Chris Chiozza gets triple-double, No. 24 Florida thumps Missouri

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Late in the second half, backup Florida guard Chris Chiozza whispered to coach Mike White that he needed to get him back in the game.

His reasoning? Chiozza said he was going to get a triple-double.

“I said, `No, you’re not. Come on,”‘ White said.

Chiozza convinced White he was close enough to make it happen, so the coach let him play the rest of the way. And the junior ended up with the first triple-double of his career – finishing with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists – as No. 24 Florida dominated woeful Missouri 93-54 on Thursday night.

Chiozza joined the exclusive club when he dished to Devin Robinson for a 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining. Equally impressive: The Gators (17-5, 7-2 Southeastern Conference) tied a school record by winning their third consecutive game by at least 30 points.

Coming off lopsided victories at LSU and at Oklahoma, Florida wasted no time putting Mizzou in a huge hole. The Gators led 12-2, 18-3, 30-6 and 48-18 in the first half while building a 31-13 rebounding advantage. White’s team did little wrong for the third straight outing and looked more than ready for No. 8 Kentucky on Saturday night.

The only suspense was whether Chiozza would join Nick Calathes and Corey Brewer in Florida’s recent triple-double club. Calathes and Brewer are the only Florida players to accomplish the feat since 1997.

“It means a lot,” Chiozza said. “I’m glad that I achieved that, but I’m happier that we got the W. That’s the most important thing.”

Canyon Barry led Florida with 17 points. KeVaughn Allen added 15, and Kasey Hill chipped in 11.

Terrence Phillips had 14 points for Missouri (5-16, 0-9), which reached the halfway point to SEC futility.

Mizzou lost its 13th in a row – tying the longest streak in program history – and its 14th straight in league play. The Tigers also lost their 31st consecutive road game.

“They came out and completely outmatched us,” Missouri coach Kim Anderson said. “They got every rebound, made every shot. It was kind of like getting hit by a train.”

BIG PICTURE

Missouri: The Tigers have a young team that includes six sophomores and four freshmen – and remain on NCAA probation – but what they did at Florida has to be concerning for Anderson and his future. They were overmatched from the start and showed little, if any, fight after digging a huge hole.

“We didn’t even jump on the (opening) tip,” Anderson said. “I should have known then.”

Florida: The Gators are winless in three games against ranked teams (Gonzaga, Duke and South Carolina), so Saturday’s game against the Wildcats is an important one for a team looking to build its NCAA Tournament resume and potentially earn a top-four seed and open the bracket in nearby Orlando.

0-18 AHEAD?

Missouri has lost five of its last six by double digits, a potential sign that Anderson’s miserable season could be on the verge of unraveling. Could the Tigers go 0-18 in league play? The last team to do so was Georgia Tech in 1953-54, so it would be rare. But given the way the Tigers played Thursday, it certainly seems like a possibility.

GOOD COMPANY

White will get a better feel for his team against Kentucky. The Gators had a lengthy team meeting after losing to Vanderbilt in Gainesville on Jan. 21 and have been on a tear since.

The last time they won three in a row by 30 points was in 2006, but those came against Western Kentucky, Prairie View and Chattanooga – and with help from three future NBA lottery picks who won back-to-back national championships. Al Horford, Brewer and Joakim Noah also helped Florida accomplish the feat in 2004 against Sam Houston State, Eastern Kentucky and Georgia Southern.

UP NEXT

Missouri hosts Arkansas on Saturday. The Tigers’ conference losing streak started against the Razorbacks nearly a year ago.

Florida hosts Kentucky on Saturday, a game that will be featured on ESPN’s College GameDay.

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

Michigan lands four-star 2018 forward Ignas Brazdeikis

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Michigan added to an already strong Class of 2018 recruiting haul on Friday night as four-star forward Ignas Brazdeikis pledged to the Wolverines on Twitter.

The 6-foot-8 Canadian was one of the premier scorers in the Nike EYBL this past spring and summer playing with CIA Bounce as Brazdeikis averaged 21.1 points per game on 49 percent shooting from the floor. Well-rounded outside of his scoring, Brazdeikis also put up 7.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game while also showing a workable jumper that was 26 percent from three-point range.

With the job that Michigan head coach John Beilein has done developing forwards, most recently with the rapid improvement of players like D.J. Wilson and Moritz Wagner, it’ll be fascinating to see how Brazdeikis will look at the college level after some time on campus. Beilein’s offense is favorable for skilled forwards with a penchant for scoring and Brazdeikis could end up being a tremendous fit for the Wolverines.

Brazdeikis becomes the fourth member of Michigan’s Class of 2018 recruiting haul as he joins four-star forward Brandon Johns, four-star guard David Dejulius and three-star forward Taylor Currie.

Sex assault count dropped against ex-Creighton player Watson

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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Prosecutors have dropped a first-degree sexual assault charge against former Creighton point guard Maurice Watson after questions arose about the accuser’s story.

Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine announced Friday that his office had dropped the felony charge, filed earlier this year when a 19-year-old woman accused Watson of assaulting her early Feb. 4 at a party in an Omaha home. Watson has denied that allegation.

The 24-year-old Watson pleaded no contest Friday to misdemeanor assault for an encounter the same night with a different Creighton student, who said Watson touched her thigh and tried to make her touch his genitals. Watson was sentenced to the five days he’d already served in jail.

Watson was a senior when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in January, just days before the party.

Storm damage forces Paradise Jam out of Virgin Islands

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MIAMI (AP) — The Paradise Jam basketball tournament will not be played in the U.S. Virgin Islands this year because of damage caused by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The tournament will be played in the U.S., with a new site expected to be announced by Sept. 29.

The Paradise Jam field this year includes Wake Forest, Colorado, Drake, Drexel, Houston, Liberty, Mercer and Quinnipiac, and each of those schools was given the chance to bid for the right to host the tournament.

Tournament officials say they looked at multiple other options, such as moving to another island and using a cruise ship for accommodations, before deciding to move the event to the U.S.

For now, the tournament is scheduled to be played from Nov. 17-20.

Kentucky lands commitment from five-star point guard

Immanuel Quickley (USA Basketball)
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Kentucky landed a commitment from Immanuel Quickley on Friday night, a top ten prospect and arguably the best point guard in the Class of 2018.

Quickley picked the Wildcats over Kansas, who he visited earlier this month, and Miami, who he was scheduled to visit before Hurricane Irma struck south Florida.

The 6-foot-3 point guard is the first commitment in the class of head coach John Calipari, and it really comes as no surprise. He’s been considered a Kentucky lean for months, and Quickley played for Calipari on the USA U19 team during the 2017 FIBA World Cup.

While Quickley has the size and the build – he’s 180 pounds with broad shoulders and long arms – of some of Kentucky’s former elite point guards, he’s not the same kind of point guard as, say, De’Aaron Fox or John Wall. He’s more of a smooth athlete than an explosive one, and while his long strides allow him to get out into transition, he’s not the finisher at the rim that those two were. What he is, however, is an intelligent player. He’s good in ball-screens, he’s an excellent passer and facilitator and he is a good enough shooter that he forces defenses to stay honest. He also has the potential to be a plus defender given his physical tools and the fact that he’ll try on that end of the floor.

Where this commitment gets interesting is the current point guard in Kentucky’s back court, Quade Green. Green was a five-star recruit in his own right, but he’s not quite built as a potential one-and-done prospect. Calipari has maneuvered through two point guards in the past, and each of the last five national champions have played major minutes with two point guards on the floor at the same time, but if Green is back next season that will be something to monitor.

That, however, is a long ways away.

What matters now is that Kentucky has gotten this commitment out of the way, and it paves the way for them to also receive a commitment from Zion Williamson. There has long been talk of those two attending college together, and with Quickley on the board, that likely keeps Kentucky in the driver’s seat as they pursue the South Carolina native.

If Kentucky can also wrangle a commitment out of R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 player in the 2018 recruiting class, that would likely be the end of the discussion of whether or not Duke has surpassed the Wildcats on the recruiting trail.

Five-star forward King picks Oregon

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Oregon has nabbed one of the top players in the 2018 class.

Louis King, a top-20 forward, committed to Dana Altman and the Ducks on Thursday via a video on social media.

“It’s been a tough, strenuous process,” King said, “but today makes all of that worth it. I’ve been blessed with great opportunities.”

The 6-foot-8 New Jersey native selected Oregon over other finalists Seton Hall, NC State, Purdue and Kansas.

“I would like to thank each of them for all the time and effort they put into my recruitment,” King said. “I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates that have pushed me and helped get me to this point in my career. My friends for all their love and support, but most of all I would like to thank my family, who has been by my side through it all.”

King is Altman’s second commit in 2018, joining four-star big man Miles Norris, a top-75 recruit in the class. It’s the beginning of what could be an absolutely dynamic class for Oregon, which still has two scholarships remaining.

“Out of all of my schools I felt like it was best for me and my family,” King said to MADE Hoops. “Coach Altman said that I would have the ball in my hands throughout the season. When I get there, it will be an easy adjustment for me with how I handle rock and get my teammates open. Our goal is to win a national championship next year.”