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No. 24 South Carolina remains perfect in SEC with win over No. 19 Florida

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In a battle of undefeated SEC programs, Frank Martin’s club came out on top.

Sindarius Thornwell finished with 20 points and six boards and Chris Silva added 11 points as No. 24 South Carolina landed a come-from-behind, 57-53 win over No. 19 Florida in Columbia on Wednesday night. The Gamecocks were down by seven at the half, but they forced Florida to miss 14 of their first 15 second half field goals, erasing the deficit before the first TV timeout.

With the win, the Gamecocks remain undefeated in the SEC and just a half-game behind Kentucky atop the conference standings.

Here are four things we can take away from the game:

1. The gap between Kentucky and these two teams is significant: South Carolina and Florida are the two best teams in the SEC that don’t reside in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and it’s abundantly clear after Wednesday night that the difference between the Wildcats and these two teams is pretty large. I’ll fully admit that a major reason that I’m saying this is because of how ugly that game was to watch – more on that in a second – but I just don’t see anyway you could have watched that game and come away thinking that either of those two teams have the offensive firepower to hang with Kentucky.

2. This was an awful basketball game to watch, but this is how the Gamecocks are going to win: I’m not exaggerating when I say that was one of the worst basketball games that I’ve ever watched. It took nearly six minutes for either team to score. It wasn’t until the 12:30 mark that both teams had gotten onto the scoreboard. It took 145 minutes to finish this contest, in which there were 110 total points, 55 total fouls and zero flow to the game thanks to the refs, who went to a monitor review what felt like 25 times.

But this is how the Gamecocks are going to win games this year. There is nothing pretty about this iteration of Frank Martin basketball. South Carolina is currently ranked first in KenPom’s defensive efficiency metric because they’re second nationally in defensive effective field goal percentage and third in defensive turnover percentage. They’re big, they’re old, they’re physical and they’re athletic, and given that they play for Martin, you know they’re going to play hard.

What they can’t do, however, is score. They’re 173rd in adjusted offensive efficiency. So when you have a team built around playing tough half court defense whose best offensive comes in the form of crashing the offensive glass, the games are never going to be all that aesthetically pleasing.

3. South Carolina is still undefeated with Sindarius Thornwell on the roster: This is something that is worth noting. While the Gamecocks do have losses to Memphis, Clemson and Seton Hall this season, all three of those losses came when Thornwell was serving his suspension for an offseason arrest. They went 7-0 before he was forced to sit out and have won five straight since he returned, including beating Syracuse, Michigan and all five of their SEC opponents, headlined by the Gators.

4. Florida badly needs some quality wins: While the gap between Kentucky and these two teams is enough that the SEC race shouldn’t be all that much of a race, I still think the Gators are pretty good this year. I like the way the press that Mike White has installed is working; it fits their personal perfectly.

And this was only the first conference loss for Florida, but the Gators still find themselves among a handful of teams that have the look and computer numbers of a tournament team without having put together the wins they need to back that up. The Gators have lost to the four best teams they’ve played this season – Gonzaga, Duke, Florida State and South Carolina – while their best win is either Seton Hall, Miami, Georgia or Arkansas. None of those teams are close to a lock for the NCAA tournament, and neither is anyone on their remaining schedule not named Kentucky or South Carolina.

The Gators still get UK twice. They host the Gamecocks in February. Winning both of those home games would do wonders for making UF feel more confident on Selection Sunday.

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.