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Jayson Tatum’s 28 leads No. 12 Duke past No. 14 Virginia

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Jayson Tatum scored a career-high 28 points, added nine boards and buried a trio of dagger threes down the stretch as No. 12 Duke landed a 65-55 win at No. 14 Virginia on Wednesday night.

Tatum’s monster night came in a game where everyone else on Duke looked, frankly, like they were playing against Virginia’s defense. Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard combined for just 21 points on 5-for-20 shooting while Amile Jefferson had three first half fouls and picked up his fourth foul less than four minutes into the second half.

London Perrantes had 14 points to lead the Cavaliers, but he shot just 4-for-11 from the floor. Marial Shayok was just 3-for-11 from the field and, as a team, Virginia shot just 31.4 percent from the field and 5-for-19 from three.

The win keeps Duke within a game of first place North Carolina in the ACC while UVA drops two games off the pace as they’ve now lost four of their last six games. Duke has now won six straight games.

Here are four things to take away from this game:

1. This was the Jayson Tatum game: Last week, when then-No. 18 Duke landed an impressive home win over then-No. 8 North Carolina, we talked about how the 19 second half points that Tatum scored in that game was the breakout performance we were all waiting to see out of a guy that has the potential to be a top three pick in the draft.

We were wrong.

It was Wednesday night. Tatum had 28 points. He was 8-for-13 from the floor and 6-for-7 from three. He hit three huge threes, each of them tougher than the last, in the final six minutes that spurred on an 11-2 run that push a 43-42 lead to 54-44, and Virginia was never able to recover. And it wasn’t just the scoring. It was his defense and, more importantly, his ability on the defense glass; all nine of those rebounds were defensive rebounds.

If Duke is going to make this small-ball thing work, it’s going to be because they’re good enough defensively with Tatum at the four to beat the best teams in the country.

2. Duke’s defense was awesome: Before the final two minutes of this game, when Virginia started fouling and the Blue Devils played defense simply not to foul, Virginia had 44 points. They were shooting 31.7 percent from the floor. They had gotten essentially nothing offensively from … well, from anyone, and that happened despite Harry Giles III and Marques Bolden playing more minutes that we’re used to seeing out of them because of the foul trouble that Amile Jefferson got into.

Kennard and Allen put in defensive performances that are better than what we’re used to seeing from them. Matt Jones was as good as he always is on that end of the floor. And, of course, Tatum. Duke doesn’t have to be as good as Virginia on the defensive end. What they have to be is good enough that a roster with three elite offensive weapons can win games. It looks like that’s happening.

But …

3. … how much of this was due to Virginia’s offense: Or lack thereof. They don’t have a Malcolm Brogdon or Anthony Gill this season. Perrantes is a terrific player, but he’s at his best when he’s a distributor, not when he’s a go-to scorer. Austin Nichols would’ve been that guy if he didn’t get the boot one game into the season. Last season, when things weren’t going well for them offensively, they could run Brogdon off of a series of screens and know they would get a good shot. Before that it was Joe Harris. But without that guy, and without a low-post scoring presence to take the pressure off of the guards, the brunt of league play is wearing on Virginia.

4. Harry Giles III played his best game of the season: The numbers may not show it – he had five points, three boards, two steals and as many turnovers – but this was the best that Giles has looked all season long. Whether it was passing out of a double-team or being in the right spot defensively or twice picking off a second half pass that had beaten him in the first half, Giles looked like he was gaining some of his confidence back. When you see that combined with post moves and leaping over defenders for offensive rebounds, it’s a promising sign that the pre-injury Harry Giles III is still in there somewhere.

He still had a couple of freshman mistakes – he threw an awful pass against one of UVA’s double-teams and them dropped a pass that would have been a wide-open dunk because he was rushing and flustered – but he’s getting better.

 

VIDEO: UConn’s Kwintin Williams would win the NBA dunk contest

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Think that’s too strong?

Look at this dunk:

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A post shared by Kwintin Williams (@jumpmanebig) on

He also did this over the summer:

Williams is a 6-foot-7, 215 pound JuCo transfer that should provide UConn with some minutes in the frontcourt this season.

LSU officially announces addition of Kavell Bigby-Williams

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LSU has announced the addition of Oregon transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams, a 6-foot-11 junior that was the National Junior College Player of the Year as a sophomore.

Bigby-Williams, who is a native of London, averaged 3.0 points and 2.8 boards last season as the Ducks reached the Final Four, but he played the majority of the season while under investigation for an alleged sexual assault that occurred while he was at Gillette College in Wyoming.

The local County Attorney declined to charge Bigby-Williams with a crime, and Gillette College police consider the case closed.

“The university conducted a responsible and comprehensive review before approving the transfer,” a release posted on LSU’s Athletics site read, “including close coordination with Title IX officials, multiple discussions with Gillette and Oregon officials and a thorough examination of available public records.”

LSU head coach Will Wade was quoted in that release as well: “This is an issue we all take seriously and we made absolutely sure we did our due diligence before considering moving forward. Kavell understands that and has made clear to me that he’s going to repay our confidence by representing LSU with his very best on and off the court.”

Report: Four-star Mamaou Doucoure has reclassified, enrolled at Rutgers

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Rutgers has made a potentially significant addition to their 2017 recruiting class, as four-star big man Mamadou Doucoure appears to have reclassified.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Doucoure has already enrolled in classes at Rutgers, citing a search of the university’s online database. The 6-foot-9 Doucoure was initially a member of the Class of 2017 before reclassifying to 2018, although there have been rumors that he has been trying to enroll this year.

It’s not yet clear if Doucoure will be eligible to play this season — he has not even been added to Rutgers’ roster online — but if he’s eligible, he should be able to provide rotation minutes for the Scarlet Knights.

Even if he’s not cleared to play this season, his addition matters. He’ll be able to workout with and develop in a Big Ten locker room before getting cleared to play alongside a massive 2018 recruiting class that already includes four-stars Mac McClung and Montez Mathis along with three-star prospect Ron Harper Jr.

Options drying up for top ten prospect Mitchell Robinson

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It’s looking less and less likely that we’ll see Mitchell Robinson on a college campus this season.

Robinson, if you’ve forgotten, committed to and signed with Western Kentucky, enrolling at the school and practicing with the team over the summer. But he left Bowling Green after two weeks and has received a release to transfer out of the program.

And that’s where the difficultly here lies.

He’s a transfer, which means that, as a top ten prospect and a likely one-and-done player, he will be redshirting the only year that he is on campus unless the NCAA would provide him with a waiver, which is unlikely. After Robinson left WKU, three schools have emerged as potential landing spots: LSU, Kansas and New Orleans. LSU ended their recruitment two weeks ago. Over the weekend, Kansas head coach essentially confirmed that Robinson will not be a Jayhawks.

“I would think that we probably won’t sign anybody,” Self told the Kansas City Star.

That leaves New Orleans, his hometown school, or overseas, which is a rumor that has followed Robinson since the spring. The other option? Sitting out and training for a year, which FanRag Sports reported on Sunday is a possibility.

However you slice it, Robinson’s one-and-done year has turned into a mess. He’s still likely to end up as a first round pick — seven-footers that can do the things he does defensively don’t grow on trees — but I can’t imagine that teams are going to be clamoring to use a lottery pick on a player that just spent a year sitting out.

VIDEO: Texas freshman Jericho Sims catches nasty alley-oop

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Texas is in Australia for their team’s summer trip, and Jericho Sims gave Longhorn fans a glimpse of why they may not miss Jarrett Allen’s athleticism all that much this season.