No. 22 Notre Dame beats No. 16 Florida St to reach ACC final

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NEW YORK (AP) After years of coming up short of the conference tournament title game in New York City as a member of the Big East, Notre Dame will finally get a chance to play for a championship in the Big Apple.

Steve Vasturia and Bonzie Colson each scored 18 points and No. 22 Notre Dame knocked off No. 16 Florida State 77-73 on Friday night to advance to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title game for the second time in three years.

The third-seeded Fighting Irish (25-8) will face fifth-seeded and No. 14 Duke on Saturday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, trying to make it two ACC titles in four seasons as a member of the conference.

In 18 years playing in the Big East, the Fighting Irish never did reach the tournament title game at Madison Square Garden.

“I like this building way more because my record in Barclays is way better than the Garden,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. The Fighting Irish won two NCAA Tournament games at Barclays last year and two more in November at the Legends Classic.

“We were fortunate enough to play in the semis in the Garden, we never got to the Saturday night,” Brey said. “And it was electric. I thought tonight was really good. Both arenas I think are on par. We’ll probably be in that arena someday. I don’t know if I’ll still be coaching when we get there, but we’ll be in that arena someday too.”

Notre Dame has eliminated Duke from the tournament each of the past two seasons, including a semifinal victory in 2015 on the way to the Irish’s first conference tournament championship. That team was led by a strong core of upperclassmen such as Jerian Grant, Pat Connaughton and Zach Auguste. Vasturia, Colson, Matt Farrell (15 points) and VJ Beachem (six points and seven rebounds) were the young guys back then. Now they are Notre Dame’s core four.

“You know, it shows up in poise,” Brey said. “It shows up in outstanding leadership. It shows up in great stability in times of taking punches in a league like ours, which we did.”

Dwayne Bacon led Florida State (25-8) with 18 points.

The Irish and Seminoles had a tough act to follow after Duke and North Carolina had the sellout crowd of 18,109 rocking in Brooklyn.

Many fans dressed in blue bailed on the nightcap. Not New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was back at Barclays for a second straight night, sitting behind the Notre Dame bench rooting on his buddy, Brey.

Notre Dame eliminated most of the drama with a 23-8 run to end the first half that put the Irish up 42-26.

Florida State whittled the lead down thanks to Braian Angola-Rodas, who scored 14 of the Seminoles’ 15 points in one stretch, including a 3-pointer that made it 63-55 with 8:23 left in the second half.

A driving hoop by Vasturia and a hustle putback by Colson nudged the lead back to 12 a little more than a minute later.

“I think we just kind of combated every run that they made,” Vasturia said.

The Irish went 13 for 27 from 3.

“They moved the ball around and executed their offense to perfection, and they knocked down some shots that we just couldn’t get to,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Irish have thrived with their small lineup, featuring the 6-foot-5 Colson at center. It puts shooters everywhere on the floor and presents matchup problems for bigger teams – such as Florida State. The Irish forced 18 turnovers to help overcome getting outrebounded 41-23 by the Seminoles.

“We’re bigger, but it was hard to take advantage of our size because they went so small,” Florida State’s Jonathan Isaac said.

Florida State: Even though Florida State held a rebounding edge, it didn’t do enough damage on the offensive boards. After getting 18 offensive rebounds against Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals, Florida State had nine against the Irish for only eight second-chance points.

FOOTBALL SCHOOLS

Florida State and Notre Dame have met eight times on the football field, with the Seminoles winning six. In basketball, this was the seventh meeting, third this season. The Seminoles and Fighting Irish split the first two.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish lost their only meeting with Duke this season, but Brey is 5-3 in his career against his former boss, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski, while at Notre Dame.

Florida State: The Seminoles will wait for Selection Sunday to find out their next opponent. They’ll probably be a 3 seed.

Follow Ralph D. Russo at http://www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP

More college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/

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.