College Basketball

NCAA: UConn rallies to 74-67 win


NCAA: UConn rallies to 74-67 win

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Shooting extra free throws after practice is about as unglamorous as basketball gets.

The work has been worth it for UConn.

Rodney PurvisDaniel Hamilton, a stifling defense and 96 percent shooting from the line carried Connecticut back from an 11-point first-half deficit and helped the Huskies beat Colorado 74-67 in the first round Thursday, keeping Kevin Ollie unbeaten as a head coach in the NCAA Tournament.

The No. 9 seed Huskies (25-10) went 22 of 23 from the foul line, the second-best performance in program history, including six straight swishes by Sterling Gibbs in the final minute to secure the lead and pad their nation-leading percentage of 79.3.

"We just try to relax," said Purvis, who scored 15 of his 19 points after halftime.

Free-throw shooting was a significant factor in UConn's run to the 2014 national championship, too.

"You have to really calm yourself down. You've got to take the tension out," Ollie said, "and we really teach about routine, you know? It's not about making or missing the shot. It's about falling in love with your routine, and you kind of just lose sight of the crowd."

Hamilton had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Amida Brimah blocked five shots and the Huskies even outrebounded the Buffaloes 36-33 on their way to the second round of the South Region. Colorado entered the tournament ranked fourth in the country in rebounding.

Josh Scott had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the No. 8 seed Buffaloes (22-12), finishing 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament in his career. He had five of Colorado's 11 misses in 30 free-throw attempts, helping UConn stay within striking distance.

Scott was quiet in the first part of the second half as Brimah and UConn's lanky frontcourt cranked up their rim protection while the half-court trap began to make the Buffaloes uncomfortable. Scott made four straight foul shots to bring the Buffaloes within 66-63 with a minute to go, but they couldn't make it closer.

"They're a good defensive team, and I knew they were going to be ready for me," said Scott, who hugged each of his teammates in a teary locker room.

The Huskies, who won the title as a No. 7 seed two years ago, were called for 26 of the 48 fouls. Waiting for UConn on Saturday is No. 1 overall seed Kansas. The Jayhawks and Huskies have never played in the NCAA Tournament, despite 89 appearances and seven titles between them.

"No more slow starts going forward. Once we do that, we'll be all right," Hamilton said.

Shuffling back and forth on the sideline with his arms up and his knees bent like he was guarding the perimeter, Ollie was less stressed in the second half as his confident, experienced team took control.

"I think they were still back at the hotel, but I think the bus came and picked `em up and we started playing in the second half," Ollie said.

Colorado lost its fourth straight NCAA Tournament game, after winning the opener under coach Tad Boyle in 2012.

"The future of Colorado basketball is in good hands in terms of the players we have in our program and the ones we have coming in," Boyle said. "We will be back here."

Scott's jump shot in the paint with 3:01 left before halftime gave the Buffaloes their biggest lead at 33-22, but the bricks they were flinging from the foul line left room for the Huskies to rally.

The Huskies took their first lead at 47-46 with a 3-pointer by Jalen Adams, the freshman point guard who banked in the beyond-half-court shot to force a fourth overtime last week in UConn's win over Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference quarterfinals.

Purvis swished a 3-pointer right in front of UConn's bench to make it 52-48 before turning to playfully pat Ollie on the chest with the back of his hand.

"I think he was saying, `Bad shot!' and I was like, `I got you,'" Purvis said.

That's what Ollie would prefer.

"Coaching is overrated," Ollie said, downplaying his unblemished NCAA Tournament record before adding: "I want to have a great relationship with my guys, so I can push them and demand everything I possibly can out of them. They've done a beautiful job."


UConn: The Huskies went 25 for 26 from the free-throw line in a 2003 game against Rutgers to set their single-game record with a minimum of 15 attempts.

Colorado: The Buffaloes finished 2 for 10 from 3-point range.


UConn plays Kansas on Saturday.

Colorado's season is over.

Hurley leaves Rhode Island for UConn

File photo

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.