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Colson, No. 22 Notre Dame cruise past No. 21 Virginia 71-58

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NEW YORK (AP) Since coming into the Atlantic Coast Conference four years ago, Notre Dame has more than held its own as a football school in a tough basketball league.

There was one box the Fighting Irish had not checked yet, and they did it at the best possible time.

Bonzie Colson had 21 points and 10 rebounds and No. 22 Notre Dame beat No. 21 Virginia for the first time since joining the ACC, topping the Cavaliers 71-58 on Thursday night to reach the tournament semifinals.

“It’s nice to get the first one when the stakes are really high,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “(The players) know everything we’ve accomplished in four years, that’s the one thing we didn’t have an answer for. They wanted to beat this program. This program has kind of had our number.”

The third-seeded Fighting Irish (24-8) will face second-seeded and No. 16 Florida State on Friday in the late semifinal at Barclays Center. North Carolina-Duke will be both the main event and opening act.

The Fighting Irish were 0-5 against the Cavaliers (22-10) since entering the ACC, never breaking 66 points in the process. For once, Notre Dame’s offense ran smoothly against Virginia’s active defense and the Irish even managed to push the pace some against the methodical Cavaliers.

“I think our smaller lineup (with the 6-foot-5 Colson at center) … really spreads the floor,” Brey said. “And Matt Farrell was fabulous with his decisions off the ball screen, dragging their help. Bonzie was slipping into space. We were hitting and making the extra pass. We’re really hard to deal with when we can get into that rhythm.”

Notre Dame started both halves strong and used an 11-0 run, highlighted by a steal and reverse slam by Rex Pflueger, to build a 17-point lead five minutes into the second half.

“I think we’re really hungry and motivated to play these guys,” Colson said. “It’s been a tough route playing them in the past, so I think we wanted it more. We got off to a great start. That’s something Coach Brey has been emphasizing, great starts on offense.”

The Cavaliers never made a serious push back.

“We were behind in the play,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said. “They really were moving the ball well. They’re hard to guard. They played well, and we didn’t have one of our better games.”

Devon Hall and Darius Thompson led Virginia with 12 points each.

Colson had his ACC-best 19th double-double for the Irish. They have won seven of eight.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: The Cavaliers are not going to win many games in which their opponent shoots over 45 percent. Notre Dame shot 52.2. Virginia is not built to trade baskets, especially if leading scorer London Perrantes goes 1 for 9 from the field as he did against the Irish.

“Obviously, Notre Dame played some good defense tonight. But, yeah, missed some chippies, some layups. I had a couple of open 3s that I missed,” Perrantes said.

The Cavaliers will go as far as their defense takes them in the NCAA Tournament.

“It’s not going to change for us,” Bennett said. “It’s just doing it a little bit better and taking care of the ball.”

Notre Dame: The Irish got efficient contributions from up and down the starting lineup. Matt Farrell scored 14 points and VJ Beachem and Steve Vasturia each added 12. And the Irish did it without much help from the 3-pointer. They shot 65.5 percent from 2-point range and 29.4 from 3.

UP NEXT

Virginia: The Cavaliers will be making their fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance, probably as about a fifth or sixth seed.

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish split two games with Florida State during the regular season.

“They come at you in waves, physically and athletically,” Brey said.

 

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.

 

UNC Wilmington transfer C.J. Bryce follows Kevin Keatts to N.C. State

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N.C. State landed an impact transfer on Saturday as UNC Wilmington guard C.J. Bryce will be following former head coach Kevin Keatts to the Wolfpack, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com

The 6-foot-5 Bryce averaged 17.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season as he helped the Seahawks to an NCAA tournament appearance. Bryce will have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to NCAA transfer regulations, but he’ll have two seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out one season.

With N.C. State getting center Omer Yurtseven back for next season, and with the addition of Bryce, it means that Keatts has retained, or added, some talented players for the next few seasons. The Wolfpack still have to fill a lot of roster spots from last season’s team, but Keatts seems to be having a really good week.