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No. 3 Oregon’s best lineup still intact without Chris Boucher

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Playing just their second game without starting center Chris Boucher, No. 3 seed Oregon advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, 93-77, surviving a No. 14 Iona team that proved to be a tougher out than it looked like they would be.

The Ducks will face the winner of No. 6 Creighton and No. 11 Rhode Island on Sunday.

Oregon jumped out to an 18-point halftime lead and were up by as much as 26 points in the second half before the Gaels scrapped back. Dayshonee Much scored 15 points and Jordan Washington shook off an ankle injury to add 20 points as Iona got within 13 points on a couple of different occasions.

But the story of this game was Oregon, their dominance despite playing without Boucher, who tore his ACL during the Pac-12 tournament last week.

The guy that took Boucher’s minutes was Kavell Bigby-Williams, a JuCo transfer and 6-foot-11 native of England that has played 14 minutes in each of the last two games, but the biggest difference between Oregon now and Oregon when they had Boucher available seems to be a shift to small-ball. The lineup that Dana Altman started featured Payton Pritchard, Dylan Ennis and Tyler Dorsey in the back court with Dillon Brooks at the four and Jordan Bell at the five, and considering how effective and efficient the Ducks can be with that group on the floor, losing Boucher doesn’t seem like it is going to be a death blow to their national title hopes.

Bell is a sensational defender and a ridiculous athlete in the front court; he had 17 points and 10 boards Friday and should be able to man the paint for the Ducks as long as he stays out of foul trouble. Oregon doesn’t lose floor-spacing with four guards out there, and there’s an argument to be made that Brooks is at his most effective when he plays as Oregon’s small-ball four.

I would stop short of saying that Oregon is better without Boucher, because his ability to block shots and hit threes is a unique skill set that lets Oregon space the floor without losing rim protection or rebounding. When they have to go to a big lineup, it’s better to have Bell and Boucher on the floor than Bell and Bigby-Williams.

But I also think that Oregon’s best lineup is the lineup that they started tonight.

And with a tournament draw that likely keeps the Ducks from having to face a team that can overpower them in the paint until a potential Final Four matchup with North Carolina, they are in a pretty good spot.

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.