Conference tournament roundup: Buffs claim Pac-12 crown

Associated Press

Published: Saturday, March 10 2012 11:13 p.m. MST

Colorado's bench reacts to a play during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona in the finals of the Pac-12 conference championship in Los Angeles, Saturday, March 10, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Snubbed by the NCAA selection committee last year, then picked to finish next-to-last as a new member of the Pac-12, Colorado had all kinds of grudges going into its matchup against league powerhouse Arizona.

Freshman Spencer Dinwiddie scored 14 points, Carlon Brown added 13 and the Buffaloes won 53-51 in the league's tournament final Saturday to earn the school's first NCAA Tournament bid since 2003.

"If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Colorado Buffaloes because it was meant to be for us," coach Tad Boyle said.

The Buffaloes (23-11) became the first No. 6 seed to win the tournament title since Southern California in 2009 by winning four games in four days, the first time Colorado has done that in the program's 111-year history. The Buffs, who left the Big 12 after last season, were playing in their first tourney final since 1990, when they lost to Oklahoma for the Big Eight championship.

A year ago, Boyle hosted six seniors in his living room for the NCAA selection show. The Buffs never got called, though.

"It was the hardest day. We got shut out. That inspired us," said Boyle, whose current team dedicated the title game to last year's snubbed seniors. "This team wasn't going to be denied."

Arizona's Kyle Fogg scored 14 points, but his off-balance 3-pointer to win missed at the buzzer for the fourth-seeded Wildcats (23-11) in what may have been the league's last tourney at Staples Center. After 11 years, the event could be moved to Las Vegas.

The Buffs lack any tradition in their new conference, but they didn't lack fans. Their student section, flown in by the school, was loud all week, and they proudly displayed a homemade sign reading Welcome to Coors Event Center West.

Brown, a former University of Utah player who was named the tournament's outstanding player, rewarded the Buffs' backers with 48 seconds left. The senior from nearby Riverside, Calif., powered his way around Jordin Mayes and slammed down a one-handed windmill dunk, eliciting raucous cheers as Arizona called timeout.

Hill's layup drew the Wildcats to 53-51 with 20 seconds left. Buffs senior Austin Dufault missed two free throws with 14 seconds to go, giving Arizona a final chance to win. But Fogg's shot was left of the basket and time expired, setting off a wild celebration on court.

Big 12 Championship

No. 5 MISSOURI 90, No. 12 BAYLOR 75: At Kansas City, Mo., Kim English capped a phenomenal conference tournament with 19 points, Phil Pressey added 15 points and eight assists, and the fifth-ranked Tigers beat the 12th-ranked Bears on Saturday night to win their second Big 12 championship in the past four years.

The Tigers (30-4), who led from start to finish, will head off to the Southeastern Conference next year savoring a title in coach Frank Haith's first season in charge.

English wound up 29-of-40 from the field in a virtuoso performance in Kansas City. Michael Dixon added 17 points, and Ricardo Ratliffe and Marcus Denmon had 15 each.

Perry Jones III led Baylor (27-7) with 16 points and 11 rebounds, but the Bears fell short in their bid for the school's first conference tournament title since 1950.

ACC Semifinals

No. 4 NORTH CAROLINA 69, N.C. State: At Atlanta, Kendall Marshall banked in a shot with 10.2 seconds remaining and No. 4 North Carolina edged North Carolina State in a rugged game to advance to the championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament.

C.J. Leslie, who led the Wolfpack (22-12) with 22 points, fouled out with more than eight minutes remaining. North Carolina (29-4) lost its top scorer when Tyler Zeller picked up his fifth late in the game after scoring 23 points.

N.C. State's Richard Howell thought he was fouled trying to get off a shot with 1.2 seconds left, but no foul was called on the play and a frustrated Howell had to be pulled away from going after an official by a couple of teammates after the play.

No. 17 FLORIDA STATE 62, No. 6 DUKE 59: At Atlanta, Florida State lost a 10-point lead in the second half before recovering to beat Duke and reach the second ACC tournament championship game in the program's history.

Michael Snaer scored 16 points, including a 3-pointer with 3:27 remaining that gave the Seminoles the lead for good. But No. 17 Florida State (23-9) had to survive some last minute scares — including missed 3-point attempts by Duke's Austin Rivers and Seth Curry in the final six seconds.

Second-seeded Florida State, which ended a run of three straight ACC tournament titles for Duke (27-6), will face top-seeded North Carolina in today's championship game.

SEC Semifinals

No. 1 KENTUCKY 74, No. 22 FLORIDA 71: At New Orleans, Anthony Davis had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Kentucky held off the Gators in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference tournament. Terrence Jones added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Wildcats (32-1), who've won 24 straight games and will play Vanderbilt for the league title today.

Doron Lamb scored 16 points and Marquis Teague added 15, with each hitting a pair of key free throws in the last 15 seconds to secure the win.

Erik Murphy had 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting for Florida.

VANDERBILT 65, MISSISSIPPI 53: At New Orleans, John Jenkins scored 23 points, Brad Tinsley added 12 and Vanderbilt beat Mississippi in the other SEC semifinal. It's the first trip to the SEC championship game for Vanderbilt (23-10) since 1951, when the Commodores beat Kentucky 61-57. Jenkins and Tinsley combined to hit five 3-pointers in the second half, and Lance Goulbourne added 10 points and 12 rebounds for the Commodores.

Big Ten Semifinals

No. 8 MICHIGAN STATE 65, No. 14 WISCONSIN 52: At Indianapolis, Draymond Green scored 14 points and had 16 rebounds to lead Michigan State into the Big Ten tournament championship game. It's the first time the Spartans (26-7) will play for the league's postseason title since 2000.

Wisconsin (24-9) was led by Jordan Taylor with 19 points and Ryan Evans with 18, but couldn't avoid their third loss of the season to the Spartans.

No. 7 OHIO STATE 77, No. 10 MICHIGAN 55: At Indianapolis, Jared Sullinger scored 24 points to help Ohio State rout Michigan (24-9) in Saturday's other Big Ten semifinal. Deshaun Thomas scored 22 points and William Buford added 10 for the third-seeded Buckeyes (27-6), who face Michigan State for the title today.

Mountain West Championship

NEW MEXICO 68, No. 18 SAN DIEGO STATE 59: At Las Vegas, Tony Snell made four 3-pointers in the first half and finished with 14 points, and Drew Gordon had 12 points and 12 rebounds as New Mexico overpowered top-seeded and No. 18-ranked San Diego State to win the Mountain West Conference tournament championship.

Coach Steve Alford's Lobos (27-6) are headed to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three seasons. This is their first MWC tournament championship since 2005.

Kendall Williams also had 14 points for the Lobos, who shared the regular-season title with San Diego State but were the No. 2 seed due to a tiebreaker.

San Diego State (26-7), which never led, is expected to get an at-large NCAA bid. Chase Tapley scored a game-high 25 for SDSU while Jamaal Franklin, the MWC Player of the Year, had 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Big East Championship

LOUISVILLE 50, CINCINNATI 44: At New York, Chris Smith scored 15 points and Louisville withstood a closing run by Cincinnati for a victory that gave the Cardinals their second Big East tournament championship. Kyle Kuric added 13 points for seventh-seeded Louisville (26-9), which was in the title game for the third time. The Cardinals won the title in 2009 and lost to Connecticut in last year's championship game.

Cashmere Wright had 16 points for the fourth-seeded Bearcats (24-10), who reached the final for the first time.

This was in the first time in the 34 years the tournament has been held that at least one of the original seven members of the conference wasn't in the championship game.

Automatic bids

Belmont, Atlantic Sun

Colorado, Pacific-12

Creighton, Missouri Valley

Davidson, Southern

Detroit, Horizon League

Harvard, Ivy League

Lamar, Southland

Lehigh, Patriot League

Long Beach State, Big West

Long Island University, Northeast

Louisville, Big East

Loyola (Md.), Metro Atlantic Athletic

Memphis, USA

Missouri, Big 12

Montana, Big Sky

Murray State, Ohio Valley

MVSU, Southwestern Athletic

New Mexico, Mountain West

Norfolk State, Mid-Eastern Athletic

Ohio, Mid-American

Saint Mary's (Cal), West Coast

South Dakota State, Summit League

UNC Asheville, Big South

VCU, Colonial Athletic Association

W. Kentucky, Sun Belt Automatic bids

Belmont, Atlantic Sun

Colorado, Pacific-12

Creighton, Missouri Valley

Davidson, Southern

Detroit, Horizon League

Harvard, Ivy League

Lamar, Southland

Lehigh, Patriot League

Long Beach State, Big West

Long Island University, Northeast

Louisville, Big East

Loyola (Md.), Metro Atlantic Athletic

Memphis, USA

Missouri, Big 12

Montana, Big Sky

Murray State, Ohio Valley

MVSU, Southwestern Athletic

New Mexico, Mountain West

Norfolk State, Mid-Eastern Athletic

Ohio, Mid-American

Saint Mary's (Cal), West Coast

South Dakota State, Summit League

UNC Asheville, Big South

VCU, Colonial Athletic Association

W. Kentucky, Sun Belt

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