‘DORES AND BEAVS TO PLAY FOR LEGENDS TITLE
No. 20 Vanderbilt will face Oregon State for the TicketCity Legends Classic title.
C.J. Leslie gave North Carolina State all he could in his first game of the season until leg cramps kept him on the bench at the end and No. 18 Vanderbilt pulled away for an 86-79 victory Saturday night in the semifinals of the TicketCity Legends Classic.
He made his first seven shots from the field as the Wolfpack stayed even with the Commodores.
With about six minutes left he started cramping and he spent the rest of the game on the floor next to the bench being treated by trainers.
“I thought in the first half he was exceptional but he got tired,” North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said. “It’s one thing to practice every day and another to being in game shape. He started cramping late and he was playing well when he started cramping. He was really good early.”
Leslie averaged 11.0 points as a freshman and he had that many in the first 10 1/2 minutes of his first game as a sophomore.
John Jenkins scored 28 points for the Commodores, who closed the game on a 10-2 run. Jenkins, who missed the Commodores’ last game with a sprained right ankle, had 20 points in the first half. The junior guard wasn’t even sure about playing Saturday night until the morning shootaround.
“The ankle really wasn’t an issue. I did feel a little better at the shootaround,” Jenkins said. “I was going to go tonight no matter what. I wasn’t letting my teammates down. But I never thought I’d be this productive. Coach got in my face a little in the shootaround, because I thought I wouldn’t feel good at all. But once I started shooting, I felt better.”
Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings told Jenkins to stop worrying about his injury.
“This morning, he said his foot was hurting again and he was shooting and missing,” Stallings said. “I told him that he was thinking too much about his foot and I said something to remind him.”
Saturday night’s game was close on the scoreboard and stat sheet until Vanderbilt (3-1) took the lead for good with the deciding spurt that started with 2:16 to play.
Jeffrey Taylor added 17 points for Vanderbilt and Lance Goulbourne had 15, including 10 in the opening 7 minutes of the second half.
Richard Howell had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Wolfpack (2-1).
In the nightcap, Jared Cunningham scored a career-high 37 points to lead Oregon State to a 100-95 overtime victory against Texas.
Cunningham, a junior guard who had 35 points in his previous game against Hofstra, played the last few minutes and the overtime with a split lip. He made several hustle plays down the stretch and went 8 for 8 from the free throw line in overtime.
The Beavers (4-0) will play No. 18 Vanderbilt in the championship game Monday night at the IZOD Center. The Commodores beat North Carolina State 86-79 in the other semifinal.
Devon Collier added 17 points for Oregon State, which trailed 72-64 with 7:11 left in regulation.
Cunningham tied the game at 80 with a layup with 1:40 left. Myck Kabongo of Texas (2-1) broke the tie with two free throws with 1:20 to play. Cunningham then made three free throws around one by Kabongo over the final 18 seconds to send the game to overtime tied at 81.
Alexis Wangmene made a reverse layup 54 seconds into overtime to give Texas the lead, but the Beavers went on a 9-0 run that started with 3-pointers by Ahmad Starks and Angus Brandt and ended with two free throws by Cunningham with 1:43 to go.
Cunningham was 20 of 23 from the free throw line and Oregon State was 31 for 43 overall.
J’Covan Brown had 25 points – 18 in the first half – and nine assists for the Longhorns, while Kabongo had 13 points.
Oregon State and Vanderbilt will play for the TicketCity Legends Classic championship after NC State and Texas square off in the consolation match at 6:30pm (ET). Both games will air on ESPN3.
– Associated Press