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Robinson III’s layup helps Michigan escape Purdue in OT

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The son of Purdue basketball legend Glenn “Big Dog” Robinson came to Mackey Arena on Wednesday night and broke the heart of his father’s former team.

Sophomore forward Glenn Robinson III’s layup at the overtime buzzer lifted the Big Ten Conference leading and 16th-ranked Wolverines to a 77-76 victory over the Boilermakers.

“At first, I thought the pass to me was too high, and then once I caught it and shot it, the ball was rolling on the rim, and I was praying that it would go in,” said Robinson III, who finished with a team-best 17 points. He also had eight rebounds and three assists against a school that recruited him until he picked Michigan.

Michigan, which trailed by as many as 19 points in the first half, trailed 76-75 with 12.2 seconds remaining when Purdue freshman guard Kendall Stephens missed the front end of a one-and-one free throw situation with a chance to give Purdue a three-point lead.

The Wolverines (20-7, 12-3 Big Ten) called a timeout with 2.9 seconds to play, and then Purdue countered with a timeout after seeing the Michigan alignment.

Guard Caris LeVert inbounded the ball from in front of the Michigan bench to Robinson, who was in the far corner.

Robinson slithered to the rim and got the layup to fall as the final horn sounded. The officials looked at the monitor to make sure the shot was released before the horn. It was clear the shot was good.

Glenn Robinson II was the 1994 Wooden Award winner and the first selection in the 1994 NBA Draft, going to the Milwaukee Bucks. His son attended Lake Central High School, about 90 miles north of the Purdue campus but opted to sign with Michigan.

Michigan coach John Beilein said the winning play is one the Wolverines practice at least 10 times a year, but until Wednesday night, they had not run it this season.

“I especially was happy for Glenn for the way he played tonight,” Beilein said. “This game obviously means a lot to him. It has a lot of emotion in it. On that last play, one of the options is to get it to Glenn and just have Glenn make a play.

“(Guard) Caris LeVert saw the switch and the mismatch and just threw it, and Glenn went up and got it. He had to finish it through a crowd, and he did a great job. The whole idea is to throw it over the top, putting Glenn in a jump ball on the opposite side. You want to bring the defense one way, and then throw it to the opposite side.”

Beilein said it is difficult to determine if Michigan had a bit of a letdown after defeating Michigan State 79-70 on Sunday.

“I thought we had a couple of good looks, but we had a couple of really good looks early that didn’t go,” Beilein said. “At the same time, it seemed like Purdue was making every shot.”

Purdue, which got a game-best 22 points from senior guard Terone Johnson, fell to 15-13, 5-10 and has dropped eight of its 10 most recent games. The Boilermakers have lost three in a row.

Purdue ran out to a 7-0 lead, and the Boilermakers took advantage of Michigan’s cold field-goal shooting to build a 37-24 advantage at-halftime.

The Wolverines made only three of their first 17 field goal attempts and found themselves on the short end of a 27-8 score after Terone Johnson sank a 3-pointer.

Michigan countered with a 16-6 run to slice the deficit to 33-24 with 1:23 left before intermission, but Purdue got field goals from center A.J. Hammons and point guard Ronnie Johnson during the final minute to increase the margin to 13.

The Boilermakers made 13 of 25 opening-half field goal attempts (52 percent), including 5 of 11 from beyond the arc, and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line. Michigan was 8 of 27 from the field (29.6 percent), including 2 of 10 from 3-point range, and 6 of 9 from the line.

Terone Johnson scored 16 first-half points, and younger brother Ronnie added 11. They combined to make 10 of 15 field-goal attempts, 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Guard Nik

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

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Alabama fires head coach Grant

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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.”

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Kentucky routs Arkansas for SEC tourney title

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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.

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Wisconsin earns top seed after conference tournament win

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CHICAGO — The Wisconsin Badgers earned a historic NCAA top seed Sunday, but their approach going forward will be strictly business as usual.

Wisconsin (31-3) beat Michigan State 80-69 in overtime in Sunday’s Big Ten tournament title game to complete a championship sweep and were rewarded with the first No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed in program history.

“I’m sure it will sink in,” Badgers coach Bo Ryan said. “What we need right now is to get these guys back (home). We have class tomorrow, some of these guys have tests, they’ve got midterms this week. So it will be business as usual for our student-athletes.”

But players like forward Frank Kaminsky, the Big Ten tournament most outstanding player, are pretty pumped up.

“It’s awesome,” Kaminsky said. “First No. 1 seed in program history. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself, but we have a lot of goals and aspirations in the NCAA Tournament. So we’re going to prepare for our first game and be ready we tip the ball up.”

No. 6 ranked Wisconsin, the league’s regular-season champion, claimed the Big Ten’s automatic NCAA berth with the overtime win at the United Center and meets No. 16 Coastal Carolina (24-9) in Friday’s West Region opener in Omaha, Neb.

The overtime outcome was the first in Big Ten tournament history.

Michigan State (23-11) is also tourney bound with a No. 7 seed in the East Region. The Spartans will face Georgia, which is the 10th seed, on Friday in Charlotte, N.C.

Ryan was initially at a loss for words after the Badgers’ dramatic come-from-behind win.

“I’m speechless and that’s hard to do,” he said. “It was the fight in this group, and to do what they did when it seemed like Michigan State couldn’t do anything wrong. I just hope we have something left in us come NCAA Tournament time.”

The Badgers rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit and back into contention late in the game. They then scored 11 unanswered points in overtime behind seven points form forward Nigel Hayes.

Hayes closed with a game-high 25 points and was 12-for-12 from the free throw line. Kaminsky had 19, guard Bronson Koenig finished with 18 while reserve forward Duje Dukan added 11.

Michigan State, making its third title game appearance in four years, was led by forward Branden Dawson and guard Denzel Valentine with 16 apiece while reserve guard Bryn Forbes had 10.

“I thought we played one of the greatest games we’ve ever played for 32, 32 and one-half minutes or 35, 36 minutes,” Spartans coach Tom Izzo said. “And then we made a couple of mistakes and they made a couple of great shots and that’s the way the game goes.”

Wisconsin trailed 57-46 in the second half when Koenig launched a comeback with a 3-pointer and added another with 4:19 left to give the Badgers a temporary 60-59 lead.

“We were down eleven and they thought they had it in the bag,” Koenig said. “But I kept reminding my teammates that we were never going to give up.”

Guard Lourawls Nairn’s 3-pointer then put Michigan State up 62-60 as the teams exchanged leads three times and tied four times. The last in regulation came on Koenig’s two free throws for a 69-69 deadlock.

A potential game-winning shot by Dawson rolled in and out as regulation time expired.

In the first half, Michigan State outscored Wisconsin 10-5 in the final 3:25 for a 32-31 halftime lead after a half that saw with seven lead changes and five ties. The Spartans opened a 32-28 lead after a turnover by Koenig and a rebound put back by forward Marvin Clark with 25 seconds showing. But Wisconsin narrowed the deficit to 32-31 as Kaminsky hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

It was the Badger’s fifth successful shot from beyond the arc in the half. Wisconsin ended 13-of-26 (50 percent) on 3-point shooting for the game.

NOTES: Sunday’s game was tied 13 times and had 14 lead changes. … The Badgers claimed a 68-61 win in March in the long regular season meeting behind F Frank Kaminsky’s season-high 31 points. … The Badgers’ two previous Big Ten tournament titles came in wins over Illinois in 2004 and 2008. … Wisconsin’s 31 wins match an all-time

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