Author: The Dagger - NCAAB - Yahoo Sports

Davis leads Texas A&M past Mississippi 71-69

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) — Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy offered up a concise invocation when Mississippi’s Breein Tyree tossed up a 3-point attempt from the left of the top of the key late Tuesday night in Reed Arena.

”I was praying that it would bounce out,” Kennedy said. ”And God blessed us with the right bounce.”

The result was a 71-69 Aggies’ win over the Rebels, A&M’s first Southeastern Conference victory in six tries this season.

”Billy Kennedy is a good friend of mine, a good man and a good coach,” Mississippi coach Andy Kennedy said. ”Sometimes the odds have a way of evening out. We had a guy with a clean look and unfortunately for us it just didn’t go down.”

Fortunately for the Aggies, center Tyler Davis’ final shot did. With the scored tied at 69, Davis missed a short jumper but grabbed the rebound for the putback and a 71-69 A&M lead with 22.7 seconds remaining. That set up the Rebels’ final play with the memorable miss that rattled in and finally out as the crowd exhaled.

A&M (12-6, 1-5 SEC) led 64-62 with 3:19 left when Robert Williams collected an alley-oop pass from Duane Wilson and slammed the ball home. On the other end, Williams blocked a shot following a Rebels’ offensive rebound, and D.J. Hogg caused one of the loudest roars of the night when he drained a 3-pointer from the far right corner to lift A&M to a 69-62 lead with 2:51 left.

That wasn’t enough to stave off the Rebels, however, and the Aggies needed Davis and decent defense to finally close it out. The Rebels (10-8, 3-3) have never won in College Station, falling to 0-3.

The teams played before a good crowd of 10,578 in the 13,000-seat arena considering A&M was closed on Tuesday because of an ice storm that had enveloped the region starting early that morning. On Tuesday afternoon the university offered free parking for all comers and free admission for all A&M students to try and create a home-court advantage.

Two of A&M’s SEC losses have been by a point each, including when LSU’s Tremont Waters sank a 3-pointer in the same area as Tyree’s shot as time expired, lifting the Tigers to a 69-68 victory over A&M on Jan. 6. This time, the ball bounced out.

BIG PICTURE

Texas A&M: The Aggies needed this win in the worst way, considering they had been ranked No. 5 as recently as Dec. 31 before falling to No. 11 and then completely out of the rankings in the last two polls.

Mississippi: The Rebels once again failed to string together consecutive victories since SEC play started, as they’ve traded wins and losses in each of their first six games against their conference brethren.

UP NEXT

Texas A&M: The Aggies play their second consecutive game at home when Missouri visits Saturday afternoon, in trying to win two in a row for the first time in SEC play this season.

Mississippi: The Rebels stay on the road for a second straight game when they play at Arkansas on Saturday afternoon, in trying to avoid losing two in a row for the first time against league competition.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

The game was closer than it should have been for the Aggies based on their failures at the free-throw line. A&M made a season-low 50 percent (8 of 16).

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Texas A&M sophomore Williams had six dunks on the night, most in spectacular fashion for the forward who projects as a first-round selection in the NBA Draft this summer.

HE SAID IT

”That was a crazy shot, it almost went in. That was scary.”

Davis on Tyree’s near game-winner.

Stewart scores 20 as North Dakota defeats North Dakota State

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Marlon Stewart scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting to lead five players in double figures as North Dakota turned back North Dakota State 86-77 on Tuesday night.

Dale Jones hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 with six rebounds for the Fighting Hawks (7-11). Conner Avants also had 17 points, Geno Crandall scored 12 and Tray Buchanan added 10.

Paul Miller topped the Bison (10-9) with 27 points, marking the sixth straight game the senior has scored 20 or more. Tyson Ward notched his fifth career double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds as NDSU controlled the boards 39-21. But the Bison turned the ball over 17 times to just five for the Fighting Hawks and that led to a 32-6 advantage in points off turnovers for UND.

The road team has now won five straight in the rivalry that will surely heat up next season when North Dakota joins NDSU in the Summit League after six years in the Big Sky Conference. It was North Dakota’s first road win in eight tries this season. The Fighting Hawks improved to 22-2 over the last two seasons when scoring at least 80 points.

North Dakota shot 52 percent (12 of 23) from 3-point range and won for the third time in a row following an eight-game losing streak. The Bison, who have shot better than 50 percent from long range in six games this season, made just 6 of 25 from distance.

Northwestern hopes to hand No. 22 Ohio State first Big Ten loss

Chris Holtmann knew what he signed on for in replacing the winningest coach in Ohio State history.

He needed to restore energy to a talented but stagnant program after Thad Matta, who led the program to five Big Ten championships and two Final Fours, stepped down last season amid growing health concerns.

Only 19 games into his tenure, Holtmann has exceeded seemingly everyone’s expectations — including his own — becoming the first coach in school history to open his career 6-0 in conference play with Sunday’s 68-46 victory at Rutgers.

Ohio State (15-4) is off to its best start in league play since 2011 after posting a 17-15 record in 2016, finishing 10th in the conference. The No. 22 Buckeyes look to extend their conference win streak Wednesday as they take on Northwestern, which has lost four of its last six games.

“I think there is an element of surprise,” Holtmann told reporters of the Buckeyes’ hot start. “I think any coach that, through a third of the season, went undefeated (in conference) would have to say they’re surprised.”

The recent play of Kieta Bates-Diop has surprised Holtmann, too.

In addition to back-to-back Big Ten Player of the Week honors, Bates-Diop became the first player since Michael Redd in 1998 to score at least 25 points in three consecutive games, doing so in wins over Iowa, Michigan State and Maryland, including a career-high 32 against the previously top-ranked Spartans.

“I think it’s probably unrealistic to expect this type of offensive efficiency to continue for him, even as great of a player as he is,” Holtmann said. “He’s going to get everybody’s best shot given what he’s done up to this point. Whether that’s going to come in physical play, or in teams really scheming against him. … We’re going to hopefully put him in enough good positions to get open looks, and he just needs to take what the defense gives him.”

Northwestern (11-8, 2-4) is struggling to establish its identity six games into its conference schedule, particularly on offense, for which coach Chris Collins took onus.

“I’m disappointed,” Collins said. “The one thing we tried to talk about coming into the season is, just because a lot of guys are back doesn’t mean it’s the same team. You have to reestablish roles. You’ve got to reestablish the way you play, and your toughness and your grit. I take responsibility because it’s my job to be able to do that, and I haven’t really figured out the formula with these guys.”

The Wildcats suffered a 66-46 loss at Indiana on Sunday in which Scottie Lindsey scored just two points, shooting 1-of-15 from the field. Lindsey is the Wildcats’ leading scorer at 14 points per game, but has struggled recently to score efficiently, shooting 26.7 percent in his last four games.

“He’s a key guy for us, so the last thing in the world I’m going to do is tell him to stop shooting,” Collins said of Lindsey. “We’ve just got to make sure he takes the right shots.”

Northwestern defeated Ohio State 74-72 last season in Columbus, but has not beaten a ranked Buckeyes squad since Feb. 18, 1989.

No. 24 TCU looks to halt skid vs. Iowa State

When No. 24 TCU and Iowa State square off Wednesday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth, Texas, it will be a game between the bottom two teams in the current Big 12 Conference standings.

But don’t let that fool you — both of these squads have the ability to completely reverse the trend of the first five games of the league season and be on top by the end of the year.

The Horned Frogs (13-4, 1-4 in Big 12) have lost four of their past five games and three contests in a row. TCU’s four defeats are by a combined 11 points; two of those came in overtime last week, and two of them came down to the final possession.

The Horned Frogs’ most recent loss came Saturday when ninth-ranked Oklahoma beat then 16th-ranked TCU 102-97 in overtime.

“We have to learn how to finish these games, we’re coming up short with all four of these losses being close games,” said TCU forward Vlad Blodziansky, who had 21 points and six rebounds in the loss to the Sooners.

Sophomore guard Desmond Bane understands that the Horned Frogs must improve and said Monday that the team’s confidence is intact despite the recent setbacks.

“Everybody knows how good we are, and how good we can be,” Bane said. “It’s just coming together, play together, play for each other and continue to play tough. We’ve just got to bring it every night, and be ready to finish games down the stretch.”

The recent losses have TCU 15 spots lower on the AP ranking than when Big 12 play opened.

“We’re the most disappointed ranked team probably in the country at this point,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said. “I don’t know if you get any points for that, but that’s where we are. There are 351 teams. A lot of them would like to be where we’re at.

“Anybody can see it,” Dixon added. “People lose, and in basketball, it’s really how you respond to that loss. I am positive without a shadow of a doubt that we are as good as anybody. I think we’re going to show it down the road here.”

If it seems like TCU could use a home game against an unranked opponent, that’s what they’re getting Wednesday. But it would be foolish to take Iowa State lightly, even though the Cyclones have won just once in their four Big 12 games.

Iowa State heads to Cow Town on the heels of a 75-65 win over Baylor on Saturday that garnered the Cyclones their only conference win of the season.

“Monkey off your back? Yeah, just because you have to get your first win to get your second win,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said about the win over Baylor.

In its previous conference contests, Iowa State wasn’t doing what Prohm drew up late in the game. That wasn’t the case against Baylor.

“We made great steps in this game,” Prohm said. “There was a different vibe everywhere in the arena today, a different passion and different emotion for whatever reason. But our guys stayed resilient. Make or miss, they executed what we were trying to do down the stretch.”

Lindell Wigginton scored 30 points in the win over Baylor after pouring in 27 during a five-point loss at Kansas last Tuesday. He enters Wednesday’s game at TCU with a non-freshman-like stat line that includes converting 18 of 37 field-goal attempts, including 9-for-18 from 3-point range, during his past two outings.

“I just felt good coming in,” Wigginton said. “I played well at Kansas, but we didn’t get the win, so I just felt good coming in after staying in the gym and getting my shots up, and my shot’s been feeling good.”

Wigginton is just the fourth Iowa State freshman to score 30 points; the Baylor game was his seventh scoring at least 20 points.

Iowa State leads the all-time series 11-6. TCU won last season’s meeting in Fort Worth, 84-77 on Jan. 14, 2017. It was the Horned Frogs’ first victory over Iowa State in 20 years.

No. 17 Auburn looks to extend win streak to 15

The nation’s longest win streak (14 games) will be put to perhaps its stiffest test yet as Auburn on Wednesday visits its most-unfriendly environs: Coleman Coliseum, on the campus of the University of Alabama.

The No. 17 Tigers are 16-1 after overcoming double-digit halftime deficits in wins over both Mississippi schools.

The win streak is the longest for Auburn, which has started SEC play 4-0, since 1999-2000.

“They’re a hot team right now — and not just in the SEC, they’re the hottest team in the country,” third-year Alabama head coach Avery Johnson said Tuesday, according to the Dothan (Ala.) Eagle. “But I think they can put up those ‘4-14’ t-shirts that they’ve been wearing because now we know they’re better than the 4-14 team (they were projected to be in the preseason). Maybe they can stop playing the underdog role now that they’re ranked and they’re the hottest team in our conference. We all know now they’re not a 4-14 team.”

While the Tigers are hoping to parlay their success into a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Crimson Tide (11-6, 3-2) likely need some key wins to burnish a resume that likely has Alabama on the bubble.

The Crimson Tide is No. 39 in the RPI (Auburn is seventh), with its best win coming Dec. 6 against Rhode Island.

Facing Auburn, which swept the season series a year ago, is a big opportunity for the Tide.

“No one on this team has beaten Auburn, and we know that they swept us last year, so I would love to beat them tomorrow,” Key said, not counting injured Tide veterans Donta Hall and Riley Norris.

Added sophomore guard Dazon Ingram: “It means a lot — it’s the Iron Bowl of basketball. So, we just have to come in and be ready to play against a top-20 team in the country.”

Alabama will have to do it without center Donta Hall, who is out with a wrist injury.

“When the surgery was completed, it was basically week to week,” Johnson told AL.com. “So, I don’t want to say 10 days or two weeks. We’re just taking it week to week. But you never know. He’s making progress so we’ll see how he feels.”

Hall, who leads the team in field-goal percentage (75) and blocks per game (2.4), was coming off a 13-point, three-block outing against South Carolina when he got hurt.

“We’ll continue to progress him and see how the pain continues to subside,” Johnson said, “and what kind of feeling and range of motion in his hand that he’ll continue to get and hopefully we’ll continue to improve.”

For Auburn, the biggest question entering the game is, who will guard Collin Sexton, Alabama’s fabulous freshman?

A committee, apparently.

“It’ll be a lot of different guys, yeah,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said, according to The Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser. “I don’t think that one guy can cover him. The team has to cover him. We never make it about those individual matchups.”

Auburn guard Bryce Brown is probably the Tigers’ best perimeter defender and will see plenty of action against Sexton, who’s second in the SEC in scoring at 19.3 points per game.

“(Sexton) is a lottery pick. That will be a big opportunity for me to step up on the defensive end as well as the offensive end trying to contain players like that cause he’s a great player,” Brown told AL.com. “It will be a great opportunity. I know there will be a couple guys on him as well.”

No. 7 Wichita State looks to extend home win streak vs. SMU

SMU, the defending American Athletic Conference champion, looked like it was poised to make another run, but has suddenly hit the skids and now faces a road test at No. 7 Wichita State on Wednesday at Charles Koch Arena in Wichita, Kan.

The Mustangs (12-6, 2-3 AAC) are coming off a stunning 66-64 loss at home to Temple last Wednesday. The Owls had lost five in a row and were winless in AAC play, but came up with a game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds remaining to end the Mustangs’ 33-game home winning streak.

“What we talked about is how you handle when things go not the way you hope in life and in basketball and how do you respond to that,” SMU coach Tim Jankovich told DallasNews.com on Saturday. “That’s the message. We talked about character, what people of high character do. We had a great practice. Their attitudes are great.”

After getting off to a 12-3 start that included wins over No. 14 Arizona and USC, SMU has now lost three straight and faces a daunting task with Wednesday’s trip to Wichita State.

The Shockers (15-2, 5-0 AAC) are off and running in their first season in the AAC. They’ve bounced back from a loss to No. 4 Oklahoma with seven straight wins, including a hard-fought 72-69 road victory over Tulsa on Saturday. Landry Shamet and Conner Frankamp each scored 16 points in the win.

Wichita State has won 27 straight games and 67 of their last 68 at Charles Koch Arena, but Shockers coach Gregg Marshall is wary of what the Mustangs bring to the table.

“I don’t know what is going on in their locker room or in their practices, I just know they are a very talented team,” Marshall said of the Mustangs this week. “They are a well-coached team. Tim does a great job. They had the nation’s longest win streak at home snapped just recently by a very good Temple team that played very well that night. … I just watched the individual players, and (SMU) has tremendous talent. I know that they will be a handful.”

Despite the recent slide, the Mustangs have been stellar on the defensive end of the court. They are allowing opponents 61.1 points per game, the sixth-best scoring defense nationally. They’re also balanced on offense, with five players averaging double figures in points. Shake Milton leads the team at 17.4 points per game.

“We’ve got to defend one-on-one, for sure,” Marshall said. “We’ve got to communicate well and be in the gaps. ‘Guard your yard.’ Contest all shots — they can really make shots — and hopefully limit them to one (shot), rebound it and head the other way.”

Shamet leads the Shockers in points (15.8) and assists (5.0).

Wichita State joined the AAC this season after 72 years in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Shockers were picked as co-favorites in the AAC, along with Cincinnati. Wichita State and Cincinnati will face each other twice in the final three weeks of the season.

No. 19 Seton Hall turns attention to Creighton

The stars came out to the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., Saturday to watch Seton Hall and Georgetown in a Big East battle.

The stars that weren’t inside the arena all were aligned outside for the No. 19 Pirates to put on a show and defeat the Hoyas in a game that honored Seton Hall’s magical 1992-93 Big East championship team.

“Everyone wanted to win for those guys,” Pirates senior center Angel Delgado said. “They’re legends. That’s what we’re trying to be, too.”

“It was wonderful; it was surreal,” forward Ish Sanogo also told the Asbury Park Press. “To have them come back and say, ‘You guys remind us of us’ it feels special.”

Thanks to a veteran cast led by Delgado, Desi Rodriguez and Khadeen Carrington, this year’s Pirates (15-3, 4-1 Big East) are reminding a lot of people of that special team, which included Terry Dehere, Jerry Walker and Arturas Karnishovas, and was coached by P.J. Carlesimo.

Twenty years ago, the Pirates rolled through the regular season and earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But then came Western Kentucky and those honored Saturday still can taste the bitter loss.

While this year’s team is honored to be compared to that squad, they have their sights on a bigger prize. But first things first and the challenge of the Creighton Bluejays (14-4, 4-2) on Wednesday night in Omaha, Neb., has Kevin Willard’s full attention.

The two played three weeks ago with the Pirates rallying for a 90-84 victory. Delgado led Seton Hall with 18 points, 14 rebounds and five assists.

Both teams put up a clunker this past week; Seton Hall, ranked No. 13 at the time, was walloped by Marquette and lost 84-64 before taking it out on the Hoyas on Saturday.

The Bluejays fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 poll after a loss to No. 10 Xavier.

“Xavier was really good. And we weren’t,” Bluejays coach Greg McDermott told reporters after the loss. “When that happens in this league — I don’t really care who you’re playing, but especially when you’re playing somebody as good as Xavier — you’re going to get your tail kicked.”

The Bluejays committed an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers. Khyri Thomas, the team’s second-leading scorer, had an awful game missing all eight of his field-goal attempts. For just the second time this season, he failed to reach double digits and finished with just four points.

Despite the poor outing, Thomas knows his role and he doesn’t plan to change.

“I’ve really got to keep it moving,” Thomas told the Omaha World Herald. “I can’t be down on myself and stop shooting 3s.”

McDermott’s not worried either, after seeing Thomas go through a similar slump earlier in the season.

“I lose sleep over a lot of things, but not that,” McDermott said.

Seton Hall’s veteran group probably has caused McDermott a sleepless night or two.

“I’m ready for those guys to graduate,” McDermott said after the 90-84 Dec. 28 loss to the Pirates. “I might come to their graduation and congratulate them.”

One of the best-kept secrets in college basketball, Delgado some time in the next week will become the Big East’s all-time leading rebounder, overtaking Derrick Coleman.

He also is the active NCAA leader with 64 career double-doubles, including 14 this year, and is averaging 14.2 points and 11.7 rebounds per game as a senior.

It doesn’t get any easier for the Pirates, who return home to host No. 11 Xavier on Saturday while the Pirates hit the road and head to Providence.

Wiggins leads Bowling Green past Miami (OH) 81-70

OXFORD, Ohio (AP) — Demajeo Wiggins had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and Bowling Green pulled away early in the second half to beat Miami (Ohio) 81-70 on Tuesday night.

Daeqwon Plowden scored seven of the Falcon’s nine points during a two-minute span that gave Bowling Green (12-6, 3-2 Mid-American Conference) a 50-47 lead with 13:05 to play. Miami (9-9, 2-3) made the next shot before Plowden’s 3-pointer sparked a 19-6 run and the Falcons had a 69-55 lead with 3:48 remaining.

Jalen Adaway scored the game’s next seven points to pull the RedHawks to 69-62, but they didn’t get closer.

Wiggins was 8 of 9 from the floor, added a game-high five assists, and collected his seventh double-double of the season. Dylan Frye chipped in 16 points, Rodrick Caldwell had 12 and Plowden finished with 10.

Nike Sibande scored 20 points and Adaway added 17 to lead Miami.