Duke runs out of answers in second half against Louisville

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Despite 10 first-half turnovers and three fouls for senior forward Ryan Kelly the Duke Blue Devils trailed Louisville by just three points at the half, 35-32. With those two facts in mind the Blue Devils had to like their chances against the tournament’s top overall seed.

But after a solid start to the second half Duke found itself on the wrong end of a dominant performance, as their struggles on both ends of the floor would ultimately result in an 85-63 Louisville victory.

Duke shot 32% overall and 2-of-10 from three in the second half as they were outscored 50-31 by the Cardinals. With just two second-half turnovers one would assume that the Blue Devils would be in very good shape. But even with the lack of turnovers the ball ended up being funneled into positions where Duke could not hurt Louisville.

“What they do, and Rick’s done an amazing job with them, because they have depth and they keep coming at you, but they make you have multiple decision‑makers,” said Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. “You have to have more than one guy making a decision out on the court.

“And in switching their defenses and their quickness and their athleticism, you have to‑‑ it’s tough to run plays.  You have to make plays against them.”

As for the other end of the floor, Louisville struggled to shoot from the perimeter (2-of-13 3PT) outside of a few mid-range jumpers from center Gorgui Dieng and a couple long twos from Peyton Siva.

But their ability to crack the Blue Devil defense and get into the paint proved to be the difference.

The Cardinals shot 59% from the field and 16-of-23 from the foul line in the second half, making 14 of their 19 shots from inside of the arc. That proved to be too much for Duke to overcome given their offensive struggles.

Duke will look to account for the graduation of Kelly, Seth Curry and Mason Plumlee (not to mention assistant Chris Collins, who is the new head coach at Northwestern), and the addition of players such as Matt Jones, Jabari Parker and Semi Ojeleye will help and the same goes for Mississippi State transfer Rodney Hood.

On this day however, Duke simply ran into a better team.

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

Swanigan to stay in draft

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Caleb Swanigan is leaving Purdue and staying in the NBA draft.

The Boilermaker big man held as much sway on the college basketball landscape with his decision as nearly any player who declared for the draft without an agent. After a season in which he became a double-double machine and averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game, Swanigan would have been one of – if not the – favorites for National Player of the Year while also making Purdue right at the top of the Big Ten with Michigan State.

Instead, he’ll end his collegiate career after a pair of seasons and one Sweet 16 appearance in West Lafayette. As a professional prospect, Swanigan is an interesting case. He was as productive of player as college basketball has seen in recent years as a sophomore, putting up 20-20 games with ridiculous consistency. He’s got some range, but limited quickness and athleticism. The question will be how his game – and frame – will translate into the new NBA that prioritizes versatility, shooting and athleticism. Right now, not many have him pegged as a sure-fire first-round pick.

The loss for Purdue is hard to overstate given just how good “Biggie” was. There’s just no replacing that type of production in the lineup. Still, Matt Painter and the Boilermakers still have an intriguing group, with Isaac Haas and Vince Edwards both electing to return to school after dipping their toes in the NBA waters. There’s some other intriguing young pieces there that will keep Purdue interesting in the Big Ten race.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.