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No. 3 UCLA beats No. 14 Kent State, but defensive issues arise once again

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T.J. Leaf scored 23 points to lead five players in double-figures as No. 3 UCLA picked up an impressive-looking win over No. 14 Kent State on Friday evening, 97-80.

Thomas Welsh went for 16 points and Aaron Holiday added 15 points and 10 assists for the Bruins, but the win wasn’t quite as promising as the final score might indicate.

The Bruins jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first five minutes of the game and were never truly threatened by the Golden Flashes, but the Bruins were also far from convincing in their win. The issue with this team all season long has been their defense — they have a habit of only playing when they decide that they want to play — and that reared its ugly head again on Friday. Kent State more or less got whatever they wanted for the final 10 minutes of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half.

The Golden Flashes cut UCLA’s lead to eight points at the half, and they trimmed that lead to just five points midway through the second half, as the Bruins watch Jaylin Walker go at Bryce Alford and Jimmy Hall go to work in the paint. As a team, they gave up 15 offensive rebounds.

With a path to the Final Four that is going to include 30-5 Cincinnati, the Wichita State-Kentucky winner and, in all likelihood, a game against North Carolina, that kind of an effort on the defensive end of the floor simply is not going to cut it.

So here’s the question, which is the same question we’ve asked all year long with this group: Will UCLA be able to turn that defense up a notch in the games where they can’t simply rely on being able to put up 97 points and coast to a win? It worked at Kentucky, at Arizona and at home against Oregon. It didn’t work against Arizona in Pauley or the Pac-12 tournament, and it didn’t work at Oregon.

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

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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.