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Friday’s Pregame Shootaround: Five ranked teams in action

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Georgia Tech at Georgia (7:00 p.m.; ESPN3) 

On a night that lacks national buzz, the annual rivalry game between the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs is an important one for both programs. Georgia Tech, with their returnees including guard Marcus Georges-Hunt and center Daniel Miller, has the look of a team capable of improving its standing with the ACC this season. As for Georgia, on the heels of losing Kentavious Caldwell-Pope they certainly can use a win over the state’s other major basketball program. Nemanja Djurisic led the way with 12 points in Georgia’s season-opening win over Wofford, and balance will be the key for them in 2013-14.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: Utah (by UC Davis) 

Larry Krystkowiak’s Utes are 1-0 on the season, with a 128-44 victory over Evergreen State being the lone result. It’s safe to say that Evergreen State doesn’t have a player the caliber of UC Davis junior guard Corey Hawkins, who averaged 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game in 2012-13. Utah does have some talented pieces, most notably forwards Jordan Loveridge and Delon Wright, but the Aggies play an entertaining brand of basketball and return both Ryan Sypkens (14.1 ppg) and J.T. Adenrale (12.6, 5.9) along with Hawkins. One night after UC Irvine won at Washington, don’t be surprised if there’s another “Big West over Pac-12” result.

MID-MAJOR MATCHUP OF THE NIGHT: Nevada at San Francisco (10:00 p.m.) 

The Dons look to remain undefeated, but they’ll be tested by a Wolf Pack squad that features senior point guard Deonte Burton. Burton’s a high-scoring floor general who’s one of the best at the position in the country. But USF has a very good veteran point guard of its own in senior Cody Doolin. The difference-maker: that could be San Francisco senior forward Cole Dickerson, who was one of the nation’s best rebounders last season. If Nevada struggles inside as they did last year, Dickerson could be in line for a big night.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1) Amongst the winners on the recruiting trail today just one is in action tonight: No. 4 Duke, which hosts a Florida Atlantic team they’ll be expected to soundly defeat (7:00 p.m.). The thing to watch: whether or not the Blue Devils come out a bit sluggish after their tough game against Kansas on Tuesday. Come out aggressive and in sync, and this game’s over before halftime.

2) Oakland will be without the services of Duke Mondy and Dante Williams when they take on California in Berkeley (11:00 p.m., Pac-12 Networks), as the two were sent home by head coach Greg Kampe. The Golden Grizzlies will still have high-scoring guard Travis Bader, but they’ll have their hands full with Justin Cobbs and company.

3) Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski enters tonight’s game against Idaho State (9:00 p.m., Pac-12 Network) five blocked shots away from passing Mario Bennett as the school’s all-time leader in blocks. Plus, it’s another chance to watch the electric Jahii Carson as well.

4) Two old rivals who are expected to contend in their respective conferences meet in Las Cruces, as UTEP visits New Mexico State (9:00 p.m., ESPN3). Redshirt freshman center Matt Willms received high praise during the preseason, and he’ll have to hold his own with NMSU’s Sim Bhullar and Tshilidzi Nephawe if the Miners are to pick up the road victory.

5) Three days removed from a solid comeback victory over West Virginia, Virginia Tech hosts Western Carolina (7:00 p.m., ESPN3) in a game that could be dangerous for the Hokies. Trey Sumler was on fire in the second half of the Catamounts’ loss to No. 18 Oregon earlier this week, and he has the potential to do the same to Virginia Tech.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25:

  • Columbia at No. 2 Michigan State (9:00 p.m.; BTN)
  • Cornell at No. 3 Louisville (7:00 p.m.; ESPN3)
  • Arkansas-Pine Bluff at No. 8 Oklahoma State (8:00 p.m.)
  • Holy Cross at No. 12 North Carolina (8:00 p.m.; ESPNU)

NOTABLES: 

  • Wagner at St. John’s (6:00 p.m.; Fox Sports 2)
  • Samford at Indiana (7:00 p.m.; BTN)
  • Georgia Tech at Georgia (7:00 p.m.; ESPN3)
  • Stephen F. Austin at Texas (8:00 p.m.; LHN)
  • Lipscomb at Vanderbilt (8:00 p.m.)
  • Morehead State at Xavier (8:00 p.m.; Fox Sports 2)
  • UTEP at New Mexico State (9:00 p.m.; ESPN3)
  • Oakland at California (11:00 p.m.; Pac-12 Network)

Top-25 guard trims list to six

Trae Young , Brace Hemmelgarn/Getty Images
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One of the top points guards in the Class of 2017 has trimmed his list of potential collegiate destinations to six.

Trae Young, a consensus top-25 recruit, listed Texas Tech, Kansas, Oklahoma, Washington, Oklahoma State and Kentucky as the schools he is considering as he readies to begin his senior year of high school.

The list of the 6-foot-2 point guard is largely provincial as it includes Oklahoma, whose campus is just minutes away from Young’s Norman North High School, and fellow in-state school Oklahoma. Another pair of Big 12 schools make the list in powerhouse Kansas and the Red Raiders, whose first-year coach, Chris Beard, has spent the bulk of his career working in Texas. Texas Tech is also Young’s father’s alma mater. Washington has been on a role sending its players to the pros and recently received the commitment of top-five 2017 recruit Michael Porter, Jr.

Kentucky, of course, needs no explanation as to its attractiveness to high-level players.

Top-100 guard commits to Xavier

Chris Mack has Xavier back in the Sweet 16 (AP Photo)
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Xavier has added a top-100 prospect into its 2017 recruiting class Wednesday.

Elias Harden, a shooting guard from Georgia, pledged to the Musketeers via social media to become the second member of Chris Mack’s next class.

“The recruiting process was not EASY AT ALL,” Harden wrote on Twitter. “I wanna thank all the coaches that took time to recruit me.

“WIth that being said I will continue my academic and athletic career at Xavier University.”

The 6-foot-6 guard is ranked 92nd overall by 247Sports and had offers from Auburn, Maryland, Texas Tech and Ole Miss. He joins Jared Ridder, a Missouri guard, as part of the 2017 Xavier class.

The Musketeers return the bulk of last year’s 28-6 team that narrowly missed out on the Sweet 16.

Clemson recruit to enroll early

Brad Brownell
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Clemson will get a four-star recruit on campus a year earlier than it expected, though his on-court debut for the Tigers will remain on schedule.

A.J. Oliver, a guard from South Carolina, will enroll early at Clemson and redshirt this upcoming season, he announced via social media Wednesday.

“I woke up this morning and realized that the greatest opportunity for me is to enroll early into Clemson,” he wrote on Twitter. “I will redshirt a year & start my college career early.”

Oliver, whose mother is the head women’s basketball coach at Clemson, was a consensus top-100 player in the class of 2017 who committed to the Tigers last December. Texas Tech and the College of Charleston were involved before his commitment.

A three-star shooting guard, Scott Spencer of Virginia, was previously the only member coach Brad Brownell’s 2016 class. While Oliver’s decision to redshirt will keep him off the court for the 2016-17 season, he’ll have spent a full season in the Tiger program before making his debut in 2017

The cupboard isn’t bare in 2017 for the Tigers due to Oliver’s reclassification because Clemson received a commitment from power forward Malik Williams, a consensus top-150 player, earlier Wednesday.

Kentucky used Calipari-Chaney fight in media training

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Kentucky Sports Radio
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Kentucky held some media training sessions yesterday, and one of the topics that head coach John Calipari used to make a point was … his blow-up with John Chaney. The moment was captured on SnapChat by a trio of Kentucky newcomers.

You remember that incident. Chaney, then the head coach at Temple, and Cal, who was coaching Atlantic 10 rival UMass at the time, nearly came to blows over the way that Cal handled officials during the game. Before the video below picks up, the two shared this exchange:

“Could I say this to you, please?” Chaney said, before the video above picks up. “You’ve got a good ball club. But what you did with the officials out there is wrong, and I don’t want to be a party to that. You understand?”

Cal responded: “You weren’t out there, Coach. You don’t have any idea.”

Chaney fired back: “You got a game given to you by officials right here with G.W. on three bad calls, O.K.? Then you send your kids out there pushing and shoving. You had the best officiating you could ever get here. And for you to ride them, I don’t want to be a party to that.”

And that led to “I’ll kill you”:

(h/t KSR)

VIDEO: Shaq’s son, Shareef O’Neal, with monster dunk in Vegas

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Shareef O’Neal is a top 50 prospect in the Class of 2018. In Vegas this past weekend, he threw down a monster put-back dunk.