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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

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.