SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals - Vanderbilt v Kentucky

NCAA grants Georgia State guard Ryan Harrow immediate eligibility

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Ryan Harrow has now been a member of three different programs during his three-plus seasons as a college basketball player. There’s the freshman campaign at N.C. State, which came to an end thanks to the combination of a coaching change and the emergence of Lorenzo Brown as the team’s leader at the point.

Harrow made the decision to transfer to Kentucky, joining a program that would be limited on options at point guard when he became eligible for the 2012-13 season. In 29 games Harrow averaged 9.9 points and 2.8 assists per game for the Wildcats in a season that wasn’t as smooth as anyone would have hoped, as the reigning national champions finished their season in the Postseason NIT.

With his father in poor health Harrow (a native of Marietta, Ga.) made the decision to transfer for the second time, moving to Georgia State with the hope that his situation would lead to the NCAA allowing him to play without having to sit out the year in residency required of transfers.

Harrow received the answer he was hoping for on Wednesday, as Georgia State announced that the NCAA has granted him immediate eligibility.

“I am really excited for Ryan and his family. There is no doubt this will be a huge boost for our team as Ryan is an extremely talented player,” Georgia State head coach Ron Hunter said in the release. “He has been working hard not knowing if he would be eligible or not and I have no doubt will work even harder now knowing that he will get to play this season.

“I would like to thank the NCAA, University of Kentucky and all of the members of the Georgia State staff who helped make this possible. It was a total team effort and greatly appreciated by the coaching staff and Ryan’s family.”

The Panthers, who will play their first season in the Sun Belt after leaving (for football reasons) the CAA, return their top three scorers from last season in guards R.J. Hunter (17.0 ppg, 5.1 rpg) and Devonta White (14.8 ppg, 3.9 apg) and small forward Manny Atkins (14.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg).

Adding Harrow to the equation makes Georgia State even deeper on the perimeter (senior Rashaad Richardson returns as well), and gives them a shot at competing with Western Kentucky (winner of the last two Sun Belt tournament titles) for Sun Belt supremacy.

Raphielle can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Marcus Paige, Joel Berry lead No. 9 North Carolina past No. 2 Maryland

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — He’s back.

For the first time this season — and for the first time in more than a year that he hasn’t been hampered with some kind of foot or ankle injury — Marcus Paige donned a North Carolina jersey, and it didn’t take him long to find the form that made him the Preseason National Player of the Year.

On the first Tar Heel possession, Paige came off of a ball-screen, drove the lane and found Kennedy Meeks at the rim for a layup. Not 30 seconds later, he came off of a down screen and buried a three. Paige would finish with 20 points and five assists as No. 9 North Carolina put together a fairly resounding win over No. 2 Maryland in the Dean Dome on Tuesday night, winning 89-81.

Paige finished 7-for-12 from the floor and 4-for-5 from beyond the arc, hitting a number of threes in the second half that helped hold off a Maryland push sparked by their own all-american point guard, Melo Trimble.

Trimble was erratic early on, committing three turnovers in the first six minutes and eight on the night, but it was his play at the end of the first half and early second half that kept North Carolina from blowing their doors. At one point, Maryland was down 32-19 and in danger of getting run out of Tobacco Road.

In total, Trimble finished with 23 points and 12 assists, hitting four big threes during that stretch. He either scored or assisted on 11 of Maryland’s first 12 second half field goals.

As good as Paige was, the bigger story may actually be Joel Berry II. He took two dumb threes in the first half — which played a role in Maryland being able to make this a game — and he missed a few free throws late, but overall he was terrific. He finished with 14 points and five assists, making 3-of-5 threes and turning the ball over just twice. He’s clearly beat Nate Britt out at the point guard spot, and his ability to take pressure off of Paige as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker is huge.

(More to come from Chapel Hill…)

VIDEO: Melo Trimble drops Nate Britt with a crossover

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North Carolina is hosting No. 2 Maryland in a heated contest in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Terps sophomore guard Melo Trimble is playing very well and part of his performance was dropping North Carolina’s Nate Britt with a crossover in the second half.

(H/T: The Cauldron)