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Bacon scores 17, leads No. 25 Florida State over Illinois

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NEW YORK (AP) Leonard Hamilton has a problem.

He has 10 players who can play.

It’s a complication that other coaches only wish they could have.

“That’s who we are,” Hamilton said following No. 25 Florida State’s 72-61 win over Illinois in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday.

The Seminoles (5-1), which bounced back from their first loss of the season Thursday in Brooklyn, had six players play at least 20 minutes and 10 players played 10 or more minutes. Trent Forrest’s 26 minutes led Florida State.

“It’s a little problematic for us right now as we try to play so many different combinations of guys,” Hamilton said.

Dwayne Bacon scored 17 points to lead Florida State. Jonathan Isaac had 15 points and seven rebounds. CJ Walker finished with 13 and Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 10.

“We sustained our effort, our focus, better than we did yesterday,” Hamilton said. “We got great play from our bench. The guys gave us tremendous energy. They gave Bacon and Isaac an opportunity (for) a breather here and there. Everybody who came into the game contributed.

“The residual effect of that was (we) were always fresh; (I) was always able to keep a fresh group in there,” he said.

Despite getting a game-high 18 points from Malcolm Hill, Illinois (4-3) lost its third straight. Leron Black chipped in with 15 points, and Te’Jon Lucas had 10.

“I liked our fight,” John Groce said. “The two bright spots as we move forward are Black and Lucas.”

The first meeting between the ACC and Big 10 programs was a taut affair for 30 minutes before Florida State seized control.

Tied 44-all with less than 10 minutes to play, the Seminoles outscored the Illini 7-0 in a 56 second span. The run was sparked by Forrest, who had two steals and drew a shooting foul.

“That was the key stretch that kind of broke it open,” Groce said.

Illinois had cut the deficit to 55-50, but as soon as it looked as if the Illini were about to make a game of it, the Seminoles went on an 11-1 run to extend their lead to 66-51.

“Against a team of that quality in this type of environment if you don’t get stops but two out of 13 times during that stretch when it went from 44-44 to when they got the lead, it’s tough to win,” Groce said.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini came into the tournament having won four of five. The Illini leave Brooklyn having been swept by nationally ranked West Virginia and Florida State. While Illinois was more competitive against Florida State than it was against West Virginia, the Illini were outclassed in the final 10 minutes of the consolation game.

Florida State: The Seminoles had not played a game in which they scored fewer than 86 points this season until this win.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida State: Despite the win over Illinois, Florida State may drop out of the Top 25 due to its loss to unranked Temple on Thursday.

NOTABLE

Illinois: Senior guard Tracy Abrams was examined by a trainer during a second half stoppage in play after being inadvertently elbowed in the mouth by Florida State center Michael Ojo, fighting for position in the low blocks.

Florida State: Finished the game with seven blocked shots and five steals.

QUOTABLE

“We try to be consistent. It’s somewhat challenging this time of year for us (with) five new players (we’re) trying to rotate (into the lineup). They’re getting a lot of minutes,” – Hamilton on the benefit of having a deep roster once conference play begins.

UP NEXT

Illinois: Will face the North Carolina State Wolfpack Tuesday in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in Champaign, Illinois.

Florida State: Will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers Monday in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in Tallahassee, Florida.

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.