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Ennis scores 18 as No. 23 Oregon rallies past Boise St. 68-63

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EUGENE, Ore. — Growing pains are nothing new for the oldest veteran on Oregon’s roster, who may have finally found his comfort zone.

After missing most of the Ducks’ run to the Elite Eight last season because of a foot injury, sixth-year senior Dylan Ennis, a graduate transfer from Villanova, is still getting acclimated to his teammates.

Ennis scored 18 points and No. 23 Oregon rallied for a 68-63 victory over Boise State on Monday night.

Tyler Dorsey added 17 points for the Ducks (5-2), who came back from 14 down in the first half to win their 28th consecutive home game.

A 3-pointer by Ennis with 3:30 to play put Oregon ahead for the first time since early in the game.

“He probably played as well as anybody we had,” coach Dana Altman said.

Ennis also made nine of 10 free throws and had six rebounds in his best all-around game with the Ducks, but he was particularly pleased with his lone 3 when Oregon needed it most.

“That was one that was in rhythm and it just went down,” Ennis said. “I haven’t played with these guys at all. We’re still meshing in and we’re going to get it.

“Last year we had a few growing pains and at the end of the year we got it right, and that can happen this year as well.”

After Dorsey’s free throw gave Oregon a 66-63 lead, the Broncos (3-3) had a chance for a tying shot, but Paris Austin lost possession on a baseline drive with 5 seconds left. Dillon Brooks sealed the win with two free throws.

Brooks, a preseason All-America selection, had five points and shot 1 of 9 in 21 minutes off the bench in his fourth game back from offseason foot surgery.

“He had a bad game,” Altman said. “He was trying too hard, going way too fast.”

Austin led Boise State with 16 points. Nick Duncan added 15 on five of the Broncos’ 11 3-pointers.

Altman thought his team was lucky to come back after Boise State built its big lead from beyond the arc.

“When a team hits more than 10 3s, you’re fortunate to win playing as poorly as we did,” he said.

The Ducks finished with 10 blocks and a 39-32 rebounding edge. Chris Boucher led the way with five blocks and eight rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Boise State: The Broncos missed a shot at their fourth road win against a Top 25 opponent and third under seventh-year coach Leon Rice. Boise State beat unranked Oregon 74-72 last year in Boise.

Oregon: The Ducks won’t leave the state for their next eight games to finish 2016, capped by visits from No. 11 UCLA and USC in late December to start Pac-12 play.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Oregon, which has dropped 19 spots since reaching a school-best AP ranking of No. 4 two weeks ago, should bounce back in the poll with six more games against unranked teams to finish its nonconference schedule.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Boise State had nine steals to Oregon’s three, a 15-9 edge in second-chance points and played the Ducks even on points in the paint at 20-20 – all of which left Altman shaking his head. “We got beat in every category,” he said.

ROLE PLAYER

Junior point guard Casey Benson, who is adapting to coming off the bench after starting the first four games and leading the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio last season, hit consecutive 3-pointers in the second half that helped spark Oregon’s comeback. “Those were two big shots,” Altman said. “We were stuck in the mud and couldn’t get anything going.”

UP NEXT

Boise State hosts SMU on Wednesday night before traveling to play Evansville as part of the Mountain West/Missouri Valley Challenge on Saturday.

Oregon hosts Western Oregon, which reached the NCAA Division II Final Four last year, on Wednesday night and then Savannah State on Saturday to continue a five-game homestand.

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.