Rob Dauster

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - NOVEMBER 14: Jalen Brunson #1 of the Villanova Wildcats shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers at Mackey Arena on November 14, 2016 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Villanova defeated Purdue 79-76. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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VIDEO: No. 3 Villanova’s win over Wake Forest punctuated by Jalen Brunson dunk

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Josh Hart scored 30 points, Mikal Bridges added 19 points, seven boards and four assists and Donte DiVincenzo came off the bench to chip in with 12 points as No. 3 Villanova rolled over Wake Forest, 96-77.

The Wildcats advance to the finals of the Charleston Classic.

And they’ll do so after Jalen Brunson, who I honestly didn’t think could dunk a basketball, threw this down:

No. 11 Xavier handles Clemson behind J.P. Macura’s big game

ST LOUIS, MO - MARCH 20:  J.P. Macura #55 of the Xavier Musketeers reacts after a play in the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Scottrade Center on March 20, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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J.P. Macura scored 23 of his 28 points in the first half and added five boards and five assists as No. 11 Xavier knocked off Clemson, 83-77, to advance to the finals of the Tire Pros Invitational.

Macura caught fire early in the first half, hitting his first five threes and leading the Musketeers as they opened up an early double-figures lead. Clemson made a run in the second half, eventually cutting the lead to three points midway through the final 20 minutes, but Xavier made enough plays down the stretch to hold on.

This was a good test for the Musketeers. They were taken to overtime by Missouri in their opener, and the Tigers are not expected to amount to much of anything in the SEC this season. Clemson, on the other hand, is a team many project as a potential NCAA tournament participant despite the fact that they look like they’ll finish in the bottom half of the ACC; that should tell you more about the strength of the league than anything else.

Xavier was in control throughout. There were a couple of shaky moments in the second half when Clemson’s zone got to Xavier, and it is games like this that make evident what Xavier is missing with Myles Davis out. As talented as Edmond Sumner is – he had 11 points, six boards, six assists, a pair of steals and a number of highlight reel plays during Friday’s game – but he’s still learning how to be a point guard at this level. There’s not better way to learn than by getting thrown into the fire, but there are moments where Xavier needs a powerful, steadying voice at that spot and Sumner is not quite that guy yet.

Trevon Bluiett added 21 points for Xavier.

Clemson star Jaron Blossomgame struggled in the first half but finished with 13 points.

 

Kentucky coach John Calipari: ‘We’re not coming to Indiana’

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 15:  Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts against the Michigan State Spartans in the second half during the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden on November 15, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
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The renewal of the Kentucky-Indiana series probably isn’t going to happen anytime soon, and it’s not because the two sides don’t want to play each other.

It’s because they want to play each other in different settings. Indiana wants to play in Rupp Arena and Assembly Hall like they did from 2007-2012. Kentucky wants to play on neutral courts like they did for the 15 years before that.

That probably isn’t going to change as long as John Calipari and Tom Crean are running those two programs regardless of how badly we want it to change.

I bring this up because Coach Cal went on the Rich Eisen Show and, basically, said exactly that.

“We’re not coming to Indiana,” Calipari said. “Home and home is not happening.”

“We talked about playing two years in Indianapolis and they said no. So, those, right now, these schedules are out ahead a couple years. It may be in the future. There may be something in the future.”

Cal was responding to something that Crean said after last Friday’s win over Kansas, when he not only mentioned that he would like to get a series going with the Jayhawks but that he would love to reignite the rivalry between UK and IU.

IU beat writer Zach Osterman said it best:

He was also quick to say his friendship with Tom Crean, which dates back beyond either coach’s current job, remains strong, and that they “talk all the time.” Just this fall, one of Calipari’s assistants, John Robic, appeared in a photo taken at Cook Hall with Crean, former Drexel coach Bruiser Flint and Hall-of-Famer Larry Bown. And IU assistant Chuck Martin, who coached under Calipari at Memphis, said when he accepted his current position that Calipari had encouraged him to.

The point is, it’s not a respect thing. And it’s not a recruiting thing. Kentucky has taken players out of Indiana before. IU has beaten Kentucky to players before. Playing in Indianapolis would not dramatically shift the recruiting landscape for either program.

It’s philosophical. Period.

And the only way that we’ll end up seeing these two teams square off in the future is in the NCAA tournament.

College Hoops Weekend Preview: Hall of Fame Tip-Off, Charleston Classic, Tire Pros Invitational

DURHAM, NC - NOVEMBER 12:  Grayson Allen #3 of the Duke Blue Devils reacts after making a three-point basket against the Grand Canyon Antelopes during the game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on November 12, 2016 in Durham, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
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TOURNAMENTS TO PAY ATTENTION TO

Hall Of Fame Tip-Off: For my money, this is the best of the bracketed events this November. No. 1 Duke will head to Mohegan Sun where, after playing an opening round game against a Penn State team that lost to Albany, the Blue Devils will get the winner of No. 21 Cincinnati and No. 24 Rhode Island. And not only will Duke fans be in attendance, but the casino’s arena is about an hour from URI’s campus, meaning that Rhody’s fan base should be there in full force, making the environment of the building pretty awesome.

Tire Pros Invitational: Perhaps the most interesting game of the weekend will come in the semifinals of the Tire Pros event in Orlando, as No. 11 Xavier, who struggled with Missouri in the opener, faces off with a Clemson team who is legitimately good this season and who will have the best player on the floor in Jaron Blossomgame. The winner of that game will get the winner of Northern Iowa and Oklahoma, as the former beat the brakes off of Arizona State on Thursday night. The final will be played on Sunday afternoon.

Charleston Classic: No. 3 Villanova is the big name in this event. They’ll play Wake Forest on Friday afternoon for the right to get to the title game, which will feature the winner of UCF and Charleston. UCF is the intriguing team to keep an eye on here. They mollywhopped Mississippi State on Thursday night thanks to a 26-point, 12-rebound performance from 7-foot-6 Tacko Fall. Might the Golden Knights be a sleeper to track this season? We’ll certainly get a sense of that if they get a chance to square off with the defending national champions.

2K Classic: The cool thing about this event is that four teams entered that we really didn’t know much about. Pitt, SMU and Michigan hadn’t really played anyone, while Marquette had pasted Vanderbilt earlier in the year. Well, low and behold, while SMU and Pitt both looked solid in the opener last night, Marquette was on the wrong end of a beatdown from Michigan. Were the Wolverines for real or will they get a wake-up call against SMU?

Paradise Jam: The quarterfinal matchups for the Paradise Jam are kind of whatever, but Saturday’s semifinals have the chance to be pretty tasty, assuming that N.C. State and Creighton can get past Montana and Washington State, respectively. The Wolfpack and the Bluejays have two of the nation’s best back courts while Dennis Smith Jr. of N.C. State has a chance to be a top five pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. If all goes to plan, we’ll get a title game between one of those teams and Ole Miss, who is seemingly under-the-radar every year.

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FIVE STORYLINES FOR THE WEEKEND

1. Does Duke get their guys back?: The Blue Devils are making the trek from New York City up to Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, to partake in the Hall of Fame Tip-Off Classic. Is this the first chance that we are going to get to see the Blue Devils playing at full strength? Probably not, because there’s little-to-no-chance that Harry Giles III is in anything other than a suit at the end of the bench before the start of ACC play.

But at this point, I’m of the mindset that we need to start thinking about ‘Duke at full strength’ as Duke with Marques Bolden and Jayson Tatum in action. If Giles does happen to return, I would expect him to be on a Joel Embiid-esque “pitch count”. Tatum sprained his foot in late October and Bolden suffered a “lower-leg injury” in early November. Neither of the injuries were considered too serious, but both of those players were dressed in matching pall-bearer suits at the Champions Classic – along with Giles, the trio looked like bizarro world B2K – and it’s unclear if they’ll be in action this weekend. Even without a full squad, Duke looked the part of the national title favorites on Tuesday night.

2. What about Dayton’s health?: I really feel for the Flyer program. They’re heading into this weekend’s games against No. 17 Saint Mary’s – and, potentially, next week’s Wooden Legacy tournament in Anaheim – likely missing three key pieces. Josh Cunningham took a nasty fall against Alabama on Tuesday, Kendall Pollard has a thigh issue that he’s still working through and, last summer, they tragically had their starting center Steve McIlvene pass away. This is a team that entered the offseason with Sweet 16 potential, and it pains me to see them miss out on opportunities to take their mind off the loss of a friend and teammate.

3. This is the chance for the Gaels to prove themselves: That said, this game becomes all the more important for Saint Mary’s. The Gaels missed out on the NCAA tournament last season because they simply didn’t play enough games outside the state of California or enough quality opponents in the non-conference. A game at Dayton is going to be a good win on paper in March regardless of who is on the roster when they play. This is the chance that the Gaels needed to beef up their résumé to try and lock in an at-large birth to the NCAA tournament.

4. Who is the best team in the state of Texas?: Entering the year, everyone thought it would be Texas, who has been good but not great through the first week of the season. SMU has actually looked better than the Longhorns, picking off Pitt in the 2K Sports Classic on Thursday night. The Mustangs get Michigan in the title game late on Friday, which will come after we see Texas A&M face off with a good USC team in College Station. That should give us a good feel of what to expect from the Aggies, but we already know what to expect this season from Baylor, who looked fantastic in a win over Dillon Brooks-less No. 4 Oregon.

No. 4 Oregon overpowers Valparaiso 76-54

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 17: Chris Boucher #25 of the Oregon Ducks battles for position under the basket with Shane Hammink #11 of the Valparaiso Crusaders  in the second half of the game at Matthew Knight Arena on November 17, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. Oregon won the game 76-54. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) An embarrassing road loss to Baylor may prove to be a valuable lesson for Oregon.

If the fourth-ranked Ducks want to meet their own lofty expectations, they’ll have to earn it on the boards.

Two days after losing by 17 points to the unranked Bears, Chris Boucher had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead Oregon to its 27th consecutive home victory, 76-54 over Valparaiso on Thursday night.

Boucher was coming off a 12-point, two-rebound performance against Baylor.

“His activity allowed him to him to have the 25 points,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He had no defensive rebounds the other night and we lost the rebounding battle by 11.

“Tonight we won it by 13, and that was the difference in the game.”

Jordan Bell added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks (2-1), who took control early in the second half with an 11-4 run fueled by Bell’s eight points to open a 52-38 lead. Bell scored 12 points in the second half as Oregon shot 15 of 27 from the field.

“That was our goal, just to go inside,” Bell said. “Against Baylor we went 3 for 21 at the 3-point line, so we just wanted to go inside.”

Alec Peters led the Crusaders (3-1) with 24 points to become the school’s second-leading career scorer. Tevonn Walker added 12 points.

Valparaiso shot just 23.3 percent in the second half as Peters was its only starter to make more than half of his attempts. The Crusaders finished 4 of 21 from 3-point range.

“I think it’s pretty evident that we are not shooting the ball very well,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said, “and to beat a team like Oregon you’re going to have to hit shots from the outside.”

Backup freshman point guard Payton Pritchard had nine points and five assists for the Ducks, who led by as many as 25 points in the second half.

Oregon had a 40-27 rebounding edge and blocked six shots.

Altman said his team’s size and rebounding ability should be what sets the Ducks apart.

“If you’re not beating people on the boards, you’re not taking advantage of your athleticism,” he said. “Our goal should be a plus-eight or -nine on those boards for the season, and if we do that, it’ll be really positive for our team.”

The Ducks played again without preseason All-America Dillon Brooks, who continues to recover from offseason foot surgery. Altman was noncommittal about the junior forward’s availability for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational when Oregon opens play Monday against Georgetown.

“I don’t know if he’ll play in Maui,” Altman said, “and if he does, it won’t be very much.”

BIG PICTURE

Valparaiso: Coming off a 30-win season and deep run in the NIT, the Crusaders were held 28 points below their season average while shooting just 32.1 percent from the field against the Ducks.

Oregon: The Ducks likely will slip in Monday’s poll off their 66-49 loss at Baylor, but they may regain Brooks’ services while in Hawaii.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Despite Thursday night’s win, Oregon’s best-ever No. 4 ranking likely will take a hit after its 66-49 road loss to unranked Baylor on Tuesday.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Boucher, who has scored in all 38 games he’s played at Oregon, had 18 points by halftime and missed his career high by one.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Though not known for his ball-handling, the 6-foot-10 Boucher flashed some nifty moves when he picked off a cross-court pass, dodged a Crusader at mid-court, dipped inside another off the dribble and smoothly threw down a one-handed dunk in the first half to cap a 9-0 run.

UP NEXT

Valparaiso plays Alabama on Monday in Las Vegas at the four-team MGM Grand Main Event. The Crusaders will face either BYU or Saint Louis on Wednesday before heading home.

Oregon heads to Hawaii to play Georgetown on Monday in the first round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Ducks will face either No. 9 Wisconsin or Tennessee on Tuesday.

Freshmen Leaf and Ball lead No. 16 UCLA past San Diego 88-68

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 11:  Lonzo Ball #2 of the UCLA Bruins scores on a layup during a 119-80 UCLA win over the Pacific Tigers at Pauley Pavilion on November 11, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) Knowing San Diego lacked a solid inside presence, UCLA went after the Toreros where it hurt.

T.J. Leaf had 26 points and 10 rebounds and fellow freshman Lonzo Ball added 13 points to help the 16th-ranked Bruins win 88-68 on Thursday night.

“T.J., he can shoot it, pass it and handle it,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “That just opens up your offense even more.”

Thomas Welsh had 12 points and 11 rebounds as one of six players in double figures for the Bruins (3-0), who failed to top 100 points for the first time this season. They averaged 110.5 points in victories over Pacific and Cal State Northridge.

“Six guys got to the free throw line, six guys got rebounds and assists,” Alford said. “It enables us to stretch our offense.”

San Diego’s Brett Bailey tied his career high with 22 points and Cameron Neubauer added a career-best 14 points despite playing the second half with three fouls.

Bailey’s 3-pointer drew the Toreros (0-3) within four points early in the second half before Leaf and Ball teamed up for an entertaining offensive show.

Leaf got things started with a one-handed dunk on a give-and-go with Isaac Hamilton and followed with another one-handed jam on Ball’s assist. The highly touted freshmen reversed things, with Leaf feeding Ball for a dunk before Leaf scored inside. The Bruins had 21 assists.

“I’ve never played with this much talent around me before,” Leaf said. “It takes adjusting to get used to, but we’re starting to get used to our roles.”

Leaf kept up the theatrics with another dunk before finishing off the 16-8 run with a two-handed dunk on Ball’s alley-oop pass that extended UCLA’s lead to 58-45.

“We wanted to give it to them inside a little bit,” Leaf said. “We really wanted to make our presence around the basket and we did that.”

Consecutive baskets by Ball and a 3-pointer by Leaf pushed the Bruins’ lead to 68-52.

The Toreros couldn’t defend UCLA’s surge. Bailey and Neubauer did all of San Diego’s second-half scoring until Olin Carter III scored eight straight points with 6:13 to go.

“Our kids really competed, but against an explosive team like UCLA, we gave up so much size,” second-year San Diego coach Lamont Smith said. “They had 46 points in the paint; it was not just post-up points, but it’s what they got in the interior.”

Hamilton added 12 points and Aaron Holiday had 11 for the Bruins, who shot 52 percent.

BIG PICTURE

San Diego: The Toreros face a long climb this season, having been picked to finish last in the West Coast Conference coaches’ poll. They lost by 10 points to San Diego State in their season opener and still have New Mexico State and Southern California among their non-conference games. No. 14 Gonzaga looms twice during conference play, too.

UCLA: The Bruins have an easy schedule leading up to their first big challenge of the season against No. 2 Kentucky on Dec. 3 in Rupp Arena. They also play Big Ten opponents Michigan and Ohio State in December.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

If they keep winning, the Bruins figure to stay solidly in the middle of the rankings for the rest of the month. They’ll be tested much more in December with games against No. 2 Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State and No. 4 Oregon.

TIP-INS

San Diego: The Toreros got outrebounded 43-38, but owned a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass. … Carter finished with 13 points. … They made 10 3-pointers, including three each from Bailey and Carter. … The Toreros attempted 75 field goals and 31 3-pointers.

UCLA: Leaf was 11 of 13 from the field and made all four of his free throws. … Bryce Alford chipped in 10 points. … All seven of the Bruins players scored. … Ball finished with eight assists and seven rebounds. … The Bruins made 19 of 22 free throws, and so far have been much more consistent at the line than last season. “That’s going to be crucial in tight games,” the elder Alford said.

UP NEXT

San Diego: Hosts Nicholls State on Sunday, the first of four straight home games this month.

UCLA: Hosts Long Beach State on Sunday, the last of four consecutive home games to start the season. The Bruins are 14-1 against the 49ers.

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