NCAA

First Four: USC pulls off huge comeback; UC Davis gets 1st tourney win

First Four: USC pulls off huge comeback; UC Davis gets 1st tourney win

DAYTON, Ohio -- Bennie Boatwright scored a career-high 24 points as Southern Cal rallied from a 17-point deficit in the second half to beat Providence 75-71 in a First Four game Wednesday night.

The comeback victory was revenge for the Trojans, who lost to Providence by one point in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last year. They move on to play 6th-seeded SMU at Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday.

After Providence led by 15 points at halftime and went up by 17 to start the second half, Southern Cal (25-9) mounted a furious rally. The Trojans closed it to five points at the 10-minute mark, and went up 61-60 on a jumper by Chimezie Metu off a turnover with 6:46 left.

Metu hit both ends of a 1-and-1 to put Southern Cal up 71-64 with 1:23 remaining and kept Providence from getting back into it down the stretch.

Jordan McLaughlin scored 18 points for Southern Cal, and Metu added 15 on 9-for-12 free throw shooting.

Emmitt Holt led Providence with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Jalen Lindsey and Rodney Bullock added 17 each (see full recap).

UC Davis records 1st NCAA Tournament win
DAYTON, Ohio -- Chima Moneke had 18 points and 12 rebounds as UC Davis won in its first NCAA Tournament appearance, beating North Carolina Central 67-63 in a First Four game on Wednesday night.

The 16th-seeded Aggies rallied in the second half and held off North Carolina Central down the stretch to earn a trip to Tulsa to play No. 1 seed Kansas on Friday.

Brynton Lemar scored 15 points and Lawrence White added 14 for UC Davis, which had earned a trip to the tournament by winning the Big West Conference Tournament.

The Aggies (23-12) won despite 18 turnovers that led to 20 points for streaky North Carolina Central. But the Eagles couldn't overcome poor shooting that deteriorated even more in the second half.

The Eagles pulled within 64-63 with 1:49 left in the game on a 3-pointer by Dajuan Graf. North Carolina Central got the ball back with 37 seconds left, but another 3-point try by Graf was off the mark. Graf had to foul Lawrence White, who made two free throws with 16 second remaining to give the Eagles some breathing room. Lemar hit a foul shot with 4 seconds left to put it away.

Graf paced North Carolina Central (25-9) with 15 points. Kyle Benton and Patrick Cole added 13 each (see full recap).

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

Fresh off a second national championship in three years, this was bound to happen. Jay Wright is a hot name. 

And according to the New York Daily News, the Knicks plan on reaching out to Wright about their vacant head coaching job. 

Just don’t expect Wright to be interested. 

The 56-year-old coach has been determined to build Villanova into a powerhouse since he took the head coaching gig way back in 2001 and he’s finally done that. On the surface, maybe some think that would be enough to make him want to take his coaching to the top league in the world. Not so fast. 

In a recent interview with The Athletic, Wright said pretty flatly that he’s staying at Villanova because he loves it there. 

“The NBA does intrigue me,” Wright said. “That challenge is appealing but it’s not worth giving up working with these guys. The whole thing is, to take a new challenge you have to give up what you have. I don’t want to give up what I have. Would I like to coach in the NBA? Yes. But I have to give this up in order to do that, and I don’t see that happening.”

In that interview, Wright talked about his time at Hofstra and quoted Jim Valvano, who once said, ‘Don’t mess with happy.’ That was true at Hofstra until the Villanova job came around, so maybe there’s a chance the Knicks could blow him away. It just doesn’t seem likely. 

The Knicks just fired head coach Jeff Hornacek after a 29-53 record in 2017. The Knicks haven’t had a winning record since 2012-13. 

The New York Daily News cites a source, who said the Knicks believe Wright would be a “perfect candidate for a rebuilding club.” The Knicks might be right, but don’t bet on them getting Wright. 

Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

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Jalen Brunson hires agent, declares for NBA draft

Villanova is losing its second star player in two days. 

Guard Jalen Brunson has decided to hire an agent and enter the 2018 NBA Draft, he wrote in a letter to Nova Nation on ESPN. He will forego his senior season at Villanova after an incredible college career. 

This news comes a day after his teammate Mikal Bridges announced he will also head to the NBA draft.

“It is with great honor and privilege that I have called Villanova University my home for the past three years,” Brunson wrote in ESPN. “When I decided to commit to Coach Jay Wright and the basketball program, I was driven by three goals: getting my education, competing at the highest level and winning a national championship. While I pride myself on remaining disciplined and focused to achieve these goals, I have grown as a man and have established lifelong relationships with my teammates, classmates, members of the basketball staff, fellow student-athletes and the wonderful educators and administrators of this prestigious university.”

Brunson leaves Villanova as one of the greatest players in Wildcats history, helping lead Villanova to its second national championship in three years. 

The 6-foot-3 guard averaged 18.9 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game this season. Brunson was named the Big East Player of the Year and was the Wooden Award and Naismith Award winner this season.