Wednesday's roundup: Wisconsin wins sixth straight
Madison, Wis. — Prior to this season, Wisconsin's Vitto Brown was a little-used reserve, best known for his stirring rendition of the national anthem before select games.
Brown hit all the right notes on the court on Wednesday night.
The junior forward had a career-high 18 points and Nigel Hayes scored 20 as the Badgers defeated Nebraska 72-61 for their sixth consecutive victory.
"You know, it was about time, because I was ready to rough him up," Hayes said of Brown as the two classmates from Ohio laughed. "I told him at the beginning of the year, that's what we expect from him. He knows he can play like that."
Brown made a 3-pointer from the corner as the shot clock expired on Wisconsin's second possession, a harbinger of things to come. The Badgers (15-9, 7-4 Big Ten) connected on 11 of 18 shots from beyond the arc, their best 3-point shooting effort of the season.
Wisconsin took the lead for good with a 13-2 first-half spurt keyed by consecutive 3s from Brown, Jordan Hill and Bronson Koenig. Brown made all three of his 3-point attempts, while Koenig was 3 for 4.
Koenig had 12 points for Wisconsin and Zak Showalter chipped in 10.
The Badgers abused Nebraska's zone defense, employed in the absence Shavon Shields, one of the Cornhuskers' top defenders. The senior guard/forward saw his 106-game start streak come to an end as he recovers from a head injury suffered against Rutgers on Saturday.
Nebraska coach Tim Miles said it was "highly doubtful" he would have used zone exclusively if Shields had been available, and lamented the Cornhuskers' 5-for-16 showing on layups.
"When you shoot 3s better than the other team shoots layups, you're gonna win," Miles said.
Freshman Glynn Watson Jr. scored 16 points to pace Nebraska (13-12, 5-7).
Top 25 men
(At) Texas Tech 85, No. 14 Iowa State 82, OT: Zach Smith made two free throws with 18 seconds remaining in overtime. It was the second straight year the Red Raiders beat the Cyclones in Lubbock. Last season, Iowa State was ranked ninth.
Deonte Burton scored a season-high 20 points and Abdel added 19 points to lead Iowa State (17-7, 6-5). Fans stormed the court after the victory.
Aaron Ross scored 20 points and Devaugntah Williams added 19 to lead Texas Texas (14-9, 4-7).
(At) Alabama 63, No. 15 Texas A&M 62: Retin Obasohan scored 16 points and Alabama held off a big rally from No. 15 Texas A&M, the Aggies’ third straight loss.
The Crimson Tide (14-9, 5-6 Southeastern Conference) beat its fourth ranked opponent of Avery Johnson’s debut season despite missing its final three shots. Anthony Collins was fouled on a drive with 2.3 seconds left but missed both free throws for the Aggies (18-6, 7-4). They’ve dropped four consecutive SEC games since a 7-0 league start, tumbling from a program-best No. 5 ranking.
Riley Norris had 11 points for Alabama. Obasohan had five assists and three steals.
Jalen Jones scored 21 points for Texas A&M.
Tulsa 82, (at) No. 16 SMU 77: Shaquille Harrison had 21 points, Pat Birt hit a crucial 3-pointer and scored 12 of his 17 points after halftime and Tulsa rallied from eight points down in the second half to beat No. 16 SMU.
Nic Moore scored 27 to lead the Mustangs (20-3, 9-3 American Athletic). They lost for the first time in 13 home games and dropped to 2-3 since their 18-0 start to a season that won’t include postseason play because of NCAA sanctions.
Moore twice hit 3-pointers to pull SMU within a point in the final minute, but Birt answered the first with a 3 and James Woodard followed the second with two of his six free throws in the final 1:04.
The Golden Hurricane (16-8, 8-4) ended a four-game losing streak against SMU with their eighth win in 10 games since an 0-2 conference start.
(At) Marquette 96, No. 20 Providence 91 (2OT): Jajuan Johnson scored 16 points and hit a key 3-pointer with 1:16 left in double overtime, and Marquette outlasted Providence.
Henry Ellenson had 26 points and 16 rebounds, and the Golden Eagles (16-9, 5-7 Big East) overcame 42 points by Providence’s Ben Bentil.
The conference scoring leader hit a 3-pointer from the corner off the glass to make it 92-88 with 33 seconds left. Another 3 by Bentil from the wing got the Friars (18-7, 6-6) within three with 16 seconds left.
No. 21 Baylor 82, (at) Kansas State 72: Al Freeman scored 21 points, Taurean Prince had 18 and No. 21 Baylor beat cold-shooting Kansas State to remain a game back of the leaders in the Big 12 race.
Playing without leading rebounder Rico Gathers due to illness, the Bears (18-6, 7-4) opened on an 8-2 run, led by as many as 14 in the first half and never trailed the rest of the way.
The Wildcats (14-10, 3-8) were 2 of 14 from beyond the arc, getting their only 3s from Justin Edwards in the final minute. His first made it 72-65 with 58.3 seconds left, and his second after two free throws by Baylor’s Ishmail Wainwright made it 74-68 with 47.4 seconds remaining. They weren’t enough to bail out the Wildcats, though.
Edwards finished with 19 points, while D.J. Johnson had a career-high 19 points to go with eight rebounds for the Wildcats.
Western Michigan 65, (at) Bowling Green 49: Deborah Meeks scored 15 and Breanna Mobley added 12 points and 12 rebounds for Western Michigan (13-10, 5-6 MAC). Miriam Justinger scored 12 for Bowling Green (8-11, 4-6).
Central Michigan 74, (at) Ball State 65: Tinara Moore had 20 points and 12 rebounds to lead Central Michigan to its seventh straight victory.
Jewel Cotton scored 13 for Central (16-7, 10-2), which opened up a 1 1/2-game lead in the MAC West Division over Ball State (16-6, 8-3) and Toledo.
Nathalie Fontaine had 29 points and 14 rebounds for Ball State.
Order appears to be restored for the NCAA Tournament.
The NCAA is returning to calling the Thursday-Friday games of the NCAA Tournament as first-round games, while the Tuesday and Wednesday games played in Dayton, which have opened the Tournament since 2011, will be called the “First Four,” according to an ESPN report.
Those games have been referred to as opening-round games, causing plenty of confusion for fans of the Tournament.
The First Four begins March 15-16, with the Final Four taking place April 2-4 in Houston.
Williams will be back
North Carolina Hall of Fame coach Roy Williams is expected to be at the team’s next practice and game following a bout with vertigo that sidelined him for part of Tuesday’s victory at Boston College.
Athletic spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday ninth-ranked North Carolina had a previously scheduled day off and would return to practice today ahead of a weekend home game against Pittsburgh. He said Williams was back in his office Wednesday afternoon and the coach’s regularly scheduled Friday news conference in Chapel Hill is still on as well.
“We expect him to be back at practice (today) and coach on Sunday,” Kirschner said.
The 65-year-old Williams left Tuesday’s game with about 14 minutes left after collapsing momentarily in the huddle, an attack he said can be brought on by sudden head movements. Williams was helped to the locker room and said he took medication and threw up. He returned to shake hands with Eagles coach Jim Christian afterward and attend part of the postgame news conference.
Longtime assistant Steve Robinson led the team in Williams’ absence as North Carolina (20-4, 9-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) rallied from a nine-point deficit for a 68-65 win that ended a two-game skid and kept it atop the ACC standings.