Rob Dauster

HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 04:  Joel Berry II #2 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots the ball in the first half against the Villanova Wildcats during the 2016 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at NRG Stadium on April 4, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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No. 11 North Carolina pulls away late, hands No. 9 Florida State first ACC loss

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Joel Berry II scored 26 points and Isaiah Hicks added a career-high 22 points as No. 11 North Carolina protected their home court and handed No. 11 Florida State their first ACC loss of the season.

Florida State got 18 points from Dwayne Bacon while Jonathan Isaac finished with 17 points, 12 boards, three steals and two assists.

Both Florida State and North Carolina are now 4-1 in ACC play, sitting a game behind Notre Dame for first place in the league’s regular season standings.

Here are three things you can takeaway from this game:

1. North Carolina is going to ride their studs: North Carolina has the best one-two punch in the ACC, and they’re going to ride that one-two punch as far as they’ll carry them. Joel Berry II has been simply terrific this season, and Saturday afternoon was no different. He finished with 26 points, getting 17 of them in the first half, including a flurry of eight straight points right before halftime that helped to push North Carolina’s lead to nine.

Justin Jackson was just as good. He had 22 points on Saturday, hitting a number of big shots in the second half, including a pair of run-ending threes and a tough, off-balance runner late in the half that helped hold off a surging Seminoles team. Both Berry and Jackson entered North Carolina as five-star prospects in the same class, and while it took a little bit longer than we expected for them to start to impact the game at that level, they’re doing it now.

2. But their bench is pretty good, too: You know who else was in that recruiting class with Berry and Jackson? Theo Pinson. He, too, was a five-star prospect that hasn’t exactly lived up to that potential during his Tar Heel career. He was dealing with a broken foot earlier in the season, and while he officially returned to the floor last Sunday against N.C. State, his “return” came on Saturday. Pinson had 12 points, 10 boards and three assists, and he was responsible for eight straight points – a rim-rattling dunk, an assist for a three and a three of his own – in an 8-2 run late in the game that turned an 80-76 lead to an 88-78 lead. That statsheet-stuffing role is something that the Tar Heels need, and it looks like Pinson is finally ready to provide it.

Luke Maye also had himself a pretty good game. With Kennedy Meeks struggling with fouls and Tony Bradley out due to a concussion, Maye played arguably his best game as a Tar Heel, notching 15 rebounds and holding his own against Florida State’s much bigger and more athletic front line. Maye is never going to be a star for the Tar Heels, but being able to play the role he played today – a fourth big man that can hold his own – fills a hole on the roster.

3. Don’t let the final margin fool you: Because Florida State was in this thing throughout. Every time North Carolina hit FSU with a run, the Seminoles had an answer despite the fact that Xavier Rathan-Mayes did not play as well as he usually does. I’m not sure Florida State could have been called the favorite to win the ACC, but losing on the road to North Carolina by 13 in a game where the spread in Vegas was seven is not exactly an indictment on the team. They’re a contender that took a competitive loss at the team that is probably the best team in the ACC.

No. 3 Villanova beats St. John’s 70-57

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 07: Donte DiVincenzo #10 of the Villanova Wildcats dunks against the Marquette Golden Eagles during the first half at Wells Fargo Center on January 7, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Redshirt freshman guard Dante DiVincenzo had a season-high 19 points and No. 3 Villanova pulled away to a 70-57 victory over St. John’s on Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

Mikal Bridges had 12 points and Josh Hart added 11 points for the Wildcats (17-1, 5-1 Big East), who started the season with a 14-game winning streak. The defending national champions have won 23 of their last 24 games.

Freshman Shamorie Ponds had 13 points for the Red Storm (8-11, 2-4), who have lost four straight overall and 10 in a row to Villanova.

Villanova had trouble shooting early in the game, missing eight of its first nine 3-point attempts. DiVincenzo changed that by making three of the Wildcats’ 21 3-point attempts in the game.

The Wildcats didn’t start pulling away until the final 7 minutes. A 7-0 run capped by a 3 by Kris Jenkins gave Villanova a 60-48 lead with 4:56 to play.

The lead got as high as 17 points.

Villanova finished with a 41-23 rebound advantage but the Wildcats had an uncharacteristic 20 turnovers that the Red Storm turned into 20 points.

BIG PICTURE:

Villanova: Phil Booth (left knee) has played three games this season and none since Nov. 17, and there is no time table for his return. The junior guard was a key player in Villanova’s run to the national championship last season. … The Wildcats entered the game ranked in the top four in the Big East in every offensive statistic. … Villanova lost its last game at Madison Square Garden, the Big East Tournament championship to Seton Hall.

St. John’s: The freshmen backcourt of Ponds (17.5) and Marcus LoVett (17.6) are second in the Big East in combined scoring behind only Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrington (18.9) and Desi Rodriguez (16.4). … Ponds and LoVett only trail Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox (16.7) and Malik Monk (21.7) among freshmen guard combinations in Division I. … The Red Storm have two three-game winning streaks and one two-game streak to account for their eight wins.

UP NEXT:

Villanova: The Wildcats host Seton Hall on Monday as part of the Big East’s five-game marathon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day

St. John’s: The Red Storm host DePaul on Monday as part of the Big East’s five-game marathon on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

POSTERIZED: Theo Pinson’s first basket of the season came with authority

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Florida State had chipped a 10-point lead down to four when North Carolina’s Theo Pinson threw down this monster dunk, his first field goal of the season:

Reed leads Miami past reeling Pittsburgh in Larrañaga’s 600th win

Jim Larranaga
AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez
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PITTSBURGH (AP) Davon Reed didn’t think to look up even as the minutes passed and Pittsburgh struggled to find any sort of open look against Reed and the rest of his Miami teammates.

“We weren’t even playing the score,” Reed said. “We were just playing defense and the score just reflected it.”

And then some.

Reed finished with 18 points, Bruce Brown added 17 and the Hurricanes held the Panthers without a field goal for nearly 10 minutes in a 72-46 blowout victory on Saturday. Miami (12-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a two-game losing streak by outrebounding Pitt 37-23 and holding the Panthers (12-6, 1-4) to just 34 percent shooting (18 of 53).

Less than 48 hours removed from a difficult loss at home to Notre Dame, the Hurricanes responded emphatically. Troubled early by undermanned Pitt’s zone defense, Miami found a rhythm late in the first half.

The Hurricanes scored 14 straight during a run that spanned the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to get all the breathing room they would need then kept pouring it on to hand the Panthers their worst loss in the 15-year history of the Petersen Events Center.

“(Our guys) had a chip on their shoulder and it really helped,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said after picking up his 600th career victory. “It was just a great physical effort as well as a great focus and mental preparation.”

Jamel Artis led Pitt with 15 points a game after going for a career-high 43 in a loss to Louisville on Wednesday. Chris Jones scored 10 points for the Panthers but Pitt struggled with reserve forward Ryan Luther out with a sprained foot and senior forward Michael Young wearing a mask to protect a fractured bone near his right eye.

Young missed all 10 of his shots and finished with just two points on a pair of second-half free throws, 20 below his season average.

“We didn’t have really any margin for anything to go wrong in the game and plenty went wrong,” first-year Pitt coach Kevin Stallings said.

Stallings ceded things early. Young and Artis – one of the highest-scoring duos in the country – spent the last eight minutes on the bench as things got out of hand.

OUCH

Young injured the eye after getting hit in the second half of a loss at Louisville on Wednesday. He told Stallings he would give it a shot if doctors cleared him. It came at a high price.

The primitive mask Young donned limited his field of vision, an issue at both ends of the floor. Still, he tried to make a go of it even after it became readily apparent he was nowhere close to 100 percent. The team hopes to have a better-fitting mask in time for Tuesday’s visit to N.C. State.

“He looked like he’d been in the ring with (Mike) Tyson,” Stallings said. “I didn’t even know if he could see out of it to be honest.”

While Young will attempt to play on Luther is likely out at least two weeks to let his foot heal. Luther is Pitt’s first player off the bench, averaging 6.6 points in 20 minutes for a team with serious depth concerns.

SEE BALL, GET BALL

The Hurricanes can clean the glass with just about anybody. They’re averaging nearly seven boards a game more than their opponent and turned eight offensive rebounds against the Panthers into 12 second-chance points while on their way to outscoring the Panthers in the paint 34-20.

“We’re a good defensive rebounding team,” Larranaga said. “We had 29 defensive rebounds to their 15. Our strength is in clearing the defensive backboards. We had good balance in our rebounding and when you rebound, you can run.”

BIG PICTURE

Miami: The Hurricanes still need to learn to take care of the ball. They threw it away 18 times against the Panthers, many of the miscues coming on careless passes, offensive fouls or traveling violations rather than any sort of defensive pressure.

Pitt: There could be some serious issues for the Panthers going forward with Young limited and Luther out. The Panthers have trailed by at least 20 points in each of their last three games and the next three weeks include a visit from Louisville and a trip to North Carolina to face the Tar Heels and Duke.

UP NEXT

Miami: travel to Wake Forest on Wednesday. Hurricanes are 3-2 against the Demon Deacons under Larranaga.

Pitt: heads to N.C. State. The Panthers are 1-4 against the Wolfpack since joining the ACC in 2013.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Wash St player hits head, taken off on stretcher vs Ariz St

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AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Washington State freshman Cameron Fernandez hit her head on the court after taking a charge and was carried off on a stretcher Friday during a 68-49 loss to No. 19 Arizona State.

A school spokesman said Fernandez was admitted to the hospital for the night as a precaution. She was expected to make a full recovery.

The game was delayed about 30 minutes as emergency personnel treated Fernandez. Players from both sides huddled around her as she lay on the floor, azcentral.com reported.

The harrowing play happened in the first quarter. The arena was filled with youngsters for the afternoon game.

Fernandez scored two points before getting hurt. The 5-foot-10 guard from Hawaii was averaging five points in eight games this season.

Sophie Brunner had 20 points and 15 rebounds to help the Sun Devils (13-3, 4-1 Pac-12) win their fourth in a row. Reili Richardson added 15 points, and Quinn Dornstauder had 11.

Chanelle Molina scored 13 points for Washington State (8-9, 3-3). The Cougars had won three in a row.

Arizona State’s Graham apologizes for obscene gesture

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 06:  Kodi Justice #44 and Torian Graham #4 of the Arizona State Sun Devils celebrate against the Purdue Boilermakers in the first half during the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden on December 6, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona State’s Torian Graham has apologized for making an obscene gesture Thursday night before the Sun Devils’ loss at No. 16 Arizona.

Graham flipped both middle fingers at Arizona’s student section as he walked toward the locker room, a gesture that was caught on camera. The senior said on Twitter that he was responding to racial slurs, but later deleted the tweet.

“I am truly sorry for my actions to everyone associated with the game last night and for losing focus after the early part of warmups,” Graham said in a statement released Friday by the school. “What I did should never happen and there is no excuse. I apologize for all of this and other concerns I had I will handle the right way internally with proper guidance.”

Arizona officials say they are looking into the allegation that racial slurs were shouted from the student section known as the Zona Zoo.

“We continue to look into the accusation made by Arizona State’s Torian Graham,” Arizona said in a statement. “At this time, we have not heard from anyone, including students, staff and security in proximity of the incident, who can confirm Graham’s claim. While we can’t say with certainty that it did not occur, we were told by people in that area that they did not hear words or language of that nature prior to, during and after the time of the incident as well as during the game.

“We pride ourselves on our sportsmanship, take these matters very seriously, and strive to deliver an appropriate environment for visiting teams and patrons.”