Marquette Sweet 16-bound after holding off Butler in tournament’s best game

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Around this time last season, Marquette was on its way to the Sweet 16 with Big East Player of the Year Jae Crowder and his right-hand man, Darius Johnson-Odom. Three different Marquette assistants sat on the sidelines and guard Vander Blue was a solid producer on a solid Big East team.

One year later, Crowder and Johnson-Odom are gone. Those three Marquette assistants have moved on. And perhaps most importantly Vander Blue is at the center of a Golden Eagle run that once again finds them in the Sweet 16 after a 74-72 win over No. 6-seed Butler at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky., Saturday night.

After two Davante Gardner free throws with four seconds left to play gave Marquette a four-point lead, 74-70, Butler launched an inbounds pass the length of the court where center Andrew Smith grabbed it and laid it in for two. That pulled the game within one possession, 74-72. A botched inbounds play by Marquette and perhaps a missed foul call allowed the ball to go out of bounds with two seconds remaining, giving Butler one final opportunity to tie.

The subsequent pass was thrown to Smith at the top of the key, but he stumbled and missed a three-pointer that would have given Butler the win.

Blue had 29 points on 9-of-15 shooting, including a big three-pointer from the right corner with 1:29 to play that tied the game at 69. His major performance followed a game-saving layup in the Round of 64 that allowed Marquette to survive and advance past Davidson.

With all the change that has come to this program over the past year, there has remained one constant: head coach Buzz Williams. Williams did not win Big East Coach of the Year, but he very well could have. Considering the assets that he lost, the development of the players he had returning, and the production that he has been able to help them unlock, this Marquette run to the Sweet 16 is remarkable.

Marquette now moves on to play the winner of Miami-Illinois for a chance to punch its ticket to the Elite Eight.

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

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.