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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.

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.