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No. 15 Florida beats Mississippi State in first game without Egbunu

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STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Florida is a team that has occasionally put up huge offensive numbers this season, including 106 and 114 points in games over the past month.

But the shots weren’t falling on Saturday.

So the 15th-ranked Gators resorted to Plan B: A little grit, a little luck and a whole lot of defense in a 57-52 victory over Mississippi State.

“We’ve been able to find different ways to win different games,” Florida coach Mike White said. “It’s been different guys night in and night out and this is just another example.”

Florida (22-5, 12-2 Southeastern Conference) extended its winning streak to eight games, which is the longest during White’s two-year tenure. The Gators also won their first game since starting center John Egbunu suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Chris Chiozza scored 14 points and KeVaughn Allen added 11. Sophomore forward Kevarrius Hayes – who now has an expanded role because of Egbunu’s injury – finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Hayes had a crucial block during the final minute when Mississippi State was trying to push ahead. Chiozza said the Gators might be known for offense, but are more than capable of handling defensive showdowns.

“You just have to want to do it,” Chiozza said. “We’ve got good athletes, size and speed. So we just fly around and communicate.”

Florida was also fortunate that Mississippi State had one of its worst offensive games of the season. The Bulldogs (14-12, 5-9) trailed for most of the game, but Aric Holman threw down a dunk with 2:23 remaining to tie it at 52.

Mississippi State had multiple chances to tie or take the lead, but couldn’t hit shots in the crucial final minute. The Bulldogs finished 2 of 23 (8.7 percent) from 3-point range, including 0 of 13 in the first half. Several of the shots were wide open, but nobody could convert.

“It’s tough to continue to be right there, but not be able to get it over the hump,” Mississippi State coach Ben Howland said.

Quinndary Weatherspoon led Mississippi State with 17 points, but was just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. The Bulldogs have lost eight of their past 10 games.

“We were getting good looks,” Weatherspoon said. “We just weren’t hitting them.”

BIG PICTURE

Florida: It’s a solid win for the Gators, who are still figuring out their rotation after the loss of Egbunu. Hayes was excellent, providing the constant rim protection that Florida will need if it wants to make a deep NCAA Tournament run.

Mississippi State: The late-season slide continues for the Bulldogs, who started three freshmen on Saturday. Mississippi State continues to show signs of promise, but a tough game from 3-point range kept the Bulldogs from pulling off the upset.

OFF NIGHT FOR BERRY

Florida’s leading scorer Canyon Barry was held to just seven points on Saturday. Berry limped off the court late in the game and didn’t return. White didn’t believe the injury was serious, saying Barry had a “rolled ankle” but wanted to go back in the game.

TOO MANY TURNOVERS

Florida had 16 turnovers Saturday, which was one off a season high. White said his team was trying too hard to generate offense when the shots weren’t falling early.

“You can see why the pressing and forcing, trying to do a little too much, could creep in,” White said. “But we’ve got to avoid that in the future.”

UP NEXT

Florida: The Gators return home to face No. 21 South Carolina on Tuesday.

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs host rival Mississippi on Tuesday.

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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.