NCAA BASKETBALL ROUNDUP
Patric Young scored 16 points and No. 1 Florida turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, rallying for a 56-49 victory over Tennessee in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament Saturday.
Florida (31-2) extended its school-record winning streak to 25 in a row after trailing by 10 in the first half. The Gators were down 35-28 at the break, but they wore down the Volunteers (21-12) over the final 20 minutes.
After shooting 54 percent in the opening period, Tennessee made just 5 of 20 shots and turned the ball over 11 times, leaving its fate in the hands of the NCAA selection committee.
The Gators, improving to 20-0 against SEC opponents, will face Kentucky or Georgia in the championship game today.
Florida’s Scottie Wilbekin added 14 points and Casey Prather had 12.
Jordan McRae led Tennessee with 15 points, while Jarnell Stokes had 13 points and eight rebounds.
UCLA 75, NO. 4 ARIZONA 71: Kyle Anderson had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jordan Adams hit a huge 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Bruins outlasted the Wildcats in a spirited Pac-12 championship game. The Pac-12’s two best teams during the regular season, UCLA (26-8) and Arizona (30-4) put on a show in the tournament final, trading big plays and floor burns. Offense ruled the first half and defense the second until Adams dropped in his contested 3-pointer to put the Bruins up 71-68 with 45 seconds left. David Wear and Norman Powell combined to hit four free throws down the stretch.
NO. 5 LOUISVILLE 71, NO. 21 UCONN 61: Montrezl Harrell had 22 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, and the Cardinals beat the Huskies for the inaugural American Athletic Conference tournament title in the Cardinals’ lone season in the league. The defending national champions clinched their 40th NCAA tournament berth.
The Cardinals (29-5) have won three straight league tournament titles after taking the last two in the Big East. Russ Smith, named the tournament’s most outstanding player, had 19 points and five steals for Louisville, and Chris Jones added 11 points. UConn (26-8) came in looking for an eighth tournament title to go with seven from the Big East. It was barred from postseason play a year ago, but is a virtual lock to return to the NCAA tournament this year.
NO. 7 DUKE 75, N.C. STATE 67: Jabari Parker scored 20 points and Duke advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship. Rasheed Sulaimon added 16 points for the third-seeded Blue Devils (26-7) while Rodney Hood had 14 points and keyed the defensive effort against ACC player of the year T.J. Warren.
Duke earned its 31st championship game appearance and first since 2011. The Blue Devils will play No. 6 Virginia today. Duke’s 69-65 win in January stood as the Cavaliers’ lone conference loss until Maryland beat them last week. Warren scored 21 points but was just 4 of 13 after halftime while facing a barrage of double teams. The seventh-seeded Wolfpack (21-13), playing their third game in three days, shot just 36 percent in the second half — after hitting 67 percent in the opening half.
NO. 20 NEW MEXICO 64, NO. 8 SAN DIEGO STATE 58: Cameron Bairstow scored 17 points to lead the Lobos over the Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference championship game, giving the Lobos the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament. Trailing by one with a little more than one minute left in the game, Bairstow — selected the tournament MVP — scored five of the Lobos’ last eight points to help the Lobos win their third consecutive tournament title. The No. 2 seed in the Mountain West tournament is now 6-0 all-time when playing the No. 1 seed. It didn’t come easy against the conference’s No. 1 defense, as New Mexico (27-6) had its five-point halftime lead disappear when the Aztecs opened the second half on an 8-0 run, to take a 30-27 lead.
NO. 8 MICHIGAN 72, NO. 24 OHIO STATE 69: Michigan blew a 12-point second-half lead, then finished the game on a 7-1 run to advance to the Big Ten tournament title game. The league’s regular-season champs will face No. 22 Michigan State today’s championship game. Nik Stauskas had 18 points and Caris LeVert had 17 to lead the Wolverines (25-7), winners of seven straight. It will be Michigan’s first title game appearance since 1998, when it won its only tourney title, which was later vacated. Ohio State (25-9) was led by LaQuinton Ross with 19 points and Shannon Scott with 18. The Buckeyes rallied to take their lead at 61-60 with 7:57 to go and still led 68-65 with 4:12 to play. But the Wolverines allowed just one free throw the rest of the way and stripped Aaron Craft of the ball on a potentially tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds.
PROVIDENCE 65, NO. 14 CREIGHTON 58: Bryce Cotton scored 23 points and Providence won its first Big East tournament title since 1994 with a great defensive effort against Doug McDermott and Creighton. The fourth-seeded Friars (23-11) used a 2-3 zone to hold the second-seeded Bluejays (26-7) 24 points below their season average and to an 8-for-30 effort from behind the 3-point line. Cotton, the senior guard who finished second to McDermott in the conference scoring but was also a unanimous first-team All-Big East selection, was the scoring star in the championship game and he was selected the tournament MVP. McDermott, who came in leading the nation in scoring with 26.5 average, finished 10 for 19 from the field, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range, for 27 points.
NO. 22 MICHIGAN STATE 83, N0. 12 WISCONSIN 75: Adreian Payne scored 18 points, Branden Dawson had 14 and Michigan State beat Wisconsin to reach the Big Ten tournament championship. The third-seeded Spartans (25-8) won consecutive games for the first time since winning 11 straight in a stretch over December and January. They will face No. 8 Michigan in the final today. The Spartans went on a 16-1 run in the first half and took a 37-16 lead when Gary Harris scored with 5:39 left before halftime. Frank Kaminsky had 28 points and Sam Decker added 11 points and seven rebounds for the second-seeded Badgers (26-7).
NO. 23 VCU 74, GEORGE WASHINGTON 55: Treveon Graham scored 22 points and VCU pressed and pressured its way into another conference tournament championship game, beating George Washington in the Atlantic 10 semifinals. The second-seeded Rams (26-7) will play for the A-10 title for the second year in a row, facing fourth-seeded St. Joseph’s today. Coach Shaka Smart has led the Rams to a conference tournament final in four of his five seasons, first in the Colonial Athletic Association and the past two in the A-10. Briante Weber added 16 points for the Rams, who lost last year’s final to Saint Louis, and Mo Alie-Cox provided muscle and energy off the bench with eight points, seven rebounds and a block. Isaiah Armwood led third-seeded George Washington (24-8) with 15 points. VCU will likely have to move on without A-10 sixth man of the year Melvin Johnson, who injured his knee early in the first half.