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Dorsey living up to X-Factor reputation in the Big Dance

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Tyler Dorsey provided a preview of his tournament success in early February when the Ducks hosted then-No. 5 Arizona.

The sophomore scored 23 points, including six 3-pointers, and the Ducks routed the Wildcats 85-58. Oregon’s 16 total 3-pointers in that game were its most since opening Matthew Knight Arena in 2011.

After the victory, Dillon Brooks summed up his teammate: “Tyler’s the X-factor on our team.”

Dorsey is solidifying his reputation in the NCAA Tournament. On Sunday, he had 27 points on 9-of-10 shooting as third-seeded Oregon rallied to beat No. 11 Rhode Island 75-72 in Sacramento, California.

Dorsey hit two clutch 3-pointers, including a contested go-ahead 3 from atop the arc with 38.4 seconds to play.

“I was joking with him, `Nine for 10, how the heck did you miss that one shot?”‘ coach Dana Altman said.

The victory sent the Ducks (31-5) through to the Sweet 16 for the second straight season and third time in the past five years. They’ll face seventh-seeded Michigan on Thursday in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Wolverines (26-11) rallied to knock out second-seeded Louisville 73-69 on Sunday to earn their first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2014.

The team that emerges will face the winner of Thursday’s later game between top-seeded Kansas and No. 4 Purdue at the Sprint Center.

Dorsey has been building toward this moment. He’s averaged 23.6 points in the last five games, stringing together five straight 20-point games for the first time this season.

“It’s just my teammates. They’ve been finding me, and all I’ve been doing is spotting up and making the simple play and the right play, the right basketball play,” Dorsey said. “Like coach always says, keep my focus first on defense and rebounding and the offense, let it come. That’s all I’ve been doing these last couple games, and my teammates have been having confidence in me and I’ve been knocking down the shots.”

In Oregon’s opening game against No. 14 seed Iona, Dorsey scored 24 points to lead four players in double figures for a 93-77 victory. Fourteen of his points came in the opening half.

Last season, the Ducks won a school-record 31 games while claiming the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles. They earned a first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2007.

Dorsey, who hails from Pasadena, California, averaged 13.4 points and 4.3 rebounds in 35 starts as a freshman. Overall this season, he’s averaging 14 points and 3.4 rebounds.

The Ducks earned a share the Pac-12 regular season title with Arizona this year, then lost by three points to the Wildcats in the conference tournament final. Oregon was stunned when senior big man Chris Boucher tore his left ACL in the semifinals.

Albeit in a different role, Dorsey has been able to pick up some of the slack.

“He’s a player. That scorer mentality I want him to have, but defense and rebounding, when he focuses on those two, he becomes a special player. He becomes really special,” Altman said. “I think that’s part of the reason why he’s exploded here lately, is that he’s been a complete player.”

 

Report: North Carolina won’t attend White House

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After capturing a national championship earlier this year, the North Carolina men’s basketball team will not be visiting the White House, a North Carolina spokesman said to Andrew Carter of the The Charlotte Observer.

Although the Tar Heels were invited to go to the White House from the staff of President Donald Trump, the team couldn’t figure out a date that worked.

“We couldn’t find a date that worked for both parties,” North Carolina team spokesman Steve Kirschner said to Carter. “We tried about eight or nine dates and between they couldn’t work out that date, we couldn’t work out that date, so – we would have liked to have gone, but not going.”

According to Carter’s report, Kirschner also said that North Carolina players, “were fine with going.”

With Trump’s recent comments towards NFL players and the national anthem and his Saturday morning tweet at Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the President with regards to athletes over the past 24 hours.

Although the timing of this may seem like North Carolina is making some sort of political statement, the school is downplaying any sort of politics by focusing on the bad timing.

Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer

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Xavier freshman forward Jared Ridder will transfer from the program to move closer to home, according to a release from the school.

The 6-foot-7 Ridder hails from Springfield, Missouri as he was regarded as a top-150 prospect by Rivals in the Class of 2017.

“After much consideration and talking with my family, I have decided that it is in my best interest to move home,” Ridder said in the release.

“Jared has indicated to the coaching staff that he has a desire to be closer to home,” Xavier head coach Chris Mack said. “While we are disappointed, we all want Jared to be happy moving forward. We wish him nothing but the best.”

A potent scorer and noted perimeter shooter at the high school level, Ridder helped MoKan win the Nike Peach Jam during the summer of 2016 playing alongside talented players like Missouri’s Michael and Jontay Porter and Oklahoma’s Trae Young. With a desire to move closer to home, could Ridder potentially land at a spot where one of his talented former teammates is playing?

Ridder averaged 24.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his senior season of high school ball at Kickapoo as he was a first-team, All-State selection in Missouri.

Four-star 2018 forward Ian Steere decommits from Creighton

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Creighton took a big hit to its recruiting efforts late this week as Class of 2018 forward Ian Steere is decommitting from the Bluejays, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. Steere’s decommitment was first reported by Julius Kim of Elevate Hoops.

The 6-foot-8 Steere is considered a four-star prospect by Rivals as he is coming off of a very solid spring and summer playing with Team Charlotte in the Under Armour Association. A plus athlete who isn’t afraid to bang on the interior, Steere showing an improving skill level throughout the spring and summer as he could see his recruiting soar after opening things up.

According to a report from Jon Nyatawa of the World-Herald, one of the reasons that Steere is opening up his recruitment is his desire to be closer to his native North Carolina. With so many top programs looking for quality help on the interior, it’ll be interesting to see which programs jump in and try to recruit Steere the second time around.

John Wall emotional in Kentucky Hall of Fame induction speech

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John Wall was inducted into the University of Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame on Friday night as he delivered an emotional speech while talking to his mother.

The first inductee into the Hall of Fame to play for current Wildcat head coach John Calipari, Wall only spent the 2009-10 season in Lexington but he became the first national player of the year to play at Kentucky before becoming the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.

Thanking his mother, Calipari, his family, friends and Big Blue Nation, the Washington Wizards guard gave a very moving speech, including an emotional part directed to his mother at around 4:35.

Ohio State snags third 2018 commitment in a week with four-star guard Luther Muhammad

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Ohio State continued a strong week on the recruiting trail on Friday night by landing a commitment from Class of 2018 guard Luther Muhammad.

Regarded as a four-star prospect, the 6-foot-4 Muhammad is a tough and rugged perimeter defender who can attack the basket. Also showing some ability to play on the ball as a secondary handler, Muhammad is a very solid addition to Ohio State’s recruiting class since they need to overhaul their roster under new head coach Chris Holtmann.

Muhammad is the third player to commit to the Buckeyes in the Class of 2018 this week as he joins four-star forward Jaedon LeDee and three-star guard Duane Washington in the current Ohio State recruiting class. Since Washington is a three-point threat and Muhammad is more of an off-the-bounce specialist, the two guards are a good start for Ohio State in this class as they will likely try to find a true floor leader to play with them on the perimeter.