North Carolina v Kansas

P.J. Hairston to return for junior season at North Carolina

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North Carolina received good news on Friday when the school announced that leading scorer, P.J. Hairston would return for his junior season.

“I have spent a lot of time with my family over the past couple of days discussing school and my future and I have decided to return to the University of North Carolina for my junior year,” Hairston said in a school statement. “I value the experiences I have had over the past two years in Chapel Hill, and hope to continue to grow under Coach Roy’s guidance. Coach always says ‘When you focus on the team during the season, I will support you in the off-season.’ This is my way of supporting coach, my teammates and the Tar Heel community. Go Heels!”

The 6-foor-5 sophomore was moved into the starting lineup following a 87-61 blowout loss to No. 8 Miami on Feb. 9. In those final 13 games, Hairston averaged more than 18 a game in the Tar Heels four-guard offense.

“Throughout this process, it has been amazing to watch P.J. utilize the values we have taught him,” Hairston’s mother Wendy Mailey said. “I am proud that he took the initiative to weigh the impact of short-term gratification versus long-term success to come to his decision to stay in school. I’ve watched him continually mature and learn from each lesson he has been faced with over the past two years. And now, his commitment to furthering his education, and to his coach and teammates, further exemplifies his growth.”

On Sunday it seemed less likely that Hairston would declare for the draft. Roy Williams still has questions to be answered, especially regarding the statuses of Reggie Bullock and James Michael McAdoo. Also, UNC — along with Kentucky, Florida State and Kansas — is still in the mix for the nation’s top prospect, Andrew Wiggins.

The Tar Heels graduate guard Dexter Strickland, but add size in the frontcourt with incoming center Kennedy Meeks and power forward Isaiah Hicks. Oak Hill Academy point guard Nate Britt also joins for the 2013-2014 season, as another play-making guard for Williams.

Hairston averaged 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds per game.

Terrence is also the lead writer at NEHoopNews.com and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

WATCH LIVE: Hofstra travels to Delaware on NBCSN

James Madison forward Yohanny Dalembert (40) prepares to shoot against Hofstra forward Rokas Gustys, behind, during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)
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Hofstra tries to keep pace with the conference’s elite as they travel to Delaware on Saturday afternoon. You can watch this CAA battle live on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. EST.

The Pride (17-8, 9-4) are currently two games behind conference leader UNC-Wilmington and they’re trying to make a run to close out the season. Senior guard Juan’ya Green leads the Pride in points (17.7 ppg), assists (7 apg) and steals (1.8 spg) and he’s surrounded by a dangerous supporting cast.

Delaware (6-18, 1-12) had lost 15 consecutive games before beating Drexel in their last game. The Blue Hens have struggled in CAA play but Kory Holden (17.5 ppg, 4 apg) will try to help lead the upset.

These two teams met on Dec. 31 with Hofstra winning that one, 90-80, at home.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

Michigan gets Caris LeVert back in a win over No. 18 Purdue

Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan (50) tries to steal the ball from Michigan guard Caris LeVert (23) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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Zak Irvin scored 22 points and Michigan’s outmanned front line held Purdue’s redwoods to just seven offensive boards, six second chance points and just 22 points in the paint as the Wolverines landed a critical, 61-56, win over the No. 18 Boilermakers.

Depending on who you listen to, Michigan entered the day, at worst, on the bubble and at best, in headed for the 8-9 game.

And they picked up a top 25 win.

So yes, this win was big for them moving forward.

But more important than the win itself was that Wolverine fans got a glimpse of all-american guard Caris LeVert. He played just 11 points and didn’t return in the second half, he didn’t score and he missed the only shot that he took, but LeVert took the court for the first time since Dec. 30th. That day, LeVert rolled his left ankle and most likely reinjured a foot that had had a broken bone surgically repaired twice in the last 20 months. Michigan never confirmed what the actual injury was and never gave a timetable for when he would be back in the lineup, which is what made his brief appearance so important.

LeVert isn’t done for the season.

And since the Wolverines managed to post a 9-4 Big Ten record with LeVert acting as little more than a spectator, they have a chance to make a run in the Big Ten tournament and get into the NCAA tournament.

That will happen with LeVert in the rotation and, if all goes according to plan, the starting lineup.

So even with a loss against Purdue, the Wolverines had a good day. Bolstering their NCAA tournament profile was an added bonus.