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  • Alford '100 percent' no on Indiana return
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    MEMPHIS -- Steve Alford is staying at UCLA, eschewing interest from Indiana some 30 years after he led the Hoosiers to a national championship under Bobby Knight.

    • "I'm absolutely, 100 percent, not going to Indiana," Alford said Friday night, moments after the Bruins lost 86-75 to Kentucky in the Sweet 16. "I am happy here. I love it here. We have a great recruiting class coming in and a brand-new practice facility. Obviously, I love my alma mater. But I'm committed to UCLA. I am not going to talk to Indiana. I am staying a Bruin."

      National media termed the deal "done" as recently as Friday morning. CBS Sports radio host Doug Gottlieb and ESPN's Seth Greenberg separately reported that Alford was heading back to Bloomington and Bleacher Report detailed terms of the alleged contract agreement.

      But Friday night, Alford said he's not even planning to interview at Indiana. The Hoosiers fired Tom Crean after nine seasons and said they were looking for "an Indiana guy," as a replacement.

      Alford has a $7.8 million buyout at UCLA.

      The commitment to the Bruins comes as a mild surprise considering the school renegotiated his contract to take away one full year, a matter that privately rankled Alford and his family.

      Considering UCLA stands to lose the bulk of its playing rotation, including freshman sensation Lonzo Ball, TJ Leaf and Alford's senior son, Bryce, there is some rebuilding to do.

      Crean was fired after Indiana missed the NCAA Tournament and then lost in the NIT, prematurely ending a season the Hoosiers began in the Top 25.

  • SEC rivals Florida, South Carolina battle in East final
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    NEW YORK -- After his team knocked off Baylor in the first game of the East Regional semifinals on Friday, South Carolina coach Frank Martin was extremely complimentary of his Southeastern Conference rivals.

    • "I want to credit the teams in our league in the SEC for preparing us for the kind of games that you have to play at this time of year," Martin said. "Those coaches, those players that we fought against every single day got these guys prepared to harden, to understand how hard and how disciplined you have to play to have a chance to win at this time of year."

      On Sunday, his seventh-seeded Gamecocks (25-10) will face one of them for the third time this season when they meet fourth-seeded Florida (27-8) at Madison Square Garden with a trip to the Final Four on the line. It's the first time since Kentucky and LSU in 1986 that two SEC teams will meet in a regional final.

      The Gamecocks advanced with a strong defensive performance in a 70-50 victory over the Bears. The Gators won an 84-83 overtime thriller over Wisconsin on a 3-point buzzer-beater from Chris Chiozza.

      Florida and South Carolina split its two regular-season meetings, with the Gamecocks taking a 57-53 decision on Jan. 18 in Columbia and the Gators paying them back with an 81-66 win on Feb. 21 in Gainesville.

      South Carolina went 12-6 in the conference. Florida was 14-4.

      Many predicted the East Regional final would be a Duke-Villanova classic; in their place will be two schools from a conference mostly known for high-caliber football.

      "As a Florida Gator, sitting here as a proud Gator, it is a football conference," admitted Florida coach Mike White. "And it's a basketball conference, and it's a gymnastics conference, and a softball conference, and no one is more aware of that than the Florida Gators. There's excellence throughout the conference in every sport. Men's and women's.

      "But SEC basketball, do we have some momentum? Yeah, I think so. I do. And I know that there's been some negativity toward the SEC potentially underachieving over these last couple years. Within our conference, we know the potential and I think that our conference has, is full of good coaches, tremendous talent, a lot of young talent, recruiting classes continue to get stronger and stronger and we have three (Kentucky, South Carolina and Florida) in the Elite 8.

      "And who knows, I mean, I think the SEC's going to be better next year, I really do. With the guys that are coming back, and again the young talent that will continue to grow within our league."

      South Carolina advances to its first Elite Eight in program history after making it to the Sweet 16 for the first time. Martin's squad is a defensive force. It limited Baylor to just 30 percent shooting, forcing 16 turnovers and holding the Bears to a season-tying-low 22 first-half points.

      "We pride ourselves on our defense," said South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell, the SEC Player of the Year. "We know that's our bread and butter and we know we have a good defense and we go out and guard. We know it's a 40-minute game, and we know teams are going to make runs, but we can't take our foot off the pedal, we got to keep the pressure on and keep guarding."

  • Elites meet in South final between Kentucky, North Carolina
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- After avenging a December loss to UCLA on Friday night in the South Regional semifinals at FedEx Forum, Kentucky tries to keep North Carolina from evening the score with a Final Four berth on the line.

    • Two of the sport's bluebloods meet Sunday in a rematch of perhaps the game of the regular season, a 103-100 Wildcats win on Dec. 17 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Freshman guard Malik Monk wowed the sellout crowd of more than 19,000 with 47 points on 28 shots, canning eight 3-pointers.

      Can Monk possibly improve on that epic effort?

      "They will play me even tighter," he said, "so (De'Aaron) Fox will have his way. Or anyone else will have their way."

      Fox sure had his way in Kentucky's 86-75 elimination of UCLA on Friday night, pumping in a career-high 39 points on just 20 shots as he continually attacked the bucket. Monk perked up after a slow start to add 21 points, setting up a matchup of the region's top two seeds.

      North Carolina (30-7) disposed of Butler 92-80 in Friday night's opener, leading by double figures for the final 24 minutes and getting a combined 50 points from Joel Berry and Justin Jackson.

      Berry appeared to be over an ankle injury that hampered him in the Tar Heels' previous game against Arkansas, tallying 26 points, while the smooth Jackson worked the Bulldogs over for 24 points, five rebounds and five assists.

      Jackson had a great matchup early, going against the 6-3 Kethan Savage, who tried hard but simply wasn't able to keep Jackson from getting whatever shot he wanted.

      "I saw they had a smaller defender on me and my teammates were finding me," Jackson said. "They were setting screens and they were just kind of late off those screens. I just kind of felt like I was moving freely, and my teammates were finding me. It was just up to me to step up and knock in the shots."

      Jackson also enjoyed a huge game against Kentucky, firing in 34 points on 17 shots from the field. Berry added 23 points and three other teammates hit for double figures as North Carolina shot 53.3 percent from the field while committing only nine turnovers.

      But it wasn't nearly enough to outdo Monk and Fox. Lost in Monk's display of shotmaking was Fox's 24 points and 10 assists, which helped the Wildcats notch the most entertaining of their 31 wins this season.

      "We didn't play very well on the defensive end and Malik lit us up for 47," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said of that game.

      North Carolina has exerted itself with more consistency without the ball during the NCAA Tournament, holding Arkansas scoreless down the stretch in a 72-65 second-round win and limiting Butler to 43 percent shooting from the floor on Friday night while controlling the boards 38-26.

      Kentucky also won in part because of defense Friday night, holding UCLA 15 points below its season average and forcing 13 turnovers from a team that had only nine in its first two NCAA Tournament games.

      "The key to that was basically try to get a hand up and don't break down defensively," guard Dominique Hawkins said.

  • Alford: Ball deserves to be No. 1 pick
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    UCLA freshman sensation Lonzo Ball played his final college game on Friday night.

    • After UCLA was knocked out of the NCAA Tournament with an 86-75 loss to Kentucky in the South Regional semifinals on Friday night, Ball announced that he is making himself eligible for the 2017 NBA draft.

      "We were 31-5, a very special team, and he was obviously a big, big part of that, and I appreciate how he wanted to be coached," UCLA coach Steve Alford said Friday night. "For somebody that in my mind is the No. 1 pick, we'll have to wait and see how that works. But sometimes those guys aren't real coachable, and he was phenomenal to coach. I mean, phenomenal. I'm talking never had a bad practice, never showed up just to put in time. He worked, he worked on his game. He watched film with us. He took care of his body. He was just the absolute perfect individual to coach."

      The 6-foot-6 guard is considered one of the most talented players available and a potential No. 1 overall pick in June.

      Ball was held to 10 points by the Wildcats and added eight assists and three rebounds. He struggled with his shooting, making 4 of 10 from the field and just 1 of 6 from 3-point range.

      Ball completed the season averaging 14.7 points, 7.6 assists and 6.1 rebounds per game.

      "I haven't talked to him other than just to tell him thank you because he's been a part of this very special ride," Alford said. "It's been a phenomenal year. Might not have been one of his best games, but it wasn't a bad game, either. He's just a very special talent, and he's going to go on and have a phenomenal career. I've said it from day one. In my mind he's the No. 1 draft pick. He's just been -- the way he can orchestrate a team is phenomenal."

      Ball's father, LaVar, has attracted attention because of some outlandish statements. He has said his son is better than Steph Curry, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan and that he himself could beat Jordan one-on-one despite being a marginal college player.

      LaVar Ball also said he's seeking a $1 billion shoe contract for his family. Two younger sons are also talented, up-and-coming players.

  • NCAA Tournament roundup: Florida advances on OT buzzer-beater
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, March 25, 2017

    NEW YORK -- Chris Chiozza's leaning 3-pointer at the buzzer gave Florida an 84-83 overtime win over Wisconsin on Friday night in the semifinals of the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

    • Chiozza let the ball fly as he was floating just beyond the arc, sending the fourth-seeded Gators (27-8) into Sunday's final against seventh-seeded South Carolina in an all-Southeastern Conference matchup. KeVaughn Allen poured in 35 points, the most by a Florida player in an NCAA Tournament game.

      Nigel Hayes hit two free throws to provide eighth-seeded Wisconsin (27-10) with an 83-81 lead with four seconds to play. He led the Badgers with 22 points but was 7 of 14 from the line. Ethan Happ added 21 points for Wisconsin.

      Kentucky 86, UCLA 75

      MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Shackling the Bruins' devastating transition game, the second-seeded Wildcats set up a blueblood South Regional championship as De'Aaron Fox scored a career-high 39 points.

      Kentucky (32-5) will play top-seeded North Carolina on Sunday for a trip to the Final Four next weekend in Glendale, Ariz. Malik Monk added 21 points and reserve Dominique Hawkins scored 11 points.

      But the key was a defense that was shredded for 97 points in December when the Bruins posted a five-point win at Rupp Arena to emerge as a title contender. Third-seeded UCLA (31-5) couldn't come close to matching that in the sequel despite shooting 52.7 percent from the field. T.J. Leaf and Isaac Hamilton paced the Bruins with 17 points each and Bryce Alford added 13, but star freshman Lonzo Ball couldn't find the range, going 4 of 10 from the floor for 10 points.

      South Carolina 70, Baylor 50

      NEW YORK -- The Gamecocks are headed to the Elite Eight for the first time after defeating the Bears in the semifinals of the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

      Seventh-seeded South Carolina (25-10) face Florida in Sunday's regional final.

      Sindarius Thornwell, the Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference, led the Gamecocks with 24 points. P.J. Dozier and Chris Silva added 12 points each. South Carolina's stifling defense held Baylor to 30 percent shooting. Johnathan Motley led the third-seeded Bears (27-8) with 18 points and nine rebounds.

      North Carolina 92, Butler 80

      MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The top seed certainly looked the part in the South Regional semifinals at FedEx Forum as Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Justin Jackson's 24 points, five rebounds and five assists led the Tar Heels past the fourth-seeded Bulldogs.

      North Carolina advanced to Sunday's regional final against the UCLA-Kentucky survivor. Joel Berry added 26 points and reserve forward Luke Maye turned in the best game of his career with 16 points and 12 rebounds, his first double-double. Kennedy Meeks contributed 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (30-7).

      Andrew Chrabascz paced Butler (25-9) with 21 points.

  • NCAA Tournament roundup: South Carolina surprises Baylor
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    NEW YORK -- The South Carolina Gamecocks are headed to the Elite Eight for the first time after a 70-50 win over the Baylor Bears on Friday night in the semifinals of the East Regional at Madison Square Garden.

    • The seventh-seeded Gamecocks (25-10) face the winner of the other semifinal between Wisconsin and Florida in Sunday's regional final.

      Sindarius Thornwell, the Player of the Year in the Southeastern Conference, led South Carolina with 24 points. P.J. Dozier and Chris Silva added 12 points each.

      South Carolina's stifling defense limited Baylor to 30 percent shooting. Johnathan Motley paced the third-seeded Bears (27-8) with 18 points and nine rebounds.

      North Carolina 92, Butler 80

      MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The top seed certainly looked the part in the South Regional semifinals at FedEx Forum as Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Justin Jackson's 24 points, five rebounds and five assists led the Tar Heels past the fourth-seeded Bulldogs.

      North Carolina advanced to Sunday's regional final against the UCLA-Kentucky survivor. Joel Berry added 26 points and reserve forward Luke Maye turned in the best game of his career with 16 points and 12 rebounds, his first double-double. Kennedy Meeks contributed 11 rebounds for the Tar Heels (30-7).

      Andrew Chrabascz paced Butler (25-9) with 21 points.

  • College basketball notebook: Prospect Porter selects Missouri
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Top overall prospect Michael Porter Jr. chose to attend Missouri on Friday, one day after Washington released him from his letter of intent.

    • Porter Jr. announced his decision one day after his father, former Washington assistant Michael Porter Sr., was hired as an assistant coach by new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin.

      Porter Jr. is from Missouri so his selection of the Tigers wasn't much of a surprise. He asked for his release from Washington after the school fired coach Lorenzo Romar.

      "Last week everything changed for me regarding my college basketball decision," Porter Jr. wrote on Twitter. "Realizing I would no longer have the opportunity to play for Coach Romar, I've taken the past seven days to give great consideration to my future.

      "After a lot of thought, prayer, and talking with my family, I'm excited to announce that next year I will be attending the University of Missouri! I am looking forward to the year ahead with Coach Cuonzo and my new teammates. Together we hope to restore the atmosphere at Mizzou Arena.

      "MIZZOU NATION I'M COMING HOME!!!"

      The 6-foot-10 Porter was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year after he averaged 36.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.2 steals and 2.7 blocked shots this season.

      --Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing is among the candidates under consideration to become the school's next head coach, multiple outlets reported.

      The university fired John Thompson III on Thursday after a second straight losing season.

      Ewing, a Hall of Fame player at Georgetown, is currently an assistant coach with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. He has been in the mix for a NBA head-coaching gig in recent years but hasn't landed one.

      Ewing played at Georgetown from 1981-85 and led the team to the 1984 national title. The Hoyas reached the title game two other times during his playing career.

      His coach at Georgetown was Hall of Famer John Thompson Jr., the father of John Thompson III. Ewing's son, Patrick Ewing Jr., was a member of Thompson's coaching staff.

      --California promoted Wyking Jones to head coach, according to published reports.

      Jones reportedly agreed to a five-year deal to replace Cuonzo Martin, who recently departed to take the Missouri job.

      Cal is expected to introduce Jones as head coach early next week.

      Jones was an assistant on the Golden Bears' staff the past two seasons. He became interim coach earlier this month when Martin left.

      Among the people who reportedly interviewed for the post were Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, Nevada coach Eric Musselman and Arizona assistant Joe Pasternack.

      -- Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac announced that he is declaring for the NBA draft.

      The 6-foot-10 Isaac is expected to go early in the draft. He is currently projected to be the sixth overall pick by nbadraft.net.

      Isaac averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Seminoles this season. Florida State compiled a 26-9 record but was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Xavier.

      --Cleveland State named Dennis Felton as its next basketball coach.

      Felton, 53, was an assistant at Tulsa under Frank Haith for the last three years and previously was a head coach at Georgia and Western Kentucky.

      Felton takes over for previous Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters, who retired after 11 seasons at the school. The Vikings finished 18-45 over the last two seasons and struggled in the Horizon League.

  • Top prospect Michael Porter Jr. will attend Missouri
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Top overall prospect Michael Porter Jr. chose to attend Missouri on Friday, one day after Washington released him from his letter of intent.

    • Porter Jr. announced his decision one day after his father, former Washington assistant Michael Porter Sr., was hired as an assistant coach by new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin.

      Porter Jr. is from Missouri so his selection of the Tigers wasn't much of a surprise. He asked for his release from Washington after the school fired coach Lorenzo Romar.

      "Last week everything changed for me regarding my college basketball decision," Porter Jr. wrote on Twitter. "Realizing I would no longer have the opportunity to play for Coach Romar, I've taken the past seven days to give great consideration to my future.

      "After a lot of thought, prayer, and talking with my family, I'm excited to announce that next year I will be attending the University of Missouri! I am looking forward to the year ahead with Coach Cuonzo and my new teammates. Together we hope to restore the atmosphere at Mizzou Arena.

      "MIZZOU NATION I'M COMING HOME!!!"

      The 6-foot-10 Porter was named the Gatorade National Player of the Year after he averaged 36.2 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 3.2 steals and 2.7 blocked shots this season.

      His brother, high school junior Jontay Porter, previously decommitted from Washington after the firing of Romar.

      Sisters Bri and Cierra Porter play for the Missouri women's team. Porter Sr. is married to the sister of Missouri women's coach Robin Pingeton.

      Porter Jr. is considered a one-and-done college player wherever he winds up. He is projected as the No. 1 overall draft choice in the 2018 NBA draft by nbadraft.net.

      He said earlier this week that he remains stunned by Romar's firing at Washington.

      "I was shocked," Porter Jr. said. "I thought we had something special coming to Washington."

  • Florida State F Isaac entering NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Florida State freshman forward Jonathan Isaac announced Friday that he is declaring for the NBA draft.

    • The 6-foot-10 Isaac is expected to go early in the draft. He is currently projected to be the sixth overall pick by nbadraft.net.

      Isaac averaged 12.0 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Seminoles this season. Florida State compiled a 26-9 record but was eliminated in the second round of the NCAA Tournament by Xavier.

      "I know the season didn't end as everyone expected, but I'm extremely proud of what my team accomplished, and I'm honored to be a part of the Seminole basketball family," Isaac said on a video posted on Instagram.

      "I'd like to thank my coaches and teammates for getting me through a tough season, and to all the fans that supported us through all the ups and downs, I hope you choose to support me on my journey to the next level."

      Isaac is the third Florida State player to declare for the draft, joining guards Dwayne Bacon and Xavier Rathan-Mayes.

  • Cal promotes assistant Jones to head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    California promoted Wyking Jones to head coach on Friday, according to published reports.

    • Jones reportedly agreed to a five-year deal to replace Cuonzo Martin, who recently departed to take the Missouri job.

      Cal is expected to introduce Jones as head coach early next week.

      Jones was an assistant on the Golden Bears' staff the past two seasons. He became interim coach earlier this month when Martin left.

      Among the people who reportedly interviewed for the post were Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett, Nevada coach Eric Musselman and Arizona assistant Joe Pasternack.

      Jones was a key assistant for Louisville for four seasons -- including the team that won the 2013 national title -- and also had stints on the staffs of New Mexico, Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount.

      He also was a player at Loyola Marymount from 1991-95.

  • Cleveland State tabs Felton as coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Cleveland State named Dennis Felton as its next basketball coach on Friday.

    • Felton, 53, was an assistant at Tulsa under Frank Haith for the last three years and previously was a head coach at Georgia and Western Kentucky.

      Felton takes over for previous Cleveland State head coach Gary Waters, who retired after 11 seasons at the school. The Vikings finished 18-45 over the last two seasons and struggled in the Horizon League.

      "I'm extremely excited to return to the head coaching ranks with this opportunity at Cleveland State University," Felton said in a statement. "Cleveland State is an outstanding university that continues to grow in stature on the national landscape. I'm eager to start working with our players to build a championship program and getting out to share my vision of how we plan to partner with the entire community to do special things at Cleveland State."

      During his three seasons at Tulsa, the program won 59 games and earned two postseason berths, including an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016.

      At Georgia from 2003-09, Felton led the Bulldogs to the 2008 SEC tournament title and a berth in the NCAA Tournament. He was 84-91 at Georgia before being fired in the middle of the 2008-09 season.

      As the head coach at Western Kentucky from 1998-03, he led the school to six straight conference championships and three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances (2001-03).

      Prior to joining Tulsa, Felton spent four years in the NBA, including serving as director of pro player personnel for the San Antonio Spurs from 2010-2013.

      "Dennis Felton has a championship pedigree and has coached and recruited at the highest level," Cleveland State athletic director Mike Thomas said. "He will be an outstanding leader for the student-athletes in our basketball program, on the court, in the classroom and in the community."

  • Georgetown considers Ewing as next head coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    Georgetown legend Patrick Ewing is among the candidates under consideration to become the school's next head coach, multiple outlets reported Friday.

    • The university fired John Thompson III on Thursday after a second straight losing season.

      Ewing, a Hall of Fame player at Georgetown, is currently an assistant coach with the NBA's Charlotte Hornets. He has been in the mix for a NBA head-coaching gig in recent years but hasn't landed one.

      Ewing played at Georgetown from 1981-85 and led the team to the 1984 national title. The Hoyas reached the title game two other times during his playing career.

      His coach at Georgetown was Hall of Famer John Thompson Jr., the father of John Thompson III. Ewing's son, Patrick Ewing Jr., was a member of Thompson's coaching staff.

      Ewing was the No. 1 overall pick in the 1985 NBA Draft and made 11 NBA All-Star teams as a member of the New York Knicks.

      Ewing, 54, is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Hornets. He also has served stints with the Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic.

      Thompson III went 278-151 in 13 seasons as coach of the Hoyas. Georgetown reached the NCAA Tournament eight times during Thompson's reign, including a Final Four appearance in 2006-07 when the club went 30-7.

      The Hoyas posted winning records in each of Thompson's first 11 seasons but failed to do so in either of the past two seasons. His final team finished ninth in the 10-team Big East.

  • Gonzaga, Xavier both aim for first Final Four
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    SAN JOSE, Calif. -- One team will make history in the NCAA Tournament's West Regional final Saturday.

    • Either top-seed Gonzaga or 11th-seeded Xavier will make its first Final Four.

      A one-time Cinderella, Gonzaga (35-1) ranked among the top tier of title contenders all season, as the Bulldogs were No. 1 in the AP poll for nearly two months while winning their first 29 games. They are big, quick, deep and talented.

      Arguably a 2017 Cinderella, Xavier (24-13) went through a six-game losing streak after star point guard Edmond Sumner sustained a season-ending knee injury on Jan. 29, with only two of the losses to ranked teams. The Musketeers, however, regained their stride.

      Xavier, the lowest seed remaining in the NCAA field, advanced through the West by handling No. 6 seed Maryland, No. 3 seed Florida State and No. 2 seed Arizona.

      "Losing Ed was tough because he was a key part to our team," said guard Trevon Bluiett, who scored 25 points and had an assist on the winning basket when Xavier beat Arizona 73-71 Thursday.

      "You know, I feel like the 'click' was always there. We just had to learn how to play a full 40 minutes."

      Musketeers forward J.P. Macura had 14 points, seven rebounds and five assists against the Wildcats.

      "We're all tough guys," Macura said. "We stuck together, and we're not really backing down from anybody. If you have that mentality, you can beat an awful lot of teams."

      Gonzaga, whose only loss came to BYU on Feb. 25, got a go-ahead 3-pointer from Jordan Mathews in the final minute to beat West Virginia 61-58 in the West's other Sweet 16 match.

      The Bulldogs' 7-foot, 300-pound center, Przemek Karnowski, will be the biggest man on the floor Saturday and will be the toughest matchup for smaller Xavier. Both he and athletic 6-9 forward Johnathan Williams had 13 points against West Virginia.

      Point guard Nigel Williams-Goss leads Gonzaga with a 16.7 scoring average, one of four players in double figures. He was held to 10 points on 2-of-10 shooting and committed five turnovers against West Virginia.

      "Karnowski is a problem inside," said Arizona coach Sean Miller, whose team lost to Gonzaga 69-62 on Dec. 3. "He can do it rebounding. He can do it in the post. He can do it by passing. And Gonzaga is very underrated defensively."

      The Bulldogs held the Mountaineers to 26.7 percent shooting (16 of 60).

      Gonzaga, long removed from being a college-basketball upstart, is playing in its 19th consecutive NCAA Tournament. The Bulldogs have made only two other appearances in the Elite Eight, losing to eventual champion Connecticut in 1999 and falling to eventual champion Duke in 2015.

      "All year we've been banking on our defense, our defense, our defense," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We're 40 minutes away from a Final Four, which was something we set our sights on at the start of the year."

      Xavier has made two previous Elite Eight appearances, the last coming in 2008, when Miller was the head coach and Chris Mack was one of his assistants. The Musketeers lost to a UCLA team led by Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook.

  • Home fans will boost Kansas in battle with Oregon
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- En route to the Elite Eight, Kansas won its three NCAA Tournament games by an average of 30 points, averaging 96 points in that span.

    • Slowing down the top-seeded Jayhawks will be the task for third-seeded Oregon in the Midwest Regional final Saturday (8:49 p.m. EDT) at Sprint Center. To make it a little more of a challenge, the Ducks must do it in a hostile environment.

      Sprint Center is less than an hour's drive from Lawrence, Kan., the home of the Jayhawks, so the arena will be filled with Kansas fans.

      "We look forward to the challenge. It's an opportunity to play," Oregon coach Dana Altman said before Kansas easily dispatched Purdue 98-66. "Kansas is Kansas. Obviously look out there. There is a little green section and a dark blue section. Royal blue filled everything else. It will be a tough ballgame because it's a road game."

      Kansas' players know the advantage of having most of the 18,000-plus fans behind them.

      "Playing here in K.C. is great," Kansas guard Devonte' Graham said. "The crowd (is) behind us and they give us so much momentum and energy throughout the game. It's just great to be here."

      Oregon is a good matchup for Kansas because of similar styles. Kansas relies on four guards in their starting lineup, while Oregon plays small with the loss of 6-10 forward Chris Boucher to injury late in the season.

      "(I have a) ton of respect (for Oregon)," Kansas coach Bill Self said. "(They're) unbelievably athletic. They're like us, they're going to play small a lot of the time because they will play Dillon (Brooks) at the 4 like we play Josh and then play the best defender in the Pac-12, Defensive Player of the Year around the middle, kind of like we do Landen (Lucas). So I think it will be two teams that at least match up with each other pretty well."

      Kansas is led by national player of the year candidate Frank Mason III. He was averaging 20.8 points per game coming into the NCAA Tournament. He scored 26 points against Purdue. He can drive to the basket, shoot from the outside (he was 4-of-5 from 3-point range against the Boilermakers and shoots 47.2 percent on the season), and he loves to pass, averaging 5.2 assists per game.

      Oregon's go-to player is Brooks, who leads the Ducks with 16.4 points per game. He can bring the ball up court, though he plays the power-forward position for the Ducks with the absence of Boucher.

      Altman and Oregon are back in the Elite Eight for the second straight year. They lost to Big 12 opponent Oklahoma with a spot in last year's Final Four. If they accomplish their goal Saturday, it will be the Ducks' first Final Four since the very first NCAA Tournament in 1939, when the Ducks won their only title.

      "It's just an unbelievable feeling," Altman said. "I owe these guys (his players) so much, for putting us in this position. As a coach, you always dream of playing in the Final Four and winning a national title. I feel really fortunate to have really good players who have put us in that position."

  • NCAA Tournament roundup: Xavier stuns Arizona
    By The Sports Xchange / Friday, March 24, 2017

    SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Trevon Bluiett scored 25 points and fed Sean O'Mara for the winning layup with 54 seconds remaining as 11th-seeded Xavier upset second-seeded Arizona 73-71 on Thursday in the NCAA Tournament West Region semifinals at SAP Center.

    • The Musketeers (24-13) scored the final nine points, including five by Malcolm Bernard and two by Bluiett, to earn an Elite Eight matchup with top-seeded Gonzaga on Saturday. The winner advances to its first Final Four.

      The Wildcats' Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, and Arizona took a 71-64 lead on Kadeem Allen's driving layup with 2:52 remaining. But the Wildcats (32-5) missed their last six field-goal attempts.

      Bernard scored 15 points and J.P Macura added 14 for Xavier, the lowest remaining seed in the tournament. Dusan Ristic scored 17 points for Arizona, which had won six in a row and 11 of 12.

      No. 1 Gonzaga 61, No. 4 West Virginia 58

      SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Jordan Mathews scored 13 points and made three 3-pointers, the last with 57.3 seconds remaining to help the Bulldogs move one game away from their first Final Four.

      Przemek Karnowski and Johnathan Williams also had 13 points for Gonzaga (35-1).

      The Mountaineers (28-9) missed two 3-point field goal attempts in the last 20 seconds and could not get off another as the buzzer sounded. West Virginia's Jevon Carter scored 21 points, but missed the two 3-pointers in the final moments.

      No. 3 Oregon 69, No. 7 Michigan 68

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Ducks held the Wolverines scoreless in the final 2:02, surviving Derrick Walton Jr.'s missed jumper at the buzzer to reach the Midwest Region Final.

      Tyler Dorsey scored 20 points for Oregon (32-5), which meets Kansas in Saturday's Region final. Jordan Bell had 16 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, Dillon Brooks had 12 points and Dylan Ennis scored 10.

      Walton led Michigan (26-12) with 20 points. He was joined in double figures by Zak Irvin with 19 points and D.J. Wilson with 12.

      No. 1 Kansas 98, No. 4 Purdue 66

      KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Jayhawks got 26 points apiece from Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham to rout Purdue in the Midwest Region semifinals at Sprint Center before 18,475 fans, mostly clad in Kansas' crimson and blue.

      Josh Jackson scored 15 points, Legerald Vick added 12 and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk had 10 for the Jayhawks (31-4), who won their three NCAA Tournament games by 90 points.

      The Boilermakers (27-8) were led by Caleb Swanigan with 18 points. P.J. Thompson had 12 points and Isaac Haas 11.

  • College basketball notebook: Thompson out at Georgetown
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Georgetown coach John Thompson III was fired Thursday, university president John J. DeGioia announced.

    • The Hoyas were 14-18 this season, including 5-13 in Big East play, and missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons.

      DeGioia said a national search for a new coach will begin immediately.

      Georgetown reached the NCAA Tournament eight times during Thompson's reign, including a Final Four appearance in 2006-07 when the club went 30-7.

      --UMass hire decides not to take coaching job

      Massachusetts cancelled a press conference to introduce Pat Kelsey as coach after Kelsey backed out of the job earlier Thursday.

      The cancellation occurred only minutes before the scheduled 4 p.m. ET start time. UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said Kelsey asked to be released from his contact due to "very personal" reasons.

      Kelsey accepted the position on Tuesday after guiding Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament this season. Kelsey is 102-59 in five seasons at Winthrop.

      --Top overall recruit Michael Porter Jr. received a release from his letter of intent from Washington on Thursday, according to the school.

      The 6-foot-10 Porter sought his release after the Huskies fired coach Lorenzo Romar earlier this month. Porter, who was named Gatorade National Player of the Year on Wednesday, reportedly is considering a transfer to Missouri.

      He also confirmed that his father, Michael Porter Sr., has been offered an assistant coaching position by recently hired Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin.

      --California sophomore forward Ivan Rabb has declared for the NBA draft, he said on the school's website.

      Rabb averaged 14 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shot per game this season. The 6-foot-11 Rabb was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.

      Rabb is projected as the 21st overall pick in June's draft, according to nbadraft.net.

      --Duke center Chase Jeter is transferring after two seasons at the school, the university announced.

      Jeter said he plans to transfer to a school closer to his hometown of Las Vegas.

      Jeter appeared in just 16 games as a sophomore and didn't play after sustaining a herniated disk in his back in mid-January. He averaged 2.1 points and 2.7 rebounds this season. Jeter played in 48 games in two seasons and averaged 2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots.

  • Kelsey backs out of UMass job
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Massachusetts cancelled a press conference to introduce Pat Kelsey as coach after Kelsey backed out of the job earlier Thursday.

    • The cancellation occurred only minutes before the scheduled 4 p.m. ET start time.

      UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said Kelsey asked to be released from his contact due to "very personal" reasons.

      Kelsey accepted the position on Tuesday after guiding Winthrop to the NCAA Tournament this season. He tweeted his joy over landing the job on Tuesday and made a reference to school legend Julius Erving.

      "So excited to be a part of the rich tradition of @UMassBasketball," Kelsey tweeted. "I may fall over when I meet Dr. J. Can't wait to get to Amherst! #GoUMass"

      Kelsey is 102-59 in five seasons at Winthrop. There was no immediate word on whether he would seek a return to the school or search for a different coaching position.

  • Cal sophomore Rabb opts for NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    California sophomore forward Ivan Rabb has declared for the NBA draft, he said on the school's website on Thursday.

    • Rabb averaged 14 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.0 blocked shot per game this season. The 6-foot-11 Rabb was a first-team All-Pac-12 selection.

      "While this season didn't end the way we all had hoped, I have no regrets about returning for a second season this year," Rabb said in a letter to the "Cal Family." "Both of my years here at Cal were a learning experience. In my first year, I was the young guy learning the ropes and earning respect. As my sophomore year went on, I grew into my own and was challenged to find ways to perform at a high level every night.

      "The games were different, and they were more serious. My goal was to go out and play well while having fun and enjoying every moment. At the end of the day, I had fun with my brothers and continued to grow on and off the court, which leaves me feeling more prepared than ever to capitalize on the opportunities ahead of me to play at the highest level."

      Rabb is projected as the 21st overall pick in June's draft, according to nbadraft.net.

      Rabb averaged 12.5 points and 8.6 rebounds as a freshman. He applied for the NBA draft after that season before later withdrawing his name.

  • No. 1 recruit Porter decommits from Washington
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Top overall recruit Michael Porter Jr. received a release from his letter of intent from Washington on Thursday, according to the school.

    • Porter sought his release after the Huskies fired coach Lorenzo Romar earlier this month.

      Porter, who was named Gatorade National Player of the Year on Wednesday, reportedly is considering a transfer to Missouri.

      He also confirmed that his father, Michael Porter Sr., has been offered an assistant coaching position by recently hired Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin.

      Porter Sr. was hired as an assistant by Romar last year two months before Porter Jr. verbally committed to Washington.

      The Porters are from Missouri and Porter Sr. was a former assistant coach for Missouri's women's basketball program.

      The 6-foot-10 Porter Jr. addressed the situation on a conference call on Wednesday.

      "To be able to go back (to Missouri), I know those Mizzou fans are hungry -- and I've been shown a lot of love from Mizzou fans," Porter Jr. said. "It could be something real, real special just to come home and do my thing there, it would special."

      Washington hired former Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins to replace Romar. Porter Jr. said he still will consider the Huskies but wants to start over and weigh which school is best for him.

      His brother, high school junior Jontay Porter, previously decommitted from Washington after the firing of Romar.

      Sisters Bri and Cierra Porter play for the Missouri women's team. Porter Sr. is married to the sister of Missouri women's coach Robin Pingeton.

      Porter Jr. is considered a one-and-done college player wherever he winds up. He is projected as the No. 1 overall draft choice in the 2018 NBA draft by nbadraft.net.

      He said he remains stunned by Romar's firing at Washington.

      "I was shocked," Porter Jr. said. "I thought we had something special coming to Washington."

  • Duke C Jeter to transfer to school closer to home
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Duke center Chase Jeter is transferring after two seasons at the school, the university announced on Thursday.

    • Jeter said he plans to transfer to a school closer to his hometown of Las Vegas.

      Jeter appeared in just 16 games as a sophomore and didn't play after sustaining a herniated disk in his back in mid-January. He averaged 2.1 points and 2.7 rebounds this season.

      Jeter played in 48 games for the Blue Devils and averaged 2.6 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots.

      "Chase has been an outstanding young man in our program for the last two years," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. "He has been one of our top academic performers since he arrived on campus. Unfortunately, he was held back this season due to injury.

      "We wish nothing but the absolute best for Chase and his family."

      Jeter said he weighed the situation before making his decision.

      "I have loved my time at Duke, getting a world-class education and competing alongside my brothers every day," Jeter said in a statement. "After careful consideration, I decided it would be best for me to transfer to a school closer to home. I've made long-lasting relationships here and I want to thank my teammates and coaches for the support they've given me over the last two years."

      The Blue Devils went 28-9 this season and were eliminated by South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

  • Thompson III out as Georgetown coach
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, March 23, 2017

    Georgetown coach John Thompson III was fired on Thursday, according to university president John J. DeGioia.

    • The Hoyas were just 14-18 this season, including 5-13 in Big East play, and missed the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four seasons.

      Thompson, the son of legendary Hoyas coach John Thompson Jr., went 278-151 in 13 seasons as coach.

      "It is with profound regret and deep appreciation that I informed John Thompson III this morning that the University will no longer be retaining his services as our head men's basketball coach," DeGioia said in a statement. "For 13 years, he has been one of the elite coaches in college basketball.

      "His performance as a coach has been exceptional, and he has served our community with remarkable distinction and integrity, sustaining our commitment to the academic performance of our students and providing them with the very best preparation for their lives beyond the Hilltop.

      "Our tradition of excellence as a University will forever be inextricably linked with John and his family."

      DeGioia said a national search for a new coach will begin immediately.

      Georgetown reached the NCAA Tournament eight times during Thompson's reign, including a Final Four appearance in 2006-07 when the club went 30-7.

      The Hoyas posted winning records in each of Thompson's first 11 seasons but failed to do so in either of the past two seasons. His final team finished ninth in the 10-team Big East.

      "I am proud of what my players have accomplished on the court and how they are thriving since leaving Georgetown," Thompson said in a statement. "Georgetown Basketball has been a part of my life since 1972, which makes this moment even more impactful but I look forward to my next chapter."

      Before his stint with Georgetown, Thompson went 68-42 in four seasons as Princeton's coach from 2000-04.

  • UCF, Cal State Bakersfield reach NIT semis
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    During his eight seasons at Stanford, Johnny Dawkins twice directed the Cardinal to the NIT championship. Now his new school, Central Florida, is two steps away from the same accomplishment.

    • Backstopped by 7-foot-6 sophomore center Tacko Fall, who blocked three shots and influenced numerous airballs, UCF shut down Illinois' offense and earned a 68-58 victory in an NIT quarterfinal on Wednesday night at sold-out CFE Arena in Orlando, Fla.

      Fourth-seeded UCF (24-11) will face TCU (22-15), also a No. 4 seed, in semifinal action on Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden.

      Sophomore point guard B.J. Taylor paced the Knights with 17 points. Senior guard Matt Williams and junior forward A.J. Davis added 16 points apiece, while Fall contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds.

      Senior swingman Malcolm Hill scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the second half for second-seeded Illinois (20-15), which held its only lead at 3-2.

      The Illini never solved UCF's defense, which entered the night as the nation's stingiest in field goal defense at 36.4 percent. Illinois shot 31 percent from the floor.

      The Illini shot 27 percent in the first half to fall behind 34-19 at the break and did not convert a two-point shot or a free throw until Hill's put-back with 2:05 left in the first half. By that point, UCF owned a 32-15 lead.

      Williams, who came into the game fifth nationally with an average of 3.5 3-pointers per game, set the tone by hitting three consecutive 3-pointers to give UCF an 11-3 lead just 3:49 into the game.

      Illinois pulled within 41-28 on sophomore forward Leron Black's 15-foot jumper with 15:56 left, but the Knights responded by feeding Fall for a drop into the bucket and finding Taylor for a 3-pointer that forced Illinois to call a timeout.

      This trend repeated itself the rest of the way. Illinois would string together a basket or two to suggest a rally and UCF would snuff it out.

      The Illini's last run came with four minutes to go when Hill drilled back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 57-48. After a UCF timeout, Hill was fouled on a 3-point attempt and canned all three free throws. Illinois had another possession to get closer than six points, but senior guard Tracy Abrams and sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands rimmed 3-point tries.

      Cal State Bakersfield 80, Texas-Arlington 76

      The eighth-seeded Roadrunners completed their Cinderella run to Madison Square Garden, beating the sixth-seeded Mavericks to earn a trip to the semifinals in New York.

      Shon Briggs led Cal State Bakersfield (25-9) with 19 points, and Damiyne Durham added 18 points and eight rebounds. The Roadrunners will oppose sixth-seeded Georgia Tech (20-15) on Tuesday.

      Texas-Arlington (27-9) got 22 points from Erick Neal and 15 from Kevin Hervey.

  • Syracuse F Lydon entering NBA Draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Syracuse forward Tyler Lydon is entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

    • Lydon spent two seasons with the Orange and averaged 13.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game this season. He announced his decision Wednesday night on Instagram.

      "It was a privilege to wear the Orange uniform alongside my teammates," Lydon wrote. "I was honored to battle with you all every night. I am very excited about this next step in my career!"

      Coach Jim Boeheim said Monday that Lydon had a season he considered "average" and suggested the door wasn't closed for the sophomore to return. Boeheim said Lydon could be a lottery pick in the draft if he came back to Syracuse.

      However, after meeting with his family Monday and Tuesday, Lydon decided it was time to go pro.

      Replacing Lydon, a 40 percent 3-point shooter and the team's leading rebounder this season, won't be easy. The top in-house candidate for the Orange is Taurean Thompson, who is not as gifted shooting from the perimeter.

  • Duke F Tatum opting for NBA
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Jayson Tatum's stay at Duke lasted all of one season as the freshman forward declared on Wednesday that he is entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

    • The school took to social media to initially deliver the news, tweeting a picture of Tatum with a quote from coach Mike Krzyzewski.

      "I absolutely loved coaching Jayson Tatum," Krzyzewski's quote read. "His skill set and work ethic will make him a star in the NBA."

      Tatum, who could be as high as a top-five pick in the June draft, feels he's ready for the bright lights of the NBA.

      "I'm excited to take the next step in pursuing my lifelong dream of playing basketball at the highest possible level," Tatum said Wednesday, according to the Charlotte Observer.

      Tatum averaged 16.8 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.4 steals in 29 games with the Blue Devils. The 6-foot-8 St. Louis native missed the first eight contests of the campaign with a foot sprain, but rebounded to score in double figures in all but three of the remaining games.

      Tatum averaged 22 points during Duke's four-day run to the ACC tournament title. He had 18 points and 12 rebounds in the Blue Devils' NCAA Tournament-opening victory over Troy, but was limited to just 15 and three, respectively, in the ensuing loss to South Carolina.

  • Florida State G Bacon leaving early for NBA draft
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, March 22, 2017

    Florida State guard Dwayne Bacon announced Wednesday he is leaving school early and entering the 2017 NBA Draft.

    • The 6-foot-7, 221-pound sophomore led the Seminoles in scoring during the 2016-2017 season with 17.2 points per game. He also led the team in scoring during his freshman season when he averaged 15.8 points.

      Bacon thanked Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton, other coaches and fans in a statement released by the school.

      "After deep prayer and consultation with my parents, I have decided to enter the 2017 NBA Draft," Bacon said. "I am and forever will be a Seminole.

      "This organization has been instrumental in my path and as I look to embark on my professional career, I will carry the many lessons learned. We are truly family here and I'd like to thank Coach Ham, Coach C.Y., Coach Jones, Coach Gates and the entire faculty and coaching staff for a great two years. I am looking forward to the future.

      "Last year I made the decision to stay and set specific goals for myself personally to help our team get to the next level. Although the outcome was not as favorable as we had hoped, I am still proud and grateful to have achieved those goals alongside my teammates. Thank you!"

      Florida State finished the season with a 26-9 record during the season and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Seminoles won their first game in the tournament against 14th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast but fell to No. 11 seed Xavier 91-66 in the second round.

      Bacon, who averaged 22.5 points over the two tournament games, has been projected to be drafted from a late first-round to middle second-round pick.