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SATURDAY’S SNACKS: Kansas tops Baylor, will win another Big 12 title

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SATURDAY’S THINGS TO KNOW

Two of the best teams in the nation locked horns on Saturday afternoon as No. 3 Kansas held off No. 4 Baylor to create a three-game lead in the Big 12. The Jayhawks closed this game on an 8-0 run as their defense looked much better. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one.

No. 10 North Carolina made a statement on Saturday night, blowing out No. 14 Virginia. But the question is whether the statement had to do with the Tar Heels or with the Wahoos, who have now lost five out seven.

Michigan State lost yet another important piece this season, as Eron Harris went down with a gruesome-looking knee injury. His status is yet undetermined, but the Spartans were not able to overcome his absence, losing emphatically at No. 16 Purdue.

Pitt worked over No. 17 Florida State, who fell even further from the top of the ACC. The Seminoles were a No. 2 seed when the bracket reveal happened last weekend, but after back-to-back losses, it’s hard to see that remaining true.

No. 13 Kentucky landed a come-from-behind win at Georgia on Saturday, but it’s not the kind of win that is going to make Big Blue Nation happy. The Wildcats played very poorly and barely beat a Georgia team that lost leading scorer Yante Maten early to a knee injury.

No. 8 West Virginia survived Texas Tech in a double-overtime battle. The Red Raiders really needed to get this win, but a late comeback wasn’t enough.

In a result that surprised absolutely no one, No. 1 Gonzaga remained undefeated with a blowout win over Pacific. They’ve now won 20 straight games by double-figures.

Army took on arch-rival Navy and won on the road despite trailing by 25 points with 11:42 left.

STARRED

J.J. Frazier, Georgia: The Bulldogs lost to Kentucky, but Frazier very nearly won a game by himself. He had 36 points in a game where Georgia lost Yante Maten in the first two minutes.

Mike Daum, South Dakota State: Daum went for 51 points and 15 boards, hitting seven threes for the Jackrabbits in a road win at Fort Wayne.

Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins, Villanova: Player of the Year candidate Josh Hart gets a lot of the love for the defending champion Wildcats but Brunson and Jenkins were cooking on Saturday. Brunson was 7-for-7 from the field and Jenkins was 8-for-10 from the floor as they duo combined for 44 points on 7-for-8 three-point shooting.

Caleb Swanigan, Purdue: Biggie had a big line on Saturday, going for 24 points, 15 boards and five assists as the Boilermakers moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten.

Sheldon Jeter, Pitt: Jeter went for 29 points and eight boards as Pitt smoked No. 17 Florida State at home.

RELATED: Get caught up on all of today’s bubble action

REST OF THE TOP 25

  • The offense came alive for No. 2 Villanova in an easy road win at Seton Hall in the Big East. Jalen Brunson and Kris Jenkins both had 22 points each while Josh Hart added 19 points.
  • No. 5 Arizona got 26 points from Lauri Markkanen in a win at Washington despite being down two starters.
  • Finding themselves trailing at halftime, No. 8 Louisville rallied to beat Virginia Tech at home in the ACC. Donovan Mitchell finished with 26 points to pace the Cardinals.
  • Defense was optional in this one but No. 12 Duke had enough late to outlast Wake Forest for an ACC home win. Luke Kennard finished with 23 points.
  • Tough road win for No. 15 Florida but they were able to hold on for the win over Mississippi State in the SEC. Chris Chiozza had 14 points in the road win to lead the Gators.
  • Five players finished in double figures for No. 18 Cincinnati as they rolled by Tulsa in the American. The Bearcats were led by Kyle Washington with 18 points.
  • For the second time in a week, No. 19 SMU landed a come-from-behind win over a team they shouldn’t need to come-from-behind against, beating Houston on the road.
  • No. 21 South Carolina lost their third straight game, this one on the road against Vanderbilt.
  • No. 25 Notre Dame went into Raleigh and took care of business in an ACC road win over N.C. State. Senior V.J. Beachem went for 27 points.

NOTABLE

  • In a matchup of two ACC teams trying to make the NCAA tournament, Miami outlasted Clemson for a home win as Kamari Murphy had 15 points.
  • Avoiding a bubble disaster was Kansas State as the Wildcats were able to outlast Texas on the road in the Big 12. Wesley Iwundu led the Wildcats with 16 points.
  • Wichita State is doing everything they can to make a statement to the committee by running past Northern Iowa, 73-44, as Landry Shamet had 14 points.
  • An amazing comeback went down in the Army and Navy game. The Black Knights were down by 25 points with 12:51 left but came roaring back to win on the road. Jordan Fox scored 22 to lead Army.

Florida State picks up late commit from McDonald’s All-American

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The losses sustained by Florida State have been numerous and significant. Three players declared early for the NBA Draft. Another two contributors were lost to graduation. All in all, the Seminoles haven’t had the greatest of springs.

Wednesday, though, they got some good news.

McDonald’s All-American wing M.J. Walker committed Leonard Hamilton’s program to give Florida State a late, and important, addition to its 2017 recruiting class, beating the likes of Ohio State, Georgia Tech and UCLA.

Walker, a 6-foot-5 guard, gives the Seminoles yet another five-star prospect after landing Dwayne Bacon and Jonathan Isaac in the last two recruiting classes. Walker will help Hamilton and Co. reboot after both Bacon and Isaac, along with Xavier Rathan-Mayes, all left school to pursue professional careers after the Seminoles’ 26-9 season that saw them advance to the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Walker becomes the sixth member of Hamilton’s 2017 recruiting class that was previously headlined by four-star 7-footer Ikechukwu Obiagu. That group will be tasked to retool a team losing not only major NBA-level talent, but also major production. The Seminoles won’t return a single player who averaged double-digit points per-game last year and just one who played at least 20 minutes per night.

Michigan returns Mo Wagner, loses D.J. Wilson

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The best-case scenario did not take place for Michigan this week.

The Wolverines waited for four weeks to hear back from their pair of mobile big men, and the news on Mo Wagner was positive. The 6-foot-10 junior from Germany announced on Wednesday that he will return to school after testing the NBA Draft waters.

The news was not as fortunate with D.J. Wilson, who announced less than ten hours before the deadline that he will be signing with an agent and turning pro. Wilson is projected as a late first round or early second round pick.

Without Wilson in the fold, Michigan lacks some front court depth, which will probably be enough to keep them out of the preseason top 25.

Gonzaga to return Johnathan Williams III

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Losing Nigel Williams-Goss and Zach Collins to the professional ranks probably torpedoed Gonzaga’s chance of making another run to the NCAA tournament national title game, but after Johnathan Williams III announced on Wednesday that he will be returning to school and withdrawing from the NBA Draft, Gonzaga does appear to be a favorite to win the WCC title again.

Williams is now Gonzaga’s leading returning scorer and rebounder, anchoring a front court that also loses Przemek Karnowski to graduation. He was expected to go undrafted.

With Williams back in the fold, the Zags should be right there with Saint Mary’s in the race for the WCC title. Josh Perkins, Silas Melson and Killian Tillie all return as well.

ESPN was the first to report the news.

Injured Gamecocks point guard Blanton gives up basketball

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina guard TeMarcus Blanton is giving up basketball after struggling with a serious hip injury he suffered before his freshman season.

Gamecocks coach Frank Martin says Blanton told him he could not get his body to respond to a level that would allow him to continue playing basketball. Blanton is a 6-foot-5 junior from Locust Grove, Georgia, who hurt his hip during preseason for the 2014-15 season. He needed surgery and could not return to the court until his sophomore year.

Blanton played in 29 games, averaging 1.4 points a game.

He said on social media he is grateful to his coaches, teammates and South Carolina fans, “but my journey of basketball has come to an end.”

Blanton received a medical exemption from the Southeastern Conference to remain part of the Gamecocks’ program moving forward.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley to remain NBA Draft

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For the first time in a decade and just the third time in 14 seasons as UNC’s head coach, Roy Williams has a one-and-done player.

North Carolina’s Tony Bradley will sign with an agent and remain in the NBA Draft.

Bradley had an impressive freshman season, averaging 7.1 points and 5.1 boards in less than 15 minutes per game as the sixth-man for the national title-winning Tar Heels. He initially declared for the draft without signing with an agent, testing the waters, and the feedback was positive: He’ll likely be a late first round or early second round pick.

As the process dragged on, it became fairly evident that Bradley would keep his name in the draft, and that is a massive blow for a UNC team that is already losing Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks, not to mention Justin Jackson.

As it stands, Roy Williams will likely start the following lineup next season: Joel Berry II, Kenny Williams and Theo Pinson on the perimeter with Luke Maye and either Brandon Huffman or Garrison Brooks, both freshmen, alongside him. Williams is one of the few coaches left in the sport that still relies on playing two bigs and utilizing an overwhelming front court to win games, and that is not going to be an easy thing to do with that group of bigs.

UNC’s perimeter is strong. Berry will likely be a preseason all-american while Pinson and Williams are both above average role players on the wings.

But without that hoss in the paint — Bradley, like Berry, would have popped up on preseason all-american teams — the Tar Heels are going to have a tough time making a run at an ACC title, let alone a third straight trip to the national title game.

North Carolina is currently ranked 18th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.