Thursday, March 26, 2009

Balanced UConn beats Boilermakers, 72-60

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – NCAA TOURNAMENT SWEET SIXTEEN
Game played March 26, 2009

Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet posted a double-double and was one of four Huskies in double digits as No. 5 top seed UConn defeated 17th-ranked, fifth-seeded Purdue 72-60 in the NCAA tournament West Region Sweet Sixteen in Glendale, Ariz., Thursday night.

Robbie Hummel seemingly single-handedly kept a cold-shooting Boilermakers club in the game, totaling 17 points. Purdue hit only one of its first 10 shots from the field and shot 36.4 percent on the night.

Leading 44-40, UConn put it away with a 13-5 run down the stretch. A.J. Price scored four points during the burst, while Craig Austrie sank a 3-pointer, Stanley Robinson and Thabeet each dunked and Jeff Adrien added two more points for a 57-45 edge.

Purdue never led in the game but cut its deficit to 44-40 with a 9-2 run with 11 minutes left to play. Chris Kramer made a 3-point play and Keaton Grant hit a 3-pointer during the run, and JaJuan Johnson also scored three points.

The Huskies put together a 14-3 run out of the gate to take control early. Robinson scored six points, including a dunk, while Austrie, Price, Kemba Walker and Gavin Edwards each contributed two points during the run.

However, Hummel scored all of Purdue’s points during an 8-2 spurt, including two 3s, cutting the Connecticut advantage to 16-11 to stay in the game early.

Then, before halftime, UConn, which already led 20-16, scored six straight points to reclaim a double-digit lead before the Boilermakers scored seven straight, five from Hummel, including a 3-pointer, to cut the deficit back to 26-23. The Huskies led 30-25 at the break.

Austrie netted 17 points to lead Connecticut, while Thabeet and Price each scored 15 and Robinson added 10. Thabeet hauled down 15 rebounds and Robinson claimed 11 to post double-doubles.

Johnson scored 13 points for the Boilermakers (25-10).

The Huskies (30-4) move on to face the winner of Thursday night’s Missouri-Memphis contest in the Elite Eight Saturday.

NOTES: The game was Connecticut’s first since Yahoo! Sports reported this week that the program broke NCAA rules during the recruitment of former player Nate Miles … Purdue, which still leads the all-time series 4-1, saw its five-game winning streak end … It was the Boilermakers’ first Sweet Sixteen game since 2000.

BOX SCORE


Video credit – CBS; Audio credit – Westwood One

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Japan claims another WBC with 5-3 win over S. Korea

2009 BASEBALL SPECIAL COVERAGE – WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME
Game played March 23, 2009

Ichiro Suzuki went 4-for-6, including the game-winning 10th-inning two-RBI single, as Japan beat South Korea 5-3 in extras in Los Angeles Monday night for its second World Baseball Classic title in as many tries.

Japan took the lead for good in the top half of the 10th inning, sending eight batters to face Korean reliever Lim Chang-yong. Seiichi Uchikawa led off with a single to right and moved to second on Atsunori Inaba’s sacrifice bunt. Akinori Iwamura then singled to left and took second on defensive indifference to set the stage for Suzuki, who laced a two-RBI single to center on the eighth pitch of his at-bat for a 5-3 lead.

Japan reliever Yu Darvish then pitched around a leadoff walk to Kang Min-ho in the bottom of the frame, striking out Jeong Keun-woo swinging for the final out.

Trailing 3-1, South Korea scored a run in the eighth inning and another in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. Lee Bum-ho led off the bottom of the eighth with a double to the right-field wall off Japan starter Hisashi Iwakuma and came home on pinch hitter Lee Dae-ho’s sacrifice fly to deep center field to make the score 3-2.

Then, after working around a Suzuki leadoff double in the top of the ninth, Kim Hyun-soo drew a one-out walk against Darvish. Lee Jong-wook came on as a pinch runner and eventually scored from second on a Lee Bum-ho ground-ball single to left to tie the game at three.

With the score knotted at one in the top of the seventh inning, Japan broke free for two runs in two innings to take the lead. Yasuyuki Kataoka led off the seventh with a single to left field off Korean reliever Jong Hyun-wook, stole second, and advanced to third on Suzuki’s bunt single. Kataoka then scored on Hiroyuki Nakajima’s single to left, taking a 2-1 lead for Japan.

In the eighth, Uchikawa hit a one-out single to start things off. After South Korea went to Ryu Hyun-jin out of the bullpen, Inaba hit a ground-rule double down the right-field line, sending Uchikawa to third. Akinori Iwamura’s sac fly to left scored Uchikawa for a 3-1 Japanese edge.

Japan scored its first run in the top of the third. Nakajima led off with an infield single to short against Korean starter Jung-Keun Bong, then took second when South Korea second baseman Ko Young-min misplayed Norichika Aoki’s grounder. Nakajima scored on Michihiro Ogasawara’s single on the ground through the hole to right for a 1-0 advantage.

South Korea dented the scoreboard and tied the game in the bottom of the fifth. Shin-Soo Choo drilled a leadoff home run to left-center for the equalizer.

For Japan, Uchikawa went 3-for-5, while Nakajima and Kataoka each posted two base knocks as part of the team’s 15-hit attack.

Darvish blew the save opportunity but was credited with the win, working two innings of one-run, one-hit ball, with five strikeouts and three walks. Iwakuma pitched brilliantly, lasting 7 2-3 innings of two-run, four-hit baseball, not allowing a Korean baserunner until the 12th batter of the night on Kim Hyun-soo’s fourth-inning single. Iwakuma struck out six and walked two. Toshiya Sugiuchi also worked out of the bullpen for Japan.

The Japanese pitching staff limited South Korea to five hits, as Lee Bum-ho was the only Korean to muster two hits.

Bong went four innings, allowing a run on six hits, with three walks and a punchout. Jong pitched 3 1-3 frames, yielding two runs and four hits, with four strikeouts and no walks. Lim took the loss, giving up two runs on four hits over two innings, with two strikeouts and two walks.

The game was the rivals’ fifth meeting of the 2009 WBC, with Japan taking three of the meetings.

NOTES: The game was the teams’ seventh contest since August, after South Korea defeated Japan twice on its way to winning the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics … It was also the 16th meeting since the 2000 Sydney Olympics; each team has won eight contests … Japan finishes the tournament with a 7-2 overall mark, while South Korea dropped to 6-3.

BOX SCORE

Audio credit – ESPNRadio.com

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lyons, English, Missouri hang on to beat Marquette

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – NCAA TOURNAMENT
Game played March 22, 2009

Perhaps Marquette thought the return of senior guard Dominic James would help it fend off Missouri’s high-octane, full-court defensive pressure.

That didn’t work, as the Golden Eagles fell into a 16-point first-half hole.

Undeterred, gutsy sixth-seeded No. 23 Marquette then fought back to take a four-point lead with just under two minutes left but still fell 83-79 to the third-seeded No. 9 Tigers in the second round of the NCAA tournament’s West Region in Boise, Idaho Sunday evening.

Leo Lyons scored 18 points for the Tigers, while freshman sub Kim English added 17, including two crucial late free throws.

Marquette put together a 14-4 run down the stretch to cut its deficit to 58-56 with 11 minutes to play. Wesley Matthews scored eight points during the spurt, hitting a 3-pointer, while Jerel McNeal, Lazar Hayward and Jimmy Butler each contributed two points.

Then, trailing 67-63 with seven minutes left, the Golden Eagles went on a 15-7 run to take their first lead of the game. Matthews and Hayward each scored five points, both making 3-point plays, and Matthews powered home a dunk. McNeal added three points and Butler chipped in two. Hayward’s 3-point play, including a highly-contested put-back, gave Marquette a 78-74 lead with two minutes left.

However, Mizzou scored nine of the final 10 points down the stretch to claim the win. Lyons scored five points, including a reverse layup and-one, while J.T. Tiller hit two free throws and English came on for Tiller and sunk two free throws in Tiller’s stead with under six seconds left after Tiller was fouled and hit the floor hard on a drive to the basket, with the score tied at 79.

Marquette’s Hayward then inadvertently stepped in bounds attempting to inbound the ball on the ensuing possession, resulting in a turnover. Lyons’ last two free throws sealed the deal for Missouri.

On the Golden Eagles’ final possession, Maurice Acker threw up a desperation 3-pointer with about three seconds left, clearly hoping to draw a foul call on Missouri’s DeMarre Carroll, but none was called, essentially ending the game.

The swarming Tigers put together 9-1, 11-0 and 12-4 first-half runs to take a big early lead. After Marquette scored the game’s first six points, Lyons made a 3-point play and Carroll, Matt Lawrence and Tiller each added two points to take a 9-7 edge.

Marquette scored 10 of the next 12 points, with McNeal and Matthews hitting 3s and Hayward and Butler adding two apiece, to take a 17-11 lead.

Mizzou immediately answered with an 11-0 run. English scored eight points off the bench, with two treys, while Marcus Denmon added a 3 of his own, to reclaim a 22-17 lead.

Later, up 33-26, Missouri put together a 12-4 spurt to take a commanding halftime lead. Lawrence hit a 3 en route to scoring seven points, Carroll added two, Lyons put in a spectacular leaping one-handed tip in for two points and Tiller added one point for a 45-30 lead. The Tigers led 45-36 at the break.

Lawrence scored 16 points for Missouri, while Carroll added 15 and Tiller contributed 11.

McNeal led all scorers for the Golden Eagles with 30. Matthews scored 24 points and Hayward added 13, with 12 rebounds.

James, making his first appearance in six games after breaking his foot Feb. 25 against Connecticut, was clearly not at full strength, not attempting a shot and only dishing out one assist in 17 minutes of action.

Missouri forced Marquette (25-10) into 12 turnovers, most of which came during the first half.

The Tigers (30-6), who set a single-season school record for wins, move on to face Memphis in Glendale, Ariz., Thursday in Sweet 16 play.

BOX SCORE

Video credit – CBS; Audio credit – Westwood One

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – NCAA TOURNAMENT PREVIEW

Selection Sunday has come and gone, and brackets have been seeded. While some schools’ bubble has burst, those fortunate to play on have been assigned opponents. March Madness is here.

The Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East and the Big Ten each qualified seven teams for the tournament. Conventional wisdom says the Big East is the big winner in terms of seeding, after conference mates Connecticut, Louisville and Pittsburgh all pulled in No. 1 seeds. But since when has conventional wisdom meant anything in the Big Dance?

The only question left to be answered: who will make it to Ford Field in Detroit April 4-6 for the Final Four? The first step toward answering that question is tonight, when the tournament starts with Alabama State and Morehead State facing off in the opening-round game in Dayton, Ohio.

Team seed numbers precede school names.

MIDWEST REGION

1 Louisville (28-5, 16-2 Big East) – The fifth-ranked Cardinals won their first Big East title, defeating Syracuse in the conference championship game. In their contests against tournament opponents, they beat Pitt, Morehead State and Marquette and knocked off Villanova, West Virginia and the Orange twice each. Louisville lost to Western Kentucky and Minnesota in neutral-site games and also fell to UConn. Earl Clark leads the way offensively, scoring 14.1 points per game, while Terrence Williams chips in 12.4 ppg and Samardo Samuels added 11.8 ppg.

2 Michigan State (26-6, 15-3 Big Ten) – The No. 6 Spartans won the Big Ten regular season conference championship. This season they beat Big 12 foes Oklahoma State, Texas and Kansas and also defeated Michigan and Wisconsin, knocked off Minnesota three times and Illinois twice and took two of three from Ohio State. They split two with Purdue and lost to Maryland and North Carolina. Kalin Lucas is the scoring leader with 14.8 ppg, while Raymar Morgan registers 10.8 ppg.

3 Kansas (25-7, 14-2 Big 12) – Defending national champion No. 11 Kansas defeated Washington, Temple, Tennessee, Siena, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas and lost to Syracuse and at and Michigan State, splitting with Missouri. Sherron Collins, who hit a huge late 3-pointer during last year’s national championship game, averages 18.3 ppg. Cole Aldrich posted 14.6 ppg and Tyshawn Taylor added 10.0 ppg. Aldrich is averaging 10.6 rebounds per game, while Brady Morningstar is hitting nearly 44 percent of his 3-point attempts.

4 Wake Forest (24-6, 11-5 ACC) – The No. 9 Demon Deacons started 16-0 and spent some time as the nation’s top-ranked team. They won at BYU out-of-conference, beat Radford, North Carolina and Florida State and defeated Boston College and Clemson twice each, splitting two apiece with Maryland and Duke. Jeff Teague is scoring 19.1 ppg, James Johnson is averaging 14.8 ppg and Al-Farouq Aminu has netted 12.8 ppg. Teague is hitting nearly 45 percent from 3-point land.

5 Utah (24-9, 12-4 MWC) – The Utes defeated San Diego State 52-50 in the Mountain West conference championship game to punch their ticket. They defeated Gonzaga and Morgan State and beat LSU by 30 points. Utah also lost to Cal, Oklahoma and Utah State and split with hated rival BYU. Luke Nevill is averaging 16.9 ppg, Lawrence Borha scores 11.7 ppg, Shaun Green hit for 10.6 ppg and Tyler Kepkay is scoring 10.4 ppg. Borha and Green are both hitting about 41 percent of their 3-point shots.

6 West Virginia (23-11, 10-8 Big East) – The Mountaineers won at Ohio State and beat Villanova, Cleveland State and Radford. They dropped two of three to Pitt, lost to UConn and Marquette and fell twice to Syracuse and Marquette. Da’Sean Butler leads the way offensively with 17.3 ppg, while Alex Ruoff is contributing 15.9 ppg and Devin Ebanks is scoring 10.4 ppg.

7 Boston College (22-11, 9-7 ACC) – The Eagles won at then-No. 1 North Carolina, beat Maryland and Florida State and split two with Duke, losing to Purdue and Clemson and dropping two to Wake Forest. Tyrese Rice is averaging 17.1 ppg, Joe Trapani scored 13.5 ppg and Rakim Sanders has hit for 13.0 ppg.

8 Ohio State (22-10, 10-8 Big Ten) – The Buckeyes beat Butler and knocked off Michigan twice, losing to West Virginia. They dropped two of three to Michigan State and Purdue and also lost twice to Illinois, splitting with Minnesota and Wisconsin. Evan Turner is averaging 16.9 ppg, while Jon Diebler has scored 11.3 ppg, William Buford is at 11.2 ppg. Diebler is hitting over 42 percent from 3.

9 Siena (26-7, 16-2 MAAC) – The Saints got into the Dance by defeating Niagara 77-70 in the MAAC tournament title tilt. During regular-season play, they defeated Cornell and lost to Tennessee, Oklahoma State, Pitt and Kansas. Kenny Hasbrouck is scoring 14.8 ppg, Edwin Ubiles is hitting for 14.6 ppg, Alex Franklin averages 13.6 ppg and Ryan Rossiter is contributing 10.0 ppg.

10 Southern California (21-12, 9-9 Pac-10) – The Trojans avoided any bubble drama on Selection Sunday by knocking off Cal, UCLA and Arizona State in three straight days, defeating the Sun Devils 66-63 in the conference title game and making the tournament despite having won only one game during the entire month of February. USC beat Chattanooga and North Dakota State, losing to Missouri and Oklahoma out-of-conference. The Trojans took two of three from Cal and Arizona State, split with Arizona and dropped two of three to the crosstown-rival Bruins. Taj Gibson leads the way with 14.6 ppg, Dwight Lewis scored 14.1 ppg, DeMar DeRozan is averaging 13.3 ppg and Daniel Hackett is scoring 12.3 ppg.

11 Dayton (26-7, 11-5 A-10) – The Flyers are in off the bubble and boast non-conference wins over Marquette and Akron, beat Temple and split with Xavier. Chris Wright paces Dayton offensively with 12.9 ppg, while Marcus Johnson is hitting for 12.2 ppg as the Flyers are in their first tournament since 2004.

12 Arizona (19-13, 9-9 Pac-10) – The Wildcats made it into the tournament by the skin of their teeth after losing their conference tournament opener to Arizona State, their third defeat at the hands of the rival Sun Devils this season. ‘Zona beat Gonzaga and Kansas, lost at Texas A&M, fell to Cal twice and split with UCLA, USC and Washington. Jordan Hill is averaging a double-double with 18.5 ppg and 11 rpg. Chase Budinger chipped in 17.9 ppg and Nic Wise averages 15.1 ppg. Budinger is hitting over 41 percent of his three-pointers, while Wise is over 42 percent from that range.

13 Cleveland State (25-10, 12-6 Horizon) – The Vikings won at No. 16 Butler in the Horizon League tournament championship game to clinch a sport in the tourney. Their signature win was a 72-69 conquest at then-No. 11 Syracuse on Cedric Jackson’s 60-foot shot at the buzzer. Cleveland State lost at Washington and West Virginia and dropped two regular-season games to Butler, both by a margin of two points. J’Nathan Bullock is scoring 15.3 ppg, Norris Cole averages 12.9 ppg and Jackson added 10.5 ppg.

14 North Dakota State (26-6, 16-2 Summit) – The Bison advanced to the tournament for the first time in their first season of eligibility by defeating Oakland by two points in the tournament championship game. They lost to Minnesota, Stephen F. Austin and USC. Ben Woodside leads the team with 22.8 ppg, while Brett Winkelman is scoring 18.7 ppg and Mike Nelson averages 11.9 ppg. Woodside has made nearly 43 percent of his 3-pointers thus far.

15 Robert Morris (24-10, 15-3 NEC) – The Colonials came back to defeat Mount St. Mary’s 48-46 in the NEC championship game to advance to the national tournament for the first time since 1992. They lost at Xavier and Pitt. Jeremy Chappell is scoring 16.9 ppg, Rob Robinson averages 11.4 ppg and Jimmy Langhurst was good for 10.0 ppg. Chappell is hitting just under 41 percent from 3.

16a Alabama State (22-9, 16-2 SWAC) – The Hornets defeated Jackson State in the SWAC conference championship game in Birmingham, Ala., to punch their tournament ticket. They lost at Mississippi State in their only contest against a tournament-bound team this season. Brandon Brooks is scoring 14.o ppg, while Andrew Hayles averages 13.5 ppg.

16b Morehead State (19-15, 12-6 OVC) – The Eagles beat Austin Peay 67-65 in the Ohio Valley Conference tournament final on a Steve Peterson jumper with 1.4 seconds to go in the second overtime to clinch their first tournament berth since 1984. They won at East Tennessee State and lost at Louisville. Leon Buchanan leads the way with 15.1 ppg. Kenneth Faried is scoring 13.9 ppg, Maze Stallworth averages 12.1 ppg and Demonte Harper scores 10.8 ppg. Faried is registering 12.8 rpg.

WEST REGION

1 Connecticut (27-4, 15-3 Big East) – The fourth-ranked Huskies beat Wisconsin, Gonzaga, Michigan, West Virginia, Villanova, Louisville and Marquette, lost twice to Pitt and split two with Syracuse, including the instant-classic 127-117 six-OT loss in the Big East tournament. A.J. Price is scoring 14.0 ppg, Hasheem Thabeet averages 13.7 ppg, Jeff Adrien scored 13.6 ppg and Jerome Dyson is putting up 13.2 ppg. Thabeet is also averaging 10.9 rpg, while Adrien is contributing 10.0 rpg. Price is making nearly 41 percent of his 3s.

2 Memphis (31-3, 16-0 C-USA) – The No. 3 Tigers, last year’s runner-up, became the first D-I program to win 30 games in four straight seasons and routed Tulsa 64-39 in the Conference USA tournament final at home. Memphis beat Chattanooga, won at Tennessee and Gonzaga, and lost to Xavier and Syracuse. It has won 25 straight games, the nation’s longest winning streak, and 61 consecutive league games, and hasn’t lost since the Dec. 20 game against the Orange. Tyreke Evans is scoring 16.6 ppg, Robert Dozier averages 12.6 ppg, Shawn Taggart puts up 10.6 ppg and Antonio Anderson is responsible for 10.1 ppg.

3 Missouri (28-6, 12-4 Big 12) – No. 15 Mizzou won its first Big 12 title by defeating Baylor in the conference tournament final. The Tigers beat Chattanooga, USC, Cal, Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State (twice), losing to Xavier, Illinois and Texas A&M and splitting with Kansas. DeMarre Carroll put up 16.7 ppg and Leo Lyons averages 14.3 ppg, while Matt Lawrence is hitting just under 42 percent from 3-point land.

4 Washington (25-8, 14-4 Pac-10) – The No. 10 Huskies beat Cleveland State, Oklahoma State, Portland State and Morgan State, knocking off USC twice and taking two of three from Arizona State. They lost to Kansas, split with UCLA and Arizona and lost twice to Cal. Isaiah Thomas leads the way with 15.4 ppg, Justin Dentmon is scoring 15.0 ppg, Jon Brockman contributed 14.9 ppg and 11.2 rpg and Quincy Pondexter scores 11.5 ppg. Dentmon hit over 42 percent of his 3-pointers.

5 Purdue (25-9, 11-7 Big Ten) – The No. 24 Boilermakers defeated Ohio State in the league tournament final to win the Big Ten. Purdue beat Boston College, Minnesota, knocked off Wisconsin twice and took two of three from Ohio State. It lost to Oklahoma and Duke, split with Michigan and Michigan State and dropped two of three to Illinois. E’Twaun Moore is scoring 13.8 ppg, JaJuan Johnson hit for 13.1 ppg and Robbie Hummel added 12.8 ppg while sinking over 40 percent from 3.

6 Marquette (24-9, 12-6 Big East) – The No. 21 Golden Eagles enter the tournament in a slump, having lost five of six while dealing with a season-ending injury to Dominic James, who broke a bone in his left foot in a loss to UConn. They beat Northern Iowa, Wisconsin, West Virginia and lost to Dayton, Tennessee, the Huskies, Louisville, Pitt and Syracuse. They also dropped two of three to Villanova. Jerel McNeal is scoring 19.7 ppg, Wesley Matthews averages 18.4 ppg, Lazar Hayward is hitting for 16.1 ppg and James put up 11.4 ppg. McNeal is hitting over 40 percent from trey-ville.

7 California (22-10, 11-7 Pac-10) – Cal won at Utah, beat Arizona and Washington twice apiece, lost to Florida State and Missouri, split with Arizona State, lost to UCLA twice and dropped two of three to USC. Jerome Randle is scoring 18.4 ppg, Patrick Christopher averages 14.6 ppg and Theo Robertson scored 12.8 ppg. Randle made nearly 47 percent of his 3-pointers, while Robertson is over 49 percent from long range.

8 Brigham Young (25-7, 12-4 MWC) – The at-large Cougars defeated Utah State, lost to Arizona State and Wake Forest and split two with rival Utah. Lee Cummard scored 16.8 ppg, Jimmer Fredette is averaging 16.2 ppg and Jonathan Tavernari hit for 15.9 ppg. BYU will face Texas A&M in the first round for the second straight year after falling to the Aggies last season.

9 Texas A&M (23-9, 9-7 Big 12) – The Aggies beat Stephen F. Austin, Arizona, LSU and Missouri, split with Oklahoma State and Texas, lost to Kansas and dropped two to Oklahoma. Josh Carter scored 14.1 ppg, Donald Sloan averages 11.7 ppg, Bryan Davis put up 10.4 ppg and Chinemelu Elonu has contributed 10.1 ppg. Carter is drilling nearly 41 percent of his 3-pointers, while B.J. Holmes over 42 percent.

10 Maryland (20-13, 7-9 ACC) – The Terrapins managed to get in off the bubble after beating Michigan State, Michigan and American and losing to Morgan State, Gonzaga, Florida State, Boston College and Clemson. The Terps split with Wake and North Carolina and lost three times to Duke. Greivis Vasquez leads the way offensively with 17.2 ppg. Landon Milbourne is scoring 11.6 ppg and Eric Hayes averages 10.2 ppg.

11 Utah State (30-4, 14-2 WAC) – The Aggies assured themselves of a tournament spot by defeating Nevada 72-62 in the WAC tournament title game. They beat Utah and lost to BYU. Gary Wilkinson is scoring 17.0 ppg, Jared Quayle averages 12.8 ppg and Tai Wesley hit for 11.9 ppg. Tyler Newbold is hitting over 40 percent from 3, while Stavon Williams has made over 43 percent of his long-range attempts.

12 Northern Iowa (23-10, 14-4 MVC) – The Panthers beat Illinois State 60-57 in the league tournament championship game to make the NCAA tourney. They lost to Marquette in their only contest against NCAA-bound teams. Adam Koch averages 12.3 ppg, Kwadzo Ahelegbe hit for 11.8 ppg and Jordan Eglseder is scoring 10.1 ppg.

13 Mississippi State (23-12, 9-7 SEC) – The Bulldogs repeated Georgia’s feat from a year ago by beating Tennessee 64-61 to win the SEC’s automatic bid to the tournament. They beat Alabama State and Western Kentucky, split with the Volunteers and dropped two of three to LSU, with the only win coming in the league tournament in Tampa, Fla. Jarvis Varnado is scoring 13.1 ppg, Barry Stewart averages 12.4 ppg, Ravern Johnson hit for 12.2 ppg and Dee Bost put up 11.2 ppg. Johnson is sinking nearly 41 percent of his 3-pointers.

14 Cornell (21-9, 11-3 Ivy) – The Big Red clinched its second straight NCAA bid by winning the Ivy League regular season championship over Penn March 6 at home. Cornell lost at Siena, Syracuse and Minnesota. Ryan Wittman averages 18.5 ppg and is hitting nearly 42 percent from 3-point range. Louis Dale is scoring 13.5 ppg, and Jeff Foote is responsible for 11.8 ppg.

15 Cal State Northridge (17-13, 11-5 Big West) – The Matadors will make their first tourney appearance in eight years after defeating Pacific 71-66 in overtime in the Big West conference championship game. They lost at UCLA during regular-season play. Deon Tresvant paces the offense with 13.3 ppg, while Tremaine Townsend scores 10.9 ppg and Josh Jenkins chipped in 10.2 ppg. Rob Haynes is making over 42 percent of his 3s.

16 Chattanooga (18-16, 11-9 SoCon) – The Mocs entered the Southern Conference tournament with a sub-.500 record at 15-16 but won three games there, defeating the College of Charleston in the league final. They played a brutal nonconference schedule, losing at Tennessee, Missouri, Memphis, USC and East Tennessee State. Chattanooga began the year 1-7 and entered the conference tourney on a three-game losing streak before winning the event. Stephen McDowell scored 18.6 ppg, Nicchaeus Doaks hit for 13.9 and Kevin Goffney scored 13.3 ppg. McDowell is hitting over 43 percent from 3.

EAST REGION

1 Pittsburgh (28-4, 15-3 Big East) – The No. 2 Panthers, who started the season 16-0, beat Akron, Siena, Florida State, Robert Morris, Syracuse and Marquette, took two of three from West Virginia and knocked off UConn twice when the Huskies were No. 1. Pitt lost to Louisville and Villanova. Sam Young scored 18.7 ppg, DeJuan Blair hit for 15.6 ppg and Levance Fields put up 10.7 ppg, while Blair pulled down 12.2 rpg.

2 Duke (28-6, 11-5 ACC) – The No. 8 Blue Devils defeated Florida State in the ACC title game to claim an automatic bid. They won at Purdue, beat Xavier, defeated Maryland and the Seminoles three times each, lost to Clemson, dropped two to North Carolina and split two with Michigan, Wake Forest and Boston College. Kyle Singler posted 16.8 ppg, Gerald Henderson scored 16.3 ppg and Jon Scheyer is putting up 14.5 ppg. Duke is 10-0 all-time in NCAA tournament games in Greensboro, N.C., which is its destination for the opening two rounds, along with Binghamton, Texas and Minnesota.

3 Villanova (26-7, 13-5 Big East) – The No. 13 Wildcats beat Pitt, knocked off Syracuse twice, took two of three from Marquette, lost to Texas, UConn and West Virginia and dropped two to Louisville. Dante Cunningham is scoring 16.0 ppg, Scottie Reynolds averages 15.5 ppg and Corey Fisher is responsible for 10.8 ppg, while Corey Stokes is hitting over 43 percent from 3-point land.

4 Xavier (25-7, 12-4 A-10) – The No. 19 Musketeers beat Missouri, Memphis, LSU and Robert Morris, lost to Duke and Butler and split with Temple and Dayton. B.J. Raymond has scored 14.1 ppg, Derrick Brown hit for 13.8 ppg and C.J. Anderson put up 10 ppg. Raymond has made nearly 43 percent of his attempts from 3.

5 Florida State (25-9, 10-6 ACC) – The No. 22 Seminoles beat Cal, Western Kentucky and Maryland, defeated Clemson twice, lost to Pitt, Wake Forest and Boston College, lost to Duke thrice and split with North Carolina. For Florida State, it’s the Toney Douglas show, as he leads the team with 21.1 ppg.

6 UCLA (25-8, 13-5 Pac-10) – The No. 14 Bruins beat Cal State Northridge, knocked off rival USC in two of three meetings and beat Cal twice. UCLA lost to Michigan and Texas, fell twice to Arizona State and split with Arizona and Washington, Darren Collison is putting up 14.5 ppg, with Josh Shipp contributing 14.4 ppg and hitting nearly 44 percent of his 3s.

7 Texas (22-11, 9-7 Big 12) – The Longhorns beat UCLA, Villanova and Wisconsin, lost to Michigan State, Mizzou and Kansas and split with Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. A.J. Abrams is scoring 16.3 ppg, Damion James averages 15.4 ppg, Gary Johnson is responsible for 10.5 ppg and Dexter Pittman chipped in 10.0 ppg.

8 Oklahoma State (22-11, 9-7 Big 12) – The Cowboys beat Siena, lost to Gonzaga, Michigan State, Washington and Kansas, split with Texas A&M and Texas, dropped two to Missouri and lost two of three meetings to Oklahoma. James Anderson scored 18.6 ppg, Byron Eaton averages 14.1 ppg, Terrel Harris put up 13.8 ppg and Obi Muonelo is scoring 12.6 ppg. Anderson is sinking 41 percent of his 3-pointers, Muonelo is just over 40 percent and Keiton Page is hitting nearly 41 percent.

9 Tennessee (21-12, 10-6 SEC) – The Volunteers beat Chattanooga, Siena and Marquette, lost twice to Gonzaga, fell to Temple, Kansas, Memphis and LSU and split with Mississippi State. Tyler Smith is averaging 17.4 ppg, Wayne Chism put up 13.8 ppg and J.P. Prince scores 10.0 ppg.

10 Minnesota (22-10, 9-9 Big Ten) – The Golden Gophers started the season 12-0 and hung on to make it into the tournament off the bubble for the first time under Tubby Smith, in his second year at Minnesota. They beat North Dakota State, Cornell and Louisville, beat Wisconsin twice, lost to Purdue, lost twice to Michigan, lost three times to Michigan State and split with Ohio State and Illinois. Lawrence Westbrook is the Gophers’ leading scorer with 12.4 ppg.

11 Virginia Commonwealth (24-9, 14-4 CAA) – The Rams defeated George Mason 71-50 in the CAA tournament title game to make the tournament. They lost to Oklahoma and former coach Jeff Capel in their only meeting with a tournament team. Eric Maynor, who hit the jumper that beat Duke in the 2007 first round, averages 22.4 ppg, while Larry Sanders scores 11.3 ppg.

12 Wisconsin (19-12, 10-8 Big Ten) – The Badgers received an at-large bid despite a six-game conference losing streak in January. They beat Michigan twice and lost to UConn, Marquette, Texas and Michigan State. They also dropped two each to Purdue and Minnesota and split with Ohio State and Illinois. Marcus Landry scored 12.6 ppg, Trevon Hughes hit for 12.0 ppg and Jason Bohannon averaged 10.3 ppg.

13 Portland State (23-9, 11-5 Big Sky) – The Vikings made it in thanks to a Julius Thomas slam with 3.5 seconds left to defeat Montana State 79-77 in the Big Sky tournament championship game. They won at then-No. 7 Gonzaga and lost at Washington. Jeremiah Dominguez scored 12.9 ppg, Dominic Waters averages 11.5 ppg, Phil Nelson put up 11.2 ppg and Andre Murray contributed 11.0 ppg. Waters was over 46 percent from 3-point range, and Dominguez hit nearly 44 percent from 3.

14 American (24-7, 13-1 Patriot) – The Eagles beat Holy Cross at home in the Patriot League tournament title game to avenge their only regular season conference loss and clinch a date in the Dance. They lost at Oklahoma and Maryland during the regular season. Garrison Carr averages 17.8 ppg and hit over 42 percent of his 3s, while Brian Gilmore added 12.4 ppg and Derrick Mercer, the league player of the year, scores 11.5 ppg.

15 Binghamton (23-8, 13-3 Am. East) – The Bearcats are in their first tournament after beating UMBC in the America East championship game. Binghamton played no games against tournament teams during the regular season. D.J. Rivera is scoring 20.0 ppg, Dwayne Jackson averages 11.7 ppg, Emanuel Mayben hit for 11.7 ppg and Malik Alvin scores 11.6 ppg.

16 East Tennessee State (23-10, 14-6 A-Sun) – The Buccaneers defeated regular-season league champ Jacksonville 85-68 in the Atlantic Sun tournament championship. They beat Chattanooga and lost to Temple and Morehead State. Kevin Tiggs leads the way with 21.5 ppg, Courtney Pigram averages 17.6 ppg and Mike Smith scores 15.5 ppg.

SOUTH REGION

1 North Carolina (28-4, 13-3 ACC) – The top-ranked Tar Heels beat Michigan State and Clemson, defeated hated rival Duke twice, lost to Boston College and Wake Forest and split with Florida State and Maryland. Tyler Hansbrough scored 21.4 ppg, Ty Lawson put up 15.9 ppg, Wayne Ellington added 15.2 ppg, Danny Green averaged 13.3 and Deon Thompson chipped in 11.2 ppg. Green hit nearly 42 percent of his 3-point jacks.

2 Oklahoma (27-5, 13-3 Big 12) – The No. 7 Sooners began the year 12-0 and defeated American, Purdue, USC, Utah and Virginia Commonwealth. They also bested Texas A&M twice, beat Oklahoma State two out of three, lost to Kansas and Missouri and split with Texas. Blake Griffin averaged a double-double with 21.9 ppg and 14.3 rpg, while Willie Warren put up 14.7 ppg.

3 Syracuse (26-9, 11-7 Big East) – The No. 20 Orange beat Kansas, Cornell, Memphis and Marquette, beat West Virginia twice, lost to Cleveland State and Pitt and lost to both Louisville and Villanova twice. They also split with UConn, including their epic six-overtime victory in the Big East tournament. Jonny Flynn led the way with 17.5 ppg, while Eric Devendorf averages 15.9 ppg, Paul Harris scored 12.6 ppg, Andy Rautins chipped in 10.5 ppg and Arinze Onuaku put up 10.3 ppg.

4 Gonzaga (26-5, 14-0 WCC) – The No. 12 Bulldogs defeated St. Mary’s 83-58 in the West Coast Conference tournament championship game, breaking the Gaels’ hearts and relegating them to the NIT. The Zags defeated Oklahoma State and Maryland and beat Tennessee twice, once in the Old Spice Classic and once in Knoxville, Tenn. Gonzaga lost to Arizona, UConn, Portland State, Utah and Memphis. Josh Heytvelt averages 14.9 ppg, Matt Bouldin puts up 13.7 ppg and Austin Daye scored 12.9 ppg.

5 Illinois (24-9, 11-7 Big Ten) – The 25th-ranked Fighting Illini beat Missouri, knocked off Ohio State twice and beat Michigan and Purdue two out of three each. They lost to Clemson, dropped two to Michigan State and split with Wisconsin and Minnesota. Demetri McCamey leads the way with 11.5 ppg, while Mike Davis scores 11.2 ppg and Mike Tisdale averages 10.5 ppg. Trent Meacham hit over 41 percent from 3-point land.

6 Arizona State (24-9, 11-7 Pac-10) – The No. 23 Sun Devils beat BYU, knocked off UCLA twice and defeated Arizona thrice. They lost two of three to both Washington and USC and split with Cal. James Harden is scoring 21.1 ppg, Jeff Pendergraph averages 14.4 ppg and Rihards Kuksiks hit for 10.3 ppg, making over 44 percent of his 3s.

7 Clemson (23-8, 9-7 ACC) – The 18th-ranked Tigers beat Temple, Illinois, Duke, BC and Maryland, lost to North Carolina and dropped two to Wake Forest and Florida State. Trevor Booker scores 15.3 ppg, K.C. Rivers hit for 14.2 ppg and Terrence Oglesby averages 13.5 ppg.

8 LSU (26-7, 13-3 SEC) – The No. 16 Tigers won the SEC’s regular-season title, beating Tennessee and taking two of three from Mississippi State. Out of conference, they lost at Texas A&M, were trounced at Utah and lost to Xavier. Marcus Thornton is scoring 20.7 ppg, Tasmin Mitchell averages 16.3 ppg and Bo Spencer chipped in 11.6 ppg, shooting nearly 42 percent from 3-point range.

9 Butler (26-5, 15-3 Horizon) – The No. 17 Bulldogs won at Xavier, took two of three from Cleveland State and lost at Ohio State. Matt Howard is scoring 14.6 ppg, Gordon Hayward averages 13.2 ppg and Shelvin Mack hit for 11.7 ppg. Hayward is making over 44 percent of his 3s.

10 Michigan (20-13, 9-9 Big Ten) – The Wolverines got in off the bubble after beating UCLA and defeating Minnesota twice. They lost to UConn and Michigan State, dropped two of three to Illinois, lost twice to Wisconsin and Ohio State and split two with Duke and Purdue. Manny Harris scores 16.8 ppg, while DeShawn Sims averages 15.7 ppg.

11 Temple (22-11, 11-5 A-10) – The Owls are in after defeating Duquesne in the Atlantic 10 title game. They beat East Tennessee State and then-No. 8 Tennessee, losing to Clemson, Kansas, Villanova and Dayton and splitting with Xavier. Dionte Christmas is scoring 18.9 ppg, Lavoy Allen averages 11 ppg and Ryan Brooks posted 10.6 ppg, hitting over 40 percent of his 3s.

12 Western Kentucky (24-8, 15-3 Sun Belt) – One season after making a run to the Sweet Sixteen, the Hilltoppers return to the tournament after defeating South Alabama in the Sun Belt tournament championship game. They won by 14 over then-No. 3 Louisville in Nashville, Tenn., and lost to Florida State and Mississippi State. A.J. Slaughter is scoring 15.8 ppg, Orlando Mendez-Valdez averages 14.0 ppg, Steffphon Pettigrew put up 12.7 ppg and Sergio Kerusch scores 11.2 ppg. Mendez-Valdez made nearly 41 percent of his 3-point tries.

13 Akron (23-12, 10-6 MAC) – The Zips have reached the tourney for the first time since 1986 after beating Buffalo in the MAC championship game. They lost to Pitt, Dayton and Virginia Commonwealth. Brett McKnight averages 11.3 ppg, while Nate Linhart puts up 10.3 ppg.

14 Stephen F. Austin (24-7, 13-3 Southland) – The Lumberjacks have earned their first NCAA bid by way of a win over UT San Antonio in the Southland Conference tournament championship game. They defeated North Dakota State and lost at Texas A&M. Matt Kingsley leads the way offensively with 16.1 ppg, while Josh Alexander averages 14.5 ppg.

15 Morgan State (23-11, 13-3 MEAC) – The Bears will play in their first NCAA tournament after defeating Norfolk State in the MEAC title game. They won at Maryland this season and lost to Utah and Washington. Reggie Holmes averages 16.8 ppg, and Marquise Kately scored 10.9 ppg.

16 Radford (21-11, 15-3 Big South) – The Highlanders defeated VMI 108-94 in the Big South tournament championship game for their first conference tournament title in 11 years. They lost at West Virginia and Wake Forest. Artsiom Parakhouski averages 16.3 ppg, Kenny Thomas put up 14.8 ppg, Joey Lynch-Flohr scores 13.7 ppg and Martell McDuffy contributed 11.6 ppg. Parakhouski cleaned up 11.2 rpg.

Now, our Final Four picks: Michigan State will emerge over Louisville in Indianapolis in the Midwest Region, while UConn takes care of business over Missouri in Glendale, Ariz., in the West. Pitt will hold off Duke in Boston in the East Region, and look for Arizona State to make a run in the South Region but fall to North Carolina in Memphis, Tenn.

Once Final Four play begins, we look for the Huskies to defeat the Spartans, and for the Tar Heels to hold off the Panthers. Then, on April 6 in Detroit, we expect to see Roy Williams’ star-studded crew delivering Carolina its second national title in five years with a hard-fought win over Connecticut.

But really, what are the chances of all that being right on the money? Not very good, we suspect. That’s why college basketball provides the best postseason in sports – no one has any idea what’s going to happen.

Information from ESPN.com was used in this report.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Lumberjacks in first Dance after beating UTSA

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – SOUTHLAND CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Game played March 15, 2009

The top-seeded Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks advanced to their first-ever NCAA tournament with a 68-57 victory over six-seed UT-San Antonio in the Southland Conference tournament championship game in Katy, Texas Sunday afternoon.

The Lumberjacks took a commanding lead late in the first half, which they held the rest of the afternoon. Trailing 22-17, Stephen F. Austin put together a 20-6 run. Eddie Williams and Matt Kingsley each scored six points during the run, while Nick Shaw and Walt Harris each hit 3-pointers and Josh Alexander added a basket. Harris’ 3 ended the half with Stephen F. Austin up, 37-28.

Trailing 52-39, the Roadrunners went on a 9-2 run to cut their deficit to six. Devin Gibson scored five points, with a 3, while Omar Johnson and Leslie Jackson each added two more. Later, after four straight Gibson points, UT-San Antonio drew to within five at 61-56 with 2:10 to play.

However, Stephen F. Austin then scored the next seven points, on an Alexander layup, two Shaw free throws, two Eric Bell free throws and a Kingsley shot from the charity stripe, to resume control.

Kingsley led the Lumberjacks (24-7) with 20 points. Alexander and Williams each contributed 16.

Gibson led all scorers with 23 points, while Travis Gabbidon added 10 for the Roadrunners (19-13).

NOTES: Stephen F. Austin has won five straight meetings in the series, including a 66-62 victory in the regular-season finale March 7 … The Roadrunners entered the game having won six of their last 11 against the Lumberjacks.

Audio credit – Yahoo! Sports/KRPT-FM, San Antonio

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Auburn stays alive in SEC tourney, 61-58 over Gators

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Game played March 13, 2009

Korvotney Barber and Frankie Sullivan each scored 12 points as the Auburn Tigers advanced to the SEC tournament semifinals with a 61-58 comeback quarterfinal win over Florida Friday night in Tampa, Fla.

With the win, red-hot Auburn, which has won five straight games and nine of its last 10, kept its own NCAA tournament hopes alive and dealt a potentially-crippling blow to the Gators’ tournament chances.

The Tigers took their first lead of the night, 44-43, on a Tay Waller 3-pointer with about eight minutes left in the game, Florida’s Erving Walker answered with a 3 of his own before Auburn put together a 7-0 run to stay on top. Waller hit another 3, Barber tipped in an errant shot and Lucas Hargrove made a steal and drove in for a layup to go ahead 51-46.

Down the stretch, Barber dunked with 25 seconds left to put the Tigers up 60-55, but the Gators’ Walter Hodge got a 3-pointer to stay down with 14 seconds to play to cut the deficit to two. Sullivan then made the front end of a 1-and-1 for the Tigers to take a 61-58 lead, and Quantez Robertson blocked Walker’s 3-point attempt to tie the game on the ensuing Florida possession to end the game.

After Dan Werner hit back-to-back early 3-pointers to give the Gators an 11-4 lead, Auburn went on an 11-5 run to keep things close in the first half. Sullivan scored five points, with a 3, while Barber and Rasheem Barrett added baskets and Brendon Knox dunked, to cut the Florida lead to 16-15, a one-point lead it carried into halftime, 29-28.

Hargrove and Waller each added 11 points for Auburn (22-10), while Barber pulled down 10 rebounds to complete a double-double.

Alex Tyus led all scorers for Florida (23-10) and posted a double-double with 21 points and 11 boards. Walker added 14 points, and Nick Calathes had 11 rebounds.

The Tigers resume SEC tournament play Saturday afternoon against Tennessee, which drilled Alabama 86-62 in the first game of Friday’s evening session.

NOTES: The victory was Auburn’s first over Florida since the 2000 SEC tournament. The Gators had defeated the Tigers 10 straight times, including a 68-65 road win Jan. 14 … Florida had also won 15 consecutive neutral-site games in the state of Florida coming in.

Video credit – Yahoo! Sports/Raycom

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Robert Morris knocks off Mountaineers for NCAA bid

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – NORTHEAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT
Game played March 11, 2009

Unlikely hero Dallas Green scored his third point of the night on a short jumper with 2.5 seconds to play in the Northeast Conference tournament championship game as the Robert Morris Colonials punched their first NCAA tournament ticket since 1992 with a 48-46 win over rival Mount St. Mary’s in Moon Township, Pa., Wednesday night.

With the win, the top-seeded regular-season champion Colonials avenged NEC tournament losses to the second-seeded Mountaineers in each of the last two seasons and beat Mount St. Mary’s for the third time this year.

The Mount led 42-37 with just under four minutes to play when the Colonials began their final comeback. Jimmy Langhurst hit a 3-pointer before the Mountaineers’ Jeremy Goode answered with a jumper.

Robert Morris’ Mezie Nwigwe made a free throw before Bateko Francisco pulled down a defensive rebound and then hit a layup on a 1-on-3 break to cut the Colonial deficit to 44-43. Jeremy Chappell then drained a 3 for the Colonials on their next possession to take a 46-44 lead.

With 1:17 left, Shawn Atupem made two free throws for Mount St. Mary’s to knot the score and set up the craziness of the Colonials’ final possession. Chappell was driving when he lost the ball down low. However, Green was in the right place at the right time, picking up the ball and hitting a short one-handed jumper to take a 48-46 lead.

Chappell then stole the ball on the ensuing in-bounds play and was fouled by Sam Atupem with 1.9 seconds left. He missed the front end of a one-and-one but recovered his own rebound as time expired to give the Colonials their sixth NEC title, the most in league history.

Everything the final minutes provided in excitement was mirrored in the opening stanza with tentative play and terrible shooting. The final minute of the half provided the most entertainment, as the Mountaineers drew a technical for using six players and Langhurst made both technical free throws for a 19-17 lead. Markus Mitchell scored the final points of the half on a jumper with 5 seconds to play in the period, knotting the halftime count at 19.

Trailing 35-33, the Mountaineers scored seven straight points to take a tenuous lead midway through the second half. Kelly Beidler hit a jumper and Shawn Atupem made a jump shot before hitting the first of a pair of free throws, with the rebound of the second missed try caroming to Beidler before Mitchell hit a backdoor layup to take a 40-35 lead down the stretch.

For Robert Morris, Chappell led all scorers with 15 points, and Rob Robinson recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

Beidler led Mount St. Mary’s with 12 points, and Shawn Atupem added 11.

The Colonials shot 34 percent from the field on the night, while the Mountaineers hit just over 39 percent of their shots.

Robert Morris (24-10) now sits back and awaits its tournament draw, which will be revealed March 15. The defending league tournament champion Mountaineers’ season has likely come to a close with a 19-13 mark, after they began the season 4-8 and lost seven straight at one point but then reeled off 15 victories in 19 games.

NOTES: Robert Morris advances to the national tournament after defeating St. Francis (N.Y.) and Quinnipiac in the NEC tournament … The game was the teams’ 12th meeting in the past four seasons. The Colonials have come out on top in eight of those contests … Out of those 12 games, eight have been decided by five points or less … Robert Morris also defeated the Mountaineers 77-70 Jan. 5 and 66-63 in the regular-season finale Feb. 28 … The loss was the Mountaineers’ first in NEC title game history after winning their last three. The Mount had also won its last five NEC tournament games … Nwigwe played for Robert Morris after being charged with simple assault Saturday after a fight in nearby Pittsburgh … The victory was the Colonials’ 200th all-time at their home facility, the Charles L. Sewall Center, which opened in 1985 … The Mountaineers have allowed 70 points only once in their last nine games, while Robert Morris has only yielded 70 once in its last 15 conference games.

Audio credit – Yahoo! Sports/Colonial Basketball Network

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Battle layup gives Lions 64-63 comeback win over Illini

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Game played March 5, 2009

Talor Battle banked in a contested layup with .3 seconds remaining to complete a double-digit comeback in the last five minutes as the Penn State Nittany Lions knocked off No. 23 Illinois 64-63 in University Park, Pa. Thursday night.

Illinois’ Mike Davis was at the free throw line for a one-and-one with nine seconds left, but missed the first shot, and the Nittany Lions’ Jamelle Cornley pulled down the board and immediately handed the ball to Battle, who took it the length of the floor and did the rest himself.

Trailing 60-50 with just under five minutes remaining, Penn State put together a 14-3 run down the stretch to seize the victory. Stanley Pringle scored five points, with a 3-pointer, to lead the charge. Battle netted four points, including the last-second layup, while Danny Morrissey hit three free throws and David Jackson tossed in two more.

The Fighting Illini took control early with an 18-5 first-half run. Trailing 8-5, Chester Frazier hit two 3s and Mike Tisdale scored four points, including a dunk. Davis, Demetri McCamey, Dominique Keller and Calvin Brock each added two points during the run as Illinois took a 23-13 lead.

Penn State got right back into it late in the half with a 12-4 spurt of its own. Morrissey and Pringle each scored five points with a 3-pointer apiece, and Battle added another basket. Illinois’ halftime lead was 34-32.

Already leading 53-50, Illinois set the stage for the Lions’ comeback by scoring the next seven points to temporarily reclaim a double-digit lead. McCamey hit a 3, while Tisdale and Trent Meacham each added baskets to take a 60-50 advantage.

Pringle led the Penn State offensive attack with 20 points. Battle added 15.

McCamey led Illinois with 16 points. Tisdale chipped in 12 and Frazier scored 11.

NOTES: Penn State has won the teams’ last four meetings, including a 38-33 road win Feb. 18 … The victory was the Nittany Lions’ 10th conference win of the season and their 15th home win of the year, both school records … The game marks the first time Illinois has lost back-to-back games this season, after falling 74-66 to Michigan State March 1 … The Illini still lead the all-time series, 21-11 … Penn State (21-9, 10-7 Big Ten) stands fourth in the conference, while Illinois (23-8, 11-7) mans third place behind the Spartans, who have already clinched the league, and Purdue … The Lions return to action Saturday afternoon at Iowa in their regular-season finale. Illinois is off until the second round of the conference tournament next week in Indianapolis.

Video credit – ESPN

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Mercer, American beat Leopards in Patriot tourney

2008-09 COLLEGE BASKETBALL POSTSEASON SPECIAL COVERAGE – PATRIOT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT
Game played March 4, 2009

WASHINGTON – Four days after needing overtime to dispatch Lafayette, the top-seeded defending tournament champion American University Eagles drilled the eighth-seeded Leopards 78-56 in the quarterfinals of the Patriot League tournament Wednesday night.

League player of the year Derrick Mercer scored 20 points, a season high, to lead regular-season champ American, which never trailed. Lafayette never got closer than 14 points in the second half after a dominating American run to begin the second stanza.

Leading 29-24, the Eagles asserted control for good with a 12-4 run late in the first half. Stephen Lumpkins scored four points during the spurt, while Brian Gilmore and Mercer each hit 3-pointers and Garrison Carr added two more for a 41-28 lead. American was up 41-30 at the break.

American then scored the first 13 points of the second half to salt the game away early. Gilmore led the way with six points, including an emphatic slam that brought the house down. Mercer added four, while Carr nailed a 3 during the stretch to give the Eagles a 54-30 lead, allowing them to coast to victory.

For the Eagles, Carr chipped in 19 points, while Gilmore added 17.

Andrew Brown led the Leopards with 14 points. Jeff Kari netted 13 and Michael Gruner contributed 10.

American advances to the semifinals Sunday, where they will host Army. The Black Knights knocked off Lehigh 53-50 Wednesday night in West Point, N.Y.

NOTES: American extended its winning streak to 11 games and has won 17 of its last 18 … The Eagles hold a 15-game home winning streak against conference opponents … Lafayette has lost its last six Patriot League tournament games … American has defeated the Leopards 10 straight times and is 5-0 against Lafayette in league tournament play … The Eagles beat Lafayette three times this season, including a 75-68 road overtime victory in the regular-season finale Feb. 28 … American advances with a record of 22-7, while the Leopards’ season ends with an 8-22 mark.

Eaton leads Cowboys to 77-71 win over K-State

COLLEGE BASKETBALL
Game played March 3, 2009

Senior Byron Eaton tossed in 25 points on Oklahoma State’s senior night as the Cowboys solidified their tournament future with a 77-71 comeback win over red-hot Kansas State Tuesday night in Stillwater, Okla.

Trailing 56-55, the Cowboys managed to tie the score at 64 before scoring the next seven points to take the lead for good. Eaton hit four free throws and Obi Muonelo sank a 3-pointer to give Oklahoma State a 71-64 edge.

Kansas State proceeded to score the next five points, with Ron Anderson netting three points and Denis Clemente making two free throws, to cut its deficit to two. However, James Anderson provided the dagger for the Cowboys, nailing a 3 with 1:10 left to extend the lead back to five at 74-69.

Trailing 4-2, Oklahoma State took control early with a 12-2 run. James Anderson scored four points, with a 3-pointer, while Eaton and Keiton Page each also hit 3s and Terrel Harris added two points, for a 14-6 lead.

The Cowboys led 31-23 when the Wildcats put together a 13-6 spurt late in the first half. Jacob Pullen scored eight points, hitting back-to-back 3s to begin the run, while Clemente added a trey and Ron Anderson chipped in two points to cut the Kansas State deficit to 37-36. The Cowboys held a 41-38 advantage at halftime.

Oklahoma State scored eight straight points early in the second stanza, with Eaton making a 3-pointer and then converting an old-fashioned 3-point play before a James Anderson layup made the score 51-43, Cowboys.

James Anderson scored 16 points for Oklahoma State. Marshall Moses posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, while Harris and Page each scored 10.

Clemente led Kansas State with 17 points. Darren Kent scored 14 points, Pullen added 13, Ron Anderson contributed 12 and Dominique Sutton chipped in 10.

NOTES: Kansas State had won nine of 11 games coming in … The Cowboys have won six straight, their longest conference winning streak since a six-game stretch in 2005 … Oklahoma State has won six of seven in the series and is 11-2 against the Wildcats since the Big 12’s inception, including a 7-0 mark at home. Kansas State still leads the all-time series, 69-45 … The Cowboys (20-9, 9-6 Big 12) sit tied with Texas for fourth place in the conference; finishing fourth would guarantee them a first-round bye in next week’s conference tournament. K-State (20-10, 8-7) is sixth in the league … Oklahoma State closes out the regular season against rival Oklahoma Saturday afternoon, while the Wildcats host Colorado Saturday afternoon.

Audio credit – Yahoo! Sports/ Cowboy Sports Network