Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wisconsin: 2014-15 Big Ten Men's Basketball Champions


CHICAGO -- Nigel Hayes scored 25 points, Frank Kaminsky added 19, and No. 6 Wisconsin outscored Michigan State 11-0 in overtime Sunday for an 80-69 victory in the Big Ten tournament championship game.
Bronson Koenig scored 18 points, and the Badgers (31-3) rallied from 11 points down in the second half in an attempt to strengthen their bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament.
Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine scored 16 points each for Michigan State (23-11). But the Spartans were outscored 31-10 over the final 11½ minutes and came up short after winning the tournament last year.
In the first overtime in a Big Ten title game, Hayes and Koenig hit 3-pointers in the first three minutes to give the Badgers a 75-69 lead. Michigan State missed all six shots and committed two turnovers in the extra period.

SMU: 2014-15 American Athletic Men's Basketball Champions


HARTFORD, Conn. -- Markus Kennedy scored 14 of his 15 points in the first half and No. 20 SMU held off UConn 62-54 on Sunday to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament title.
Yanick Moreira and Nic Moore added 11 points each for the Mustangs (27-6), who won the league's regular-season title.
Rodney Purvis had a career-high 29 points for UConn (20-14), the defending national champion which fell a game short of its quest to win four games in four days and earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
Ryan Boatright, who had been averaging 17 points in the tournament finished with seven and fouled out with 45 seconds left.
SMU led by 17 points early in the second half, then survived a UConn rally that cut the lead to five with 3:22 left.
The Huskies likely will become the sixth team to miss the NCAAs after winning the title the previous year since the field expanded to 64 in 1985.

Georgia State: 2014-15 Sun Belt Men's Basketball Champions


NEW ORLEANS -- R.J. Hunter, the coach's son, made two free throws with 21.6 seconds left and Georgia State survived two last-second, 3-point attempts Sunday to beat Georgia Southern 38-36 in the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game.
Georgia State (24-9), in its second season in the Sun Belt, will make its third appearance in the NCAA Tournament and first since 2001.
Kevin Ware scored 18 points for Georgia State, the only double-figure scorer in the low-scoring game, while Hunter finished with nine.
Jelani Hewitt had eight points to lead Georgia Southern (22-9).
Hunter was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound of Ware's missed jumper. Georgia Southern's Curtis Diamond missed a 3-point attempt with 7 seconds left but tracked down the rebound and called a timeout as he jumped out of bounds with 5.1 seconds left. Eric Fergusontook Georgia Southern's final shot, missing from the left side.
Georgia State coach Ron Hunter was injured during the celebration after the game and had to be helped off the court. He did return to be with his team as they continued the celebration.

Virginia Commonwealth: 2014-15 Atlantic 10 Men's Basketball Champions


NEW YORK -- Treveon Graham scored 20 points and Doug Brooks made a huge steal in the final minute to help VCU beat Dayton 71-65 on Sunday and win its first Atlantic 10 tournament championship.
Fifth-seeded VCU (26-9) had lost the last two A-10 finals -- in their first two seasons in the conference -- but this time strung together four wins in as many days to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Not that they needed it. VCU -- and Dayton for that matter -- were considered to already be NCAA-bound.
Graham gave VCU a 61-59 lead with 1:13 left on a drive to the basket. Then Brooks picked off a Dayton pass and fed JeQuan Lewis for a layup to put VCU up four with 53 seconds left.
Jordan Sibert made three free throws with 10.6 seconds left for second-seeded Dayton (25-8) to make it 67-65, but VCU closed it out from the free throw line.
Scoochie Smith led Dayton, which was looking for its first A-10 title since 2003, with 16 points. Sibert and Dyshawn Pierre both had 14.
It's been four years since coach Shaka Smart and the Rams went from the First Four to Final Four in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, VCU was knocked out of the NCAAs in its first game.
This season's team was expected to be one of Smart's best. The Rams started the season ranked No. 15 in the country and as the overwhelming favorite to win the A-10.
The Rams were rolling along with a 17-3 record when star guard Briante Weber blew out his knee at the end of a loss to Richmond. The Rams went 5-5 to end the regular season and slipped to the fifth seed. That meant they would need to win four games at Barclays Center to earn that elusive A-10 tournament title.
They seemed to get a little better each day, a little more comfortable playing without Weber, who leads their havoc defensive pressure.
Lewis, his replacement in the starting lineup, scored 15 points in the title game. Lewis made two free throws with 7.9 seconds left to put VCU up 69-65. Burly center Mo Alie-Cox added 13 points.
Weber is not playing, but he's still with the team. The senior from Chesapeake, Virginia, has been stationed next to the assistant coaches on the bench this week, a huge black brace immobilizing his right leg but not keeping him from standing up to shout instructions and encouragement to his teammates. He even made it over to a few team huddles during timeouts on Sunday, giving Lewis a squeeze on the shoulders or pat on the back.
When it was over, Weber left his crutches on the bench, made his way to center court and led the celebration, hopping on one leg and then crying on the shoulders of teammates and coaches who came to hold him up.
Pierre's straight-on 3-pointer for Dayton tied it at 55 for with 3:09 left and then the Rams and Flyers started trading scores, until Brooks' steal finally got VCU the stop it needed.

Kentucky: 2014-15 SEC Men's Basketball Champions


NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Willie Cauley-Stein scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and top-ranked Kentucky never trailed in beating No. 21 Arkansas 78-63 on Sunday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament championship game.
The Wildcats (34-0) are only the fourth team to go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Indiana finished off the last perfect season with a title in 1976. They paired their 28th SEC tournament title with their 46th regular season championship.
Andrew Harrison also scored 15 points for Kentucky, and his brother Aaron had 11.
The Razorbacks (26-8) were trying to win their second tournament title and first since 2000.Michael Qualls, coming off the bench for only the second time this season, scored 18 points, while Bobby Portis, the coaches' pick for SEC player of the year, added 13.
Unlike last season when Arkansas swept Kentucky, these Wildcats proved to be just too good.