The Latest on the third full day of the men’s NCAA Tournament, including games being played in Raleigh, North Carolina; Providence, Rhode Island; Des Moines, Iowa; and Denver (All times EDT):
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Indiana has a 33-32 lead over Kentucky at halftime in this much-anticipated second-round matchup in the East Region. The catalyst for the Hoosiers has been the reserves.
Indiana’s five starters combined to shoot 6 for 18 from the floor, including 0 for 6 from 3-point range in the first half, but OG Anunoby, Max Bielfeldt and Robert Johnson made significant contributions off the bench. Johnson aggravated an injury to his left ankle late in the first half, however, and did not warm up with his teammates for the second half.
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And for their next act …
Little Rock is back on the court. This time, the Trojans are taking on Iowa State.
The Cyclones are led by Georges Niang, one of the best players in the country, who averages 20 points a game.
Little Rock is looking for another game like the one it got Thursday from Josh Hagins. He scored 31 and made the game-tying shots in both regulation and overtime to keep the Trojans alive against Purdue.
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Indiana guard Robert Johnson has left the game against Kentucky with an apparent injury to his left ankle, the same one that kept him out of the last four games before the NCAA Tournament.
Johnson missed a jump shot with 5:17 left before halftime for the Hoosiers. A few seconds later, he was on the floor on the other end while holding his ankle and wincing.
He limped off to the locker room for further examination. The sophomore reserve had seven points and six assists in Indiana’s first-round victory over Chattanooga, his first appearance since Feb. 20.
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After the wacky first round of the NCAA Tournament this might sound like a letdown: don’t get too attached to those teams seeded 10 and lower.
No. 11 seed Wichita State and No. 12 seed Yale went down in the first two games played Saturday, giving the hoops world a quick reminder of how much tougher a March Madness run is compared with winning one game.
According to STATS, the record for teams seeded No. 10 or lower in the Sweet 16 is five, set in 1999.
There are eight such teams left in the tournament this year, with Little Rock and Gonzaga playing games Saturday night.
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Xavier has been to the Sweet 16 in five of the past eight years, so coach Chris Mack figures it’s time people learn to pronounce its name.
That’s why he stopped a reporter mid-sentence during a question about “Ex-avier.”
“Nooo, no, no, no,” Mack said, wagging his finger. “Xavier. Just like xylophone. Now you can continue.”
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Kentucky has at least one big-name fan in the stands for its game against Indiana. Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Karl Anthony-Towns made it to Des Moines — about a 3 1/2 — hour drive from Minneapolis — to cheer on the Wildcats. The T-Wolves are off until Monday, when they host Golden State.
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Yale’s hopes of advancing to the Sweet 16 has ended.
Duke has survived a second-half rally and beaten the Bulldogs 71-64.
The Bulldogs are cheering their fans as they walk off the court.
Brandon Sherrod led Yale with 22 points, and Justin Sears and Anthony Dallier each had 12. Makai Mason, the star in Yale’s upset of Baylor in the first round with 31 points, had just eight against Duke and was 0 of 5 on 3-pointers.
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Iowa and Villanova both have Sweet 16 droughts, but Villanova gets more heat about its troubles the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.
One of the teams will advance to regional play after their game Sunday.
Villanova hasn’t been there since their run to the Final Four in 2009. This senior class will go down as the winningest in school history but it hasn’t gotten past the second round.
“Everybody’s been talking about this game for the whole year, even in the summertime before the season started,” Daniel Ochefu said.
The Wildcats (30-5) advanced with an 86-56 victory over UNC-Asheville, while Iowa (22-10) beat Temple 72-70 on a tip-in at the overtime buzzer.
The Hawkeyes haven’t been past the second round of the NCAA Tournament since 1988 but they haven’t had to hear about it as much as the Wildcats.
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The best 3-pointer shooter in the country arrived at Middle Tennessee State as a 6-foot-2, 240-pound bowling ball whose body looked like a linebacker’s and whose stamina hardly cut it in college hoops.
So, Blue Raiders coach Kermit Davis put Giddy Potts on a diet.
“We tried to get him to go to only one bowl of ranch with everything he eats, instead of two bowls. So that was a start,” Davis said with a grin. “He’s just one of those guys that he just, his eating habits were just poor. And he had never really trained. I don’t even know how much weights he’d ever lifted.”
But Potts was “country strong,” Davis said. So when got in better shape, his game improved rapidly. And now weighing about 220, he’s the best player on the NCAA Tournament’s biggest surprise.
“He saw how much better a player he is,” Davis said. “We’re still going to work on it in the spring.”
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The Bulldogs are growling.
Yale staged a 15-0 run to pull to 58-49 in the second half after trailing by 24. Duke has scored only 11 points in the period after scoring 48 in the first.
The crowd in the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is hoping for another stunner. Duke’s Marshall Plumlee and Matt Jones each have four fouls for the Blue Devils.
Yale has just missed three tries under the Duke basket with 7:47 left.
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Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim can sympathize with Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, whose second-seeded Spartans were upset by Middle Tennessee State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
In 1991, Beoheim’s second-seeded Orange lost to No. 15 seed Richmond in Washington, D.C.
“We were the first ones” to lose a 2-15 game since seeding began in 1985,” Boeheim said. “We just didn’t play very well and it’s not a good feeling, but there’s not much you can say about it.”
There had been six more 2-15 upsets before the Blue Raiders, who will face the Orange on Sunday for a spot in the Sweet 16, took care of the Spartans. Only one of them, Florida Gulf Coast a few years ago, was able to win another game when Dunk City took care of Georgetown and San Diego State.
“You live with that loss for a long time,” Boeheim said. “It’s what you do when you lose in this tournament. I’ve lost more than a few games. But I finally realized that everybody loses in this tournament — every coach, every team, every program somewhere along the line.
“It’s not easy,” he said. “But it’s not easy when you lose when you’re an underdog, either.”
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This NCAA Tournament is by far the biggest one ever held at the 11-year-old Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, especially with Kansas, Kentucky, Indiana and UConn winning first round games.
But in retrospect, the Iowa high school basketball championships held here in 2010 turned out to be quite special as well.
Iowa star Jarrod Uthoff and current teammate Adam Woodbury, whose buzzer-beater Friday sent the Hawkeyes into the second round, played their final prep games that year in Des Moines.
So did Northern Iowa standout Wes Washpun, who had 17 points in Friday’s stunner over Texas, and fellow Panther Matt Bohannon. North Carolina senior star Marcus Paige, then playing for Linn-Mar High outside of Cedar Rapids, was knocked out in the semifinals.
Even a future football star competed in the event: Cardinals running back David Johnson notched a double-double in his only game in the tournament for Clinton High.
The winning team that year? That was Ames High — which went unbeaten behind future Chicago Bulls star Doug McDermott and future NBA champion Harrison Barnes.
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Just 48 hours after leading Stony Brook to its first NCAA Tournament appearance, coach Steve Pikiell has a new job.
A person familiar with the decision says Pikiell has been hired as Rutgers’ basketball coach. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Saturday because the university has not announced the decision.
The hiring comes nine days after Eddie Jordan was fired and two days after Stony Brook was beaten by Kentucky in a first-round game.
Pikiell, who led Stony Brook to six 20-win seasons in the last seven years, takes over a team that had a 7-25 record and won just one Big Ten Conference game last season, and three over the last two.
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Yale coach James Jones will have some heavy-duty family support in the stands as the Bulldogs look to upset defending champion No. 4 Duke in the second round of the West Region.
Joe Jones, Boston University basketball coach and younger brother of James Jones is in attendance. The pair could be mistaken for twins, with similar builds and the same shaved-head look. James Jones is also just 14 months older than Joe.
That family support is in addition to the brothers’ father, 76-year-old Herman Jones, who was visible after the Bulldogs’ first-round upset of Baylor on Wednesday.
Both brothers spent weekends and summers working alongside their father. He works as a presser at a dry cleaner.
“He’s had this great belief in himself, and that’s kind of worn off on me,” James Jones said of his father. “(Working as a presser) it’s kind of the hardest work that you’ll ever do. … It gave me life lessons every day.”
Joe Jones’ BU team beat Fordham in the first round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament earlier this week. The Terriers have a few days off before next facing the New Jersey Institute of Technology in that event on Monday.
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Miami is the first team to punch its ticket to the Sweet 16.
The Hurricanes led big early, before holding on to defeat Wichita State 65-57 to earn their first Sweet 16 berth since 2013.
Miami fans chanted “Sweet 16! Sweet 16!” in the closing seconds.
Angel Rodriguez led Miami with 28 points and five assists. Sheldon McClellan added 18 points.
There is some symmetry in the victory for Miami coach Jim Larranaga, who led George Mason to the Final Four a decade ago when he was the Patriots coach. He had to go through Wichita State in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C., to do it.
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In just a few dizzying minutes, Wichita State has made it a ballgame.
After trailing by as many 21 in the first half and 13 at halftime, Wichita State has fought back and trimmed Miami’s lead to 48-45 with 7:43 to play in the game.
The Shockers came out of the half with a lot of pep and briefly took a 43-42 lead on a 3-pointer by Ron Baker at the 10:24 mark.
Wichita State has found its touch after shooting just 24 percent in the first half, The Shockers are 9 for 16 so far in the second.
Miami had nine turnovers in the opening 20 minutes, but has already committed six in this half.
Republished with permission of the Associated Press.