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Isaac scores 21 to lead No. 14 Florida State past NC State

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac has been overshadowed a bit when it comes to discussing who the top freshman is in the Atlantic Coast Conference. On Wednesday night he took his place in the spotlight.

Isaac led the 14th-ranked Seminoles with 21 points as they defeated North Carolina State 95-71.

The 6-foot-10 forward, who had only two points in last Sunday’s 48-point win over Clemson, scored the first seven points as FSU (21-4, 9-3) led throughout. It is his third game of 20 points or more this season.

“This game I feel like I came out a little more aggressive and my teammates found me early. It makes the game a lot easier and gets the nerves out of the way,” Isaac said.

Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton added that Isaac is more of a student of the game, which sometimes overshadows his ability to score.

“Tonight he got into a nice flow there early. He was extremely confident and got us off to a good start,” Hamilton said.

North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr., who is considered the favorite for Freshman of the Year, matched a season-low with eight points and was held scoreless in the first half for the first time this season.

“They had a great scheme to get the ball out of my hand early. That threw off the flow of our offense,” Smith said. “We still have to make plays when they double me. It’s 4-on-3 when the ball is out of my hands.”

N.C. State coach Mark Gottfried said he was pleased with the Wolfpack’s (14-11, 3-9) shot selection – they were 28 of 60 from the field – but thought the difference in the game was inside. The Seminoles had a 49-25 edge in rebounds, including 21 on the offensive end, and outscored the Wolfpack 48-28 in the paint. Ten of Florida State’s two-point baskets were either a dunk or tip-in.

“Today they just whipped us on the glass,” Gottfried said. “They’ve got length and depth, especially at the perimeter.”

Dwayne Bacon added 19 points and Michael Ojo had 11 for FSU, which has won 18 straight at home and at one point led by as many as 26 points in the second half.

Terry Henderson led the Wolfpack with 17 points while Maverick Rowan and Abdul-Malik Abu added 16 apiece.

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: With losses in five of their last six games, the Wolfpack are in danger of playing on the first day of the conference tournament for the second straight season.

Florida State: After road losses to Georgia Tech and Syracuse two weeks ago, FSU has won its last three games by an average margin of 30 points. However, four of their last six games are on the road.

STREAKING

Bacon has scored in double figures in 34 straight games, which is the longest in program history since Alton Lee Gipson in 1984-85. It is also the longest current streak in the ACC.

SHORT BENCH

North Carolina State was missing senior center BeeJay Anya, who did not make the trip due to a “coach’s decision.” Sophomore forward Shaun Kirk also did not play due to the school’s concussion protocol.

HE SAID IT

“I wanted to take a challenge tonight. He’s one of the top scorers in our league. We had a solid defensive effort tonight,” Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes said of guarding Smith, who came into the game fifth in the conference in scoring and averaging 19.2 points per game.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: The Wolfpack are at Wake Forest on Saturday. The Demon Deacons won the first meeting 93-88 on Jan. 21.

Florida State: The Seminoles travel to Notre Dame on Saturday. FSU beat the Fighting Irish 83-80 on Jan. 18.

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

Follow Joe Reedy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/joereedy

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

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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.”