NCAA

Saint Mary's, Purdue with something to prove

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Saint Mary's, Purdue with something to prove

NCAA scoreboard

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) -- No one is more excited about Purdue's NCAA tournament game against Saint Mary's than Robbie Hummel.

The Boilermakers' star is right back where he wants to be after missing the tournament the past two years because of two anterior cruciate ligament tears in his right knee.

No. 10-seeded Purdue (21-12) meets the No. 7 Gaels (27-5) on Friday in the Midwest Regional. Hummel is looking for a big finish to his career after returning to average 16.7 points and 7.1 rebounds this season while making first-team all-Big Ten.

"Sitting out the last two years, it's been frustrating," Hummel said Thursday. "It's made this time all the more special for me. When you miss something like that - where you've grown up watching the tournament and always wanting to play in it - it's disappointing to not be with your team."

RATTO: Saint Mary's no longer a Cinderella

Hummel and the Boilermakers are playing some of their best ball lately. The 6-foot-8 senior forward scored better than 21 points per game last month and the Boilermakers won six of eight before losing to Ohio State in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.

"He's had a long road and didn't get into rhythm shooting the basketball until February," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "You see all his hard work paying off and you feel good about him. He deserves to have this opportunity."

Hummel and his teammates will be facing a motivated Saint Mary's team. The Gaels reached the round of 16 two years ago but had to settle for an NIT bid last season.

"Our guys took that pretty hard," coach Randy Bennett said.

The Gaels, who swept the West Coast Conference regular-season and tournament titles, are among only five teams to have won at least 25 games each of the last five years. They still have seven players from the 2009-10 team that put the school on the college basketball map.

"I think that experience will definitely help us down the stretch," senior forward Rob Jones said. "We need leadership, and also when it comes down to a tight game, we will have a lot of confidence in ourselves."

Purdue and Saint Mary's have never met. The Gaels, in fact, haven't played an opponent from the Big Ten since 1976.

RATTO: No 'chip' on shoulder of Gaels

Hummel earned all-Big Ten honors his freshman and sophomore seasons and was averaging 15.7 points and 6.9 rebounds as a junior before he tore his ACL the first time on Feb. 24, 2010. Purdue still made it to the regional semifinals.

The Boilermakers figured to be a national-title contender in 2010-11, but Hummel tore the ACL again and missed the entire season.

Bennett gushed at his news conference Thursday when Hummel's name was brought up.

"First of all, he's a legend," Bennett said. "He must have a big heart. I don't know him that well. I just watch him compete. For him to come back and get his team back in the NCAA tournament ... he's got what you want and what it takes to be a special guy. I've heard about him for years and to finally see him up close is kind of fun, until tomorrow."

There were times earlier this season when Hummel let doubts creep into his mind about whether he would be as effective as he used to be.

"Will I be able to play at a high level again? Will I be able to just shoot the ball?" he said. "There were times that I was asking myself if I'll be on the court, or will our team be in (the NCAA tournament)?"

Hummel scored a season-high 29 points against Nebraska on Feb. 22, three nights after grabbing a season-high 15 rebounds against Michigan State.

There was no doubt Hummel had made it all the way back.
RATTO: NCAA Tourney denies SMC, Cal a Bay Area showcase

"Most guys will quit," Purdue point guard Lewis Jackson said. "You had to guess if he's going to be the same player, or does he want to get back out there? When I'm tired, if I'm nicked up, I look at what he's been through and tell myself you need to be out there giving your heart just because he's out there giving his, too."

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

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AP

Louisville has 'effectively fired' head coach Rick Pitino

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville has placed coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich on administrative leave amid a federal bribery investigation.

Jurich is on paid leave, while Pitino is on unpaid leave. The coach’s attorney, Steve Spence, told the Courier-Journal Wednesday that Louisville has “effectively fired” Pitino.

Pitino’s exit comes after the school acknowledged on Tuesday that the men’s program is part of a federal investigation into alleged bribery of recruits. The 65-year-old coach was not named in the indictment that resulted in the arrest of 10 people including four assistant coaches at other schools and an Adidas executive.

It is the latest black eye for the Cardinals program. Pitino and Louisville are in the middle of appealing NCAA sanctions following an embarrassing sex scandal.

Jurich has supported Pitino through his transgressions during the athletic director’s nearly 20-year tenure at the university.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.