Notebook: Providence advances to NIT quarterfinals

Vincent Council scored 7 of his 12 points in the closing 5:21, including a key 3-point play off his only basket of the game, to lift host Providence to a 77-68 win over Robert Morris in the second round of the NIT Monday night.

LaDontae Henton led the Friars (19-14) with 21 points and Bryce Cotton had 20. Council added 10 assists and was 10 of 13 from the free throw line despite shooting 1 of 9 from the floor.

Providence will face Baylor Wednesday night in the quarterfinals.


Karvel Anderson had 18 points and Russell Johnson 16 for Robert Morris (24-11).

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Council made a spinning off-balance basket, getting fouled on the play. He hit the free throw to give the Friars a 70-64 lead with three minutes left.

Robert Morris ousted defending NCAA champion Kentucky in the opening round.

Gophers fire Smith

Minnesota fired Tubby Smith, cutting ties with the veteran coach one day after the Golden Gophers lost to Florida in the NCAA Tournament. Athletics director Norwood Teague announced the decision and said it was time for a ‘‘fresh set of eyes’’ on the program.

Smith was 124-81 (.610) in six seasons at Minnesota, helping to bring the program back to respectability and ramping up expectations for a team hit hard by an academic cheating scandal.


Smith won 20 games five times. But he went just 46-62 in Big Ten play and never finished higher than sixth in the conference. The Gophers made three NCAA Tournament appearances under Smith.

Howland thanks UCLA

Ben Howland was fired by UCLA Sunday, and on Monday he thanked the athletic director while noting the high expectations that come with running a program that owns a record 11 national championships. The 55-year-old coach expressed gratitude for his 10-year run in Westwood, the longest tenure since John Wooden retired in 1975 . . . South Alabama hired Butler associate head coach Matthew Graves as its head coach, hoping to duplicate some of the NCAA Tournament success that program has enjoyed in recent years . . . Jackson State hired Wayne Brent, an accomplished high school coach in Mississippi, as its coach.

TV ratings up

The NCAA Tournament’s first week earned its highest television rating in 15 years. The broadcasts on CBS, TBS, TNT, and truTV averaged a 5.8 household rating and 12 share, the highest rating for the first week since 1998.