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3X3U National Championship: Pool Play Notebook

It didn’t end well for the Big East.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Kansas vs Seton Hall Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

SAN ANTONIO--31 conferences showed up to play for the second day of the 3X3U National Championship, a three-on-three tournament that features some of the best seniors from each conference. There is a total of $100,000 being given away, including a $50,000 grand prize to the team that wins it all.

Each game is played on a half-court and is played up to 21. (Streetball rules of 1’s and 2’s.) The Big East tipped off the tournament last night, but dropped its opening game. This time around, it was able to rake in some cash.


Recaps

Game 1: Big East def. Mid-American Conference, 21-19.

After a bit of a rude awakening in late Friday night’s opening game, the Big East seemed more dialed in this time around. It wasn’t a great start, as the Mid-American Conference seemed to just drain two-pointer after two-pointer on the Big East.

”Just like any other basketball game, it’s a game of runs,” said Marquette’s Andrew Rowsey. “So, we knew we were going to make our runs. We were late to the gym, so we didn’t get to stretch really. We knew once we started running around and get the sweat going, we knew we’d be fine.”

The undermanned Big East team rallied back after giving up an 11-5 lead to win 21-19.

Seton Hall’s Desi Rodriguez had a big part in the victory, as he scored 12 points (off 7-of-12 shooting, including 4-of-8 from deep) and collected seven rebounds. He also drilled the game-winning foul shot to give the Big East its first win of pool play.

After a slow start, the Big East went on a 9-3 run to tie things up at 14, a streak topped off with a Rodriguez two-pointer.

From there, it was back-and-forth, until Rowsey drained a two to put the Big East oen point away from winning some cash.

Rowsey had five points. Providence’s Rodney Bullock added four points, five rebounds, and three assists. The Big East played without Xavier’s J.P. Macura, who was out with a knee injury.

For the MAC, Ohio’s Mike Laster had a team-high six points.

Game 2: Big West def. Big East, 21-18.

The Big East needed a victory to improve its record to 2-1, tying it for first place. Unfortunately, the Big West had other plans, as the west coasters took down the Big East to advance to the eight-game playoff on Sunday.

Chance Murray pulled up and drained the game-winning mid-range jumper for the win.

”Every team out here is competitive,” Rodriguez said. “It doesn’t matter about the name or what conference you’re in, anybody can win.”

The game was much like the first one of the Big East, it was another slow start and required a bit of a comeback effort to pull it off.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t happening this time.

Rodriguez tied things up at 18, when he hit a layup. A costly foul sent Gabe Vincent to to the line, where he hit a pair of free throws to give his team a game-point situation.

Rodriguez and Rowsey had eight points each. Bullock had two points, nine boards, and four assists in the loss.


Standouts

Marvin Smith (Southern/UNC-Greensboro): The 6-6 forward was a bright spot in the match against the Big 10. For a while, Southern had the P5 conference on upset alert, thanks to the play of Smith. Smith was locked in from deep and hit a couple twos that were beyond NBA range. He had 11 of Southern’s 19 points in the loss, including a late three that put them up 19-18, but Big 10’s Nate Mason would respond with the game-winner.

Joel Hernandez (NEC/LIU-Brooklyn): At one point, he got tackled by someone much bigger. He hit a few nice shots, but nothing was nicer than the revenge shot for the win. With 5.4 seconds left, he hit a stepback two for the come-from-behind victory against the Summit League. Victory is sweet, and a $1,000 prize made it even nicer.

Martinas Geben (ACC/Notre Dame): He came off the bench, but the hulking 6-10 center easily stuck out. He might not have led the ACC in the scoring department, but he was a force on the boards and inside. He laid down a few tough screens that helped free his teammates or set up textbook pick-and-rolls. He was easily the X-Factor in the ACC’s first win of pool play, as the bruiser gave the Sun Belt a number of challenges.

Amanze Egekeze (Ohio Valley/Belmont): Egekeze set the tone early and quickly. He was a blazing 6-of-9 on the floor, and the hot hand was contagious for his team. Ohio Valley steamrolled past the Horizon League, and Egekeze was the catalyst to help that happen.

Desi Rodriguez (Big East/Seton Hall): After leading the way in the Reese’s College All-Star game, Rodriguez had another big performance against the Mid-American Conference. Rodriguez hit some big twos and helped get the Big East going after they came out slow.

B.J. Tyson (American/East Carolina): Tyson had been solid throughout the 3X3U, but he really shined in the AAC’s final game of pool play. At risk of leaving the 3X3U without any cash, Tyson hit 5-of-6 from deep, paving the way to American’s 21-15 win over the Ohio Valley.

D’Marques Tyson (West Coast/Portland): Tyson had been a consistent scoring force in the second day of the 3X3U. He topped this off with another strong shooting performance from long range against the Horizon League, draining 4-of-7 from deep to help the WCC sweep pool play and advance to the playoffs.


In their own words...

On knee injury... “It’s fine, I just didn’t want to play on it a little bit too much and end up actually hurting it. It’s just a little bit sore. I’m just trying to be cautious.” -- J.P. Macura.

On Xavier’s hire of Travis Steele as the new head coach: ”I think it’s a great hire, he’s a great coach. He’s helped me out a ton during my time at Xavier and I think that he’s going do a lot of good for the program.” -- J.P. Macura

On teaming up with guys you’ve competed against your whole career... ”It’s cool. We’re seniors, everything over with now. We don’t have to wake up tomorrow and battle each other again. It’s just cool to get to know other players that was in our conference that we never really talked to because we were trying to play against them or kill each other out on the court. When you get to know them, and everybody is cool, it’s fun to spend a weekend with players that have a lot of respect in this conference.” -- Rodney Bullock

First impressions of the 3X3U... “ It’s a nice event for the first one. Very organized. I love the style of play, it’s different. It helps you get in shape, you know and work on your game. It comes down to the best team making some shots.” -- Desi Rodriguez

Being a last-second addition to fill in for Trevon Bluiett... ”They told me the night before. I was like, alright I come out here. I’m glad we got a win though, I didn’t come out here for nothing.” -- Rodney Bullock

First-time being able to play for pay... ”I think it’s pretty neat, because from the beginning, I think college athletes should be paid from the jump, being able to have this event for seniors, it’s fun. Now we get to make money doing what we love doing. There’s finally a time to do what we love to do and make money doing it.” -- Andrew Rowsey