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COLLEGE HOOPS --- CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT ROUNDUP: Miami, UNC to meet for ACC title; Ole Miss, UF to square off in SEC

Miami’s Durand Scott — who had the game of his life Saturday with a career-high 32 points — jams home the ball on a breakaway over N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown during Saturday’s ACC semifinal game.

Miami’s Durand Scott — who had the game of his life Saturday with a career-high 32 points — jams home the ball on a breakaway over N.C. State’s Lorenzo Brown during Saturday’s ACC semifinal game.

Wisc., Ohio State to meet for Big Ten title

CHICAGO — Indiana is still a lock to make the NCAA Tournament, but the Hoosiers’ hopes for a top seed may have slipped away Saturday.

Wisconsin stunned the No. 3 Hoosiers, 68-56, in a Big Ten Tournament semifinal at the United Center, likely ending Indiana’s bid for a top NCAA seed.

The Hoosiers, the regular-season Big Ten Champions, will ponder what went wrong and regroup for the Big Dance.

“Obviously we wanted to get this win,” Indiana forward Cody Zeller said. “We’ll learn from it. We’ll figure out what we did wrong. We’ll make the corrections and get ready for next week because that’s what’s most important.”

Wisconsin (23-10) might se its postseason stock rise, especially if the Badgers win today’s Big Ten Championship against Ohio State, which beat Michigan State in Saturday’s other semifinal.

“It’s a wide open thing and anybody can beat anybody on any night,” the Badgers’ Mike Bruesewitz said. “We have to make sure we bring our A-Game.”

The Badgers earned their fifth all-time title game appearance.

Against Indiana, Wisconsin forward Ryan Evans led a balanced attack with 16 points, his second straight game in double figures.

“(Ryan) was huge for us,” center Jared Berggren said. “We were getting him a lot of touches inside and kind of running our offense through him a little bit. …

“(On Friday against Michigan), he had a lot of big plays where he was either scoring or finding teammates. He had a lot of assists.”

Wisconsin kept Indiana at arm’s length through the final 4:43, going 11-for-17 from the free throw line to pad their margin.

Ben Brust had 12 points, and Berggren and Sam Dekker each added 11 for the Badgers in front of a packed house.

Indiana (27-6) was paced by Christian Watford’s 14 points. Zeller had 13 points and 11 rebounds, and national player of the year frontrunner Victor Oladipo added 10 points.

While Wisconsin was hitting free throws, Indiana went three full minutes without a field goal in the late going until Jordan Hulls scored with 33.8 seconds to play.

It was Wisconsin’s second victory of the season against Indiana and 12th in a row. The Badgers claimed a 64-59 road decision on Jan. 15 in Bloomington.

“We knew that we were capable of having success against this team,” Berggren said. “If we stuck to our rules and played our style of basketball, we were able to do that to come up with a win.”

Both teams worked much on the first half inside the paint, but Wisconsin went long distance later as it built a 34-31 lead after 20 minutes.

The Badgers trailed most of the opening half but jumped ahead with 6:24 showing when Brust picked up a lose ball and bolted down court to drain a 3-pointer for a 23-22 edge.

It was the first of four Wisconsin 3-pointers over the next 3:58. The last, by George Marshall with 2:26 showing, opened a 34-28 lead. Indiana replied with Zeller’s jumper and Watford’s 3-pointer in the final minute to trim the deficit.

Berggren opened the second half with a dunk, but most of the next six minutes belonged to Indiana, which used a 10-0 run to temporarily climb back ahead.

An alert Oladipo had a steal and a layup to tie the score at 40-40 and another Wisconsin turnover led to two free throw tries for Remy Abell, who hit the second for a 41-40 lead.

Dekker broke a 43-43 tie with seven points over the next 50 seconds, including a 3-pointer and a driving layup with 11:11 showing for a 50-43 Badger lead.

Indiana made another run to cut the lead to 52-49, setting the stage for the decisive final six minutes.

“Wisconsin played well; they shot the ball very well,” Hoosier coach Tom Crean said. “They made some open ones, and they also made some tough ones … and they answered the bell every time we made a comeback.”

Wisconsin, which reached the Big Ten semifinals for the second straight year, also recorded its fourth win over a Top 10 team. The Badgers now have a school record seven wins over Top 25 teams this season.

OHIO STATE 61, MICHIGAN STATE 58: DeShaun Thomas was Ohio State’s indispensable man Saturday as the Buckeyes earned a Big Ten championship game berth with a 61-58 victory against Michigan State at the United Center.

The Buckeye forward collected a key offensive rebound with 58 seconds to play, scored on a layup 33 seconds later and added a free throw with nine seconds left as Ohio State stymied a late Spartans comeback.

Thomas scored 16 points and teammate Aaron Craft had 20 and nine assists as the Buckeyes (25-7) landed a spot against Wisconsin in today’s tournament championship.

The No. 2-seeded Buckeyes are 21-9 all time in the tournament and coach Thad Motta is 18-5 overall with three championships (2007, 2010 and 2011).

Today’s title game will be televised nationally on CBS at 3:30 p.m.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Miami guard Durand Scott was voted the Atlantic Coast Conference’s top defensive player a few days ago.

He still has plenty of ammunition at the offensive end, too.

“My teammates are the ones that find me out there, got me open, just told me stuff to get me confident,” Scott said. “I am really happy that we won this game and got another chance to go out there and win a championship.”

The senior poured in a career-high 32 points to help the ninth-ranked Hurricanes defeat North Carolina State, 81-71, in the semifinals of the ACC Tournament on Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

“He was on fire offensively,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said. “But he plays great defense every night. This game kind of symbolizes the kind of player he has been for four years.”

Scott, who fouled out with 1:53 remaining, scored the second-most points of any player in the nine tournament games here this week.

“There were times when I had to focus in on making a shot,” Scott said.

Top-seeded Miami (26-6) now meets North Carolina in the final at 1 p.m. today. It will be the first ACC tournament final for the Hurricanes, who might have a chance for a No. 1 regional seed for the NCAA tournament.

Guard Shane Larkin added 23 points for Miami, which never trailed and held a lead as large as 19 points in the first half.

“We try to be the best backcourt every night and I feed off his energy and he feeds off me,” Larkin said of Scott. “I’m just grateful that he’s on my team.”

Fifth-seeded N.C. State (24-10) is expected to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Scott Wood scored 21 points, C.J. Leslie added 14 and T.J. Warren, before fouling out, had 13 for the Wolfpack.

Scott’s college career picked up steam during an ACC tournament semifinal in the same building when he was a freshman in 2010. He racked up 21 points in a narrow defeat to eventual national champion Duke.

“When I walked into the building a lot of people remembered me and they were like, ‘Do you remember this building and how you did your freshman year?’ “ Scott said. “They reminded me of my performance, but that was the past.”

N.C. State, the league’s preseason favorite, won’t forget what he did Saturday. Scott made 5 of 8 attempts from 3-point range.

“He had his jump shot going,” Wolfpack coach Mark Gottfried said. “We got up on him and he was able to beat us off the dribble.”

Scott, who’s the team’s third-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game, scored the first five Miami points of the second half before going to the bench after apparently being hit in the face. He was back after a short break, but N.C. State got back into the game for a while.

The Wolfpack closed to within 50-44 on Wood’s 3-pointer with 12 minutes to play.

Miami led by as much as 39-20 in the first half, turning thousands of Wolfpack fans nearly silent for stretches.

“We had a day, and we haven’t had many like that, where we just could not get going offensively,” Gottfried said. “We were just in too big of a hole. That first half just was not us.”

But in the last 1:02 of the half, Wood scored seven points and Lorenzo Brown hit two free throws as the Wolfpack pulled to within 41-29 despite missing three foul shots in the last 10 seconds.

Earlier, Scott racked up 11 points as the Hurricanes took a 14-5 lead in the first nine-plus minutes.

N.C. State was scoreless for nearly the first 5 1/2 minutes, coming up empty on eight consecutive possessions. However, Miami managed only a 5-0 edge during that stretch.

“We were getting good shots,” N.C. State guard Rodney Purvis said. “We put ourselves in a hole and it was hard to get out of.”

Notes: Miami won the only regular-season meeting between the teams, 79-78, on Feb. 2 in Raleigh on Reggie Johnson’s tip-in. … Miami was in the semifinals for only the second time, while N.C. State played in the semifinals for the 10th time in 15 years. … N.C. State was aiming for its 25th victory, something it hasn’t reached since the 1983 national championship team. … With 48 victories in the last two seasons, it’s the most in back-to-back seasons for N.C. State since a two-year period ending in 1982-83.

North Carolina 79, Maryland 76: Reggie Bullock recorded 15 points and nine rebounds as the third-seeded Tar Heels held off a late rally from the Terrapins in the semifinals of the ACC tournament at Greensboro, N.C.

Dexter Strickland also had 15 points and Marcus Paige scored five of his eight points late to seal it for North Carolina (24-9), which will play Miami (Fla.) in the championship game on Sunday. James Michael McAdoo and P.J. Hairston each chipped in with 13 points for the Tar Heels, who have won eight of their last nine.

Alex Len led the way with 20 points for seventh-seeded Maryland (22-12), which had a chance to tie it late but Logan Aronhalt’s long 3-pointer missed with 9 seconds left. Nick Faust added 17 points and Dez Wells had 15 for the Terrapins, who have dropped seven straight to North Carolina including three this season.

Strickland had 11 points as North Carolina built its lead as high as 12 in the first half before settling for a 37-32 edge at intermission. North Carolina pushed the lead to 50-38 after a three-point play by McAdoo with 15:05 remaining.

Wells drained a 3-pointer to highlight a 12-2 run that brought the Terrapins back within three with 8:46 to go, but 3-pointers by Leslie McDonald and Bullock helped re-install a 10-point lead. Len led Maryland back within 71-70 before Paige made a big basket with 2:50 left and the Terrapins could never tie or go ahead.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Hairston, playing in his hometown, required eight stitches after suffering a cut in the webbing between the ring and middle fingers of his left hand during the quarterfinal victory over Florida State on Friday. … Wells also had nine rebounds and four assists for Maryland. … North Carolina coach Roy Williams has 699 career wins.

SEC Tournament

Ole Miss, Florida reach SEC title game

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Florida has so many killer perimeter players with the same skill set that it’s hard to distinguish who’s the best.

Unless the best reveals himself in critical moments, as senior Kenny Boynton on Saturday afternoon.

Boynton scored 11 consecutive points during a 13-0 second half run that lifted the Gators from a 10-point deficit and toward a 61-51 SEC Tournament semifinals victory Saturday against Alabama in Bridgestone Arena.

Florida (26-6), the league’s regular-season champion, advanced to today’s noon championship game against Ole Miss, which beat Vanderbilt in the other semifinal. The Gators have won the SEC tourney three times.

It appeared they might not get a shot in the final until Boynton scored all of his game-total 16 points in the final 15 minutes. He confidently slashed through traffic to the basket and didn’t hesitate on catch and shoot 3-pointers.

“Coach (Billy Donovan) challenged us at halftime to come out and play with more energy,” said Boynton, who scored 11 points in a 13-0 Florida run that erased a 10-point run.

His outburst energized his teammates, such as center Patric Young. “I don’t know if I got that more aggressive,” Boynton said. “It seemed like the floor just opened up more.”

Young, who had 13 points and nine rebounds while not being a main scoring option on a team of outside gunners, was dominant in Florida’s closing kick.

He scored six straight points, including a steal and dunk, to push the Gators’ lead to double-digits with 3:22 left, then drew a charging foul from Alabama’s Retin Obasohan with 1:22 left.

“Kenny played with the fire that got us going,” Donovan said. “He hit a couple of free throws and got hopped up on confidence and our team followed.

“Of anybody on our team, Kenny is truly loved. His intentions are always good. I personally was very, very happy for him. I told him at the half, ‘You’re a senior’ it’s time to fight.’”

Guards Trevor Releford and Trevor Lacey led Alabama (21-12) with 12 and 11 points respectively. Lacey made half of the Tide’s six three-pointers, but the Gators’ Boynton held Lacey scoreless in the final 10:25.

“You’ve got to give Florida credit,” Alabama coach Anthony Grant said. “They’ve been the best team in the league all year. Boynton really stepped up and made plays, and their defense tightened up and allowed them to get out in transition.”

Alabama matched Florida almost shot for shot through the game’s first five minutes. The Tide’s combination of Releford, Lacey and Levi Randolph countered Boynton, Mike Rosario and Scottie Wilbekin fastbreak for fastbreak, penetration for penetration.

That meant the X factor had to come from someone else other than the guards, and that guy was Alabama forward Nick Jacobs.

Jacobs, a 6-9 sophomore who has almost 20 pounds during the course of the season, gave Alabama a finishing inside presence that Florida didn’t possess.

The Crimson Tide shot 55 percent from the field in the opening half.

When Alabama held a 28-25 halftime lead, Jacobs had already scored nine points off the bench, more than Florida starting forward Erik Murphy.

Murphy, who had a career-high 27 points in Friday’s quarterfinal win over LSU, had 4 points in the first half vs. Alabama, and finished with six.

The Gators made it a point to go to Murphy early in the second half, but he never got untracked. When Releford’s two free throws gave Alabama a 37-27 lead with 16:05 left, the Crimson Tide felt confident.

“I was telling Andrew Steele on the bench we just had to keep attacking and make plays,” Lacey said. “We didn’t need to let happen what happened to us.”

NOTES: The loss by Alabama most certainly knocked the Crimson Tide off the NCAA tourney bubble and into the NIT. When coach Anthony Grant was asked postgame to make a case for his team to get an NCAA tourney invite, he declined. “I always live in the present,” he said. “I don’t look forward.” … Florida is the top seed in this tournament for the fourth time. The other three times, it won the title in 2007 and was runner-up in 1989 and 2011.

Mississippi 64, Vanderbilt 52: Marshall Henderson scored 23 points and the Rebels advanced to the SEC tournament title game for the first time since 2001, pulling away from the pesky Commodores in the second half at Nashville, Tenn.

Mississippi (25-8), the No. 3 seed, will face top-seeded Florida in Sunday’s championship game. The Rebels won despite missing 16 free throws and hitting 4-of-19 from 3-point range.

Reginald Buckner had 15 points and nine rebounds for Mississippi. Murphy Holloway added 12 points and eight boards for the Rebels.

Vanderbilt (16-17) took a 26-18 lead with 4:06 to play in the first half on a Sheldon Jeter 3-pointer, but Ole Miss recorded the last eight points of the half. Vanderbilt went the first 2:22 of the second half without a point as well before scoring eight straight for a 34-30 lead.

From there it was all Rebels, though, with Mississippi going on a 28-6 run to forge an 18-point advantage with 3:26 to play. Henderson had 10 of the Rebels’ points during the run.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Kedren Johnson was the only Vanderbilt player to score in double figures with 12. … A day after scoring the final five points in Ole Miss’ two-point win over Missouri, Derrick Millinghaus was scoreless, shooting 0-of-5 from the field, including 0-of-4 from 3-point range. … The Commodores hit 6-of-30 from 3-point range.


Conference USA Championship

Memphis wins Conference USA crown in double OT thriller:

No. 17 Memphis 91, Southern Miss 79 (2OT): Chris Crawford and Joe Jackson combined for 45 points as the Tigers outlasted the Golden Eagles in Tulsa and won the Conference USA tournament for the third straight season.

Crawford, the tournament MVP, scored 23 points and hit five 3-pointers to give him a tournament-record 19 from behind the arc in three games. Jackson contributed 22 points while Adonis Thomas totaled 19 points and eight rebounds as Memphis (30-4) closed its final season in the league by going 19-0 against C-USA foes.

Daveon Boardingham’s 19 points led Southern Miss, which got 15 points and 17 rebounds from Jonathan Mills. The Golden Eagles (25-9), who tied the team record for wins in a single season, now must hope to receive an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament.

Jackson had the chance to ice it at the free-throw line with Memphis leading 62-60, but missed the front end of his single-bonus opportunity. Southern Miss rebounded and Neil Watson made a breakaway layup at the horn to tie it at 62 and force overtime for the first time in a C-USA tournament final.

A jumper by Jackson forged a 72-72 tie with 11.7 seconds to go in the first overtime to extend the contest. The lead changed hands three times in the second OT, but Memphis went on a late 9-0 run to build an insurmountable 87-77 advantage with 24 seconds remaining.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Thomas and D.J. Stephens joined Crawford on the all-tournament team. Stephens amassed 12 points, four rebounds, three steals and five blocks. … Dwayne Davis, Southern Miss’ top scorer, had 16 points but needed 17 shots to reach that total. … Mills’ 17 rebounds tied a career high.


MAC Championship

Akron's big second half earns Zips trip to Big Dance

Akron 65, Ohio 46: Demetrius Treadwell had 13 points and 10 rebounds to help the Zips down the Bobcats in Cleveland to claim the Mid-American Conference’s automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament.

Chauncey Gilliam also scored 13 points and Nick Harney added 11 for top-seeded Akron (26-6), which is part of the NCAA Tournament field for the third time in five seasons.

Reggie Keely scored 19 points for the second-seeded Bobcats (24-9), who shot 33.3 percent and were 1-for-20 from 3-point range. Standout point guard D.J. Cooper had three points on 0-of-8 shooting and missed all six of his 3-point attempts.

Akron trailed by nine midway through the first half and 29-26 at halftime before dominating the second half. Treadwell’s basket with 15:27 to play put the Zips ahead to stay during a 9-0 run in which Akron took a 40-33 advantage.

The Bobcats were within six with less than eight minutes remaining but Treadwell answered with a layup and Harney converted a three-point play to give the Zips a 50-39 lead with 6:44 to play. Akron’s lead topped out at 21.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Akron played its third game without starting point guard Alex Abreu, who was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on drug charges earlier this month. … The Bobcats drop to 6-2 in eight MAC title-game appearances. … The Zips had 13 offensive boards while holding a 44-27 rebounding edge.


Mountain West Championship

New Mexico stops UNLV in Vegas for title

No. 14 New Mexico 63, UNLV 56: Tony Snell scored 10 of his game-high 21 points in the final seven minutes as the Lobos defended their Mountain West Conference tournament title with the victory at Las Vegas’ Thomas & Mack Center.

Conference player of the year Kendall Williams was the only other New Mexico player to hit double figures, scoring 12 points and dishing out seven assists for New Mexico (29-5).

Bryce Dejean-Jones led UNLV (25-9) with 19 points, including three 3-pointers in the game’s final minutes. Anthony Bennett added 15 points for the Rebels, who finished the season 18-3 at home. Katin Reinhardt missed 12 of his 16 shots and finished with 11 points.

Snell scored seven straight points to give the Lobos a 56-47 lead with 3:48 to play but Dejean-Jones hit-back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to 56-53. Snell, however, put the game away with a 3-pointer of his own with 1:06 to play.

Bennett finished with 11 rebounds as third-seeded UNLV won the battle on the boards 63-56. Cameron Bairstow and Hugh Greenwood grabbed seven rebounds apiece for top-seeded New Mexico.

GAME NOTEBOOK: New Mexico led 34-32 at the half. UNLV finally tied the game at 44 on a jumper by Dejean-Jones but Jamal Fenton hit a layup on the Lobos’ next possession and New Mexico never trailed again. …The teams split the regular-season series with both winning at home. …It was the third time in the 14-year history of the conference that the No. 1 seed has won the title.


Big East Tournament

Louisville rallies, then crushes Syracuse

No. 4 Louisville 78, No. 20 Syracuse 61: Freshman Montrezl Harrell had a career-high 20 points and seven rebounds as the Cardinals rallied from a 16-point second-half deficit to cruise past the Orange at Madison Square Garden and win their second straight Big East tournament championship.

Peyton Siva added 11 points, eight assists and four steals while center Gorgui Dieng tallied nine points, nine rebounds and eight assists for Louisville (29-5), which collected its third Big East tournament title in the last five years. Russ Smith and Luke Hancock finished with 10 points apiece for the Cardinals.

C.J. Fair recorded a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds while Michael Carter-Williams posted 11 points and nine assists for Syracuse (26-9), which was outscored 56-26 in the second half.

The Cardinals fell behind 35-20 late in the first half largely due to 25.9 percent shooting and trailed by as many as 16 points following a 3-pointer from Southerland with 15:51 remaining. However, Southerland picked up his fourth foul 20 seconds later and the Orange offense wilted, committing eight turnovers over a 7:11 stretch as Louisville turned the game around with a 29-4 run.

Louisville continued to stretch the margin behind eight straight points from Harrell as Syracuse endured a field-goal drought of 11:05, allowing the Cardinals to take a 73-55 advantage on a 3-pointer from Wayne Blackshear with 2:03 remaining. Fair finally ended the Orange’s dry spell - and Louisville’s 44-10 second-half surge - on a 3-pointer with 1:49 remaining.

GAME NOTEBOOK: Louisville’s rally from its 35-22 halftime deficit was the largest in Big East tournament history. … Southerland shot 3-for-8 beyond the arc and finished 19-for-33 during Syracuse’s four-game run at this event, breaking the tournament record (16) set by former Syracuse star Gerry McNamara. … Louisville’s 16-point deficit matched its largest of the season, set against Memphis on Dec. 15 in an 87-78 Cardinals’ victory