College Basketball

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.

BIG PICTURE
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).

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

© 2018 by The Associated Press. 

Chris Herren Jr. reclassifies, enrolls at Boston College

Chris Herren Jr. reclassifies, enrolls at Boston College

Boston College announced on Monday that Chris Herren Jr., son of much-celebrated local legend Chris Herren, has reclassified to the Class of 2018 and will join the men's basketball team for the 2018-19 season.

Chris Jr. will become the third Herren to play for the Eagles in the fall, joining his father and his uncle, Mike. Chris Jr. played these last two seasons at Tabor Academy, in Marion, Mass., after transferring in from Portsmouth (R.I.) High and repeating his sophomore season. He earned NEPSAC All-Class A honors this past season after averaging 23 points per game and shooting 42 percent from three-point range. He has signed a financial aid agreement and reclassified to the Class of 2018, according to BC.

"We are excited to add Chris to our program," BC head coach Jim Christian said in a statement. "He is a dynamic scorer who possesses a high basketball IQ.  His ability to shoot from long-range and his playmaking ability will fit our playing style well."

The elder Herren is one of the most celebrated high school basketball players in Massachusetts state history, earning McDonald's All-American honors as a senior at Fall River's B.M.C. Durfee High after scoring over 2,000 points for his career. He was one of the nation's most heavily-recruited guards, and his senior season was documented in the book "Fall River Dreams".  He stayed close to home at BC, but transferred to Fresno State after some off-court troubles in his freshman season.

Herren appeared in 35 games with the Boston Celtics in 2000-01, before some well-documented personal struggles led to the derailment of his career. The depths of his struggles, and subsequent recovery to become one of the nation's most revered anti-drug motivational speakers, were documented in a gripping memoir and a "30 for 30" special on ESPN. In 2011 he founded The Herren Project, which seeks to provide assistance in substance abuse recovery.

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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Villanova takes title, 79-62 over Michigan behind DiVincenzo

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NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP: Villanova takes title, 79-62 over Michigan behind DiVincenzo

SAN ANTONIO -- When he wasn't dribbling behind his back, winking to the TV announcers, stuffing shots or dishing out assists, Villanova guard Donte DiVincenzo was making it rain.

First, 3-pointers.

Later on, confetti.

The redhead kid with the nickname Big Ragu came off the bench to make five 3s and score 31 points Monday to lift `Nova to another blowout victory in the NCAA Tournament - this time 79-62 over Michigan for its second national title in three seasons.

The sophomore guard had 12 points and an assist during a first-half run to help the Wildcats (36-4) pull ahead, then scored nine straight for Villanova midway through the second to snuff out the Wolverines. He capped the second shooting skein with a 3-pointer from a step behind the arc. He punctuated it with a knowing wink over to the sideline, where TV announcers Jim Nantz and Bill Raftery were sitting.

Yep, he knew he could do it. And his teammates were more than willing to let him steal the show.

"If someone's hot, feed `em," said Jalen Brunson, the national Player of the Year, who finished with nine points and was perfectly fine with playing a supporting role on this night.

In taking the program's third overall title, Villanova won all six games by double digits over this tournament run, joining Michigan State (2000), Duke (2001) and North Carolina (2009) in that rare air.

The last team to win its two Final Four games by 16 or more: UCLA in 1968. During the dynasty.

One key question: Does Jay Wright's team belong on the list of the best of all-time?

Maybe so, considering the way Villanova dismantled everyone in front of it in a tournament that was dripping with upsets, underdogs and at least the appearance of parity.

Maybe so, considering the Wildcats won in seemingly every way imaginable. This victory came two nights after they set a Final Four record with 18 3-pointers (they had 10 in this one), and one week after they relied more on defense in a win over Texas Tech in the Elite Eight.

"We don't really look at it that way," Wright said. "We don't look at it as, did we just dominate that team? No. We played well."

And really, that debate's for later.

DiVincenzo squashed any questions about this game with a 10-for-15 shooting night - 5 for 7 from 3 -that was, frankly, better than that. He was a no-doubt winner of the Final Four's most-outstanding-player award.

With Michigan trying to stay in striking range early in the second half, he opened his game-sealing run with an around-the-back dribble to get to the hoop and get fouled. On the other end, he delivered a two-handed rejection of Michigan's Charles Matthews - his second block of the game, to go with five rebounds and three assists - when Matthews tried to bring it into the paint.

The 3 that capped things off came from a big step behind the arc and gave Villanova a 62-44 lead with 7:58 left.

"Honestly, I didn't look at the score at all," DiVincenzo said. "I didn't know how many points I had. I didn't know any of that. I was just trying to make the right play. And Omari (Spellman) was setting unbelievable screens for me getting me open. And I was just feeling it."

About the only drama at the end was whether DiVincenzo could unwrap himself from his teammates' mob hug to hurl the ball underhanded toward the rafters after the buzzer. He succeeded there, too.

"Sometimes I think about whether I'm a good defender, because in practice, he makes me look bad," said junior Mikal Bridges, who likely made this his final audition for the NBA with a 19-point night on 7-for-12 shooting.

What a couple of months it's been for Philly. First the Eagles. Now this. The Super Bowl, though, was a classic. This one was only beautiful to one team.

Michigan (33-8) came out playing tough-nosed defense it relied on over a 14-game winning streak that got the Wolverines to their second final in six years.

Moe Wagner scored 11 early points to pick up where he left off in a dominating performance in the semifinal. Villanova started 1 for 9 from 3-point range. And yet, after DiVincenzo banged down a 3 from a step behind the arc for Villanova's second of the night, coach John Beilein looked at the scoreboard and saw his team behind, 23-21.

"The way DiVincenzo shot the ball, it was just incredible for us to try to win that game with the roll he went on," the coach said.

If his first 3 wasn't demoralizing enough, DiVincenzo made another, then took a bounce pass from Brunson for a dunk, then paid it forward with an assist to Spellman. It was part of a 23-7 run that gave the Wildcats a nine-point lead at halftime; they never looked back.

DiVincenzo competed hard for a starting spot this year, but didn't win it. He made the best of it as a sixth man. Wright waited all of 52 seconds in the second half to get him back on the floor.

"It just shows how much depth we have, and that we don't care who gets the credit," Brunson said.

Though he didn't play in the 2016 Final Four, DiVincenzo got his fair share of credit for that title, too.

His season cut short because of a knee injury, he was healthy enough to run the scout squad for Villanova. Some on the team said he was better at doing Oklahoma star Buddy Hield than Hield himself.

But maybe a more apt comparison is to ... Bill Walton and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar?

DiVincenzo joins them in the rare club of players to crack 30 points while also shooting better than 66 percent from the floor in a Final Four game.

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