Providence in the mix atop Big East after beating Xavier

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Bryce Cotton finished with 25 points and seven assists and LeDontae Henton added 23 points and 11 boards as Providence won their fifth straight game on Saturday, knocking off Xavier 81-72.

The Friars moved to 15-5 overall and 5-2 in league play, putting them in a tie with Xavier for third place, just a game behind Creighton and Villanova.

That means that Providence is now right in the mix with what has been the consensus three best teams in the conference this season. They’ve beaten two of those teams in the last seven days. Does that mean that the Friars are an actual contender in the Big East?

They certainly have the talent on their roster to continue to make noise. Bryce Cotton may be the nation’s most underrated point guard and the quartet of Henton, Kadeem Batts, Tyler Harris and Carson Desrosiers should mean that Providence never faces a situation where they will get overpowered in the paint.

That group will allow to Friars to compete every night.

But here’s the problem: that’s basically it when it comes to players that Ed Cooley has at his disposal. Josh Fortune Desrosiers sees some minutes off the bench, but the Friars don’t go much deeper than that. That’s what happens when you lose a star point guard to an injury (Kris Dunn) and a pair of talented recruits a violation of team rules (Brandon Austin and Rodney Bullock).

There’s also this note: the Friars have won four of the five games during this streak at the Dunkin Donuts Center, where they have a notable home-court advantage. The game they won on the road? In double-overtime at St. John’s.

No depth and no proven success on the road is not an ideal combination, but it’s working well enough to this point. Providence will have their work cut out for them if they want to be in contention for a conference title, but this does look like a team that can made a run at an at-large bid.

Given everything that Cooley and company have dealt with this season, I’m not sure how much more Friar fans could ask for at this point.

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

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.