A relatively boring first half of basketball turned into the Marcus Paige and T.J. Warren show down the stretch.
Warren scored 26 of his 36 points after halftime, but he was bested by Paige, who netted 29 of his 33 points after the break, including a layup with 0.9 seconds left in overtime as the No. 19 Tar Heels knocked off the Wolfpack, 85-84, on Tuesday night.
Paige has developed a pretty impressive reputation for these kinds of late-game exploits, having overcome slow first halves to make wining play after winning play in wins over Duke and Florida State in the past two weeks. He went through a lull at the start of ACC play where he was not shooting the ball well, but ever since Roy Williams slid Nate Britt to the bench and started using Paige as his primary ball-handler, the Heels have been winning.
Saturday was their tenth in a row. Paige is averaging 18.9 points and 5.4 assists while shooting 46.0% from three during that stretch.
Before I move on to N.C. State, it’s worth noting that J.P. Tokoto was tremendous for UNC. He had 18 points, 11 boards and five assists, which helped make up for the fact that Leslie McDonald and James Michael McAdoo were a combined 3-for-16.
This loss is a heartbreaker for the Wolfpack, as it all but seals up their trip to the NIT. Mark Gottfried’s club was in a tough spot as it was, likely needing to win out in order to have a shot at stealing an at-large bid, but with the number of bubble teams that seem averse to winning games, picking up a win over North Carolina would have gotten them right back into the conversation.
It’s a shame as well, because the nation finally got a prolonged look at just how good T.J. Warren can be when he gets hot. Those 36 points came in a game where he made just a single three-pointer. He’s not a great defender and he doesn’t create much offense for anyone else, but the kid can flat out get buckets.
Five-star point guard Trevon Duval is the most electrifying lead guard in the Class of 2017. The native of Delaware dominated the Under Armour circuit this spring and is currently regarded by many as a top-five player in the class by most recruiting services.
Now he’s down to 10 schools as his recruiting is starting to become more of a focus. The 6-foot-2 Duval is down to Arizona, Cal, Kansas, Maryland, Oregon, St. John’s, Seton Hall, UCLA, USC and Villanova.
Things are still early in the process for Duval and it will be interesting to see if he schedules any official visits soon.
Ohio State has lost quite a few transfers and hasn’t had a lot go their way with regards to recent recruiting, but things could be changing after a good weekend.
The Class of 2018 is starting to look really good for the Buckeyes as they landed commitments from wings Darius Bazley and Justin Ahrens this weekend. The two in-state products are grassroots teammates together on King James and they give Ohio State three commitments in that class.
Bazley is considered a four-star prospect on Rivals while Ahrens checks in as a three-star. They join another Ohio native, guard Dane Goodwin, in the class as this could be the group that helps bring Ohio State back in regular Big Ten contention.
Butler picked up an important commitment on Monday as four-star forward Kyle Young committed to the Bulldogs.
A Class of 2017 stretch forward who can hit jumpers and has an improving skill set, the 6-foot-7 Young comes from Massillon, Ohio and he’s regarded as the No. 109 overall prospect.
Young was impressive in the Nike EYBL this spring and summer with King James as he averaged 15.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game as he shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from 3-point range.
This is a nice grab for Butler as Young is the type of versatile perimeter shooter that they like to utilize and he should be able to help a bit on the glass as well.
Young joins a class that includes guards Cooper Neese and Jerald Butler.
Earlier this summer, we told you the story of Collin Sexton, how the 6-foot-2 Georgia native went from being a mid-major recruit to a five-star prospect being courted by the likes of Kansas, Arizona, North Carolina and Villanova.
It’s because he’s a bucket-getter.
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He averaged 31 points in the Nike EYBL circuit, nine points better than Michael Porter, who finished second in the league in scoring. No one puts points on the board like he does, so it’s only fitting that he was the guy that made a shot from the balcony during ‘The Trip’, Nike’s effort to keep kids associated with their brand from Elite 24:
UCLA capped their three-game trip to Australia on Sunday night with a 94-91 win over the Brisbane Bullets, a game in which sophomore point guard Aaron Holiday finished with a team-high 17 points. Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton both added 16 points and freshman Ike Anigbogu finished with 13 points and 10 boards.
This win came just two days after the Bruins lost to Melbourne United, 89-84, when Hamilton — 18 points and five assists — and Holiday — 16 points — were both once again impressive. Alford also added 18 points in Friday’s loss.
It’s not surprising that the Bruins had some up and down performances abroad. Everyone does. It’s what happens when a team of college kids, with three freshmen playing key roles, heads to the other side of the world to square off against teams made up of professionals. Don’t go hanging the ‘Fire Steve Alford’ banners on anymore airplanes just yet.
There are, however, two interesting things to consider from this trip:
– Lonzo Ball, UCLA’s star freshman, was, at best, their fourth-best perimeter player. Seniors Isaac Hamilton and Bryce Alford and sophomore Aaron Holiday all played well and posted impressive numbers on the three-game trip. Ball? He didn’t shoot well. At all. In UCLA’s 47-point opening win, he was 3-for-9 from the floor and 1-for-3 from three, putting together was was by far his best shooting performance of the trip. In the three games, he shot a total of 25 percent (9-36) from the field and 19 percent (4-21) from three. He did average 5.0 assists and, in one game, notched 13 boards, but Ball’s ability to shoot will be something to keep an eye on.
– And then there’s this, from Bryce Alford:
UCLA needs to travel with more towels.