NCAA

Spartans torch LSU, former Hoya commit Tremont Waters en route to spot in Elite Eight

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Spartans torch LSU, former Hoya commit Tremont Waters en route to spot in Elite Eight

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- For all of Michigan State's veteran experience, its freshmen led the way into the Elite Eight.

Aaron Henry scored a career-best 20 and fellow frosh Gabe Brown had 15 as the second-seeded Spartans beat third-seeded LSU 80-63 on Friday night to move on to the NCAA Tournament's East Region final.

Coach Tom Izzo's upperclassman-heavy team is one victory away from its first Final Four appearance since 2015.

Michigan State took it to LSU on the glass, outrebounding the Tigers 34-20. At halftime, Michigan State had as many offensive rebounds as LSU had total boards, at times making it look like 5-on-4 when the ball came off the rim.

It didn't bounce off the rim much for the Spartans early as they took advantage of an LSU defense that left them uncontested 3-point shots. Michigan State had five 3s in the first 10 minutes alone, and LSU never adjusted defensively.

Tremont Waters scored 10 points during a 13-0 LSU run spanning the first half into the second to cut the deficit to four. Then Michigan State blew the game wide open with 3-pointers. The Spartans hit four of their first five 3-point attempts out of halftime.

Henry did his best Draymond Green impression as the do-it-all 6-foot-6 forward was all over the offensive end. He had eight rebounds and six assists and was 9 of 14 from the floor.

Brown came in averaging 2 points a game and scored more than he had in his past 11 games combined. Brown had just five points in the Spartans' past 12 games, but became a central figure against LSU.

Standout point guard Cassius Winston went toe-to-toe with Waters and finished with 17 points as one of four Michigan State players in double figures.

Michigan State faces the winner of the matchup between overall top seed Duke and No. 4 seed Virginia Tech in the regional final Sunday. This is Michigan State's fifth Elite Eight appearance in the past 11 years and 10th under Izzo.

WHAT NOW, LSU?

The loss plunges LSU into uncertainty given the corruption scandal that left coach Will Wade suspended indefinitely for comments he reportedly made about his recruiting efforts on a phone call that was wiretapped as part of an FBI investigation.

It's unclear what ramifications the program will face and whether Wade will coach LSU again. Freshman Javonte Smart, who was a surprise starter against Michigan State, is the player Wade was recorded as saying he'd "take care of." Meanwhile, forward Naz Reid is a candidate to enter the NBA Draft.

WARD INJURED

Michigan State big man Nick Ward appeared to reinjure his left hand in the second half and left the game. Ward was playing with a brace on the hand after breaking it in February and missing five games.

WINSTON MAKES HISTORY

With his fifth assist, Winston set a new Michigan State single-season record. He finished with eight. Mateen Cleaves set the previous record of 274 in 1998-99, the year before leading the school to a national title.

UP NEXT

Michigan State versus Duke would be their sixth NCAA Tournament meeting and first since 2015. Duke has won four of the previous five. The Spartans have never faced Virginia Tech in the tournament.

The peculiar case of Georgetown’s Qudus Wahab

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The peculiar case of Georgetown’s Qudus Wahab

WASHINGTON – Qudus Wahab is quietly putting forward an impressive freshman campaign for the Georgetown Hoyas. 

He’s the second guy off the bench, primarily backing up Omer Yurtseven at the No. 5 spot in the rotation. But his usage is the best on the team. His per 40-minute average through the last five games is 27.6 points. 

What’s curious is Wahab is producing by only stepping on the court less than 12 minutes a game. Head coach Patrick Ewing isn’t getting him more playing time through his best stretch on the season. Opportunities and consistent time among the starters are limited.

The restraints on the freshman center were repeated in the team’s loss to No. 15 Butler when Omer Yurtseven failed to produce in the paint. Still, in 10 minutes of relief, Wahab had 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting.

The quizzical decision to keep the talented center so deep in the rotation for the Hoyas is one that has many within the fanbase dumbfounded. The team is down to only nine scholarship players and need all the production they can get. While Yurtseven has been dominant at times, he’s also inconsistent and struggled to find a rhythm in games. 

Seven times this season, Yurtseven has shot 40% from the field or lower. Wahab hasn’t had a worse shooting night when attempting more than two shots since Nov. 30. 

“To me, Omer is our best player. Qudus is very good. He’s our future,” Ewing said after Georgetown’s loss to Butler. “Some nights I want to play him more but sometimes he makes good play on one end, but I don’t see it on the other end.

“But I’m going to play the way I see it.”

Three of Wahab’s four buckets were dunks. One was a fastbreak throwdown while the other two were great feeds to him in the post. His 10 points in 10 minutes are starkly contrasted to Yurtseven’s 14 points in 30 minutes.

It’s just a continuation of a great stretch for the freshman. The last five games Wahab has produced 38 points on 17-for-22 shooting in 54 minutes of action. In many games, he has outperformed Yurtseven. 

Ewing, however, is not ready to fully give faith in the four-star recruit in his first season. Defensively there are still some areas Ewing wants to see him improve. 

“He can score. He’s a very good scorer. He missed some easy shots tonight. I need him to score. I need him to rebound. I need him to defend.”

And he needs to defend without fouling. He’s third on the team in fouls despite being seventh in minutes. Ewing has willingly chosen to keep him off the court in favor of Yurtseven. But Wahab's own abilities have contributed to fewer minutes. 

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Georgetown stayed close with No. 15 Butler, but forgot to cover Sean McDermott

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Georgetown stayed close with No. 15 Butler, but forgot to cover Sean McDermott

WASHINGTON -- By no stretch of the imagination did Georgetown have a good game against the Butler Bulldogs on Tuesday evening. But in the final minute of regulation, the Hoyas found themselves in a closely contested ballgame with the chance to steal a home victory over a ranked opponent. 

The only issue is they forgot to cover sharpshooter Sean McDermott. They forgot about him quite often in a 69-64 loss to No. 15 Butler

Throughout an 18-1 run stretching from the end of the first half and into the second, the Hoyas somehow could not find No. 22 in black on the court. Slipping screens, rotating into corners and simply finding the open hole on the perimeter, McDermott continuously found ways to get open against the Hoyas defense. 

Entering the game, he was a 40% 3-point shooter. Georgetown knew he was going to be a threat. Yet, possession after possession he was left on an island in the corner of the court. He rarely missed. 

“He’s not the focal point of their team but tonight he played a great game,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said. “We knew that he was a very good shooter. Our goal was to keep him off the 3-point line and we didn’t do a good job of getting that.”

He scored 12 of Butler’s points during that run. Every basket during that stretch was from behind the arc. It erased a 14-point deficit for the Bulldogs and gave them control of the game.

As deadly as those threes were, though, it was McDermott’s last three that was the biggest. 

Somehow, after trailing by seven late in the second half, Georgetown had climbed back into the game. Entering the final minute, it was tied at 64 and the Hoyas appeared to have the momentum. The home crowd of 5,329 was on their feet and fully invested. 

Then McDermott did what he had done all game to that point: Slip away from a helping defender and knock down an open three. He faked to set up a pick-and-roll and read the Hoyas defense to perfection. Once again, he was left alone from behind the arc.

That was the final of McDermott’s 25 points on the night to lead all scorers. From the field, he was 9-for-12, and 7-for-10 from behind the arc. It was the second time this season he reached 25 points and the third time in his career he nailed seven 3-pointers. 

There’s no easier way to say it other than he torched Georgetown. 

The failure to close out on one of the best 3-point shooters in the Big East will haunt the Hoyas. Despite Mac McClung and Omer Yurtseven’s 8-for-30 combined shooting effort, the Hoyas were in the game. They’ve never been in a game this season when neither of them were able to get going. 

Add in 12 forced turnovers in the first half and a nine-point lead, it was a missed opportunity. A missed opportunity that the 12-9 (2-6) Hoyas cannot afford to have anymore this season.

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