Top 25 Capsules
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Wichita State will carry its pursuit of perfection into the Missouri Valley tournament.
Cleanthony Early scored 19 points, Ron Baker added 13 and the second-ranked Shockers rolled to a 68-45 victory over Missouri State on Saturday, easily putting away a team that had given them fits this season.
Relying on the same stubborn defense that carried it on last year’s improbable run to the Final Four, Wichita State (31-0, 18-0) became the first team since Saint Joseph’s in 2004 to enter its conference tournament unbeaten. The Shockers will have a first-round bye in St. Louis next week.
Missouri State (19-11, 9-9) had them in trouble when they met Jan. 11 in Springfield, Mo., but the Bears blew a 19-point second-half lead and ultimately lost 72-69 in overtime.
They never came close to making it a game Saturday, trailing by double-digits in the opening minutes.
No. 1 FLORIDA 79, LSU 61
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points, and top-ranked Florida used a season-high 13 3-pointers to extend its school-record winning streak to 21 games.
Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II added 14 points apiece for the Gators, who also won their 31st straight at home.
This one was never in doubt.
Florida (27-2, 16-0 Southeastern Conference) scored the first eight points, opened up a double-digit lead with consecutive 3-pointers from DeVon Walker and Finney-Smith and put the game away early in the second half with a flurry of points in the paint.
Johnny O’Bryant III led the Tigers (17-11, 8-8) with 18 points. Jordan Mickey added 14 points and 10 rebounds for LSU, which lost its seventh straight on the road.
No. 12 VIRGINIA 76, No. 4 SYRACUSE 56
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Malcolm Brogdon scored eight of his 19 points during a decisive second-half run and No. 12 Virginia clinched the top seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.
Akil Mitchell added 12 points and nine rebounds and Mike Tobey and Justin Anderson scored 11 each for the Cavaliers (25-5, 16-1 ACC), who won their only outright ACC regular season title 33 years ago — 1980-81 — when Ralph Sampson was a sophomore. The victory was their 13th in a row and the final buzzer brought hundreds streaming onto the court.
Tyler Ennis and C.J. Fair scored 13 each for the Orange (26-3, 13-3), who lost for the third time in four games. Syracuse played much of the game without ailing Jerami Grant because of a sore back.
OKLAHOMA STATE 72, No. 5 KANSAS 65
STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Marcus Smart scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half to help Oklahoma State defeat Kansas and give a major boost to the Cowboys’ once-fading NCAA tournament hopes.
Oklahoma State (19-10, 7-9 Big 12) overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half. The Cowboys improved to 3-0 since Smart returned from a three-game suspension for shoving a Texas Tech fan.
Andrew Wiggins scored 15 for Kansas (22-7, 13-3), which already had clinched the Big 12 title outright before tipoff because Texas and Iowa State lost earlier.
The student section was filled nearly an hour before the opening tip. The crowd included Oklahoma City Thunder players Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and their coach, Scott Brooks.
Kamari Murphy’s layup gave Oklahoma State a 66-64 lead with 1:37 remaining.
No. 21 MEMPHIS 72, No. 7 LOUISVILLE 66
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Chris Crawford hit a 3-pointer with 1:36 left to put Memphis ahead to stay, and the Tigers swept the season series from the Cardinals.
No. 21 Memphis (22-7, 11-5 American Athletic Conference) trailed 65-57 with 4:45 left when Michael Dixon Jr. scored six straight, jumpstarting the Tigers who scored 15 of the final 16 points.
No. 7 Louisville (24-5, 13-3) went cold after taking its biggest lead. The Cardinals didn’t score again until Chris Jones hit a free throw with 40.3 seconds to go.
Montrezl Harrell scored a career-high 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Russ Smith scored 15 of his 19 points in the first half. Luke Hancock had 11.
Dixon finished with 18, and Geron Johnson scored 15 points. Austin Nichols added 14, and Crawford finished with 12 points, going 4 for 5 from beyond the arc.
XAVIER 75, No. 9 CREIGHTON 69
CINCINNATI (AP) — Justin Martin had 19 points and a career-high 16 rebounds on Saturday, and Xavier led most of the way in front of the largest crowd in the 14-year history of the Musketeers’ arena.
It was a long-awaited rematch for Xavier, (20-9, 10-6), which lost one of the Big East’s most wide-open games at Creighton in January.
Martin led the way. The junior guard helped Xavier control the tempo and build a 13-point lead early in the second half that was more than enough.
Creighton (23-5, 13-3) couldn’t catch up despite 27 points by Doug McDermott, who leads the nation in scoring.
McDermott had 35 points during the Bluejays’ 95-89 win at home on Jan. 12, a game that showed the reconfigured Big East was a whole different conference. Xavier had more going for it in the rematch.
VCU 67, No. 10 SAINT LOUIS 56
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Treveon Graham had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Virginia Commonwealth added a quality win to its NCAA tournament resume by beating Saint Louis.
Briante Weber added 13 points and four steals for the Rams (22-7, 10-4 Atlantic 10), who handed Saint Louis its second consecutive defeat following a school-record, 19-game winning streak. The Billikens were upset at home Thursday night by Duquesne, a 14-point underdog.
With another chance to clinch at least a tie for the Atlantic 10 regular-season championship, Saint Louis came up empty again. The Billikens lead St. Joseph’s by one game with two to play.
Jordair Jett led Saint Louis (25-4, 12-2) with 18 points. Leading scorer Dwayne Evans had just four on 2-of-11 shooting after scoring 21 when the Billikens beat VCU 64-62 on Feb. 15 in St. Louis.
CONNECTICUT 51, No. 11 CINCINNATI 45
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Shabazz Napier scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead UConn.
The Huskies (23-6, 11-5 American Athletic Conference) won despite going without a field goal for the game’s final 7½ minutes.
But they held Cincinnati (24-5, 13-3) to just 13 baskets on 48 shots.
Napier, the Huskies’ player of the year candidate, bested Cincinnati’s, Sean Kilpatrick, who finished with 16 points.
UConn led by one at halftime. But the Bearcats had just one field goal in the first 7½ minutes after intermission, and Connecticut went on a 13-4 run over the first 11½ minutes to open up a 39-29 lead.
The Bearcats were able to cut that to three points late, but UConn hit five free throws down the stretch to hold on.
No. 13 SAN DIEGO STATE 82, FRESNO STATE 67
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — Xavier Thames scored 22 points and Aqueel Quinn added 17 in San Diego State’s victory over Fresno State.
The Aztecs (24-3, 14-2 Mountain West) shot 60 percent from the field, including 9 of 15 on 3-pointers, to cool off a Fresno State team that had won seven of eight. Quinn was 4 of 5 from long range to help San Diego State snap a two-game skid on the road.
It was the largest margin of defeat during conference play for Fresno State (15-15, 8-9).
San Diego State led by five at halftime and pulled away in the second half, particularly when Bulldogs top scorer Tyler Johnson went to the bench because of foul problems.
Fresno State honored Hall of Fame coach Jerry Tarkanian at halftime.
KANSAS STATE 80, No. 15 IOWA STATE 73
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Will Spradling hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:38 left and Kansas State overcame a huge game by Iowa State star Melvin Ejim.
Shane Southwell had 13 points for the Wildcats (20-9, 10-6 Big 12), who moved into a four-way tie for second place in the conference. Looking for the No. 2 seed in the league tournament, they play at Oklahoma State on Monday and then host Baylor on Saturday to end the regular season.
Kansas State has won 15 straight at Bramlage Coliseum, its longest home winning streak since the 1981-82 season.
Ejim had 30 points and 16 rebounds, and DeAndre Kane added 24 points and eight rebounds to pace the Cyclones (22-6, 10-6).
No. 16 MICHIGAN 66, MINNESOTA 56
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Nik Stauskas scored 21 points and Glenn Robinson III provided an emotional lift with his dunks as Michigan locked up at least a share of the Big Ten title with a victory over Minnesota.
The Wolverines (21-7, 13-3) didn’t arrive at the Crisler Center expecting to have a chance to earn their third banner in three years, but Illinois changed that by upsetting Michigan State in East Lansing.
Michigan can clinch its first outright conference crown since 1986 with a win Tuesday at Illinois or next Saturday at home against Indiana.
Caris LeVert added 13 points for Michigan, and Jordan Morgan had 10 rebounds.
Austin Hollins led Minnesota (18-12, 7-10) with 16 points.
Michigan won a share of the Big Ten crown in 2012 and went to the national championship game last season. The last time the Wolverines hung banners in three straight seasons was 1964-66, when a group led by Cazzie Russell won three consecutive Big Ten titles and went to two Final Fours.
SOUTH CAROLINA 72, No. 17 KENTUCKY 67
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Brenton Williams scored 24 points for South Carolina, which held on after Kentucky coach John Calipari was ejected midway through the second half.
South Carolina (11-18, 4-12 Southeastern Conference) hit six of its first eight shots in the second half to go up 48-32 with 14:13 left. Kentucky made a furious charge after Calipari was tossed, but came up short.
The Wildcats (21-8, 11-5) went 15:38 with only one field goal — on a goaltending call. Calipari was ejected with his team down 12 after getting a second technical with 10:21 left. He walked out of the arena with his suit coat buttoned but his shirttail out.
Calipari’s team responded with a 28-17 run and, after a three-point play by Julius Randle, Kentucky trailed 68-67 with 22 seconds left. But freshman Sindarius Thornwell hit two free throws for South Carolina, and Alex Poythress’ attempt at a tying 3-pointer fell short.
It was South Carolina’s first win over a Top 25 team in more than three years and it pulled the Gamecocks out of last place in the SEC. Students ignored repeated warnings and stormed the court, likely incurring a hefty fine from the league.
The Wildcats shot just 26.9 percent (14 of 52) from the field.
ILLINOIS 53, No. 18 MICHIGAN STATE 46
EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Tracy Abrams scored 12 points, leading Illinois past slumping Michigan State.
The Fighting Illini (17-12, 6-10 Big Ten) have three straight victories for the first time since winning four in a row from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4. That successful stretch included a win over then-No. 23 Missouri.
The Spartans (22-7, 11-5) have dropped two straight and six of their last 10 games. They were full strength for the first time in nearly two months, but simply weren’t good enough to beat a streaking team that seemed more inspired.
Branden Dawson returned from a broken hand and played for the first time since Jan. 21, when he helped Michigan State beat Indiana to improve to 18-1 overall and 7-0 in conference.
Michigan State’s Gary Harris had 19 points.
No. 19 NORTH CAROLINA 60, VIRGINIA TECH 56
BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — James Michael McAdoo scored 15 points to lead No. 19 North Carolina to its 11th straight victory.
McAdoo hit 6 of 9 from the floor for the Tar Heels (22-7, 12-4), who started Atlantic Coast Conference play 1-4 and have not lost since. The Tar Heels haven’t won this many games in a row since opening the 2008-09 season with 13 straight victories.
McAdoo scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half, including 10 after the Hokies had cut the Tar Heel lead to 42-40 on a basket by Jarell Eddie with 8:54 left in the game. North Carolina answered with seven straight points, with McAdoo scoring the last two points on a basket with 6:57 left to make it 49-40.
Leslie McDonald added 14 points and J.P. Tokoto finished with 12 for North Carolina.
Eddie led Virginia Tech (9-19, 2-14 ACC) with 18 points.
No. 23 SMU 70, UCF 55
DALLAS (AP) — Markus Kennedy scored 18 points, Nic Moore had 11 of his 13 in the second half and SMU took another step toward its first NCAA tournament berth in 21 years.
The Mustangs (23-6, 12-4 American Athletic) improved to 15-0 at home, with the last nine coming at newly renovated Moody Coliseum, going into their final home game Wednesday night against seventh-ranked Louisville. The Cardinals lost to No. 21 Memphis 72-66 on Saturday.
Moore, who also had game highs with six assists and four steals, had consecutive 3-pointers for a 45-27 lead with 13:53 remaining, pumping his arms wildly as he stomped up the court with a loud roar from the sixth sellout crowd since Moody reopened in January.
Isaiah Sykes had 18 points to lead UCF (11-16, 3-13).
OKLAHOMA 77, No. 24 TEXAS 65
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Isaiah Cousins scored a career-high 24 points and Oklahoma gained ground in the race for second place in the Big 12.
Buddy Hield hit four 3-pointers and scored 17 points for Oklahoma (21-8, 10-6), which entered the game in a four-way battle with Texas (21-8, 10-6), Kansas State and Iowa State behind Kansas.
After Saturday, all four teams will have two games remaining.
Oklahoma committed a season-low seven turnovers while completing a regular-season sweep of the Longhorns. The Sooners have won three of the last four games in the series after Texas had won 12 of the previous 15.
Cameron Ridley had his eighth double-double of the season with 19 points and 14 rebounds for Texas, which has lost three of its last four games after winning nine of its previous 10, all in league play.