2015 PRTO schools net NCAA, NIT berths

Chapter Five of the 2014-2015 season begins this week with five of the eight schools participating in the 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off still competing, including two in the NCAA Championships. With schools starting practices last fall followed by pre-season games, conference action and league playoffs, 2015 Puerto Rico Tip-Off participants Butler (NCAA, Big East), Miami (NIT, Atlantic Coast), Temple (NIT, American Athletic) and Utah (NCAA, Pac-12) are still playing. Other schools competing next fall in San Juan are Minnesota (Big Ten), Missouri State (Missouri Valley), Mississippi State (Southeastern) and Texas Tech (Big 12). The ninth annual Puerto Rico Tip-Off is set for November 19, 20 and 22 at Coliseo Roberto Clemente in San Juan.

Butler (12-6 league record, 22-10 overall mark) – The Bulldogs earned the school’s 13th berth in the NCAA Championships and will be the sixth-seeded team in the Midwest Region where Butler will play Texas Friday in Columbus. Butler won four of eight games down the stretch, including a quarter-final setback to Xavier in the Big East tourney at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden. Juniors Kellen Dunham (6-6 guard, 16.7 points per game) and Roosevelt Jones (6-4 forward, 12.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game), and sophomore Andrew Chrabascz (6-7 forward, 11.1 points per game) are the Bulldog’s top three scorers. Dunham was a first-team all-league pick and Jones was named to the second-team. 

Miami (10-8, 21-12) – Champions of the inaugural Puerto Rico Tip-Off title in 2007, the Hurricanes missed qualifying for the NCAA Championships, but netted the school’s 12th NIT bid. Miami will host a first-round game in the NIT against North Carolina Central Tuesday. Prior to being eliminated by eventual post-season champions Notre Dame in the ACC tournament at Greensboro, N. C., Miami concluded the regular-season by winning seven of 10 games. Juniors guards 6-5 Sheldon McClellan (14.7 points per game) and 5-11 Puerto Rican native Angel Rodriguez (12.2 points and 4.0 assists per game) are Miami’s top two scorers. Both McClellan and Rodriguez earned all-ACC honorable mention honors along with 7-0 junior center Tonye Jekiri (8.6 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocked shots per game). Jekiri was named to the ACC’s all-defensive team and was second in the voting for the league’s most improved player.

Minnesota (6-12, 18-15) – After splitting a pair of games in the Big Ten tournament in Chicago with a win over Rutgers and a loss to Ohio State, the Gophers did not receive an opportunity to defend their NIT title. Minnesota, which captured the 2010 Puerto Rico Tip-Off title, featured three underclassmen among their top five scorers this season, including juniors Carlos Morris (6-4 guard, 11.1 points per game) and Joey King (6-9 forward, 9.7 points per game), and freshman Nate Mason (6-1 guard, 9.8 points per game).

Mississippi State (6-12, 13-19) – The Bulldogs season ended with a loss to Auburn in Nashville at the SEC tourney. Four of Mississippi State’s top five scorers were underclassmen, including juniors Craig Sword (6-3 guard, 11.3 points per game), Gavin Ware (6-9 forward, 10.0 points and 7.1 rebounds per game), and Fred Thomas (6-5 guard, 9.1 points per game), and freshman I. J. Ready (5-11 guard, 8.2 points and 2.4 assists per game). Sword was a second-team all-SEC selection.

Missouri State (5-13, 11-20) – The Bears’ season was completed March 5 after losing their opening game in the Missouri Valley to Southern Illinois in St. Louis. Junior Camyn Boone was the Bears’ top underclassman as the 6-6 forward was the team’s second-leading scorer (8.7 points per game). He also paced Missouri State in rebounding (5.4 per game) and field goal percentage (57.1, 101 for 177). Junior Dorrian Williams was named to the Valley’s all-improved team as the 6-3 guard averaged 7.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 1.5 steals a game.

Temple (13-5, 23-10) – After finishing the regular-season by winning 10 of 12 games, the Owls split a pair of games in the American Athletic tourney with a win over Memphis and an elimination setback to SMU in Hartford, Conn. The late-season run did not net Temple a NCAA berth, but the Owls did secure a top-seed in the NIT with an opening round game Wednesday at home against Bucknell. The Memphis win was career victory 500 for Fran Dunphy, who was named the league’s coach of the year. Guards Will Cummings (6-2 sophomore, 14.2 points and 4.3 assists per game) and Quenton DeCosey (6-5 junior, 12.4 points per game) are the Owls top two scorers. Junior Jaylen Bond leads Temple in rebounding (8.0 per game) while the 6-7 forward is scoring 7.9 points per game. Cummings was named to the AAC all-league first-team while Bond earned honorable mention recognition. Temple will be playing in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off for the third-time after appearances in 2007 and 2011.

Texas Tech (3-15, 13-19) – The Red Raiders’ season ended with a loss to Texas in the Big 12 tourney in Kansas City. With nine underclassmen among the team’s top 10 scorers, junior Devaugntah Williams led the Red Raiders as the 6-4 guard is averaging 10.5 points per game. Tubby Smith will be returning to the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with his second school as he coached Minnesota to the 2010 title by defeating Western Kentucky, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Utah (13-5, 24-8) – The Utes will be making their 28th NCAA appearance and first under fourth-season coach Larry Krystkowiak. Utah will be seeded fifth in the South Region and will be challenged by Stephen F. Austin in their first game Thursday in Portland. In Pac-12 tourney play in Las Vegas, the Utes eliminated Stanford before being ousted by Oregon in the semi-finals. Juniors Brandon Taylor (5-10 guard, 10.7 points and 3.3 assists per game), a second team all-Pac-12 pick, and Jordan Loveridge (6-6 forward, 10.1 points per game) are the Utes top underclassmen. Jakob Poeltl was named to the Pac-12 all-freshman team as the 7-1 center is averaging 8.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game. Poeltl ranks fifth nationally in field goal percentage (67.3, 111 for 165).

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