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Postseason conference tourney's march on

Friday, March 14, 2008

By The Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Chris Lofton hit a 3-pointer with 11.4 seconds remaining and the fourth-ranked Volunteers survived South Carolina's bid for a huge upset, sending Dave Odom into retirement with an 89-87 victory over the Gamecocks in the quarterfinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament Friday.

Tennessee (29-3) already claimed its first SEC championship in 41 years and hopes to lock up a top seed in the NCAA tournament by winning the league tourney. Wayne Chism led the Volunteers with 23 points, helping them dominate on the inside. Lofton was held to 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting, but the senior guard came through when it counted.

Tennessee will face Arkansas in the semifinals.

Devan Downey scored 26 points and Zam Fredrick had 24 for the Gamecocks (14-18) in Odom's final game; the coach announced in January he would step down at the end of the season.

Arkansas 81, No. 18 Vanderbilt 75

ATLANTA (AP) -- Darian Townes and Gary Ervin each scored 18 points and Arkansas dominated inside.

The Razorbacks (21-10) rolled to a 45-24 rebounding edge and outscored the Commodores 50-20 in the paint.

Alex Gordon led Vanderbilt (26-7) with 22 points. He had two 3-pointers and another long jumper in the final minute.

The Commodores rallied to tie it twice in the second half, the last time at 58-58 on a 3-pointer by Gordon. But Ervin answered with back-to-back baskets, including a 3.

The Razorbacks made 10 of 12 free throws in the final minute.

Atlantic 10

Saint Joseph's 61, No. 10 Xavier 53

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) -- Pat Calathes scored 24 points and Saint Joseph's held No. 10 Xavier to a season-low point total in the Atlantic 10 semifinals.

Despite the loss, the top-seeded Musketeers (27-6) are all but guaranteed a spot in the NCAA tournament when the selections are announced on Sunday.

Fifth-seeded Saint Joseph's (21-11) can lock up its first NCAA tournament berth since 2003-04 on Saturday night in the championship game against the winner of the other semifinal between second-seeded Temple and sixth-seeded Charlotte.

Ahmad Nivins added 15 points for the Hawks, whose tough man-to-man defense limited Xavier to 37 percent shooting from the field, including only one basket outside the paint.

Atlantic Coast Conference

No. 1 North Carolina 82, Florida State 70

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Tyler Hansbrough scored 22 points to lead North Carolina to the win in the ACC tournament quarterfinals.

Wayne Ellington added 19 points for the top-seeded Tar Heels (30-2), who have won nine straight games and 12 of 13. North Carolina, the defending tournament champion, will face Virginia Tech in the semifinals.

Jason Rich scored 23 points for the ninth-seeded Seminoles (19-14), who again proved to be a pesky opponent for the Tar Heels. The Seminoles trailed 43-38 with about 14 minutes left before North Carolina finally took control.

The Tar Heels shot 53 percent for the game, including 6-for-13 from 3-point range.

No. 7 Duke 82, Georgia Tech 70

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Jon Scheyer scored 18 points and No. 7 Duke advanced to the ACC semifinals.

DeMarcus Nelson had 17 points, and Greg Paulus added 13 for the second-seeded Blue Devils (27-4), who blew nearly all of an early 20-point lead before rallying for the win.

Maurice Miller scored 16 points for Yellow Jackets (15-17) and keyed their second-half rally that closed them to within two. Miller had eight points during the 19-2 burst that ended when Lewis Clinch's baseline jumper made it 52-50 with 13 1/2 minutes left.

Nelson reeled off four points to start the 19-6 run that gave the Blue Devils plenty of breathing room. They went back up by double figures to stay when Paulus' 3 from the left corner made it 64-54, held Georgia Tech to three field goals in nearly 10 minutes and led by 16 late.

Big East

No. 9 Georgetown 72, West Virginia 55

NEW YORK (AP) -- Roy Hibbert went from scoring a season low to a season high, and has Georgetown playing for another Big East tournament championship.

The 7-foot-2 center had 25 points and 13 rebounds, and Georgetown withstood West Virginia's only big run midway through the second half to beat the Mountaineers in the semifinals.

Georgetown (27-4) led 51-47 with just over 11 minutes left, but the Mountaineers didn't get another basket until Joe Alexander scored with 3:13 to go. By then, Hibbert and the Hoyas had a 20-point lead.

After 7-footer Jamie Smalligan picked up two early fouls, the defensive assignment of the all-Big East center fell to Alexander, who was giving up six inches in the post and had a tough time stopping the big man's array of spin moves, follows and rim-rattling dunks.

Big Ten

No. 8 Wisconsin 51, Michigan 34

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Joe Krabbenhoft scored 12 points and Michael Flowers keyed Wisconsin offensively and defensively in the lowest-scoring game in Big Ten tournament history.

The Badgers (27-4) will play No. 19 Michigan State in the semifinals.

Wisconsin and Michigan combined for the fewest points in the 11-year history of the Big Ten tournament, "beating" the 89 scored by Michigan and Minnesota in the first round last year. Michigan's 34 points were also the fewest ever by a team, falling short of the 40 scored last year by Minnesota.

Flowers scored 11 points and completely flustered Michigan's leading scorer, Manny Harris, who managed only four points on 1-of-12 shooting.

No. 19 Michigan St. 67, Ohio St. 60

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Drew Neitzel scored 28 points and Travis Walton hit five free throws in the final minute for Michigan State.

Neitzel hit six 3-pointers but the fourth-seeded Spartans (25-7) couldn't pull away until late in the game with a 3-pointer by Durrell Summers, a steal by Neitzel and another basket by Summers. Ohio State managed only one free throw over a span of more than 4 minutes, and the Spartans took their biggest lead at nine points during the late string of free throws by Walton, his only points of the game.

Kosta Koufos scored 19 points and David Lighty had 12 for fifth-seeded Ohio State (19-13), which won the conference tournament last year.

Illinois 74, No. 17 Purdue 67, OT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Demetri McCamey scored 26 points, and Illinois advanced to the Big Ten semifinals.

McCamey, a freshman guard, made 9 of 14 field goals and all six of his 3-point shots.

Shaun Pruitt added 14 points and nine rebounds for the 10th-seeded Fighting Illini, who advanced to play either No. 22 Indiana or Minnesota in the semifinals on Saturday.

E'Twaun Moore scored 22 points and Robbie Hummel added 10 points and 12 rebounds for second-seeded Purdue.

Big 12

No. 6 Texas 66, Oklahoma St. 59

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Damion James had 23 points and 11 rebounds and D. J. Augustin powered a crucial second-half run for Texas.

Augustin, the quick and crafty point guard who led the conference in assists and was second in scoring, finished with 24 points for the Longhorns (27-5). He had eight points and an assist in a 14-0 run at the start of the second half.

Top-seeded Texas, the regular-season co-champions with Kansas, will meet Oklahoma in the semifinals.

Ibrahima Thomas had 19 points for Oklahoma State (17-15), which led 33-32 at halftime.

No. 5 Kansas 64, Nebraska 54

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Brandon Rush scored six points in a 15-4 run and No. 5 Kansas overcame its worst half of the season to beat Nebraska.

Kansas (29-3), a 15-point favorite over a team it had beaten 10 straight times and 19 of 20, had 12 turnovers and only eight field goals in a ragged and sloppy first half. The Jayhawks trailed 27-22 at the break, but Darnell Jackson scored the first basket of the second half, then Mario Chalmers made a long 3-pointer to launch the comeback and Nebraska (19-12) never recovered.

Sherron Collins wound up with 13 points. and Jackson and Chalmers each had 12 for the Jayhawks.

Ade Dagunduro had 13 points for Nebraska, only three in the second half, and Paul Velander added 12.

Conference USA

No. 2 Memphis 69, Southern Miss. 53

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- Derrick Rose scored 25 points and Memphis advanced to the Conference USA tournament championship for a fourth straight year with its 41st consecutive league victory.

Memphis (32-1), which will play Tulsa on Saturday, is looking to add a third straight tournament title to the third consecutive outright regular-season championship it clinched less than a week ago on this same court.

Chris Douglas-Roberts added 14 points for Memphis.

Sai'Quon Stone led Southern Miss (19-14) with 14 points, and Jeremy Wise and R.L. Horton each had 12. The Golden Eagles, who led only once at 3-2, hit their first 18 free throws and finished 24-of-26 at the line.

Patriot League

American 52, Colgate 46

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Garrison Carr scored 17 points and American earned its first trip to the NCAA tournament since the school joined Division I in 1967.

Brian Gilmore scored 11 and wrestled away a key steal in the final 20 seconds for the top-seeded Eagles (21-11), whose only previous berth in an NCAA tournament came as a Division II school in 1960.

American had fallen at the final huddle three times since joining the Patriot League in 2001, losing the 2002 championship game at home and the 2003 and 2004 title games on the road. For coach Jeff Jones, the victory achieved the goal envisioned when the former Virginia coach was hired eight years ago by the school located in the affluent northwest corner of the nation's capital.

Kyle Roemer scored 17 points for the third-seeded Raiders (18-14).

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