No. 21 Missouri makes a much-needed statement vs. Ole Miss

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Missouri’s 98-79 win over Ole Miss was exactly what the Tigers needed.

And I’m not simply talking about the fact that they won a game they needed to win or that they beat a team that was tied for second in the SEC standings.

The Tigers have been a shell of themselves since Bowers went down with the sprained MCL against Alabama back in early January. They got worked by Ole Miss on the road, and followed that up with a pounding at florida, losses at LSU and Texas A&M, and uninspiring home wins against South Carolina and Auburn. Some of those games were played with Bowers back in the lineup, which made things even more concerning for the Tigers.

Doubters started popping up. Maybe this just isn’t a good basketball team?

Well, on Saturday afternoon, the Tigers did their best to reverse that line of thinking, as they pounded the Rebels from the tip.

Phil Pressey caught fire early, sparking a 33-13 surge in the first 11 minutes, and Alex Oriakhi cleaned up down the stretch — he finished with 22 points, 18 boards (10 offensive), three blocks, and nearly instigated one brawl — as Missouri played their best 40 minutes of basketball of the season.

Is this a great win? Ehh, probably not. Ole Miss isn’t all that good this year, and Missouri is a much better team in their own gym than on the road. And the Tigers still didn’t play a perfect game. Pressey forced some shots, their offense wasn’t exactly free-flowing and their defense left much to be desired.

This win also did nothing to change the biggest issue that Missouri has right now: they can’t win on the road. While I don’t think that the Tigers are in danger of missing out on the NCAA tournament, there is something to be said for the fact that they don’t have a road win this season. Five of their last eight games are on the road, and one of those home games comes against Florida.

But at the end of the day, Missouri came out, played some great basketball and, frankly, sent a message in a game that they really needed to play well and make a statement.

There’s work to be done, but Saturday was a big building block for the rest of the Tiger season.

 

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.