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NCAA Men: Humphries and Cornelissen go dancing
Australia will be represented in the 2016 NCAA tournament by just two active representatives; Isaac Humphries at Kentucky and Jakob Cornelissen at Hawaii. Humphries and Kentucky qualified for an automatic berth in the big dance thanks to securing the SEC Tournament title, while Hawaii won a thrilling Big West Tournament final to book their ticket.
In Kentucky's 93-80 win over Georgia, Humphries saw only 1 minute of action for 1 rebound. The 7-footer has played a small role off the bench this season, averaging just 9.5 minutes off the bench for 2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. However he is the youngest player in Division I basketball this season and is on a team favoured to make a deep run.
Cornelissen has played an even lesser role this season for Hawaii who qualified and for postseason action after capturing their first ever Big West title in a nail-biting 64-60 victory over Long Beach State. The 6'1 freshman guard has only seen limited action in 5 games this season and is yet to score. His side also features red-shirt sophomore Jack Purchase on their roster.
Boasting two Australian's on scholarship this season, Baylor received an at-large bid to play in the NCAA Tournament. However Deng Deng was deemed ineligible to play by the NCAA and left the school immediately after graduation to play in the NBA D-League, while Jo Acuil, who is a junior transfer, has not been activated this season.
Many other Australian's went agonisingly close to booking a ticket to the big dance.
Winthrop and Xavier Cook made it all the way to the Big South Tournament final, only to shoot their way out of the contest as they fell short to UNC Asheville 68-77. Cooks was only able to connect on 3/11 shooting to finish with 9 points, 12 rebounds and 3 assists, however he was not alone as the team shot just 35% from the floor and a paltry 5/33 from behind the arc.
In his final year, Majok Deng was unable to lift Louisiana Monroe past Arkansas Little Rock, going down 50-70 to end their winning streak at 10 wins in the Sun Belt Championship game. The sweet-shooting 6'10 Deng was still outstanding, able to record 12 points with 6 rebounds en-route to being named to the All-Tournament Team.
Montana who boast two Australian's in Fabijan Krslovic and Jack Lopez almost stole the Big Sky Tournament title after clawing back a 14 point half time deficit against Weber State. However a last second opportunity missed and resulted in a harrowing 59-62 loss. While the box score hints otherwise, Krslovic played an integral defensive role in neutralising Weber State's big men, logging 30 minutes for 4 points, 6 rebounds and 1 block. Lopez played 13 minutes for 1 assist in what proved to be a tough end in their final half run.
While Saint Mary's College lost the West Coast Conference Tournament final to Gonzaga, they would have liked their chances to receive an at-large bid to the big dance. However the selection committee overlooked the Gael's, with their weak non-conference schedule coming back to haunt them and instead sending them to the NIT.
#4 Kentucky vs #13 Stony Brook (Humphries)
#4 California vs #13 Hawaii (Cornelissen & Purchase)
All the action gets underway from Wednesday, March 16 Australian time with the First Four.
The other Aussies to see post-season action in the NIT, CBI or CIT competitions are outlined below.
#2 Saint Mary's vs #7 New Mexico State (Pineau, Naar, Landale, Clark & Hunter)
The NIT commences from Wednesday, March 16 Australian time.
Albany vs Ohio (Hooley & Rowley)
Pepperdine vs Eastern Washington (Jois, Von Hofe, Hunt, Wearne & McKay)
Montana vs Nevada (Krslovic & Lopez)
The CBI tips-off from Wednesday, March 16 Australian time.
Louisiana Monroe vs Furman (Deng)
The CIT commences on Wednesday, March 16 Australian time.