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BC-BKC--NCAA Tournament-The Latest

March 22, 2019
By The Associated Press

The Latest on the first round of the NCAA Tournament (all times Eastern):

5:50 p.m.

A tumultuous season at Kansas has had an unexpected consequence: coach Bill Self has spent more on hair-care products.

“I’m not going to say I haven’t purchased Just For Men at some point in time over the last several months,” Self said to laughter Friday.

It’s been a rough season in Kansas, starting with the indefinite suspension of Silvio De Souza after his name surfaced in a federal probe into college basketball.

The Jayhawks also lost big man Udoke Azubuke to a season-ending wrist injury and senior guard Lagerald Vick left the team for personal reasons.

The attrition has forced Self to get creative with his lineups and coaching style, closing the season with four freshmen starting and a lineup he never would have expected at the start of the year.

“Sometimes the way we play in the past isn’t as available to us now, so we have to figure out different ways to do things,” Self said. “It’s been fun for me to try to tweak some things to get the most out of them.”

— John Marshall reporting from Salt Lake City.

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5:20 p.m.

Admiral Schofield had 19 points and No. 2 seed Tennessee held off a second-half rally by No. 15 seed Colgate for a 77-70 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Jordan Bone added 16 points and Jordan Bowden 14 for Tennessee (30-5), which advanced to play Iowa on Sunday. The Hawkeyes beat Cincinnati earlier in the day.

The Raiders (24-11) erased a 42-30 halftime lead by Tennessee with an 11-2 run to tie the score midway through the second half and keep the game close after that.

Schofield hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give Tennessee a cushion with 45 seconds left, and Bone and Schofield followed up with a pair of foul shots each to extend the lead as Colgate ran out of time.

— Mitch Stacy reporting from Columbus, Ohio.

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5:15 p.m.

No. 1 seed Virginia avoided the ignominy of another first-round NCAA Tournament upset, rallying from 14 points down to beat No. 16 seed Gardner-Webb in the South Region.

The Cavaliers were the top overall seed last year but lost 74-54 to 16th-seeded UMBC. It was the first — and still the only — time in 35 years that a 1-seed has fallen in its opening game.

The Cavaliers trailed 30-16 with 6:42 left in the first half but rallied and cut the Runnin’ Bulldogs’ lead to six at halftime. Virginia then opened the second half with a 25-5 run that ended any ideas of another 1-and-done.

The Cavaliers used their trademark stifling defense to force 11 Gardner-Webb turnovers in the first 12 minutes after the break.

Virginia coach Tony Bennett told his team all season they needed to turn last year’s disaster into something positive.

— Jeffrey Collins reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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4:50 p.m.

If there’s any bigger insult in sports than calling a player a choke, it might be calling a player a bad sport.

Auburn’s J’von McCormick clutched his throat as New Mexico State’s Terrell Brown was toeing the free-throw line with 1.1 seconds left, getting ready for three shots that would decide Thursday’s game.

Brown missed two and Auburn prevailed by a point. On Friday, coach Bruce Pearl came to McCormick’s defense: “That’s not at all his character,” he said, “and that’s not at all ours.”

Pearl said McCormick came to Auburn on a scholarship when nobody else would, agreeing to come to a school not known for its basketball program without a guarantee of a starting spot.

“To his credit, he said, ‘I’m going to come in and push them,’” Pearl said.

The coach said he hadn’t seen footage from the dramatic ending of Thursday’s game, but he did address it with the junior guard from New Orleans.

“You have given the world an opportunity to focus on that, which I wish they wouldn’t, but sometimes you have a responsibility,” Pearl said. “So we’re dealing with it. All it is, you look at is as a lesson, not only for him, but for the next guy.”

— Eddie Pells reporting from Salt Lake City

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4:40 p.m.

Virginia is finally playing like a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

The Cavaliers have rallied from 14 points down in the opening half to lead 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb 42-38 with 15:20 left to play.

A year ago, Virginia became the first top-seeded team in the men’s tournament to a fall to a No. 16 seed with a 74-54 loss to UMBC. And for much of this one, Gardner-Webb looked ready to do it again.

But Virginia is on a 26-8 over an 11-minute stretch to move in front, and are trying to set up a date with ninth-seeded Oklahoma in the second round.

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia, South Carolina

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4:35 p.m.

If Wofford was looking for some bulletin-board material for its second-round game against No. 2 seed Kentucky, Nick Richards provided it.

The 6-foot-11 center said bluntly Friday that the Wildcats have better big men than their next opponent. He calls is “a really good advantage for us.”

Richards says Wofford’s “bigs are skilled around the basket, they know how to move around the floor, but we’re just better than them overall.”

Even though leading scorer and rebounder PJ Washington will not play because of a sprained left foot, Richards says he, 6-10 EJ Montgomery and 6-8 Reid Travis should have a big edge Saturday against the seventh-seeded Terriers.

As Richards put it, “They’re not even as athletic as all three of us.”

Kentucky coach John Calipari was taken aback by the comments. He never wants one of his players to talk badly of an opponent, but the coach went on to say he’s glad Richards is confident.

Wofford big man Cameron Jackson shrugged off Richards’ assessment. He says it’s “not about proving them wrong. It’s about doing what we’re comfortable doing and making an impact on the game.”

— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.

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4:20 p.m.

Michigan State freshman Aaron Henry doesn’t know what all the fuss is about.

Tom Izzo’s heated exchange with him on the court during the Spartans’ first-round win over Bradley on Thursday has drawn wide attention on social media and from pundits opining about the coach’s fiery methods. But Henry said Friday that it was just Izzo being Izzo.

“No abuse was done. Nothing bad was done. It was just coaching,” he said. “That’s what he is, that’s his life, that’s his job. Coaching. You can’t be upset how he does it.”

TV cameras caught Izzo laying into Henry as he came off the court during a timeout, and players stepped in to separate the two in the team huddle. Izzo said after the game that he was upset with the level of effort Henry was playing with at the time.

“My parents loved my response. I didn’t show disrespect or fight back,” he said. “Not that I wanted to, which in this period in general, most people would have in this generation. Not me.”

Henry said he doesn’t doubt Izzo has faith in him. After all, he is a freshman starting for one of the top teams in the country and playing about 30 minutes a game the last month.

— Eric Olson reporting from Des Moines, Iowa.

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4:15 p.m.

Evan Leonard hit back-to-back 3-pointers to start a run of 12 straight points in the second half that sent No. 13 seed UC Irvine to a 70-64 victory over fourth-seeded Kansas State.

The Anteaters (31-5) held on after that run and stunned the regular-season co-champions of the Big 12 for the first tournament win in school history.

UC Irvine lost 57-55 to Louisville in 2015 in its only previous trip to the tournament.

One year after making a run to the Elite Eight, the Wildcats (25-9) had a short stay in the tournament as they struggled to decipher the Anteaters zone defense and missed star forward Dean Wade, who was sidelined by a foot injury. Kamau Stokes led Kansas State with 18 points.

— Josh Dubow reporting from San Jose, California.

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4:10 p.m.

The unthinkable is happening to Virginia (again) in the NCAA Tournament.

The top-seeded Cavaliers are trailing 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb 36-30 at halftime, one year after becoming the first men’s No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 since the tournament expanded to 64 teams.

It was UMBC last year. Now it’s the champions of the Big South.

The Cavaliers came in with 29 wins and a share of an Atlantic Coast Conference championship. But they were outhustled and at times lost in the first half as the Bulldogs led by as many as 14.

Virginia closed the half with a 14-6 run in the final seven minutes.

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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4 p.m.

Third-seeded Texas Tech shook off a slow first half to roll past 14th-seeded Northern Kentucky 72-57 on Friday in the West Region.

Jarrett Culver, the Big 12 Player of the Year, scored 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting. The Red Raiders shot 53 percent from the field overall.

Tyler Sharpe scored 23 points for Northern Kentucky.

Tech led 30-26 at halftime before dominating on both ends after the break. The Red Raiders’ largest lead was 20 points.

The Norse shot just 37 percent for the game.

— Cliff Brunt reporting from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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3:55 p.m.

No. 2 seed Tennessee is taking advantage of turnovers to stay on top of 15th-seeded Colgate.

The Pioneer League champions turned the ball over eight times in the early going, leading to a 42-30 Tennessee lead at halftime in Columbus, Ohio.

Lamonte Turner and Jordan Bowden have 10 points apiece for the Volunteers, who lost in the first round of last year’s tournament to 11th-seeded Loyola of Chicago.

Jordan Burns has 12 points for Colgate, going 4 of 5 from 3-point range.

Colgate is seeking its first tournament in three tires. Its last chance came in 1996.

— Mitch Stacy reporting from Columbus.

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3:50 p.m.

PJ Washington is out for Kentucky’s game against Wofford in the NCAA Tournament.

The sophomore forward sprained his left foot in the Southeastern Conference tournament last weekend, and it hasn’t healed as quickly as the Wildcats were hoping.

Washington missed their opener against Abilene Christian, but No. 2-seeded Kentucky had more than enough talent to make up for his absence. The Wildcats romped to a 79-44 victory.

Wofford is expected to present a much tougher challenge in the second round Saturday, especially with Washington watching from the bench. He is Kentucky’s leading scorer and rebounder.

The ailing foot was placed in a hard cast that likely will come off early next week. Then, coach John Calipari said, it’s just a matter of making sure Washington is fully recovered.

If Kentucky beats Wofford, he might be able to return for the round of 16.

— Paul Newberry reporting from Jacksonville, Florida.

___

3:25 p.m.

No. 1 seed Virginia is having a difficult time early with 16th-seeded Gardner-Webb.

Remind anybody of anything?

The Cavaliers trailed in the opening minutes Friday, missing three of their first five shots and making a pair of turnovers against the longshots from the South Region.

Virginia entered the NCAA history books last season as the first men’s No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 when it fell to UMBC. The Cavaliers talked Thursday of wanting to get past that loss with a solid performance against the Bulldogs to start their tournament run.

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

___

3 p.m.

Max Hazzard provided an exclamation point to the first half for UC Irvine.

Hazzard’s 3-pointer at the buzzer sent the 13th-seeded Anteaters into the half tied at 30 with fourth-seeded Kansas State in a first-round matchup in the South Region.

The Wildcats, who won the regular-season Big 12 title, ended the half on a major shooting drought, missing their final 11 shots over the final 6:18.

Kansas State’s leading scorer, Barry Brown Jr., was held scoreless in six minutes. He was sent to the bench early with two quick fouls.

— Josh Dubow from San Jose, California.

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2:55 p.m.

Luka Garza scored 20 points, Jordan Bohannon made a three-point play during Iowa’s closing surge, and the 10th-seeded Hawkeyes kept the Big Ten perfect in the NCAA Tournament against Cincinnati.

The Hawkeyes rallied from an early hole for a 79-72 victory over the No. 7 seed Bearcats, moving the league to 6-0 with Ohio State and Wisconsin still to play later Friday.

The Hawkeyes (23-11) got their first NCAA Tournament win in four years despite what amounted to a home crowd for the Bearcats, who couldn’t overcome a subpar game by Jarron Cumberland.

For Cincinnati (28-7), it was another early flameout. The Bearcats haven’t made it past the opening weekend for seven straight years.

— Joe Kay reporting from Columbus, Ohio.

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2:50 p.m.

Kristian Doolittle scored 19 points and matched a career-high with 15 rebounds as No. 9 seed Oklahoma blitzed Mississippi from the start in a 95-72 victory on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Sooners (20-13) had four players score at least 18 points and shot 58 percent from the field.

Oklahoma scored on eight of its first nine possessions and led 12-0 less than three minutes into the game.

The Sooners advance to play the winner of No. 1 seed Virginia and 16th-seed Gardner-Webb.

Terrence Davis led Ole Miss (20-13) with 17 points.

— Jeffrey Collins reporting from Columbia, South Carolina.

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2:45 p.m.

Kansas State and UC Irvine are trading runs in the first half of their first-round matchup in the South Region in San Jose.

The 13th-seeded Anteaters ran off seven straight points to cut an early deficit to one point only to watch the fourth-seeded Wildcats score the next nine as UC Irvine missed five shots and committed three turnovers in a more than four-minute drought.

The Anteaters then responded with nine in a row to cut the deficit to 28-27 late in the first half.

— Josh Dubow from San Jose, California.

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2:30 p.m.

Third-seeded Texas Tech is getting all it wants from 14th-seeded Northern Kentucky.

The Red Raiders held on for a 30-26 halftime lead in their first-round game in the West Region, shooting 52 percent from the field but unable to shake the Norse.

Texas Tech threatened to pull away when a 3-point play by Jarrett Culver put the Red Raiders up 25-17, but Northern Kentucky closed the half on a 9-5 run.

Culver scored 12 points in the first half. Tyler Sharpe led Northern Kentucky with 10.

The game offers contrasting styles: Tech is one of the nation’s top defensive teams and Northern Kentucky likes to run, averaging 79 points per game.

— Cliff Brunt reporting from Tulsa, Oklahoma.

___

2:10 p.m.

Kansas State has gotten off to a fast shooting start in front of a sparse crowd in San Jose, California, in its game against No. 13 seed UC Irvine.

The fourth-seeded Wildcats got 3-pointers in the opening three minutes from Barry Brown Jr., Xavier Sneed and Kamau Stokes to take an early 9-5 lead. The Wildcats are trying to replicate their run to last year’s Elite Eight, when like this year they were without star forward Dean Wade.

The two teams had an early 11 a.m. tipoff on the West Coast, and the stands were only about one-third full for the start of the four-game slate.

— Josh Dubow from San Jose, California

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2:05 p.m.

Florida State forward Phil Cofer is with the team the day after his father died.

Cofer found out after Thursday’s first-round victory over Vermont that his father had died at age 58 after a long illness. Mike Cofer was an NFL linebacker with the Detroit Lions from 1983-92.

Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton said Phil Cofer will remain with the team for Florida State’s second-round game on Saturday against 12th-seeded Murray State.

“Our heart goes out to the Cofer family,” Hamilton said. “We’ll there for Phil in any way possible.”

Hamilton said it has not been determined if Phil Cofer will play against Murray State. Cofer, a senior starter, missed the first-round game with a foot injury.

— Ralph Russo reporting from Hartford, Connecticut.

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1:55 p.m.

Gamblers are putting their money on at least two potential upsets in the remaining first-round games of the NCAA Tournament: UC Irvine over Kansas State and Liberty over Mississippi State.

Betting trends released Friday by sportsbook William Hill show 60 percent of money wagered backing the No. 13 seed Anteaters against the No. 4 seed Wildcats. Kansas State is favored by 4 1/2 points but is likely to play without star forward Dean Wade.

Some 70 percent of the dollars gambled back the No. 12 seed Flames to cover against the fifth-seeded Bulldogs.

Both the Anteaters and Flames have more actual wagers backing them, too, meaning both casual bettors and big-spending gamblers agree on the picks.

One spot where the sharps and squares disagree: No. 6 seed Buffalo against 11th-seeded Arizona State. About 55 percent of tickets are backing Buffalo favored by 5 points, but 56 percent of the money gambled is on the underdog Sun Devils. That difference shows that pro bettors are going against the opinions of casual fans who generally bet less money.

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1:40 p.m.

Ninth-seeded Oklahoma showcased some of its best offense of the year in building a 50-33 lead over No. 8 seed Ole Miss at halftime of their first-round game in South Region.

The Sooners were 19 of 33 from the floor and committed just one turnover, and the 50 points were the most coach Lon Kruger’s team has scored in a first half this season.

Ole Miss shot 52 percent from the floor but was slowed by nine turnovers.

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia.

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1:10 p.m.

Cincinnati has managed to stay ahead in its first-round game against Iowa despite a subpar performance from Jarron Cumberland, the American Athletic’s player of the year. Cumberland has only four points and has missed all of his three shots from beyond the arc.

Point guard Justin Jenifer has made up for him, scoring 12 points as the Bearcats lead 36-31 at the half. Cincinnati has been ahead by as many as 13 points.

The Bearcats are trying to break their streak of six straight years failing to make it out of the tournament’s opening weekend. Last year, they blew a 22-point lead with 11 minutes left and lost to Nevada in the second round, matching the second-biggest meltdown in NCAA Tournament history.

The Hawkeyes are trying to keep the Big Ten’s perfect start intact. The league sent eight teams into the field — the most in Big Ten history — and five won their opening games Thursday. Iowa was the first of three playing Friday along with Ohio State and Wisconsin.

— Joe Kay reporting from Columbus, Ohio.

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1:05 p.m.

Oklahoma is red hot in its NCAA Tournament opener with Ole Miss.

The Sooners have made 12 of 15 shots over the first nine minutes and raced out to a 29-16 lead in their South Regional first-round game in Columbia, South Carolina.

Kristian Doolittle has eight points and Christian James has hit both his 3-pointers for the Sooners, who missed their first shot before knocking down eight in a row.

Oklahoma was a bubble team that barely squeaked into the field of 68.

— Pete Iacobelli in Columbia.

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12:30 p.m.

NCAA president Mark Emmert was on hand for the first NCAA Tournament regional games to be played in Columbia, South Carolina, since 1970.

The lapse of nearly 50 years came because of the University of South Carolina’s aging arena, but that was rectified with the opening of Colonial Life Arena in 2002. Then, the 18,000-seat building could not host the next 13 years due to the NCAA ban because the state of South Carolina flew the Confederate flag on Statehouse grounds.

The flag was removed in 2015 in aftermath of the killing of nine people at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church, and the NCAA reversed its ban soon after and the school and city bid for a regional.

Emmert said he’s happy with what he sees: “First class administrators” at South Carolina and top-notch people at the NCAA helped put things together, he said, and “things look great.”

— Pete Iacobelli reporting from Columbia.

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12:15 p.m.

Iowa and Cincinnati are under way in the first game of the Friday slate in the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 10 seed Hawkeyes can score points in bunches, but they are also prone to getting blown out, making them one of them more mercurial teams in the field. The seventh-seeded Bearcats are a bit more steady, and have a certain toughness common in Mick Cronin’s teams.

The winner gets the Colgate-Tennessee winner on Sunday.

Other early games include eighth-seeded Ole Miss against No. 9 seed Oklahoma in the South Region, and third-seeded Texas Tech against No. 14 seed Northern Kentucky in the West.

___

The first round of the NCAA Tournament is set to conclude Friday with plenty of star power taking the floor, notably Zion Williams and No. 1 overall seed Duke.

The Blue Devils play North Dakota State in the East Region.

Virginia tries to avoid losing as a top seed for the second straight year, while fellow No. 1 seed North Carolina opens its tournament against Iona. Mid-major powers Houston and Buffalo also get going while upset-minded 12-seeds Liberty and Oregon are in action.

The first game on the docket is Iowa, the No. 10 seed in the South Region, against seventh-seeded Cincinnati. The winner takes on the Colgate-Tennessee winner on Sunday.

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