Perkins, Melson help No. 11 Gonzaga top Florida 77-72

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) Josh Perkins helped keep No. 11 Gonzaga close in the first half before Silas Melson came up big during the final 20 minutes.

Perkins had 18 points and Melson scored 10 of his 12 during a second-half rally as Gonzaga beat Florida 77-72 on Friday night in a semifinal at the AdvoCare Invitational.

“Silas stepped up,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “I’ve been on him and on him to do that. I think he’s a more confident player this year. I don’t think we were shocked by that.”

After getting down by 11 points in the opening half, Melson hit two 3s during a 15-2 run that put Gonzaga ahead 68-59 with 5 1/2 minutes left. He made two free throws with 22.9 seconds remaining to make it 76-70.

“He didn’t start off the game very well,” Few said. “He was extremely tentative, and just kind of fumbling, stumbling around there. And then he set his feet and played with some pride.”

The Bulldogs (5-0), who will play No. 21 Iowa State in Sunday’s final, got 16 points from Johnathan Williams, while Nigel Williams-Goss added 14.

Devin Robinson led Florida (5-1) with 18 points and KeVaughn Allen had 15.

“It seemed like every time we made a mistake (defensively) they made us pay,” Florida coach Mike White said.

Robinson had 13 points, including Florida’s first nine, as the Gators went up 37-32 at halftime.

“We should have got the win,” Robinson said. “We played hard and took a step forward, but we still lost. Work on the things we didn’t do tonight and come out Sunday and try to get another win.”

The Gators will face Miami for third place.

Gonzaga, which trailed by 11 points with 4 1/2 minutes left in the first half, had a late surge keyed by three of Perkins’ 15 first-half points. Zach Collins had a slam that got the Bulldogs within 31-27 right after Florida’s Canyon Barry, the son of NBA Hall of Famer Rick Barry, misfired on a breakaway dunk attempt.

Rick Barry was at the game.

BIG PICTURE

Florida beat Seton Hall 81-76 on Thursday in a matchup of teams that received votes in this week’s AP poll. The Gators came up short in a bid to start a season 6-0 or better for the 10th time.

Gonzaga improved to 8-0 in the Thanksgiving tournament at Disney formerly known as the Old Spice Classic. The Bulldogs won the event in 2008 and 2012.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Bulldogs could continue to bolster their argument to move into the Top 10 by sweeping all three of their games in the invitational. It should also give them momentum heading into the upcoming week that includes a game Dec. 3 against No. 8 Arizona.

COMING OFF THE BENCH

Barry, who entered leading the Gators with a scoring average of 14.6 points, had 12 Friday. Collins, who also began play as the Bulldogs top scorer (13.8) was held to four.

UP NEXT

Florida will go against Miami in Sunday’s third-place game.

Gonzaga and No. 21 Iowa State will play for the championship on Sunday. “A veteran crew that knows how to win,” Few said of Iowa State. “They’ll go small and they’re very comfortable playing that way. They’re very difficult to guard.”

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.