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No. 9 Xavier dominates in 64-42 win over Northern Iowa

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CINCINNATI (AP) The rematch was no match at all. Xavier’s defense made sure of it.

J.P. Macura scored 18 points, and Xavier’s defense dug in during a dominant first half, sending the ninth-ranked Musketeers to a 64-42 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday.

Xavier (6-0) completely controlled a matchup of teams playing for the second time in six days. The Musketeers beat Northern Iowa 67-59 for championship of Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando last Sunday.

This time, it was no contest. Xavier knew exactly what to expect the second time around.

“I think it’s easy,” coach Chris Mack said . “Northern Iowa always runs the same three plays to start the game. I’m sure the players are like, `We’ve got it.’ I was really excited about our mindset today.”

Edmond Sumner had 14 points and seven assists, making Xavier’s offense get into a flow quickly.

The Musketeers looked very comfortable in their second go-round against the Panthers (3-2). Northern Iowa had trouble finding open shots while Xavier raced ahead 30-10, going 4 of 13 from the field with seven turnovers as Xavier’s defense gave its best performance of the season.

The Musketeers led 35-12 at halftime, the fewest points they had allowed in any half for 34 years.

“That’s the best half we’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Macura , a junior. “We were talking really well. We were in each other’s gaps.”

Xavier pushed the lead to 26 points early in the second half and was never threatened. Jeremy Morgan scored 14 points – all in the second half – for Northern Iowa. Morgan had 20 points in their game on Sunday, but missed all of his four shots in the first half while Xavier took control.

The Panthers had made at least 10 3-pointers in each of their first four games this season, going 10 of 24 against Xavier on Sunday. They were only 6 of 18 in the rematch. Xavier had a 42-20 edge in rebounds, getting 15 on offense.

“They made it obvious that they did a better job of preparing their guys for what was the rematch, if you will,” Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. “They outplayed us on the glass, they outplayed us in a lot of areas. They outplayed us in the areas that mattered.”

Northern Iowa shot 33 percent from the field and had only seven assists.

“I thought the difference in the game was our defensive effort at the outset,” Mack said. “Good teams lock in on the challenge in the moment. We defended at a really high level, as good as I can remember.”

BIG PICTURE

Northern Iowa: The Panthers are 17-37 all-time against ranked teams, including 2-17 on the road. Both of those road wins came at Wichita State – last season and in 2006.

Xavier: Kaiser Gates got into a game for the first time. The sophomore forward was counted upon to be an integral part of Xavier’s overhauled front line, but tore cartilage in his left knee and had surgery a month ago. Gates played 11 minutes, missed his only shot, got two rebounds and picked up three fouls – not bad for someone who’s had only three practices.

“He had a phenomenal summer,” Mack said. “He’s in great position as we move forward.”

SEE YOU SOON

Xavier hadn’t played consecutive games against a nonconference team since it faced Yale twice in 1960. It was the eighth time in school history that the Musketeers played someone in back-to-back games out of conference.

OUCH

Northern Iowa’s Klint Carlson picked up third foul with 7:48 left in the first half, even though the Panthers were playing zone. Carlson finished with 11 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes. Forward Bennett Koch fouled out with 8:15 to go after scoring five points and getting two rebounds.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Xavier played its most complete game yet and has shown improvement each time out after a couple of close opening wins.

UP NEXT

Northern Iowa hosts George Mason on Wednesday.

Xavier hosts North Dakota State on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: 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.