Carter leads No. 11 West Virginia past Texas in Big 12 tourney

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) West Virginia’s Bob Huggins sure sounds motivated by last year’s runner-up finish at the Big 12 Tournament, but don’t ask the often-irascible coach whether his players feel the same way.

“I don’t know, man. You’re asking me to know what they’re thinking,” Huggins said after his No. 11 Mountaineers cruised to a 63-53 win over Texas in the quarterfinals Thursday night. “I wish I knew.”

He should at least feel confident that Jevon Carter is sufficiently motivated. The star guard poured in 21 points to give West Virginia (25-7) its only consistent offense, while the rest of his guys turned up their trademark defense to make life miserable for the Longhorns.

Texas (11-22) wound up with 14 turnovers, failed to score the 5:34 of the game and never got star freshman Jarrett Allen involved in the game – he managed just nine points and 10 rebounds.

“We’re trying to win. We didn’t get it done in the finals a year ago and there’s no sense playing if you’re not playing to win,” said Huggins, whose team will play ninth-ranked Baylor or Kansas State in the semifinals Friday night. “We’re trying to win.”

Andrew Jones had 13 points for the Longhorns, who matched a school record with their 22nd loss.

“I thought they did what West Virginia does so well. They were the more aggressive team and over the course of the game, I think there was a cumulative effect of the way they played,” Texas coach Shaka Smart said. “Obviously, they shot the ball better from outside. That was a big difference as well.”

The No. 10 seed Longhorns, who rallied past Texas Tech in the opening round to snap a seven-game skid, managed to forge a lead midway through the first half despite digging an early hole.

But the Mountaineers’ in-your-shorts defense began to pay off with turnovers, and they went on a brief run into the locker room. Then, they extended their 39-30 advantage to as many as 13 points in the second half, taking a 47-34 lead when Sagaba Konate threw down a dunk with 15 minutes to go.

Kerwin Roach Jr. stopped the run with a 3-pointer, and by the time Mareik Isom scored a few minutes later, the orange-clad Longhorns had closed to 47-41 with 12 minutes left.

But try as they might, the Longhorns couldn’t climb all the way back.

Carter’s fifth 3 off a steal by Nathan Adrian pushed West Virginia’s lead back to 57-46. Adrian’s put-back a couple minutes later made it 61-51. And the Mountaineers’ defense did the rest, preventing the Longhorns from getting any good looks in the game’s closing minutes.

“West Virginia plays hard and aggressive. That’s kind of their MO,” Jones said. “At certain points of the game, them being overly aggressive took us out of our offense a little bit.”

Asked later whether top-ranked Kansas’s loss to TCU earlier in the day provided a wakeup call for West Virginia, Carter replied: “We didn’t really pay much attention to what other teams are doing.”

“It’s about us,” he said. “We just take it one game at a time. You can’t win the next game if you don’t win the current game. That was the message to the team: Just focus on this game.”

STATS AND STREAKS

West Virginia won despite going 10 of 20 from the foul line. Texas was even worse, going 8 of 19 at the stripe. … The Mountaineers hit six 3-pointers in the first half. They hit one in the second.

BIG PICTURE

Texas extended its season by a day with its win over the Red Raiders, but now the offseason begins for Smart and Co. His 20-13 record in Year 1 is already a distant memory.

West Virginia has not won a conference tournament title since 2010, when the Mountaineers were still in the Big East. They lost to Kansas in the Big 12 title game last year.

UP NEXT

Texas heads back to Austin to enjoy next week’s SXSW Music Festival.

West Virginia gets ready for another Big 12 semifinal.

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

VIDEO: LaVar Ball gets female ref replaced after threatening to pull team from court

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A female referee was removed from a Big Ballers game after LaVar Ball threatened to pull his team from the court for the second time in a week.

The referee called Ball for a technical foul, which sparked the confrontation, but both Ball and an adidas rep told ESPN’s Jeff Borzello that the reason the ref was pulled was because she and Ball had a previous issue:

Before the game was over, Ball would receive a second technical foul and the game was eventually called with two minutes left and Big Ballers losing by 10.

Western Kentucky’s five-star recruit Mitchell Robinson has left campus

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The soap opera that has been Mitchell Robinson’s tenure at Western Kentucky took another on Friday, as the five-star center and top ten prospect in the Class of 2017 has reportedly left campus.

Robinson was a massive coup for Rick Stansbury when he committed to and signed for the Hilltoppers, but it has been non-stop drama since then. Less than two weeks after his commitment, Robinson tweeted that he would be decommitting from WKU before immediately deleting the tweet and claiming that his account was hacked. Robinson did not attend the first session of summer school on campus, and he was in class in the second summer school session and reportedly practicing with the team this month for a trip to Costa Rica, but he cleaned out his dorm room and left the campus last night.

Part of the reason that Robinson opted to go to Western Kentucky was that his godfather, former UNC star Shammond Williams, was an assistant coach on the staff. Williams left the program on July 3rd, and ever since then there have been questions surrounding where Robinson will play this season. There have been rumors that he will be heading overseas for a year before entering the 2018 NBA Draft, and there is also the potential that Robinson could end up transferring to a different college.

The question, however, is whether or not Robinson will be able to transfer and play immediately without sitting out a year since he enrolled in summer school.

Robinson is a 7-foot center and a terrific defensive prospect that is projected as a first round pick next year. If he does get a waiver to transfer, he immediately becomes the best available talent on the market, along with Marvin Bagley III, who is considering reclassifying.

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.