Connect with us

NCAA News Wire

Kilpatrick lifts Cincinnati to victory

The Sports Xchange

Published

on

CINCINNATI — Despite playing through illness, Cincinnati senior guard Sean Kilpatrick responded with big shots when they were needed most, scoring 10 of the final 12 points to seal a hard-fought 14th consecutive victory.

Kilpatrick scored 18 points and senior forward Justin Jackson added 15 points and three blocked shots, lifting No. 13 Cincinnati past upset-minded South Florida 50-45 Sunday.

“Playing under the weather is terrible,” Kilpatrick said. “When it’s late (in the game) like that, my teammates find me. They get me a chance to get the fouls and get me the free throws. Being a senior, I’m just trying to do my job.”

Freshman forward Chris Perry scored 13 points and senior forward Victor Rudd added 10 for the Bulls.

Cincinnati (21-2, 10-0 American Athletic Conference) extended its home winning streak to 17.

“This was bigger than (Thursday’s victory at No. 12 Louisville), I think,” Jackson said. “Coming off a big win like that everybody thinks you’re going to let up and take the ‘L’ at home. We’re trying to show the world that we’re trying to win and be the best team we can be.”

South Florida (11-11, 2-7) was one for 11 from 3-point range and has dropped six of its past eight games.

“I am encouraged,” said USF coach Stan Heath. “I see major improvement in the last two games. We won against SMU and grinded this game down to the wire in the last two or three minutes against Cincinnati, who is the number one team (in the conference).”

Kilpatrick overcame a cold-shooting day to make some big points down the stretch. He was five of 16 from the field, two of eight from 3-point range, but finished six for six from the free-throw line.

“Maybe the most underrated great player who played here,” UC coach Mick Cronin said of Kilpatrick. “He’s clearly the player of the year in this league. But he hasn’t gotten the attention.”

In the first five minutes it appeared the Bearcats were intent on avoiding a letdown coming off Thursday’s emotional win at Louisville.

UC forced a couple turnovers, including a 10-second violation, and was crashing the offensive boards.

Guard Ge’Lawn Guyn’s deep 3-pointer gave Cincinnati a 9-2 lead. Guyn finished with eight points.

USF forward Zach LeDay beat the shot-clock buzzer with a long 3-pointer, giving the Bulls their first lead, 14-13.

Jackson hit his first four shots and had nine points by halftime.

It was an expeditious first half in which just seven personal fouls were called with just five free-throw attempts.

Cincinnati committed just one turnover in the half and led 24-18 at halftime.

The Bulls did not go quietly, however, shooting 43 percent in the second half to make the score close.

“We just had to make adjustments at halftime,” Heath said. “We were taking too long to bring the ball up against their pressure.”

Perry’s layup off an assist from Rudd finished off a 7-0 run to put USF ahead 27-26 with 14 minutes left.

“Not a surprise the way the game was played,” Cronin said. “I give South Florida credit. They are a tough matchup for us. If we don’t turn them over … their size and athleticism gives us problems.”

Senior forward Titus Rubles briefly stemmed the tide with a three-point play, putting UC up 34-29.

Perry’s jumper then capped an 8-0 Bulls run to put them ahead 39-36 with 7:18 remaining.

Jackson banked in a shot to put Cincinnati ahead 42-41.

Allen Jr.’s lob to center John Egbunu for a dunk got the Bulls within two points with less than two minutes left. But, Kilpatrick helped Cincinnati hang on.

With Sunday’s victory, the Bearcats likely will move into the Associated Press top 10 this week.

“We’re still going to play with a chip on our shoulder like we have all year,” Kilpatrick said. “The number next to our name just means there’s a bigger bulls-eye on us. We have to come out with a better effort every night.”

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

Advertisement




NCAA News Wire

SMU outmuscles Connecticut to take AAC title

The Sports Xchange

Published

on

HARTFORD, Conn. — After a crushing omission from the NCAA Tournament last season, the 20th-ranked Southern Methodist Mustangs didn’t have any worries during this year’s Selection Show. They are dancing for the first time since 1993.

SMU’s deep and talented frontcourt frustrated the Connecticut Huskies on both ends of the floor, paving the way for the team’s first conference title in 27 years with a 62-54 win in the American Athletic Conference championship game on Sunday.

SMU earned a No. 6 seed and will face No. 11 UCLA in the South Region of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday in Charlotte, N.C.

“This is big for all of us,” said senior guard Ryan Manuel, “not just the seniors but it’s as big for SMU as a school, as a basketball program. When coach (Larry) Brown got here, he wanted us to put it back on the map, and I think we made great strides in that.”

UConn (20-14), the defending national champion, came into the AAC tournament needing four wins in four days just to return to the NCAA Tournament. After falling just short of their goal, the Huskies are headed to the National Invitation Tournament.

“It’s postseason play,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “If it’s NIT or NCAA, they’re going to learn from it and they’re going to come back better from it. I’m still coaching them the way I coach them, they’re still going to play the way they’re going to play.”

SMU (27-6) was expected to receive an at-large bid if it lost Sunday, but the victory guaranteed it a spot in the NCAA Tournament field after being one of the final teams left out last season.

“Last year at this time was about as disappointing as it could get,” Brown said. “Fortunately we’ve got another opportunity, and didn’t have to get anybody to decide whether we’re worthy or not.”

As it had all weekend long, it was SMU’s frontcourt that anchored the win.

The conference’s Sixth Man of the Year, Markus Kennedy, capped off a strong weekend by leading his team with 14 points, one of four Mustangs players in double figures. He earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player for his efforts. The 6-foot-10 junior and his fellow forwards helped SMU to a 43-30 advantage on the glass, with sophomore Sterling Brown pulling in 12 rebounds to lead the team.

Sophomore guard Rodney Purvis had 29 points and was the only UConn player in double figures in scoring.

“I was trying to be aggressive and take what the defense gave me,” he said.

For a while, it appeared this game would not be close. The SMU zone defense that Connecticut had carved up for 81 points just two weeks prior locked things down this time around, and the Mustangs took a 33-19 advantage into halftime by holding UConn to 5-of-24 shooting (20.8 percent) from the floor over the opening 20 minutes.

The Huskies, who made more than 53 percent from the floor and knocked down nine 3-pointers in that win, were just 2 of 13 from beyond the arc in that first half.

Usual leading scorer Ryan Boatright would manage just seven points on 1-of-12 shooting for the game.

“I’m just disappointed in my play,” he said. “I missed a lot of shots that should be easy knock-down shots for me. I didn’t show up and be the player I know I can be, I can be better than that. But my teammates fought, they played a tremendous game.”

UConn made it a game in the second half by doing similar things on the defensive end, thanks in large part to the presence of sophomore Amida Brimah. The 7-foot center, limited to just four first-half minutes because of foul trouble, played the entire second half, blocking seven shots during that time and altering numerous others.

The Huskies were able to get within five points with just over three minutes to play, but the Mustangs would hold on.

“He’s a shot blocker, so it made it a little difficult,” Manuel said about the difference Brimah made in the second half. “UConn, they have a tradition of coming back, and we knew they weren’t going to go down with a fight, so for us to stand there as a team and get the

Continue Reading

NCAA News Wire

Alabama fires head coach Grant

The Sports Xchange

Published

on

Alabama fired head basketball coach Anthony Grant on Sunday after six seasons.

The Crimson Tide struggled over the final two months of the season, finishing 18-14 and tied for eighth in the Southeastern Conference.

Grant, 48, won at least 20 games three times and made an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012. His Alabama teams went 117-85, including two NIT appearances (2011 and 2013). He came to Alabama from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he went 76-25 and made two NCAA Tournament appearances.

“This has been a very difficult decision, as I have the highest respect for Anthony as a coach, as a molder of young men, and as a person,” Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement. “Anthony is a man of impeccable character who has been an excellent representative of our program. He has made tremendous contributions to our program and we always will be grateful for his efforts. Anthony, his wife Chris, and their children have been tremendous assets to our University and our community.

“In this business we are ultimately judged by wins and losses on the court and, for a variety of reasons, we haven’t made satisfactory progress in that area.”

Continue Reading

NCAA News Wire

Kentucky routs Arkansas for SEC tourney title

The Sports Xchange

Published

on

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — No. 1-ranked Kentucky will take a perfect 34-0 record into the NCAA Tournament this week after thrashing Arkansas 78-63 in the Southeastern Conference tournament championship game Sunday at Bridgestone Arena.

The conference tournament title is the 28th for Kentucky, meaning the Wildcats have won more than half of the 55 tournaments.

“This team has a lot of dog in it,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “Good, hard fought game. Arkansas is a ranked team, but we kind of did our thing.”

Junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein, who was named tournament MVP, paced Kentucky with a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. It was his first double-double since the Columbia game on Dec. 10.

Cauley-Stein was joined on the all-tournament team by twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison of Kentucky, Michael Qualls of Arkansas and K.T. Harrell of Auburn.

Andrew Harrison, a sophomore guard, scored 15 points. Twin brother Aaron Harrison had 11 points and six assists. Freshman guard Tyler Ulis added eight points and six assists.

Guard Michael Qualls topped No. 21 Arkansas (26-8) with 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Forward Bobby Portis had 13 points.

“Our guys came out and scratched and clawed,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said. “But at the end, I thought their depth and size were hard to overcome. If a team is going to beat them, you’ve got to make shots as well as match their energy.”

The finals pitted the top two seeds in Kentucky and Arkansas, but the Wildcats wasted little time proving that winning the regular season by five games was no fluke. Kentucky roared out to an 8-0 lead within the first two minutes, forcing Anderson to call an early timeout. Point guard Andrew Harrison scored six of the eight on a pair of 3-pointers.

“If the other team is angry, mad, hateful, jealous, the physiology of that is real close to fear,” Calipari said. “When a team comes in that way, if you can just play and that thing turns into fear, you separate yourself. Joy, the love of playing, always beats angry, mean, hateful, jealous.”

Arkansas managed to score five unanswered points after the break and eventually tied the game at 10-10 on a 3-pointer by Portis. The SEC player of the year had missed 16 of his previous 17 shots in the tournament before the basket.

The game was tied 19-19 with 10:18 to play in the first half when Kentucky caught fire, scoring 16 points in 5:05 for a 35-23 lead. Aaron Harrison scored six points during the 16-4 run on a pair of 3-pointers. He also assisted on two dunks by Cauley-Stein and a basket in the paint by sophomore center Dakari Johnson. Freshman center Karl-Anthony Towns accounted for the remaining four points.

All six Kentucky field goals during the run were accompanied by an assist, including three by Aaron Harrison. At the time, Kentucky was shooting 59 percent (13 of 22), including 5 of 6 on three-pointers.

Kentucky went on to expand the lead to 16 points by halftime, 41-25, meaning the Wildcats outscored Arkansas 22-6 over the final 10:18 of the first half.

Cauley-Stein led the way in the first half with eight points and eight rebounds. Aaron Harrison added eight points and six assists. Andrew Harrison scored six points.

Kentucky shots 51.9 percent in the first half, and 12 of the 14 baskets came via assists. The Wildcats were 8-for-8 from the free-throw line.

Arkansas, which never led, shot just 29 percent in the first half. Portis topped the Razorbacks with seven points. Arkansas had just two assists and five turnovers in the first 20 minutes.

In the second half, Arkansas managed to trim Kentucky’s lead from 16 to nine at 48-39 at the 11:55 mark. During that time, Towns picked up his fourth personal foul with 14:07 to play.

“We cut it to nine points in the second half, but we couldn’t get over the hump,” Anderson said.

From that point forward the two teams battled mostly to a draw before Kentucky pulled away late in the half.

Kentucky pushed the lead back 18 points at 6:10 thanks to an 11-2 run.

Kentucky’s largest lead of the game was 21 points, which came with 2:41 to play.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Now