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Devon Hall leads way as No. 9 Virginia beats VaTech 71-48

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — London Perrantes says he knew all along that No. 9 Virginia had the answers it needed to questions about its offense.

More and more, his teammates are proving him right, and the Cavaliers showed it in drubbing rival Virginia Tech 71-48 on Wednesday night.

Devon Hall had 17 points, nine rebounds and four assists, and Isaiah Wilkins scored a career-best 15 with nine rebounds to lead Virginia. Perrantes added 14 points for the Cavaliers (17-4, 7-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who led throughout after scoring the first 10 points and were never threatened.

“From the jump, ever since we started practicing and during the summer, I knew we had weapons from the top to the bottom,” said Perrantes, the team’s point guard and lone scholarship senior. “It just comes with game experience. … They all have a lot of game experience and it’s just building their confidence and we’re just building chemistry around it.”

The game was Virginia’s first since losing on a tip-in at the buzzer against defending national champion Villanova on Sunday , and its sixth win in the last seven games. The emergence of Wilkins, who has scored in double figures in four of the last five, has been a big reason.

“I just think back to how I played in high school, how I would just take shots when they were there,” said the junior, who made all six shots at Villanova and his first six against the Hokies. “If I’m open I’m going to shoot the ball.”

The Hokies (16-6, 5-5) got 14 points from Seth Allen and 12 from Zach LeDay, but were held 33 points below their season average by the nation’s stingiest scoring defense. Virginia Tech became the sixth team held under 50 points by the Cavaliers this season.

The Cavaliers outscored the Hokies 18-3 off offensive rebounds, grabbing 11 to just three for Virginia Tech.

“It started bad and it stayed bad,” Hokies coach Buzz Williams said, noting that Virginia scored on four putbacks in the opening minutes.

The loss was the 17th in a row for the Hokies in road or neutral-site games against ranked teams since they won at Virginia in 2012.

Virginia led by as many as 15 in the first half and by 35-21 at halftime. They pushed the lead as high as 19 early in the second half before an 8-0 run by the Hokies pulled them to 52-41 with 8:42 left. Virginia scored the next nine points.

The Hokies played the game with retired Hall of Fame football coach Frank Beamer joining them on the bench throughout.

“I just wanted to honor him, would be the quickest explanation,” Williams said.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies have vastly improved under Williams and began the night over .500 in the ACC after nine league games for the first time since the 2010-11 season. But winning on the road is often the hardest thing to learn for a team on the rise.

Virginia: The continuing emergence of willing and capable scorers bodes well for the Cavaliers. Virginia freshman Ty Jerome took it upon himself to take the big shot late against Villanova, and Wilkins has scored in double figures in three straight and four of his last five games.

After his performance in the final seconds at Villanova, Jerome was greeted like a new crowd favorite when he entered the game.

UP NEXT

The Hokies have some time to work on things before trying to get their road game going at Miami next Wednesday night.

Virginia goes back on the road for a game against Syracuse on Saturday at noon.

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.”