No. 11 Marquette rallies late to edge No. 16 Xavier 69-68 No. 10 Tennessee takes down newly minted No. 1 Alabama 68-59 Texas prosecutor drops domestic violence case against Beard New Mexico State fires coach in wake of hazing allegations Alabama’s Charles Bediako ‘day to day’ with knee injury WAC deems New Mexico State’s remaining games as forfeits
Milwaukee. Marquette is one step closer to winning its first conference title in a decade by turning weakness into strength.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper converted a pullback with 1.6 seconds left and No. 11 Marquette beat No. 16 Xavier 69-68 on Wednesday night, extending his marginal lead in the Big East.
After Cam Jones missed a driving layup attempt, Prosper used his right hand to rebound offensively and put the Golden Eagles ahead.
“I knew if he missed it would be my rebound,” Prosper said. “I just tried my best. Bounced right off. I just went there and just put it back in. It’s just an effort game.”
Marquette (21-6, 13-3), selected ninth by the league’s coaches in the preseason poll, outpaced Xavier (19-7, 11-4), 24th at Providence and 1st by 1 1/2 games . 18 Creighton.
The Golden Eagles have not claimed a conference championship since earning a share of the Big East crown in 2013, and they also won an NCAA tournament game last year.
Marquette stormed into the conference title race despite coming out with a minus 3.4 rebounds margin on Wednesday, placing 311th among all Division I teams. In an 80-76 loss to Xavier on January 15, Marquette lost 45-32 on rebounds.
The Golden Eagles turned things around around Wednesday.
“We knew that as long as we were a team that was going to put in the best effort and just push for it, we were going to get the most of it,” Prosper said. “It’s about being faster to the ball. The coach (Shaka Smart) preaches all the time: “Hit faster to the ball.”
Marquette outplayed Xavier 36-32 in rebounds and outscored the Musketeers 15-7 in second chance points. The Golden Eagles had 15 offensive rebounds, including 11 in the second half.
Not a single rebound was bigger than Prosper’s last second rebound. His basket produced the 15th and final second-half lead change after Jack Nange’s layup sent Xavier to take a 68–67 lead with 8.3 seconds left.
“I thought the last game was the storyline of the entire second half,” Xavier coach Sean Miller said. “We couldn’t get a defensive rebound.”
Team Xavier’s Jerome Hunter made a long pass to Nunga, whose deep 3-pointer went off the board as the siren blew.
Marquette scored 17 points and six steals from Stevie Mitchell. Tyler Kolek scored 15 points and Oso Igodaro added 14 points. Prosper scored seven points in the last five minutes.
Souley Boame struggled with a sprained ankle and scored 24 points for the Musketeers.
Xavier made 70% of his shots in the second half but was unable to maintain a 28-24 first half lead due to his inability to take care of the ball and prevent Marquette’s second chance. In the second half, Xavier had 11 assists and landed 16 fewer shots than Marquette.
The Musketeers led 66–63 and had the ball in the final minute before Bome lost it and Mitchell intercepted the ball, resulting in a Prosper layup with 29.1 seconds left. Xavier made a backcourt pass from possession as Boum’s pass went past Colby Jones’ body before going out of bounds.
“We just had some inexplicable things happen to us at the end, just losses that, as much as I would like to give credit to our opponent for forcing the pass, I think they were as surprised as we were,” Miller said. “We just gave it to them a couple of times at the end.”
Igodaro was fouled and made two free throws with 22.4 seconds left to give Marquette the lead. A layup by Nange after a good pass from Colby Jones gave Xavier the lead before Prosper brought in the clutch.
Xavier: The Musketeers have lost two games in a row by three points. They showed sufficient fortitude, coming so close that their strength was far from being at full strength. Xavier played the fourth game in a row without lead rebounder Zach Fremantle due to a left leg injury. Boum was treating an injured ankle. The Musketeers also lost backup defensemen Desmond Claude and Kam Kraft, who could be out for weeks with a knee injury.
Marquette: The Golden Eagles won despite five of 22 shots from three-point range and only five points from Cam Jones, who was averaging 15.2 points per game.
CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY
Marquette has every chance to return to the top 10 next week.
Xavier: Will see DePaul on Saturday.
Marquette: Playing number 18 at Creighton next Tuesday.
KNOXVILLE, Tennessee. “Rocky Top is too much for Alabama, which is number one.
Zakai Zeigler and Santiago Vescovi scored 15 points each, and No. 10 Tennessee extended the whammy for the No. 1 teams, shaking the Crimson Tide 68-59 on Wednesday night.
On Monday, Alabama climbed to number one in the Associated Press poll for the first time since the 2002-03 season. But playing for the first time since the release of the new rankings, Crimson Tide (22-4, 12-1 SEC) led only once in the early game and made 19 turnovers.
Alabama’s loss was the eighth for the No. 1 AP team this season. It is most associated with the 1993-94 season in statistics referring to 1948-49.
“We flipped the ball too much today,” said Crimson Tide coach Nate Oates. “(Tennessee) lost 26 points in casualties. Their physicality. … They infiltrated our security and we couldn’t deal with it.”
Tennessee recovered from a couple of defeats in the final seconds.
“After these heavy losses, we stayed with him,” said coach Rick Barnes. “We didn’t split.”
Vols bigman Jonas Aidoo added 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Volunteers (20-6, 9-5).
“It takes confidence,” he said. “We go through ups and downs. We just do what we do and play hard and everything will be fine.”
Unlike football, when Tennessee fans stormed home after beating No. 3 Alabama 52–49 in October, this sold-out crowd stayed where it was when it was all over. “Rocky Top” boomed as the Volunteers completed a two-game skid.
Alabama became the last men’s Power 5 team to lose a conference this season. The Tide’s only lead in this game was 12-11.
Brandon Miller led Alabama with 15 points and 10 rebounds, Jaden Bradley added 14 points and Nimari Burnett added 11.
“We threw 6 for 20 on the rim,” Oates said. “(Tennessee) was able to finish something at the rim.”
10-pointer Uros Plavsic connected in a three-point game to give Tennessee a 56–47 lead with just over five minutes left in the game.
Vescovi threw in a cross that Olivier Ncamhua caught mid-air and then hit to give Tennessee a 19–15 lead with 7:42 to play in the first half. During the break it was equal to 29.
“We got a little frustrated,” Ziegler said. “We lost 17 (in the afternoon against Missouri) and came back. We have to bring that (second-half effort) every night.”
CONSEQUENCES OF THE SURVEY
Alabama: Alabama is 14-13 against the top 25 teams in five years by the Oates.
Tennessee: A pair of high-profile losses cost the Vols just four spots in this week’s poll. . Tennessee have won six of their last seven games against top 10 teams. . Earlier this season, the Vols lost at No. 9 in Arizona.
Alabama: Big man Charles Bediaco is limping from a “minor knee injury” he suffered in Saturday’s win over Auburn. He knew how to play the game. . Before the game started, Miller was the only Division I player to score 470 points, grab 200 rebounds and make 75 three-pointers. A couple of years ago, Zeigler faced Miller’s team at an AAU game when he caught Barnes’ attention.
Tennessee: Two starting players — Josiah-Jordan James (ankle) and Julian Phillips (hip flexors) — have struggled with injuries and missed the game. . Six of Tennessee’s seven final games are played against teams from the top half of the SEC. … How special was Wednesday night’s game? More than 20,000 Vols fans have decorated the Thompson-Boling Arena with an orange and white checkerboard, which is done only once a season. … Sophomore Jahmay Mashak made his first career start.
Alabama: Crimson Tide will be at home against Georgia on Saturday. The two teams have not met this season.
Tennessee: The Vols will head to Kentucky on Saturday to avenge their 63-56 loss a month ago.
Austin, Texas. A Texas prosecutor has decided to close a domestic violence case against former Texas basketball coach Chris Beard in part because of the alleged victim’s desire not to prosecute.
Travis County District Attorney Jose Garza said that “after careful and thorough review of the evidence” and with the wishes of Randy Trew, Beard’s fiancée, his office determined that the domestic strangulation/strangulation charge could not be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Byrd was arrested on December 12 after Trew called 911 and told officers that Byrd had strangled, bitten and hit her during an altercation at his home. She later said that Beard did not choke her and defended himself against her. She added that she never intended to arrest and prosecute him.
“Everyone knows that Coach Bird has maintained his absolute innocence since his arrest,” said Perry Minton, Bird’s lawyer. “In addition, this district attorney has a well-deserved reputation for being very tough on domestic violence cases. The fact that Mr. Garza’s vetting led to such a decision so quickly speaks volumes. We are very pleased.”
The Associated Press does not usually identify alleged victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, but on December 23, Trew released a public statement about Byrd’s arrest and their fight that night, disputing some elements of the original police story.
A third-degree felony conviction carries a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison if prosecutors insist on a conviction.
“Our office takes all cases of domestic violence seriously to ensure there is justice for the victims,” Garza said. “In each case, we are obliged to evaluate …