Rob Dauster

LAHAINA, HI - NOVEMBER 21: Jawun Evans #1 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys dribbles the ball during the second half of the Maui Invitational NCAA college basketball game at the Lahaina Civic Center on November 21, 2016 in Lahaina, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images). Oklahoma State won the game 98-90
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Oklahoma State knocks off UConn 98-90 at Maui Invitational

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LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) Oklahoma State’s relentless pressure caused havoc against lesser opponents through the first three games.

It worked just as well in the Cowboys’ first true test this season.

Jawun Evans had 35 points and five of Oklahoma State’s 18 steals, lifting the Cowboys to a 98-90 win over Connecticut Monday night in the opening round of the Maui Invitational.

“I love the fact we had 18 steals. That’s a great number,” Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said. “That means we’re being active and bothersome now.”

Oklahoma State (4-0) jumped on the Huskies from the opening tip, turning one steal after another into points in transition. The Cowboys hit five 3-pointers during an opening 18-3 run and finished 12 for 20 from the arc.

Jeffrey Carroll and Phil Forte had 18 points each, helping Oklahoma State move on to the second round against No. 4 North Carolina or Chaminade.

Evans also had six assists, four rebounds and one turnover.

“These two guys are awfully hard to guard and that’s a great weapon,” Underwood said of Evans and Forte.

UConn (1-3) struggled with Oklahoma State’s constant pressure, turning it over 18 times. Jalen Adams had the most trouble with the Cowboys’ defense, turning it over six times in the opening five minutes and 10 overall.

Adams finished with 34 points, six rebounds and six assists. Rodney Purvis added 20 points.

The Huskies lost sophomore forward Terry Larrier to a left leg injury in the first half.

“I just love my kids’ effort. They tried to get back in the game,” UConn coach Kevin Ollie said. “I think we cut it to four, but it was just a little bit too late. And we just have to start off a little stronger and we’ve got to take care of the ball a little bit more.”

The Cowboys used their relentless pressure and ability to score in transition to average 107 points their first three games. Those came against lesser opponents, so Maui represented their first true test.

Oklahoma State was at its harassing best against UConn early, forcing Huskies guard Jalen Adams to turn it over six times in the opening five minutes. The Cowboys turned many of those into transition 3-pointers, hitting 5 of 8 while opening with an 18-3 run.

The Huskies held their ground for the rest of the half, though it did little good. Oklahoma State led 40-26 at halftime behind Evans’ 16 points.

UConn finally started to get a handle on Oklahoma State’s pressure and got some defensive stops, trimming the Cowboys’ lead to seven with about five minutes left.

The Huskies hit a pair of late 3-pointers, but Evans finished them off by hitting three free throws in the final 29 seconds.

“We definitely can build off of it,” Purivs said. “Our main thing is we just got to get off to a good start and take care of the basketball.”

LARRIER’S INJURY

Larrier was expected to be a big contributor this season after transferring from Virginia Commonwealth. He went down after being stripped of the ball, slapping the floor and screaming as trainers rushed out to him.

Larrier was unable to put any weight on his left leg and stopped by to offer his teammates encouragement after being helped to the locker room.

He left the arena on crutches and a heavy brace on his left leg.

“I know it’s a knee injury, but we don’t know the significance of it yet,” Ollie said.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma State’s pressure defense withstood its first real test after beating three overmatched opponents and the Cowboys knocked down their 3s, something that will be key this season for them.

The Huskies allowed themselves to get sped up by the Cowboys while falling into a big early hole and now face the possibility of playing without Larrier for an extended period.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma State moves on the face the winner between No. 4 North Carolina and host Chaminade in Tuesday’s second round

UConn plays the North Carolina-Chaminade loser.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Northwestern handles No. 22 Texas

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 21:  Head coach Shaka Smart of the Texas Longhorns looks on against the Northwestern Wildcats in the second half of the 2016 Legends Classic at Barclays Center on November 21, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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NEW YORK (AP) Bryant McIntosh had 20 points and five assists to lead Northwestern to a convincing 77-58 victory over No. 22 Texas on Monday night in the semifinals of the Legends Classic at Barclays Center.

The Wildcats (3-1) will play Notre Dame, which beat Colorado 89-81, in the championship game Tuesday night.

Northwestern opened the game with an 11-0 run and closed the first on a 9-0 spurt to take a 34-26 lead.

The Wildcats opened the second half on a 10-1 run to go up by 17 points and the Longhorns (3-1) were never closer than 14 points the rest of the way.

Scottie Lindsey had 16 points and Dererk Pardon had 10 points and 11 rebounds for Northwestern which took advantage of an out-of-synch Texas offense for the easy win.

Tavin Mack scored 18 points for the Longhorns, who finished with 14 turnovers and just seven assists. Texas didn’t help itself at the free throw line going 13 for 27.

POSTERIZED: Josh Jackson’s coming out party is complete

KANSAS CITY, MO - NOVEMBER 21:  Josh Jackson #11 of the Kansas Jayhawks dunks on a fast break during the CBE Hall of Fame Classic game against the UAB Blazers at the Sprint Center on November 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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No. 7 Kansas beat down UAB in the opening round of the CBE Classic. The Jayhawks were up 23-3 at one point, and while the Blazers found back to make the score respectable, the outcome was never in doubt.

The final score was 83-61.

If there was a good sign, it’s that star freshman Josh Jackson finally started playing like a star freshman. He finished with 22 points, seven boards, three assists and three steals, but he introduced himself to the nation with this vicious dunk:

No. 12 Creighton lands come-from-behind win over Ole Miss

OMAHA, NE - NOVEMBER 15: Maurice Watson Jr. #10 of the Creighton Bluejays drives to the hoop past Jordan Hill #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers during their game at the CenturyLink Center on November 15, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Eric Francis/Getty Images)
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Marcus Foster scored 25 points and Khyri Thomas chipped in 16 points of his own as No. 12 Creighton landed a come-from-behind win over Ole Miss in the title game of the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, 86-77.

The Rebels were up by as many as 12 points in the second half before the Jays caught fire from deep – Creighton finished shooting 16-for-26 from beyond the arc – but the real difference came on the defensive end of the floor. The Bluejays finally started getting stops, and it’s not a coincidence that those stops came at the same time that they started clearing the defensive glass.

Ole Miss took a 46-40 lead into the break. With 15 minutes left in the game, a jumper from Cullen Neal gave Ole Miss a 59-51 lead. They mustered just 18 points the rest of the way. It’s also worth noting that Ole Miss grabbed 14 of their 17 offensive rebounds in the first 25 minutes; they finished with 20 second chance points.

The defense is going to be the key long-term for Creighton. This is easily the most athletic team that Greg McDermott has had in his time at Creighton – there’s probably an argument to be made that it’s the most talented as well, although that’s a different discussion for a different day – but what they have in shooting prowess and back court dominance they lack in true difference-makers defensively.

Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks, who both had 22 points, are good basketball players – Burnett had 41 points in the opening game of this event – but they got anything they wanted in the first half on Monday night. It helped that they made seemingly all of the open shots that they got, and it also helped that Justin Patton, Zach Hanson and Toby Hegner looked helpless against Sebastian Saiz on the glass. Again, Saiz is a good player, but he should not have been able to dominate the glass like that against a team that’s many believe is a top 15-20 team in the country.

The Bluejays are going to score a lot of points this season. They have shooters everywhere on their roster, they have a group of guards that are as good as any in the country and they those guards thrive in transition and when their spacing creates driving lanes.

But their ceiling will be limited if they cannot get more consistent defensively.

On the other side, Ole Miss is a better basketball team than I thought they were. They may even be the second-best team in the SEC. Burnett is going to score a lot of points this season while Neal and Brooks seem like capable compliments in the back court. Throw in Saiz, who is as underrated as anyone in that conference, and this is a typically-good Andy Kennedy team.

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POSTERIZED: Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem brings the pain

SOUTH BEND, IN - DECEMBER 21: V.J. Beachem #3 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish jumps through the air for a dunk against the Youngstown State Penguins at Purcell Pavilion on December 21, 2015 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre Dame defeated Youngstown State 87-78. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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V.J. Beachem is one of the most underrated NBA Draft prospects in this class.

Part of it is that he’s 6-foot-8 and shoots the heck out of it from three. But the other part is that he’s athletic enough to do things like this:

Coaches Poll: Kentucky is No. 1 in the country

LEXINGTON, KY - NOVEMBER 11:  De'Aaron Fox #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dribbles the ball during the game against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Rupp Arena on November 11, 2016 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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Kentucky is the No. 1 in the coaches as well, after being named the No. 1 team in the AP poll earlier on Monday.

RANKINGS: AP Poll | Coaches Poll | NBCSports.com

1. Kentucky (20 first-place votes)
2. Villanova (4)
3. Duke (5)
4. North Carolina
5. Indiana (2)
t6. Virginia
t6. Kansas
8. Xavier
9. Arizona
10. Louisville
11. Gonzaga
12. Oregon
13. UCLA
14. Wisconsin
15. Saint Mary’s
16. Syracuse
17. West Virginia
18. Creighton
19. Purdue
20. Michigan State
21. Texas
22. Iowa State
23. Maryland
24. Michigan
25. Rhode Island