Jeff Eisenberg

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  • Wisconsin overcomes Ethan Happ's foul trouble to get badly needed win

    Wisconsin snapped a two-game losing streak with a victory over Maryland. (AP)

    Nine minutes remained in his team’s biggest game of the season so far, and Wisconsin coach Greg Gard couldn’t hide his frustration.

    Just when it seemed the Badgers were about to pull away from fellow Big Ten title contender Maryland, star center Ethan Happ needlessly picked up his fourth foul swiping at the ball more than 25 feet away from the basket.

    When Gard pulled Happ out of the game to avoid him picking up a fifth foul, Wisconsin was clinging to a seven-point lead. By the time the Happ returned to the floor nearly six minutes later, the Badgers had increased their lead to 12 and were well on their way to an impressive 71-60 victory.

    That crunch-time stretch without Happ was the biggest key to a Wisconsin victory that halted a two-game losing streak and kept the Badgers from falling into third place in the Big Ten.

    Nigel Hayes had seven of his team-high 21 points while Happ was on the bench, stepping up

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  • Dwayne Bacon's scoreless game dooms Florida State to another road loss

    In each of his first 26 games this season, Florida State’s leading scorer Dwayne Bacon scored at least 10 points.

    That streak ended in oddly emphatic fashion Saturday in the 17th-ranked Seminoles’ 80-66 loss at Pittsburgh.

    Bacon, an all-conference candidate who entered averaging nearly 18 points per game, went scoreless for the first time in his two-year college career. Weirder still, he did not attempt a shot in a virtually invisible first half.

    Determined to assert himself after halftime, Bacon forced two pull-up jump shots and two quick 3-pointers in the second half’s opening five minutes. Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton pulled Bacon with the Seminoles down 10 less than a minute later and did not reinsert him into the game the rest of the second half.

    Bacon’s no-show contributed to one of Florida State’s worst losses of the season against a Pittsburgh team that’s 4-10 in the ACC and would be fortunate to make the NIT. Florida State has plenty of quality depth, but it relies on

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  • Michigan State's Eron Harris out for season, knee injury will require surgery

    Eron Harris suffered a serious knee injury on Saturday. (AP)

    If Michigan State is going to extend its streak of consecutive NCAA tournaments to 20, the Spartans will have to do it without the lone senior in their starting five.

    They lost starting shooting guard Eron Harris on Saturday afternoon to a “significant” right knee injury that will require season-ending surgery, according to an official release from the program.

    “We all feel absolutely awful for Eron,” Tom Izzo said in a statement Sunday. “As I said last night, I couldn’t ask for more than what Eron has given me and this program. Over the last month he’s grown even more as a leader and been an example to his young teammates. And maybe I didn’t even fully grasp it until I walked on the court and saw the admiration his teammates had for him and the tears in their eyes. There’s no faking the respect they have for Eron as a man, as a player, and most importantly a teammate.”

    With nine minutes left in Michigan State’s 80-63 loss at

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  • Kansas edges Baylor to close in on record-tying 13th straight Big 12 title

    In the history of college basketball, only John Wooden-era UCLA has ever won 13 straight conference championships.

    Kansas is now one victory away from matching that.

    The Jayhawks tightened their white-knuckle grip on the Big 12 this week with back-to-back thrilling victories over their two toughest challengers. Five nights after staging a miraculous late rally to edge West Virginia, Kansas scored the final eight points of Saturday’s showdown at Baylor to emerge with a 67-65 win.

    Those two narrow victories give third-ranked Kansas (24-3, 9-2) an all but insurmountable three-game advantage over both the Bears (22-5, 9-5) and Mountaineers (20-6, 8-5) with four regular season games remaining. To clinch at least a share of the Big 12 title, the Jayhawks need only one more victory. It will take just two more Kansas wins to guarantee an outright championship.

    The biggest play in Saturday’s victory came from forward Landen Lucas, who spent the first couple years of his Kansas career buried on

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  • Two straight losses send Wisconsin tumbling into a first-place tie

    Wisconsin followed a loss to Northwestern by falling at Michigan. (AP)

    Five days ago, Wisconsin was unhappy about being one of the last teams left out of the selection committee’s top 16.

    Now the Badgers might be thrilled if the committee still believed they were worthy of a No. 5 seed.

    Wisconsin has dropped back-to-back games for the first time this year, suffering a rare home setback against Northwestern on Sunday and following that up with a 64-58 loss at Michigan on Thursday night. The consecutive losses have erased the Badgers’ lead in the Big Ten and left them in a first-place tie with Maryland and Purdue.

    Bronson Koenig’s absence due to a leg strain gave Wisconsin a convenient excuse for Thursday’s loss, yet the Badgers’ inability to generate offense without him was a major concern. Once Michigan started doubling Ethan Happ after he erupted for 18 first-half points, Wisconsin didn’t have any answers.

    Nigel Hayes was surprisingly unassertive in Koenig’s absence, scoring a quiet

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  • John Calipari coaching the U.S. U-19 team could be mutually beneficial

    Are John Calipari's Wildcats talented enough for another title run this season? (Getty)
    John Calipari (Getty Images)

    College basketball’s premier recruiter now has another advantage over his competitors.

    John Calipari will coach the U.S. team at the FIBA U-19 World Championships in Egypt from July 1-9, ESPN.com reported Thursday morning.

    The U.S. U-19 team is typically compromised of rising college sophomores, incoming college freshmen and a few of the nation’s best rising high school seniors. That means Calipari will potentially have an opportunity to coach a couple of uncommitted high school prospects that he is recruiting.

    At the last U-19 World Championships in 2015, Arizona’s Sean Miller coached the U.S. squad, which included then-high school standouts Harry Giles, Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson and Terrance Ferguson. Arizona was a finalist in Jackson’s recruitment before he chose Kansas last year and landed Ferguson before the sharpshooter encountered eligibility issues and opted to play professionally overseas instead.

    Of course, coaching the U-19 team created some

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  • Bubble breakdown: Arkansas helps itself with marquee road win

    Arkansas’ win at South Carolina is its biggest of the season so far. (AP)

    In Mike Anderson’s first five seasons at Arkansas, an inability to win on the road was his team’s fatal flaw.

    The Razorbacks were 15-38 in road games, a huge reason they reached the NCAA tournament only once in that span.

    Reversing that trend has been critical to Arkansas’ emergence as a contender for an NCAA bid this season. The Razorbacks improved to 5-4 on the road on Wednesday night and notched by far their most impressive victory of the season, upsetting 21st-ranked South Carolina 83-76 in Columbia.

    Trailing by as many as 14 points early in the first half, Arkansas stormed back by shredding a South Carolina defense that hasn’t been up to its usual elite standards the past few games. Guards Dusty Hannahs and Jaylen Barford combined for 43 points and center Moses Kingsley added 16 as the Razorbacks shot 53.6 percent from the field and hit half their threes.

    Arkansas’ victory was its first against a team that’s

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  • Jayson Tatum's 3-point barrage sends surging Duke to a sixth straight win

    Instead of emphasizing unselfishness, patience and ball movement late in Wednesday night’s game at Virginia, Duke tried out a less conventional strategy.

    The Blue Devils gave the ball to Jayson Tatum, then got out of the heralded freshman’s way.

    In a slow-paced, defensive-oriented game in which neither team broke 50 points until the final three minutes, Tatum’s one-man scoring assault propelled Duke to a massive 65-55 road win. Twenty-one of his game-high 28 points came in the second half including a flurry of late 3-pointers at the shot clock buzzer to put 14th-ranked Virginia away.

    One splashed through the net from the left wing with zeroes on the shot clock after Virginia had pulled within a point. Another was a pull-up from just to the right of the top of the key after his defender gave him a little too much space. The third was a step-back 3-pointer from the right corner to extend Duke’s lead to 10 with less than two minutes to go, far too great a deficit for methodical Virginia

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  • Florida loses starting center to a season-ending knee injury

    John Egbunu anchored Florida’s interior defense this season. (AP)

    An elite Florida defense will need to find someone else to shut down the paint.

    The Gators announced Wednesday that they’ve lost starting center John Egbunu for the rest of the season to a torn ACL suffered during a victory over Auburn the previous night.

    “We’re all disappointed for John,” Florida coach Mike White said in a statement released by the school. “He’s been playing really well of late, so it’s a tough blow to him and our team. He’s a great young man, and unfortunately injuries are a part of basketball. He’ll be back even stronger.”

    The loss of Egbunu deprives Florida of an athletic 6-foot-11 big man who impacted games by altering shots, attacking the glass and finishing at the rim. Egbunu averaged 7.8 points and a team-best 6.6 rebounds per game and delivered double-digit rebound games against some of the Gators’ best opponents including Duke, Seton Hall and Texas A&M.

    Florida (21-5, 11-2) had been playing as

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  • For the Pac-12's three contenders, more is at stake than just a league title

    Only one of Oregon, Arizona and UCLA can secure a spot in the geographically friendly West Region. (AP)

    The three-way battle for first place in the Pac-12 could decide something much more important than just a league title.

    The conference’s lone spot in the geographically friendly West Regional also could be at stake.

    Since the selection committee’s bracketing principles dictate that every league’s top teams get sent to different NCAA tournament regions, only one of Arizona, Oregon and UCLA will be able to stay out West. The team that separates itself among those three will probably be rewarded with a favorable path to the Final Four that would go from either Sacramento or Salt Lake City to San Jose to Phoenix.

    For UCLA, that could mean never having to leave the state of California prior to the Final Four, something that worked to the Bruins favor in both 2006 and 2007. Arizona and Oregon would also have a shorter flight and more crowd support playing in the alumni-heavy Bay Area rather

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