Stanford blows out Minnesota to win NIT title

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Stanford blows out Minnesota to win NIT title

BOX SCORE

Sophomore guard Aaron Bright scored 15 points and dished out six assists, freshman guard Chasson Randle also scored 15 points, and sophomore guard Anthony Brown contributed 11 as the Stanford Cardinal defeated the Minnesota Golden Gophers 75-51 to win their first NIT Championship since the 1990-1991 season.Minnesota led 21-17 with just under seven minutes remaining in the first half, but Stanford took complete control soon thereafter, outscoring Minnesota 53-19 to take a 70-40 lead late in the 2nd half.Stanford held Minnesota to a 37 percent clip from the field, out-rebounded the Golden Gophers 38-29, recorded 12 steals, and turned 22 Minnesota turnovers into 28 points.When Stanford lost to Cal in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 Tournament, the Cardinal werent sure whether or not they would even be invited to the NIT.Then came a No. 3 seed in one of the four, eight-team regions, and a home game against Cleveland State.After dispatching the Vikings 76-65, Stanford played host to No. 7 seeded Illinois State only because the Redbirds traveled to Ole Miss and knocked off the No. 2 seeded Rebels in overtime.It didnt look good for the Cardinal as they trailed Illinois State 71-60 with just over eight minutes remaining. But Stanford used a 14-3 run to tie the game at 74-74, and ultimately prevailed in overtime despite the Redbirds converting on 15 of 30 from 3-point territory on the night.With the win, all that stood between the Cardinal and a trip to Madison Square Garden for the NIT Final Four was a win over the Nevada Wolfpack.It was never in doubt as Stanford dismantled Nevada 84-56 to punch their ticket to New York City.The UMASS Minutemen were Stanfords semifinal opponent, a team that Stanford defeated in the semifinals of the NIT 21 years prior.The result was the same this time around, as Stanford secured their place in the championship game with a 74-64 victory.And it all culminated Thursday night with an emphatic, eye-opening, dominating victory over Minnesota in the worlds most famous arena.At one point early in the season, Stanford was 16-3, tied for first-place in the Pac-12 at 5-1, and seemingly a lock for the NCAA Tournament.However, the Cardinal blew a 13-point second half at Washington State and fell to the Cougars 81-69.Stanford never recovered, as they lost five of their next six, and ultimately finished in seventh-place in the Pac-12 at 10-8.To make the NCAA Tournament, Stanford needed to win four games in four nights and capture the Pac-12 Tournament title. It was not in the cards.But for this young, talented team, winning the NIT Championship could be a springboard to bigger and better things next season.Stanford does lose four seniors to graduation, but will return five of its top six scorers, including freshman sensation Randle.West Virginia won the NIT in 2007, and reached the Sweet 16 in 2008.Ohio State won the NIT in 2008, and reached the NCAA Tournament in 2009.Wichita State won the NIT in 2011, and was a No. 5 seed in this years NCAA Tournament.Gaining experience and learning what it takes to win a championship, albeit not the ultimate prize that is the NCAA Tournament title, is invaluable experience.Expect big things from Johnny Dawkins and the Stanford Cardinal in 2012-2013.

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

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AP

Seton Hall slips past Cal basketball at Pearl Harbor Invitational

HONOLULU Jabari Bird nearly notched his first collegiate double-double with 22 points and a career-high nine rebounds, but just as his effort fell short, so did California men's basketball's efforts against Seton Hall. The Pirates slipped past the Golden Bears, 60-57, at the Pearl Harbor Invitational to hand Cal its second loss of the season. The Bears are now 7-2.

Seton Hall's Angel Delgado scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Delgado, a 6-foot-10, 240-pound forward, made 6 of 9 shots from the field in a game-high 36 minutes played.

Desi Rodriguez scored 15 points and Khadeen Carrington had 14 points with four assists for the Pirates (7-2).

Carrington tied it at 45 with just under 12 minutes to play on a 3-pointer from the right wing, which ignited a 7-0 Seton Hall run. California never regained the lead.

Ivan Rabb's putback pulled the Golden Bears (7-2) within 58-57 with 31.1 seconds remaining, but Carrington and Delgado each hit a free throw to extend the Pirates' lead to 60-57 with 2.7 seconds left.

Bird had a chance to sent it into overtime, but his 3-pointer from about 25 feet as time expired was no good.

California closed out the first half with an 11-4 run to turn a four-point deficit into a 34-31 lead.

It was just the second meeting between the teams with California winning 81-76 on Dec. 8, 1973.

BIG PICTURE

California: Rabb, a 6-11 sophomore, struggled for the second consecutive game. He made just 3 of his 8 shots from the field and finished with eight points after being held to a season-low six points against Princeton Tuesday. Rabb, who has been playing with a left wrist injury, entered Wednesday's game averaging 17.5 points per game.

Seton Hall: The Pirates reeled off their third straight win despite making just 9 of their 20 attempts (45 percent) from the free-throw line. They shot just 46.6 percent (21 of 45) on free throws for the two-day tournament.

UP NEXT

California will host UC Davis Saturday, its seventh home game in 10 contests this season.

Oregon hires former Harbaugh assistant as new head coach

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AP

Oregon hires former Harbaugh assistant as new head coach

Oregon has hired Willie Taggart, who spent the last four seasons as head coach at South Florida, to take over the Ducks following the dismissal of Mark Helfrich.

Oregon formally announced Taggart's appointment Wednesday.

Taggart has led USF to an 18-7 record over the last two seasons, including a 10-2 mark this year. He also spent three seasons as coach of Western Kentucky, his alma mater, and was an assistant coach at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh.

Oregon fired Helfrich last week after the Ducks went 4-8. A news conference to formally introduce Taggart was set for Thursday.

"Oregon has a strong national presence and a proud recent history of playing among the nation's elite, and I look forward to the challenge of upholding the excellence," Taggart said in a statement. "I can't wait to get started."

Taggart, 40, is the first coach Oregon has hired from outside the program since 1976. The Ducks' previous three coaches, Mike Bellotti, Chip Kelly and Helfrich, were all assistants who were promoted.

Taggart will be the first black head football coach at Oregon. The length and terms of his contract with the Ducks were not immediately released.

Taggart was 16-20 at Western Kentucky, taking over when it was first transitioning to FBS. He went 7-5 in his last two seasons with the Hilltoppers and then moved to USF, not far from where he grew up in Bradenton, Florida.

It took two seasons and a change in offensive philosophy from more pro-style, West Coast schemes to a spread, but he now has the 25th-ranked Bulls rolling. They finished second in the American Athletic Conference East Division to Temple and will play South Carolina on Dec. 29 in the Birmingham Bowl.

Wednesday was the second straight day the AAC has lost one of its best coaches, and the third the conference has lost since Thanksgiving weekend. Temple's Matt Rhule was hired by Baylor on Monday and Tom Herman left Houston for Texas on Nov. 26.

Taggart had support from former NFL player and broadcaster Tony Dungy, whose son Eric played at USF in 2014 after transferring from Oregon.

Taggart served as running backs coach for Harbaugh at Stanford from 2007-09 and is credited with helping to recruit Andrew Luck. Harbaugh had recruited Taggart, a quarterback, to play at Western Kentucky under father Jack Harbaugh from 1995-98.

After taking over when Kelly left in 2013, Helfrich went 37-16 in his four seasons as head coach of the Ducks. He signed a contract extension in early 2015, and had an $11.6 million buyout.

Just two seasons ago, Oregon went to the first College Football Playoff championship game, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota.

But the Ducks struggled this season with a five-game losing streak - the program's longest since 1996 - and finished at the bottom of the Pac-12 North with just two conference wins.

In a statement after his dismissal, Helfrich thanked his own family, the campus community, the fans, and his coaches and their families.

"Finally, to the players - thank you, and I love you," he said. "The future is bright for this young, talented team, and we will be supporting them and their new leadership."

Oregon athletic director Rob Mullens also reportedly interviewed Boise State's Bryan Harsin and Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano before settling on Taggart. Kelly, now with the San Francisco 49ers, had said he was not interested in the job, as did former offensive coordinator Scott Frost, now at Central Florida.

For the immediate future, Taggart will need to reach out to Oregon's recruits. Defensive back Deommodore Lenoir and defensive end Langi Tuifua both previously withdrew verbal commitments. Offensive lineman John Vaka said he was no longer committed via Twitter on Tuesday.