NCAA Hoops: UConn overcomes No. 17 Notre Dame

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NCAA Hoops: UConn overcomes No. 17 Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame had a chance to make history, including matching a mark set by the Fighting Irish squad that famously ended UCLA's 88-game winning streak. Instead, they saw a repeat of history against Connecticut.

The Huskies outscored the Irish 7-0 in the final minute to win 65-58 on Saturday and end a long home winning streak by No. 17 Notre Dame (14-2, 2-1) for the third time in four years. The loss prevented the Irish from getting off to their best start ever in the Big East and their best start overall since the 1973-74 squad led by John Shumate and Adrian Dantley and coached by Digger Phelps opened 24-1.

"We played with a little bit of the weight of the world on our shoulders," Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. "That took its toll on us a little bit."

Shabazz Napier scored 19 points, Tyler Olander scored 12 of his career-high 16 points in the second half to pace UConn (12-3, 2-1), who outplayed the Irish in the final minute.

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UIC can't fend off Green Bay rally

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Alec Brown scored 21 points, one short of his career high, and pulled down eight rebounds Saturday, helping Green Bay rally in the final minutes for a 53-47 victory over Illinois-Chicago.

Brown, a junior, was 6 of 13 from the field, including two 3-pointers, and 7 of 8 from the line. Brennan Cougill added nine points for the Phoenix (8-9, 2-2 Horizon League), who have won their last nine home games against Illinois-Chicago.

Gary Talton led the Flames (10-7, 1-3) with three 3-pointers and 11 points.

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Akron breezes past NIU

DE KALB, Ill. (AP) Reggie McAdams scored 20 points, making all six of his shots from the field, and Akron breezed past Northern Illinois 68-53 on Saturday.

McAdams made all four of his 3-point attempts for the Zips (11-4, 2-0 Mid-American), who have won seven in a row. He missed one of his five free-throw tries.

Nick Harney had 12 points and seven rebounds, Demetrius Treadwell had 11 points and nine rebounds and Deji Ibitayo also had 11 points for Akron.

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Bradley no match for UNI

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (AP) Marc Sonnen tied two career highs Saturday with 21 points and seven 3-pointers, leading six Northern Iowa players in double figures in an 84-53 blowout of Bradley.

Sonnen, a senior and a 3-point specialist, was 7 of 9 from behind the arc for the Panthers (9-8, 2-3 Missouri Valley), who also got 15 points from Deon Mitchell, 13 from Seth Tuttle and 11 apiece from Jake Koch, Matt Bohannon and Anthony James. Koch led UNI with 11 rebounds and Mitchell dished out seven assists.

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Western records 11th straight win

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) Terell Parks had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Western Illinois won its 11th game in a row, defeating Nebraska-Omaha 89-74 on Saturday.

Don McAvoy III scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting for the Leathernecks (14-3, 6-0 Summit), off to their best start since the 1957-58 team won its first 23 games. The winning streak is WIU's longest in 30 years.

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ISU drops fifth straight to open conference slate

NORMAL, Ill. (AP) Chris Hines and Ben Simons scored 23 points apiece as Drake defeated Illinois State 82-78 Saturday night.

Jordan Clarke added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs (7-9, 1-4 Missouri Valley), who snapped a four-game losing streak. Joey King had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

Johnny Hill had a career-high 24 points (all in the second half), Bryant Allen added 22 and Jackie Carmichael had 19 points and 12 rebounds for Illinois State (9-8, 0-5), which has lost five straight.

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SIU collects first MVC victory

CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) Desmar Jackson scored 29 points and grabbed eight rebounds to pace Southern Illinois to a 76-71 victory over Indiana State on Saturday night.

Southern Illinois (8-8, 1-4 Missouri Valley) got 11 points from Anthony Beane Jr. and 13 rebounds from Jeff Early.

Indiana State (10-6, 3-2) had four men score in double figures. Manny Arop scored 16 points, Jake Odum and Lucas Eitel had 15 each and Justin Gant had 10.

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EIU collapses late in loss to Jacksonville St.

CHARLESTON, Ill. (AP) Tarvin Gaines scored 22 points including an 8 for 9 mark from the free-throw line and Jacksonville State outlasted Eastern Illinois 61-55 on Saturday night.

Jacksonville State (12-5, 4-2 Ohio Valley) shot 47.7 percent from the field and only took its biggest lead of the game after a Gaines free throw put the Gamecocks up 33-26 at the start of the second half.

Eastern Illinois led 48-45 with 7:08 remaining in the game but the Gamecocks went on a 8-2 run sparked by Brian Williams, who scored four straight buckets to give Jacksonville State a 53-50 lead and they never trailed again.

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DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

DeShone Kizer stays the same leader for new group of Notre Dame teammates

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A number of teammates took the field for the first time with DeShone Kizer during the cacophony of Sunday night’s atmosphere at Darrell K. Royal Stadium in Austin. And much as Kizer did last year, he led the Irish offense with a certain kind of poise and mentality that deftly toes the line between confident and cocky. 

“When we were down by two touchdowns or when it was tied, he had the same demeanor,” sophomore receiver C.J. Sanders said. “That really speaks volumes about him as a man.”

Kizer wowed his teammates a year ago when he subbed in for the injured Malik Zaire and threw a game-winning touchdown to Will Fuller. It wasn’t just for the throw, but it was also for the way in which the quarterback conducted himself in a hostile, pressure-packed environment. 

Last year’s Irish offense, though, was loaded with leaders. Ronnie Stanley, Nick Martin and Chris Brown were pillars on that team, and there were veterans all around like Fuller, C.J. Prosise, Steve Elmer and Amir Carlisle. 

Notre Dame only returned a handful of upperclassmen who played on that 2015 team in Kizer, Torii Hunter Jr., Mike McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson (running back Tarean Folston was injured in Week 1 against Texas, and tight end Durham Smythe missed the remainder of the regular season after an injury in Week 2). 

So that meant there was quite a bit of inexperience permeating Notre Dame’s offense Sunday night. But some of those greenhorns said Kizer’s composure and confidence helped them ease into a roaringly-intense evening. 

“When we were down, he brought us together and said we’re going to drive and score and come back,” sophomore receiver Equanimeous St. Brown said, adding that message from Kizer gave him and the rest of the Irish offense a confidence boost in the second half. 

“What young guys typically don’t understand when they go into that environment is that it’s not too much different from what you’re doing in practice,” Kizer said. “When you step in front of 100,000 people, there’s a lot of noise and that could definitely create some adrenaline. But other than that, we’re playing the same game that we’ve been playing all summer. 

“The plays have been made time and time again all offseason and just understanding that when they’re out there, they’re expected to make those same exact plays and all they have to do is do that and do that well. You don’t have to go out there and be someone else. We have a really good coaching staff who put you in good positions to make big plays and all you have to do is execute what they say.” 

Leadership is one of those nebulous things every football player and coach will tell you is necessary, but it’s a quality that’s impossible to quantify. It’s not an end-all, be-all for an offense or defense — Notre Dame, after all, didn’t score when it got the ball back after Jarron Jones’ miraculous blocked PAT, which probably had more to do with the loss of Hunter Jr. than anything else — but it is something that can be pointed to as an asset in close games. 

And with Kizer quarterbacking the offense, Notre Dame has to feel confident in its ability to hang in close games. It still needs its special teams, defense (which was primarily behind recent losses to Stanford and Texas) and coaching (behind the loss to Clemson) to come through, but the next time Notre Dame finds itself in a high-pressure, hostile situation, it can count on Kizer to keep things calm. 

And that counts for something, whatever the extent of it is. 

“Before the game he kind of talked to us, got in front of us and told us hey, I don’t care how young you are, I know you guys can make plays,” Sanders said. “So just hearing that from him developed a comfort level to know that he can depend on us. Hearing that from him really made a big difference.” 

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola excited for upcoming season, trip to Spain

Loyola didn't have the season they were hoping for in 2015-16 but they're optimistic that things can turn around for the upcoming season. Even though the Loyola roster is filled with newcomers, the Ramblers are hopeful that a summer trip to Spain can help give them a head start.

As part of the trip, Loyola will get 10 extra practices and four games against Spanish competition that will give the team some much-needed experience before practice officially begins in October.

Head coach Porter Moser is already happy about working with this group, which features some productive returnees and a lot of talented newcomers.

"We play four games over there. They get that feel of being coached in a game at this level with their teammates," Moser said. "So then when we start back up in October they have a sense of some of the things we're trying to teach, some of the things of what to expect. And I think that's such a big element."

On a team full of new players, it will be important for senior guard Milton Doyle to have a bounce-back year for Loyola after a disappointing junior campaign. A former star at Marshall, Doyle saw his shooting percentages dip last season as the Loyola coaching staff challenged him to improve for his final season of college basketball. 

Moser is happy with the strides that Doyle has made this summer as he's added over 10 pounds of muscle to now play at 192 pounds. Also committed on the defensive end of the floor and being a team leader, Doyle is the Ramblers' only senior this season, so he'll be counted on to be a productive presence.

"It's a lot this year just because we had four seniors leave last year and I'm the last senior," Doyle said. "So it's my job to make sure everyone stays on track and everyone is uplifted, even when coaches get on them. That's my job right now."

Junior wing Donte Ingram — a former Simeon product — and junior guard Ben Richardson also return as key contributors from last year's team while Iowa State transfer guard Clayton Custer is expected to come in and be a major factor in the team's backcourt rotation.

As for the newcomers, Moser compared juco transfer forward Aundre Jackson favorably to former Loyola forward Christian Thomas while Vlatko Granic gives the team a stretch option at forward that they didn't have in the past. The team's freshmen are also very talented as guard Matt Chastain has shown solid athleticism and a good basketball IQ through some early practices. 

Another freshman guard, Cameron Satterwhite, is coming off of a torn ACL that cost him his senior season, but the Loyola staff is optimistic about his recovery for this season. Croatian freshman guard Bruno Skokna is also recovering from injury as he has played against professionals in Europe the last few seasons on an amateur contract. He is expected to be cleared soon so that he can return to action this season.

"I love this group because it's a group full of gym rats. This is a really enthusiastic group," Moser said. "They've come together, we've got a lot of newcomers. That's the benefit, that's why we did the Spain trip this summer."

Loyola takes its trip to Spain from Aug. 12-22 as they'll hit cities like Barcelona and Madrid during the trip.