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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.

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.