No. 5 Oregon beats Arizona State 80-57 in Pac-12 quarters

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Oregon had a hard time stopping Torian Graham in the first half, allowing Arizona State to keep it close. The Ducks still didn’t have an answer for Graham in the second, but they shut down everyone else to earn a spot in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

Dillon Brooks scored 22 points, Tyler Dorsey added 21 and No. 5 Oregon pulled away in the second half to beat Arizona State 80-57 Thursday in the Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinals.

“They’re an elite team and have the type of defense that’s going to keep them in games as they play championship-level basketball,” Arizona State coach Bobby Hurley said.

Oregon (28-4) tightened up defensively after a close first half, holding Arizona State to 8-of-33 shooting in the second. That set up transition baskets and allowed the Ducks to pull away from the eighth-seeded Sun Devils.

Dylan Ennis had a career-high 12 rebounds and five assists for the top-seeded Ducks, who move on to face the winner between California and Utah in the semifinals Friday night.

“I thought our defensive energy was pretty good,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “They did get a couple good looks, but mostly those were pretty contested shots.”

Arizona State (15-18) matched Oregon almost shot for shot in the first half before succumbing to the Ducks’ length and pressure in the second.

Graham, a senior, had 32 points and made seven 3-pointers, but the rest of the Sun Devils’ starters were a combined 5 for 30 from the floor.

“I don’t really want to talk about points because we lost,” Graham said. “I just want to talk about the team and the things that we can work on as a team or what they could do to move forward. I just try to help the young guys prepare themselves for next year.”

The Ducks were co-champions of the Pac-12 with Arizona, earning the No. 1 seed in the tourney with their victory over the Wildcats in their lone meeting.

Arizona State had given Oregon all it could when it made the trip to Eugene, losing 71-70 in a game that had 15 lead changes and nine ties. The Sun Devils had just six turnovers in that game, but Brooks scored the final 12 points for the Ducks to earn the victory.

Arizona State needed to shoot well in the rematch to have a chance and did just that early on, scoring its first 12 points on 3-pointers. The Sun Devils continued to hang with the Ducks throughout the first half behind Graham, who was 4 of 6 from 3-point range and had 16 points.

Brooks had 11 for Oregon, which led 34-31 at halftime.

The Ducks gained a little separation to start the second half, opening with an 8-2 run.

Oregon got out to Graham much better and hounded the Sun Devils all over the floor, pushing the lead to 45-33 as Arizona State missed 12 of its first 13 shots.

The Sun Devils had one more run to get within eight, thanks to Graham, but Oregon gradually stretched the lead back out.

“We rebounded well. We got defensive stops and we’re going to have to continue doing that throughout the tournament,” Ennis said. “But overall I think we did a great job today.”

BIG PICTURE

Oregon looked every bit the top seed in the conference and a potential No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in the second half, overmatching the Sun Devils at both ends.

Arizona State will have to replace Graham and forward Obinna Oleka next season, but Hurley has a strong recruiting class coming in.

DUCK BLOCK PARTY

Oregon led the nation in blocked shots per game at 6.8 and is closing in on a couple of records.

The Ducks blocked four shots against Arizona State, giving them 216 this season. That’s five from tying the school single-season record and eight from matching the Pac-12 record of 224, set by Washington in 2015-16.

GRAHAM’S TREYS

Graham’s seven 3-pointers were the second most in Pac-12 Tournament history and most by an Arizona State player. He finished with 108 3-pointers this season, sixth most in Pac-12 history. UCLA’s Bryce Alford is still active and has 104.

UP NEXT

Arizona State’s season is over.

Oregon faces the winner between Cal and Utah in Friday’s semifinals.

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

John Calipari lobbies for change in one-and-some rule to help athletes

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari is hoping the one-and-done rule changes so that athletes have more rights.

In a revealing interview with Mac Engel of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Calipari went into great detail about his thoughts behind a rule that many believe he has exploited greatly to his benefit over the last 10 years. Even though the Wildcats and Calipari have figured out the one-and-done rule to their advantage, the Hall of Fame coach still wants the rule to be abolished.

“Kids should be able to go (to the NBA) out of high school. That’s not our deal. That’s between the NBA and the Players Association,” Calipari said Friday. “Don’t put restrictions on kids.”

Calipari told Engel that he met with the NBPA last week in the hopes of the organization creating a combine for worthy high school juniors with pro potential. Calipari also wants agents more involved with high school kids.

“The players and the families need to know – here are the ones who should be thinking about the NBA, and here are the ones who should not,” Calipari said. “That’s why you need a combine.”

“If they want to go out of high school, go. If they want to go to college and then leave, let them leave when they want to leave. Why would we force a kid to stay? ‘Well – it’s good for the game?’ It’s about these kids and their families. Because let me tell you, if we (abolish one-and-done), the kids that do come to college will stay for two to three years.”

Calipari also has plenty of thoughts on the NBA G-League and how the league could potentially help young athletes with an education fund if they choose to turn pro directly out of high school. Regardless of what happens with the NBPA and the one-and-done rule, Calipari also said that his program would be fine — regardless of the rules.

Given that Calipari has operated on a different recruiting plane than everyone else in college basketball (with the exception of a few other bluebloods like Duke and Kansas) the last several years, it’s always notable when he gives his thoughts on the overall landscape of basketball.

But is Calipari actually lobbying for this? Or is this yet another way for Calipari to mold quotes into a recruiting pitch for elite players? Ultimately, it’s up to the NBPA to decide how the rules will be for future pros.

Report: NCAA allows Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale to compete on Dancing with the Stars

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After a memorable March Madness run that included two game-winning jumpers in the Final Four and an eventual national title, Notre Dame junior guard Arike Ogunbowale became a breakout national star.

Ogunbowale already appeared on Ellen while meeting her basketball idol, Kobe Bryant. Now, Ogunbowale will get the rare opportunity to appear on Dancing with the Stars — which the NCAA will allow even though Ogunbowale is still a rising senior who is scheduled to return to school next season.

Dancing with the Stars compensates its contestants and also has a prize for the winner. Under NCAA Bylaw 12.4.1, college athletes cannot be compensated based on their athletic abilities.

But the NCAA is arguing that Ogunbowale’s appearance on the show is “unrelated to her basketball abilities,” according to a statement they released regarding the decision. According to a report from Jacob Bogage of the Washington Post, the NCAA is also limiting Ogunbowale’s visibility for the show’s promotional tools.

From the Washington Post report:

The NCAA has placed restrictions on Ogunbowale that limit her involvement with the show and her potential to build her brand. She is not allowed to appear in promotional materials for the show, including commercials, according to the NCAA’s statement. She didn’t join other contestants during a group appearance on “Good Morning America” last week. Show handicappers have already wondered whether the NCAA’s limits will hurt her chances.

And the NCAA could turn down future requests by arguing that Ogunbowale is not endorsing “Dancing with the Stars” by appearing on the program, but instead is participating in a “personal growth experience” by learning how to ballroom dance, said Barbara Osborne, a professor of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina.

This is a slippery slope for the NCAA to take with this. Ogunbowale is, quite clearly, a famous basketball player. She’s on Dancing with the Stars because of her basketball abilities. The NCAA arguing anything else is just silly and embarrassing. The NCAA is also trying its best to uphold its argument about amateurism in the only way they know how.

But could this also could be a sign that the NCAA is perhaps open to the potential of allowing athletes to profit off of themselves in the future? The NCAA is currently handling a number of different court cases regarding amateurism, so it’s hard to say where all of this might go until the legal process starts to clear up.

Either way, this should be a fun experience for Ogunbowale while providing great national exposure for herself and women’s basketball. Ogunbowale might not be technically allowed to build her own brand during the show, but she’ll be gaining tons of new exposure for her basketball future — regardless of what the NCAA says in a statement.

Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab diagnosed with leukemia

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Memphis center Karim Sameh Azab announced on Saturday that he’s been battling leukemia lymphoma.

The 6-foot-11 big man from Egypt has been receiving medical treatment since the beginning of April as he took to Twitter to announce his current status.

Sameh Azab played in 15 games this season for the Tigers as he saw action for 84 total minutes. The reserve big man was a late addition in former head coach Tubby Smith’s first recruiting class at Memphis as he didn’t quality to play during his first season.

“Karim has my full support and the support of our whole team,” Memphis coach Penny Hardaway said in a statement earlier this month. “While we appreciate the support of the Tiger family in this matter, we would also like to protect the privacy of Karim and his family.”

South Dakota State’s Mike Daum declares for 2018 NBA Draft without an agent

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South Dakota State big man Mike Daum will enter the 2018 NBA Draft without an agent, he announced on Friday.

The 6-foot-9 redshirt junior has been a mid-major draft darling the past few seasons as Daum was one of the most productive players in the country last season. Putting up 23.9 points and 10.3 rebounds per game, Daum shot 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range during the season.

With his size and unique floor-spacing ability, Daum is going to be an interesting player to track during the NBA draft process. Teams are always looking for big men who can space the floor, and if Daum shoots well in workouts, he could wind up staying in the draft.

If Daum returns to South Dakota State, then he once again makes them a major NCAA tournament contender after the Jackrabbits won the Summit League last season.

Marquette lands Fordham grad transfer Joseph Chartouny

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Marquette pulled in a quality graduate transfer commitment on Friday as Fordham guard Joseph Chartouny pledged to the Golden Eagles.

The 6-foot-3 Chartouny was a three-year starter for the Rams as he should help offset the loss of guard Andrew Rowsey to graduation. While Chartouny isn’t nearly the perimeter threat that Rowsey was, he should be able to help significantly on the defensive end for Marquette. Chartouny put up 12.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game last season as he was one of the more productive all-around players in the Atlantic 10.

One of the nation’s leaders in steals the past three seasons, Chartouny has much better size to play alongside Markus Howard in the Marquette backcourt than Rowsey (5-foot-11) had. Since Howard is also 5-foot-11, Chartouny can now guard the bigger and more athletic perimeter matchup as Marquette tries to improve its porous defense from last season.

Marquette still has an open scholarship for next season as they’ve been investigating other transfer options to bolster the roster. Returning most of last season’s roster, the expectation will be for the Golden Eagles to make it back to the NCAA tournament next season.