Freshmen emerge in Duke blowout of Delaware

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So far this season, Duke’s ascendance to a No. 2 ranking has been predicated on the actions of a well-drilled corps of seniors. Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly are the core of Coach K’s latest ACC challenger. Sophomore Quinn Cook has ably proven that he can run the point for the 8-0 Blue Devils, and freshman Rasheed Sulaimon (pictured) has acquitted himself very well in starter’s minutes.

If hopeful future foes question the Duke bench, however, today’s 88-50 blowout of presumptive CAA top-echelon challenger Delaware showed there’s more where the starting five came from.

Given 21 minutes in the easy win, 6’8″ freshman Amile Jefferson made an impression, scoring 12 points and grabbing six boards as Plumlee and Kelly rested. Fellow newbie Alex Murphy chipped in 10 and seven, along with a block.

Neither player had sniffed double figures in minutes, points or anything other than splinters as the Blue Devils punched their way through a brutal early schedule that included wins over Kentucky, Louisville and Ohio State. Opportunity knocked against a lesser foe, and both tyros answered with authority.

Duke’s starters also fared well, with Kelly and Plumlee scoring 18 apiece, and Sulaimon chipping in 14.

Though Delaware has struggled to a 2-6 record in the early going, the team is strong in the frontcourt, with twin senior behemoths Jamelle Hagins and Carl Baptiste muscling up in the paint. For Jefferson and Murphy to play so well against a quality opponent is highly encouraging for Duke as the long season wears on, and bench production becomes more important.

The no-doubt weary Blue Devils will now have a week off before facing A-10 challenger Temple on December 8.

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.

 

VIDEO: Zion Williamson’s coach is holding a sleeping baby

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LaMelo Ball vs. Zion Williamson was insane, but it wasn’t quite crazy enough to wake up the sleeping toddler that Williamson’s coach is holding in his arms:

This is peak AAU basketball.

It will never be more AAU than that.

PHOTOS: Zion Williamson, LaMelo Ball showdown was, of course, insane

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In a showcase game in the adidas Uprising event in Las Vegas on Wednesday night, LaMelo Ball — the youngest member of the Big Baller Brand — faced off with Zion Williamson, who is a force on youtube and a highlight machine.

The crowd was insane for the game:

According to a report from ESPN, there were even concerns about whether or not the game would actually be allowed to be played; the police and fire marshall considered shutting the event down.

Williamson, of course, put on a show in warmups:

At the time of this posting, there were more than 60,000 people watching a livestream of the game on BallIsLife’s facebook page:

(UPDATE: It’s now over 70,000)

Puerto Rico Tip Off bracket revealed

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The bracket of the 2017 Puerto Rico Tip off was revealed Wednesday, setting up a showdown between a 2016 Final Four participant and the 2016 Big 12 tournament champion.

South Carolina and Iowa State headline the event, which will be played Nov. 16-19, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico.

The Gamecocks are on the top half of the bracket, opening against Illinois State while the Cyclones are on the bottom half, squaring off against Appalachian State.

Boise State vs. UTEP is the other top-half quarterfinal while Tulsa vs. Western Michigan is the other.

The championship game of the Puerto Rico Tip Off on Sunday, Nov. 19.