Look past the gloom and doom of Saint Mary’s losing two of their past three teams, and dropping from No. 11 all the way to No. 22, and what the Gaels have is a 25-win team that still has a good chance to play into the second week of the NCAA Tournament.
“I told our team this the other day: ‘We’re in the last week of the season, and all of our goals are still on the table.’ That’s where you want to be,” head coach Randy Bennett told his Gaels via sfgate.com.
Almost every team has a hiccup, especially this season, where it seems every week a handful of high-ranked teams lose on the same night.
The Gaels hit a bump in the road by losing to Gonzaga, 78-65, in a game that wasn’t close from the tip. Bennett’s squad carried a hangover into their next game, a seven-point loss to San Francisco.
Saint Mary’s (25-4, 14-2 WCC) got back on track Saturday in Portland with a 12-point win against the Pilots. On Thursday, the Gaels will welcome Pepperdine (4-24, 1-15 WCC) to McKeon Pavilion hoping to regain some of the swagger and confidence they had built during a school-record 19-game win streak before losing to the Bulldogs.
All-time assists leader Emmett Naar’s status is uncertain against the Waves. Naar injured his left ankle in the first half against the Pilots, left the game and didn’t return.
“I’m not a fortune teller,” Bennett said. “I can’t read this thing (perfectly), but I think he’ll probably play.”
If Naar can’t go, Jordan Ford is expected to run the point. Whoever is playing still has All-America candidate Jock Landale in the post.
Landale is averaging 21.9 points and 10.4 rebounds per game. After being devoured by Gonzaga’s defense, which held him to just four shots and four points, Landale bounced back to score 23 points and grab 10 boards against the Pilots.
His execution and play around the basket comes as no surprise to his teammates or opposing coaches.
“It’s ridiculous how unsurprising it is,” Naar told the (San Jose) Mercury News before the win at Portland. “He’s been doing it all year. You look at the stat sheet and he has like 30 and 15. For most players, ‘Wow, that’s unbelievable.’ He’s done it so many times now you sort of take it for granted. It’s a ridiculous level he’s playing at right now.”
While the Waves are playing out the string with a lame-duck coach, an upset of the Gaels would be gratifying. And as this season has proven, upsets seem to be the norm, which the Gaels learned first-hand against the Dons.
Pepperdine, which announced on Feb. 13 that head coach Marty Wilson will not return for an eighth season, lost two close games last week.
BYU dropped the Waves in overtime on Feb. 15.
Against No. 6 Gonzaga on Saturday, the Waves trailed 66-64 before the Bulldogs went on an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“Our focus coming into this game was to stay within striking distance,” leading scorer Colbey Ross told the Pepperdine Graphic. “Gonzaga is one of the top teams in the country, but we wanted to show our game and not back down to the challenge.”
Ross, a freshman guard, tallied a game-high 21 points and recorded six assists. Fellow freshman guard Trae Berhow had nine points and seven rebounds.
In the end, Gonzaga just had too much talent and made plays when it counted.
“We were struggling to stop them and bouts where we were struggling to score ourselves,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few told reporters as he credited the Waves for not giving up. “But in the end, we were really solid and made plays at both ends.”
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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Duke says Marvin Bagley III will miss his fourth straight game with a knee sprain.
Team spokesman Mike DeGeorge announced Bagley’s status about three hours before tipoff of Wednesday night’s game against Louisville.
Bagley leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with averages of 21.2 points and 11.4 rebounds. He was hurt in the first half of the loss to North Carolina on Feb. 8.
More AP college basketball at www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — After former Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy stepped down on Sunday, interim coach Tony Madlock told his team to start fresh.
The Rebels did, battling through a double-digit Missouri comeback and an overtime session to beat the Tigers 90-87 and pick up their first road victory in conference play.
Breein Tyree scored 25 points, including a game-tying basket in regulation, to lead the Rebels. Terence Davis finished with 19 points and added a mammoth block with seven seconds left to secure the victory.
With 15 seconds left and Ole Miss up one, the Rebels turned it over and Missouri’s Jordan Geist ran the floor before getting swatted by Davis. Ole Miss led for the last 4:14 of overtime, but the lead stayed within one possession throughout the final period.
Ole Miss (12-16, 5-10 Southeastern conference) led for over 36 minutes, but had to shield a Missouri comeback attempt throughout the second half. The Tigers built a six-point lead with 2:38 remaining, but they allowed Ole Miss to climb back. Tyree drilled a floater with three seconds left to send the game into overtime.
”(Madlock) told me to get downhill, try to get a layup,” Tyree said. ”That’s what I did. I crossed back over, had a wide-open floater, and that’s what I’ve been working on all season.”
Jontay Porter led Missouri (18-10, 8-7) with 17 points and contributed nine rebounds. Six different Tigers scored in double-digits, but Missouri turned the ball over 21 times, limiting its offensive flow for much of the game.
”Same thing that it’s usually been,” Missouri’s Jordan Barnett said. ”Can’t close out the game, turnovers down the stretch. Same old, same old.”
Jeremiah Tilmon picked up a double-double for the Tigers, scoring 12 points and adding 12 rebounds, but shot just 2 for 6 from the free-throw line.
Ole Miss: A very nice start to the Tony Madlock era. After dropping seven consecutive games and losing its coach, Ole Miss rebounded with an impressive offensive performance against a stellar defensive team, and showed enough fight to pick up its first road win in conference.
Missouri: The Tigers have now lost two straight after winning five in a row. While Missouri is still on track for an NCAA Tournament appearance, this definitely puts a dent in its resume. The Tigers also have turnover and inbound issues to fix.
Ole Miss head coach Tony Madlock coached his first game as a head coach Tuesday night. Madlock had been an assistant coach for the Rebels since the 2014-15 season. He coached under former head coach Andy Kennedy, who stepped down Sunday, a day after Ole Miss lost its seventh consecutive game.
”It was so exciting,” Madlock said. ”We talked about a fresh start, a new beginning. I know it’ll sound like a broken record, but I just told these guys to play hard. That’s all we’re asking for.”
NOT SO CHARITABLE
Missouri had been one of the country’s better free-throw shooting teams throughout the season, but its performance at the charity stripe has hindered them in a their last two losses, both one-possession games.
The Tigers shot just 7 for 17 from the charity stripe against LSU on Saturday, and followed that up with a 20-for-31 performance against Ole Miss.
”We’re obviously a better free-throw shooting team than in the last two games,” Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin said. ”It can always be a factor, but we’ll continue to work on it.”
Ole Miss returns home to play Tennessee on Saturday.
Missouri hits the road to face Kentucky on Saturday.
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VALPARAISO, Ind. (AP) — Spencer Haldeman drained a late trey to give Northern Iowa enough cushion to hold off Valparaiso 68-63 on Tuesday night.
Haldeman’s 3-pointer with 47 seconds left gave the Panthers a 62-56 lead. Tevonn Walker answered with a 3 for Valparaiso to close to 62-59. Haldeman then made two free throws and Bennett Koch finished the scoring with four straight free throws.
Koch was 8 of 8 from the floor, while making 9 of 14 free-throw attempts to total 25 points, which gave him 1,000 points for his career with Northern Iowa (14-15, 6-11 Missouri Valley Conference). Haldeman and Klint Carlson added 11 points apiece.
The Panthers led throughout the second half but could never break free as the Crusaders remained within striking distance. They closed to 59-56 with 2:01 remaining after Markus Golder drilled a 3 and Walker followed with a layup.
Bakari Evelyn had 19 points to lead Valparaiso (14-16, 5-12), which is in last place in the conference.
Northern Iowa will play in an opening-round game at the MVC tournament for the first time since 2003. The bottom four seeds (7th to 10th place) will play on March 1 to open the tournament in St. Louis. The highest seed UNI can achieve is No. 8.
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DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Trey Landers scored 13 points, grabbed eight rebounds and made key plays down the stretch to help Dayton rally from a 13-point second-half deficit on Tuesday night to beat Saint Louis 53-50.
Kostas Antetokounmpo had 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting for Dayton (13-14, 7-8 Atlantic 10).
The Flyers used a 17-4 run to tie it at 37-all with 10 1/2 minutes to play and it was tied four more times before Jordan Davis hit a 3 to give the Flyers their first lead since midway through the first half. Landers’ tipin made it 50-45 with 1:45 to play, but Hasahn French hit a jumper and Aaron Hines made a layup to pull Saint Louis within two. Landers found Josh Cunningham for a dunk with 25 seconds left and then had a steal on the Billikens’ next possession as Dayton held on.
French, a freshman, had 12 of Saint Louis’ last 13 points and finished with a season-high 20 on 10-of-15 shooting.
The Flyers pulled within one game of the fourth-place Billikens (15-13, 8-7) in the conference standings, but are also a half-game behind VCU, Saint Joseph’s and Richmond (all 7-7). The top four teams get a two-game bye into the A-10 Tournament quarterfinals.
Landers and Jalen Crutcher hit 3s on Dayton’s first two possessions, but the Flyers missed 11 of their next 14 field-goal attempts and committed eight first-half turnovers as Saint Louis took a nine-point lead into the break. Javon Bess and French made back-to-back jumpers to make it 33-20 with 18 minutes left.
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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska had the finishing kick against Indiana that it lacked at Illinois, and it got the Huskers running in the right direction again Tuesday night.
Nebraska outscored Indiana 13-6 over the final 5:32 for a 66-57 victory, overcoming some missed free throws by forcing the last of the Hoosiers’ 19 turnovers to reach 12 conference wins for only the third time in school history.
James Palmer scored 15 points as the Huskers won for the seventh time in eight games.
”The important part was to finish the game with a great defensive stretch and control the ball on offense, and put them away,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. ”The first half, the way we played, I wasn’t sure it was going to end like that.”
Nebraska (21-9, 12-5 Big Ten) bounced back from a 72-66 loss Sunday at Illinois. Senior co-captain Evan Taylor said much of the focus over the following 48 hours was on defense.
”I think we got stops,” Taylor said. ”In the Illinois game, we allowed them to get second shots. Tonight we got stops.”
Indiana (16-13, 9-8) had a four-game winning streak snapped, with Nebraska picking up 26 points off the Hoosiers’ highest turnover total since 19 in a season-opening loss to Indiana State.
”Lack of toughness, lack of confidence . I don’t know what it was,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. ”Maybe the road environment scared them a little bit, I’m not sure. But just some of the plays didn’t make a whole lot of sense.”
Indiana started a 10-2 run in the second half with back-to-back 3-point plays by Justin Smith and Juwan Morgan, taking a 41-37 lead with 13:50 remaining. Nebraska answered with 10 straight, including a 3-point play and two free throws by Taylor, and led the rest of the way.
The Huskers all but finished off the Hoosiers when Palmer had two free throws and a dunk during an 8-0 run that made it 64-53 with 1:51 remaining.
”The whole game, I didn’t think we were playing that well,” NU point guard Glynn Watson Jr. said. ”But we made that big stretch and got on that run, and put them away.”
Smith and Robert Johnson paced Indiana with 16 points apiece. Smith had the Hoosiers’ first eight points of the second half – more than his season average of 5.9 per game – but four turnovers on six possessions coming out of the break added to the Indiana struggles.
”I thought we were right there for a good portion of the game,” Miller said. ”But you can’t do that on the road – 19 second shots, 19 turnovers – it’s just not going to get it done.”
Indiana somehow emerged with a halftime lead despite a shaky first 20 minutes, going ahead 26-25 after Devonte Green and Johnson scored on hard drives in the final 90 seconds. Nebraska had a chance to regain the lead it had held for much of the first half but Isaiah Roby missed a 3-point shot as time ran out.
Nebraska had taken a 25-22 lead on a 3-point basket by Thomas Allen with 1:52 remaining, but the Huskers made just 3 of 15 from behind the arc in the first half and did not attempt a free throw.
The Huskers’ only other seasons with 12 league wins came in 1965-66 (Big Eight) and 1915-16 (Missouri Valley). Miles was glad to see Nebraska reach a dozen after seeming to be a little tight from the start.
”Tonight was one of those nights where I think they earned the victory,” he said. ”And hopefully that can really help them build that belief that we can beat anybody.”
Indiana: The Hoosiers had built some late-season momentum by beating four consecutive Big Ten lower-division teams. They will try to rebound with a Friday night home game against Ohio State that concludes their regular-season schedule.
Nebraska: The NCAA tourney hopes remain fragile, but Nebraska picked itself up nicely after its costly setback at Illinois. The play of Palmer, a junior, continues to be an important part of one of the Huskers’ best seasons in years.
NOTHING IS FREE
Indiana and Nebraska played more than 17 minutes before either team made it to the free-throw line. The two shots by the Hoosiers’ Juwan Morgan (one make, one miss) with 2:59 left were then the only two attempted prior to halftime. Nebraska didn’t get to the line until the 16:58 mark of the second half. Overall, the teams eventually combined to shoot 26.
Indiana hurt itself Tuesday night by not taking care of the ball. The Hoosiers had nine turnovers in the first half, then four more over their first six possessions of the second (by then already surpassing their season average of 12.3 per game). Indiana finished with 19, its highest total since 19 in a season-opening loss to Indiana State.
Indiana hosts Ohio State on Friday.
Nebraska hosts Penn State on Sunday.
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Wichita State is coming off its biggest win of the season, a gritty 76-72 victory at No. 11 Cincinnati on Sunday.
The No. 13 Shockers will look build momentum off the win over the Bearcats, when struggling Tulane visits Charles Koch Arena on Wednesday. Wichita State (21-5, 11-3 American Athletic Conference) has won four in a row while the Green Wave have lost five straight.
“If we are hitting our stride, then I hope that we can sustain it,” Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said Tuesday. “Maybe we have another stride, I don’t know. We played pretty well against Cincinnati, obviously, and you have to do that in order to win there. We now need to keep it up. We have four regular-season games left. We’ve got the conference tournament and then whatever after that.”
Landry Shamet scored 19 points to lead the Shockers past Cincinnati, snapping the Bearcats’ 39-game home winning streak. Wichita State moved to one game back of first-place Cincinnati in the AAC standings, tied with No. 23 Houston in second place.
“It’s tremendous,” said Marshall, who got a post-game celebratory Gatorade bath in the locker room. “Look at my shirt. College basketball has such tremendous parity. The games are decided by great players making great plays. Landry is a tremendous player.”
Shamet, a sophomore guard who is considered an NBA prospect, leads the Shockers in scoring (14.7 points) and the AAC in assists (5.2). He created nightmare mismatches for a solid defensive team in Cincinnati, coming off picks outside of the 3-point line, forcing switches and then taking advantage of the bigger Bearcats who were forced to try to stay in front of him.
Tulane features a balanced offensive attack, with five players averaging in double figures. Junior guard Melvin Frazier and senior guard Cameron Reynolds are each averaging more than 15 points per game.
“Tremendous athlete,” Marshall said of Frazier. “Obviously, he gets a lot of points around the basket. He shoots a very, very good percentage. I’m not familiar with their team last year, but he’s kind of come out of nowhere. All the talk early in the preseason, and the guy that I met in the fall at the conference meeting, was Cameron Reynolds. He’s another very good player. Melvin Frazier’s kind of burst onto the scene … an NBA prospect who really has developed under coach Mike Dunleavy.”
The Green Wave (13-13, 4-10) suffered a 68-63 loss at home to Memphis on Saturday. Tulane allowed the Tigers to shoot 54 percent from the floor and was outscored 28-18 in the paint, something that’s been an issue this season and could be trouble against Wichita State big man Shaquille Morris.
Morris was named AAC Player of the Week after averaging 18 points and eight rebounds last week in wins over Temple and Cincinnati. The senior center grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and scored 23 points to key the Shockers’ comeback win over Temple.
“Big fella is a real factor,” Marshall said of Morris. “He can take us to another level.”
This will be the first meeting between Wichita State and Tulane.
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After Florida failed to hold another late lead in a loss at Vanderbilt, Gators coach Mike White issued a dire warning for his team.
“I hope it does affect us mentally,” White said after the Vanderbilt loss. “How many games do we have left? Four? We have to figure it out or it’s not going to end well.”
That crucial four-game closing stretch for the Gators begins Wednesday at No. 19 Tennessee, which also is coming off an SEC loss.
Florida (17-10, 8-6 SEC) has dropped two in a row and four of six overall. The Gators squandered a six-point lead with 25 seconds to play and eventually lost to Georgia in overtime last week. They were up 11 on Vanderbilt with 14 minutes to play on Saturday, but went cold down the stretch and lost 71-68 to the Commodores.
“These are things we’re taught to do. We do it for 20 minutes, 25 minutes, 28 minutes, then for some reason, we stop doing it,” senior guard Egor Koulechov said after the Vanderbilt game.
The Vols (19-7, 9-5 SEC) are trying to adjust to having the target on their backs as one of the top teams in the SEC. Tennessee has lost two of three, including a 73-62 loss at Georgia on Saturday. Coach Rick Barnes’ team trails first-place Auburn by two games in the conference standings with four games remaining.
“We’re still one of the younger teams in the country in a position no one thought they would be in,” Barnes told reporters Monday. “We just knew as a team, as a program, that we (were) gonna go in and try to compete every single day. We’ve done that. But now, these situations come up. They’re realizing that it’s more difficult than you might think. That’s why you have great respect for those teams that year in and year out are at the top, because it’s not easy.”
This is the first and only regular-season meeting between the two SEC rivals this year. The Gators won last year’s meeting 83-70 in Gainesville, Fla. KeVaughn Allen had 23 points for Florida in the win.
Allen is one of four Gators averaging in double figures in scoring this season. Jalen Hudson and Koulechov are each averaging more than 14 points per game. But too often, White says, Florida has struggled to convert good opportunities.
“Our inefficiencies at the rim continue to haunt us,” White said after the Vanderbilt loss. “We had a bunch of looks in the paint. If you’re going to steal one on the road, we got to make a layup. We got to make a 5-footer through a little bit of contact. You have to make the majority of them, and we made hardly any of them.”
Sophomore forward Grant Williams leads Tennessee is scoring (15.7 ppg) and is second in rebounding (5.9 rpg.). Williams, who keys the Vols’ inside-out attack, was held to a season-low five points on one-of-eight shooting in the loss to Georgia.
“I just think that he’s gotta realize that this time of year that everything goes up and keeps climbing,” Barnes said of Williams. “The thermometer keeps going up, and you’ve gotta be able to do that as a player. Knowing he is gonna be game-planned for, which he’s done.”
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Texas Tech has found itself in a new position several times this season.
For example, the Red Raiders had a one-game lead over second-place Kansas in the Big 12 last week before the Jayhawks came from behind to defeat West Virginia and Texas Tech lost to Baylor on Saturday. But Chris Beard’s Red Raiders are still just a half game back of Kansas going into their Wednesday night game at Oklahoma State.
Texas Tech also moved up to a school-record No. 6 national ranking on Monday despite dropping the contest at Baylor over the weekend.
But there is one more possible scenario that could hurt the Red Raiders this week. Leading scorer Keenan Evans suffered an injury to his right foot versus Baylor and sat out the entire second half.
Texas Tech already lost 6-foot-8 forward Zach Smith to a broken bone in his foot in January, now it will potentially have to forge ahead with two of its best players out of action.
However, Beard isn’t conceding that Evans won’t play in Stillwater, Okla., on Wednesday.
“We all know Keenan is a warrior and he’s going to do everything he possibly can to play, which I have nothing but confidence,” Beard said during media availability on Monday. “We’ve got to eventually get him to a point where he’s comfortable to play in pain.”
Evans’ status is listed as day-to-day, and whether Evans plays or not, Texas Tech (22-5, 10-4 Big 12) will face the same narrative against Oklahoma State that it did at Baylor on Saturday. The Red Raiders are trying to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 regular-season championship while they play teams that are desperate for victories to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Oklahoma State (15-12, 5-9) has lost six of its last eight games, including losses in both contests last week by double digits. But it might not be too late considering the Cowboys’ two wins in the last month were against No. 7 Kansas and No. 19 West Virginia.
“I’m really still excited about what this team can do over the next two weeks,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said on Monday. “We’ve probably, in a lot of people’s minds, already overachieved.”
Boynton said most of his team’s shortcomings can be fixed, especially its struggles on the defensive end.
Oklahoma State gave up an average of 86 points per game in losses to Kansas State and TCU last week.
“We can’t be who we need to be to have success when we don’t guard, and our defense has been pretty poor for some time now,” Boynton said. “We’ve got a four-game season to get that corrected before whatever happens postseason-wise.”
Texas Tech senior forward Justin Gray had one of his best offensive games of the season on Saturday when fellow senior Evans was on the bench with the foot injury. Gray finished with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting in the 59-57 loss to Baylor.
Like his coach, Gray refused to concede that Evans would not play against Oklahoma State nor did he express concern about the Red Raiders’ offensive production.
Gray merely stated that he and his teammates will have to match the Cowboys’ intensity on their home floor.
“We’re going to expect their best shot,” Gray said. “We’re in a position now that we have a target on our back being one of the top teams. So every game we have left this season, we’re expecting the other team’s best shot.”
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