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Oklahoma State knocks off UConn 98-90 at Maui Invitational

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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Oklahoma State’s relentless pressure caused havoc against lesser opponents through the first three games.

It worked just as well in the Cowboys’ first true test this season.

Jawun Evans had 35 points and five of Oklahoma State’s 18 steals, lifting the Cowboys to a 98-90 win over Connecticut Monday night in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

“I love the fact we had 18 steals. That’s a great number,” Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said. “That means we’re being active and bothersome now.”

Oklahoma State (4-0) jumped on the Huskies from the opening tip, turning one steal after another into points in transition. The Cowboys hit five 3-pointers during an opening 18-3 run and finished 12 for 20 from the arc.

Jeffrey Carroll and Phil Forte had 18 points each, helping Oklahoma State move on to the second round against No. 4 North Carolina or Chaminade.

Evans also had six assists, four rebounds and one turnover.

“These two guys are awfully hard to guard and that’s a great weapon,” Underwood said of Evans and Forte.

UConn (1-3) struggled with Oklahoma State’s constant pressure, turning it over 18 times. Jalen Adams had the most trouble with the Cowboys’ defense, turning it over six times in the opening five minutes and 10 overall.

Adams finished with 34 points, six rebounds and six assists. Rodney Purvis added 20 points.

The Huskies lost sophomore forward Terry Larrier to a left leg injury in the first half.

“I just love my kids’ effort. They tried to get back in the game,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I think we cut it to four, but it was just a little bit too late. And we just have to start off a little stronger and we’ve got to take care of the ball a little bit more.”

The Cowboys used their relentless pressure and ability to score in transition to average 107 points their first three games. Those came against lesser opponents, so Maui represented their first true test.

Oklahoma State was at its harassing best against UConn early, forcing Huskies guard Jalen Adams to turn it over six times in the opening five minutes. The Cowboys turned many of those into transition 3-pointers, hitting 5 of 8 while opening with an 18-3 run.

The Huskies held their ground for the rest of the half, though it did little good. Oklahoma State led 40-26 at halftime behind Evans’ 16 points.

UConn finally started to get a handle on Oklahoma State’s pressure and got some defensive stops, trimming the Cowboys’ lead to seven with about five minutes left.

The Huskies hit a pair of late 3-pointers, but Evans finished them off by hitting three free throws in the final 29 seconds.

“We definitely can build off of it,” Purivs said. “Our main thing is we just got to get off to a good start and take care of the basketball.”

LARRIER’S INJURY

Larrier was expected to be a big contributor this season after transferring from Virginia Commonwealth. He went down after being stripped of the ball, slapping the floor and screaming as trainers rushed out to him.

Larrier was unable to put any weight on his left leg and stopped by to offer his teammates encouragement after being helped to the locker room.

He left the arena on crutches and a heavy brace on his left leg.

“I know it’s a knee injury, but we don’t know the significance of it yet,” Ollie said.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State’s pressure defense withstood its first real test after beating three overmatched opponents and the Cowboys knocked down their 3s, something that will be key this season for them.

The Huskies allowed themselves to get sped up by the Cowboys while falling into a big early hole and now face the possibility of playing without Larrier for an extended period.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State moves on the face the winner between No. 4 North Carolina and host Chaminade in Tuesday’s second round

UConn plays the North Carolina-Chaminade loser.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

VIDEO: Top 2018 recruits Zion Williamson and Romeo Langford go head-to-head at adidas

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This weekend is the first live evaluation period of the spring recruiting calendar as college coaches from all over the country are scouting (and babysitting) the top recruits in the Class of 2018 and 2019.

Friday night the adidas Gauntlet in Dallas opened with a marquee matchup of two star players as five-star forward Zion Williamson and five-star guard Romeo Langford went head-to-head in what should be one of the best games of the spring.

Most scouting services have Williamson and Langford as the No. 2 and No. 3 overall prospects in the Class of 2018 as the duo didn’t disappoint in front of the huge crowd in Fort Worth.

Williamson helped his team to a win with 26 points and seven rebounds while Langford had 28 points, four rebounds and four assists. You’ll be hearing plenty about both of these guys over the next few months as both are still wide open in the recruting process.

(H/t: Ball is Life)

Report: Coppin State hires Juan Dixon as new head coach

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Coppin State has hired former Maryland star guard Juan Dixon to be its next head coach, according to a report from Don Markus of the Baltimore Sun.

The 38-year-old Dixon is best known for leading Maryland to the 2002 national championship as he was the Most Outstanding Player at the Final Four that year. Now Dixon will have a chance to lead a Division I program for the first time.

Dixon spent seven years in the NBA and also played professionally in Europe before joining the Maryland coaching staff in 2013 as a special assistant to head coach Mark Turgeon. Not retained by Maryland after the 2015-16 season, Dixon took the head coaching job for the women’s team at the University of the District of Columbia last season as the Division II program finished only  3-25.

Coppin State finished last season with an 8-24 record after losing its first 12 games of the season. While Dixon will generate some positive local buzz given his background, he’s going to have an uphill battle trying to rebuild that program.

Nebraska scores important Class of 2017 commitment from four-star guard Thomas Allen

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Nebraska landed an important commitment from the Class of 2017 on Friday as four-star guard Thomas Allen is heading to Lincoln next season.

The 6-foot-1 guard is considered the No. 99 overall prospect by Rivals in the national Class of 2017 rankings as Allen was previously committed to N.C. State before head coach Mark Gottfried was fired.

A scorer with a good amount of skill, Allen has a chance to come in and make an immediate impact at Nebraska as he can play a bit on or off the ball. Allen should help offset the loss of senior Tai Webster in the Husker backcourt.

Allen joins wing Nana Akenten in Nebraska’s Class of 2017 recruiting efforts.

North Carolina lands four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks

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North Carolina pulled in a late Class of 2017 commitment to begin the weekend as the Tar Heels secured a pledge from four-star Class of 2017 big man Garrison Brooks.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Brooks was previously committed to Mississippi State, but he was granted his release this spring to explore other opportunities.

The Tar Heels pounced as they’re getting a low-post threat who could develop into a potential double-double threat. A solid rebounder who isn’t afraid to play with physicality, Brooks has a chance to earn some immediate rotation minutes with seniors like Isaiah Hicks and Kennedy Meeks exhausting their eligibility.

Brooks is regarded as the No. 120 overall prospect in the Class of 2017, according to Rivals, as he is a four-star prospect. The native of Auburn, Alabama joins a North Carolina recruiting class that includes point guard Jalek Felton, shooting guard Andrew Platek and big men Brandon Huffman and Sterling Manley.

Report: NCAA ‘anticipates’ hearing UNC case in mid-August

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Today, the AP churned out a story on Greg Sankey’s involvement with the NCAA’s investigation into the academic scandal at North Carolina, and buried within that story is this little nugget:

UNC must respond to the latest charges by May 16. The NCAA enforcement staff then has until July 17 for its own response. Sankey wrote that his panel will hear the case in August with “anticipated” dates of Aug. 16 and 17.

Rulings typically come weeks to months later.

We’ve been down this road before, as the current iteration of the Notice of Allegations is the third that the NCAA has provided the university. The first was given out back in May of 2015 for an investigation that began back in 2010.