Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune Herald via AP

Motley’s 25 points lead No. 6 Baylor in 70-52 win over TCU

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WACO, Texas (AP) After Johnathan Motley grabbed a rebound and no defender got in front of him, Baylor’s 6-foot-10 forward was going all the way.

Motley’s full-court drive for a layup in the second half was part of his 25 points and the sixth-ranked Bears had little trouble this time with TCU in a 70-52 victory on Saturday.

“I was going until someone cut me off,” Motley said.

And TCU really never did that all day against Motley, who was 12-of-15 shooting with all of those makes in the paint. The breakaway drive was in a stretch when he scored nine straight points for Baylor (22-3, 9-3 Big 12), including a three-point play after getting fouled while making a layup.

“He’s long, he just plays hard,” TCU coach Jamie Dixon said.

“Mot was tremendous. He’s had some good games, but when you shoot 12 for 15, those are special,” Bears coach Scott Drew said. “And he was really effective. It was fun to watch him.”

Baylor never trailed in winning its 11th straight game in the series since the former Southwest Conference rivals were reunited in the Big 12 when TCU (17-8, 6-6) moved into the power league four years ago.

Manu Lecomte added 17 points for the Bears, and King McClure scored all 13 of his before halftime.

Jaylen Fisher had 18 points for TCU while Kenrich Williams had 10.

When they played about 100 miles away on Jan. 21 in Fort Worth, there were 16 lead changes, with 13 in the second half along with five ties, before Baylor pulled out a 62-53 victory. The rematch was tied only once, at 2-2.

“We definitely were expecting better,” Williams said. “It’s a little bit of an embarrassment, with me being from Waco. We’ve just got to keep working.”

BIG PICTURE

TCU: After their first three-conference winning streak since 2008, the Frogs suffered their largest loss of the season. They still have six Big 12 wins, their most ever in the league, and would likely get back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1998 by splitting their last six regular-season games.

Baylor: The Bears have their best-ever record through 25 games overall (22-3) and best through 12 Big 12 games (9-3). Drew said his team was intent to erase what happened in its last home game, when the Bears were down by 17 points in the first half last Saturday against Kansas State before a late rally came up two points short.

KING-SIZE SHOTS

McClure had back-to-back 3-pointers for Baylor to make it 15-6 during a first-half stretch when TCU went more than 7 minutes without a field goal. McClure started his second straight game in place of suspended Al Freeman, who is out for what the school called a violation of team policy. It is unclear when Freeman may be reinstated. McClure has 23 points on 9-of-12 shooting in those two starts.

OVER THE SHOULDER – AND IN

Baylor’s last field goal of the first half was Jake Lindsey’s over-the-shoulder layup with his right hand and his back to the basket after driving the baseline. That put the Bears up 32-17.

BEEN A LONG TIME

The Frogs have lost their last 20 games against Top 25 teams since a win over then-No. 21 Oklahoma State on Valentine’s Day two years ago. Their road losing streak against ranked teams is 39 straight since a win at No. 24 Hawaii in January 1998.

NOT MUCH HELP

TCU had only one assist at halftime. Then again, the Frogs had only six field goals by then. “I’ve never been around a team with one assist in a first half,” Dixon said. They trailed 32-17 at the half, their lowest-scoring half this season. They had nine assists on 14 field goals in the second half.

UP NEXT

TCU: Home against Oklahoma State on Wednesday

Baylor: Plays on Monday night at Texas Tech, which lost by one at home Saturday to Big 12-leading and third-ranked Kansas. The Jayhawks are in Waco next Saturday.

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

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.