ESPN prediction: Dayton women a No. 10 seed in NCAA tournament

Published: Saturday, February 03, 2018 @ 1:49 PM

Highlights: Dayton beats Duquesne in women's basketball

For fans of the Dayton Flyers women’s basketball program, it’s not too early to be thinking about March Madness.

In ESPN’s latest bracket prediction, the Flyers have a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. Their first-round opponent is No. 7 seed Virginia. The website predicts the game will be played in Eugene, Ore., with Oregon and Stephen F. Austin playing in the other game.

DUQUESNE GAME: Archdeacon on Shauna GreenFlyers win 11th game in a rowPhotos

Dayton has played in the NCAA tournament in seven of the last eight seasons. It earned a No. 12 seed last year and lost 66-57 to Tennessee in the first round in Louisville, Ky.

The Flyers (17-4, 10-0) take an 11-game winning streak into a 2 p.m. Sunday game against Virginia Commonwealth at UD Arena.

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Kansas keeps Oklahoma reeling, maintains first place in Big 12 with victory over Sooners

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 6:12 PM

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Big Monday’s showdown between No. 8 Kansas and Oklahoma was a showcase of two Big 12 squads trending in opposite directions.

The Jayhawks routed the Sooners 104-74 in wire-to-wire fashion.

Kansas is now set for a potential, de facto Big 12 title game on Saturday with Texas Tech. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has now lost six games in a row and is squarely on the NCAA Tournament bubble.

The Jayhawks are now 22-6 overall and 11-4 in Big 12 play, while the Sooners are 16-11 and 6-9 respectively.

3 Who Mattered

Devonte’ Graham: The senior Kansas point guard finished with a game-high 23 points on 8-of-17 shooting while connecting on five 3-pointers. He added seven assists and five rebounds to his tally.

Trae Young: Even the nation’s most highly-touted freshman can enter The Phog and leave rattled. Young’s 11 points were a season-low for the Sooners’ star. He was just 3-of-13 from the field. While Young did have nine assists, he also had five turnovers.

Silvio De Sousa: Who would’ve thought that Silvio De Sousa, who’s struggled since joining the Jayhawks’ depth chart, would register just one less point than Trae Young? In undoubtedly De Sousa’s best performance in a Kansas jersey, he racked up 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting with six rebounds.   

Observations

The Sooners are in free-fall: Oklahoma has lost six games in a row. Despite not losing any significant players to injury for any lengthy period of time, the Sooners have gone from world-beaters to bubble-riders.

Oklahoma hosts Kansas State — the Wildcats beat the Sooners in Manhattan earlier this season — on Saturday. A loss in that contest could see the Sooners go from inside the bubble looking out to outside the bubble looking in.

Kansas is getting hot from the field at the right time: After shooting 48 percent in a win at Iowa State then 46 percent in Saturday’s win over West Virginia, the Jayhawks stayed hot from the floor with a 61 percent showing against the Sooners. Every play but Graham — who put up the most shots at 17 — was above 50 percent from the floor.

Kansas’ 16 3-pointers is the second-highest mark in a Big 12 game — the highest being 17 in their conference-opener against Texas.

Lagerald Vick is back to being an elite presence: It seems like Vick’s two games out of the starting lineup has reignited his game. He’s racked up 46 points in the three games since returning to the starting lineup. He also had six rebounds and four assists in the win over Oklahoma.

Turning Point

This dunk from Mitch Lightfoot off a turnover by the Sooners felt like a dagger and a tone-setter for the rest of the night.

The Number: +13

That’s the rebounding margin Kansas posted over the Sooners. The Jayhawks average minus-0.5 on the rebounding margin for the season.

Plus-13 is the largest rebounding margin for Kansas in a Big 12 game and just the second time in league action that the Jayhawks outrebounded their opponent.

What’s Next for Kansas Basketball

In a showdown for potentially the outright Big 12 lead, Kansas travels south to Lubbock, Texas for a matchup against Texas Tech.

Kansas-Texas Tech will be televised on ESPN. College GameDay will also be in Lubbock for the festivities.

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Raiders hold off CSU behind Benzinger’s big Senior Night

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 9:47 PM

Benzinger rallies Raiders on Senior Night

Wright State said goodbye to seniors Grant Benzinger and Trey Stacey on Monday night.

The Raiders can only hope the game marked a final farewell in 2018 to Cleveland State, a struggling group that looked for most of the night as though it was going to pull off a second consecutive upset against the Horizon League’s top team.

Despite playing without freshman point guard and second leading scorer Tyree Appleby, CSU built an eight-point lead in the second half before the Wright State defense took over and cleared the way for a 72-63 victory.

“The guys on our team, I have so much belief in them to step up in the big moments, and I think everyone did,” said Benzinger, who scored a game-high 20 points in his final game at the Nutter Center.

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The win kept the Raiders (21-8 overall, 13-3 HL) tied for first-place with Northern Kentucky, which beat Youngstown State, which means the regular-season championship will come down to the final weekend.

Mark Hughes scored 14 of his 16 points in the second half to help spark the comeback, while Loudon Love added 15 points and Parker Ernsthausen notched 10, all in the first half.

But Benziniger, who was playing before 40 family members and friends, including the coaching staff from his alma mater at Moeller High School, was the catalyst.

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In addition to sharing team-high rebound honors with Love and Hughes at six apiece, Benzinger tied his career-high with five assists while knocking down 5 of 10 3-pointers, one shy of his career high.

“It was nice to see him knock some 3s down,” WSU coach Scott Nagy said. “I feel like he’s struggled a little bit. Every night people stick to him. We don’t have a superstar. He’s viewed as our superstar, and everybody tries to make our freshmen and younger guys beat them.”

The Vikings (8-22, 5-12 HL) hit 1o of their first 20 3-pointers after knocking down a school record-tying 14 in a 77-74 upset of the Raiders on Feb. 1.

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CSU took a 59-57 lead with 8:56 remaining on a tip-in by Jamarcus Hairston, but Benzinger’s fourth trey of the night gave Wright State the lead for good.

The Vikings not only failed to make a field goal over the final 8:56, they only managed six shots.

“It took us about 25 minutes into the game before we really started playing at the level we should play at, in terms of how hard we want our kids to play,” Nagy said. “We didn’t change anything. We didn’t change how we were supposed to guard. None of that stuff. Our kids just started playing at the level they’re supposed to play at.”

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The go-ahead 3-pointer by Benzinger with 8:05 remaining started a 14-0 run that didn’t end until Cleveland State’s Anthony Wright hit a field goal with 1:34 to go.

Benzinger had two 3-pointers during the run and a pair of assists to Everett Winchester for easy layups, while Hughes went 4 of 4 from the free throw line.

“Coach Nagy was talking about making it a good Senior Night for Trey and Grant, especially after (CSU) beat us the first time,” Hughes said. “Grant means a lot to us, and we just wanted to end his career at the Nutter Center the right way.”

The victory sets up a showdown weekend with UIC, which sits just one game back of WSU and NKU in third place, playing host to the Norse on Friday and the Raiders on Sunday.

But first Wright State will play at IUPUI at 11 a.m. Friday.

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Miami recruiting targets react to DL coach Craig Kuligowski’s surprise departure

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 5:53 PM

Craig Kuligowski-Cameron Williams-Khris Bogle

Miami’s coaching staff took a major — and surprising — hit Monday. Craig Kuligowski, widely regarded as one of the best defensive line coaches in the country, is leaving Coral Gables, Fla. His next destination hasn’t officially been announced, but reports indicate the assistant coach is going to Tuscaloosa, Ala., to take the same position with Alabama.

Kuligowski drew criticism for only landing one blue-chip defensive line prospect in 2018, but there’s no doubt his ability as a technician is appealing to high school defensive linemen. Nesta Silvera, a 4-star defensive tackle, signed with the Hurricanes on Feb. 7 and said the chance to play for Kuligowski was a major appeal. Miami was able to sign relative projects, like 3-star weakside defensive end Gregory Rousseau and 3-star defensive tackle Jordan Miller, in the Class of 2018 with the expectation Kuligowski would develop them.

The biggest concern in losing Kuligowski is the hit Hurricanes will take developmentally. On the recruiting trail, though, Kuligowski was also still one of the their most important recruiters.

Kuligowski’s presence, for example, was a major appeal to top target Khris Bogle. Even though defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is the 4-star weakside defensive end’s primary recruiter, Bogle placed Miami high on his list at least in part because of Kuligowski. The defensive end from Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., still says this doesn’t effect the Hurricanes much in his estimation.

“It happens, but I love Coach Kool,” the Class of 2019 defensive lineman told DieHards in a message. “I know he’s going to recruit me hard, but I will always be a ‘Canes fans no matter who’s gonna be the next coach.”

Denzel Daxon, a 3-star defensive tackle from Doral (Fla.) Academy Preparatory School, is Miami’s highest ranked defensive line commit in the class and was primarily recruited by Kuligowski. The defensive lineman took to Twitter to express his thoughts.

Kuligowski was the primary recruiter for Cameron Williams and got the 3-star weakside defensive end to flip from Florida during January. The defensive end from Chaminade-Madonna College Preparatory School in Hollywood, Fla., reached out to Kuligowski himself during December and the coach offered him the next day. Kuligowski’s decision surprised the rising senior defensive end.

“I’m shocked,” the edge rusher told DieHards in a message, “but I understand it’s his career and I wish for the best.”

Jahfari Harvey is one of the few major 2019 targets who probably won’t be effected much by Kuligowski’s departure. Diaz is also the primary recruiter for the unranked weakside defensive end from Vero Beach (Fla.) High School. Kuligowski could have been an appeal for Harvey once the defensive end got to know him. For now, the coaching change doesn’t affect him one way or another.

“I haven’t talked to him yet,” the end told DieHards in a message.

Kuligowski’s departure will also affect Miami in the Class of 2020. The Hurricanes already hold one commitment on the defensive line in the 2020 class. Unranked in the 247Sports composite rankings, strongside defensive end Tre’von Riggins is a 4-star prospect in 247Sports.com’s rankings. He also claims Kuligowski as his primary recruiter. Kuligowski’s departure stunned Riggins, but the defensive lineman from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., declined to comment.

The post Miami recruiting targets react to DL coach Craig Kuligowski’s surprise departure appeared first on Diehards.

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Sherron Collins’ jersey officially hung at Allen Fieldhouse

Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 @ 5:50 PM

The Kansas Jayhawks honored former star point guard Sherron Collins in a major way on Monday night.

At halftime of the Jayhawks meeting with Oklahoma, Kansas officially hung Collins’ No. 4 jersey in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse, cementing his status as one of the many greats to call Lawrence, Kan., home.

 

A standout for the Jayhawks from 2007-10, Collins played in 143 career games at Kansas, averaging 13.2 points, 3.9 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game throughout that four-year stretch.

The latter two were especially memorable for Collins.

In 2008-09, Collins averaged a career-high 18.9 points per game en route to consensus second-team All-American honors. The following season, in which Collins averaged 15.5 points per game as a senior, Collins was named a consensus first-team All-American. Collins was also named a first-team All-Big 12 selection as a junior and as a senior.

Prior to that point, Collins largely came off the bench as a sophomore, averaging 9.3 points and 3.1 assists per game as part of the Jayhawks 2008 National Championship team.

With such a memorable body of work, Kansas returned the favor and memorialized Collins’ No. 4 jersey by hanging it in the rafters at the historic Allen Fieldhouse.

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