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No. 1 Duke rallies again, wins PK80 title erasing 17-point deficit vs. No. 7 Florida

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On the strength of 30 points and 15 rebounds from Marvin Bagley III, No. 1 Duke erased a 17-point deficit in the final 10 minutes to take home the title in the PK80 Motion bracket, beating No. 7 Florida 87-84 in yet another thrilling, come-from-behind win.

The Blue Devils picked up three of them in four days in Portland.

They trailed Portland State in the second half on Thursday in their tournament opener before coming back to win. They were down 16 points to Texas on Friday evening in the semifinals of the event before forcing, and winning in, overtime. And they were dead in the water against Florida, down 74-57 with an offense that was sputtering and an inability to find an answer for the high-octane, four-guard offense that the Gators and Mike White run.

Gary Trent Jr. added 15 points for the Blue Devils, including four free throws in the final 1:11 to give the Blue Devils the lead. Grayson Allen finished with 14 points and seven assists.

Jalen Hudson led the way for the Gators with 24 points, 10 boards, three assists and three steals.

Gary Trent Jr (Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Here are five things we learned on Sunday night:

1. Marvin Bagley III is the truth: He had 30 points and 15 boards on Sunday night. That came after he posted 34 points and 15 boards against Mo Bamba in the semifinals. He’s now averaging 22.3 points and 12.5 boards through eight games despite the fact that against Michigan State he was yanked midway through the first half after getting his eye scratched.

At this point, you’re a fool if you don’t realize just how good Bagley is in the post. Twice in the last three days he’s carried this Duke team back from a second half deficit of at least 16 points to win by overpowering whoever Texas, a likely tournament team, and Florida, a potential Final Four team, threw at him. He’s got the total package in the paint, but what makes him so damn tantalizing as a prospect is this:

Bagley not only keeps Chiozza from beating him off the bounce and to the rim, he is able to euro-step around a defender and finish awkwardly at the rim while his momentum is taking him a different direction. People that are 6-foot-11 and that have the post skill that he has are not supposed to be able to move like that.

What a player, and what a performance.

2. Don’t let what Gary Trent Jr. did in the final two minutes get swept under the rug: With two minutes left and Duke down 84-81, Trent grabbed a tough defensive rebound in traffic. 49 seconds left, he made a pair of free throws that gave Duke their first lead in the second half. 56 seconds after that, he picked Hudson’s pocket and then proceeded to make another pair of free throws with nine seconds left to put Duke up 87-84. He also was involved defensively on the final possession, when Florida failed to get a clean look at a three.

Trent came into college with the reputation for being a big time scorer and shot-maker. He’s yet to really find his rhythm on that end of the floor — he had 15 points on Sunday and it was probably his best game to date — but those five plays he made were winning plays in key moments on a massive stage. Trent also made the go-ahead three against Michigan State with three minutes left in the Champions Classic on a night were he finished 3-for-14 from the floor.

He may look like a freshman at times, but most freshman don’t shine in big moments like Trent has this season.

3. Florida lost this game, but they might be the most dangerous team in the country: Duke is a very, very good team, and the Gators had them on the ropes. You could probably make the argument that Florida gave this game away — more on that in a second.

But I think the biggest takeaway we should have about the Gators from this week is that they may be the most dangerous team in college basketball. I hesitate to call them the best team in the sport because they have some issues on the defensive end of the floor, but the way that this team can put up mountains of points in no time at all is ridiculous.

They have four guards on their roster — Chris Chiozza, KeVaughn Allen, Egor Koulechov and Jalen Hudson — that are legitimately capable of putting up 30 points on any given night. All four can reel off four or five threes in a row, and all four are extremely difficult to cover 1-on-1; even Koulechov, who is known more for being a spot-up shooter than a slasher, is dangerous because he’s getting guarded by opposing power forwards.

The way that they play, and the freedom and confidence that White gives them offensively, makes them so entertaining.

And so lethal.

They’re going to be undersized every single night, and there will be some ugly nights when those threes aren’t dropping, but when the Gators are playing their best basketball they can run anyone in the country out of the gym.

4. So why did the Gators took the air out of the ball down the stretch? It cost them a win: Florida scored 74 points in the first 30 minutes of the game. They were running and gunning and sitting pretty with a 17-point lead. Then they started to take the air out of the ball to try and drain the clock, and it didn’t work. Duke held their own when they had a chance to set their defense, and the slower tempo allowed them to work the ball into Bagley and Wendell Carter in the post.

Yes, the fact that Duke started scoring consistently slowed down Florida’s transition game. Yes, tired legs probably played a factor. And yes, it makes sense to run clock and reduce the number of possessions remaining when holding a big lead in a game.

I don’t necessarily think White made the wrong decision — process over results and all — but it certainly did not work on this occasion.

5. When do we start getting concerned about the fact that Duke can’t stop digging holes for themselves?: It’s starting to become a thing. They played three games in Portland and had to come back from a hole they dug themselves in all three games.

On the one hand, it’s a great sign that the Blue Devils are able to make the plays that they need to make in big moments in order to complete these comebacks. It’s also promising that they realize even when they are down big that their best option is to pound the ball inside to the big fellas. As Jeff Eisenberg put it on the CBT podcast, they’re learning lessons without losing games. They’re doing the things that freshmen do — make mistakes — but they have the talent and grit to land come-from-behind wins despite those mistakes.

That matters.

But why does it take them 30 minutes to start playing hard?

And why is their defense so inconsistent for the first 25-30 minutes?

The answer: I have no clue.

But I’m starting to wonder if Duke should just start every game by awarding their opponent ten points.

Rutgers lands upset win over No. 15 Seton Hall

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Corey Sanders scored 22 points and Deshawn Freeman added 12 points and 16 boards as Rutgers landed the biggest win of the Steve Pikiell era to date, erasing a 13-point deficit to knock off in-state rival No. 15 Seton Hall, 71-65.

The Scarlet Knights finished the game on a 17-2 run over the final six minutes of the game, answering a 9-0 Seton Hall run that put the Pirates up 63-54. Rutgers did not lead until a free throw from Sanders with 2:22 left put them up 64-63.

The win was the first for Rutgers over Seton Hall in four tries, roughly the time frame that the Pirates have been relevant nationally, and it is precisely what Pikiell needed to continue building a program in Piscataway. Rutgers is now 10-3 on the season, but their three losses have all come to teams are in – or getting votes in – the top 25: Florida State, at Minnesota and Michigan State. As the saying goes, it isn’t really a rivalry until both teams have a chance to win the game, and this win proves just that.

But that’s not the only reason to be bullish on this program. Rutgers is also starting to recruit a little bit better. They sold out the RAC for this game.

He still has a long way to go, and building something out of nothing in the Big Ten is never going to be simple, but Pikiell has this thing going in the right direction.

As far as the Pirates are concerned, there is some reason to be worried here. A team with this kind of veteran presence should not be getting rattled and blowing leads down the stretch. Khadeen Carrington, who is making the adjustment to playing the point this season, was 4-for-17 from the floor with five turnovers, and he struggled to make plays when Seton Hall needed them in the final minutes. Angel Delgado finished just 3-for-9 from the floor.

I’m not sure this is the kind of situation where you need to be worried about their long-term prospects, but it is something to monitor.

No. 17 Purdue takes down Butler in Crossroads Classic

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The annual Crossroads Classic opened with No. 17 Purdue running past Butler for a solid 82-67 win on Saturday afternoon. The Boilermakers continued a recent strong stretch of play with another road or neutral win against a power-conference opponent.

Here are three takeaways from this one.

1. Purdue is the second best team in the Big Ten (and the gap might be growing).

The Big Ten is a mess so far. Only Michigan State, Purdue and Ohio State are 2-0 in league play. The Buckeyes aren’t expected to maintain their surprising hot start. Obviously, others in the Big Ten like Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota and Northwestern could all be dangerous. But those four teams have also been underwhelming and have a lot of glaring holes.

For the current moment, Purdue (11-2) clearly looks like the second best team in the Big Ten. And the gap seems to be getting wider during a seven-game winning streak. Outside of a weird two-game stretch at the Battle 4 Atlantis, the Boilermakers have put together a solid stretch that now includes road or neutral wins over Arizona, Maryland and Butler in the last few weeks.

Purdue has experience, unique size with 7-foot-2 Isaac Haas and 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms, and capable perimeter shooters who can space the floor. The Boilermakers have good defenders at multiple positions. They outplayed Butler in nearly every facet of the game during a solid win on Saturday. Carsen Edwards (18 points) has matured as a solid leading scorer and plenty of players around him are double-figure scorers.

Butler isn’t likely to be a second-weekend NCAA tournament team, but they’re a solid postseason-caliber group that the Boilermakers made look silly for much of the game. Purdue knows itself. The Boilermakers know their personnel and they’re a veteran group. There’s a lot to like about Purdue at this point in the season.

2. Butler struggles mightily against length

Butler’s offense couldn’t get much of anything going on Saturday. The Bulldogs were ice-cold from the perimeter (7-for-22 from three-point range) and they didn’t fare much better when they tried to go inside (26-for-69).

The Bulldogs haven’t been a very good perimeter team in general this season — entering Saturday’s game with only 31 percent three-point shooting — and those problems were very apparent against Purdue. Without an ability to space the floor, attackers like Kelan Martin (15 points) and Kamar Baldwin (13 points) struggled to get anything going with the drive as the Boilermakers had a great defensive game plan to limit Butler’s looks. Senior big man Tyler Wideman (seven points) also had a hard time finishing over the length of players like Haas and Haarms at the rim.

Paul Jorgenson (15 points) had a big second half and he has been solid at times this season as a floor-spacing threat. The Bulldogs need more help for him on the outside. Sean McDermott has been labeled as a perimeter specialist, but he’s also returning from a recent injury and the Bulldogs are slowly bringing him back.

Butler’s offense is at its best when they can rely on Martin and Baldwin to attack. That wasn’t even close to the case on Saturday as both struggled to get going. It meant Butler didn’t stand much of a chance.

3. Purdue has some late-game turnover issues

Purdue has been generally solid with closing out games this season but they weren’t able to do so against Butler on Saturday.

It looked like the Boilermakers were going to cruise to an easy win before turnovers became an issue and Butler crept back in this one. While Purdue maintained most of its defensive intensity, its offense took a foot off the gas as Butler’s aggressiveness defending on the perimeter led to 18 Boilermaker turnovers.

Purdue is great at closing out games from the free-throw line if they need to. But their ball handlers need to limit turnovers and continue to run good offense if they build up a lead.

Purdue had trouble at times defending late leads last season. They’re now 10-0 this season when they have a halftime lead. Could this be an issue that comes back once again? It doesn’t seem likely but the second half on Saturday brought some ugly flashbacks.

VIDEO: Miami’s Lonnie Walker skies for ridiculous putback dunk

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Miami freshman guard Lonnie Walker timed this one perfectly.

The 6-foot-4 McDonald’s All-American came from across the floor to hammer home a left-handed putback on Saturday as Walker showed why many consider him to be a potential one-and-done prospect.

After a career-high 26 points in a win over Boston on Tuesday, it appears that Walker might be gaining confidence as ACC season approaches.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Jimario Rivers catches lob on Louisville’s Anas Mahmoud

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Memphis senior forward Jimario Rivers caught a tough one-handed alley-oop on Saturday as Louisville senior big man Anas Mahmoud found himself on the receiving end.

This is one of the better lobs we’ve seen this season. Rivers got way up there for this one.

Northern Colorado basketball placed on probation by NCAA

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA placed the University of Northern Colorado men’s basketball program on three years’ probation among other sanctions Friday after finding academic fraud and recruiting violations by ex-coach B.J. Hill and some of his assistants.

The violations by Hill and eight members of his staff over a four-year span included completing coursework for prospects, paying for classes prospects needed to become academically eligible and arranging off-campus practice sessions with an academically ineligible student-athlete.

In addition to probation, penalties in the case include a one-year postseason ban (already served) for the men’s basketball team; a financial penalty; scholarship and recruiting restrictions; and a vacation of records.

Seven coaches received “show cause” orders, including a six-year penalty for the head coach, five years for two assistant coaches, four years for another assistant coach and three years for two assistant coaches and the graduate assistant. During the show cause periods, if an NCAA school hires the coach, that school must demonstrate why restrictions on the coach’s athletically related duties should not apply.

The NCAA concurred with the university’s self-imposed one-year postseason ban last season, a reduction of three scholarships and recruiting restrictions. Also, the school must return all proceeds from its 2011 NCAA Tournament appearance.

The rules violations spanned four years under Hill, a first-time head coach who personally completed coursework for a prospect and enlisted an athletic director to do the same, the NCAA found.

The NCAA said Hill recruited ineligible players, then broke rules to get them on the court.

Hill was fired last year when the NCAA began looking into the violations. He had gone 86-98 with two postseason appearances in six seasons after taking over the program in 2010 following a stint as an assistant in Greeley to current Colorado coach Tad Boyle.

The NCAA commended the university for its “exemplary cooperation” in the case and said Hill “admitted that he failed in his responsibilities to promote an atmosphere of compliance and monitor his staff.”

The panel said two assistant coaches violated ethical conduct rules for lying to investigators and a third failed to cooperate with the probe.