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Johnathan Loyd’s steady hand propels No. 13 Oregon to a win at Ole Miss

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When it was announced that starting point guard Dominic Artis was one of two players (forward Ben Carter being the other) suspended nine games for a violation of NCAA rules, there wasn’t a great deal of consternation amongst those who follow the Oregon Ducks. Why? There’s still plenty of talent at Dana Altman’s disposal in the backcourt, with his most seasoned player also being the one who’s the most overlooked.

That would be senior point guard Johnathan Loyd, who won MVP honors at last season’s Pac-12 tournament and has been a steady influence for a team filled with contributors who played their basketball at other schools in 2012-13. And in the 13th-ranked Ducks’ 115-105 overtime win at Ole Miss on Sunday night Loyd put together one of the best games of his career, racking up 25 points and 15 assists with just four turnovers.

Marshall Henderson’s career-high 39 points paced the Rebels, who shot 15-for-35 from beyond the arc. A Jarvis Summers contested three-pointer with less than a second remaining sent the game into overtime, but Ole Miss’ leading scorer struggled for much of the night before finishing with 12 points.

Loyd was one of six Ducks to score in double figures and the seventh player to score, forward Richard Amardi, finished the game with nine points. Of those six players four weren’t Ducks last season, including forward Mike Moser (25 points, ten rebounds) and guard Joseph Young (19 points). While that certainly doesn’t guarantee chemistry issues it does make the presence of a veteran figure important, and Loyd has been that player for Oregon and that’s unlikely to change when Artis returns to action on December 17 against UC Irvine whether the senior continues to start or not.

Those transfers have the talent needed to lead the Ducks, who are expected to contend for the Pac-12 title, a long way but in order to do so the entire team will need to do a better job on the boards. Oregon broke even with the Rebels but Ole Miss grabbed 15 offensive rebounds, managing to grab nearly 35% of their missed shots, and outscored the Ducks 20-5 in second chance points. That didn’t result in a loss in Oxford, but this is an area Oregon will need to address in the final games before the start of Pac-12 play.

Offensively this is one of the best teams in the country, especially with Moser (scoring 23 of his 25 in the second half and overtime) looking to be back at the level he played at in his first season at UNLV and their three-headed attack in the backcourt. But while many count down the days until Artis is eligible to return to the court, don’t overlook what Johnathan Loyd’s provided in his absence.

Loyd’s been one of the most-improved players in the Pac-12, and that development is one reason why the Ducks will be a contender for conference supremacy.

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 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.

South Dakota State gets two commits

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Tuesday was a busy and productive one for South Dakota State on the recruiting trail.

The Jackrabbits secured two 2017 commitments from the state of Wisconsin in Ryan Krueger and Alex Arians, a source tells NBCSports.com.

Krueger is a 6-foot-5 wing player from New London, Wisc. while Arians is a 6-foot-4 guard from Madison, Wisc., who also held an offer from Wright State, which is coached by former SDSU coach Scott Nagy. Both players spend their summers playing for the Wisconsin Swing grassroots program.

The pair make it a trio of commits for the Jackrabbits in 2017 with another Wisconsinite, Alou Dillon, pledging to first-year Jackrabbits coach T.J. Otzelberger, himself a Wisconsin native, earlier this summer.

South Dakota State went 26-8 last year and the bulk of the team that made the NCAA tournament last year, including sophomore Mike Daum, who led the team in scoring and rebounding as a freshman.