UNC doing just fine, even with Harrison Barnes’ bum ankle

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Bum ankle or not, Harrison Barnes wasn’t about to let North Carolina lose another game on the road. Endure another Florida State setback with Duke looming? No way.

So Barnes shook off the ankle pain lingering from a sprain suffered earlier in the week, scored 12 of his 18 points in the second half and even played a little defense in as UNC rallied from a nine-point deficit for an 83-74 win Saturday vs. Maryland. The 6-7 sophomore didn’t have the greatest body language in the first half, but that changed when the Heels started to get serious.

“I didn’t tell him, but I said to myself if I saw him limping around again on the defensive end I was going to take him out,” Heels coach Roy Williams said. “Maybe he picked up on my vibe because he stopped limping.”

Not that Barnes was faking. He re-injured the ankle early in the second half. From the Raleigh News & Observer:

“It was a lot of pain,” Barnes said. “It was like somebody shot me in the ankle. I think that’s about how much pain there was. Because it was already hurt. Then you do the same thing again to it, it (was) a lot of pain.”

He spoke on a padded table outside the Tar Heels’ locker room, surrounded by reporters, going through postgame stretches with a trainer. He said he entered the game feeling about 60 percent healthy, but when asked if there was a chance he’d miss it, Barnes didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“Thought never crossed my mind,” he said. “I was always going to try to go out there and do as much as I could.”

Barnes didn’t do it alone. Tyler Zeller continued his All-America type season (22 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) and John Henson notched a double-double, while Kendall Marshall had 16 assists.

Also notable? Reggie Bullock’s 11 points and five rebounds in 34 minutes. The 6-6 sophomore wing’s playing well as a new starter in the three games since Dexter Strickland’s torn ACL cost him the rest of the season. His scoring’s up and his defense has been better than expected, both in one-on-one situations and with the team overall.

In three games without Strickland, UNC’s scoring 1.12 points per possession and only giving up .951.In the five ACC games before that, the Heels managed 1.02 PPP and allowed .964. They’ve also played three of the ACC’s worst teams (Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and Maryland), but it’s worth noting with a crucial game coming up.

Yes, it’s Duke-UNC week. Barnes better get to work on icing that ankle.

He’s the one player on the Heels’ roster who presents a serious matchup issue for Duke, because of his mix of size and quickness. If his ankle’s anywhere near 100 percent, it bodes well for UNC’s chances to stay atop the ACC. And if not, things could get interesting.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Florida freshman will miss the season with stress fracture

GAINESVILLE, FL - JANUARY 19: Head coach Mike White of the Florida Gators gestures during the game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center on January 19, 2016 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Florida freshman forward Dontay Bassett is out for the season with a stress fracture, according to a release from the school.

Bassett will require surgery in his right foot and his projected recovery time will be four-to-six months. The injury will force Bassett to redshirt the 2016-17 season.

A three-star recruit coming out of Oldsmar Christian in Florida, the 6-foot-9 forward wasn’t expected to be a big contributor during his first year with the Gators, but his loss does hurt some of the team’s frontcourt depth. With John Egbunu, Devin Robinson, Justin Leon and Kevarrius Hayes all returning, the Gators should have plenty of players to use in the frontcourt this season without Bassett.

Once Bassett is healthy and able to play next season he showed good athleticism and an ability to hit the glass hard while he was in high school. Bassett should be able to join Florida’s rotation as an energy defender and rebounder right away.

Iowa State lands four-star Class of 2017 guard Lindell Wigginton

GREENVILLE, SC- July 9, 2016:  adidas Gauntlet Finale at Upward Stars Center (Jeff Hinds/adidas)
GREENVILLE, SC- July 7, 2016:  adidas Gauntlet Finale at Upward Stars Center (Jeff Hinds/adidas)
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Iowa State has its point guard of the future as four-star Class of 2017 prospect Lindell Wigginton pledged to the Cyclones on Friday.

The 6-foot-1 Wigginton is regarded as the No. 40 overall prospect on Rivals.com as the Canadian has spent the last few seasons at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. With an ability to play both guard spots and defend a few spots, Wigginton is a valuable addition to head coach Steve Prohm’s ballclub as Wigginton could help replace Monte Morris after he exhausts his eligibility.

Wigginton is going to need to improve his consistency on his perimeter jumper, but he’s a good pull-up scorer who can make plays for himself or others off the bounce. Iowa State’s Class of 2017 recruiting haul now includes Wigginton, four-star wing Terrence Lewis and three-star guard Darius McNeill.

This commitment is huge for Prohm as Wigginton is the most highly-regarded recruit that he has landed with the Cyclones. With Prohm’s point guard history with guys like Isaiah Canaan at Murray State and Monte Morris now with Iowa State, Prohm did a nice job of finding his next young guard to mold for the future.

Davidson star Jack Gibbs to miss a few weeks with shoulder injury

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 11:  Jack Gibbs #12 of the Davidson Wildcats celebrates a basket against the St. Bonaventure Bonnies during the Quarterfinals of the Atlantic 10 Basketball Tournament at the Barclays Center on March 11, 2016 in New York, New York.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Davidson senior guard Jack Gibbs is one of the most under-the-radar players in college basketball as he will be among the nation’s leading offensive threats this season if he’s healthy.

But health is going to be a question for the 6-foot-1 guard as Gibbs is dealing with a shoulder injury that will sideline him for 2-to-3 weeks, according to head coach Bob McKillop. McKillop told ESPN’s Jeff Goodman that tests came back negative for Gibbs and he’s expected to be back for the Wildcats’ season-opener. The injury for Gibbs occurred during Thursday’s Davidson practice.

As a junior, Gibbs averaged 23.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game as he became one of the nation’s premier offensive players.  Gibbs is going to be a huge key for Davidson this season as he needs to be healthy in order for the Wildcats to make it back to the NCAA tournament.


VIDEO: Dennis Smith Jr. electrifies N.C. State fans at team’s scrimmage

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N.C. State freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr. excited fans with some absurd plays at the team’s Primetime with the Pack event last night.

The highly-touted, five-star prospect is the most electric prospect to come to the Wolfpack in years and Smith had the crowd buzzing with some highlight-reel dunks during the team’s 20-minute scrimmage.

Smith made one teammate look silly by putting it between his legs and throwing down a vicious dunk during one play while he also threw an alley-oop to himself to finish another break.

(h/t: Ball is Life)

VIDEO: Kentucky freshman Malik Monk throws down vicious dunks during scrimmage

NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 15:  West Team MVP Malik Monk (L) (Bentonville, AR) in action during the 15th iteration of the Jordan Brand Classic at Barclays Center on April 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
(Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Jordan Brand )
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Kentucky freshman guard Malik Monk is going to be one of the newcomers to keep an eye on this season as the 6-foot-3 Arkansas native is an explosive scorer who packs vicious athleticism.

Monk showed Big Blue Nation some of what they can expect to see during Friday night’s Blue/White Scrimmage as he unleashed a ferocious dunk in some traffic and also had another good dunk in transition. While Monk has great lift off the floor, he also isn’t afraid to cock the ball back and put some authority on his dunks. He’s going to be a ton of fun to watch this season.