Photo courtesy of Madison Square Garden Company. ©
By David Cordova
When one thinks of the late and legendary Jim Valvano, they will see that he was a great man and a great coach and also someone with courage. Valvano, a native from Queens, New York, was famous for leading North Carolina State to a national championship in 1983. Ten years later, as he was battling cancer, he gave the world some words of inspiration when he said, “Don’t ever give up.”
Valvano passed away on April 28, 1993, but his legacy still lives on in the collegiate basketball world and in the lives of many of the people that he touched. Since its inception in 1993, the V Foundation, which was named after him, has raised over $170 million in cancer research grants to help victims fight a very tough disease.
In his memory, the Jimmy V Classic was started in 1995 and has been one of the premier college basketball events over the last two decades. This year’s event featured the likes of programs such as Purdue (Big Ten), Arizona State (Pac-12), Florida (ACC) and Duke (ACC). This event showcased teams that will most likely play in the NCAA Tournament in March. But before that, they’d have to get through 40 minutes at the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden.
Purdue 97, Arizona State 64
From the start, both teams were aggressive when taking shots. Although Purdue made most of their jumpers early, Arizona State was aggressive when taking drives into the lane, as shown by dunks from seniors Torian Graham and Obinna Oleka. But the Boilermakers took over the lead, 15-10, after a three-point play by freshman guard Carsen Edwards with 10:20 to go in the first half. Sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan then scored five consecutive points to bring them up, 20-10, with 8:01 remaining.
The Sun Devils could not stop their counterparts in the first half, as the deficit grew to 33-12, with 5:47 left in the first half. Arizona State then stepped up their defense moments later and cut their deficit to sixteen, 35-19, with 3:19 left. However, Purdue would not cease their hot shooting as they finished the first half leading 47-21.
As the second half started off, the Boilermakers continued to maintain that large lead and build it up to thirty points, leading 58-28, with 15:30 to go in the second half. The Sun Devils’ poor play continued as they struggled to make basic layups and hit free throws. At one stretch in the second half, they even shot 9% from three-point range and 30% from the field. Due to their mistakes, the Boilermakers continued to make them pay with long-range jumpers from three-point land, as they shot 57% from three and 57% from the field, as they went on to win by a large margin.
Junior forward Vincent Edwards and junior center Isaac Haas led Purdue with 16 points apiece and Ryan Cline added 15 points and although Swanigan had six points, he also added 10 rebounds and five assists for the Boilermakers. For Arizona State, junior guard Shannon Evans II led with 16 points and Graham added 14 points in the loss.
Duke 84, Florida 74
In the main event, in front of a large crowd of about 19,000 fans, both teams hung tough in the early going. Duke’s graduate student Amile Jefferson helped the cause with a couple of early baskets in the paint. But on both sides of the court, there would be no easy baskets.
The hot shooting of sophomore Luke Kennard and the inside play of Jefferson helped the Blue Devils, but the Gators would not be denied as junior John Egbunu made his presence felt for Florida with his rebounding, as both teams were tied at 13-13 with 11:01 left in the first half.
The tough play of senior guard Kasey Hill helped Florida get ahead by three, 23-20, with 7:24 left in the first half. A few moments later, Jefferson helped Duke regain the lead with a couple of clutch baskets, including an emphatic dunk, to bring the Blue Devils, up 29-28, with 4:32 left.
Jefferson’s first-half display of 18 points helped bring the Blue Devils to within ten, 39-29, with under a minute left in the first half. Duke’s outstanding play brought them to a ten-point lead at the half, 41-31.
At the second half, Florida was determined to get back in the game, going on a 7-5 run, to get within 46-37, with over 17 minutes left. The Blue Devils were able to get their lead up to fourteen, 53-39, with 14:23 left after a Kennard three-pointer. As the game went on, Duke continued to build on their momentum, keeping a double-digit lead.
Florida then brought the lead down to seven, 61-54, on a layup by senior Justin Leonwith over 8 minutes left, but then another three by Kennard and a layup by freshman Jayson Tatum to bring the Blue Devils up twelve, 66-54, with 7:27 left in the game.
Moments later, sophomore Kevaughn Allen hit a three to cut the Florida deficit to seven, 78-71, with over two minutes left. But the Blue Devils stayed tough, stuck to their gameplan and would earn a hard-fought win.
Kennard led Duke with 29 points, Jefferson added 24 points and 15 rebounds and Tatum added 22 points and 8 rebounds for the Blue Devils. For Florida, Allen led with 21 points and Hill added 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists in the loss.