No. 12 SMU holds off ECU 81-77 in AAC quarterfinals

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Semi Ojeleye scored a career-high 36 points and No. 12 SMU held off East Carolina 81-77 Friday in the quarterfinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament.

The conference’s player of the year hit 12 of his 19 shots and pulled down 12 rebounds, giving him his fifth double-double this season.

Sterling Brown added 16 points for SMU (28-4). The AAC’s regular-season champions have won 14 straight and 24 of their last 25 games.

Kentrell Barkley, who has been battling tendinitis in his left knee, had 22 of his 24 points in the second half to lead East Carolina, which rallied from a 22-point halftime deficit to tie the game. Caleb White had 17 points and Elijah Hughes added 15 for the Pirates (15-18).

Ojeleye had 17 points and nine rebounds in the first half, when the Mustangs led by as many as 24 points.

His dunk and free throw started a 17-5 run that gave them their first double-digit lead at 24-13.

SMU hit 12 of its first 17 shots and went into halftime with a seemingly comfortable 43-21 lead.

But the Pirates outscored SMU 56-38 in the second half.

They trailed 63-45 with 7 minutes left before making their run.

A 3-pointer by White, followed by a steal and layup from Elijah Hughes on the inbounds, cut it to 71-69 with just over 3 minutes left.

SMU pushed the lead back to eight, but the Pirates rallied again and Hughes’ 3-pointer tied the game at 77 with 57 seconds left.

But Ojeleye hit a layup on the other end and Barkley fumbled the ball out of bounds under the SMU basket on ECU’s next possession, allowing the Mustangs to hang on.

BIG PICTURE

East Carolina: The Pirates, who upset Temple 80-69, in the opening round, had been blown out twice by SMU this season. They lost by 31 points in Greenville on New Year’s Eve and by 40 points in Dallas last month.

SMU: The Mustangs, who went 17-1 in winning the conference’s regular-season title, also cleaned up in the league’s postseason awards. Tim Jankovich was named coach of the year, Ojeleye was player and scholar-athlete of the year and Ben Emelogu was named the conference’s sixth man of the year. In their four losses this year, they have allowed at least 12 3-point baskets. ECU had 13 on Friday.

UP NEXT

East Carolina’s season is over.

SMU faces either UCF or Memphis in Saturday’s semifinals.

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

NCAA denies extra-year request by NC State guard Henderson

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The NCAA has denied North Carolina State guard Terry Henderson’s request for another year of eligibility.

Henderson announced the decision Friday in a statement issued by the school.

The Raleigh native played two seasons at West Virginia before transferring to N.C. State and redshirting in 2014-15. He played for only 7 minutes of the following season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury.

As a redshirt senior in 2016-17, he was the team’s second-leading scorer at 13.8 points per game and made a team-best 78 3-pointers.

Henderson called it “an honor and privilege” to play in his hometown.

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.