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No. 23 Purdue uses 3-pointers to rout No. 25 Northwestern

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — When junior forward Vince Edwards rediscovered his shooting touch Wednesday night, it gave No. 23 Purdue a whole new look.

Perhaps the transformation will come in time to make a Big Ten title push.

Edwards scored 17 points and knocked down a season-high five 3-pointers, leading the Boilermakers to an 80-59 rout over No. 25 Northwestern.

“I was just being confident and having fun,” Edwards said after his best game since mid-December. “I just played hard and didn’t even think about it, just playing the way I know how to play.”

If Edwards keeps having this much fun, opponents certainly won’t because of Purdue’s one-two punch.

Of course, Caleb Swanigan did his customary inside work — 24 points and 16 rebounds for his 19th double-double of the season. But with Edwards & Co. shooting so well, the Wildcats never had a chance.

Purdue diced up the conference’s best 3-point defense by going 9 of 14 in the first half and finishing 12 of 23. Over the last three games, the Boilermakers (18-5, 7-3) are 37 of 69 from beyond the arc (53.6 percent).

If they can keep it up, they will be tough to beat — as Northwestern (18-5, 7-3) found out.

“The 3-point shooting was certainly the story of the game in the first half,” Wildcats coach Chris Collins said. “They’re a very good team and they got us tonight.”

The Wildcats’ six-game winning streak in conference play ended on a night when they were without Scottie Lindsey, their leading scorer. He stayed home because of the flu and will have some extra time to recuperate while Northwestern has an open weekend.

Without Lindsey, Northwestern wasn’t the same.

Bryant McIntosh returned to his home state and finished with 22 points but was the only Wildcats player to reach double figures. Northwestern finished with its second-lowest scoring total of the season.

Purdue took control with a 12-0 run midway through the first half, extended the lead to 45-23 at halftime and pushed the margin to 26 early in the second half.

The Wildcats couldn’t get closer than 14 after that.

“When Vince Edwards made the shots, that opened things up,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “And we needed Vince to have some positive reinforcement.”


Northwestern: The Wildcats came up one win short of matching the longest Big Ten winning streak in school history. But without Lindsey, perhaps that should have been expected. While a road loss to a ranked team without their best player shouldn’t hurt their NCAA Tournament cause, it could knock the Wildcats out of next week’s AP Top 25 poll .

Purdue: The Boilermakers rebounded from a loss at Nebraska with an impressive home victory. Purdue has now won at least 12 home games in each of the last 12 seasons. If they maintain the balance they had Wednesday, the Boilermakers could rise again in the Top 25 — and the conference standings.


The Boilermakers have not lost consecutive games this season. In fact, they didn’t lose two in a row during the 2015-16 regular season, either. The last time Purdue dropped two straight regular-season games was March 2015, at Ohio State and Michigan State.


Collins didn’t sound too worried about the loss.

“This is just a hard building and a great place to play,” he said, reminding people not to overreact about a team that is 4-2 in conference road games. “If you get a deficit, it’s hard to climb out of it.”


Northwestern: Returns home to host in-state rival Illinois next Tuesday.

Purdue: Visits No. 17 Maryland on Saturday for its second straight game against a ranked foe.

Bluiett back to Xavier for senior season

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Xavier lost one significant piece to the professional ranks this spring, but will return another.

Trevon Bluiett, the team’s leading scorer last year, announced via social media that he will be back to play his senior season with the Musketeers.

Chris Mack will return the bulk of a roster that struggled February only to make a run to the Elite Eight, but getting Bluiett for a final season makes the Musketeers especially dangerous. The 6-foot-6 Bluiett scored a team-high 18.5 points per game last year while also putting up 5.7 rebounds and 2.1 assists per night. He shot 37.1 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark on the team. His return, even with point guard Edmond Sumner going pro amid his ACL tear recovery, makes Xavier one of the top teams in the Big East heading into the 2017-18 season.

Bluiett himself is enough to keep Xavier relevant in the league, but when he’s coupled with the likes of returners JP Macura, Sean O’Mara and Quentin Goodwin, plus a recruiting class featuring two four-star prospects, it’s not difficult to see a path for Mack’s group to a place where they can compete with the likes of Villanova and Seton Hall atop the league.

Welsh and Holiday returning to UCLA

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UCLA sustained some major, though expected, attrition from its roster this spring. On Tuesday, the Bruins announced a pair of significant contributors that will be back.

Thomas Welsh and Aaron Holiday will both return next season to the UCLA program, according to the school.

Welsh, a 7-foot center, averaged 10.8 points and 8.7 rebounds as a senior last year for the Bruins. He shot 58.5 percent from the floor and blocked 1.2 shots per game, and decided to declare for the NBA Draft without an agent before ultimately deciding to return to Westwood.

“Thomas has worked hard all spring,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said in a statement. “We supported him testing the NBA waters and are excited to have him returning for his senior year. He simply continues to develop each and every season.

“Thomas will be one of the top centers in college basketball next year and, undoubtedly, has a great chance to be a first-round pick in next season’s draft.”

The 6-foot-1 Holiday averaged 12.3 points and 4.4 assists last season while sharing a backcourt with Lonzo Ball, whose departure, along with those of TJ Leaf, Bryce Alford and Isaac Hamilton will leave UCLA with a very different look next season. The positive results, however, may not fluctuate too significantly with Welsh and Holiday coming back to play alongside two five-star recruits, Kris Wilkes and Jaylen Hands, as well as Lonzo’s younger brother LiAngelo.

West Virginia’s Macon forgoing final year

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West Virginia’s attempt to dethrone Kansas atop the Big 12 took a bit of a hit Tuesday.

Elijah Macon, a 6-foot-9 forward, announced his decision to forego a fifth year in Morgantown in order to pursue a professional career.

“First things first I would like to say thank you Bob Huggins and Erik Martin for believing in a young 15-year-old boy growing up from the Southside of Columbus, OH losing my mother and still having you guys push me to be the man I have become,” Macon said according to the school. “I can do nothing but thank you for all you and Mountaineer Nation (have) done for me. Unfortunately, I will not be returning for my senior season at WVU and instead sign with a(n) agent and play professional basketball. Thank you guys for all the love and support!”

Macon wasn’t a major contributor for the Mountaineers last season, averaging 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 16 minutes per game, but he was an experienced and tough player who was well-versed in Huggins’ style and demands. Given the pace that the newly-fashioned Press Virginia plays at, depth is also paramount for them as a program.

Macon’s departure, though, may have been expected or at least partly anticipated by West Virginia. The Mountaineers signed five players in its most recent recruiting class, putting them one over their allotment of 13, so something had to give. West VIrginia will stay have interior depth, anchored by junior Esa Ahmad, so the loss of Macon is one they likely can weather, even if it may take some time to acclimate the newcomers.

“Elijah is in the process of completing classes during this summer school period that ends June 2 and will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in August,” Huggins said in a statement released by the school. “I respect his decision to become a professional basketball player and to go make money to support his family. He had a great four years with us, and we wish him nothing but the best.”

Key returning to Alabama for sophomore season

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Alabama’s top scorer is returning to school.

Braxton Key has withdrawn his name from the NBA draft and will be back with the Tide for his sophomore season, the school announced Tuesday.

“I spoke to coach Avery (Johnson) just over a week ago and informed him of my decision to withdraw my name from the NBA Draft and return to the University of Alabama for my sophomore season,” Key said in a statement. “I made that official when I sent my paperwork to the NBA league office Monday morning. I want to express my appreciation to my teammates, Coach Johnson and the entire coaching staff for giving me their full support while I went through this process.

“I am excited for the future of the Alabama basketball program and looking forward to getting to work as we prepare for next season. Roll Tide and Buckle Up!”

The 6-foot-8 forward averaged 12 points and 5.7 rebounds per game while shooting 43.3 percent from the field as a freshman. He gives Alabama four returning starts to pair with one of the country’s highest-regarded recruiting classes, headlined by five-star guard Collin Sexton. The Tide will also have an eligible Daniel Giddens, who previously transferred in from Ohio State.

Key didn’t seem likely to stay in the NBA draft, especially after he wasn’t invited to the combine, but his ultimate decision is a huge one for Avery Johnson as he looks to break through in his third season in Tuscaloosa with his first NCAA tournament appearance. 

Report: Justin Jackson to return to Maryland

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Maryland forward Justin Jackson is expected to return to school for his sophomore season, according to a report from FanRag Sports.

Jackson is an intriguing talent, a 6-foot-7 combo-forward with a 7-foot-3 wingspan that shoots 44 percent from three. But he’s also still developing his offensive game and consistency on the defensive end of the floor, which is why he was projected as a second round pick in this year’s draft.

With Jackson back in the fold, Maryland is a borderline top 25 team. They lost Melo Trimble to the professional ranks, but that’s something that Mark Turgeon has prepared for. With a sophomore class that also includes highly-regarded point guard Anthony Cowan and sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter, the Terps have a promising season ahead of them.