NCAA

Stanford blows out Minnesota to win NIT title

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Stanford blows out Minnesota to win NIT title

BOX SCORE

Sophomore guard Aaron Bright scored 15 points and dished out six assists, freshman guard Chasson Randle also scored 15 points, and sophomore guard Anthony Brown contributed 11 as the Stanford Cardinal defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 75-51 to win their first NIT Championship since the 1990-1991 season.Minnesota led 21-17 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half, but Stanford took complete control soon thereafter, outscoring Minnesota 53-19 to take a 70-40 lead late in the 2nd half.Stanford held Minnesota to a 37 percent clip from the field, out-rebounded the Golden Gophers 38-29, recorded 12 steals, and turned 22 Minnesota turnovers into 28 points.When Stanford lost to Cal in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cardinal werent sure whether or not they would even be invited to the NIT.Then came a No. 3 seed in one of the four, eight-team regions, and a home game against Cleveland State.After dispatching the Vikings 76-65, Stanford played host to No. 7 seeded Illinois State only because the Redbirds traveled to Ole Miss and knocked off the No. 2 seeded Rebels in overtime.It didnt look good for the Cardinal as they trailed Illinois State 71-60 with just over eight minutes remaining. But Stanford used a 14-3 run to tie the game at 74-74, and ultimately prevailed in overtime despite the Redbirds converting on 15 of 30 from 3-point territory on the night.With the win, all that stood between the Cardinal and a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four was a win over the Nevada Wolfpack.It was never in doubt as Stanford dismantled Nevada 84-56 to punch their ticket to New York City.The UMASS Minutemen were Stanfords semifinal opponent, a team that Stanford defeated in the semifinals of the NIT 21 years prior.The result was the same this time around, as Stanford secured their place in the championship game with a 74-64 victory.And it all culminated Thursday night with an emphatic, eye-opening, dominating victory over Minnesota in the worlds most famous arena.At one point early in the season, Stanford was 16-3, tied for first-place in the Pac-12 at 5-1, and seemingly a lock for the NCAA Tournament.However, the Cardinal blew a 13-point second half at Washington State and fell to the Cougars 81-69.Stanford never recovered, as they lost five of their next six, and ultimately finished in seventh-place in the Pac-12 at 10-8.To make the NCAA Tournament, Stanford needed to win four games in four nights and capture the Pac-12 Tournament title. It was not in the cards.But for this young, talented team, winning the NIT Championship could be a springboard to bigger and better things next season.Stanford does lose four seniors to graduation, but will return five of its top six scorers, including freshman sensation Randle.West Virginia won the NIT in 2007, and reached the Sweet 16 in 2008.Ohio State won the NIT in 2008, and reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009.Wichita State won the NIT in 2011, and was a No. 5 seed in this years NCAA Tournament.Gaining experience and learning what it takes to win a championship, albeit not the ultimate prize that is the NCAA Tournament title, is invaluable experience.Expect big things from Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal in 2012-2013.

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.