Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Illinois gets a big win, but Michigan State suffers a bigger loss?

Illinois got the win they so desperately needed.

Coming into Tuesday night's game against Michigan State, the Illini had lost three games in a row since their win over Ohio State. Two of those losses came against Minnesota and Penn State on the road. Sitting squarely on the bubble with a back-loaded league schedule -- six of their final ten games were against ranked teams and four of those games are on the road -- it should be quite obvious just how badly Illinois needed to beat the Spartans.
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POSTERIZED: Driving Coast-to-Coast in a White Rolles Royce

You could argue that Iowa State's Royce White is the most important player in the country. Is there a single player who carries the team on his shoulders more than the Minnesota-transfer. The power forward does it all. He can handle the ball, defend, rebound, shoot, and when necessary, take the ball coast-to-coast for a power-dunk in traffic. Continue reading...

#BIAHRoadTrip Thank You Card

Before we officially move on from the #BIAHRoadTrip, there are a number of thank yous that we need to hand out.

But first, credit needs to be given where credit is due. This road trip wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Troy. He put together the schedule, he found the hotels, he did about 70% of the driving and he was straight up paparazzi-esque with his camera during the games.

Now for the thank yous:
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Tuesday's Pregame Beat: Illinois and Seton Hall play must-win games

7:00 pm: No. 10 Michigan State @ Illinois: After winning their first 10 games of the season, the Illini have hit a rough patch. They've lost six of the last 11 games, including three in a row in league play to drop to 4-4. Illinois also has one of the toughest schedules down the stretch of the season. Of their last ten games, six of them come against ranked teams, four of which are on the road. That puts a tremendous amount importance on these home games.
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Pics/Vids: Game 13 - Utah State vs. Hawaii

Thursday, January 26th
Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum, Utah State University
Utah State 77, Hawaii 72

Game 12 - Kansas vs. Texas A&M
Game 11 - Oral Roberts vs. Oakland
Game 10 - Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State
Game 9 - Missouri State vs. Creighton
Game 8 - Missouri vs. Texas A&M
Game 7 - Wisconsin vs. Nebraska
Game 6 - Marquette vs. Pittsburgh
Game 5 - Butler vs. Cleveland State
Game 4 - Indiana vs. Minnesota
Game 3 - Xavier vs. Duquesne
Game 2 - Kentucky vs. South Carolina
Game 1 - Belmont vs. Lipscomb

(The Utah State student section experience.)

(The Dee Glenn Smith Spectrum, or just "The Spectrum" from the outside.)

(The arena is named after Smith, the owner and founder of Smith's Food and Drugs, a massive chain of pharmacy/supermarket in the northwest.)

("Wild" Bill Sproat, arguably the best super-fan in the country, greeted us inside The Spectrum. He definitely supports the cause.)

(The University presented Bill with this custom jersey after he survived a serious heart condition which but him in a coma for 15 days in 2009.)

(The scene inside The Spectrum during shootaround.)

(Pi'i Minns gets a good stretch in during shootaround.)

(The USU student section starts to fill up during shootaround. This is just one of three seating sections occupied by students.)

(Davis Rositis, far right, gets a calf stretch in, while the rest of his team waits in lay-up lines.)

(The Aggies loosen up before the game.)

(The USU student section arrived about an hour before tip-off. Of the 13 games we visited, no student section was as dedicated or as prepared as USU. Oral Roberts was a close second.)

(The Aggies go through pregame shootaround prior to tip-off.)

(Bobby Miles shows his game-face during pregame shootaround.)

(The Aggies take some shots during shootaround.)

(The students look on as the Aggies prepare for the contest.)

(Player introductions for the Hawaii Warriors.)

(The second of three USU student sections.)

(Brockeith Pane launches a 3-pointer during warm-ups as Hawaii huddles-up in the background.)

(The two teams get ready for the opening tip.)

(No school does a better "I believe that we will win" chant that Utah State.)

("Wild" Bill grills one of the referees. Poor officiating was a common occurrence during the game on Thursday night.)

(The Warriors huddle up during the first media timeout. the teams traded buckets back and forth for the first few minutes.)

(Aggies head coach Stew Morrill looks on during the first half.)

(The students wave flags to distract shooters. I felt like I was watching an Italian futbol match, not an American college basketball game.)

(Utah State guard Preston Medlin was rockin' a fresh pair of Jordan kicks. He was the only person on the floor rockin' Jordans.)

(Hawaii center Davis Rositis waits at the scorers table to check in to the game.)

(Oh crap, Bill spotted me.)

(Bill points out the Hawaii player that committed a foul.)

("Big Blue" helps the students get fired up.)

(That's the signal for Preston Medlin. Bill said he and Preston came up with it during the lsat offseason. Now all the students throw it up when he scores.)

(Utah State fans sing their school fight song, "The Scotsman".)

(Assistants have to restrain Gib Arnold from the referees after a bad call. The game was plagued with bad calls and poor officiating.)

(Brockieth Pane lines up to take a foul shot.)

("Big Blue" and Bill lead the student section during a foul shot.)

(I think this one is self-explanatory.)

(You know The Spectrum is getting rowdy when Bill stands up on the railing.)

(Hawaii's final possession before halftime.)

(Joston Thomas, a DC-native, waits for the in-bounds pass.)

(Bill reminds one of the Hawaii players "Not in my house".)

("Big Blue" rappells from the rafters during the halftime routine.)

(The cheerleaders, along with "Big Blue" finish off their routine.)

(Utah State misses a shot, Hawaii gets the rebound but turns over the ball, which leads to a fast break dunk by Preston Medlin.)

(The USU bench is fired up at the start of a media timeout.)

(Is that Dom from "Entourage"? Nah, it's just USU assistant coach Chris Jones. But the resemblance is uncanny.)

(The best "Winning Team, Losing Team" chant in all of college basketball".)

(Late in the game, Hawaii went to an offense/defense lineup. The defensive unit waits to check in to the game.)

(Self explanitory.)
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Michael Dixon shines again, but does he top the list of sixth men?

Missouri was struggling Monday night in Austin.

With Marcus Denmon shooting 3-12 from the field, Kim English struggling to get himself open and Phil Pressey turning the ball over, the Tigers needed a spark, and they got it from the man they rely on to be a game-changer. Michael Dixon scored 21 points on 9-10 shooting from the floor, sparking two different runs that push Missouri's lead into double figures. After Texas made a run and took the lead in the final minute, it was Dixon's driving layup that won the game for the Tigers.

He may be Missouri's fourth-leading scorer at 12.1 ppg, but he's yet to start a game this season, playing 25.1 mpg as the change of pace that Frank Haith uses.
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Tuesday's Shootaround: Missouri survives, Pitt wins again

No. 4 Missouri 67, Texas 66: I've said this before and I truly believe it -- the sign of a good team is that they can go on the road, play poorly and still come away with a win. That's exactly what Missouri did on Monday night. They didn't shoot all that well, they made poor decisions down the stretch and they blew a 10 point lead with four minutes left in the game. And they still won.

They can thank Michael Dixon for that. The nation's second-best sparkplug (sorry, Mike, Dion Waiters still has you beat right now) finished with 21 points, hitting his first eight shots from the floor and closing out the game on a driving, left-handed layup with 31 seconds left in the game after Texas had gone on a 13-2 run to take a 66-65 lead. He doesn't look all that smooth when he's dribbling and his jump shot is far from what you would call textbook, but he simply gets it done. Its such a weapon for Frank Haith to be able to bring in a scorer that is that potent off the bench.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

A Viewer's Guide to BracketBusters: Ranking the TV games

Over the last couple of seasons, BracketBusters has become less and less relevant. Between the lack of marquee games and the fact that the losers of the matchups tend to be hurt more than the winners are helped, there has been a fairly strong reaction to the event. Some have even dubbed it BracketEliminators.

This season isn't all that different. With the notable exception being that the two marquee games are quite appealing, ESPN once again put together a schedule that doesn't necessarily help all of the teams involved. Those with slim at-large hopes are putting them at risk for a game that won't be the answer to their NCAA Tournament problems.

Putting all that aside and focusing on what will happen on the court, there should be plenty of excitement in February's third weekend. Without further ado, here are the 13 TV games, ranked in order of watchability.

You can find the full schedule of the BracketBuster games here.
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The Complete BracketBusters Schedule

TV Games:
2/17 - 7:00PM - Northern Iowa (14-9, 4-7 MVC) @ Virginia Commonwealth (18-5, 9-2 CAA) - ESPN2

2/17 - 9:00PM - Valparaiso (15-8, 8-3 Horizon) @ Loyola-Marymount (13-9, 6-3 WCC) - ESPNU

2/18 - 11:00AM – Drexel (17-5, 9-2 CAA) @ Cleveland State (18-4, 8-2 Horizon) - ESPNU

2/18 - 12:00PM – Wichita State (18-4, 9-2 MVC) @ Davidson (15-5, 9-1 SoCon) - ESPN or ESPN2

2/18 - 1:00PM – Buffalo (12-6, 5-2 MAC) @ South Dakota State (17-6, 9-2 Summit) - ESPNU

2/18 - 2:00PM – Akron (14-7, 6-1 MAC) @ Oral Roberts (20-4, 12-0 Summit) - ESPN or ESPN2

2/18 - 3:00PM – Drake (13-9, 6-5 MVC) @ New Mexico State (15-7, 5-2 WAC) - ESPNU

2/18 - 4:00PM – Nevada (18-3, 7-0 WAC) @ Iona (17-5, 9-2 MAAC) - ESPN or ESPN2

2/18 - 5:00PM – Old Dominion (14-9, 9-2 CAA) @ Missouri State (13-10, 6-5 MVC) - ESPNU

2/18 - 6:00PM – Saint Mary’s (21-2, 10-0 WCC) @ Murray State (21-0, 9-0 OVC) - ESPN or ESPN2

2/18 - 7:00PM – UNC Asheville (16-7, 11-1 Big South) @ Ohio (17-4, 5-2 MAC) - ESPN3

2/18 - 8:00PM – UT-Arlington (15-5, 7-0 Southland) @ Weber State (16-4, 8-1 Big Sky) - ESPN3

2/18 - 10:00PM – Long Beach State (16-6, 9-0 Big West) at Creighton (20-2, 10-1 MVC) - ESPN2

 Non-TV games:
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Kyisean Reed is the latest in a line of second chance stories at Utah State

You can find the rest of the features from the #BIAHRoadTrip here

LOGAN, UT - Stew Morrill has built Utah State into a power in the WAC. They've won seven regular season titles since 2000 and made eight NCAA Tournaments in that time. To get an idea of the level that this program has reached, think about this: they packed the 10,270 seat Dee Glen Smith Spectrum at more than 80% capacity -- over 90% capacity in the 4,000 seat student section -- in a down year and it was still considered a mediocre crowd.

Granted, he did take over a team coming off of an NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998, but before Larry Eustachy built that team into a winner, the Aggies hadn't been to an NCAA Tournament in a decade. Recruiting players to spend the winter in Logan, UT, a small town in the northeast corner of Utah that sits squarely in one of the most religious areas of our country, is not an easy sell.

Which is why Morrill has to take some risks.

And those risks don't always pan out.
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Monday's Pregame Beat: The Backyard Brawl gets added meaning

9:00 pm: No. 4 Missouri @ Texas: Missouri bounced back from a bad loss at Oklahoma State by knocking off Texas Tech over the weekend, but that doesn't mean that the result didn't resonate. Look, road losses are going to happen in the power conference, the issue is the way that teams responded to them. Texas is not a bad basketball team. They have a star in J'Covan Brown and enough perimeter talent that they will be able to matchup with the Tiger's four guard sets. Missouri is currently sitting in second place in the Big 12, tied with Baylor one game behind Kansas.
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Week in Review: Mike Moser shines, Notre Dame appears

Player of the Week: Mike Moser, UNLV

The UNLV transfer has been one of the nation's most surprising stars this season, and this week he once again showed why he is such a dangerous and versatile threat. In two games this week, Moser averaged 22.5 ppg, 16.5 rpg and 2.5 spg while shooting 15-29 from the floor and 5-13 from three. I think its safe to say that UNLV wouldn't currently be sitting in a tie for first place in the Mountain West Conference had Moser done any less; the Rebels were 2-0 this week with both wins coming in overtime. Moser played 72 of the available 90 minutes.
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POSTERIZED: Making up for lost time

We've finally made it back from our treacherous 6,492 mile, 23 day road trip. Because I spent a majority of the time at the wheel or on press row, I didn't get a chance to capture as many #POSTERIZED entries as I would like.

The college hoops world didn't hit the pause button while we were travelling, so I'm making up for lost time.

Here are a bunch of the #POSTERIZED dunks from the past week or so that may have gone unnoticed.

Towson's Erique Gumbs against UNC-Wilmington, 1/28

Is this a fantastic dunk? No, it's not. I'm not even sure it's #POSTERIZED-worthy by itself. But when you add the fact that Towson hadn't won a game since December 2010, and that this dunk sealed the victory, then, yes, it's absolutely #POSTERIZED-worthy.

Vanderbilt's Lance Gouldbourne against Middle Tennessee State, 1/28

On a team with Festus Ezeli, John Jenkins, Jeffery Taylor and Brad Tinsley, Lance Gouldbourne doesn't get too much publicity. But this guy can fly. He did it a couple times last season, and he did it against MTSU this weekend.

Syracuse's Dion Waiters against West Virginia, 1/28

Dion Waiters may not get very vertical when he dunks, but he makes up for it by throwing down with ferocity. This dunk may not look overly flashy, but trust me, it's more than worthy of a #POSTERIZED mention.

Colorado's Andre Roberson against Arizona State, 1/26

He may only be a sophomore, but this kid can flat-out fly. He's arguably the best dunker in the Pac-12 and one of the best leapers in the country.

North Carolina's Harrison Barnes against North Carolina State, 1/26

Oh, it's just a run-of-the-mill Black Falcon one-handed super-tip-jam. Since Barnes loves to play on the perimeter so much, and because he's got such a freakish wing-span, he is a nightmare for any defender trying to box him out. For North Carolina State, this is what a nightmare looks like.

DePaul's Jamee Crockett against Rutgers, 1/25

There is nothing DePaulful about this jam. Crockett throws down a nasty two-handed jam against Rutgers, which helped give the Blue Demons their second conference win of the season.

But was it as good as these?

Tony Wroten Jr., Washington vs. Arizona State, 1/26
Ronald Roberts, St. Joseph's vs. Dayton, 1/25
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State vs. Missouri, 1/25
Larry Nance Jr., Wyoming vs. San Diego State, 1/24
Dion Dixon, Cincinnati vs. Syracuse, 1/23
Victor Rudd Jr., South Florida vs. St. John's, 1/17 (DotY Candidate)
C.J. Fair, Syracuse vs. Pittsburgh, 1/16
TrayVonn Wright, North Dakota State vs. South Dakota, 1/14
Bandja Sy, New Mexico State vs. Utah State, 1/12
Kenny Hall, Tennessee vs. Mississippi State, 1/12
Dezmine Wells, Xavier vs. Duquesne, 1/11
Kadeem Batts, Providence vs. Louisville, 1/10
Karam Mashour, UNLV vs. CS-Bakersfield, 1/6
Tony Snell, New Mexico vs. Houston Baptist, 1/3
Tony Mitchell, Alabama vs. Georgia Tech, 1/3
Trevis Simpson, UNC-Greensboro vs. Miami, 1/2
Orion Outerbridge, Rhode Island vs. Boston College, 1/2
Sam Thompson, Ohio State vs. Indiana, 12/31
DeShon Minnis, Texas Tech vs. Southeastern Louisiana, 12/30
Keith Gabriel, VMI vs. Old Dominion, 12/22
Eric Etherly, Loyola (Md.) vs. Kentucky, 12/22
Chris Evans, Kent State vs. Texas-Arlington, 12/21
P.J. Hairston, North Carolina vs. Texas, 12/21
Robbie Hummel, Purdue vs. IPFW, 12/20
Robert Brown, Virginia Tech vs. North Florida, 12/19
Tony Mitchell, Alabama vs. Kansas State, 12/17
Torye Pelham, Southern Mississippi vs. Ole Miss, 12/17
Quincy Diggs, Akron vs. Florida A&M, 12/17
Anthony Davis, Kentucky vs. Chattanooga, 12/17
Langston Galloway/C.J. Aiken/Ronald Roberts, St. Joseph's vs. Villanova, 12/17
Terrence Ross, Washington vs. UC-Santa Barbara, 12/16
Jared Cunningham, Oregon State vs. Howard, 12/15
Raheem Appleby, Louisiana Tech vs. McNeese State, 12/14
Tony Mitchell, Alabama vs. Detroit, 12/12
Vander Blue, Marquette vs. UW-Green Bay, 12/11
Ronald Roberts, St. Joseph's vs. Creighton, 12/10
Dion Waiters, Syracuse vs. George Washington, 12/10 (DotY Candidate)
Victor Oladipo, Indiana vs. Kentucky, 12/10
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, 12/10
Vander Blue, Marquette vs. Washington, 12/6
Terrence Ross, Washington vs. Marquette, 12/6
Deville Smith, Mississippi State vs. West Virginia, 12/3
Terrence Jones, Kentucky vs. North Carolina, 12/3
Tony Mitchell, Alabama vs. Georgetown, 12/1
Anthony Marshall, UNLV vs. UNC, 11/26
Michael Kidd-Glichrist, Kentucky vs. Portland, 11/26/11 (DotY Candidate)
Markel Brown, Oklahoma State vs. Virginia Tech, 11/25
Rodney Williams, Minnesota vs. DePaul, 11/24
Thomas Robinson, Kansas vs. Duke, 11/23
Stan Okoye, VMI vs. Ohio State, 11/23
Kyisean Reed, Utah State vs. Southern Utah, 11/19
Ra'Shad James, Iona vs. Western Michigan, 11/18
Alandise Harris, Houston vs. Arkansas, 11/18
Sam Thompson, Ohio State vs. Jackson State, 11/18
Tony Mitchell, Alabama vs. Wichita State, 11/18
Eric Griffin, Campbell vs. North Carolina A&T, 11/18 (DotY Candidate)
Olek Czyz, Nevada vs. Pacific, 11/17
Chris Watson, Pikeville vs. Mountain State, 11/16
Ray Willis, North Carolina Central vs. Wagner, 11/16
Mike James, Lamar vs. Ohio, 11/15 (DotY Candidate)
Quincy Acy, Baylor vs. San Diego State, 11/15
Deniz Kilicli, West Virginia vs. Kent State, 11/15
Chris Evans, Kent State vs. West Virginia, 11/15
Tony Mitchell, Alabama vs. Oakland, 11/14
Isaiah Brown, East Tennessee State vs. Virginia Tech, 11/12
Michael Lyons, Air Force vs. Army, 11/11
Dezmine Wells, Xavier vs. Morgan State, 11/11
Jeremy Lamb, UConn vs. Columbia, 11/11 (DotY Candidate)
Andre Drummond, UConn vs. CW Post, 11/4
Moe Harkless, St. John's vs. CW Post, 10/26

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Kyle Wiltjer's mom does "The Bernie", and I die a little bit on the inside

In this day and age, us media-types have to be on top of everything with in the world of college hoops. Sometimes it means writing a response about a missed goaltending call. Sometimes it means posting a video about a new fan anthem.

And sometimes, it means posting video about the parent of a player doing "The Bernie".

Hopefully this is the last time I have to waste words writing about this.

What you see here is Carol Wiltjer, the mother of Kentucky freshman Kyle Wiltjer, doing "The Bernie", (H/T AllKyHoops.com)

I'm not sure why she's doing it, nor do I care.

But she's doing it. Horribly, yes but she's doing it nonetheless.

Since Kyle plays D-I basketball, I'm responsible for covering things like this. Listen, I love "The Bernie". I never want it to go away.

I just don't ever want to see video of somebody's mom doing it. Ever.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pics/Vids: Game 12: Kansas vs. Texas A&M

Monday, January 23rd
Allen Field House, Kansas University
Kansas 64, Texas A&M 54

Game 11 - Oral Roberts vs. Oakland
Game 10 - Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State
Game 9 - Missouri State vs. Creighton
Game 8 - Missouri vs. Texas A&M
Game 7 - Wisconsin vs. Nebraska
Game 6 - Marquette vs. Pittsburgh
Game 5 - Butler vs. Cleveland State
Game 4 - Indiana vs. Minnesota
Game 3 - Xavier vs. Duquesne
Game 2 - Kentucky vs. South Carolina
Game 1 - Belmont vs. Lipscomb

(One of the photos in the Kansas basketball Walk of Fame.)

(The Walk of Fame inside Allen Fieldhouse.)

(The scene inside "The Phog" during warm-ups.)

(Our view from press row. Not too shabby.)

(Little Jay supports the #BIAHroadtrip. Big Jay was unavailable for comment.)

(The players entrance at Allen Fieldhouse.)

(The front row of the Kansas student section, Nice 'fro dude.)

(The Jayhawks take some shots prior to player introductions.)

(The scene during the pregame introductions. I can see that dude's afro from across the arena.)

(Just a few of the many banners hanging in the rafters at Allen Fieldhouse.)

(The Kansas bench gets ready for player introductions.)

(The Kansas Jayhawks player introductions.)

(The Aggies bench cheer on their teammates during introductions.)

(The Aggies huddle up one last time before tip-off. The man in the jeans and grey sweater in Kris Middleton. He is the team's best player but had to sit out due to injury.)

(Tyshawn Taylor guards Dash Harris during the first half.)

(Ray Turner guards Thomas Robinson on the perimeter during the first half.)

(Texas A&M point guard Dash Harris injured his foot during the game but played through it. He ended up playing 38 of a possible 40 minutes.)

(Players wait at the scorers table before checking in to the game.)

(The Jayhawks lock down on perimeter defense.)

(Jeff Withey sets up on the low block.)

(The Kansas dance team watches the game from the opposite sidelines.)

(The Kansas student section tries to force Elston Turner to put his foul shot wide left. Unfortunately, the students misspelled "Cundiff". #DistractionFail)

(Jeff Withey collects one of his eight blocks. Tweet of the Game: "Jeff Withey doesn't wear a shooting sleeve. he wears a blocking sleeve.")

(Big Jay watches on as the KU cheerleading squad performs their halftime routine.)

(ESPN's Bob Knight and Brent Musburger get some research done at halftime.)

(The two teams go through lay-up lines at halftime.)

(One of "The Morri" was in the house and posed for the camera.)

(Tyshawn Taylor launches a 3-pointer. The Jayhawks hit only 20% of their shots form behind the arch, going 4-20 on the night.)

(The picture might not show it, but Thomas Robinson is one of the most chiseled players in the country.)

(Luckily the pom-poms didn't get in my way during a Tyshawn Taylor foul shot.)

(There is no way these guys are old enough to be in college.)

(Thomas Robinson guards Ray Turner in the post as Tyshawn Taylor guards Dash Harris on the perimeter.)

(The fans at Allen Fieldhouse watch on as Tyshawn Taylor waits to receive the in-bounds pass.)

(Elijah Johnson takes a breather during the second half.)

(Elston Turner gets ready to shoot a foul shot. He finishd 6-8 from the line and lead the team with 24 points.)

(A few of the signs in the Kansas student section. Not sure if Self will receive the Republican nomination yet.)

(The Jayhawk band plays a final song as the crowd disperses from the arena following the KU win.)

(Aggies coach Billy Kennedy, along with Elston Turner and Dash Harris answer questions during the postgame press conference.)

(The scene in the tunnel following the postgame press conference at Allen Fieldhouse.)

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