No. 5 OSU’s LaQuinton Ross snaps out of his slump, hits for 20 in win over Maryland

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Ohio State entered Wednesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge matchup with Maryland ranked No. 5 in the country. The Buckeyes were No. 2 according to Kenpom, which is largely the result of the Buckeye’s stifling defense.

Thad Matta’s team leads the country in defensive efficiency, holding their opponents to 39.0 eFG% (effective field goal percentage), forcing turnovers on nearly a quarter of their possessions and doing so while avoiding fouls.

We knew this was going to happen, however. Aaron Craft might be the best on-ball defender in the country. Shannon Scott may be his biggest challenger for that title. Sam Thompson is an absurd athlete that has the length to bother just about wing player in the country. Add in a big body in Amir Williams in the paint, and, frankly, their defensive prowess should not come as any surprise.

What is somewhat surprising is that the Buckeyes managed to win their first six games, dominating Marquette by holding them to 35 points, despite the fact that LaQuinton Ross has struggled. In his first five games, Ross was averaging 6.2 points and shooting 22.7% from the floor and 22.2% from three. That’s a problem, because the most difficult thing that the Buckeyes have to do this year is replace the scoring of Deshaun Thomas. That was supposed to be Ross’ role.

Well, he’s finally busted out of that slump. On Wednesday night, Ross went for 20 points in Ohio State’s 76-60 win over Maryland. He had 17 points on 6-for-8 shooting, 4-for-5 from three, in the first half. That followed up a 17-point performance — on 6-for-9 shooting, 5-for-8 from three — in a win over North Florida this weekend. Do the math, and Ross scored more points in the last two games than he did the first five, tripling the number of threes he had on the season.

That’s huge for the Buckeyes.

They need Ross’ scoring pop. They need him to hit to averaging around 15 points. They need him to be a go-to guy and a three-point shooter that can spread the floor. That’s his role on this defensive-minded team.

He wasn’t doing that to start the year, but he has the last two games.

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.