N.C. State point guard Lorenzo Brown ‘unlikely’ to play Saturday against No. 14 Miami

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In the first half of No. 19 N.C. State’s 58-55 loss at Virginia Wednesday night, junior point guard Lorenzo Brown went down with a sprained left ankle and did not return.

And it looks as if the Wolfpack will be without his services on Saturday when they host No. 14 Miami Saturday afternoon, as head coach Mark Gottfried stated on Friday that it’s “unlikely” that Brown will be available.

To say the least this would be a big loss for the Wolfpack, as Brown currently leads the ACC in assists (6.9 apg) while also averaging 12.7 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest. If Brown is unable to go N.C. State will most likely go with two freshmen at the point, alternating starter Rodney Purvis and reserve Tyler Lewis.

Purvis is certainly gifted with the basketball in his hands, averaging 9.6 points and 1.7 assists per game in 19 starts, and Lewis arrived in Raleigh touted as one of the best distributors in the freshman class. But neither saw a great deal of time at the point with a healthy Brown playing just over 33 minutes per game.

With the Hurricanes limiting opponents to 37% shooting and forcing 12.8 turnovers per game this would be a significant challenge for both players. And that’s not even factoring the task of guarding Shane Larkin (12.9 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Durand Scott (13.8 ppg, 2.9 apg) into the equation.

In addition to Brown’s offensive qualities he can make life difficult for opponents on the other end as well due to his 6-5 frame, and he’s second in the ACC with an average of 2.1 steals per game. So who would draw the assignment of guarding Larkin if Brown can’t go? According to David Morrison of the Greensboro News-Record Purvis may end up being the choice.

The Wolfpack’s best bet is probably to utilize the 6-3 Purvis at the point against 5-11 Miami guard Shane Larkin.

Larkin’s got the speed edge on Purvis, but the Wolfpack freshman does have four inches on him. Larkin could be a handful on defense for Purvis, who hasn’t been tasked with ballhandling duties much this season. Larkin’s the only ACC player with more steals per game than Brown.

N.C. State needs a win on Saturday afternoon if they’re to have any chance of winning their first ACC regular season title since 1989, but having to deal with Brown’s injury in addition to three conference losses may end up being too much to overcome.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej

No. 7 South Carolina upends No. 3 Baylor to advance to the Elite 8

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NEW YORK — It was with a whipping and a whimper that Baylor’s season can to an end on Friday night.

The final two minutes of the game wasn’t actually a game. No. 7 seed South Carolina dished out a 70-50 beatdown that wasn’t in doubt after the Gamecocks used an 18-0 run at the end of the first half to turn a rock fight into statement, and for the final two minutes of the game, the Gamecocks and, eventually, Baylor dribbled out the remaining seconds before joining arms at center court for a postgame prater.

It’s the third straight year that Baylor has been bounced from the NCAA tournament by a team seeded lower than them. In 2015, it was R.J. Hunter’s heroics that knocked his dad off of a stool and sent No. 14 seed Georgia State into the second round of the tournament. In 2016, the Bears fell in the first round to No. 12 seed Yale, prompting one of the most memorable press conference moments in NCAA tournament history.

And on Friday night, it was South Carolina that sent the Bears into offseason hibernation.

It was a disheartening end to a season, a loss that will surely provide fodder for the people that traffic in ‘Scott Drew can’t coach’ jokes, the irony being that the 2016-17 season was definitive proof that Scott Drew is almost certainly better at his job than you are at yours.

“When you coach for a while and you make Elite Eights and Sweet 16, you kind of start taking it for granted that you will always be successful in March,” Drew said. “But it’s a good reminder to be here and know how hard it is.”

No. 1 North Carolina handles No. 4 Butler en route to Elite Eight

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North Carolina, the top seed in the South Region, led by as many as 20 en route to a 92-80 win over No. 4 Butler in the Sweet 16 matchup on Friday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

The Tar Heels were led by 26 points, off 8-of-13 shooting, from junior point guard Joel Berry II. The 6-foot floor general had been hampered by an ankle injury through the first weekend. While he still seemed to favor that same ankle at times, his play was a big improvement on his 3-of-21 shooting through the NCAA Tournament’s first two rounds. Justin Jackson nearly matched Berry’s game-high with 24 points.

Andrew Chrabascz, in the final game of his four-year career at Butler, finished with 21 points, seven rebounds and four assists.

North Carolina, the last of the ACC’s nine tournament bids, advances to the Elite Eight to face the winner of No. 3 UCLA and No. 2 Kentucky. The Wildcats own a win over North Carolina, defeating the Tar Heels, 103-100, on Dec. 17 behind 47 points from Malik Monk.

Missouri lands No. 1 player in Class of 2017 as Michael Porter Jr. commits

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Missouri and new head coach Cuonzo Martin have landed the No. 1 player in the Class of 2017 a week after he took the job as forward Michael Porter Jr. committed to the Tigers on Friday.

Formerly a Washington commit under now-fired head coach Lorenzo Romar, the 6-foot-9 Porter was released from his Letter of Intent this week and many believed he’d end up back at Missouri.

The Porter family lived in Columbia for many years as two of Michael’s older sisters play for the Missouri women’s team while Michael Porter Sr. was an assistant coach for the women’s team.

When Porter Sr. was hired to Missouri to be an assistant coach on Martin’s staff this week — after losing his assistant coaching job at Washington when Romar was fired — it all but sealed the deal that the Porters would return to Missouri and Michael Jr. would play for the Tigers.

Missouri might not be an NCAA Tournament team next season after struggling to an 8-24 finish and 2-16 record in the SEC. But Porter might be the most productive freshman entering college basketball next season as he has a chance to be dominant in the SEC.

Oklahoma State promotes assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach

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Oklahoma State has decided to promote assistant coach Mike Boynton to head coach, the school announced on Friday.

Boynton was an assistant with the Cowboys under former head coach Brad Underwood, who left Oklahoma State to take the Illinois job last weekend. Also an assistant coach at Stephen F. Austin, South Carolina, Wofford and Coastal Carolina, Boynton is a native of New York City who played his college ball for the Gamecocks.

The hire of Boynton is surprising since he doesn’t have any head-coaching experience as it follows in the footsteps of Cal promoting assistant coach Wyking Jones earlier in the day. Boynton also notably won the job over broadcaster and former Oklahoma State guard Doug Gottlieb as Gottlieb interviewed for the job but wasn’t selected.

 

Rhode Island junior E.C. Matthews will return to school

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Rhode Island junior guard E.C. Matthews will return to school for his redshirt senior season, the school announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-5 Matthews led the Rams in scoring at 14.9 points per game this past season as he returned from a torn ACL and helped Rhode Island reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1999.

Besides for being a talented scorer, Matthews is a good overall playmaker for the Rams as he also put up 4.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game.

With Matthews returning, it gives head coach Dan Hurley a huge weapon for next season as Rhode Island returns everyone besides the senior front court of Hassan Martin and Kuran Iverson.