Drexel's D gives No. 4 Arizona scare in near upset

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Drexel's D gives No. 4 Arizona scare in near upset

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK -- Bruiser Flint has established a national reputation as a defensive mastermind during his 13-year tenure at Drexel.

Wednesday night, that reputation held true as his team held Arizona, the sixth-best shooting team in the country, to just 20 points in the first 20 minutes.

But the best defensive effort No. 4 Arizona has faced all season still wasn’t good enough for Flint’s Dragons as they lost to the Wildcats, 66-62, in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tip-Off (see Instant Replay).

After the Wildcats were limited to just six made field goals in the first half, they came alive out of halftime and scored 46 points in the final 20 minutes, more than doubling their first half output.

Drexel guard Chris Fouch assumed the Wildcats had simply come out in the first half and underestimated their opponents.

“They must’ve come out there thinking we weren’t going to be that good, and so we kind of just punched them right in the face, and we wanted to keep it on," he said.

Arizona head coach Sean Miller, a longtime friend of Flint, made sure it was known that was not the case.

“I think the easy storyline in a game like this is to say maybe Arizona overlooked Drexel,” Miller said. “That’s the furthest thing from the truth. We watched for five, six, seven days, whatever the length from our last game to tonight. We invested a lot of time watching them, and it became apparent to me that we were in for one heck of a battle.

“And keep in mind one of their starters, their frontcourt players and a real key to their team did not play tonight.”

Arizona didn’t overlook its opponent. The seismic halftime shift came from the single defensive flaw in Drexel’s armor: The Dragons’ big men have a penchant for getting in foul trouble.

Dartaye Ruffin, Drexel’s premier defender in the paint, picked up three fouls in the first half of the game, a crushing blow for the team’s interior defense. With junior forward Kazembe Abif already missing the game with a concussion, the paint opened up for the Wildcats when Flint decided to start the second half with Ruffin on the bench.

It showed. Arizona’s Kaleb Tarczewski -- a career 7.7 points per game scorer -- dropped 13 of his career-high 15 points in the second half, going 7 for 12 on the night.

His offensive explosion in the final 20 minutes was the driving force behind Arizona’s comeback.

“We kind of came out flat in the first half and we wanted to come out strong in the second half,” Tarczewski said. “Our guards did a great job of getting me the ball. I know I missed a few easy ones early, but they kept getting me the ball and I really owe it to them.”

Flint was visibly irked after the game about the problems his team had keeping Ruffin on the floor.

“You know I want to play good D the whole game,” Flint said. “A big part of the game was Dartaye sat a lot in the second half. [Tarczewski] started making plays, and that was it right there. When [Ruffin] was in the game, it was a different game around the basket, but when he goes out, they hurt us a little bit.

“And not only that, because we’re helping with them, the other guys on the other side of the rim [beat us], too.”

Flint was right -- the entire Wildcats offense jumped on the Dragons’ defensive struggles in the second half. Point guard T.J. McConnell finished with 11 points, nine of which he scored in the second half. Senior guard Nick Johnson scored 12 of his team-high 20 points in the second half. And, of course, Tarczewski came alive.

Yet, the Drexel head coach said he still thought his team did a good job against Miller’s team defensively. In a way, he was right. His team held the Wildcats under 40 percent from the field for the first time all season. They dictated the style in their favor; that is, they made it a defense-oriented game.

Sometimes your best just isn’t enough. And then sometimes your best is in foul trouble.

City 6 Scouting reports: No. 2 Villanova, Temple and St. Joe's in action

City 6 Scouting reports: No. 2 Villanova, Temple and St. Joe's in action

Three City 6 schools will hit the floor in some conference games Wednesday night. Let’s take a look at the matchups.

No. 2 Villanova (26-2, 13-2 Big East) vs. No. 22 Butler (21-6, 10-5 Big East)
9 p.m. at the Pavilion on FOX Sports 1

Last time out
Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins each had 22 points and shot a combined 15 of 17 from the field, as the Wildcats steamrolled Seton Hall, 92-70, on Saturday (see story).

Josh Hart chipped in 19 points, four rebounds, one assist and a steal. Brunson shot a perfect 7 for 7 from the field and racked up a double-double with 10 assists. Villanova got off on a 15-4 run early in the second half to build on a 42-31 lead entering halftime.

Thanks to four players scoring in double figures, Butler beat DePaul, 82-66, at Hinkle Fieldhouse on Sunday. 

Butler trailed by five with just under five minutes to go in the first half, but the Bulldogs finished the frame on a 14-0 run, giving them a 36-27 lead entering halftime.

Nate Fowler led the Bulldogs in points with 15 off the bench on 7-of-9 shooting.

Scouting report
The Wildcats will return home on a seven-game winning streak after three straight road games.

Brunson has been red hot for Villanova on that streak. The sophomore guard has scored at least 15 points in five of the past seven games. He’s also shooting the ball at a 54 percent clip during that stretch.

Although Donte DiVincenzo didn’t have his best outings scoring-wise in the past two games against DePaul and Seton Hall, he’s been a huge help for Wildcats off the bench this season. Over the past seven games, DiVincenzo has had three games in which he’s scored more than 15 points.

Butler enters this game shooting 56 percent or better in back-to-back games. With Villanova possibly missing Darryl Reynolds for a fourth straight game, the Bulldogs could use the 6-10, 250-pound Fowler to take advantage of a smaller ‘Cats lineup.

Despite averaging 5.5 points per game, Fowler scored 15 on Sunday and 19 against Providence on Feb. 11.

What it means
If Villanova wins, it will clinch the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament outright.

With a victory, Butler could solidify itself as the No. 2 seed in the Big East Tournament. Creighton is a half-game back of the Bulldogs in the conference standings.

Series history
This is the ninth time Villanova and Butler will play each other. Villanova leads the all-time series, 7-1. Butler’s only win over ‘Nova came on Jan. 4 in a 66-58 decision.

What’s next?
Villanova will host No. 23 Creighton Saturday at 3 p.m.

Butler will travel to Cincinnati to play Xavier at the Cintas Center.

Temple (14-14, 5-10 AAC) vs. UCF (17-10, 8-7 AAC)
7 p.m. at the Liacouras Center on ESPNU 

Last time out
Temple led UConn by as many as 10 midway through the second half Sunday, but fell, 64-63, at the Liacouras Center thanks to a layup by Jalen Adams with 2.9 seconds left in the game (see story)

Daniel Dingle had a team-high 17 points for Temple while freshmen Damion Moore and Alani Moore II combined for 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting.

UCF on Saturday knocked off East Carolina, 61-58, after going on an 11-2 run late in the second half at the Minges Coliseum.

Nick Banyard led the way for UCF with his second double-double of the season, scoring 18 points and hauling in 11 rebounds.

Scouting report
Temple coach Fran Dunphy has gone with a different starting lineup in the past three games. Moore and Quinton Rose have replaced Ernest Aflakpui and Moore II in the starting lineup. Temple is 1-2 in that stretch, but the Owls have seen some flashes of talent out of their young group of players.

Against UConn, Moore looked comfortable in the offense and scored 11 points on a perfect 5-for-5 shooting. Rose is averaging 12.7 points, four rebounds and three assists per game in his three starts this season. 

Obi Enechionyia’s minutes have decreased over those past three games even though he’s started all of them. Enechionyia, who averages 32.3 minutes per game, played 29 minutes against Memphis, 21 against East Carolina and 19 against UConn. He’s also shot the ball only 4 of 14 from the field with a combined 18 points in those three games.

Defense has been the staple of UCF's team this season. The Knights are second in scoring defense in the AAC, allowing opponents 60.8 points per game. Opposing teams are shooting 36 percent against UCF, too, which ranks first in the AAC in field goal percentage defense.

Those numbers can be attributed to 7-6 center Tacko Fall, who averages 2.4 blocks per game and alters countless other shot attempts.

UCF is led by its backcourt combo of B.J. Taylor and Matt Williams. Taylor averages 16.6 points per game, while Williams averages 15.5 points per game. Taylor has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games.

What it means
A win could help Temple try to find its way out of the bottom four of the AAC. Currently, Temple ranks eighth in the conference, and would play in the first round of the conference tournament.

If UCF wins, it will bump the Knights up to fifth in the AAC standings above Memphis.

Series history
Temple and UCF are meeting for the ninth time. The Owls hold a 5-3 lead in the all-time series.

What’s next?
Temple will play its final home game of the season against Tulane on Saturday at noon.

UCF will face Cincinnati at the CFE Center Sunday at 3 p.m.

St. Joe’s (10-16, 3-11 A-10) vs. St. Bonaventure (16-10, 8-6 A-10)
7 p.m. at Hagan Arena

Last time out
St. Joe’s fell, 83-68, to La Salle at Tom Gola Arena on Saturday (see story). The loss was St. Joe’s sixth consecutive defeat, its longest losing streak since a nine-game skid back in 2011. 

St. Bonaventure lost a thriller in the final seconds to Dayton, 76-72, on Saturday at UD Arena. Darrell Davis of Dayton hit a pair of free throws with 0.9 seconds left to sink the Bonnies.

Scouting report
St. Joe’s hasn’t been lucky this season.

Its two starting backcourt players, Shavar Newkirk and Lamarr Kimble, both suffered season-ending injuries.

Kimble led the Hawks in scoring at 15.5 points per game, but since he's been sidelined two games ago against UMass, freshman Charlie Brown has played big.

Brown is averaging 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in Kimble’s absence. He’s also scored in double figures in every game except one since January.

St. Bonaventure enters this game winners in three of its last six.

Jaylen Adams, St. Bonaventure’s leading scorer, is tied for first in the A-10 in scoring with 21.6 points per game. Matt Mobley also averages 19.0 points per game for St. Bonaventure and shoots 41 percent from beyond the arc.

The Bonnies have the best scoring offense in the A-10, averaging 78.3 points per contest.

What it means
There really isn’t much to gain here for St. Joe’s. The best thing for the Hawks in this game is to test out some of their young talent on the roster for next season. They’re tied for last place in the A-10 with Duquesne and UMass. 

A win for the Bonnies could improve their seeding in the A-10 Tournament. The Bonnies are a 1 1/2 games back of Richmond and Rhode Island, who are both tied for the third spot in the conference.

Series history
This is the 35th time the Hawks and Bonnies will square off. St. Joe’s holds a 23-12 advantage in the all-time series.

What’s next?
St. Joe’s will be on the road against Saint Louis on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

The Bonnies will be home against Duquesne on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Penn State succumbs to No. 14 Purdue in overtime

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Penn State succumbs to No. 14 Purdue in overtime

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Accustomed to dominating in stretches lately, the 14th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers found themselves on the other end of a big score and needed a savior against a gritty Penn State team on Tuesday night.

Enter Ryan Cline.

The guard scored six of his 11 points in overtime to lift Purdue to a 74-70 victory over the Nittany Lions in a game the Boilermakers led for just 9:16.

"It rarely happens where a team outplays another one, plays harder and they lose the game especially on their home court," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "Thank the Lord Cline knocked those two shots down."

Cline's consecutive 3-pointers secured his team's sixth straight win and snapped the Nittany Lions' four-game winning streak against Top 25 teams visiting the Bryce Jordan Center.

Vincent Edwards added 14 points, Isaac Haas chipped in 13 and Dakota Mathias scored 12 for the Boilermakers (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten) who trailed 33-29 at halftime.

Tony Carr scored 21 points, Lamar Stevens added 18 and Mike Watkins finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for Penn State (14-14, 6-9). The Nittany Lions owned the paint, even against Purdue's towering bigs -- 6-foot-8 Caleb Swanigan and the 7-2 Haas -- where Penn State owned a 46-12 edge.

But the Nittany Lions couldn't get deep shots to fall. They finished just 2 for 18 from 3-point range.

"That was as hard as we've played all year," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "Proud of my team. However, there's no more moral victories here. We've got to get some things done. We've got to close out games."

Penn State led for all but 7:35 of regulation and by as many as 10 points midway through the first half. But they surrendered the lead on a dunk by Haas with 10:13 left. The Nittany Lions used a 10-2 run and four straight baskets from Carr to send the game into overtime where Cline found his shot.

Big picture
Purdue: The Boilermakers cooled off after a recent hot streak saw them dominate for large stretches of games. Purdue's five-game winning streak entering the night included wins over Michigan State, Rutgers and Northwestern, all by at least 17 points.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions are still looking to eclipse their combined win total in January and February under Chambers. Penn State won six games for their best stretch in the two-month span a year ago and will have two more tries to surpass last year's mark.

Loose guards
Painter wasn't happy with his guard play for much of the game. He sensed confusion from his backcourt and it cost them in the form of turnovers. Ten of Purdue's 17 giveaways were committed by guards.

"Our guard play and overall ball control, there's no question, there were times they were hesitant," Painter said.

Big man battle
As Chambers spoke with reporters, he guessed Watkins was sitting in the locker room with nothing left in the tank.

"He's exhausted in that locker room," Chambers said. "He battled. He went toe-to-toe with a potential lottery pick and a potential first-rounder some day in Haas because I think Haas is a pro."

Watkins was outmuscled in his first game against Purdue's sizable forwards when he scored just six points and grabbed only three rebounds earlier this season. He had 12 rebounds in the first half -- including three straight offensive midway through the first half -- that brought the crowd to a roar when he finally drew a foul and made two free throws.

Shot clock issue
A shot clock mishap cost the Nittany Lions a possession in overtime. With 13 seconds left and Purdue up 72-70, Haas took a jumper and missed close to the rim with the shot clock waning. It would have run out had Shep Garner not fouled P.J. Thompson immediately afterward, however.

Chambers said he thought Garner might have believed Haas' shot hit the rim. Instead, Thompson made both free throws to put the game out of reach.

Poll implications
Purdue survived a scare and its place in the poll should remain safe.

Up next
Purdue plays at Michigan on Friday.

Penn State travels to Minnesota on Friday.