Nerlens Noel Kentucky

Nerlens Noel posts double-double in Kentucky’s exhibition win over Northwood [Video]

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All eyes will be on Kentucky as the 2012-13 season begins, and Thursday night the defending national champions saw their first live-game action in a 93-61 exhibition win over Northwood at Rupp Arena in Lexington.

The No. 1 overall prospect from the Class of 2012, big man Nerlens Noel, posted a double-double of 17 points, 11 rebounds, and four blocks for a team that shot 64 percent from the field on the night.

Noel’s teammate in the frontcourt, fellow freshman Willie Cauley-Stein, added eight points and nine rebounds.

“I like the big team, I like the two big guys together,” said Kentucky coach John Calipari. “I’m fine with that. Nerlens [Noel] was really good today. Willie [Cauley-Stein] was good, Nerlens was really good.

“What’s happened is [Noel] and Willie have made each other better. They’re both better because they go against each other every day. I like the fact that I put them in together a couple days ago and they really talked to one another, like up and down the court they were telling each other I’m here, you go up, you do this, and it was good to see.”

The Wildcats, despite having a roster almost entirely different from the one that won a national title last season, were picked to finish first in the coaches’ poll at SEC media day to begin the season.

Noel is the prized recruit of Calipari’s new class, along with eligible transfers Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays, and freshmen Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, and Cauley-Stein.

For game highlights, click here.

Kentucky opens its season on Nov. 9 against Maryland at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

No. 17 Arizona erases double-digit deficit to beat UCLA

Arizona coach Sean Miller reacts to a foul call during the first half of Arizona's NCAA college basketball game against UCLA, Friday, Feb 12, 2016, in Tucson, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
(AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Allonzo Trier scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half and Parker Jackson-Cartwright scored 16 points in his second career start as No. 17 Arizona knocked off UCLA, 81-75, in Tucson on Friday night.

UCLA was up by as much as 11 points in the first half and took a ten point lead into half time, but in the second half, the Bruins were eventually done in by foul trouble and the stronger front line of the Wildcats.

Ryan Anderson and Kaleb Tarczewski were dominant down the stretch. The duo combined to score 12 of the last 23 point for the Wildcats, including the bucket that put the Wildcats ahead for the first time since early in the first half. Off of a missed free throw, UCLA’s Thomas Welsh battled with Tarczewski for the rebound, but when Welsh finally seemed to gain control of the loose ball, Anderson knocked it out of his hands and bullied through Jonah Bolden for a layup.

All told, those two combined for 20 points and 27 boards, seven of which were offensive. They also managed to foul out both Welsh and Tony Parker, although some of the calls that went against UCLA down the stretch were questionable.

The win keeps Arizona within a game of first place Oregon in the Pac-12 standings and tied for second with No. 23 USC, who will be visiting the McKale Center on Sunday night.

No. 23 USC falls at Arizona State

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley applauds the efforts of his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arizona, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ralph Freso)
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No. 23 USC missed a golden opportunity to make up a game in the Pac-12 standings on Friday night.

No. 11 Oregon lost to Colorado on Thursday night, dropping back into a tie for first place in the league with the Trojans, a game ahead of No. 17 Arizona. But USC fell at Arizona State, 74-67, keeping them a game off of the pace that the Ducks have set.

The loss is even more painful when you consider that, on Sunday, the Trojans will be making the trip to Tucson to take on Arizona. The Wildcats are not what we have become accustomed to seeing under Sean Miller, but they are still a top 25 team and the McKale Center is still one of the toughest places in the country to get a win.

Thanks to Friday’s loss, instead of entering McKale with an outside chance of taking over sole possession of first place in the league, USC will have top hope they don’t fall two games off the pace.

As far as the game itself was concerned, USC committed 17 turnovers, shot 2-for-11 from three and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to Arizona State. That’s how you lose a game where you shoot better than 51 percent from the floor. USC was just never able to consistently get out into transition, and that caused them to struggle executing in the half court.

Nikola Jovanovic led the way with 25 points and 15 boards for USC.

Tra Holder’s 20 points made the difference for Arizona State, who kept themselves within striking distance of an at-large bid with the win.