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Ball scores 22 to lead No. 10 UCLA past Oregon State 78-60

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LOS ANGELES (AP) With freshman Lonzo Ball taking over at both ends of the court, No. 10 UCLA forced a second-half change in tempo that made everything fall into place.

Ball had 22 points and nine assists as the Bruins ran away from Oregon State in the second half in a 78-60 victory Sunday.

“I’m just taking what the game gives me,” said Ball, who found himself on the finishing end of several alley-oop passes. “At the beginning of the season people were playing me to drive and pass. Today, I was just open a lot.”

After scoring a season-low 32 points in the first half, the nation’s top-scoring offense took control with a full-court press in the second half.

“Anytime we’re being aggressive on defense that’s when we’re playing our best,” UCLA guard Bryce Alford said. “Being active against a team like this that likes to control the tempo really helped get us going.”

After a loss to Southern California in January, the Bruins held a players-only meeting that has led to more Bruins increasing their intensity on the defensive end.

“We talked it out, hashed it out,” Alford said. “We said if we want to do what we want to do, reach the goals we want to reach we’ve got to play defense. We know we can play offense but that’s only part of the game.”

Ball made 9 of 12 shots as the Bruins (23-3, 10-3 Pac-12) shot 52 percent while winning their fourth straight after consecutive losses at the end of January.

“He’s impossible to guard,” Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle said of Ball. “You try to squeeze him in transition with another player, he comes flying by you.

“Lonzo is a great passer. He has unbelievable vision and he can catch fire from beyond 3, but defensively I don’t think he gets credit for the things he creates for their team.”

TJ Leaf added 13 points and nine rebounds for the Bruins, who struggled offensively early as Oregon State played a more controlled style.

“They went to their press, and we didn’t have a problem with it, but we said in our first timeout, `Why do you think they’re doing it?’ To speed us up,” Tinkle said. “I thought we gave into it a little bit.”

Stephen Thompson Jr. scored 18 points and Drew Eubanks added 13 points and seven rebounds for Oregon State (4-22, 0-13 Pac-12), which has lost 13 in a row, and 18 of their last 19.

Coming off an 82-79 victory over No. 5 Oregon on Thursday night when they had to rally from a 19-point deficit, the Bruins found themselves trailing 27-24 more than 17 minutes into this one as the Beavers made six of their first 10 3-point attempts.

The Bruins, however, went on to score the first half’s final eight points for a 32-27 lead.

Up 40-34, the Bruins broke the game open with a 14-3 run, taking a 54-37 lead on Alford’s 3-pointer with 12:50 to play. The Bruins’ biggest lead was 71-48 with 5:43 remaining.

With the victory, the Bruins completed a home-and-home sweep of Oregon State, having beaten the Beavers 76-63 in Corvallis, on Dec. 30. This was UCLA’s first series sweep of OSU since 2012.

The Bruins also avenged an 85-82 upset loss to the Beavers in their last meeting at Pauley Pavilion on March 5, 2016.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon State: The Beavers have not beaten a Top 10 team since Jan. 11, 2015, when they upset then-No. 7 Arizona 58-56. OSU’s last Pac-12 victory was their season-ending win over the Bruins last March.

UCLA: With four games left in their Pac-12 Conference schedule, the Bruins find themselves in third place in the conference standings, behind Arizona (12-1) and Oregon (11-2). The Bruins came into the game leading the nation averaging 92.5 points per game, the third-highest average in school history (the 1971-72 UCLA squad averaged 94.6 points).

UP NEXT

Oregon State: The Beavers play host to Colorado on Thursday night. The Buffaloes beat the Beavers 85-78 in Boulder, on Jan. 26.

UCLA: The Bruins play host to Southern California on Saturday night looking to avenge an 84-76 upset loss to the Trojans in their first meeting this season on Jan. 25.

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

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

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.