Cotton propels Providence to double-OT win over Marquette

Published on Wednesday, 3/5/14, at 1:15 a.m. Eastern.

By Brian Edwards

–In one of the wildest games of the season, Providence beat Marquette 81-80 last night in double overtime. Bryce ‘100 Percent’ Cotton capped his Senior Night by draining a pair of free throws to put his team in front with 7.6 seconds remaining. Cotton played all 50 minutes and finished with 25 points. The win ended a nine-game losing streak against the Golden Eagles, who covered for the 11th straight time against the Friars as 2.5-point road underdogs. LaDontae Henton scored 14 of his 20 points in the first half, including a pull-up jumper at the buzzer to end the first half. Henton’s bucket put Providence ahead 29-27 at intermission and hooked up first-half supporters as a 1.5-point favorite. Craziest part of the game? Marquette big man Davante Gardner rebounded a Cotton miss at the end of regulation and took one dribble before heaving up a 70-foot jumper. Gardner’s desperation shot got nothing but net, but replays showed that he didn’t quite get it off before time expired. The Friars reached the 20-win mark, prompting ESPN Bracket Guru Joe Lunardi to elevate them into the ‘Last Four In” category, ejecting Minnesota into the set of “First Four Out” teams. ┬áPU is seeking its first NCAA Tournament bid since 2004.

–By the way, Buzz Williams clearly knew that Gardner’s shot was too late because he was the only person from Marquette that didn’t celebrate.

–Oregon picked up its sixth straight win by pushing past Arizona St. 85-78 last night in Eugene as a seven-point home ‘chalk.’

–Georgetown and Florida St. were other bubble teams to record huge wins last night. The Hoyas beat Creighton at home by double digits, while the Seminoles won at Boston College in a game they couldn’t afford to lose. Leonard Hamilton’s team will welcome reeling Syracuse to Tallahassee this weekend.

–Florida won its 22nd consecutive game by a 72-46 count last night at South Carolina. The Gators hooked up their backers as 12-point road favorites. They were 3-6-1 ATS in their 10 previous games as double-digit favorites. Michael Frazier II dropped a career-high 37 points on the Gamecocks and set a school record by draining 11-of-18 attempts from 3-point range. As it has been prone to do quite often, UF held just a slim lead (28-26) at intermission but was a great second-half look (-7 and therefore -9 adjusted) for gamblers. Frazier, who also had four steals, was the only Gator to score in double figures. The only players in SEC history to hit more than 11 treys in a game are Rotnei Clarke (2009-2010) and Al Dillard (1993-1994) (I indeed trademarked the phrase Al-Dillard Range nearly two decades ago), both of whom played at Arkansas. Joe Lawrence, who played his prep ball at Crestview High School (in the Fla. Panhandle) with another Gator, his brother Pat, in addition to Ga. Tech legend Tom Hammonds, held the previous UF record for 3’s in a game. Lawrence, a Wall Street broker at last check by this space, buried nine 3-balls in a 1986 game against California. Lawrence and fellow seniors Andrew Moten and Kenny McClary (Trevor Ariza’s stepfather) led the Gators to their first NCAA Tournament in ’87, advancing to the Sweet 16 in the Meadowlands before falling to Syracuse, which was led by Rony Seikaly’s 33 points. Freshmen players in that game included the late Dwayne Schintzius of UF and a lanky power forward named Derrick Coleman for the ‘Cuse. Of course, the Orange (Orangemen back then) made it to the NCAA finals in New Orleans before losing to Indiana on Keith Smart’s unforgettable baseline jumper.

–Michigan won its first Big Ten regular-season championship since 1986 thanks to last night’s run-away-and-hide victory at Illinois. John Beilein’s squad covered the number for the first time in four tries as a road favorite this season, easily hooking up its backers as a three-point ‘chalk.’ The Wolverines ended Illinois’ three-game winning streak with authority, racing out to a 22-point lead at intermission and cruising into the win column by an 84-53 count The Illini had held four consecutive opponents to 49 points or less, but Michigan scored 52 points in the first half alone. Nik Stauskas scored a game-high 25 points.

–Syracuse lost for the fourth time in its last five games when Ga. Tech went into the Carrier Dome last night and emerged with a 67-62 win as a 13.5-point underdog. The Yellow Jackets hooked up money-line supporters with a monster +900 payout at Sportsbook.ag (paid $900 on $100 wagers). Trae Golden led the winners with 16 points and put the game on ice with six free throws at crunch time. On his Senior Night, C.J. Fair matched his career high with 28 points, but it wasn’t enough for Jim Boeheim’s team. The Orange have been struggling for weeks now. Remember, it stole wins at Pitt and vs. N.C. St. in the final seconds before going into the current five-game rut. The only victory during this span was a 57-55 triumph at Maryland that certainly could’ve gone the other way. Obviously, the ‘Cuse can kiss a No. 1 seed goodbye and could fall to a No. 3 or No. 4 unless it produces a good showing at the school’s ACC Tournament debut.

–Baylor looked dead in the water with a 2-8 record in its first 10 Big 12 games. But after last night’s home win over Iowa St., the Bears are undoubtedly headed to the NCAA Tournament. The nation’s best pure shooter not named Travis Bader is Brady Heslip and his second-half treys were pivotal for Scott Drew’s squad in the win over the Cyclones.

–According to the Idaho Statesman, Boise St. leading scorer Anthony Drmic will play in tonight’s home game vs. Nevada. Drmic sat out Saturday’s 72-63 spread-covering win at Wyoming. He sprained his ankle in a blowout loss last week at Fresno St.

–Speaking of the Cowboys, they are winless both SU and ATS in three games since star forward Larry Nance Jr. was lost for the year with a torn ACL.

–UNLV’s Roscoe Smith (concussion) is ‘out’ for tonight’s home game vs. San Diego St. Smith averages 11.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game.

–SMU is undefeated in 13 games at Moody Coliseum this season, yet finds itself as a two-point home underdog tonight vs. Louisville. Larry Brown’s team has won three in a row and six of its last seven, going 5-2 against the spread. The Mustangs own an incredible 10-1 spread record at home. U of L saw its seven-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 72-66 setback at Memphis.

–TCU’s Amric Fields is ‘out’ tonight at Texas.

–The ‘under’ is on an 11-2 run for Nebraska. The Cornhuskers, who are at Indiana tonight, are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games despite back-to-back non-covers.

–The ‘over’ has hit in 12 of West Va.’s last 16 games.

–The anticipation for the upcoming movie version of Entourage got a lot bigger yesterday with the addition of E-Rata!

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