SEC Mississippi St Tennessee Basketball

Mississippi State is a popular destination for Carver-Montgomery players

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At one point last season, Mississippi State and head coach Rick Ray had five scholarship players available due to transfers, players turning pro, suspensions and a rash of injuries. So far this offseason, they’ve started to it turn around personnel-wise, and their 2014 class got a boost Monday from a school that’s very familiar with the Bulldogs’ program.

Demetrius Houston gave his verbal pledge to Ray. With that, the Montgomery (Ala.) George Washington Carver High School product became the fourth player from the school to commit to the Mississippi State program in recent years.

The 6-6 small forward joins 2015 Montgomery-Carver (what the local writers refer to it as) Bulldog commit Josh Struggs and current Mississippi State players Craig Sword and Roquez Johnson as guys who have made the trip from Montgomery to Starkville to play college basketball. Sword, a sophomore-to-be, was the team’s leading scorer last year, while Johnson, who will be a junior this upcoming season, averaged 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2012-13. He was also suspended three games for a violation of team rules.

That gives Carver-Montgomery at least one Mississippi State commitment in the 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 classes — meaning Carver-Montgomery didn’t have a senior on its 2013 roster, obviously.

Houston is rated as high as a three-star recruit by some scouting services and is the second overall commitment for Mississippi State for 2014, joining shooting guard Maurice Dunlap.

As far as the future is concerned, the Bulldogs have the aforementioned Sword (a team-leading 10.5 points per game) and Johnson returning, along with Jalen Steele (10.1 ppg) and pretty much everyone else that matters. But Houston will an integral part of a class that will have to replace Steele and possibly a few others after next season.

I guess if something works, you stick with it, right?

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

VIDEOS: Rhode Island, Maryland exchange heated words in Cancun

Dan Hurley
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No. 2 Maryland finally found their rhythm on Wednesday night, blowing out a good Rhode Island team, 86-63, in the finals of the Cancun Challenge.

Melo Trimble and Rasheed Sulaimon combined for 34 points and eight assists on 13-for-14 shooting and Robert Carter added 15 points, nine boards, three assists and three blocks. Peak Maryland, which is what we saw tonight, is really dangerous.

But Peak Maryland wasn’t the story after the game, as tempers flared in the waning minutes.

It started when Maryland coach Mark Turgeon called a timeout with less than two minutes remaining. Jake Layman had just hit a three to put Maryland up by 24 points and Turgeon wanted to get his walk-ons in the game. Hurley said to the Maryland bench, “We’ll see you again, boy,” according to Inside Maryland Sports, which prompted this reaction from Turgeon:

After the game, the two teams had to be separated in layup lines. According to reports from IMS and from the Baltimore Sun, Hurley was cursing at Maryland players as he was shaking their hands after the game. According Doug Gottlieb, who called the game for CBS Sports Network, Trimble said that the Rhode Island team wanted to “fight us”:

Wayne Selden stars as Kansas wins the title in Maui

Wayne Selden Jr., Jeff Roberson
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The last time we wrote about Wayne Selden in this space, it was my colleague Scott Phillips who questioned, after a poor performance in the Champions Classic, whether or not Selden is capable of bring a primary scorer for a team with NCAA title aspirations.

At the time, it wasn’t an unfair question to ask.

Selden is a former top 15 recruit. He is a guy who was expected to go one-and-done that played poorly in the first big game of his third year on campus. But after three days it Maui, it appears that the old Wayne Selden is gone.

[MORE: Kansas got Cheick Diallo news today]

He capped an MVP performance in the Maui Invitational with 25 points and seven boards on 8-for-11 shooting as the No. 5 Kansas Jayhawks knocked off No. 19 Vanderbilt, 70-63, in the title game. Selden was terrific for the entire weekend, averaging 21.5 points in the two games against Division I competition and shooting 12-for-17 from beyond the arc in the three game tournament.

It was the best that we’ve seen Selden play during his Jayhawk career, and it came in a game the Jayhawks desperately needed it. Vanderbilt is a damn good team. They’re ranked 19th, which may actually be too low, and they seem to clearly be the biggest challenger to Kentucky in the SEC. They jumped out to a double-digit lead on Kansas in the first half as the Jayhawks seemed to be sleep-walking early in the game.

Enter Selden. He drilled three threes in the first half and scored 13 of the 26 Jayhawk points to keep them close. In other words, he played like a star on a night Kansas desperately needed someone to step up and play like a star. Remember: this is a dude that had enough talent and potential in high school to be considered a McDonald’s All-American and a potential lottery pick. The ability is there:

(That move is filthy.)

The question has always been whether or not he is capable of putting it all together, of being the guy that can be relied upon to make the big play in the big moment, to carry a team with title aspirations.

And to be fair, the jury is still out in that regard. Are we just going to ignore those four free throws he clanged down the stretch?

But seeing Selden have this kind of performance in a game like this against a team that is this good is unquestionably a positive for Kansas moving forward.