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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Tuesday / April 23.
  • ncb_u_ray_mb_300x200CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mississippi State has fired coach Rick Ray.

    The 44-year-old Ray posted a 37-60 record in three seasons at Mississippi State, including a  13-19 overall mark and 6-12 in the SEC this season.

    Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne has already surfaced on Twitter as a popular potential replacement. Payne interviewed for the job in 2012.

    Meantime, Andy Katz is touting former UCLA coach Ben Howland, who is also closely linked to the DePaul opening.

    “After much thought and deliberation, I have made the decision to replace Rick Ray as Mississippi State’s men’s basketball coach,” AD Scott Stricklin said. “This has been a difficult decision, as I have the utmost respect for Rick, and am highly appreciative of the effort he put forth in leading our basketball program. To Rick’s credit, we have seen great strides from our student-athletes in several areas, including academics. However, the on-court results have not been satisfactory. In order for MSU to achieve success at the levels to which we aspire, I believe that a change is necessary at this time.”

    The tough and gritty Cincinnati Bearcats put up some stiff resistance early, but in the end they met the same fate as Kentucky’s previous 35 opponents this season.

    Top-seeded Kentucky improved to 36-0 on the season and rolled into the Sweet 16 with a 64-51 victory over the No. 8 Bearcats at Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center before a huge pro-Cats crowd.

    “There’s so much more — I know, right?” freshman star Karl-Anthony Towns of Piscataway, N.J., said according to The Sporting News. “And that’s the thing. We talked about that after the game. We said we could do something even more special. Coach Cal even told us: ‘You know the best thing about this team? We can rewrite history.’

    “We’ve written history, and now we can rewrite it again. We can just keep using the eraser.”

    Briscoe layupKentucky-bound point guard Isaiah Briscoe and his Roselle (N.J.) Catholic teammates are headed to the New Jersey Tournament of Champions final after an obliteration of Paulsboro in the semifinals on Saturday.

    Briscoe went for 18 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds as the top-seeded Lions destroyed No. 5 Paulsboro, 103-34, at Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, N.J.

    Matt Bullock added 17 points, 8 rebounds and 5 steals South Carolina-bound forward Chris Silva scored 11 points and freshman big man Naz Reid 10 for RC (27-4), which will meet Pope John in Monday’s championship game at Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.

    Pope John beat Newark Tech, 78-59, behind 11 points and 10 rebounds from Syracuse signee Moustapha Diagne.

    RC’s 103 points set a tournament record, according to NJ Advance Media. They owned the previous record of 98 points set in last year’s quarterfinal win over Newark Tech.

    NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-2nd Round-San Diego State vs St. John'sCHARLOTTE, N.C.One day after losing to San Diego State in the Round of 64 of the NCAA tournament, St. John’s coach Steve Lavin said he expects a contract extension and that there’s a “pretty good chance” Chris Obekpa and Rysheed Jordan return next season.

    Lavin just completed Year 5 of a six-year deal and would need an extension to avoid being a lame duck entering next season.

    “We talk all the time [with the administration],” Lavin told reporters. “That’s never been an issue, ever, that’s what’s so funny about that.”

    — With 1 minute and 4 seconds remaining against San Diego State, D’Angelo Harrison picked up his fifth and final foul and walked to the St. John’s bench in TWC Arena.

    A group of red-clad St. John’s fans who had made the journey here chanted, “Thank you, D-Lo, thank you D-Lo.”

    On the bench, Harrison put a white towel over his head as the reality set in.

    Moments later, his college career — and an era at St. John’s — came to a close when the No. 9 Red Storm fell to No. 8 San Diego State 76-64 in a Round of 64 South Region game. The Aztecs (27-8) and not the Johnnies (21-12) will advance to play Jahlil Okafor and No. 1 Duke on Sunday.

    “When I sat down that’s when it hit me, but it’s tough,” Harrison said. “I don’t know how to put it in words yet.”

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