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Enechionyia lifts Temple over No. 19 West Virginia, 81-77

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NEW YORK (AP) Obi Enechionyia had 22 points and 12 rebounds to lead Temple to an 81-77 upset of No. 19 West Virginia in the championship game of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday.

Enechionyia scored 18 of his 22 in the first half for Temple (4-2), but it was his free throw with one second left that sealed the early season tournament championship. Alani Moore II added 18 points for the Owls, while Daniel Dingle had 15 and Quinton Rose 12.

Despite having four players finish in double-digit scoring, West Virginia (4-1) lost for the first time this season. Ahmad led the Mountaineers with 19 points, Teyvon Myers added 15, and Nathan Adrian and Tarik Phillip had 13 apiece.

The 71st meeting between the programs saw Temple enjoy a 45-25 advantage at halftime thanks to two extended stretches in which the Owls held the Mountaineers scoreless.

Following Phillip’s layup 1:29 into the game, West Virginia did not score for 5:28 until Adrian’s layup at 13:09. During that stretch, the Owls outscored the Mountaineers 13-0. Then, after Ahmad’s layup with 5:28 left in the half, Temple scored the next nine points until Phillip knocked down a 3 to cut the deficit to 38-23.

The Owls held West Virginia to 32.3 percent shooting from the field – including 27.3 percent from 3-point range – in the first half. Temple also forced West Virginia into 11 first-half turnovers.

Trailing by 20, West Virginia ratcheted up its trademark press defense in the second half. After Phillip drilled a 3 in front of the Mountaineers’ bench, causing Temple coach Fran Dunphy to call timeout with 11:31 left, West Virginia was credited with nine forced turnovers in 8 1/2 minutes.

The timeout did not stem West Virginia’s tide, as the Mountaineers scored 13 of the next 17 points to take a 65-64 lead. It was their first advantage since opening the game on a 7-0 run. An Ahmad layup pushed the advantage to 67-64.

But Temple would not go away.

The Owls took a 75-71 lead on the strength of an 11-4 run spanning 2:36. Moore made four free throws in the stretch, and Rose added two free throws and a jumper.

The final 4:44 saw Moore play a pivotal role. The 5-foot-10 guard grabbed three rebounds and made two free throws to set the stage for Enechionyia.

Enechionyia was named the Most Outstanding Player of the two-day tournament. He was selected for the All-Tournament team along with Dingle, Ahmad, Florida State’s Dwayne Bacon and Illinois’ Malcolm Hill.

BIG PICTURE

Temple: Two strong performances against Top 25 teams can only bode well for Dunphy’s team once American Athletic Conference play begins.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers’ first four games were blowout victories. Being forced to play a possession-by-possession game in the second half could benefit West Virginia over the course of the season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Temple: The Owls beat the No. 25 and No. 19 teams in the nation on consecutive days. That may be enough for them to sneak into the Top 25.

West Virginia: A four-point loss to an unranked team should not cause West Virginia to drop out of the Top 25.

NOTABLE

Temple: The Owls came into the game having defeated No. 25 Florida State a day earlier. The win allowed Temple to extend its streak of defeating a Top 25 team to 10 years in a row.

West Virginia: The Mountaineers entered the game leading the nation with 13.7 steals and 27 forced turnovers per game. Their 15.7 turnover margin was also best in the nation.

UP NEXT

Temple: Visits Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday.

West Virginia: Hosts Manhattan on Monday.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.