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Rout of Arizona gives No. 5 Oregon a boost looking ahead

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) After a loss at Colorado and a close call against Arizona State, Oregon bounced back big time with a rout of Arizona.

The 85-58 victory on Saturday pushed the Ducks from No. 13 to No. 5 in the AP Top 25 released Monday. The jump was the largest in this week’s poll and brought Oregon back to its preseason ranking.

The Ducks (21-3, 10-1) now sit atop the Pac-12 standings with Arizona and have the tiebreaker with their victory. The Wildcats (21-3, 10-1) dropped from fifth to No. 9 in Monday’s poll.

“If they have another level above that, that’s a bad thing for every team in the country,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said about the Ducks after the loss.

With seven regular-season games to go, perhaps Oregon’s biggest challenge down the stretch will come on Thursday when the team travels to Pauley Pavilion to face No. 9 UCLA (21-3, 8-3). And of the Ducks’ seven remaining games, five are on the road.

But the victory over Arizona certainly gave the team confidence.

“I feel like the sky’s the limit,” junior forward Dillon Brooks said. “We can play even better than that.”

Oregon coach Dana Altman used the upcoming schedule to spur his team on against the Wildcats.

“I told our guys we have five road games. We got a much tougher schedule (than Arizona),” he said. “We have to win the game today or it’s over, and it would have been.”

Before the statement-making win over Arizona, the Ducks were slumping a bit. They fell 74-65 at unranked Colorado on Jan. 28 then struggled at home in a 71-70 victory over Arizona State last Thursday.

The Ducks built a 38-18 lead over the Wildcats and cruised to the win, leading by as many as 37 points in the second half. It was such a blowout that the home crowd started to chant for Charlie Noebel, a walk-on who had played just 23 minutes this season. Fans got their wish and Noebel played the final three minutes.

The victory was Oregon’s 40th straight at Matthew Knight Arena, now the nation’s longest home winning streak after Kansas fell at home on Saturday.

“It’s the best game we’ve played in the three years I’ve been here,” Brooks said. “Guys were focused and confident in their shots.”

Tyler Dorsey led the Ducks with 23 points and six 3-pointers. Brooks added 18 points, and on Monday was named the Pac-12 player of the week – not only for his performance against the Wildcats but because of his rally against the Sun Devils. The Ducks trailed Arizona State by a point with 3:15 left, but Brooks went on a personal 12-point run for the win and finished with 27 points.

Brooks is leading the Ducks with an average of 14.4 points a game, but he’s averaging 16 points against Pac-12 opponents.

The Ducks’ No. 5 ranking brings the team back to their preseason position in the AP poll. Oregon had some trouble out of the gate, with November losses at Baylor and against Georgetown in Maui, but had a 17-game winning streak before the Colorado loss.

Last season, the Ducks won a school-record 31 games while claiming the Pac-12 regular-season and tournament titles. Oregon earned a first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and the Ducks advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007.

The Ducks also rebounded from a brief stumble last season: They lost back-to-back games on the road in mid-February. Under Altman, the Ducks are 40-16 in the second half of the conference season.

Brooks credits his coach with keeping the team focused.

“He always finds a way – if we’re on top, keeps us level-headed and keeps us focusing and working hard, and if we’re down, finds a way to push us to go harder,” he said.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org

SMU gets transfer in Georgetown’s Akoy Agau

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SMU pulled in a frontcourt player in Georgetown transfer Akoy Agau, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Agau is immediately eligible for next season as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau started his career at Louisville before transferring to Georgetown after one season. Spending two seasons with the Hoyas, Agau was limited to 11 minutes in his first season due to injuries. He averaged 4.5 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.

Coming out of high school, Agau was a four-star prospect but he’s never lived up to that billing in-part because of injuries. Now, Agau gets one more chance to make a difference as he’s hoping to help replace some departed pieces like Ben Moore and Semi Ojeleye.

South Carolina loses big man Sedee Keita to transfer

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South Carolina big man Sedee Keita will transfer from the program, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 Keita was once regarded as a top-100 national prospect in the Class of 2016, but he never found consistent minutes with the Gamecocks for last season’s Final Four team.

Keita appeared in 29 games and averaged 1.1 points and 2.0 rebounds per game while shooting 27 percent from the field.

A native of Philadelphia, Keita will have to sit out next season before getting three more seasons of eligibility.

Although Keita failed to make an impact during his only season at South Carolina, he’ll be a coveted transfer thanks to his size and upside.

Mississippi State losing two to transfer

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Mississippi State will lose two players to transfer as freshmen Mario Kegler and Eli Wright are leaving the program.

Both Kegler and Wright were four-star prospects coming out of high school as they were apart of a six-man recruiting class that is supposed to be a major foundation for Ben Howland’s future with the Bulldogs.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler was Mississippi State’s third-leading scorer last season as he averaged 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. Kegler should command some quality schools on the transfer market, especially since he’ll still have three more years of eligibility after sitting out next season due to NCAA transfer regulations. Kegler’s loss is also notable for Mississippi State because it is the second consecutive offseason that Howland lost a top-100, in-state product to transfer after only one season after Malik Newman left for Kansas.

Wright, a 6-foot-4 guard, was never able to find consistent minutes as he was already behind underclass perimeter options like Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Tyson Carter last season. With Nick Weatherspoon, Quinndary’s four-star brother, also joining the Bulldogs next season, the writing was likely on the wall that Wright wasn’t going to earn significant playing time.

 

N.C. State lands second transfer of day with Utah’s Devon Daniels

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A big recruiting day for N.C. State continued on Saturday afternoon as Utah transfer and guard Devon Daniels pledged to the Wolfpack.

Earlier in the day, N.C. State and new head coach Kevin Keatts landed another quality transfer in UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce.

The 6-foot-5 Daniels just finished his freshman season with the Utes in which he put up 9.9 points 4.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 57 percent from the field and 40 percent from three-point range. Just like Bryce, Daniels will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations before he has three more seasons of eligibility.

N.C. State now has two potential starters on the perimeter for the 2018-19 season with the addition of Bryce and Daniels as it will be interesting to see what kind of talent the Wolfpack can get around them.

 

UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce follows Kevin Keatts to N.C. State

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N.C. State landed an impact transfer on Saturday as UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce will be following former head coach Kevin Keatts to the Wolfpack, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com

The 6-foot-5 Bryce averaged 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season as he helped the Seahawks to an NCAA tournament appearance. Bryce will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations, but he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out one season.

With N.C. State getting center Omer Yurtseven back for next season, and with the addition of Bryce, it means that Keatts has retained, or added, some talented players for the next few seasons. The Wolfpack still have to fill a lot of roster spots from last season’s team, but Keatts seems to be having a really good week.