Walton carries Michigan past Minnesota and into Big 10 final

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WASHINGTON (AP) Seconds after his coach told Michigan players to quit bickering, Derrick Walton Jr. had his own message to deliver.

The senior point guard huddled his teammates at midcourt and told them they couldn’t let the game get away. Then Walton backed up those words by having a hand in 18 consecutive points – scoring 14 of those himself and assisting on the others- down the stretch as eighth-seeded Michigan beat Minnesota 84-77 Saturday to earn a spot in the Big Ten Tournament final against Wisconsin.

Walton finished with 29 points, nine assists, five rebounds, two steals and just one turnover and took over the game for the Wolverines (23-11), who have defeated Illinois, No. 13 Purdue and Minnesota since their plane skidded off the runway earlier in the week and delayed their arrival in D.C. They have Walton to thank for getting them to their first conference championship game 2014.

“The game presented me opportunities to make plays,” said Walton, who was 8 of 15 from the floor and made all 10 of his free throws. “I just take what the game gives me. … My job is easy: just make sure to get the ball in the right spot.”

For more than seven minutes the ball was in Walton’s hands as he navigated big German forward Moe Wagner’s foul trouble and quarterfinal star D.J. Wilson’s off day and took over.

Wagner, who made his first six shots and finished with 17 points, wasn’t surprised by Walton’s dominance. Neither was the teammate who has known him since fifth grade.

“When he gets that look in his eye, I know when he’ll get it going,” backcourt mate Zak Irvin said. “At that point, just get him the ball and he’ll take care of it.”

In a tradition adopted for each win this week, players celebrated by dousing coach John Beilein with water and jumping up and down screaming, “Hey, hey, hey!” They’d love to do it one more time Sunday.

On the court, Beilein has gotten to the point that he trusts Walton to run the show, especially in pressure spots. After Minnesota tied the score at 55, Beilein let Walton settle things down.

“When I see him talking, I just shut up and sit down,” Beilein said, “because I know he sees what’s going on out there much better.”

Walton saw Minnesota’s Nate Mason, who finished ahead of him in all-conference voting, scoring 23 points and outdueled him. The Golden Gophers (24-9) couldn’t make up for the loss of injured guard Akeem Springs or handle Walton’s surge.

“We knew he’d be a threat,” Minnesota forward Reggie Lynch said of Walton. “It’s something we have to shore up down the road, covering great point guards.”

As Walton walked down the court to shoot free throws late in the game, a fan yelled out, “That’s what a first-team all-Big Ten point guard looks like.”

“He definitely played with a chip on his shoulder,” Michigan forward Mark Donnal said. “We’ve seen it plenty of times this season where he’s just taken over games and been that go-to guy.”

SPRINGS OUT

Springs tore the Achilles tendon in his right ankle in Minnesota’s quarterfinal win Friday against Michigan State and is out for the season. New starter Dupree McBrayer had 14 points and played all 40 minutes along with Mason, but only two bench points showed the potential for problems in the NCAA Tournament.

“We’re a totally different team now with Akeem out,” coach Richard Pitino said. “We’re going to have to start teaching some guys some different positions. That was a huge blow.”

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Playing far better than its seed, Michigan showed it has a ton of offensive options and can compensate if one or two players doesn’t have it. That’ll come in handy in the NCAA Tournament. “People can have bad days and miss shots, but we know somebody’s there who will carry us,” Wagner said.

Minnesota: Will have to make up for the loss of Springs moving forward, but the team knows it can count on Mason to shoulder the load.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Looks to cap off an incredible week with a Big Ten Tournament title. Will face No. 24 Wisconsin, which beat Northwestern 76-48 in the other semifinal, in the final Sunday afternoon.

Minnesota: An NCAA Tournament bid that’s an impressive accomplishment after going 8-23 last season.

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

VIDEO: Jay-Z’s nephew posterizes nation’s No. 1 recruit Marvin Bagley III

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Nahziah Carter is an unsigned 6-foot-6 wing in the Class of 2017.

He’s also Jay-Z’s nephew, and he just so happened to posterize Marvin Bagley III — the clearcut No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2018 — while Hova was in the stands watching him.

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.