NCAA Tournament Notebook: Butler's bulldog banned again

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Butler's bulldog will be impounded again next week.

School officials say Blue II will not travel to New Orleans, where the men's basketball team faces fourth-seeded Wisconsin Thursday in a Southeast Region semifinal. NCAA officials banned live mascots from games this past weekend, saying there was not enough space and because of the quick turnarounds for other events in those arenas.

The NCAA said it may give Blue II an exemption if Butler makes it to the Final Four again at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

Blue II, a lively English bulldog, has become a regular staple at Butler's home games and some of its road games. Players pet the dog at introductions, he parades through the stands during games and can often be seen chewing on a bone.

Pearl rally

Nearly 100 Tennessee fans gathered at a rally Sunday near the Volunteers' Thompson-Boling Arena to show their support for Bruce Pearl, who is waiting to learn his fate as men's basketball coach.

Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton said Wednesday that Pearl would be evaluated after the Volunteers' season ended. Tennessee lost, 75-45, to Michigan Friday in its opener at the NCAA tournament.

The NCAA charged Pearl with unethical conduct and other recruiting violations after he revealed he lied during an investigation into recruiting.

Fans dressed in orange and white chanted "We want Bruce" at the rally.

Only one

Gonzaga guard Courtney Vandersloot is already part of an exclusive club with at least 1,000 assists in her career. She can add "only" to her accolades tonight.

Vandersloot needs 10 points to reach 2,000 for her career, becoming the only Division I player -- men or women -- with at least 2,000 points and 1,000 assists. She has 1,085 assists heading into a second-round NCAA tournament game tonight against UCLA.

Former Penn State star Suzie McConnell previously had the most points for any player with 1,000 assists after scoring 1,897 in her career. The most of any men's player with 1,000 assists was Bobby Hurley, who scored 1,731 points in his Duke career to go along with 1,076 assists.

The others with at least 1,000 assists: Andrea Nagy of Florida International (1,812 points, 1,291 assists); Tine Freil of Pacific (1,291 points, 1,088 assists); Chris Corchiani of North Carolina State (1,425 points, 1,038 assists); and Ed Cota of North Carolina (1,261 points, 1,030 assists)

Stay at home

Gonzaga coach Kelly Graves briefly considered taking up the NCAA on its offer of a hotel for his team while the first and second rounds of the tournament were being played on the Bulldogs home floor.

That thought didn't last long. Graves sees too much benefit in his players staying at home and keeping with their routine, which also includes classes.

"It's a benefit to stay in your bed anytime. Stay in your comfort zone, do what you normally do," Graves said. "There are some advantages to doing that. Staying in a hotel you kind of get them sequestered, but that gets a little old after a little while. And our players are smart. I trust them to do the right thing and prepare themselves the way they need to."

With a win tonight against third-seeded UCLA, the Bulldogs will get to play in the regional semifinals for a second consecutive year and again won't have to leave campus. It's being played about a 20-minute walk from Gonzaga's home at the Spokane Arena.

The good is the comfort of home. The bad: not being able to skip out on classes.

"I will be going to my morning classes tomorrow," Gonzaga's Katelan Redmon said.

Lovin' it

North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell was impressed with the enthusiastic crowds at The Pit, home of the University of New Mexico Lobos, where fans embraced the Tar Heels, Kentucky Wildcats, Fresno State Bulldogs and Hampton Lady Pirates.

"I love an environment where they embrace women's basketball," Hatchell said.

NIT

Randal Holt scored 22 points and Carlton Guyton added 16 to lead Kent State (25-11) past host Fairfield (25-8), 72-68, to reach the NIT quarterfinals. ... Joe Ragland's layup with 2.6 seconds left in overtime lifted Wichita State (26-8) to a 79-76 victory against host Virginia Tech (22-12) in the second round.



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