Penn State, heading for the Big Ten after 12 years in the Atlantic 10, got the perfect going-away gift - a trip to the NCAA tournament.
The Nittany Lions made their last A-10 game one to remember by beating George Washington 81-75 Thursday night in the conference tournament championship game. The win put Penn State into the NCAA tournament for the first time in 26 years.The two teams tied for third in the conference during the regular season, with Penn State winning a coin flip for the right to play at home.
Monroe Brown sparked an early 12-0 run that gave the Nittany Lions a 20-6 lead and James Barnes hit all 10 of his free throws in the second half to keep George Washington (19-11) at bay. The Colonials came up a game short of their first NCAA appearance in 30 years.
Two other teams also earned NCAA bids on Thursday night. Georgia State beat Arkansas-Little Rock 80-60 for the Trans America Conference title and Murray State downed Middle Tennessee 79-67 to win the Ohio Valley Conference crown.
Louisville upset No. 22 Southern Mississippi 83-76 in the opener of the Metro Conference tournament.
Three other top-25 teams played non-tournament games. No. 3 Indiana beat Minnesota 75-59, No. 9 Arizona downed Oregon State 82-67 and No. 17 UCLA belted Washington State 86-64.
Georgia State 80, Arkansas-Little Rock 60
In Deland, Fla., UALR's farewell to the TAAC was an unhappy one. Georgia State earned its first NCAA berth and ended a 17-game losing streak to Arkansas-Little Rock, which is shifting to the Sun Belt Conference. Phillip Luckydo led the Panthers (16-14) with 21 points.
Murray State 79, Middle Tennessee 67
In Murray, Ky., Popeye Jones had 21 points and 18 rebounds as Murray State (24-8) earned its second straight trip to the NCAA tournament. Middle Tennessee dropped to 21-9.
No. 9 Arizona 82, Oregon St. 67
At Tucson, Ariz., Pac-10 champion Arizona (25-6, 13-4) extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 63 games as freshman Khalid Reeves scored 20 points in a sloppy victory over Oregon State.
No. 3 Indiana 75, Minnesota 59
At Bloomington, Ind., Calbert Cheaney scored all 16 of his points in the second half in the Hoosier win.
No. 17 UCLA 86, Washington St. 64
At Los Angeles, Don MacLean scored 25 points and Tracy Murray added 18 to lead the Bruins (22-8, 10-7).