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Barry scores 14, No. 12 Florida handles Arkansas 78-65

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Canyon Barry scored 14 points, his best game since injuring an ankle two weeks ago, and No. 12 Florida handled Arkansas 78-65 on Wednesday night.

Kasey Hill, KeVaughn Allen and Chris Chiozza added 12 points apiece for the Gators, who bounced back from their first loss in 10 games and clinched the No. 2 seed in the Southeastern Conference Tournament next week.

Florida (24-6, 14-3) controlled the game much of the night, building a double-digit lead early, extending it to as many as 16 in the first half and then holding on after the break.

Arkansas (22-8, 11-6) made it close midway through the second half, cutting the lead to 51-45 on Trey Thompson’s straightaway jumper. But the Gators responded with clutch shot after clutch shot to make it a 14-point game again. Barry hit a driving layup out of a timeout, Devin Robinson followed with a 3-pointer from the wing and then Keith Stone completed a three-point play.

Jaylen Barford led the Razorbacks with 18 points. Moses Kingsley added 17 points and nine rebounds. Arkansas had won five straight and 10 of 13.

Coach Mike Anderson’s biggest issue was his team allowing the Gators, who improved to 9-1 at home this season, to shoot 51 percent from the field.

Stone finished with eight points, his best performance since mid-January. Florida had another comeback outing from Gorjok Gak, who missed the previous seven games because of a sprained foot. He had two points and two rebounds in 8 minutes.

But Barry was the story. The senior swingman got one of the largest ovations on Senior Night – Barry, Hill, center Schuyler Rimmer and forward Justin Leon were honored – and he delivered.

BIG PICTURE

Arkansas: Despite the loss, the Hogs are still having their best season in years. With a victory in the regular-season finale. Arkansas would have 12 conference wins for the fifth time in program history and just the second time in the last 22 years (2014-15). The Razorbacks also have 22 regular-season wins for the second time in the last 22 years.

Florida: The Gators need Hill, Barry and Stone to continue to play like they did against Arkansas. Hill and Barry make the offense go, and Stone provides a defensive presence in the middle and another 3-point threat on the other end.

UP NEXT

Arkansas: The Razorbacks end the regular season Saturday against Georgia at Bud Walton Arena, where they have won five of their last six.

Florida: The Gators wrap up the regular season at Vanderbilt on Saturday. Florida has lost three of its last four against the Commodores, including a home loss in January that helped better focus coach Mike White’s team and sparked a nine-game winning streak.

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

Virginia, Seton Hall, Rhode Island, Vandy in NIT Tip-Off

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NEW YORK (AP) — Virginia and Vanderbilt will meet in one semifinal of the NIT Preseason Tip-Off on Thanksgiving Day at Barclays Center.

Rhode Island and Seton Hall face off in the other semifinal with the winners meeting on Friday, Nov. 24.

This is the third straight year the Tip-Off has been held at Barclays Center. Eventual NCAA champion Villanova won the event in 2015. All games will be televised on ESPNU.

Non-bracketed teams in the NIT Season Tip-Off who will play games at campus sites are: Austin Peay, Fairleigh Dickinson, Monmouth, Oakland City and UNC Asheville.

Miles Bridges explain why he returned to Michigan State

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Miles Bridges changed the landscape of the 2017-18 college basketball season on April 13.

The Michigan State forward spurned the NBA for another year in East Lansing. The decision not only meant that Bridges was a frontrunner for national player of the year, but solidified the Spartans as a national title contender.

But Bridges’ choice to return was still puzzling to many. The 6-foot-7 forward was projected as a lottery pick. Bridges explained his decision to Mike Decourcy of Sporting News in a story published on Thursday.

“He says, ‘You know what, Coach? I want to get better. I don’t want to be in the D-League. I’ve got buddies that are, and I just want to make sure when I go, I’m ready,’ ” Izzo recalled to Sporting News. “I looked at him and I said, ‘Done deal.’ For me, that was a done deal. It was a reasonable, sensible argument.”

Agents, friends, reporters, scouts, acquaintances, fans, strangers and family members — oh and, as we said, coaches — all had one opinion about how Bridges should spend the next year of his life. Miles had another, opposing, viewpoint.

Bridges told Decourcy that support came from his teammates, many of whom were returning to the team as well. Assuming the backcourt of Cassius Winston and Josh Langford make a leap forward, as well as incoming freshman Jaren Jackson providing an immediate impact, the Spartans’ title hopes could become a reality.

Bridges averaged 16.9 points, 8.3 boards, 2.1 assists and 1.5 blocks as a freshman at Michigan State. He’s rated as the No. 5 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft by DraftExpress.

Four conferences sign on to basketball officiating alliance

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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Four more Division I conferences will join a men’s basketball officiating alliance formed last year by the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East, the Atlantic 10 and Colonial Athletic Association.

The Big South, the Ivy League, the Northeast and the Patriot League are joining ahead of the 2017-18 season, according to announcements from the leagues Thursday. The alliance launched last summer for conferences to work together on officiating matters and enhance training, development, recruitment, retention and feedback for officials.

John Cahill, the Big East’s supervisor of officials, and Bryan Kersey, the ACC’s coordinator of men’s basketball officiating, will continue to lead the alliance operations.

ACC commissioner John Swofford says the new additions to the alliance “provide an even greater opportunity to build chemistry and quality” across the officiating ranks.

North Carolina to unveil national championship banner in October

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The latest addition to the rafters of the Dean Dome will be unveiled this fall.

North Carolina will raise the banner for its 2017 national championship on Oct. 13, according to a report from Inside Carolina.

The event will coincide with the Tar Heels’ “Late Night With Roy” event that marks the public start to the season for the program and also serves, like many other top programs, as a recruiting tool.

North Carolina won its sixth NCAA national championship in April by defeating Gonzaga, 71-65, in Phoenix to avenge its last-second loss in the title game to Villanova the year prior. It was the Tar Heels’ first championship since 2009.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball highlights

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It was the most anticipated matchup of the summer.

Zion Williamson vs. LaMelo Ball.

People were turned away at the door – and LeBron James reportedly came and went – as the gym reached capacity for SC Supreme’s 104-92 victory over the Big Ballers. That’s Williamson over Ball (LaMelo and LaVar).

The game was mostly spectacle, and you can see it’s top moments right here.