As Montrezl Harrell continues to emerge, is No. 11 Louisville a threat to repeat?

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As Louisville spent the early part of the season beating up on inferior competition and booting junior starting forward Chane Behanan from the team, not many gave the Cardinals a chance to do much in March.

Louisville lost to North Carolina, Kentucky and Memphis in the early part of the season and the Cardinals didn’t beat a team that was ranked in the top 25 until its February 22nd road win over then-No. 7 Cincinnati.

But after the No. 11 Cardinals’ 81-48 thrashing of No. 19 UConn on Saturday, its time to start taking Louisville seriously as a threat to repeat as national champions. Louisville now owns a season sweep over UConn and SMU in American Athletic Conference play and a road win over Cincinnati since falling to the Bearcats at home in the earlier part of the conference slate.

RELATED: Our latest bracket projections — is your team in?

Louisville (26-5, 15-3) is a different and more focused team without Behanan around as a distraction and the play of sophomore forward Montrezl Harrell has been a big reason why. The 6-foot-8 sophomore had 21 points and 10 rebounds in the win over UConn (24-7, 12-6) on Saturday and over his last five games — four of them against ranked opponents — Harrell is averaging 21.2 points and 9.4 rebounds per game. To put that in perspective, Harrell is averaging 13.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game on the season. Harrell appears to be peaking late in the season much like he did off-the-bench during Louisville’s title run last season. Only now, he’s a main option for the Cardinals with Behanan no longer on the roster and Georgi Dieng in the NBA.

(MORE: Browse through all of our conference tournament previews)

The dominant play of Harrell on the inside also eases the burden placed on Louisville’s deep and talented stable of guards. Russ Smith is averaging 18 points a game by only attempted two field goals in 30 minutes of action on Saturday and was 1-for-3 from the free throw line as he instead dished out 13 assists. Luke Hancock (16 points), Wayne Blackshear (11 points) and Chris Jones (10 points) all contributed solid, but not outstanding efforts, and the Cardinals still won by 33 over a top-20 team.

And the Cardinal defense was fantastic on Saturday, as they held UConn leading scorers Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright to a combined 14 points on 4-for-24 shooting from the field. The UConn backcourt duo usually averages just over 30 points per game.

Louisville has won nine out of 10 games entering the AAC Tournament in Memphis and as a No. 2 seed the Cardinals won’t have to potentially face the No. 5 seed Tigers in their home city. If Harrell continues to play like this, Louisville has enough talent at guard around him to make a serious run at a third consecutive Final Four.

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.

Appalachian State freshman shooter to transfer

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A 3-point threat became a late addition to the transfer market earlier this week.

Appalachian State rising sophomore Patrick Good informed head coach Jim Fox on his intentions to leave the program. He was granted his release on Wednesday, according to Bret Strelow of the Winston-Salem Journal.

“I was pretty shocked when he came in to tell me he was leaving,” Fox told the Winston Salem-Journal. “He was a guy who had a very good freshman season, and we’re surprised to see him go.”

“I enjoyed being around the team and the experience that I got from the first year,” Good added. “I don’t think I would change that for anything. I just felt like moving forward, there is just so much more that I was capable of.”

Good appeared in 29 of 30 games, all of the bench, for the Mountaineers. The 6-foot guard averaged 7.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game. His biggest asset to his newest team will  be in his ability to shoot from deep, connecting on 41 percent of his attempts during the 2016-17 season.

If Good plans to remain in at the Division I level, avoiding a year spent at a junior college, he will need to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations. He will have three years of eligibility remaining.