College Basketball

NCAA: Providence beats USC 70-69 in thriller


NCAA: Providence beats USC 70-69 in thriller

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Providence expected Southern California to focus on stopping either the Big East's Player of the Year, or perhaps that league's top scorer.

Not Rodney Bullock.

So with a critical inbounds pass in the final seconds, the Friars slipped Bullock under the bucket and he hit the shot that kept them in the NCAA Tournament.

Bullock's layup with 1.5 seconds left helped Providence beat USC 70-69 on Thursday night in the first round.

The reason Bullock was so open was because Big East player of the year Kris Dunn and top scorer Ben Bentil drew so much of the Trojans' attention.

"Kris is a focal point, Ben's a focal point and you take advantage of what the defense gives you," Providence coach Ed Cooley said. "On this stage, to end the game like that, that's that one shining moment."

Bentil scored 19 points and Bullock finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds to help the ninth-seeded Friars (24-10) earn their first win in the tournament since 1997. They will face top-seeded North Carolina (29-6) on Saturday in the second round of the East Regional.

Jordan McLaughlin had 15 points for eighth-seeded Southern California (21-13), which missed the front ends of two one-and-ones in the final minute.

"We just looked very immature at the end," guard Julian Jacobs said. "We had the game in our hands, and we just let it fall right through.

Jacobs' missed free throw with 11.6 seconds set up Providence's last chance. Dunn missed a jumper with about 5 seconds left and the rebound went out of bounds to the Friars.

Drew Edwards then inbounded the ball to Bullock and he banked in the go-ahead layup.

"I was supposed to curl off of Kris, and both of the defenders went with Kris," Bullock said. "I was wide open under the basket."

Jacobs took the inbounds pass for USC and let it fly from midcourt but failed to draw iron.

Dunn finished with 16 points despite persistent foul trouble. He hit a 3-pointer over McLaughlin that tied it at 68 with about 90 seconds to play.

Nikola Jovanovic had 14 points for the Trojans. Bennie Boatwright finished with 11 and hit a free throw with 58.7 seconds left that gave Southern Cal a 69-68 lead.

After the teams traded misses on the three possessions that followed, the Trojans' Elijah Stewart missed the front end of a one-and-one with 27.6 seconds to play before Providence wound up giving the ball right back to USC.

Kyron Cartwright finished with 10 points for the Friars, who went one-and-done in the tournament in each of the last two years. Their previous victory came during their God Shammgod-led run to the Elite Eight in 1997.

"It means a lot. I know what it feels like to be on the other end," Dunn said. "I think Providence College as a whole and as a community, they've been waiting for a long time for something like that."

Elijah Stewart finished with 10 points for the youth-dominated Trojans, whose first tournament appearance since 2011 wound up being a short one.

It was perfectly fitting that Bentil and Dunn combined for 35 of the Friars' 70 points. For the season, their combined scoring average is 37.2 points - a sliver over half of the team's average of 74.

"We call that play `Carolina.' Nah, I'm only joking." - Cooley, asked what the name of the Friars' game-winning play is, referring to their next opponent.

Providence: Bentil, who was 7 of 21, and Dunn, who was 5 of 13, combined to take 34 of the Friars' 62 shots . . . Providence shot 40 percent.

Southern Cal: The Trojans shot 54 percent . . . They led by seven with about 7 1/2 minutes to play after scoring on five straight possessions, but hit just two field goals the rest of the way.

Providence plays top-seeded North Carolina on Saturday in the second round.

Hurley leaves Rhode Island for UConn

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Hurley leaves Rhode Island for UConn

STORRS, Conn. - Rhode Island's Dan Hurley agreed to become UConn's coach, joining a team that is under NCAA investigation and fired Kevin Ollie this month after another losing season.

The Hartford Courant reported that it's a six-year deal worth roughly $3 million a year, tripling his salary at the University of Rhode Island. 

The school said details of the agreement would be released later. A press conference is expected Friday

Hurley was 113-82 in six seasons with the Rams, who went 26-8 this year before losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Duke. It was the second straight trip to the tournament for the Rams, who won their first regular-season Atlantic-10 championship.

The 45-year-old Hurley played at Seton Hall during its Big East rivalry with UConn in the 1990s. He is the son of Hall of Fame high school coach Bob Hurley Sr. and the brother of Arizona State coach Bob Hurley.

Before taking over at Rhode Island, Hurley coached for two seasons at Wagner and led the school to 25 wins in 2011-12. He also was considered a leading candidate for the vacant coaching job at of Pittsburgh.

UConn won its fourth national championship in 2014 but has fallen on hard times recently. The Huskies went 14-18 this year and 16-17 in 2016-17 after going 30 years without a losing season.

The program also is under an NCAA investigating amid allegations of recruiting violations and reports that team members may have participated in impermissible workouts before the season.

UConn is trying to terminate Ollie's contract "with cause," which would save the school from having to pay the more than $10 million left on the five-year deal that expires in 2021.

Ollie has said he will fight that decision and a hearing involving him, his union and the school is expected to be held this week.

It's not clear how many players from UConn's team plan to return next season.

Terry Larrier, a transfer from Virginia Commonwealth with another year of eligibility remaining, has announced he will turn pro. The Huskies also said this week they were releasing their top recruit, guard James Akinjo from Richmond, California, from his commitment to the school.

© 2018 by The Associated Press. 


NCAA: Duke ends URI's run emphatically, 87-62

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NCAA: Duke ends URI's run emphatically, 87-62

PITTSBURGH - Mike Krzyzewski might want to stop worrying about his team's inexperience. The loaded if young Blue Devils hardly seemed intimidated by NCAA Tournament's bright lights.

If anything, they're thriving under them.

Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year Marvin Bagley scored 22 points to go with nine rebounds, fellow freshman big man Wendell Carter Jr. added 13 points and second-seeded Duke rolled by seventh-seeded Rhode Island 87-62 in the second round on Saturday to earn the program's 26th trip to the Sweet 16. Freshmen guards Gary Trent Jr. and Trevon Duval combined for 29 points and 11 assists for the Blue Devils.

Duke (28-7) will play either Michigan State or Syracuse in the Midwest Regional semifinals in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday. The victory gave Krzyzewski 1,098 wins during his Hall of Fame career, breaking a tie with Tennessee women's coach Pat Summitt for the most ever by an NCAA basketball coach.

The Rams (26-8) and their senior-laden roster never threatened after the opening 10 minutes. E.C. Matthews led Rhode Island with 23 points but the Rams were never really in it after the Blue Devils revved it up midway through the first half.

Krzyzewski's relationship with Rhode Island head coach Dan Hurley dates back to when Krzyzewski recruited Dan's older brother Bobby to Duke 30 years ago. Krzyzewski praised the Hurley family for their love of the "dignity of work," an ethos that has helped Dan turn the Rams into a force in the Atlantic 10.

Work ethic is one thing. Talent is another. The Rams have plenty of the former. When the young but rapidly maturing Blue Devils are as fully engaged as they were on Saturday, they have a staggering amount of both.

The proof came in a clinically efficient opening half in which Duke picked the Rams a part. If Allen and Trent weren't knocking down 3-pointers then they were getting the ball inside to Bagley or Carter, the program's "other" potential lottery pick who is dealing with an achy Achilles. Though he winced at least once while trying to set up on the block, when Carter had the ball in his hands, the grimace disappeared. He scored nine of Duke's first 11 points to establish the Blue Devils' dominance in the paint and when the backcourt got going, the Rams simply couldn't keep pace.

A 23-5 surge midway through the first half put the Blue Devils firmly in command. Their extended zone defense with Allen at the top disrupted Rhode Island's rhythm, at one point forcing Matthews it put up an off-balance, one-handed airball from the 3-point line as the shot clock expired.

By the time Duval's second 3-pointer of the half went down, the Blue Devils were up 45-28 at the break.

As the Rams came out for the second half, junior guard Will Leviton went over to a section of Rhode Island fans and urged them to "get up, I still need you! It's still a game."

Not really. A pair of Bagley dunks shortly after intermission pushed Duke's advantage to more than 20 and the Blue Devils were on their way to Omaha.

Rhode Island: The Rams lose five seniors to graduation, including Matthews, Terrell and forward Andre Berry but have a solid nucleus returning. Whether Hurley is there to guide them is another matter. He acknowledged his name has been mentioned in connections with other jobs, including UConn. He said no last spring. It may be more difficult this time around.

Duke: For all of its offensive brilliance, the biggest difference for the Blue Devils over the last month has been their work at the other end of the floor. Duke held Rhode Island to 40 percent shooting (25 of 63).

The Blue Devils are 14-9 in Sweet 16 games under Krzyzewski.

© 2018 by The Associated Press.