No. 1 North Carolina blows lead, but avoids upset from No. 8 Arkansas

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North Carolina, the top seed in the South Region, blew a 17-point lead but fortunately had enough time to stave off an upset bid from No. 8 Arkansas.

The Tar Heels advance to the Sweet 16 with a 72-65 win over the Razorbacks on Sunday night in Greenville, South Carolina.

Arkansas not only erased a double-digit deficit, it had the lead coming out of the last official timeout. However, it was North Carolina — not Mike Anderson’s 40 Minutes of Hell — that would clamp down defensively. Over the final 3:30 of regulation, and trailing 65-62, the Tar Heels held the Razorbacks without a single point.

Not to take credit from North Carolina’s execution down the stretch, but the defense was aided by several bad possessions by Arkansas. This game was not without controversy, as well.

With 50 seconds remaining, Joel Berry II collided with two Razorbacks as he drove to the basket. The help-side defender appeared to have drawn a charge. Or, perhaps the primary defender got Berry on the arm. And maybe, Berry traveled after making contact. There were three options for the officials to make the call instead, they swallowed their whistles. Berry threw a dart off the backboard which Kennedy Meeks tipped in to put the Tar Heels up 68-65.

North Carolina ran out to a 17-point lead in the first half due to mistakes by Arkansas and owning the offensive glass. The Tar Heels have arguably the best rebounding team in the country, while the Razorbacks allow opponents to corral 34 percent of their missed shots according to kenpom. North Carolina came down with 14 offensive rebounds in the first half. In the second half, Arkansas reversed that trend and kept the Tar Heels to one shot as it began its comeback effort.

Arkansas defense flummoxed North Carolina, holding the Tar Heels to 38 percent shooting and 29 percent from three. Berry and Justin Jackson combined to shoot 7-of-27 from the field.

Meeks led the team with 16 points, followed by Jackson’s 15. Daryl Macon had 19 points off the bench in a losing effort.

North Carolina will play No. 4 seed Butler next week in the Sweet 16 in Memphis.

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.