Was Kentucky the best team all along?

 

Aaron Harrison lifts Kentucky to Championship game.

Aaron Harrison lifts Kentucky to Championship game.

By Jake Chapman

ARLINGTON, Texas (UTC/The Loop/AP) — No, this was not an instant replay, though it certainly is turning into a highlight loop that Aaron Harrison and his Kentucky teammates could get used to watching.

Harrison took a pass from his twin brother, Andrew, spotted up from NBA range and watched the ball rattle in for the lead with 5.7 seconds left Saturday night to lift the Wildcats to a 74-73 victory over Wisconsin in the Final Four.

It was a near carbon copy of his game-winner last weekend in the regional final against Michigan. It was every bit as big as the 3 he made the game before that to help Kentucky take the lead for good in the Sweet 16 against Louisville.

“You can’t be scared to miss, and you want to be that guy that wants to take the big shots,” Aaron Harrison said.

“He has that clutch gene,” Wisconsin’s Sam Dekker said.

Traevon Jackson had a last-second shot to try to beat the Wildcats (29-10), but the desperation jumper rimmed out, and once again Harrison found himself at the bottom of a dog pile at center court. Sophomore Alex Poythress’ leg bent backward in the scrum. He was icing his left knee afterward but said he’d be OK for Monday’s final.

Eighth-seeded Kentucky will play seventh-seeded UConn — the highest seed total to play for the title since they started putting numbers by the names back in 1979. The Wildcats, who missed March Madness last year, haven’t lost a tournament game since the 2011 semifinal against UConn.

“I know how good they are, but I don’t know how they play,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said of his next opponent.

Second-seeded Wisconsin (30-8) set a Final Four record by going 95 percent from the free-throw line — 19 for 20. But that one miss cost the Badgers dearly. Jackson got Andrew Harrison to jump into him while attempting a 3-pointer with 16.4 seconds left. His first free throw rimmed out, and — after he made the next two — Wisconsin had a 73-71 lead and Kentucky had the ball.

Any doubt where it was going?

“Coach said wanted me to take the shot, my teammates have confidence in me, and I just fed off that,” Harrison said.

Against Louisville in the regional semifinal, Harrison was open in the corner when Julius Randle found him. He hit the go-ahead 3 with 39.1 seconds left on the way to a 74-69 win.

Two nights later, there were 2.3 seconds on the clock and Harrison was a few steps right of where he was Saturday when he took the pass from his brother. Michigan’s Caris LeVert hit Harrison’s hand as he shot from about 24 feet but the ball went in anyway. After that one, the freshman calmly backpedaled before his teammates reached him to congratulate.

This time, it was Josh Gasser in his face at around 25 feet — a big step back from where the NBA line would be. The ball clanged in and Harrison turned around and raised his hands over his head before running to the other end of the court.

A few minutes later, he was hugging his mom in the stands.

“He was pretty deep out there,” Gasser said. “He hadn’t really looked to pull up for a shot the entire game. I saw him start to rise up, and I tried to contest the best I could. I thought I did a good job, but he made another good shot.”

It was Harrison’s only attempt from 3 all night; the Wildcats went only 2 for 5 as a team.

James Young went to the rim hard in the first half and led Kentucky with 17 points. Randle finished with 16, but only five boards to snap his string of three straight double-doubles.

But Kentucky did damage in other ways on the inside, finding the answer for Wisconsin’s do-everything 7-footer, Frank Kaminsky, who was held to eight points and five rebounds.

Ben Brust and Dekker had 15 each for the Badgers, who came up a game short of their first appearance in the final since 1941.

Instead, it’s Kentucky going for its ninth national title and second in three years, with an almost completely rebuilt roster from 2012. It’s the way Calipari does it, like it or not, and it hasn’t all been easy sailing. The team that was ranked first in the preseason poll fell out of it completely for the start of March Madness.

Who wins it tonight: UCONN or Kentucky?

Only then, did the Wildcats start playing to their potential.

“They know I believe in them. Aaron knows,” Calipari said. “If you’ve watched us, we have a bunch of stars on this team.”

Harrison is the biggest of them in this tournament. If he chooses to leave after Monday, he’ll have first-round potential, though it won’t be his final numbers in this game — eight points, three rebounds — that will impress the scouts as much as his final shot.

“He was smiling, like he knew he was going to make it,” Andrew Harrison said. “He’s a big-time player. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

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UConn, Notre Dame in Women’s NCAA Basketball Final

By Rose Street

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/The Loop) — Women’s basketball came away a winner Sunday night. After a season-long buildup, the NCAA tournament will be decided by the perfect championship game.

The undefeated titans of the sport this season will meet Tuesday night in an historic championship game when UConn plays Notre Dame. It will mark the first time in NCAA basketball history that unbeaten teams will play for a title when the former Big East rivals face each other.

“It is pretty amazing,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw told The Associated Press after her team beat Maryland 87-61. “So many of the media and fans have been looking at this all season long. It’s great that we’ve made it this far.

“Both of us remaining undefeated. See who the best team is.”

Who’s Gonna Win?

Said UConn guard From Moriah Jefferson: “Now we can finally talk about it. That has been the talk of this whole tournament and I guess it is finally here.”

The teams didn’t play during the regular season this year for the first time since 1995 as Notre Dame moved to the ACC. That helped set up the championship showdown that will put the sport in the spotlight.

“It looked to me like as the season went on it almost looked like it was inevitable to happen,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “It was supposed to happen. Our sport doesn’t have enough significant moments. … To have the spotlight on Tuesday on two teams that one is going to lose for the first time this year, it’s pretty remarkable when you think how hard it’s to do for one team much less two.”

Notre Dame (37-0) is one of the rare teams that has had success against the Huskies in recent history, winning seven of the past nine meetings, including beating UConn twice in the national semifinals. McGraw drew attention to that fact during the tournament selection show.

The Huskies (39-0) won the last one though, topping Notre Dame in the Final Four last season en route to the school’s eighth national championship. A UConn victory Tuesday night will be a record ninth for Auriemma, breaking a tie with Pat Summitt for most all-time in the women’s game. It will also cap the fifth perfect season for the Huskies and make them only the second team ever to go 40-0, joining Baylor which did it two seasons ago.

Auriemma has never lost a championship game.

Notre Dame will be trying for its second national championship. The Irish have had chances lately to winwin their first title since 2001, advancing to the national semifinals in four straight seasons. They lost in the championship game twice during that span.

They advanced to Tuesday night’s game with a convincing 87-61 victory over Maryland behind 28 points from senior All-American Kayla McBride.

Notre Dame played without senior Natalie Achonwa, who suffered a torn ACL in the regional final victory over Baylor.

Even without their star forward, the Irish dominated the Terrapins on the boards, outrebounding them in record fashion. Notre Dame had a 50-21 rebounding advantage, including a 19-4 mark on the offensive end. It was the widest rebounding margin ever in a Final Four game, shattering the previous mark of 19 set by Louisiana Tech in 1989. Maryland broke the national semifinals record for fewest rebounds in a game of 25 set by Minnesota in 2004.

They’ll need a similar effort against UConn and its imposing front line of Breanna Stewart and Stefanie Dolson.

The Huskies got off to a sluggish start against Stanford before taking control in the second half in a 75-56 victory. They probably can’t afford the same thing to happen for a fourth straight game if they hope to winwin that record title.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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“Blade Runner” trial marches on

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA, Tennessee/PRETORIA, South Africa (The Loop/AP) — Stifling sobs, Oscar Pistorius took the witness stand Monday in his murder trial and apologized to the family of the girlfriend he shot dead, describing himself as traumatized and now on antidepressant medication, and sometimes waking from nightmares to the “smell of blood.”

Pistorius’ voice quavered so much and was so low at the start of his testimony that Judge Thokozile Masipa asked him to speak up as, standing and addressing a packed courtroom, he talked of his remorse for having killed Reeva Steenkamp on Feb. 14, 2013.

Pistorius said he mistook her for an intruder when he fired four times through a locked toilet stall door in his home. Prosecutors said the double-amputee Olympian shot his lover as she screamed in terror after they had an argument in the pre-dawn hours of Valentine’s Day.

PIstorius and ex-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

PIstorius and ex-girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp

“There hasn’t been a moment since this tragedy happened that I haven’t thought about your family,” the star athlete said as Steenkamp’s mother, June, looked straight at him in the courtroom, stone-faced.

“I wake up every morning and you’re the first people I think of, the first people I pray for … I was simply trying to protect Reeva. I can promise that when she went to bed that night she felt loved,” Pistorius said after asking for permission to make the apology at the start of his testimony.

Prosecutors allege Pistorius, 27, murdered the 29-year-old model with premeditation by shooting her in the head, arm and hip after an argument and have sought to paint him as a hothead with an inflated sense of entitlement and an obsession with firearms.

Attempting to counter that, defense lawyer Barry Roux led Pistorius through an account of his life, with Pistorius describing some of the hardships he faced after having his lower legs amputated as a baby, the positive role of his mother, Sheila, and his grief when she died when Pistorius was a teenager. Pistorius also spoke about the sacrifices he had made for his athletics achievements, his work with charity and how religion was important to him.

The accounts contrasted with that of prosecutors who, through witness testimony, have painted a dramatically different picture of Pistorius, a man they say was often angry, who cheated on a former girlfriend and who shot a gun out of a moving car in 2012 after an altercation with police and then laughed about it.

Pistorius said he has been taking medication since the week after he killed Steenkamp and has trouble sleeping. He described one night when he went to hide in a closet after waking up in “a panic.”

“I climbed into a cupboard and I phoned my sister to come and sit by me, which she did for a while,” Pistorius said.

PIstorius during his trial

PIstorius during his trial

His testimony on day 17 of his trial in Pretoria came on the same day his defense opened its case. Legal experts said it was crucial to his case that he testify to explain why he shot Steenkamp. Pistorius faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted of premeditated murder for Steenkamp’s killing.

His voice broke again and he struggled to speak when he described how Steenkamp was “a blessing” in his life. Yet in cellphone messages revealed by the prosecution, Steenkamp had once said that Pistorius scared her.

Apart from his emotional apology at the start, Pistorius didn’t directly address the killing of Steenkamp. He will return Tuesday to continue testifying after the judge granted an adjournment because she said Pistorius looked “exhausted.” Pistorius said he hadn’t slept the night before.

“I’m just very tired at the moment …. I think it’s a lot of things going through my mind,” Pistorius said. “The weight of this is extremely overbearing.”

Pistorius’ testimony also addressed previous instances of crime that affected the runner and how he felt vulnerable because of them, an attempt to explain his claim that he reacted to what he thought was a dangerous intruder in his bathroom by shooting his 9 mm pistol.

He described how his family had “security concerns” when he was young and his mother slept with a gun under a pillow on her bed.

Pistorius said his family had been targeted by criminals over the years, citing incidents of house break-ins and carjackings, and said he had sometimes been followed by unidentified people while driving home. Pistorius also referred to an incident in which he was allegedly assaulted at a social function in late 2012 and had to have stitches on the back of his head.

At the start, Pistorius spoke in a soft, shaky voice while making his apology and describing what he said was his fragile state. Later, he grew more settled and confident as Roux led him through the questions about his childhood, his family, his track career and how he overcame his disability to run at top track meets.

Pistorius’s life story is one that impressed many people around the world, before he killed Steenkamp.

He was also asked by Roux to talk about a 2009 boat crash when he suffered serious facial injuries. He said the accident had a “massive impact,” and that it made him become fearful, withdrawn, more vigilant about personal safety and more focused on his running.

Prosecutors have provided a contrasting picture of Pistorius, with evidence indicating that he had been reckless with firearms in public and asked a friend to take the blame for him when a gun fired under a table in a busy restaurant while he was handling it weeks before he killed Steenkamp.

Is Pistorius guilty?

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Virginia, Tennessee cruise to Sweet 16.

By Jake Chapman

 

Chattanooga, TN (AP/The Loop) — The ACC’s national championship hopes now come down to one school: Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tennessee — one of the three SEC schools still in the field — came to Tobacco Road and turned it into Raleigh Top.

The Cavaliers and Volunteers cruised into the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 with lopsided victories Sunday night: Tennessee routed Mercer 83-63 before Virginia beat Memphis 78-60.

No. 11 seed Tennessee (24-12) will play second-seeded Michigan in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday night in Indianapolis.

Virginia (30-6), the top seed in the East Region, will face fourth-seeded Michigan State in a semifinal that night in New York.

The Volunteers and Cavaliers restored some semblance of order after an unpredictable first day in the heart of ACC country.

It began Friday when Mercer beat Duke for the signature upset of the tournament, included Tennessee’s 19-point victory over Massachusetts and continued through Memphis’ tight win over George Washington.

The Vols had an easy time beating those Bears on Sunday and ended Mercer’s pursuit of a second straight Sweet 16 appearance for a tournament darling from the low-major Atlantic Sun Conference.

With “Rocky Top” echoing throughout PNC Arena all night, Tennessee outrebounded the Bears 41-19 — 24-4 in the first half — led by Jarnell Stokes, who broke the school’s NCAA tournament rebounding record he set two days earlier against Massachusetts.

Stokes had 17 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds against Mercer, after grabbing 14 boards against UMass.

“Any time we have Jeronne (Maymon) and Jarnell wearing Tennessee orange,” teammate Jordan McRae said, “we always feel like we have the advantage.”

Tennessee’s win helped the football-first SEC improve to 7-0 in this tournament. The Vols joined No. 1 overall seed Florida and Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

“I’ve been hearing that the SEC has been a football conference for a long time, but I don’t know how you can still say that when you’ve got three SEC schools in the Sweet 16,” McRae said.

Mercer was trying to match last year’s Florida Gulf Coast team in parlaying an Atlantic Sun title into a spot in the NCAA tournament’s second weekend, and become the first No. 14 seed to make the round of 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

But the senior-laden Bears (27-9) trailed by double figures for the entire second half and couldn’t conjure another fantastic finish.

“I think hopefully by the time (reality) sets in, we’ll all be able to put a smile on and realize that what we’ve been able to do at our school, and for the city, has been phenomenal,” forward Jakob Gollon said. “It’s kind of hard to see right now.”

Mercer’s win over Duke was the most surprising in a series of losses this weekend for the ACC, which has only one team left standing — and it’s not traditional power North Carolina or heavyweight newcomer Syracuse.

“Lot of pride” in that, guard Malcolm Brogdon said.

The league champion Cavaliers were in control throughout against Memphis, leading by 15 at halftime and going up by 27 late while earning their first regional semifinal appearance since 1995.

Joe Harris scored 16 points and Anthony Gill added 13 for the Cavaliers, who hold a No. 1 seed for the first time since Ralph Sampson wore orange and blue.

Austin Nichols scored 15 points for the Tigers (23-10), whose season ended on the opening weekend of the tournament for the fourth straight year.

“Virginia came out, played Virginia basketball, out-toughed us, out-aggressived us,” Memphis guard Goren Johnson said. “They made shots. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it with a bucket. There’s no excuses.”

___

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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No charges filed in baseball stabbing

By Taylor Ellis

CHATTANOOGA / SAN FRANCISCO (UTC /AP) — Prosecutors have decided not to prosecute a man in the stabbing death of a Dodger’s fan during an altercation after a Los Angeles-San Francisco baseball game last year.

District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement Friday that prosecutors wouldn’t file charges against Michael Montgomery because they didn’t believe they had enough evidence to prove that Montgomery didn’t act in self-defense when he killed Jonathan Denver on Sept. 25.

“While it is not clear how the fatal encounter started, what the evidence shows was a physical confrontation between the victim, the victim’s brother and Mr. Montgomery,” Gascon said. “The totality of the evidence revealed that during the physical confrontation, Mr. Denver punched Mr. Montgomery.”

At about the same time, Gascon said, Denver’s brother struck Montgomery in the head with a collapsible aluminum chair, and Montgomery then inflicted a single fatal stab wound.

Denver and his brother outweighed Mr. Montgomery by 50 and 100 pounds, respectively, Gascon added. Witnesses have corroborated this version of events.

“With multiple sources indicating how the event transpired, it makes it impossible for us to meet our burden and prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Montgomery was not acting in self-defense,” Gascon said. “We are ethically obligated to decline to prosecute this case.”

The stabbing was the latest incident over the years stemming from one of the most passionate rivalries in sports. Nearly three years ago, Giants fan Bryan Stow suffered permanent brain damage when he was attacked in Los Angeles.

Police have said Denver and his group, many wearing Dodgers garb, got into a shouting match over the Dodgers with Montgomery and his group — at least one of whom was wearing a Giants cap — a few blocks from the stadium.

Montgomery’s father said his son was jumped and stabbed Denver in self-defense after they yelled “Giants suck.”

Denver’s brother disputed that Montgomery acted in self-defense.

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tennessee, Virginia cruise into NCAA round of 16

By: Nick Porter

CHATTANOOGA/ RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/The Loop) — The ACC’s national championship hopes now come down to one school: Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tennessee — one of the three SEC schools still in the field — came to Tobacco Road and turned it into Raleigh Top.

The Cavaliers and Volunteers cruised into the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 with lopsided victories Sunday night: Tennessee routed Mercer 83-63 before Virginia beat Memphis 78-60.

No. 11 seed Tennessee (24-12) will play second-seeded Michigan in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday night in Indianapolis.

Virginia (30-6), the top seed in the East Region, will face fourth-seeded Michigan State in a semifinal that night in New York.

The Volunteers and Cavaliers restored some semblance of order after an unpredictable first day in the heart of ACC country.

It began Friday when Mercer beat Duke for the signature upset of the tournament, included Tennessee’s 19-point victory over Massachusetts and continued through Memphis’ tight win over George Washington.

The Vols had an easy time beating those Bears on Sunday and ended Mercer’s pursuit of a second straight Sweet 16 appearance for a tournament darling from the low-major Atlantic Sun Conference.

With “Rocky Top” echoing throughout PNC Arena all night, Tennessee outrebounded the Bears 41-19 — 24-4 in the first half — led by Jarnell Stokes, who broke the school’s NCAA tournament rebounding record he set two days earlier against Massachusetts.

Stokes had 17 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds against Mercer, after grabbing 14 boards against UMass.

“Any time we have Jeronne (Maymon) and Jarnell wearing Tennessee orange,” teammate Jordan McRae said, “we always feel like we have the advantage.”

Tennessee’s win helped the football-first SEC improve to 7-0 in this tournament. The Vols joined No. 1 overall seed Florida and Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

“I’ve been hearing that the SEC has been a football conference for a long time, but I don’t know how you can still say that when you’ve got three SEC schools in the Sweet 16,” McRae said.

Mercer was trying to match last year’s Florida Gulf Coast team in parlaying an Atlantic Sun title into a spot in the NCAA tournament’s second weekend, and become the first No. 14 seed to make the round of 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

But the senior-laden Bears (27-9) trailed by double figures for the entire second half and couldn’t conjure another fantastic finish.

“I think hopefully by the time (reality) sets in, we’ll all be able to put a smile on and realize that what we’ve been able to do at our school, and for the city, has been phenomenal,” forward Jakob Gollon said. “It’s kind of hard to see right now.”

Mercer’s win over Duke was the most surprising in a series of losses this weekend for the ACC, which has only one team left standing — and it’s not traditional power North Carolina or heavyweight newcomer Syracuse.

“Lot of pride” in that, guard Malcolm Brogdon said.

The league champion Cavaliers were in control throughout against Memphis, leading by 15 at halftime and going up by 27 late while earning their first regional semifinal appearance since 1995.

Joe Harris scored 16 points and Anthony Gill added 13 for the Cavaliers, who hold a No. 1 seed for the first time since Ralph Sampson wore orange and blue.

Austin Nichols scored 15 points for the Tigers (23-10), whose season ended on the opening weekend of the tournament for the fourth straight year.

“Virginia came out, played Virginia basketball, out-toughed us, out-aggressived us,” Memphis guard Goren Johnson said. “They made shots. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it with a bucket. There’s no excuses.”

___

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tennessee Basketball Is Hit and Miss in NCAA Tournament

By Rose Street

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/UTC The Loop) — The ACC’s national championship hopes now come down to one school: Virginia.

Meanwhile, Tennessee — one of the three SEC schools still in the field — came to Tobacco Road and turned it into Raleigh Top.

The Cavaliers and Volunteers cruised into the NCAA tournament’s round of 16 with lopsided victories Sunday night: Tennessee routed Mercer 83-63 before Virginia beat Memphis 78-60.

No. 11 seed Tennessee (24-12) will play second-seeded Michigan in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday night in Indianapolis.

Virginia (30-6), the top seed in the East Region, will face fourth-seeded Michigan State in a semifinal that night in New York.

The Volunteers and Cavaliers restored some semblance of order after an unpredictable first day in the heart of ACC country.

It began Friday when Mercer beat Duke for the signature upset of the tournament, included Tennessee’s 19-point victory over Massachusetts and continued through Memphis’ tight win over George Washington.

The Vols had an easy time beating those Bears on Sunday and ended Mercer’s pursuit of a second straight Sweet 16 appearance for a tournament darling from the low-major Atlantic Sun Conference.

With “Rocky Top” echoing throughout PNC Arena all night, Tennessee outrebounded the Bears 41-19 — 24-4 in the first half — led by Jarnell Stokes, who broke the school’s NCAA tournament rebounding record he set two days earlier against Massachusetts.

Stokes had 17 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds against Mercer, after grabbing 14 boards against UMass.

“Any time we have Jeronne (Maymon) and Jarnell wearing Tennessee orange,” teammate Jordan McRae said, “we always feel like we have the advantage.”

Tennessee’s win helped the football-first SEC improve to 7-0 in this tournament. The Vols joined No. 1 overall seed Florida and Kentucky in the regional semifinals.

“I’ve been hearing that the SEC has been a football conference for a long time, but I don’t know how you can still say that when you’ve got three SEC schools in the Sweet 16,” McRae said.

Mercer was trying to match last year’s Florida Gulf Coast team in parlaying an Atlantic Sun title into a spot in the NCAA tournament’s second weekend, and become the first No. 14 seed to make the round of 16 since Chattanooga in 1997.

But the senior-laden Bears (27-9) trailed by double figures for the entire second half and couldn’t conjure another fantastic finish.

“I think hopefully by the time (reality) sets in, we’ll all be able to put a smile on and realize that what we’ve been able to do at our school, and for the city, has been phenomenal,” forward Jakob Gollon said. “It’s kind of hard to see right now.”

Mercer’s win over Duke was the most surprising in a series of losses this weekend for the ACC, which has only one team left standing — and it’s not traditional power North Carolina or heavyweight newcomer Syracuse.

“Lot of pride” in that, guard Malcolm Brogdon said.

The league champion Cavaliers were in control throughout against Memphis, leading by 15 at halftime and going up by 27 late while earning their first regional semifinal appearance since 1995.

Joe Harris scored 16 points and Anthony Gill added 13 for the Cavaliers, who hold a No. 1 seed for the first time since Ralph Sampson wore orange and blue.

Austin Nichols scored 15 points for the Tigers (23-10), whose season ended on the opening weekend of the tournament for the fourth straight year.

“Virginia came out, played Virginia basketball, out-toughed us, out-aggressived us,” Memphis guard Goren Johnson said. “They made shots. Every time we made a mistake, they capitalized on it with a bucket. There’s no excuses.”

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Tennessee headed to Sweet Sixteen after beating Mercer 83-63

By Andrew Carney

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP/UTC The Loop) — Mercer couldn’t have picked a better matchup for its first NCAA tournament game — or a worse one for its second one.

The Bears’ tournament run came to a decisive end Sunday night when Tennessee routed them 83-63.

Mercer pulled the signature upset of the tournament two days earlier by knocking off Duke.

But the 14th-seeded Bears had no answers for a powerful Tennessee inside game. They were outrebounded 41-19.

Someday they’ll appreciate what they accomplished by ousting the Blue Devils.

Just not yet.

“I think hopefully by the time (reality) sets in, we’ll all be able to put a smile on and realize that what we’ve been able to do at our school, and for the city, has been phenomenal,” forward Jakob Gollon said. “It’s kind of hard to see right now.”

Jarnell Stokes had 17 points and a career-high-tying 18 rebounds for Tennessee. Josh Richardson had a career-high 26 points and Antonio Barton had 18 for the 11th-seeded Vols (24-12), who are making the most of their first tournament appearance since 2011.

“NIT two straight years, I guess that’s what you’d call starting from the bottom,” Stokes said. “A lot of people doubted us, and that just makes the ride much better.”

This rout followed the same script as their 19-point thumping of Massachusetts two days earlier: They outrebounded Mercer 41-19 to keep the Southeastern Conference perfect in the tournament.

They joined Florida and Kentucky in the regional semifinals — the first time three SEC teams made it that far since 2007.

“I’ve been hearing that the SEC has been a football conference for a long time but I don’t know how you can still say that when you’ve got three SEC schools in the Sweet 16,” Tennessee guard Jordan McRae said.

Tennessee will face second-seeded Michigan (27-8) in a Midwest Regional semifinal Friday night in Indianapolis.

Stokes broke his 2-day-old school tournament record for rebounds.

Langston Hall had 15 points to lead the Bears (27-9) of the Atlantic Sun.

Mercer trailed by double figures for the entire second half before the Bears threatened to give themselves yet another fantastic finish.

They had the ball down 12 with about 2½ minutes left when Gollon — one of the heroes of the Duke upset two days earlier — threw the ball away in the lane, then fouled out a few seconds later.

McRae hit two free throws, and Richardson added a fast-break layup to push the Tennessee lead to 77-61 with 1½ minutes left.

McRae finished with 13 points for the Volunteers, who have won eight of nine with the only loss coming to the top-ranked Gators in the SEC tournament.

They are in the round of 16 for the fourth time in eight years, and the third team to go from the First Four to the Sweet 16 since the introduction of the extra round in 2011.

They also got a bit of payback: Mercer ended Tennessee’s season last year with a 75-67 win in the first round of the NIT.

Ike Nwamu scored 12 points, Anthony White Jr. had 11 and big man Daniel Coursey added 10 for Mercer, the plucky Atlantic Sun Conference school trying to match Florida Gulf Coast’s run last year to the regional semifinals.

They were bigger, more experienced and more precise than a Duke team loaded with high school All-Americans and a leaky defense, carving them up down the stretch in a 78-71 victory that ranks among the top upsets in the history of the tournament.

Mercer starts five seniors and has seven on the roster — but the Bears were down one with 6-foot-11 Monty Brown out with a possible concussion.

Even with him, a Tennessee team with Stokes — who set the school’s short-lived tournament record with 14 rebounds in that 86-67 rout of UMass — was going to be a challenge.

Without him, it was nearly impossible.

“It’s hard to match up with them, but at the end of the day, mainly it was probably my fault towards the end,” Coursey said. “They had a lot of rebounds, and I should have boxed them out.”

___

Follow Joedy McCreary on Twitter at http://twitter.com/joedyap

 

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Bode Miller breaks down during NBC interview

Bode Miller was obviously emotional after winning the bronze in Sunday’s super-G, showing tears in his eyes in virtually every photo taken of him.
Bode Miller and his wife Morgan Beth after the race

Bode Miller and his wife Morgan Beth after the race

The surprise medal came after a long year in which Miller lost his younger brother. From CBS Sports:

The guy who for years and years insisted results don’t mean much to him declared he actually did care about this one. The last year has been a difficult one for Miller: the death of his younger brother, Chelone, in April 2013; the court fight over custody of his infant son; the work it took to come back from left knee surgery and return to the Alpine apex.

“It’s almost therapeutic for me to be in these situations, where I really had to test myself, so I was happy to have it be on the right side of the hundredths,” said Miller, who grew up in New Hampshire and is now based in California. “Some days … medals don’t matter, and today was one of the ones where it does.”

He wiped away tears in the finish area after someone mentioned Chelone, a charismatic snowboarder who was 29 and hoping to make the U.S. team in Sochi when he died of what was believed to be a seizure.

 

Fighting back tears, Miller joined NBC reporter Christin Cooper for a post-race interview and things went off the rails as Cooper asked multiple questions about Miller’s dead brother as the skier became more and more upset.

Watch the video: Bode Miller on TODAY

 

 

Deadspin published a transcript of the interview, which left Miller bent over the fence in tears.

Cooper: For a guy who said the medals don’t really matter, they aren’t “the thing,” you’ve amassed quite a collection. What does this one mean to you in terms of all the others?

Miller: This was a little different. With my brother passing away, I really wanted to come back here and race the way he sends it. So this was a little different.

Cooper: Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through your mind?

Miller: A lot, obviously. Just a long struggle coming in here. Just a tough year.

Cooper: I know you wanted to be here with Chelly experiencing these games, how much does it mean to you to come up with a great performance for him? And was it for him?

Miller: I mean, I don’t know if it’s really for him. But I wanted to come here and…I don’t know, I guess make myself proud.

Cooper: When you’re looking up in the sky at the start, we see you there and it looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?

Cooper is taking heat for her rough interview tactics.

Bode Miller is overcome with emotion after his bronze-medal run

Bode Miller is overcome with emotion after his bronze-medal run

 

Miller is taking the high road, asking via Twitter Monday morning for people to ease up on Cooper.

 

And he clearly wasn’t holding the interview against NBC, Miller made an appearance on “Today.”

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Welcome to our humble A’Bode: Breakdown after the Bronze

By: Kelli, Alex and Ariel

SOCHI, RUSSIA – (UTC/TheLoop) — Olympic Medalist gets emotional after winning Bronze

How far is too far? Bode Miller’s moment in the spotlight at the Sochi Olympics took a turn for the uncomfortable when a reporter, NBC’s Christin Cooper, brought him to tears with repeated questions about his brother Chelone, who died of an apparent seizure in April 2013.

Miller was already emotional when he walked over to talk with Cooper after winning bronze at the men’s super-G event on Sunday, Feb. 16. Speaking about the significance of these Olympics compared with others in which he’d competed, the 36-year-old athlete said he wanted to come back and do right by his brother.

“Bode, you’re showing so much emotion down here. What’s going through your mind?” Cooper asked, according to a transcript from USA Today.
“A lot, obviously,” he replied. “A long struggle coming in here. And, uh, just a tough year.”
“I know you wanted to be here with Chilly experiencing these games. How much does it meant to you to come up with a great performance for him?” Cooper said. “And was it for him?”
“I mean, I don’t know if it’s really for him. But I wanted to come here and, uh, I don’t know, I guess, make myself proud,” Miller answered, wiping away tears.

Cooper then asked yet another follow-up question about Chelone, which proved to be too much for Miller to take. “When you’re looking up in the sky at the start,” she began, “we see you there, and it just looks like you’re talking to somebody. What’s going on there?”
At that, Miller broke down and dropped his head, unable to continue the interview. Cooper apologized, but viewers skewered her on Twitter, saying she’d gone too far and should have been more sensitive.

@bodemiller

@bodemiller

Miller, for his part, defended her tactics. “I appreciate everyone sticking up for me. Please be gentle w/ Christin Cooper, it was crazy emotional and not all her fault,” he tweeted on Sunday. “My emotions were very raw, she asked the questions that every interviewer would have. Pushing is part of it, she wasn’t trying to cause pain.”
Addressing the incident further on the Today show on Monday, Feb. 17, he told Matt Lauer that he had no hard feelings toward Cooper. “I have known Christin a long time, and she’s a sweetheart of a person,” he said. “I know she didn’t mean to push. I don’t think she really anticipated what my reaction was going to be, and I think by the time she realized it, it was too late. I don’t blame her at all.”

He continued: “I feel terrible that she’s taking the heat for that because it really was just a heat-of-the-moment kind of circumstance. I don’t think there was any harm intended. It was just a lot of emotion for me…You sometimes don’t realize how much you can contain that stuff until the dam breaks, and then it’s just a real outpouring.”

 

 

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/bode-miller-breaks-down-over-brothers-death-in-olympics-interview-defends-reporter-against-backlash-2014172

 

 

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