Scottie Wilbekin

Florida holds off Andrew Wiggins, Kansas for 67-61 win

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Florida entered the season ranked No. 10 in the AP poll, however, it was with a depleted roster that included players ineligible, suspended or injured.

The Gators lost a road game inside the Kohl Center to the currently unbeaten Wisconsin Badgers, which caused them to fall outside the top 10. Last Monday, Shabazz Napier drained his second chance at a game winner, running out of Gampel Pavilion with what could have been a huge road victory for Florida.

On Tuesday night at home, No. 19 Florida — in the middle of a difficult three game slate — looked like the team that was worthy of the preseason praise, taking a double-digit first half lead before holding off a Jayhawks comeback in a 67-61 win No. 13 Kansas at home as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

Florida started out slow, trailing 10-3. But the Gators extended 1-3-1 zone sparked a 21-0 run. During that span the Jayhawks missed all six shots, and committed six turnovers, struggling to make passes against the length and quickness of the zone, especially on the wings with 6-foot-7 Will Yeguete on one side and the 6-foot-6 Casey Prather on the other.

Despite holding a consistent eight to 12-point lead for most of the second half, Kansas made a late-game comeback led by the second half play of Andrew Wiggins, who posted season highs in points (26) — 20 came in the second half — and rebounds (11), recording his first double-double with KU.

Florida earns a huge win, finally starting to get a complete, or nearly complete roster. Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin (18 points) played their first regular season game together in the Gators back court, and more good news could be one the way as top-10 recruit Chris Walker may be set to join the team within a week or so.

With the roster coming more and more together, you can see just how dangerous Billy Donovan’s club can be. Hill and Wilbekin gives the Gators two ball handlers, who can also pressure opposing guards. Prather is one of the most improved scorers in the country at 19.1 per game. And the front court is talented and deep.

Florida, which finished third in scoring defense last season, can throw different looks at teams defensively, including that 1-3-1 zone that helped force 24 KU turnovers (16 in the first half).

We’ve wondered what the Gators would look like with all their players in uniform instead out due to injuries, or off the court issues. Tuesday night offered a good idea of what that might look like in the upcoming months. And the Gators are still waiting to be at full strength, pending Walker’s eligibility.

Florida gets a chance add another quality non-conference victory next Tuesday against No. 16 Memphis at Madison Square Garden, the end of a string of three consecutive games against ranked opponents.

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.