Bryce Cotton

Bryce Cotton keeps Providence on the right path with win over Seton Hall

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Providence and Seton Hall got off to a slow start offensively, combining for three points in the first four-plus minutes of Friday night’s game in Newark.

In the second half, the Friars leader, Bryce Cotton, caught fire, scoring 17 of his 24 in the second half as PC won its second straight Big East game with a 74-69 win over the Pirates.

Cotton was one of four Friars in double figures with Kadeem Batts following with 14 points, 11 rebounds and LaDontae Henton and Tyler Harris with 13 and 11, respectively. Seton Hall, playing without Fuquan Edwin, was led by Sterling Gibbs with 20. Gene Teague added 17 and grabbed 12 boards.

This win doesn’t pad the Friars resume by any means. But Providence did avoid a ugly late-season loss, and remain on the right side of the bubble for the moment. Two weeks ago, PC lost what would have been a marquee victory over Villanova, as Ryan Arcidiacono led the Wildcats out of the Dunkin’ Donut Center with a double overtime victory.

That loss meant Providence had little room for error in the team’s last four regular season games, three of which were on the road. And so far, the Friars have rallied off back-to-back victories. Those wins were over two of the three worst teams in the Big East, though, the Friars next two games will be much more difficult.

Marquette heads to Villanova on Sunday before heading to Providence on Tuesday. Currently the Golden Eagles half a game ahead of the Friars in the conference standings. Providence ends the regular season, in Omaha, taking on Doug McDermott and Creighton. The Bluejays are undefeated at home this season.

Providence is looking for the program’s first NCAA tournament berth since 2004. Plenty of teams are in the same position as PC, toeing the line between tournament team and NIT bound, and some have leapfrogged the Friars this week. Arkansas swept Kentucky on Thursday night. The Razorbacks moved into the projected First Four, and Providence went from Dayton to the First Five Teams Left Out in the latest College Basketball Talk Bracketology.

March begins at midnight, giving Providence 16 days to strengthen its case and hear its name called as one of 68 teams on Selection Sunday.

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.