CHICAGO — Nigel Hayes scored 25 points, Frank Kaminsky added 19 and No. 6 Wisconsin outscored Michigan State 11-0 in overtime Sunday for an 80-69 victory in the Big Ten Tournament championship game.
Bronson Koenig scored 18 points, and the Badgers (31-3) rallied from 11 points down in the second half in an attempt to strengthen their bid for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Branden Dawson and Denzel Valentine scored 16 points each for Michigan State (23-11). But the Spartans were outscored 31-10 over the final 11 1/2 minutes of the game and came up short after winning the tournament last year.
In the first overtime in a Big Ten title game, Hayes and Koenig hit 3-pointers in the first 3 minutes to give the Badgers a 75-69 lead. Michigan State missed all six shots and committed two turnovers in the extra period.
All that came after a wild finish in regulation.
Michigan State led 57-46 after going on a 17-5 run midway through the second half, only to have Wisconsin come back. The Badgers scored 11 straight in a 2-minute stretch and grabbed a 60-59 lead on Koenig’s 3-pointer with 4:16 left.
Michigan State was up by two before Kaminsky scooped in a shot from the left block and hit a 3-pointer from NBA range to give Wisconsin a 67-64 lead with 1:44 left.
Valentine than quieted the Badgers fans with a tying 3 over Kaminsky, and Travis Trice drove down the right side for an off-balance floater to put Michigan State ahead 69-67 with 45 seconds remaining.
Koenig missed a 3 off the dribble after a timeout and the Badgers’ John Gasser, trying to make a save in the corner, threw it to Valentine. Dekker then stole a bad pass from him, and Koenig hit two free throws to tie it at 69-all with 15 seconds remaining.
The game went to overtime after Dawson missed a 15-footer from the right side as time expired.
Kentucky 78, Arkansas 63
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats have a 34-game winning streak and yet another Southeastern Conference Tournament championship as they head into the NCAA Tournament.
So they sent student managers to cut down the nets.
“Those aren’t the nets we’re really looking to cut down,” junior forward Willie Cauley-Stein said. “It’s just a milestone. It’s just part of the process for us winning and everything, but we’re looking for something bigger. We’re looking to cut down a couple more nets in the tournament.”
And perfection just may be the side product.
Cauley-Stein scored 15 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, and Kentucky never trailed in beating No. 21 Arkansas on Sunday for the program’s 28th SEC Tournament title.
The Wildcats (34-0) are only the fourth team to go into the NCAA Tournament undefeated since Indiana finished off the last perfect season with a title in 1976. The last three teams that went into the NCAA Tournament undefeated all lost with Indiana State and Larry Bird the closest, losing in the 1979 title game.
Not that Kentucky sees being undefeated as a challenge.
“We’re still only guaranteed one game, so it’s really the slate is clean whether we’re 34-0 or have got five losses,” Cauley-Stein said. “It’s still from here on out, you’re 0-0.”
Andrew Harrison also scored 15 points for Kentucky, and his brother Aaron had 11.
SMU 62, UConn 54
HARTFORD, Conn. — Markus Kennedy scored 14 of his 15 points in the first half and No. 20 SMU held off UConn 62-54 on Sunday to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament title.
Yanick Moreira and Nic Moore added 11 points each for the Mustangs (27-6), who won the league’s regular-season title.
Rodney Purvis had a career-high 29 points for UConn (20-14), the defending national champion which fell a game short of its quest to win four games in four days and earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
Ryan Boatright, who had been averaging 17 points in the tournament finished with seven and fouled out with 45 seconds left.
SMU led by 17 points early in the second half, then survived a UConn rally that cut the lead to five with 3:22 left.
The Huskies likely will become the sixth team to miss the NCAAs after winning the title the previous year since the field expanded to 64 in 1985.
Georgia State 38, Georgia Southern 36
NEW ORLEANS — The basket had to be lowered so Georgia State coach Ron Hunter could cut the final pieces of the net following his team’s victory over Georgia Southern on Sunday to win the Sun Belt Conference Tournament championship game.
Hunter, whose son R.J. made the deciding free throws with 21.6 seconds left, injured his achilles tendon in the immediate postgame celebration and had to be helped off the court. He did return to be with his team as they cut down the nets with his snips being a lot closer to the court.
Hunter said the pleasure of embracing his son for a few seconds was worth the pain.
The celebration with his son was short-lived, ending after a hug took the coach to the court at the Lakefront Arena. He watched the rest of the celebration while seeking medical attention on the bench.
Georgia State (24-9) survived the lowest-scoring Sun Belt final since the University of New Orleans defeated South Alabama 22-20 in 1978.
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