NCAA men's basketball roundup

Providence's Bryce Cotton, center, celebrates with teammates after the Friars upset Creighton in the Big East final at Madison Square Garden. Providence won, 65-58.
Providence's Bryce Cotton, center, celebrates with teammates after the Friars upset Creighton in the Big East final at Madison Square Garden. Providence won, 65-58. Frank Franklin II/AP Photo

Providence 65, No. 14 Creighton 58

Bryce Cotton was No. 2 to Doug McDermott in the Big East all season. He's No. 1 now.

The senior guard scored 23 points and Providence won its first Big East tournament title since 1994 with a great defensive effort against McDermott and Creighton in a victory Saturday night.

The fourth-seeded Friars (23-11) used a 2-3 zone to hold the second-seeded Bluejays (26-7) 24 points below their season average and to an 8-for-30 effort from behind the 3-point line.

Cotton, who finished second to McDermott in the conference scoring but was also a unanimous first-team All-Big East selection, was the scoring star in the championship game and he was selected the tournament MVP.

"Unbelievable. He's been like that the whole year and he saved his best for last on one of the greatest stages ever," Providence coach Ed Cooley said of Cotton. "He was fantastic."

Cotton had a net draped around his neck and a smile on his face as he talked after the game.

"It's just a vindicating feeling to know that the Providence Friars are Big East champions," he said. "This is something our school and our city hasn't seen in a long time. For us to finally bring that back home, it's top of the list.

"This has been years and years of blood, sweat, tears and praying."

McDermott, who came in leading the nation in scoring with 26.5 average, finished 10 for 19 from the field, including 5 of 12 from 3-point range, for 27 points. He shined in his first two Big East tournament games, getting 35 in the quarterfinals against DePaul and 32 in the semifinal win over Xavier.

He had nine points at halftime as Providence held the Bluejays to a season-low 17 points in taking a nine-point lead.

"Got to give them credit. They're physical," McDermott said. "But I think we handled ourselves pretty well all the way throughout league play on the physicality, and I think that's really going to help us going into the (NCAA) tournament."

Providence was considered on the bubble coming into the game for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. That's a moot question now as the Friars won the Big East's automatic bid.

"We're just going to cherish this moment for the time being," Cotton said. "We'll regroup when it's time."

The Friars led by 12 points twice in the second half, the last time at 45-33 on a jumper by Kadeem Batts with 12:47 left.

The Bluejays got as close as 58-56 on McDermott's fifth and final 3 with 1:18 to play.

But the Friars held on from the free throw line, going 8 for 8 over the final 2:47 while scoring just one from the field.

"I really thought we were going to win that game. Things just felt right up there," McDermott said.

Cotton agreed.

"Even when we had the big lead, I knew they were going to come up with a couple runs," he said. "I've watched them all year and that's just the kind of team they are. And we've been through plenty of intense games throughout the whole season so I felt that that prepared us for a game like this."

No. 1 Florida 65, Tennessee 49

Patric Young scored 16 points and Florida turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, rallying for a victory over Tennessee in the Southeastern Conference semifinals.

Florida (31-2) extended its school-record winning streak to 25 in a row after trailing by 10 in the first half. The Gators were down 35-28 at the break, but they wore down the Volunteers (21-12) over the final 20 minutes. After shooting 54 percent in the opening period, Tennessee made just 5 of 20 shots and turned the ball over 11 times, leaving its fate in the hands of the NCAA selection committee.

The Gators, improving to 20-0 against SEC opponents, will face Kentucky in today's championship game.

Florida's Scottie Wilbekin added 14 points and Casey Prather had 12.

Jordan McRae led Tennessee with 15 points, while Jarnell Stokes had 13 points and eight rebounds.

UCLA 75, No. 4 Arizona 71

Kyle Anderson had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Jordan Adams hit a huge 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Bruins outlasted the Wildcats in a spirited Pac-12 championship game.

The Pac-12's two best teams during the regular season, UCLA (26-8) and Arizona (30-4) put on a show in the tournament final, trading big plays and floor burns.

Offense ruled the first half and defense the second until Adams dropped in his contested 3-pointer to put the Bruins up 71-68 with 45 seconds left.

David Wear and Norman Powell combined to hit four free throws down the stretch, giving UCLA the Pac-12 title in its first year under coach Steve Alford.

No. 6 Virginia 51, Pittsburgh 48

Anthony Gill hit two free throws with 8.5 seconds left to help Virginia hold off Pittsburgh in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

Gill was shooting 63 percent from the line for the Cavaliers (27-6) but calmly made both free throws after James Robinson's hanging layup had brought the Panthers to within 49-48.

Pitt had a chance to tie with 4 seconds left, but Justin Anderson tipped Robinson's 3-pointer to Gill with 0.5 seconds left.

Joe Harris scored 12 points to lead the Cavaliers, who shot 47 percent against the fifth-seeded Panthers (25-9) to earn their first trip to the final since 1994.

The Cavaliers earned their first outright regular-season title since 1981 and only their second No. 1 seed.

No. 7 Duke 75, North Carolina State 67

Jabari Parker scored 20 points and Duke advanced to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship.

Rasheed Sulaimon added 16 points for the third-seeded Blue Devils (26-7) while Rodney Hood had 14 points and keyed the defensive effort against ACC player of the year T.J. Warren.

Duke earned its 31st championship game appearance and first since 2011.

The Blue Devils will play Virginia today. Duke's 69-65 win in January stood as the Cavaliers' lone conference loss until Maryland beat them last week.

Warren scored 21 points but was just 4 of 13 after halftime while facing a barrage of double teams.

The seventh-seeded Wolfpack (21-13), playing their third game in three days, shot just 36 percent in the second half — after hitting 67 percent in the opening half.

No. 20 New Mexico 64, No. 8 San Diego State 58

Cameron Bairstow scored 17 points to lead the Lobos over the Aztecs in the Mountain West Conference championship game, giving the Lobos the automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.

Trailing by one with a little more than one minute left in the game, Bairstow — selected the tournament MVP — scored five of the Lobos' last eight points to help the Lobos win their third consecutive tournament title.

The No. 2 seed in the Mountain West tournament is now 6-0 all-time when playing the No. 1 seed.

It didn't come easy against the conference's No. 1 defense, as New Mexico (27-6) had its five-point halftime lead disappear when the Aztecs opened the second half on an 8-0 run, to take a 30-27 lead.

No. 8 Michigan 72, No. 24 Ohio State 69

Michigan blew a 12-point second-half lead, then finished the game on a 7-1 run to advance to the Big Ten tournament title game.

The league's regular-season champs will face No. 22 Michigan State in today's championship game.

Nik Stauskas had 18 points and Caris LeVert had 17 to lead the Wolverines (25-7), winners of seven straight. It will be Michigan's first title game appearance since 1998, when it won its only tourney title, which was later vacated.

Ohio State (25-9) was led by LaQuinton Ross with 19 points and Shannon Scott with 18.

The Buckeyes rallied to take their lead at 61-60 with 7:57 to go and still led 68-65 with 4:12 to play.

But the Wolverines allowed just one free throw the rest of the way and stripped Aaron Craft of the ball on a potentially tying 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

No. 22 Michigan State 83, No. 12 Wisconsin 75

Adreian Payne scored 18 points, Branden Dawson had 14 and Michigan State beat Wisconsin to reach the Big Ten tournament championship.

The third-seeded Spartans (25-8) won consecutive games for the first time since winning 11 straight in a stretch over December and January.

The Spartans went on a 16-1 run in the first half and took a 37-16 lead when Gary Harris scored with 5:39 left before halftime.

Frank Kaminsky had 28 points and Sam Decker added 11 points and seven rebounds for the second-seeded Badgers (26-7).

No. 16 Iowa State 74, Baylor 65

DeAndre Kane scored 17 points, Georges Niang added 13 and Iowa State won its first Big 12 tournament title since 2000.

Naz Long and Dustin Hogue had 12 points apiece, and Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim finished with 10 points and nine rebounds for the fourth-seeded Cyclones (26-7), who knocked off top-seeded Kansas in the semifinals before ending the Bears' tremendous tournament run.

When the final buzzer sounded inside the Sprint Center, Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg rounded the court with his finger raised — No. 1, as in the top of the Big 12, for only the second time in school history.

Kenny Chery had 16 points for the seventh-seeded Bears (24-11), who have never won a postseason conference tournament. They've lost all three tries since the formation of the Big 12.

No. 23 VCU 74, George Washington 55

Treveon Graham scored 22 points and VCU pressed and pressured its way into another conference tournament championship game, beating George Washington in the Atlantic 10 semifinals.

The second-seeded Rams (26-7) will play for the A-10 title for the second year in a row, facing fourth-seeded St. Joseph's today. Coach Shaka Smart has led the Rams to a conference tournament final in four of his five seasons, first in the Colonial Athletic Association and the past two in the A-10.

Briante Weber added 16 points for the Rams, who lost last year's final to Saint Louis, and Mo Alie-Cox provided muscle and energy off the bench with eight points, seven rebounds and a block.

Isaiah Armwood led third-seeded George Washington (24-8) with 15 points.

VCU will likely have to move on without A-10 sixth man of the year Melvin Johnson, who injured his knee early in the first half.

America East Conference championship

Albany 69, Stony Brook 60

DJ Evans scored 16 points as Albany defeated Stony Brook, giving the school its second consecutive NCAA tournament berth.

Peter Hooley added 15 for the Great Danes, including a 3-pointer with 1:04 remaining to put his team up 61-56.

Albany managed to pull out the road win despite losing Sam Rowley, who scored a game-high 18 points, when he fouled out with 7:02 left. Down six at the time, the Great Danes outscored Stony Brook 23-8 en route to their fourth America East Conference title.

Carson Puriefoy led the way for Stony Brook with 13 points, while Jameel Warney added 12.

The Seawolves were attempting to earn their first NCAA tournament berth. They've lost three conference finals in the last five years.

Big Sky Conference championship

Weber State 88, North Dakota 67

Kyle Tresnak scored 27 points and Davion Berry added 19 to help Weber State beat North Dakota for the Big Sky tournament championship and an automatic NCAA berth.

Joel Bolomboy added 11 rebounds for the Wildcats (19-11, 14-6 Big Sky) who clinched their first NCAA tournament spot since 2007.

Troy Huff had 17 points and Alonzo Traylor added 15 to lead North Dakota (17-16, 12-8 Big Sky) which trailed from start to finish. UND has lost all six meetings in its series with Weber State.

North Dakota shot just 39.3 percent from the field and trailed by double digits almost the entire second half. The Wildcats had no trouble finding their shot. Weber State shot 56.6 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from the perimeter.

Big West Conference championship

Cal Poly 61, CS Northridge 59

Freshman guard Ridge Shipley hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 13.7 seconds left and seventh-seeded Cal Poly completed its improbable march to the school's first Big West Tournament championship, beating Cal State Northridge and putting coach Joe Callero's Mustangs into the NCAA tourney for the first time in school history.

Cal Poly (13-19) became the lowest seed to win the title in the tournament's 39-year history. Shipley scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half and Chris Eversley had a team-high 18 and Dave Nwaba added 17.

Cal Poly also was the lowest-seeded team in the history of the tournament to eliminate both the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, and the lowest-seeded team to play for the Big West crown since 1994, when 10th-seeded UC Irvine lost to No. 1 New Mexico State.

Conference USA championship

Tulsa 69, Louisiana Tech 60

James Woodard scored 27 points to lead Tulsa to a spot in the NCAA tournament with a victory against Louisiana Tech.

Woodard, who scored 18 points in the second half, made 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to help Tulsa hold off the Bulldogs.

The victory put the Hurricane in the NCAA tournament for the first time since the 2003 season. Tulsa (21-12), which was the No. 2 seed, will carry an 11-game win streak into the tournament.

Top-seeded Louisiana Tech came up short, extending an NCAA tournament drought dating to 1991.

The Bulldogs (27-8) were led by Kenneth Smith with 16 points and Kenyon McNeail with 15. Alex Hamilton finished with 12.

The Bulldogs led 35-34 at the half in a game with 16 lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points until Tulsa took control in the final 5 minutes, pushing the advantage to 10 points on a free throw by Woodardwith 1:12 left.

Mid-American Conference championship

Western Michigan 98, Toledo 77

David Brown scored 32 points, Tucker Haymond added 21 and Western Michigan earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament in 10 years.

The top-seeded Broncos (23-9) won their first title since 2004, and along with it, the league's automatic spot inside the NCAA brackets.

Shayne Whittington added 20 and 13 rebounds for WMU, which had to overcome an 18-point deficit in the semifinals to sneak past Akron. The title game was much easier for the Broncos, who pulled away in the second half, outrebounded the Rockets 46-27 and set the tournament record for points.

Julius Brown and Rian Pearson scored 22 apiece to pace Toledo (27-6). The Rockets set a school record for wins this season, but their hopes of making the NCAA field for the first time since 1980 hinged on them winning this tourney.

Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship

North Carolina Central 71, Morgan State 62

Jeremy Ingram scored 29 points and North Carolina Central used an 8-1 run to get some separation and held on to beat Morgan State.

Karamo Jawara added 10 points for the Eagles (28-5), who won their 20th consecutive game and claimed the league's automatic NCAA tournament berth in only their third season at the Division I level.

Ian Chiles scored 26 to lead Morgan State (15-16), appearing in the championship for the sixth time in eight seasons under coach Todd Bozeman and seeking its fourth championship.

The game was close throughout, but Ingram and Jawara each scored four points during the short run that finished with 9 minutes to go and the Eagles leading 50-43. Morgan State pulled to 55-52 with 4:31 to play, but Jordan Parks hit four straight free throws to rebuild the lead and the Eagles held on.

Southland Conference championship

Stephen F. Austin 68, Sam Houston State 49

Thomas Walkup had 19 points and Stephen F. Austin used a big second half run to defeat Sam Houston State and earn its first trip to the NCAA tournament since 2009.

Deshaunt Walker added 12 points, and Jacob Parker had 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Lumberjacks (31-2), who won their 28th straight game.

The Lumberjacks shot 49 percent from the field and hit 12 of 17 from the free throw line.

Terrance Motley had nine points, and Will Bond and James Thomas each had eight points for Sam Houston State (23-10), which finished shooting 39 percent but struggled in the second half.

The Bearkats have not reached the NCAA Tournament since 2010.

Leading by three, SFA used a 21-5 run over an 11-minute stretch of the second half to push its lead to 56-37. Connor Brooks' layup capped the surge 7:07 remaining. Parker had six points to lead the run for the Lumberjacks.

Southwestern Athletic Conference championship

Texas Southern 78, Prairie View 73

Aaric Murray had 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead Texas Southern to a win and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

The win clinches the Tigers' fifth NCAA tournament bid in school history and first since 2003.

The Tigers (19-14) overcame a 38-31 halftime deficit by starting the second half on a 13-2 run to take the lead just four minutes into the half and held for the win.

Madarious Gibbs added 15 points and five assists.

The Panthers (11-23) were led by 19 p

Western Athletic Conference championship

New Mexico State 77, Idaho 55

Daniel Mullings scored 18 points, Sim Bhullar added 14 and New Mexico State won its third straight Western Athletic Conference tournament title.

New Mexico State (26-9) often worked its offense through Bhullar, and the Vandals were unable to stop the Aggies' 7-foot-5, 355-pound center around the rim or rotate fast enough when he kicked it out.

The second-seeded Aggies jumped to a big early lead and never gave Idaho a chance, shooting 56 percent while outscoring the Vandals 46-16 inside.

Tshilidzi Nephawe added 12 points for New Mexico State, which had a 38-21 advantage in rebounds.

Idaho (16-18) beat New Mexico State in the teams' last meeting this season, but was no match for the Aggies in its first conference title game since 1993.

Stephen Madison scored 17 points and Mike Scott 14 for the Vandals, who haven't made the NCAA tournament since 1990.

oints from junior guard Montreal Scott.

The Panthers rallied late when Demondre Chapman cut to the basket and dunked to bring them within five 70-65 with a couple of minutes remaining.

Murray's block with 40 seconds to go sealed the victory.

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