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Four-star 2015 shooting guard Austin Grandstaff commits to Ohio State

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The Ohio State Class of 2015 is shaping up to be one of the best in the nation. On Sunday afternoon, Thad Matta received his third commitment from a four-star recruit.

The latest Buckeye pledge comes shooting guard Austin Grandstaff, the No. 30 overall recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. The Rockwall High (Texas) star announced his decision via Twitter following his official visit. The 6-foot-5 scoring guard picked the Buckeyes over offers from Arizona, Georgetown, Iowa State, SMU and Oklahoma State, the school he originally committed to.

He joins a class that includes Dunbar High (Ohio) point guard A.J. Harris and fellow Texan Mickey Mitchell, a 6-foot-7 small forward from Plano West High.

This past season, Ohio State struggled to score and had a lack of 3-point shooting options. With Harris and Grandstaff in the back court, the Buckeyes will have two guys who can take defenders off the dribble and create. While Harris still needs to work on a consistent jump shot, Grandstaff can dial it up from beyond the arc.

On the grassroots circuit, Grandstaff is leading Team Texas in scoring at 20.5 points per game, shooting 35 percent from three.

Big men push No. 11 Louisville over Southern Illinois, 74-51

Southern Illinois' Mike Rodriguez (1) has his shot blocked by Louisville's Mangok Mathiang (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. Louisville won 74-51. Left is Louisville's Jaylen Johnson (10). (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville’s frontcourt led the way over an outmatched opponent.

Mangok Mathiang scored 15 points to help No. 11 Louisville to a 74-51 victory over Southern Illinois on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-10 senior got the Cardinals (8-1) off to a hot start as he scored the team’s first seven points, and Louisville settled in from there, extending the lead 21-4 in the game’s first 8 minutes.

Sophomore Deng Adel, who finished with his first career double-double, said the team came out focused at the start.

“I think it was just our ball movement,” said the 6-7 forward, who finished with 12 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, besting the seven he grabbed against Boston College last February. “Guys were looking to run. A lot of it was easy points. We threw it into the bigs a lot. Mangok ignited that run got a couple day post-ups.”

In making six of nine shots, Mathiang finished two points shy of his career high in just 22 minutes.

As Southern Illinois (5-4) came to the Yum! Center with no one taller than 6-9, Louisville used its size to its advantage. The Cardinals blocked nine shots and outrebounded the Salukis 43-31.

Southern Illinois coach Barry Hinson said he knew there would be a bit of a shock factor in play, and he thought his team got over that as they cut the Louisville lead to 37-26 at halftime, thanks to an 8-0 run over the final 1:32. However, in the first 4 minutes of the second half, Louisville built the lead back to 18 points.

“Their length, obviously, their size bothered us, specifically in the first half,” Hinson said. “You’ve got to give credit to coach (Rick) Pitino. They went down at us. We knew they were going to.”

Jaylen Johnson, a 6-9 junior, finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and six blocks. Mathiang, Johnson, 7-footer Matz Stockman and 6-10 Ray Spalding combined to shoot 15 of 20, with all the baskets coming inside the paint.

“We have size,” Pitino said. “We throw to the low post. If they’re not doubling, then we’re going to get easy shots.”

Sean O’Brien led the Salukis with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Mike Rodriguez added 15 points.

BIG PICTURE

Southern Illinois: For the third time this season, the Salukis fell to a Power Five foe on the road and all of the losses have been by double digits. Not only could the Salukis not deal with Louisville’s size, they also failed to stretch out the Cardinals’ defense as they made just 5 of 24 3-point shots.

Louisville: For a team that has struggled at times on offense, the Cardinals looked strong in the first half. Even without Anas Mahmoud, their main big man who missed his second game because of a concussion, Louisville’s frontcourt more than held its own against the smaller Salukis. Four Cardinals who stand 6-9 or taller combined to go 8 of 10 from the field in the first half, helping the team shoot 55.2 percent in the first 20 minutes.

HE SAID IT

“I don’t think we’re great at anything. I think we’re good at a lot of things. I don’t think we’re great at anything, but we hope to get there, though . in a hurry.” Pitino, assessing his team in the post-game news conference. Two weeks from tonight, the Cardinals will host No. 6 Kentucky, starting a three-game, 10-day stretch against teams currently ranked 14th or higher.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Louisville got out to a hot start, and while the shooting cooled to just 36.7 percent in the second half, the Cardinals still built the lead to as many as 25 points in the second half. The Cardinals did as most expected, enabling them to stay on the fringe of the Top 10, ready to re-enter should a higher ranked team fall this weekend.

UP NEXT

Southern Illinois returns home to play Sam Houston State on Saturday.

On Saturday afternoon, Louisville hosts Texas Southern, which lost 74-70 to the Salukis on Saturday.

No. 17 Wisconsin routs Idaho State for 4th straight win

Wisconsin's Ethan Happ (22) dunks over Idaho State's Hayes Garrity (0) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016, in Madison, Wis. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Bronson Koenig scored 21 points, Ethan Happ had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 17 Wisconsin rolled past Idaho State 78-44 on Wednesday night.

The Badgers (8-2) scored the first 10 points and opened up a 21-3 lead as the Bengals (1-8) could only muster a single 3-pointer in the opening 11 1/2 minutes. Wisconsin led 35-16 at halftime.

Nigel Hayes added 11 points for the Badgers, who had a 44-14 edge in points in the paint and outscored Idaho State 23-5 in points off turnovers. Wisconsin won its fourth straight game.

The Badgers held Bengals leading scorer Ethan Telfair (19.8 ppg) to two points on 1-of-9 shooting, with his only basket coming with 5:57 left in the game.

It was the second game this season the senior guard did not score at least 10 points after failing to reach double figures in only two games last season.

Balint Mocsan had 10 points to lead Idaho State, which was outrebounded 47-21.

BIG PICTURE

Idaho State: The Bengals had their first winning record last season under coach Bill Evans in his fourth year at the helm, but with only one victory so far in the non-conference season, that feat will be hard to duplicate. Idaho State never threatened to earn its first victory over a Power 5 conference opponent in 30 years.

Wisconsin: The Badgers were coming off a stretch of four games that included three against teams that played in last season’s Final Four, and they showed no signs of a letdown against the outgunned Bengals. No starter played more than 25 minutes as Wisconsin used a 10-man rotation for most of the game.

UP NEXT

Idaho State: Hosts Bristol, a third-year California program that plays all its games on the road, to begin a stretch of four games in 11 days.

Wisconsin: Will be tested by two in-state rivals, playing at Marquette on Saturday and hosting Wisconsin-Green Bay on Dec. 14, before a break for final exams.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

No. 15 West Virginia stomps Western Carolina 90-37

West Virginia's Teyvon Myers (0) talks with head coach Bob Huggins during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Western Carolina, Wednesday Dec. 7, 2016 in Charleston, W.Va. West Virginia won 90-37. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert)
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) Esa Ahmad and No. 15 West Virginia made sure there was no drop off in performance against an outmanned opponent after an emotional road win at Virginia.

The Mountaineers were solid again on defense and Ahmad led another balanced scoring attack with 14 points as West Virginia stomped Western Carolina 90-37 on Wednesday night.

West Virginia (7-1) didn’t slow down after Saturday’s close win at No. 14 Virginia. The Mountaineers forced 34 turnovers against Western Carolina, a week after setting a school record by forcing 40 against Manhattan.

“We couldn’t come out here and lay an egg,” Ahmad said.

Truth is, Ahmad and West Virginia forward Elijah Macon said the Mountaineers were aiming to force 50 turnovers.

Macon said that could come eventually.

“With this group, you never know what can happen,” Macon said. “We got 40. I think we can get 10 more out of that.”

The Mountaineers lead the nation in scoring margin (30.3), forced turnovers (25), steals per game (13) and turnover margin (14.7).

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said he didn’t like his team’s energy out of the gate, even though the Mountaineers scored the game’s first seven points and used a 16-0 run to build a 25-point lead midway through the first half.

“We didn’t have a lot of bounce,” Huggins said. “I thought we were very sluggish to start with.”

Western Carolina (3-6) went scoreless over the final 7:39 and trailed 46-12 at halftime. By then, the Catamounts had 19 turnovers to far surpass their season average. And West Virginia’s pressure defense was just getting started. A 26-4 run by the Mountaineers followed early in the second half.

Jevon Carter added 13 points, Macon had 11 and Teyvon Myers scored 10 for the Mountaineers, who had 21 steals.

Western Carolina’s Haboubacar Mutombo was limited to six points, six under his team-leading average.

“We didn’t give them our best punch today,” Western Carolina guard Elijah Pughsley said.

BIG PICTURE

Western Carolina: The Catamounts simply couldn’t match the onslaught of players off the bench for the Mountaineers. Western Carolina didn’t help its own cause, shooting 26 percent from the field. Starting guard Devin Peterson didn’t make the trip.

“The game’s really, really difficult when you can’t score,” Western Carolina coach Larry Hunter said. “Somebody’s got to put us on their back a little bit and say, `I’m going to score.”‘

West Virginia: The game was an opportunity for Huggins to get his younger players some valuable playing time and to see who’s ready for the start of the Big 12 schedule in three weeks. West Virginia had 13 players score and 12 who had at least 10 minutes of playing time; no one played more than 19 minutes.

COACH HUGGS

Huggins earned his 798th career coaching win. Hunter has 683 career wins and was inducted earlier this year into the Ohio Basketball Hall of Fame along with Huggins’ father, Charlie, who won three high school state championships as a coach.

REBOUNDING HELP

Despite the loss of its top two rebounders from last season, West Virginia has increased its output slightly to 40 per game this season, although its rebounding margin is down to 4.9 compared with 8.6 last season. Western Carolina managed to match West Virginia with 36 rebounds apiece.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Mountaineers’ 53-point win could help them inch toward the Top 10 in the AP poll .

UP NEXT

Western Carolina plays at UNC Asheville on Dec. 17. It’s the final game in a seven-game road swing for the Catamounts.

West Virginia plays VMI in Morgantown on Saturday. West Virginia forced 36 turnovers the last time these teams met in 2014.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

No. 10 Creighton blows by Nebraska

Creighton's Maurice Watson Jr., left, drives to the basket ahead of Nebraska's Michael Jacobson (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. Creighton won 77-62. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
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Creighton’s offense does what so many other programs want to do on that end of the floor. The Bluejays push the pace, they share the ball and the shoot the heck out of it.

That was all on display in the 10th-ranked Bluejays’ 77-62 victory over rival Nebraska in the Huskers’ home gym Wednesday night.

Initially it looked as though Creighton (9-0) was going to absolutely dismantle Nebraska (5-4) when the Bluejays jumped out to an 18-4 lead in the early going, but Tim Miles’ group showed some grit to head into the locker room down just a point and a chance to pull off a top-10 upset.

That’s when Creighton’s offense found its groove. It’s a groove so well worn and natural to the Bluejays that when they settle into it, they operate as one of the best offenses in the country. Even on a night like this one when their most potent weapon, their 3-point shooting, mostly misfired, Creighton’s offense was still spectacular at times.

With the game knotted at 33, Creighton big Justin Patton blocked a shot that led to a Marcus Foster layup in transition. Then came a Maurice Watson layup, a Foster jumper and another Watson layup, again on the fast break. Two more layups followed from the Bluejays and then Cole Huff knocked home a 3 to put the exclamation point on a 15-4 run.

It proved to essentially be the knockout punch, its power coming from an offense running efficiently, even if it was using its Plan B.

Creighton came into the game shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point range, ranking in the top-five in the country. The ‘Jays made just 5 of 15 (33 percent) against the Huskers, but they converted 56.8 percent of their 2-point shots. Only four of their 44 attempts came from outside the paint, according to shot chart data. There’s little chance for a defense to try to slow Creighton if they can get to the rim that frequently.

Watson is a terror in both transition and the halfcourt. He puts so much pressure on defenses with his quickness, and Nebraska had little answer for him during his 25-point, eight-assist performance this night. Foster is the other headliner of the Creighton offense, but he was just a pedestrian 3 of 9 for seven points.

Watson and Foster are just two key pieces of the offense, though, as Greg McDermott has plenty of firepower. Patton (9 points) is emerging as a real threat. Cole Huff (13 points) stretches the floor. Khyri Thomas (7 points, 10 rebounds) is the unsung hero.

Creighton’s defense remains a question mark, but its offense can win a game by itself in more ways than one. Or two. Or three.

No. 6 Kentucky bounces back with blowout win against Valparaiso

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 07:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Valparaiso Crusaders at Rupp Arena on December 7, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Bam Adebayo finished with 16 points and Malik Monk chipped in with 15 as No. 6 Kentucky blew out Valparaiso in Rupp Arena, 87-63.

The outcome was really never in doubt in this one, as Kentucky jumped out to leads of 24-4 and 35-9 against a good Crusaders team. The Wildcats were coming off of a loss to UCLA where they gave up 97 points in their home arena, getting humbled in a game that was supposed to solidify their standing as the best team in college basketball.

Kentucky’s defense on Wednesday was just suffocating. Valpo finished with 19 turnovers while shooting 34.3 percent from the floor, numbers that were somewhat inflated by the fact that Kentucky had this game won in the first 10 minutes.

Valpo is a good basketball team. They’ve beaten Alabama, BYU and Rhode Island this season, and their only two losses on the year have come on the road to Oregon and Kentucky.

But this?

This was a buzzsaw they ran into. Winning at Kentucky was never going to be easy. Winning there 72 hours after UCLA beat Kentucky in Rupp Arena was always going to be near-impossible.

Valpo will be fine. Come Selection Sunday, this is going to look like a really good win for the Wildcats.