MILWAUKEE -- Lamar Stevens tied his career high with 30 points, Tony Carr added 25 and Penn State beat Marquette 85-80 on Tuesday night to advance to the NIT semifinals.
The Nittany Lions (24-13) will face Mississippi State (25-11) at Madison Square Garden in New York on March 27. They advanced to the NIT semis for the first time since winning the 2009 tournament.
Stevens hit three crucial buckets in the final three minutes, including a dunk off an alley-oop pass from Josh Reaves for an eight-point lead with one minute left. The 6-foot-8 Stevens then maneuvered through a couple Marquette players to secure a rebound off Andrew Rowsey's missed 3 with 46 seconds left.
Carr went 5 of 8 from the foul line over the final 30 seconds to give Marquette another chance. Rowsey hit a 3 and a layup to get the Golden Eagles as close as 83-80 with six seconds left before the Golden Eagles ran out of time.
Shep Garner scored 19 points and set two Penn State records, including most 3s in a season (112). Garner's 73 career wins are the most in a four-year span since Penn State joined the Big Ten in 1992-93.
Rowsey, a senior, scored 29 points for Marquette (21-14).
The Golden Eagles had whittled a 14-point deficit early in the second half to 72-68 with 2:39 left on three foul shots by Rowsey. Penn State went nearly three minutes without a bucket and got sloppy with the ball and the sharpshooting Golden Eagles started hitting 3s to get back in the game.
Because of his success at Villanova, Jay Wright is always a hot name when a high-profile coaching job becomes available. But Wright really does seem happy at Villanova.
It looks like Wright subscribes to the idea that money can’t buy happiness.
The Los Angeles Times published a story today about UCLA’s long and winding search for a new head coach. Before they eventually landed on Mick Cronin, they went after some big names in the coaching world, including John Calipari and Wright.
While Calipari showed some real interest in the gig, it doesn’t seem like Wright gave it a second thought, not even after UCLA offered to double his salary, according to the LA Times.
Read by the LA Times, here’s part of what UCLA’s senior associate AD Josh Rebholz said in a text message to donors after the school failed to hire Calipari:
We would have loved for Jay Wright to walk out on the floor, but even when we offered to double his salary, he still wasn’t coming. Nothing we can do about that. But I am proud of our effort. We didn’t assume anything, took our shots and I believe will end up with a solid coach who will embrace UCLA and build a program we all can be proud of and root for.
If that’s true, that UCLA offered to double his salary, Wright turned down a ton of money. According to USA Today, Wright makes $3,878,768 per season, so doubling that would give him an annual salary of over $7.75 million. That would be the second-highest salary in college basketball behind Calipari and ahead of Mike Krzyzewski.
It seems like Wright really does love it here.
Sports fans, it’s the best time of the year.
Even if you don’t have a team in the dance, you’re probably filling out a bracket and will be just as interested in all the games, until your bracket has been busted.
Speaking of a bracket, if you’re looking for something clean to print out, click here. If you're looking for analysis, our friends at NBC Sports have you covered.
Good luck this year and be sure to be gracious in both victory and defeat in your office pool.