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No. 3 UCLA holds off USC 76-74 to advance to Pac-12 semis

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LAS VEGAS (AP) Isaac Hamilton scored 22 points, and No. 3 UCLA overcame an uneven performance by Lonzo Ball while holding off rival Southern California 76-74 on Thursday night in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.

Ball got into early foul trouble and the young point guard struggled as the Trojans cut into a 14-point deficit before missing a tying 3-pointer and then two more shots in the final minute while trailing by three.

Ball, the Pac-12 freshman of the year, finished with 12 points and seven assists. Next up for Ball and the Bruins is a matchup with No. 7 Arizona in the semifinals on Friday night.

T.J. Leaf scored 14 points in his return after missing a game with a left ankle injury, and Thomas Welsh added 11 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. UCLA (29-3) earned its 10th straight win.

Jordan McLaughlin scored 18 points and Elijah Stewart added 17 for USC (24-9), but each missed shots in the lane in the closing seconds while trailing by three.

Bennie Boatwright scored 11 points, but was 3 of 11 from the field and missed a tying 3 attempt with 34 seconds left.

Meeting in the tournament for the second straight year, the Los Angeles rivals played a much closer game than the last encounter, a 102-70 UCLA rout on Feb. 18. After USC started 1 of 14 from the field, it slowly got back in it.

BIG PICTURE

Southern California coach Andy Enfield was confident going into the game that the Trojans had done enough to warrant an NCAA invite. A strong showing even in defeat could further help the cause.

It wasn’t easy, but UCLA cleared the first hurdle in a tough three-step task. The Bruins are hoping to beat Arizona on Friday and potentially No. 5 Oregon in the final, a feat that could give them a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

FOUL MOOD

UCLA coach Steve Alford spent much of the game pointing out the free-throw discrepancy to the referees. The Bruins didn’t attempt their third free throw until 11:08 remained. The Trojans, who took it to the basket more, had 18 by then. USC finished with a 25-13 edge.

FOUL MOOD, TOO

USC’s second-half angst was directed at the scorer’s table after Enfield removed Stewart when it was announced he had four fouls. He had three, and Stewart quickly jumped off the bench and returned.

UP NEXT

USC: The Trojans would like to return to the NCAA Tournament and make up for a dismal loss in 2016, when they blew a big lead and lost in the first round to Providence.

UCLA: Friday night will settle the season series with Arizona. Each team won on the other’s home floor in the regular season.

VIDEO: Zion Williamson throws down a vicious putback

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Zion Williamson made another highlight-reel play on Saturday outside of Atlanta as he threw down a vicious putback dunk at the Best of the South.

The five-star prospect has returned from a minor knee injury this spring to look like his old self in July as he’s entertained packed gyms of fans and college coaches the last two weeks.

The Class of 2018 star is currently regarded as the No. 3 overall prospect in the latest Rivals.com national rankings.

(h/t: Courtside Films)

Five-star 2018 point guard Darius Garland cuts list to six schools

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Five-star Class of 2018 point guard Darius Garland revealed the final six schools that he’s considering on Friday.

The N0. 12 overall prospect in the Class of 2018, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-0 Garland is one of the top floor generals in the nation as he is still considering Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, UCLA and Vanderbilt.

A native of Nashville, Garland is a potentially elite perimeter threat at the college level as he’s one of the more deadly three-point marksmen in the nation.

Garland spent this spring and summer playing with Bradley Beal Elite in the Nike EYBL as he averaged 16.8 points and 4.8 assists per game in the league this spring.

VIDEO: Kentucky’s John Calipari participates in the #DriveByDunkChallenge

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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The #DriveByDunkChallenge is sweeping the nation on social media this summer.

Rules to participate are pretty simple:

  1. Drive around in your vehicle.
  2. Find a basketball hoop (or a basketball ring if you’re Ted Cruz) on a random driveway.
  3. Run out of your car and dunk on that random hoop while a friend films.
  4. Run back to your car and drive away.

Let Anthony Davis show you how it works:

Pretty simple, right?

The #DriveByDunkChallenge isn’t raising money or awareness for ALS like the #IceBucketChallenge did three years ago, but it’s something harmless and fun to do to pass the time during the dog days of summer.

Sensing an opportunity to join an Internet craze, while also following in the footsteps of his former player Kentucky star, Wildcats head coach John Calipari got involved with his own dunk late Friday night.

And his video is much funnier than I thought it would be.

While most #DriveByDunkChallenge videos are done by healthy and spry teenagers who are cruising neighborhoods during the day, Calipari, and his hip replacement, got in on the fun with a late-night dunk.

I love that Calipari ditched the ball behind his back while running back to the car after the dunk.

Most people who participate in the challenge usually have their own ball and keep it with them through completion. But Calipari either picked up a random ball in the driveway or just he lost the handle with his own ball and had a turnover.

The next time Calipari goes hard on one of his point guards for losing control and playing too fast, remember this moment.

Creighton’s Khyri Thomas posterizes defender

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Creighton rising junior wing Khyri Thomas, like several of his teammates, are taking part in the Omaha Summer League this offseason.

On Thursday night, the 6-foot-3, 205-lb. Thomas eviscerated a defender with a one-handed posterization.

Thomas is coming off a breakout sophomore campaign for the Bluejays. He started all 35 games, averaging 12.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 steals per game. Aside from the increase in offensive production, Thomas served as one of the top defenders in the Big East. He shared the Big East Defensive Player of the Year Award with Villanova’s Josh Hart and Mikal Bridges.

Zion Williamson throws down 360 windmill dunk

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Zion Williamson added another jaw-dropping dunk in the layup lines on the first night of the second live evaluation period.

Williamson and his SC Supreme team took on Each 1 Teach 1 at the Hoopseen Best of the South at the LakePoint Sporting Community in greater Atlanta.

The 6-foot-7 power forward threw down a 360 windmill dunk during his pregame routines.

Each 1 Teach 1 would pick up a 70-67 victory over SC Supreme. Williamson would end with a monster stat line of 37 points and seven rebounds.