Ark.-P.B. claims play-in game
DAYTON, Ohio — Smiling Arkansas-Pine Bluff players plopped into the black folding chairs at courtside and checked their cell phones for congratulatory messages before heading out the arena door to get on yet another bus.
Finally, the Golden Lions had found a road trip to their liking.
Allen Smith scored 14 points last night, including a pair of 3-pointers during the Golden Lions' second-half surge to a 61-44 victory over Winthrop in the NCAA tournament's opening game.
The Golden Lions (18-15) will play Duke, the No. 1 seed in the South Regional, on Friday in Jacksonville, Fla. — a place they somehow missed during a season-opening jaunt that nearly did them in.
The Golden Eagles spent the first two months playing some of the country's best teams on the road. They dropped their first 11 games — all on the road — losing at schools such as Texas-El Paso, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, Missouri, Kansas State and Oregon.
Smith hit a pair of 3s as Arkansas-Pine Bluff, the Southwestern Athletic Conference champion, pushed its lead to 38-31.
Charles Corbin scored 13 points for Winthrop (19-14), the Big South champion.
COACH KENT OUT AFTER 13 SEASONS
Ernie Kent, the winningest coach in Oregon history, was dismissed yesterday after 13 seasons with his alma mater.
"You may find a better basketball coach, but I don't think you'll find anybody that has the passion and love that I have for this university," said Kent, who had to pause for several moments to fight back his emotions.
Oregon went 16-16 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-10 this past season, finishing with a 90-74 quarterfinal loss to California in the conference tournament.
Kent, 55, leaves Oregon with a 235-173 overall record. But the Ducks have slipped in the past two seasons, going 24-39 and finishing 10th and ninth, respectively, in conference play.
He played at Oregon from 1973-77.
PRESIDENT MAKES PICKS FOR TOURNEYS
President Barack Obama predicts Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky and Villanova to make the men's basketball Final Four.
Obama filled out a bracket for ESPN in Bristol, Conn., for the second straight year. This time, he's also making picks for the women's tournament, selecting Connecticut, Notre Dame, Stanford and Tennessee.
ESPN will reveal the full brackets today.
Last year, Obama correctly picked North Carolina to win the national championship. His bracket ranked 903,125th overall, just above the 80th percentile in ESPN's online contest.