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No. 4 North Carolina overpowers Chaminade 104-61 in Maui

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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) North Carolina had a hard time shaking pesky Chaminade early. Once the Tar Heels turned into a bully, they were able to run away from the Silverswords.

Isaiah Hicks scored 22 points, Kennedy Meeks had 20 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 4 North Carolina overpowered host Chaminade 104-61 Monday night in the Maui Invitational.

“We’re just too big for them,” Tar Heels coach Roy Williams said.

North Carolina (5-0) needed a little time to gain some separation from the Division II Silverswords, doing so midway through the first half by pounding the ball inside.

The Tar Heels outscored Chaminade 46-8 in the paint and had 26 second-chance points on 17 offensive rebounds to earn a spot in the semifinals against Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

Tony Bradley added 14 points and North Carolina shot 57 percent from the floor. Meeks and Hicks, both seniors, scored 20 points in the same game for the first time.

“We knew they were going to compete,” said Meeks, who hit all seven of his shots from the floor. “I know through watching them through the years and seen them knock off teams in this tournament. We definitely took advantage of the things we should have, getting the ball inside and hitting shots.”

Chaminade (2-1) shot well early to hang with the Tar Heels, but had little chance once they picked up the defensive pressure and got the ball inside on offense. The Silverswords went 10 of 28 from 3-point range but were outrebounded 52-23.

Rohndell Goodwin led Chaminade with 18 points, and Kiran Shastri added 13.

“It was pretty obvious to everybody that size and strength was the difference in this game,” Chaminade coach Eric Bovaird said. “They had (17) offensive rebounds and we had 23 total. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out.”

Chaminade has a team filled with upperclassmen and has had a penchant for pulling off upsets. The Silverswords helped start the Maui Invitational with their shocker over top-ranked Virginia in 1982 and have knocked off big-name programs at this tournament through the years, most recently Texas in 2012.

North Carolina was not a favorable matchup for them.

The Tar Heels are long, athletic and considered national-title contenders even with forwards Luke Maye and Theo Pinson out with injuries.

The Silverswords’ only shot at another upset would be to shoot the lights out. They did early, making 12 of their first 21 field goal attempts to stay within 28-24 midway through the first half.

But then North Carolina’s size inside began to wear Chaminade down.

Behind the 6-foot-10 Meeks and the 6-9 Hicks, the Tar Heels started to stretch the lead. Meeks had 14 points by halftime, Hicks 13 and they combined to hit 11 of 13 shots to help North Carolina build a 50-34 advantage.

The Tar Heels opened the second half with an 11-4 run and never looked back.

“We felt like we could play them with our guards, but what can you do with three 6-11 guys?” Goodwin said. “It’s only so much we can do.”

BIG PICTURE

After a slow start, the Tar Heels did what they were supposed to against an overmatched opponent. They’ll need a better start against Oklahoma State’s pressure defense in the semifinals.

Chaminade again showed it can hang with the big boys, at least for stretches.

UP NEXT

North Carolina faces Oklahoma State in the semifinals on Tuesday.

Chaminade meets UConn in the second round.

N.C. State adds grad transfer Sam Hunt

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N.C. State added its fourth transfer this offseason. Like ex-Baylor guard Al Freeman, the latest one is eligible to play next season.

Sam Hunt, a double-digit scorer the past two seasons at North Carolina A&T, officially enrolled at North Carolina State on Monday morning.

“Sam is a great young man and will bring much needed depth to our backcourt,” N.C. State head coach Kevin Keatts said in a statement. “I want guys who are excited about being a part of our program and Sam really wants to be here.

“Sam is a combo guard that can space the floor with his ability to shoot the basketball. He is a good fit for the system and will bring a wealth of experience to our roster.”

Hunt, the 6-foot-2 guard, averaged 12.7 points per game last season, a dip from the 15.4 points per game he posted for the Aggies as a redshirt sophomore.

Hunt joins a roster that lost its three leading scorers from a season ago, one that ended 15-17 (4-14 ACC). Dennis Smith Jr. is a member of the Dallas Mavericks. Maverick Rowan also pursued a professional career and Terry Henderson was denied an additional year from the NCAA.

The Wolf Pack bring back forwards Abdul-Malik Abu and Omer Yurtseven as well as Torin Dorn.

Keatts, who took over the program after leading UNC Wilmington to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, has already built for the future. UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce, 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game for the Seahawks, has followed him to Raleigh. Utah transfer Devon Daniels committed to the Wolf Pack the same day as Bryce. Both will have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Bryce will have two years of eligibility while Daniels will have three.

LaVar Ball stars in an uncomfortably entertaining segment on WWE’s Raw

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LaVar Ball’s statements and antics over this past year always seemed better suited a professional wrestling ring.

It was only natural that the patriarch of the Ball family — and the head of the Big Baller Brand — made an appearance on WWE’s Monday Night Raw at the Staples Center for an awkwardly entertaining segment with WWE Intercontinental Champion The Miz.

With sons, Lonzo — in his first appearance in the Staples Center as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers — and LaMelo looking on, LaVar was the center of attention. When The Miz mentioned something about a partnership between the two, the scripted interview went south. It resulted in LaVar saying nonsensical things like, “There’s only two dudes better than me, and I’m both of ’em!” before later taking off his shirt. When Dean Ambrose, a WWE superstar feuding with The Miz came out on to the ramp, LaVar didn’t quite grasp the concept that that was his cue to stop talking.

This segment was somehow entertaining and cringeworthy at the same time.

Now that Lonzo is beginning his NBA career, maybe it’s time LaVar try something different. A manager in the WWE may just be his true calling. He’s certainly had plenty of practice.

Maryland lands commitment from five-star 2018 forward

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Maryland added to its 2018 recruiting class with its second commit, the newest addition being a five-star in-state product.

Jalen Smith, a 6-foot-9 forward from Baltimore powerhouse Mount St. Joseph, committed to the Terrapins, making the announcement on Twitter.

“I believe that I can academically and athletically achieve my goals at home through my commitment to the University of Maryland … Go Terps,” he tweeted as part of a long passage.

Smith is listed as the No. 13 overall recruit in the Class of 2013 by Rivals. He joins four-star swingman Aaron Wiggins in Mark Turgeon’s current recruiting class.

Playing for Team Takeover on the Nike EYBL circuit, Smith is averaging 10.9 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks per game.

Recent grad’s joyride reportedly did $100,000 of damages to Mizzou Arena

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A recent graduate and temporary employee of the University of Missouri took an early morning joy ride that reportedly could rack up around $100,000 to Mizzou Arena.

According to Dave Mater of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Nathaniel J. Contant, 23, who graduated from the school in December 2016, drove his Volkswagen Passat through a gate and eventually on to the floor of the 15,000-seat on-campus arena.

At 7:15 a.m. Sunday, MU police were dispatched to Mizzou Arena for a report of property damage. Officers determined that around 4 a.m., the suspect drove his vehicle through a closed gate on the south side of the arena. He ran through a garage door and drove into a dock area where he damaged several golf carts that were stored in the area. He also drove his car onto the basketball court. The man couldn’t leave through the area he used to enter the building, so he drove through the arena’s press gate.

Contant, unsurprisingly, is no longer an employee of the university. He’s being charged with second-degree burglary and first-degree property damage, both of which are felonies. He was released on a $4,500 bond.

The motive for this early-morning joyride remains unclear.

Despite the hype surrounding the upcoming Mizzou season — one that includes the debut of new head coach Cuonzo Martin and the projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft Michael Porter, Jr. — Twitter users couldn’t help but poke fun at the dismal recent history the Tigers have had.

(h/t Kansas City Star)

Vance Jackson transfers to New Mexico

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With more than a handful of departures this offseason, New Mexico is set to have a new-look roster for the 2017-18 season. On Monday, Paul Weir, now at the helm of the program, landed a player who should make an impact in the three remaining seasons of eligibility he has left.

Vance Jackson, who spent this past season at UConn, decided to make the move from Storrs to Albuquerque, picking the Lobos over Rutgers, San Diego State, TCU, and Washington.

The 6-foot-8 rising sophomore will have to sit out next year due to NCAA transfer rules before resuming his collegiate career in the fall of 2018.

“The coaches — they trust in me,” Jackson told Geoff Grammer of the Albuquerque Journal last month during his official campus visit. “We’re on the same page. They see a vision.”

Weir, who led New Mexico State this past season to a NCAA Tournament appearance in his one and only season as head coach, succeeded Craig Neal in April.

This offseason has been headlined by transfers, though, those mostly were about players leaving the program. Jackson is the second transfer to land at UNM with Akron’s Antino Jackson electing to use his final season of eligibility with the Lobos. Antino Jackson is a graduate transfer, allowing him to play immediately next season.

Vance Jackson, who was rated as the No. 80 overall player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals, averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game while shooting just under 40 percent from three for the Huskies as a freshman.