."

      Added Tarczewski, "Even though last year our loss to them was devastating for all of us on the team, it kind of provides a level of familiarity with how they play. They're a very similar team to the one they had last year, so our game plan might be a little different this year, but like I said, the level of familiarity will hopefully kind of sway our way.

      "We're all looking forward to being in the Elite Eight. It's an accomplishment."

      Center Matt Stainbrook had 17 points and 10 boards for Xavier, which gave the Wildcats trouble throughout the contest before wilting in the final 90 seconds.

      Xavier (23-14) had the edge in a tightly contested second half until the Wildcats rallied late in the game. Arizona held a seven-point lead with about two minutes remaining before the Musketeers cut the deficit to 64-60 after a 3-point basket by sophomore guard Myles Davis with 1:31 left. However, Xavier never scored again.

      "We missed shots; simple as that," said Xavier point guard Dee Davis, who scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting. "We just got to make plays, and we didn't do that. They did, they hit free throws. We had some silly fouls that favored them. Obviously, we didn't close the game the way we wanted to, but we played hard. I couldn't ask for anything more from my team."

      Rugged forward Jalen Reynolds came off the Xavier bench to score 12 points.

      McConnell iced the win with two free throws with 32.9 seconds remaining. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson added two more to cap the scoring.

      Two free throws by McConnell tied the score at 53 with 6:11 remaining before Tarczewski made a pair of foul shots for the lead at 5:27, and the Wildcats never trailed again.

      Dee Davis made one of two free throws with 4:28 left, but McConnell's 3-point bucket put the Wildcats up 58-54.

      Tarczewski picked up his fourth personal after fouling Stainbrook with 3:51 remaining. The 6-foot-10 Stainbrook made one of two fouls shots before fouling Arizona forward Brandon Ashley on the other end. Ashley converted his two foul shots for a 60-55 Wildcats lead with 3:36 left.

      Ashley hit a jumper to make it 62-57 for Arizona with 2:46 left. It was all the Wildcats needed.

      "We lost to a great team," Xavier coach Chris Mack said, "a team that has a very good chance to win a national championship."

      It didn't look that way at first. The score was 28-28 at intermission as the teams completed a sluggish first half. The Wildcats led by as much as six early on, but the Musketeers rallied. Xavier also held Arizona without a field goal during the final 3:51 of the half.

      The Wildcats made just two shots from the floor over the last 7:55 before halftime.

      For the game, Arizona shot 40.7 percent from the floor, and Xavier finished at 43.1 percent. The Wildcats finished seven of 22 from 3-point range, while the Musketeers made just three of 17.

      NOTES: Xavier coach Chris Mack was an assistant to Arizona's Sean Miller when the latter was head coach for the Musketeers. The two men remain close friends. Miller guided Xavier to four NCAA Tournament trips in his five seasons as coach. ... This was the first meeting between the schools. ... The Musketeers advanced to the Sweet 16 with wins over Ole Miss and Georgia State. The Wildcats knocked off Texas Southern and Ohio State last weekend.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Strong second half sends Badgers past Tar Heels
    By The Sports Xchange

    LOS ANGELES -- Wisconsin shook off a shaky first half to bounce North Carolina from the NCAA Tournament.

    • Forward Sam Dekker had 23 points and 10 rebounds and the Badgers held off North Carolina 79-72 in a West Regional semifinal at the Staples Center.

      Dekker scored 15 points in the first half. Overall, he connected on 10 of 15 shots from the floor. Forward Frank Kaminsky added 19 points and eight rebounds for the top-seeded Badgers (34-3), who advanced to the regional final to face second-seeded Arizona (34-3) on Saturday.

      "That was not our best half in the first half and yet it still was on paper a one-possession game," said Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, whose club trailed by two at the break. "In the locker room with my guys, it's always 0-0. Knowing we could shoot it better, and when I was interviewed at halftime, I said if we shoot over 50 percent or better that's the way we could get this game."

      The Badgers shot 57.7 percent from the field (15 of 26) in the second half compared with 42.9 percent (12 of 28) for the Tar Heels. Overall, both teams finished shooting 46.4 percent, hitting an identical 26 of 56 shots.

      The difference, though, Wisconsin converted clutch free throws down the stretch.

      "Coming out at halftime, no one wants to go home," said Kaminsky, who made 5 of 11 shots from the field and all eight of his free throws. "You know, we're playing this season, this is my last go-round, so I was just going to give it my all in the second half."

      Forwards Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson scored 15 points apiece to lead fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-12).

      "Well, you have to congratulate Wisconsin," North Carolina coach Roy Williams said. "I'm tired of congratulating people. I feel like I've done that more this year than I felt good about myself. But they're really, really, tough kids."

      The Badgers swung the game in their favor when they put together a 9-0 surge to wipe out a 60-56 lead by the Tar Heels and never looked back.

      "They've won 34 games for a reason," Williams said. "They're a No. 1 seed for a reason."

      A 3-pointer by Kaminsky, consecutive buckets by guard Zak Showalter and a layup by Dekker boosted Wisconsin to a 65-60 advantage with 5:13 remaining in the game.

      North Carolina rallied, though, cutting the margin to 65-64 after a free throw by Johnson, but a 3-pointer by senior guard Josh Gasser and free throw by guard Traevon Jackson pushed the deficit back to five for Wisconsin.

      Guard Marcus Paige's trey with 1:43 left pulled North Carolina within 69-67, but Dekker scored inside again for a four-point Wisconsin lead. However, another Paige 3-pointer cut the lead to 71-70 with 54 seconds remaining.

      Two foul shots by Wisconsin guard Bronson Koenig made it 73-70 with 42 seconds left, which turned out to be the difference. Kaminsky closed the deal with four consecutive free throws in the final 16 seconds.

      "We have a veteran bunch," Kaminsky said. "Everyone understands time and score and what we need to do."

      Traevon Jackson returned after missing 19 games with a broken foot and finished with four points in nine minutes.

      North Carolina led 33-31 at halftime by shooting 50 percent from the field compared with 36.7 percent for Wisconsin. The Tar Heels held Kaminsky to only four points in the first half.

      "Yeah, I think we gave them trouble both halves," said Paige, who finished with 12 points. "Our defensive pressure is something we talked about coming into the game. We wanted to pressure them and not allow them to be comfortable, and we did that for the most part.

      "The problem was we couldn't finish our defense on key possessions. You know, they got a tip-out or offensive rebound, and that's how they made us pay today."

      NOTES: The Tar Heels won the previous two tournament meetings. F Sean May had 29 points and 12 rebounds in North Carolina's 88-82 win over Wisconsin in the 2005 East Regional final at Syracuse, N.Y., to advance to the Final Four in their last tournament clash. North Carolina went on to win the national championship, the first for coach Roy Williams. ... The Tar Heels are 11-11 against tournament teams this season and the Badgers are 16-2. ... North Carolina had shot 50 percent or better in the second half of its nine previous games. ... Wisconsin limited opponents to an NCAA low of .305 field-goal percentage and outrebounded opponents by almost 14 boards per game before facing the Tar Heels.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Wildcats double up WVU, cruise into regional final
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- West Virginia coach Bob Huggins studied the box score late Thursday night after his team became undefeated Kentucky's latest victim.

    • The numbers told the story of the top-ranked Wildcats' overwhelming 78-39 win in the Midwest Regional semifinals. West Virginia's fate was sealed when Kentucky went on a 16-0 run early in the first half; the fifth-seeded Mountaineers never recovered.

      "They had a good day, and we had a miserable day so we lost by (39)," Huggins said. "They were just way better than we were."

      Kentucky (37-0) faces third-seeded Notre Dame (32-5) on Saturday in the regional final with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

      Forward Trey Lyles scored 14 points to lead five players in double figures in the Wildcats' dominating win. Guard Andrew Harrison had 13 points, while guards Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker and center Dakari Johnson each scored 12.

      "I was pleased with the energy of our team and how zoned in we were," Kentucky coach John Calipari said. "We beat a really good team pretty good."

      Guard Juwan Staten scored 14 points to lead West Virginia (25-10). The Mountaineers defeated Buffalo and Maryland to advance to the Sweet 16 but were no match for the Wildcats.

      The Mountaineers were optimistic their relentless full-court pressure defense, which forced 40 turnovers in their first two tournament games, could create problems for Kentucky. Even that didn't work, as the Wildcats committed only 10 turnovers. West Virginia gave the ball away 13 times.

      Calipari decided the best way to negate the Mountaineers' press was to unleash his team's pressure defense.

      "You press a pressing team," he said. "That's why we did some of the stuff we did. You're not going to be the aggressor. We're going to be the aggressor, too."

      West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr. told reporters Wednesday that Kentucky is "gonna be 36-1" after playing the Mountaineers, a prediction the freshman likely wanted to take back soon after the game started.

      The Mountaineers wound up shooting 24.1 percent from the floor, while the Wildcats shot 48 percent.

      Huggins didn't think Miles' bold words had anything to do with the outcome and praised Kentucky for how well it played.

      "There's nobody that's going to beat them if they shoot like that," Huggins said. "That's the best defensive team I've ever coached against. They came out and made a bunch of shots. We couldn't score. My biggest fear was we couldn't score."

      An overpowering display at both ends of the floor put Kentucky in command 44-18 at halftime.

      The teams exchanged baskets to start the game before Kentucky scored the next 16 points to take an 18-2 lead. Aaron Harrison scored 10 points in the run, including back-to-back 3-pointers, a layup and two free throws.

      Huggins called timeout during the onslaught that lasted nearly seven minutes, but nothing could stop the Wildcats. A jumper by Staten finally ended the run.

      The numbers told the first-half story. Kentucky was 14-for-23 (60.9 percent) from the field and West Virginia was 5-for-26 (19.2 percent).

      "I think the feeling is kind of self-explanatory," Staten said. "They played with a lot of fire. That's all I can say about that."

      The game featured a battle of high-profile coaches with Huggins going against Calipari. The two have been close friends for more than 30 years. Even after the loss, Huggins still has an 8-3 record against Calipari's teams.

      NOTES: The teams met for the first time since 2011, a 71-63 Kentucky win. West Virginia, the second seed in 2010, upset the No. 1 Wildcats 73-66 in the round of eight in 2010. ... The Wildcats advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 45th time and are a No. 1 seed for the 12th time. ... The Mountaineers reached the Sweet 16 six times in their past nine tournament appearances.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    NCAA Tournament roundup: Kentucky blows out WVU
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- Trey Lyles scored 14 points and the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats remained undefeated with an overwhelming 78-39 win over the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Thursday night.

    • Kentucky (37-0) faces Notre Dame on Saturday with the winner advancing to the Final Four.

      Five players scored in double figures in the Wildcats' dominating win. Guard Andrew Harrison had 13 points while guard Aaron Harrison, guard Devin Booker and center Dakari Johnson each scored 12.

      Juwan Staten scored 14 points to lead West Virginia (25-10). The fifth-seeded Mountaineers defeated Buffalo and Maryland to advance to the regionals but were no match for the Wildcats, who put the game away with a 16-0 run early in the first half.

      Wisconsin 79, North Carolina 72

      LOS ANGELES -- Forward Sam Dekker had 23 points and 10 rebounds and Wisconsin held off North Carolina 79-72 in a NCAA West Regional semifinal at the Staples Center.

      Forward Frank Kaminsky added 19 points and eight rebounds for the top-seeded Badgers (34-3), who advanced to the regional final.

      Forwards Brice Johnson and Justin Jackson scored 15 points apiece to lead fourth-seeded North Carolina (26-12).

      Notre Dame 81, Wichita State 70

      CLEVELAND -- Demetrius Jackson scored 20 points to lead four scorers in double figures and third-seeded Notre Dame defeated seventh-seeded Wichita State in the Midwest Regional semifinals.

      Guard Pat Connaughton scored 16 points and had 10 rebounds while forward Zach Auguste and guard Steve Vasturia each added 15 points for the Irish.

      Guard Fred VanVleet led Wichita State (30-5) with 25 points while forward Darius Carter added 22.

      Arizona 68, Xavier 60

      LOS ANGELES -- Point guard T.J. McConnell scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half, sparking No. 2 seed Arizona to a victory over No. 6 Xavier on in a NCAA West Regional semifinal at Staples Center.

      Forward Stanley Johnson and center Kaleb Tarczewski, each scored 12 points for the Wildcats (34-3). Tarczewski also added 12 rebounds.

      Center Matt Stainbrook had 17 points and 10 boards for Xavier (23-14) and guard Dee Davis and forward Jalen Reynolds each added 12 points

      Arizona will meet top-seeded Wisconsin on Saturday for a berth in the Final Four.

  • Friday, March 27, 2015
    Irish overpower Shockers to reach Elite Eight
    By The Sports Xchange

    CLEVELAND -- A year ago, Notre Dame's season ended with a 15-17 record and no postseason appearance.

    • The Fighting Irish are now one win from going to the Final Four for the first time since 1978.

      Guard Demetrius Jackson scored 20 points to lead four double-figure scorers, and the third-seeded Irish defeated seventh-seeded Wichita State 81-70 in the Midwest Regional semifinals Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

      Notre Dame (32-5) won its eighth consecutive game and advanced to a regional final for the first time since 1979.

      "It's huge," Irish coach Mike Brey said. "I thought all day that I don't want it to end for this team. I'm just glad I get to go to practice with this team again tomorrow. I'm sure when it does end, it will be an amazing season."

      Next up for the Irish is a date with the tournament's No. 1 overall seed, Kentucky, which routed West Virginia 78-39 on Thursday.

      Brey sensed his team was ready to play against the Shockers. The Irish backed that up by jumping to a 20-7 lead.

      "I thought tonight we were really ready to roll," Brey said.

      Except for falling behind for a moment in the second half, the Irish rolled all night and the Shockers eventually ran out of answers.

      Notre Dame guard Pat Connaughton scored 16 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, while forward Zach Auguste and guard Steve Vasturia each added 15 points for the Irish.

      Guard Fred VanVleet led Wichita State (30-5) with 25 points. Shockers forward Darius Carter added 22 points and eight rebounds.

      Notre Dame, which led the entire first half, used a 17-6 run to regain control after the Shockers took the lead in the second half.

      "We got into one of our offensive rhythms," Brey said. "Then we got the defensive stops we needed."

      Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall gave all the credit to the Irish.

      "Notre Dame is a tremendous team," he said. "They're the best offensive team we've seen all year, hands down."

      Carter's basket in the lane gave the Shockers their first lead, 38-37, with 16:40 to go, but Jackson hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Vasturia added another to help push Notre Dame's lead to 54-44 with 12:37 left.

      "We took the one-point lead, and they came out with a barrage of threes," Marshall said. "It was real quick. I've never seen a one-point lead get out of hand so quickly, but it did tonight."

      Wichita State cut the deficit to 60-54, but a 10-2 spurt put Notre Dame ahead 70-56 with 6:20 to play. The Irish pulled away as the Shockers couldn't muster another response.

      Notre Dame hit 30 of 54 shots from the field (55.6 percent), including nine of 19 3-point attempts. Wichita State was 26 of 65 from the field (40 percent) and made only three of 18 3-pointers.

      "Right now, we're disappointed, hurt and exhausted," VanVleet said.

      Notre Dame led 33-30 at halftime.

      The Irish made eight of their first 10 shots. Jackson hit a pair of 3-pointers, Connaughton made another and Auguste converted a three-point play.

      Notre Dame went scoreless for more than three minutes, allowing Wichita State to cut into the lead and trail 25-22. The Irish pushed the lead back to eight before the Shockers again trimmed the margin to three heading into the break.

      NOTES: Wichita State F Darius Carter played his high school ball in Akron, Ohio. His family is close friends with Cleveland Cavaliers F LeBron James. ... The teams, who met for the first time in 24 years Thursday, could face off again in November. Both are scheduled to play in the Orlando Classic. ... Notre Dame made its first appearance in the Sweet 16 since 2003. ... Notre Dame won the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. The Irish defeated Northeastern in the NCAA's second round and got past Butler in overtime to advance. ... The game capped an emotional week for Irish coach Mike Brey, whose mother, Betty, passed away hours before the win over Butler. ... The Shockers lost in the semifinals of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament but bounced back last week to defeat Indiana and Kansas.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    College basketball notebook: The late Smith treats players to dinner
    By The Sports Xchange

    Dean Smith, the legendary North Carolina basketball coach who died last month, left each of his former players $200 for a "dinner out."

    • The gift was part of his will, according to a letter sent by his trustee and shared by SI.com on Thursday.

      Tim Breedlove of Miller, McNeish & Breedlove, PA, wrote a letter to each player, saying, "Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a $200 check with the message, 'Enjoy dinner out compliments of Dean Smith.'"

      Each check included the notation, "Dinner out."

      In 36 years at North Carolina, Smith coached 184 players, according to SI.com.

      Smith coached at North Carolina from 1961 to 1997, winning two NCAA championships and 879 games (a Division I record when he retired).

      Smith died Feb. 7 at his home in North Carolina. He was 83.

      ---For the second time in as many years, Dayton is upping its commitment to coach Archie Miller.

      Miller won multiple games in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive postseason, guiding Dayton to a win in the First Four and in the second round last week. He led the Flyers to the Elite Eight in 2014, and then signed a contract extension that ran through 2018-19. His new deal expires in 2022.

      ---Virginia Tech is losing its leading scorer from this season as a graduate transfer.

      Redshirt junior guard Adam Smith will be eligible to play immediately at another school as a fifth-year player in 2015-16 once he graduates in May, Virginia Tech announced Thursday.

      Smith already has transferred once during his college career, going from North Carolina-Wilmington to Virginia Tech after one season.

      The 6-foot-1 Smith led the Hokies this season with a 13.4 scoring average, shooting 42.4 percent on 3-pointers in 33 games, including 21 starts.

      ---Florida guard Michael Frazier plans to enter the NBA draft.

      Frazier, a junior, averaged 12.1 points per game for the Gators last season.

      He shot over 45 percent from 3-point range in his first two seasons in Gainesville before dropping to 36 percent in 2014-15.

      Florida was 16-17 last season and has little experience at guard with Frazier gone.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Virginia Tech's top scorer to transfer
    By The Sports Xchange

    Virginia Tech is losing its leading scorer from this season as a graduate transfer.

    • Redshirt junior guard Adam Smith will be eligible to play immediately at another school as a fifth-year player in 2015-16 once he graduates in May, Virginia Tech announced Thursday.

      Smith already has transferred once during his college career, going from North Carolina-Wilmington to Virginia Tech after one season.

      The 6-foot-1 Smith led the Hokies this season with a 13.4 scoring average, shooting 42.4 percent on 3-pointers in 33 games, including 21 starts.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    The late Dean Smith treats former players to dinner
    By The Sports Xchange

    Dean Smith, the legendary North Carolina basketball coach who died last month, left each of his former players $200 for a "dinner out."

    • The gift was part of his will, according to a letter sent by his trustee and shared by SI.com on Thursday.

      Tim Breedlove of Miller, McNeish & Breedlove, PA, wrote a letter to each player, saying, "Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a $200 check with the message, 'Enjoy dinner out compliments of Dean Smith.'"

      Each check included the notation, "Dinner out."

      In 36 years at North Carolina, Smith coached 184 players, according to SI.com.

      Smith coached at North Carolina from 1961 to 1997, winning two NCAA championships and 879 games (a Division I record when he retired).

      Smith died Feb. 7 at his home in North Carolina. He was 83.

  • Thursday, March 26, 2015
    Florida G Frazier plans to enter NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange

    Florida guard Michael Frazier plans to enter the 2015 NBA Draft.

    • Frazier, a junior, averaged 12.1 points per game for the Gators last season.

      He shot over 45 percent from 3-point range in his first two seasons in Gainesville before dropping to 36 percent in 2014-15.

      Florida was 16-17 last season and has little experience at guard with Frazier gone.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    West Virginia boldly goes into game against Kentucky
    By The Sports Xchange

    West Virginia freshman guard Daxter Miles Jr. believes Kentucky's unbeaten season will end Thursday night.

    • The No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Wildcats (36-0) are four wins from the first perfect season since Indiana in 1976, but the fifth-seeded Mountaineers anything but intimidated.

      "I give them their props," West Virginia freshman guard Daxter Miles Jr. said Wednesday in Cleveland, where the Midwest Regional will be played this weekend. "Salute them to getting to 36-0. But tomorrow they're gonna be 36-1."

      Miles said Kentucky, the overwhelming favorite to win the NCAA championship, doesn't play hard and will have trouble against West Virginia's press.

      "They should be more intimidated," Miles said. "Because they're the ones who have the high standard, and we're coming for them."

      West Virginia guard Juwan Staten also contended that Kentucky should be wary of the full-court pressure defense.

      "We've been playing this way all year, we've had success against everybody no matter what style or what type of players they have," Staten said. "That's the only way we play and it's just up to us to make it work."

      West Virginia's Bob Huggins is one of the few coaches who has Kentucky coach John Calipari's number. Huggins is 8-2 against Calipari during his career.

      But Kentucky freshman forward Willie Cauley-Stein didn't seem too concerned about West Virginia's confident attitude.

      "It adds fuel to the fire," he said.

      The fifth-seeded Mountaineers (25-9) advanced in the tournament with wins over Buffalo and fourth-seeded Maryland in the round of 32. Kentucky disposed of Hampton and eighth-seeded Cincinnati to advance.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    College basketball notebook: UAB's Haase gets six-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama-Birmingham rewarded coach Jerod Haase with a six-year contract extension on Wednesday after the Blazers reached the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

    • Haase will make $1 million per year under terms of the new deal. He previously was paid $625,000 per season plus incentives.

      "Long-term stability for me and my staff is crucial and represents an important step in moving the program forward," Haase said. "Our recruits and their families can rest assured that I will be at UAB for the long-term future. Today's commitment by the administration is a strong statement that UAB wants to be great in basketball.

      "Planned future upgrades in travel, facilities and budgets will be an integral part of sustaining UAB basketball at an elite level."

      The 40-year-old Haase came to UAB in 2012 and this year's team won the Conference USA tournament before upsetting Iowa State and advanced to the third round in the NCAA Tournament.

      ---Charlotte Hornets assistant Mark Price, a former Georgia Tech star and NBA point guard, has agreed to terms to become the next coach at UNC Charlotte, according to reports Wednesday.

      Sources told ESPN that Price was offered a five-year deal.

      Price, 51, was a standout at Georgia Tech from 1982 to 1986 and was a four-time All-Star in 12 NBA seasons. He has been an assistant coach with the Hornets since 2013 and also was an assistant of the Atlanta Hawks, Golden State Warriors and Orlando Magic.

      Price will replace Alan Major, who parted ways with the school on March 16 after five seasons.

      ---Wisconsin point guard Traevon Jackson expects to return for Thursday night's NCAA Sweet 16 game against North Carolina after sitting out more than two months with a foot injury.

      Jackson told reporters on Wednesday that he's 100 percent sure he will play for the first time since breaking his right foot in a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 11. Wisconsin lists the senior's status as a game-time decision.

      The Badgers are the top seed in the West Regional. They advanced through the early rounds with wins over No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 8 seed Oregon.

      In 17 games this season before Jackson suffered the injury, he averaged 9.4 points, 2.9 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game.

      ---LSU assistant Eric Musselman, a former NBA coach, was named as Nevada's basketball coach.

      Athletic director Doug Knuth announced Musselman will receive a five-year contract. The agreement will be presented to the Board of Regents for approval at a meeting Thursday.

      Musselman, 50, returns to Reno after spending the last three years as an assistant coach -- first at Arizona State and helping LSU to the NCAA Tournament this season.

      Musselman spent the 2010-11 season in Reno, coaching the NBA Development League's Bighorns and leading them to the only Western Conference title in franchise history. He also was coach of the Golden State Warriors (2002-04) and Sacramento Kings (2006-07).

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    Badgers PG Jackson plans to be play Thursday
    By The Sports Xchange

    Wisconsin point guard Traevon Jackson expects to return for Thursday night's NCAA Sweet 16 game against North Carolina after sitting out more than two months with a foot injury.

    • Jackson told reporters on Wednesday that he's 100 percent sure he will play for the first time since breaking his right foot in a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 11. Wisconsin lists the senior's status as a game-time decision.

      The Badgers are the top seed in the West Regional in the NCAA Tournament. It advanced through the early rounds with wins over No. 16 seed Coastal Carolina and No. 8 seed Oregon.

      "If he's physically capable of being on the court, then he deserves some time because of how hard he has worked," Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said.

      The Badgers plan to be cautious in using Jackson and limit his minutes, assistant coach Greg Bard said. Jackson returned to practice for the first time on Tuesday.

      In 17 games this season before Jackson suffered the injury, he averaged 9.4 points, 2.9 assists and 1.7 rebounds per game.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    UAB's Haase receives six-year extension
    By The Sports Xchange

    Alabama-Birmingham rewarded coach Jerod Haase with a six-year contract extension on Wednesday after the Blazers reached the round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament.

    • Haase will make $1 million per year under terms of the new deal. His previously was paid $625,000 per season plus incentives.

      "Long-term stability for me and my staff is crucial and represents an important step in moving the program forward," Haase said. "Our recruits and their families can rest assured that I will be at UAB for the long-term future. Today's commitment by the administration is a strong statement that UAB wants to be great in basketball.

      "Planned future upgrades in travel, facilities and budgets will be an integral part of sustaining UAB basketball at an elite level."

      The 40-year-old Haase came to UAB in 2012 and this year's team won the Conference USA tournament before upsetting Iowa State and advanced to the third round in the NCAA Tournament.

      "Coach Haase is a rising star in college basketball, and we want him and his staff to take UAB to unprecedented levels of success," UAB president Ray Watts said. "Our investments in the program to reach and sustain excellence and win championships, along with the continued support of donors, will make these priorities a reality and bolster all of our athletic programs."

      The extension is pending approval by the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees Compensation Committee at a meeting later this week.

      UAB has come under fire since Watts announced in December that the school was abandoning its football program and two other sports.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    WVU packs confidence, vows upset of Kentucky
    By The Sports Xchange

    John Calipari leads Kentucky into the Sweet 16 almost 12 months removed from their last loss.

    • But awaiting the NCAA Tournament's top overall seed is Bob Huggins, who is 8-2 all-time against Calipari, and brings a West Virginia team that leads the nation in forced turnovers and offensive rebounds per game into Thursday's Midwest Region semifinal in Cleveland (9:45 p.m. ET).

      "When you are playing in these games, none of the past matters, doesn't matter if I was 12-0 against him," Calipari said. "It's a one-game shot."

      Clearly, West Virginia players packed their confidence. They plan to take their shot.

      "No one's invincible. I give them their props, but tomorrow they're gonna be 36-1," guard Daxter Miles said Wednesday.

      That comment riled up Kentucky players. Kentucky 7-foot center Willie Cauley-Stein said Miles' essential guarantee grabbed the Wildcats' attention.

      "Adds fuel to the fire," Cauley-Stein said. "It puts a different mindset in your head. You're not just playing to win the game anymore."

      Huggins has changed his style through the years, and because of great depth and the ball-handling of Juwan Staten, this Mountaineers' team is all about creating chaos.

      Huggins said the simple equation that adds up to West Virginia (25-9) advancing to the Midwest Region final is the Mountaineers getting more shots than Kentucky (36-0). WVU forced 23 turnovers against Maryland to advance to the round of 32.

      "I think the hardest thing is going to be figuring out ways to score. We've got to find ways to still be able to attack the basket and be able to get it on the rim," said Huggins.

      Most of Huggins' success in the series came when he was head coach at Cincinnati. West Virginia beat Kentucky to make the Final Four in 2010.

      "If Cal promises to miss their first 20 3s like they did in 2010, that'll help," Huggins said Wednesday.

      The relationship between Huggins and Calipari is strong. They estimate they talk a handful of times every month and mostly about topics other than basketball.

      Calipari's relationship with Huggins hatched in the early 1980s. Huggins was head coach at Walsh College and Calipari, a young assistant, was staffing a Five Star camp.

      "He's taking kids -- they've gotten better individually and said here's the style we can win with," Calipari said. "I could see Bob getting coach of the year."

      Waiting in Cleveland for Saturday's regional final could be Wichita State, which entered the 2014 tournament as a No. 1 seed and lost its only game to No. 8 Kentucky. Head coach Gregg Marshall led the Shockers to a win over Kansas last week to advance to the Sweet 16. Marshall said he grasps what Calipari is tackling in this tournament.

      "That's the key, and have fun with it. We had fun with it, we really enjoyed it," Marshall said. "I don't know what type of fun Cal is having with his group. I'll tell you what, winning is a lot more fun than losing, so I think they're having quite a bit of good fun."

      No. 7 Wichita State plays third-seeded Notre Dame in the undercard in Cleveland (7:15 p.m. ET), which is also the first game of the Sweet 16.

  • Wednesday, March 25, 2015
    Nevada hires LSU assistant Musselman
    By The Sports Xchange

    Nevada hired LSU assistant and former NBA head coach Eric Musselman as the Wolf Pack's next basketball coach on Wednesday.

    • Athletic director Doug Knuth announced Musselman will receive a five-year contract. The agreement will be presented to the Board of Regents for approval at a meeting Thursday.

      Musselman, 50, returns to Reno after spending the last three years as an assistant coach -- first at Arizona State and most recently helping the LSU Tigers to the NCAA Tournament this season.

      Musselman spent the 2010-11 season in Reno, coaching the NBA Development League's Bighorns and leading them to the only Western Conference title in franchise history. He was head coach two seasons with the Golden State Warriors (2002-04) and one with the Sacramento Kings (2006-07). His father, Bill, was also an NBA head coach.

      Musselman replaces David Carter, who was fired March 11 after five seasons. Nevada went 9-22 this season, including 5-13 in the Mountain West.