Third-ranked Blue Devils hammer rival North Carolina
By AARON BEARD
AP Basketball Writer
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Seth Curry made shot after shot to give No. 3 Duke a big early lead on North Carolina that turned the latest installment of their fierce rivalry into a rout.
The senior hit his first seven shots during Duke’s torrid start, helping the Blue Devils cruise to a 69-53 victory Saturday night.
Curry finished with 20 points, while Mason Plumlee turned in his best performance in a month with 23 points and 13 rebounds. That duo provided Duke (27-4, 14-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) all the punch it needed to earn a season sweep of the Tar Heels.
Duke scored the game’s first 14 points, never let UNC (22-9, 12-6) closer than nine and led by 25 points after halftime. The Blue Devils shot 55 percent, including 18 for 26 (69 percent) in a first half that silenced a once-rowdy Smith Center crowd and overwhelmed the once-surging Tar Heels.
UNC had gone 6-1 since going to a four-guard lineup in the first meeting, but the Tar Heels looked rattled once the Blue Devils charged in front, and North Carolina never recovered.
James Michael McAdoo finished with 15 points to lead the Tar Heels despite playing with a bulging disk in his back, but the rest of his teammates did little to help him. The Tar Heels all too often settled for jumpers and didn’t seem interested in attacking the rim on the way to shooting just 34 percent.
That included missing their first 11 3-point tries and finishing 1 for 14 from behind the arc, an area where the Tar Heels had thrived since coach Roy Williams inserted 6-foot-5 sophomore P.J. Hairston into the starting lineup at the 4-spot.
Hairston finished with 14 points on 4-for-12 shooting and hit the Tar Heels’ first 3 to cut the deficit to 63-49 at the 5-minute mark. But Quinn Cook answered with two driving baskets, the second a hanging shot at the rim that dropped through as the shot clock expired and took back any fleeting momentum North Carolina had built.
In fact, the game looked a lot like last year’s regular-season finale at Cameron Indoor Stadium, where the Tar Heels jumped all over the Blue Devils early on the way to a blowout win.
In each of the past two seasons, Duke had won the first meeting only to have UNC win the second to clinch the ACC regular-season title.
That story line was off the table this time. Miami took care of that by beating Clemson for the outright title earlier Saturday. Duke had already clinched the No. 2 seed for the conference tournament, while North Carolina State’s loss at Florida State meant the Tar Heels would be the No. 3 seed but could still tie Duke for second in the standings.
Instead, Curry and the Blue Devils came out with a shooting display that ran North Carolina right out of the Dean Dome by halftime in a performance that will resonate until next week’s league tournament in Greensboro.
Not to mention it turned the latest renewal of the famed rivalry into a colossal dud.
Curry made one 3, hit a scooping layup and banked in a runner during Duke’s 6-for-6 start that helped the Blue Devils to a football-esque 14-0 lead.
And he didn’t stop, either.
Curry nailed a tough jumper against Reggie Bullock. He lost Bullock to drain another shot. He hit one even as he fell backward to the floor, the kind of play that eliminates any doubt about whose night it’s going to be.
After Curry made his seventh straight shot, Williams practically wandered out near midcourt to shout at his players as they ran down on offense.
Curry finished 8 for 13 and Plumlee took over inside by making 10 of 15 shots against the Tar Heels’ undersized frontline.
Cook added 12 points and completely outplayed UNC freshman point guard Marcus Paige, who regressed from his recent strong play with four points on 1-for-6 shooting and five turnovers in 32 minutes.
BAYLOR 81, No. 4 KANSAS 58
WACO, Texas — Pierre Jackson had 28 points and 10 assists as Baylor finished the regular season with a victory that kept Kansas from winning the outright Big 12 title.
Cory Jefferson added 25 points for Baylor (18-13, 9-9 Big 12), the 6-foot-9 junior forward combining his usual powerful dunks with his first three career 3-pointers.
Even after its worst loss in seven years, Kansas (26-5, 14-4) will still be the No. 1 seed for next week’s conference tournament in Kansas City, and now has at least a share of the last nine Big 12 regular-season titles. The Jayhawks had won the previous four outright, but have to share this one with rival Kansas State.
Ben McLemore had 23 points for Kansas, whose only lead came when the freshman made a layup only 5 seconds into the game.
The Jayhawks, who had a seven-game winning streak, knew they already had at least a piece of the Big 12 title after ninth-ranked Kansas State earlier Saturday at No. 13 Oklahoma State. But the KU loss gave the rival Wildcats a share of their first regular-season conference title since 1977 in the Big Eight.
No. 5 GEORGETOWN 61
No. 17 SYRACUSE 39
WASHINGTON — Georgetown emphatically ended its Big East rivalry against Syracuse, wrapping up the regular-season title by holding the Orange to the lowest scoring output of their time in the conference.
On an afternoon when Otto Porter Jr. didn’t make a field goal until the second half, Georgetown used stifling defense to dominate Syracuse.
Porter finished with 10 points, but the national player of the year candidate contributed in plenty of other ways, as usual, with eight rebounds and seven assists.
Markel Starks scored 19, and freshman D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera had 15 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Hoyas (24-5, 14-4), who will be the No. 1 seed at the Big East tournament next week in New York.
Syracuse (23-8, 11-7), which had been hoping for a double-bye in the tournament, was led by Michael Carter-Williams’ 17 points. But the Orange shot only 32 percent from the field, including 1 for 11 on 3-point tries.
The Hoyas have won 12 of their last 13 games, including two wins against Syracuse.
No. 6 MIAMI 62, CLEMSON 49
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Down to its third try and last chance, Miami came through.
Kenny Kadji scored a season-high 23 points to help the Hurricanes win the Atlantic Coast Conference championship outright by beating Clemson.
Kadji also grabbed 12 rebounds and Miami (24-6, 15-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) clinched its first outright men’s basketball league title after being foiled in consecutive losses to Duke and Georgia Tech. The Hurricanes tied the school record for victories set in 2001-02, when they went 24-8, and improved to 14-1 at home in their regular-season finale.
The league championship is the second for the Hurricanes, who shared the Big East Conference title in 2000.
Clemson (13-17, 5-13) has lost six consecutive games and nine of its past 10.
No. 8 LOUISVILLE 73
No. 24 NOTRE DAME 57
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Gorgui Dieng had 20 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks to help Louisville earn a share of the Big East Conference title with a victory over Notre Dame.
Peyton Siva added 13 points and five assists in his final home game for the Cardinals (26-5, 14-4 Big East), who finished the regular season tied for first place with Georgetown and Marquette. Louisville receives a bye into Thursday’s quarterfinals at the Big East tournament, where coach Rick Pitino’s team will defend its 2012 championship.
When these teams met a month ago at Notre Dame, they played five overtimes before the Fighting Irish won 104-101 in the longest regular-season game in Big East history. In fact, five of the last six and six of the past eight matchups between the schools went to overtime before Louisville took charge on Saturday.
Dieng and Siva were honored before the game as part of Louisville’s senior day festivities. Dieng, a junior center from Senegal, is expected to enter the NBA draft after the season.
Garrick Sherman led Notre Dame (23-8, 11-7) with 14 points.
No. 13 OKLAHOMA STATE 76,
No. 9 KANSAS STATE 70
STILLWATER, Okla. — Le’Bryan Nash scored 24 points, Marcus Smart added 21 and Oklahoma State beat Kansas State.
The Wildcats (25-6, 14-4 Big 12), who came into the day tied with rival Kansas for the conference lead, still ended up sharing their first regular-season conference title since 1977 in the Big Eight when the Jayhawks lost at Baylor later Saturday.
K-State led by as many as nine in the second half and was up 61-57 following Rodney McGruder’s three-point play with 4:45 remaining. The Cowboys (23-7, 13-5) didn’t allow another field goal for more than 4 minutes and hit 13 straight free throws during crunch time to come away with the win.
McGruder led the Wildcats with 22 points, making six of his 15 shots.
KENTUCKY 61, No. 11 FLORIDA 57
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Julius Mays’ two free throws with 9.4 seconds remaining capped Kentucky’s comeback from a seven-point deficit for a victory over Florida that boosted its NCAA tournament prospects.
Archie Goodwin’s 16 points led the way in a game that Wildcats coach John Calipari described Friday as “do or die” for his defending national champions. Kentucky needed a signature win to bolster its hopes for an at-large NCAA tournament bid.
Kentucky (21-10, 12-6) could still use another win or two in next week’s Southeastern Conference tournament to help its chances. The Wildcats responded with their biggest gut check of the season, outscoring the Gators 11-0 over the final 7:28 for their second win over a Top 25 opponent.
Erik Murphy’s 17 points led Florida (24-6, 14-4), which missed its final 11 shots.
AIR FORCE 89, No. 12 NEW MEXICO 88
AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo.— Todd Fletcher hit a 3-pointer with 3.5 seconds remaining to lift Air Force over New Mexico.
Tony Snell’s 3-point attempt from the right wing clanged off the iron as time expired, and Falcons fans stormed the court to celebrate the program’s first win over a top 12 team. Fletcher’s clutch shot came seconds after New Mexico’s Kendall Williams missed the back end of a 1-and-1.
The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Lobos (26-5, 13-3 Mountain West) and marked the second win over a Top 25 opponent for Air Force (17-12, 8-8) this season. The Falcons finished 13-2 at Clune Arena.
The game was a back-and-forth sprint, with the teams combining for a conference-record 30 3-pointers. Air Force was 15 of 31 from 3-point range, with New Mexico going 15 for 33.
No. 15 MARQUETTE 69, ST. JOHN’S 67, OT
NEW YORK — Vander Blue’s driving layup dropped through as the overtime buzzer sounded, giving Marquette a victory over St. John’s and a share of the Big East regular-season championship, its first title since joining the conference in 2005-06.
Blue had 16 points, including four of Marquette’s six in overtime, for the Golden Eagles (23-7, 14-4 Big East), who finished second in the Big East last season and were picked seventh in the preseason conference poll in November. This was their fourth straight win and sixth in seven games, and the Golden Eagles get a bye to the quarterfinals on Thursday.
St. John’s closed regulation on a 12-2 run, something most people didn’t see coming as the Red Storm (16-14, 8-10), who lost their fourth straight and sixth in seven games, struggled offensively except for the closing run.
No. 16 SAINT LOUIS 78, La SALLE 54
ST. LOUIS — Dwayne Evans had 16 points and 17 rebounds, and Saint Louis hit 17 of its 20 shots in the second half to clinch a share of the Atlantic 10 title with a victory over La Salle.
Kwamain Mitchell had 19 points and six assists on Senior Day for Saint Louis (24-6, 13-3 A-10), which won its first conference title since 1970-71 in the Missouri Valley. Rob Loe matched his career best with 20 points, hitting all seven shots, and the Billikens shot 58 percent overall, one game after shooting a season-worst 30 percent in an overtime loss at Xavier.
Saint Louis has won 12 of 13 and can take the title outright if VCU loses at Temple on Sunday.
Tyrone Garland had 15 points off the bench for La Salle (21-8, 11-5), which entered the day in second place after winning seven of eight. Ramon Galloway, who leads the Explorers with a 17.8-point average, was just 3 for 12 and had eight points.
No. 18 ARIZONA 73, ARIZONA STATE 58
TUCSON, Ariz. — Nick Johnson scored 17 points, Solomon Hill added 12 in his final home game and Arizona earned a first-round bye in next week’s Pac-12 tournament with a rout of rival Arizona State.
A late-season slide left Arizona (24-6, 12-6 Pac-12) needing a win or some help to avoid playing next Wednesday in the conference tournament. The Wildcats took care of it themselves, building a 15-point lead in the first half and answering a big second-half run by the Sun Devils with one of their own.
Kevin Parrom had 13 points in his final game at the McKale Center and Kaleb Tarczewski had one of his most aggressive games of the season, finishing with nine points and eight rebounds.
Arizona State (20-11, 9-9) pulled within five in the second half but had trouble holding onto the ball, its 17 turnovers leading to 21 points for Arizona.
Carrick Felix scored 22 points after having a miserable game against Arizona in January and Jahii Carson added 15, but had six turnovers for the Sun Devils.
UTAH 72, No. 19 OREGON 62
SALT LAKE CITY — Jason Washburn had 20 points and 13 rebounds, and Jarred DuBois added 15 points and several key baskets down the stretch to propel Utah past Oregon.
Jordan Loveridge and Brandon Taylor chipped in 14 points apiece for the Utes (13-17, 5-13), who won consecutive Pac-12 games for the first time since joining the league. It also marked the first time Utah beat a ranked Pac-12 opponent in league play.
E.J. Singler had 21 points and seven rebounds to lead Oregon (23-8, 12-6), which finished in a second-place tie behind UCLA for the Pac-12 regular-season championship.
No. 20 PITTSBURGH 81, DePAUL 66
ROSEMONT, Ill. — J.J. Moore scored 21 points off the bench and Pittsburgh shot a school-record 72 percent to beat DePaul in the Panthers’ last Big East regular-season game.
The next stop for surging Pittsburgh is its final Big East tournament at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Panthers (24-7, 12-6), who will move into the Atlantic Coast Conference next season, are the No. 4 seed and receive a double-bye into Thursday’s quarterfinals.
Senior guard Tray Woodall added 18 points for Pitt, which has won 11 of its last 14 games and six of eight on the road.
Moore, a junior forward, hit a career-best five 3-pointers while many of his teammates got to the rim at will against DePaul (11-20, 2-16). Twenty-two of Pittsburgh’s 46 first-half points came on dunks or layups.
Moore went 8 for 8 from the field and tied his career high for points. Pitt’s shooting performance was the best ever by a Big East team in conference play.
No. 23 UCLA 61, WASHINGTON 54
SEATTLE — Shabazz Muhammad scored 21 points, Larry Drew II came up with another huge shot against Washington, and UCLA clinched the Pac-12 Conference regular-season title with a win over the Huskies.
UCLA earned its third regular-season crown under coach Ben Howland. The Bruins won the title outright after Oregon lost at Utah.
The Bruins lost control of the conference race when they were beaten at Washington State on Thursday, but there were plenty of hugs and handshakes to go around after winning in Seattle for the first time since 2004.
Muhammad scored 14 in the second half and helped UCLA (23-8, 13-5 Pac-12) rally from a four-point deficit with 5 minutes remaining.
Scott Suggs had 14 points, but Washington (17-14, 9-9) scored just two points over the final 5 minutes. Leading scorer C.J. Wilcox shot just 3 of 13 for eight points.
Jordan Adams added 17 points for the Bruins, who avoided being swept in the state of Washington for the first time since 1993.
No. 25 MEMPHIS 86, UAB 71
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Joe Jackson had 17 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds to help Memphis complete an undefeated season in Conference USA with a victory over UAB.
Chris Crawford led Memphis with 20 points and shot 5 of 10 from beyond the arc. Geron Johnson had 19 points.
D.J. Stephens, playing in his last home game, had 13 points and eight rebounds as Memphis (27-4, 16-0 C-USA) won its third straight and 21st in the last 22 games.
Jackson also had six steals.
Jordan Swing led the Blazers (15-16, 7-9) with 19 points despite hitting only one of his six shots from 3-point range. Rod Rucker scored 16.
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