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Oregon fires basketball coach Kent

He led the Ducks for 13 years but was fired after going 24-39 the last two seasons. Carlesimo is mentioned as a possible replacement.

March 16, 2010|Wire reports

Ernie Kent, the winningest coach in Oregon history, was dismissed Tuesday after 13 seasons with his alma mater.

"You may find a better basketball coach, but I don't think you'll find anybody that has the passion and love that I have for this university," said Kent, who had to pause for several moments to fight back his emotions.

Oregon went 16-16 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-10 this past season, finishing with a 90-74 quarterfinal loss to California in the conference tournament.

Kent, 55, leaves Oregon with a 235-173 overall record. But the Ducks have slipped in the past two seasons, going 24-39 and finishing 10th and ninth, respectively, in conference play.

Kent was the longest tenured Pac-10 coach. He took Oregon to the NCAA tournament five times, advancing twice to the round of eight.

He played at Oregon from 1973-77, part of the so-called Kamakazi Kids under coach Dick Harter.

Oregon Athletic Director Mike Bellotti said Oregon terminated Kent's contract effective June 30. He cited his record and declining attendance at McArthur Court.

The Ducks immediately begin the search for a successor. The Oregonian newspaper reported this past weekend that one possible candidate was P.J. Carlesimo, former coach of the Portland Trail Blazers.

NIT first round

North Carolina 80, William & Mary 72: Dexter Strickland hit the go-ahead free throws with 2:34 left and North Carolina held William & Mary scoreless for the final five minutes in the Tar Heels' win in the first round of the NIT on Tuesday night.

Deon Thompson scored 20 points to lead the Tar Heels (17-16), the reigning national champions who found themselves in the NIT for the first time in seven years after a disappointing season. But they weathered a flurry of three-pointers from the Tribe to ensure they would finish at least .500.

Jacksonville 67, Arizona State 66: Ben Smith scored a game-high 26 points, including a 24-foot jump shot with 1.5 seconds remaining and the Dolphins rallied to upset the top-seeded Sun Devils.

Smith hit his fourth three-pointer of the half two steps behind the arc to give the Dolphins their first postseason win in eight games dating to the 1974 NIT.

North Carolina State 58, South Florida 57: Dennis Horner scored 25 points and Richard Howell's go-ahead layup with 8 seconds left barely beat the shot clock for the Wolfpack.

Connecticut 59, Northeastern 57: Jerome Dyson scored 13 of his 18 points in the second half and the Huskies hung on to win.

Alabama-Birmingham 65, Coastal Carolina 49: Elijah Millsap scored 15 points and the Blazers never trailed.

Texas Tech 87, Seton Hall 69: John Roberson scored 22 points, to lead the Red Raiders.

Mississippi State 81, Jackson State 67: Jarvis Varnado scored 21 points and had 11 rebounds to lead the Bulldogs.

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