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College basketball: No. 3 Illinois beats No. 5 Iowa to reach Big Ten title game

Illinois' Kofi Cockburn dunks over Iowa's Luka Garza (55) in the second half March 13, 2021.
Illinois’ Kofi Cockburn, who scored 26 points, dunks over Iowa’s Luka Garza (55) in the second half Saturday. The No. 3 Illini won 82-71 over the No. 5 Hawkeyes.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

INDIANAPOLIS — Kofi Cockburn scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half, and No. 3 Illinois beat No. 5 Iowa 82-71 on Saturday to advance to the Big Ten tournament title game.

The Fighting Illini (22-6) have won six straight games, with three coming against top-10 foes. If Illinois wins one more, against No. 9 Ohio State, it would claim its first tournament title since 2005.

Ayo Dosunmu scored 18 points for Illinois, and reserve guard Andre Curbelo finished with 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.

“I thought Kofi was just great,“ Illini coach Brad Underwood said. “I thought the job he did in the first half, he was just dominant — and not just because he had 18 points but because of his defense.“

Maurice Calloo scored an unexpected 15 points as Oregon State defeated No. 23 Colorado 70-68 on Saturday night for its first Pac-12 tournament title.

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Luka Garza had 21 points and 12 rebounds for Iowa (21-7). Jordan Bohannon scored 20 points.

Garza, the Big Ten player of the year, went eight for 21 from the field and dealt with foul trouble in the second half. Cockburn, meanwhile, made 11 of 21 shots.

“It’s tough,“ Garza said. “You know, he’s a tremendous big man. We’re both being physical with each other. It’s what I’m going to have to deal with and I’ve been dealing with in the Big Ten for a while now.“

No. 9 Ohio State 68, No. 4 Michigan 67

INDIANAPOLIS — Duane Washington Jr. scored 24 points, E.J. Liddell had 18, and Ohio State held off Michigan to advance to the Big Ten tournament championship.

The Buckeyes (21-8) will play their fourth game in four days against No. 3 Illinois on Sunday.

Michigan managed to cut a 13-point deficit to one in the final 4½ minutes. After a third consecutive Buckeyes turnover in the final 90 seconds, Mike Smith’s long jumper with two seconds left bounced off the back of the rim and time expired in the scramble for the loose ball.

JaQuori McLaughlin had 16 of his 22 points in the second half to help UC Santa Barbara top UC Irvine 79-63 and win the Big West Conference tournament.

Hunter Dickinson had 21 points and eight rebounds for the Wolverines (20-4), who played without Isaiah Livers after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right foot.

Ohio State forward Kyle Young sat out after he was hit in the head with an inadvertent elbow against Purdue.

No. 6 Alabama 73, Tennessee 68

NASHVILLE — Herbert Jones had 21 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, helping Alabama rally for the win.

Jahvon Quinerly had 19 points for the Crimson Tide, including two free throws with 15.5 seconds left.

Top-seeded Alabama (23-6) faces Louisiana State in Sunday’s championship game in search of its first SEC tournament title since 1991.

Tennessee (18-8) awaits an NCAA tournament seeding Sunday. Keon Johnson had 20 points for the Volunteers, and Jaden Springer finished with 18.

No. 7 Houston 76, Memphis 74

FORT WORTH — Justin Gorham scored 15 points, including four free throws in the final 27 seconds, and Houston beat Memphis to advance to its third consecutive American Athletic Conference tournament final.

Boogie Ellis had 27 points for the Tigers, but he committed a huge turnover with 49 seconds left. He fell down with the ball when trying to respond to the Gorham’s nifty one-handed reverse layup with just more than a minute left that put the Cougars up 72-71.

Gorham added two free throws with 27 seconds remaining and two more with four seconds left. Ellis made a running three-pointer just before the final buzzer.

Quentin Grimes had 21 points with five three-pointers for Houston (23-3), which is already a lock for a spot in the NCAA tournament.
DeAndre Williams had 16 points for Memphis (16-8), an NCAA bubble team.

Louisiana State 78, No. 8 Arkansas 71

LSU's Cameron Thomas, right, is closely guarded by Arkansas' Desi Sills on March 13, 2021.
LSU’s Cameron Thomas, right, is closely guarded by Arkansas’ Desi Sills in an SEC tournament semifinal. Thomas had 21 points in the Tigers’ victory.
(Mark Humphrey / Associated Press)

NASHVILLE — Cameron Thomas scored 21 points, and LSU reached the Southeastern Conference tournament championship for the first time since 1993.

The Tigers (18-8) will play No. 6 Alabama on Sunday looking to improve their NCAA tournament seeding even more. LSU has won this tournament only once — back in 1980.

Javonte Smart scored 19 points for LSU, and Darius Days had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Marcus Moody tied his season high with 28 points for Arkansas (22-6), and Justin Smith added 21.

No. 13 Texas 91, No. 12 Oklahoma State 86

Texas coach Shaka Smart signals to the crowd after the Longhorns won the Big 12 tournament title March 13, 2021.
Texas coach Shaka Smart signals to the crowd Saturday after the Longhorns beat Oklahoma State to win the Big 12 tournament title.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Matt Coleman scored a career-high 30 points, Jericho Simms added a career-best 21, and Texas was poised at the foul line down the stretch in beating Oklahoma State to give the Longhorns their first Big 12 tournament title.

Kai Jones and Andrew Jones added 13 points apiece for third-seeded Texas (19-7), which edged No. 20 Texas Tech in the quarterfinals before advancing to the final when Kansas had to withdraw because of a positive COVID-19 test.

The title was the first for the Longhorns in seven frustrating appearances in the Big 12 championship game and their first conference tournament trophy since winning the old Southwest Conference title in 1995.

Cade Cunningham had 29 points for the fifth-seeded Cowboys (20-8), including a pair of three-pointers in the final minute, the last getting them within 89-86 with six seconds to go.

Oklahoma State (21-8) quickly fouled Andrew Jones, and he made two free throws to clinch the game.

Isaac Likekele added 13 points for the Cowboys, who were making their first tournament final appearance since 2009 but whose legs appeared tired after beating West Virginia and Baylor on consecutive days.

Georgia Tech 80, No. 15 Florida State 75

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Michael Devoe scored 20 points and Georgia Tech shot 52% after halftime to beat Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship game.

League player of the year Moses Wright added 15 points and eight rebounds for the fourth-seeded Yellow Jackets (17-8), who won their first title since 1993 and secured an automatic NCAA tournament berth to end an 11-year drought.

Devoe was named the tournament MVP after making eight of 12 shots, including a tiebreaking three-pointer with 6:44 left.

Georgia Tech had been been trying to play its way off the bubble since early February, when it stood at 9-8 after a loss at Clemson on a last-second shot.

The Yellow Jackets haven’t lost since, with fifth-year coach Josh Pastner talking about the final week of the regular season and the ACC tournament as “a great opportunity.”

No doubt about the NCAA tournament now, not after a strong finish against the second-seeded Seminoles (16-6) that had balloons falling from the rafters and the Yellow Jackets celebrating amid confetti.

Scottie Barnes had 21 points on eight-for-10 shooting for Florida State, which shot 56% but committed 25 turnovers that led to 31 points for the Yellow Jackets.

Georgetown 73, No. 17 Creighton 48

Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing calls out to players against Creighton on March 13, 2021, in New York.
Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing calls out to players during the Hoyas’ win over Creighton in the Big East tournament final.
(Frank Franklin II / Associated Press)

NEW YORK — Patrick Ewing is taking Georgetown back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2015 after the eighth-seeded Hoyas completed a surprising run to a Big East championship.

On the 49th anniversary of the day Georgetown hired John Thompson, the late Hall of Fame coach who transformed the program into a national power and one of the most iconic brands in college basketball history, the Hoyas won their record eighth Big East tournament title and first since 2007.

Was it fate? Destiny? Maybe Big John, who died in August at age 78, smiling down on Ewing and his Hoyas?

“I think so,” Ewing said.

The Hoyas (13-12) closed the first half on a 23-2 run that put them up 18 at the break against second-seeded Creighton (20-8).

Georgetown’s Chudier Bile matched a season high with 19 points.

Marcus Zegarowski scored 17 points for Creighton.

The 58-year-old Ewing is the first person in Big East history to be the most outstanding player on a Big East tournament champion and coach a team to a Big East tournament title.

No. 19 San Diego State 68, Utah State 57

LAS VEGAS — Matt Mitchell scored 14 points to lead San Diego State to a victory over Utah State in the Mountain West tournament championship game.

The Aggies had beaten San Diego State in each of the last two tournament championship games. The Aztecs, who also won the regular-season championship, had lost six of their previous seven title game appearances.

With the league’s automatic bid, the Aztecs (23-4) return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2018. It marked just the fifth time the No. 1 seed won the title in 22 years.

Nathan Mensah added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Aztecs, and Trey Pulliam also scored 10.

Junior center Neemias Queta led the Aggies (20-8) with 18 points, six rebounds, and three blocked shots. Justin Bean added 12 points and six rebounds.

Rick Pitino returning to NCAA tournament

Iona coach Rick Pitino celebrates after his team beat Fairfield on March 13, 2021, in Atlantic City, N.J.
Iona coach Rick Pitino smiles after his team beat Fairfield in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament title game Saturday.
(Matt Slocum / Associated Press)

Rick Pitino ended an Iona team photo, a championship trophy as the centerpiece, by pointing toward a ladder and telling the Gaels to clip the nets.

He knows the way.

From coaching perennial powers to exile to the New York suburbs, Pitino has navigated a vagabond career bathed in scandal and success the only way he can: by winning.

Asante Gist scored 18 points, and Pitino took his record-tying fifth school to the NCAA tournament with Iona’s 60-51 victory over Fairfield in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament championship game in Atlantic City, N.J.

Next stop, the all-Indiana NCAA tournament.

“I told them I was packing eight suits,” Pitino said. “We have a lot of dirty laundry, and we’re heading to Indianapolis.”

The 68-year-old Pitino was already the first coach to win national titles at two schools (Kentucky, Louisville) and the first to take three schools (Providence) to the Final Four. He led Boston University to the tournament in 1983.

USC rallies to tie the game late, but Colorado edges ahead in the closing seconds to send the Trojans to a 72-70 loss in the Pac-12 tournament semifinals.

Pitino was hired at Iona (12-5) last March to, yes, keep the Gaels among the perennial favorites to come out of the MAAC in March but also in large part to rehabilitate his image after an ignominious end at Louisville.

Pitino had a trying first season trying to orchestrate a tourney bid through a pandemic. He contracted the coronavirus and the Gaels were forced to stop four times this season because of virus issues — including a 51-day hiatus that sidelined them longer than any team in the country.

Led by the backcourt of Gist and Isaiah Ross, the ninth-seeded Gaels used a 10-0 run to close the first half at Boardwalk Hall. Ross made the postgame walk through the empty seats and kissed his 10-month-old daughter, Averie.

The seventh-seeded Stags dropped to 10-17.


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