NCAA

NCAA Tournament First Four: Kansas State outlasts Wake Forest in 11-seed game

NCAA Tournament First Four: Kansas State outlasts Wake Forest in 11-seed game

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DAYTON, Ohio -- After finally making it into the NCAA Tournament with its offensive balance, Kansas State showcased its array of scorers in the First Four.

Kamau Stokes scored 19 of his 22 points in the second half of a wide-open game on Tuesday night, and the Wildcats' versatility was the difference as they pulled away to a 95-88 victory over Wake Forest.

Eleventh-seeded K-State (21-13) got its first NCAA Tournament win in five years and a trip to play No. 6 Cincinnati on Friday in Sacramento as part of the South Regional. The Bearcats are known for their tight defense.

"It's a good matchup for us," said Wesley Iwundu , who had 24 points. "You know they're a tough team, but we're down for any challenge. We're the underdogs now but we like being the underdogs."

In a matchup of two versatile offenses, the Wildcats had the most options and hot shooters. Four players finished in double figures -- their season norm -- as the Wildcats shot a season-high 66 percent from the field against a team they had never faced.

"Now you're playing somebody new and maybe you can get some of the little looks that you haven't gotten in probably like the last six weeks," coach Bruce Weber said.

Stokes missed three of his four shots in the first half, but found his touch right away after the break, hitting a pair of quick 3s.

"I think he just needed to shake off his jitters in the first NCAA Tournament game," Iwundu said. "But in the second half, he got back to doing what he does best, hitting some big shots."

Wake Forest (19-14 ) couldn't keep up during its first NCAA Tournament game in seven years. The Demon Deacons scored 90 points nine times during the season, but couldn't match the Wildcats.

"We came close and then we let them build another lead," said John Collins, who had 26 points and nine rebounds. "So I think it was kind of a trend."

It was a breakthrough season for the Demon Deacons in coach Danny Manning's third season. He led Kansas to the 1988 national championship -- Danny and The Miracles, as they're known -- by beating K-State along the way. And now he had the Demon Deacons back in the tournament for the first time in seven years.

"For us, it's been a long, eventful season," Manning said.

Big picture
Kansas State: The Wildcats repeatedly made clutch shots to hold onto the lead down the stretch. After falling behind by 10 points, Wake Forest got the lead within three points 11 times, but K-State always matched it. The Demon Deacons overcame double-digit deficits to win their last three regular-season games, but couldn't do it in the tournament.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons shot only 36 percent from the field in the first half and had more turnovers (nine) than field goals (eight), forcing them to play from behind.

Where's the defense?
Both teams went through long stretches without missing a shot in the second half. Kansas State made its first five shots and six of seven, while Wake Forest made seven in a row over one stretch. Many of the shots were wide-open.

Getting to the line
The teams combined for 51 fouls and 68 free throws, with things working out almost evenly. Kansas State went 27 of 36 from the line, while Wake Forest was 29 of 32. K-State's 27 points off free throws were a season high.

Up next
Kansas State: The Wildcats will try to win two NCAA Tournament games for the first time since 2010, when they lost to Butler in a regional final.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons return the bulk of one of the youngest teams in the tournament, including three sophomore starters and one junior.

NCAA adopts college basketball reforms for NBA draft, agents, more

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AP Images

NCAA adopts college basketball reforms for NBA draft, agents, more

INDIANAPOLIS — College basketball players who participate in the NBA combine and go undrafted will be allowed to return to school and play as part of sweeping NCAA reforms in the wake of a corruption scandal.

The NCAA announced Wednesday that its Board of Governors and Division I Board of Directors have adopted numerous proposals, including changes to the enforcement process for rules violations and allowing NCAA-certified agents to work with college basketball players who test the waters in declaring for the NBA draft. 

Agents will have at least a limited place within the NCAA structure when it comes to college basketball.

The NCAA's rule changes include allowing players to work with an agent while declaring for the NBA draft. College players would have to request an evaluation from the NBA Undergraduate Advisory Committee on their draft prospects. The rules would also allow elite high school players to work with an agent if the NBA removes its one-and-done rule.

The agent would have to be certified by the NCAA no later than August 2020. Until then, agents certified by the NBA players' union would qualify.

Agents would be allowed to cover minimal expenses such as meals and transportation tied to meetings or workouts with pro teams. The agent's work would stop if the player enrolls in or returns to college.

The changes reflect the recommendations made in April by the Rice Commission.

The Rice Commission, led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was formed in response to an FBI investigation into payments from shoe companies to coaches for steering players to certain schools.

The NCAA is also adopting changes it hopes will improve its enforcement process when handling cases of rules violations.

The policies adopted by the NCAA's Board of Governors and Division I Council include the appointment of independent groups to handle and resolve complex cases. That was one of the recommendations from the Rice Commission appointed in the wake of an FBI investigation into corruption within college basketball.

The changes also allow the NCAA to accept during investigations outside information that has been "established by another administrative body or a commission authorized by a school." The NCAA says that will save time since investigators would no longer have to independently confirm information outlined by other agencies or outside investigations.

In addition, school presidents and athletics staff will be required to commit "contractually" to cooperate fully with investigations.

The process to adopt recommendations for NCAA reforms from the Rice Commission was a swift one by the governing body's standards.

In a teleconference with reporters Wednesday, Georgia Tech president and Board of Governors chairman Bud Peterson said those changes would "normally take us about two years through the governance process."

Knicks will reportedly reach out to Jay Wright about coaching job

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USA Today Images

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.