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No. 2 Villanova beats Penn 82-57 in latest city series romp

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) Kris Jenkins already made the biggest basket in Villanova history, so he can be excused a bit that he was unaware he was so close to a career points milestone.

Assigned to shoot free throws after Penn was whistled for a technical foul, Jenkins stood alone at the line and sank the first one for career point 999. He calmly made the second attempt and hit No. 1,000.

Jenkins was mobbed by teammates and buried in confetti when his 3-pointer at the buzzer beat North Carolina for the national championship. For his little slice of Villanova history, Jenkins simply hustled back on defense.

“It doesn’t mean much,” he said.

Coach Jay Wright was surprised as well after the game and gave Jenkins a hearty congratulatory slap on the back at the press conference table.

With little fanfare or championship parades, the magic numbers keep piling up at Villanova.

Jenkins hit six 3s and scored 22 points and No. 2 Villanova again flexed its Philly muscle at the famed Palestra and dominated Penn 82-57 on Tuesday night.

Already the national champs, the Wildcats (7-0) proved its still the best in the Big 5. Villanova, Penn, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Temple have had its rivalry games intertwined in the fabric of Philadelphia sports for 61 years.

No team has made the series their own like the Wildcats. They beat the Quakers (2-3) for the 14th straight time and settled in for another round-robin romp with its record 15th straight Big 5 victory.

Wright downplayed the significance of the record.

“If we’re thinking about it, it’s not going to help us get better,” he said.

Get better? The Wildcats played about as well as they could against an underwhelmed Ivy League team, making 12 of 26 3s overall. They shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half and quickly squashed any thought Penn would become this week’s version of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

“I don’t mean to slight their talent, but there’s a lot more talented teams in the country; not a ton, but there’s a good share, more length, more size, more speed, depth, skill,” Penn coach Steve Donahue said. “But there’s no team that plays together, and that hard, in every aspect of the game.”

The Quakers won the opening tip, the students that packed the Palestra roared, they missed their first shot – and Jenkins buried a 3 on the other end. Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3, so did Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart added one and the Wildcats led 40-22.

Jenkins hit three of Villanova’s seven 3-pointers in the first half to put this one away in a hurry. Hart, who had 12 points and nine assists, had his right hand wrapped in ice after the game. He may have jammed his thumb.

DiVincenzo scored 13 points and Darryl Reynolds had 12 points and eight boards.

Jackson Donahue led Penn with 12 points.

BIG PICTURE:

Penn: The Quakers never quit in front of a student section wearing red “Beat Nova” T-shirts. The Quakers could be contenders to make the first Ivy League tournament in Donahue’s second season.

Donahue didn’t think Villanova’s city dominance crippled overall enthusiasm for the Big 5.

“I think it motivates and inspires the other four programs,” he said. “If we won tonight, I don’t know we’d be saying that. All these games, I think it’s incredible. I’m proud to be part of the Big 5 and have a national champion in our (city). I think it elevates all of us.”

Villanova: The Wildcats won their eighth straight game over Penn at the Palestra. The Wildcats are the first reigning NCAA champions to play at the famed basketball gym on the Penn campus since, well, Villanova on Jan. 27, 1986. The Wildcats play two more games against Philly teams before a Dec. 10 game against Notre Dame that could prove their next toughest test.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Villanova should stay at No. 2 in the Top 25.

NO HART

Wright has never been shy about sitting starters for the slightest rules infractions. He benched Hart, the preseason Big East player of the year, for the start of his one because he was tardy to a workout session. DiVincenzo started for Hart.

UP NEXT

Penn: The Quakers face another tough city rival Saturday at Temple.

Villanova: The Wildcats try and keep their Big 5 winning streak rolling Saturday at Saint Joseph’s.

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

Report: Texas’ Jones to test NBA possibility

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Both of Texas’ McDonald’s All-Americans from its 2016 class will test the NBA waters.

Andrew Jones will declare for the draft, but will not hire an agent, according to ESPN’s Jeff Goodman.

The 6-foot-4 guard joins Jarrett Allen, the Longhorns’ star center, in utilizing the rule change that became available to players last year in which they can declare, workout for teams, attend the NBA combine and still return to school.

Jones averaged 11.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a freshman. He shot 42.5 percent from the field overall and 32.8 percent from 3-point range.

Allen seems the likelier candidate to remain in the draft as a potential lottery pick, but Jones came to Austin with similar one-and-done possibilities given his status as one of the class’ top recruits.

Texas, of course, is hoping both return, not just because they’re both big talents, but because incoming and highly-touted recruit Matt Coleman fills the major hole in last year’s lineup – point guard. If the three of them can share the floor together, Year 3 of the Shaka Smart era will be much more interesting.

Morrow announces transfer from Nebraska

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Nebraska was once again hit with a surprising and damaging transfer.

Ed Morrow, Jr., who led the Huskers in rebounding last year, announced his intention to transfer, the school announced Wednesday.

“I support Ed in his decision to transfer schools and wish him well,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said in a statement. “We appreciate his hard work over the last two years. Although I am disappointed, we will continue to recruit young men who are committed to our mission of building Nebraska Basketball with a culture of success in all areas…life, school and winning basketball at its highest level.”

The 6-foot-7 sophomore’s departure is a major hit to the Huskers, who are coming off a 12-19 year in which Miles’ job security was called into question. It almost assuredly will be again this year as Nebraska hasn’t been able to build on its 2014 NCAA tournament appearance, instead putting together three-straight losing seasons.

Morrow’s decision is surprising not only given he’d been a productive member of the team – averaging 9.4 points and 7.5 rebounds per game – but because he was born in Nebraska before attending high school in Chicago and both his parents were Nebraska student-athletes his father winning a national title on the football team in 1994 and his mother an all-Big Eight performer on the basketball team.

“I want to say thank you to my teammates, coaches, the fans and the University of Nebraska athletics department for giving me the opportunity to play Division I basketball,” Morrow said in a statement. “It is hard to leave home, and Nebraska is my home. I was born and raised here, it is my parents’ alma mater, and I have a lot of friends here. But sometimes you have to venture out to pursue dreams and aspirations in a career. This is a sacrifice I have to make to better myself.”

Morrow’s transfer comes a year after Andrew White surprised Nebraska with his decision to graduate and transfer to Syracuse, which no doubt impacted the Huskers’ poor 2016-17 record.

Miles was on the hot seat at the end of last season and will assuredly begin this season there as well. A roster hit like Morrow won’t do much to help him improve the situation. Nebraska does, however, have three starters returning while Georgetown transfer Isaac Copeland is eligible, as is Miami (Fla.) transfer James Palmer, Jr.

Lonzo Ball says “I’m better than” Markelle Fultz

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Usually, it’s LaVar Ball that makes news for what he says.

His eldest son is now getting in on the business of generating headlines with something other than his play.

The UCLA star, who said he’ll enter the draft after just one season with the Bruins, claimed he’s the better prospect than Washington freshman Markelle Fultz, who many have pegged as the No. 1 pick in June’s draft.

“Markelle’s a great player,” Ball said, according to ESPN, “but I feel I’m better than him,” “I think I can lead a team better than him. Obviously he’s a great scorer — he’s a great player, so I’m not taking that away from him.”

Not exactly inflammatory stuff – like saying you could have beaten Michael Jordan, that you want a $1 billion apparel deal or a number of things his father has said – bu Ball is certainly projecting confidence. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. There’s quite a bit of money – and pride – at stake with the draft, and Ball put up a season worthy of comparison to Fultz, who had great numbers but played for an abysmal Washington team. Ball, on the other had, had strong numbers while leading UCLA to the Sweet 16.

Both are going to go at the top of a draft that’s stocked full of promising point guards. Which player goes before the other remains to be seen, but it’s likely public pronouncements aren’t going to affect the draft order.

 

UMass hires McCall away from Chattanooga

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UMass has found, once more, the man to take over its basketball program.

The Minutemen have reached an agreement with Chattanooga coach Matt McCall, the school announce Wednesday

“The tradition and resources that are in place not only make this one of the best basketball jobs in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” McCall said in a statement released by the school, “but one of the best jobs in the country. We couldn’t be more excited about becoming part of the UMass family and look forward to building upon the rich tradition that has been established here in the past.”

In McCall’s two years at Chattanooga, the Mocs to the NCAA tournament in 2016 and a 19-12 record this year that featured five-straight losses to end the season.

The move will take McCall out of the southeast for the first time in his career as he previously served as at Florida and Florida Atlantic before getting his first head coaching job at Chattanooga.

McCall wasn’t the Minutemen’s first choice to replace Derek Kellogg after three-straight lackluster seasons. Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey had agreed to take the job before a last-minute about-face that saw him return to the Eagles program just before his introductory press conference was scheduled to begin.

“Matt is a rising star in college basketball coaching who has been a key piece of three successful programs in his career,” UMass athletic director Ryan Bamford said in a statement. “He has earned a reputation as a relentless worker, a great teammate and colleague and a confident leader of young men.

“Matt has worked with some of the most respected coaches and administrators in the country, who loudly sing his praises. Coach McCall’s appointment begins an exciting new chapter for our tradition-rich men’s basketball program at UMass.”

Despite being the second choice, McCall’s reputation in the coaching industry makes him a strong hire, having worked under Mike Jarvis and Billy Donovan. He took over at Chattanooga for Will Wade, and brought the Mocs to a 29-6 record and a  12-seed in the NCAA tournament in 2016.

UMass went to just one NCAA tournament under Kellogg (in 2014) during his nine seasons leading the Minutemen.

VIDEO: Frank Martin’s sideline demeanor as a high school coach

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South Carolina coach Frank Martin has the reputation of being rather, shall we say, intense on the sidelines during games.

The coach has a stare that seemingly could bore a hole through his players when they do something that doesn’t reach his level of expectation. Martin’s demeanor, though, didn’t just come into form once he hit the college ranks.

He was plenty intense on high school sidelines as well.

Martin won three titles while at Miami Senior in the mid-1990s, coaching the likes of future pros Steve Blake and Udonis Haslem. Now having reached his first career Final Four, that sideline persona has put him on the precipice of winning yet another championship, this time at the collegiate level.