No. 16 Virginia Tech, No. 23 Purdue win in Charleston
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Northeastern forward Jeremy Miller loves playing Power Five opponents. He and his teammates made sure the Huskies got a chance to play another by routing Alabama at the Charleston Classic.
Vasa Pusica had 20 points while Miller and Bolden Brace had 11 points each as the Huskies (2-1) advanced to the tournament semifinals with a 68-52 victory over the Crimson Tide (2-1) on Thursday.
The win was the program’s first over a Southeastern Conference school and set up a game Friday with No. 16 Virginia Tech of the Atlantic Coast Conference with a spot in the eight-team tournament finals on the line.
No. 23 Purdue topped Appalachian State 92-70 as Carsen Edwards scored 25 points and Ryan Cline added 21. Both Boilermaker starters hit four of the team’s 13 3-pointers.
They’ll face Davidson, which rallied from 10 points down in the second half to defeat Wichita State. The Wildcats got a career-high 33 points from Jon Axel Gudmundsson.
In the consolation bracket, Alabama will play Ball State and Appalachian State takes on the Shockers.
Northeastern’s Miller says his team can’t wait for another crack at a Power Five foe — and the higher the stakes the better.
“Everyone’s hype, everyone’s really into it” against top-tier opposition, he said. “I think it brings out a different side to us.”
Miller, a senior, was part of the team that stunned Michigan State 83-71 in December 2016. He’s ready to go up against the Hokies (2-0), who advanced with a 73-64 win over Ball State.
“We have something to prove this year,” Miller said.
Pusica went 4 of 4 on 3-pointers and had team highs with five assists and three steals.
Alabama fell into a hole with its ice-cold shooting. The Crimson Tide started 4 of 17 and missed all seven of its threes during the first 10 minutes to fall behind 19-9. It was a deficit they could not make up.
Virginia Tech 73, Ball State 64
Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 21 points for a second straight game to lead Virginia Tech (2-0).
Alexander-Walker said the Hokies took steps forward on offense and defense from their first game, an 87-59 win over Gardner-Webb last Friday.
Their preparation was better, their defense was sharper and they showed more intensity going after rebounds, Alexander-Walker said.
“Locking in on the things that aren’t seen to win,” he said.
Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 18 points and a team-best seven rebounds while Justin Robinson scored 15 points for Virginia Tech.
Ball State (1-2) was led by Tayler Persons with 21 points.
No. 23 Purdue 92, Appalachian State 70
The Boilermakers (3-0) came out fast and never let up, grabbing a 13-2 lead to grab control. Edwards had two 3-pointers in the stretch.
The 6-foot-1 junior has scored 30, 23 and 25 points in Purdue’s three wins. He showed his speed and dexterity when he took a blocked shot by center Matt Haarms by his own foul line, raced up court, split two Mountaineer defenders and switched hands on the way up for a layup.
Edwards didn’t let up at halftime with the Boilermakers ahead by double digits, nailing a high-arching straightaway three about 4 feet beyond the line.
“We’re just going to try and continue to play ball,” Edwards said. “Getting some easy stops helps the offense get in transition.”
Justin Forrest topped the Mountaineers (1-2) with 14 points.
Davidson 57, Wichita State 53
Davidson’s Gudmundsson, a 6-foot-4 junior, surpassed his previous high of 24 points last accomplished in a January against George Mason.
He looked like an unstoppable one-man show down the stretch. He tied the game at 50-all with a three-point play, the broke that tie with under a minute to go with a 3-pointer. Gudmundsson closed things out with four foul shots.
Gudmundsson, from Iceland, played nationally for his country and has always been a player teammates have looked for. “So I’m comfortable in that,” he said.