Oriakhi looms large in second half

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HOUSTON --- Connecticut's Alex Oriakhi spent 10 long minutes on the bench during the first half of the national championship game after picking up his second foul.

The sophomore big man stayed in the game after halftime and kept upstart Butler from cutting down the nets by not allowing the Bulldogs to score when they got close to the hoop.

The 6-foot-9 Oriakhi finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in UConn's smothering, if not exactly crowd-pleasing, 53-41 victory.

He spearheaded a UConn frontcourt that bullied Butler under the basket. The Huskies limited the Bulldogs to just one field goal in the paint while having their way inside at the other end of the floor.

UConn outscored the Bulldogs 26-2 in the lane to pull away in the second half and win their third national title.

Butler's only basket in the lane came on a lay-up by Andrew Smith with 6:13 to play. It drew a roar from the decidedly pro-Butler crowd, but by then the Bulldogs trailed 41-30.

Smart gets deal to stay with rams

RICHMOND, Va. --- Virginia Commonwealth University coach Shaka Smart is staying with the Rams after leading them on a surprising Final Four run.

The school said Monday that Smart has agreed to a new eight-year contract at VCU. Details of that deal will be released once the contract is signed.

"True to form, Coach Smart's primary concerns were about his players, coaches and the overall support of the basketball program," VCU athletic director Norwood Teague said in a statement. "We are honored that he has decided to stay a VCU Ram. He exemplifies everything that is right about college athletics, and VCU is ecstatic about the future under his leadership."

The second-year coach led VCU from one of the "First Four" games in the NCAA Tournament to upsets of prominent programs including Georgetown, Purdue and Kansas to reach the Final Four.

VCU (28-12) became only the third No. 11 seed to get that far, losing to Butler 70-62 in Saturday's national semifinals.

-- Associated Press


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