Rob Dauster

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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No. 4 Oregon overpowers Valparaiso 76-54

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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.

UConn avoids 0-3 start with 65-62 win over Loyola Marymount

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 13: Jalen Adams #2 of the Connecticut Huskies shoots during the Final of the 2016 AAC Basketball Tournament against the Memphis Tigers at Amway Center on March 13, 2016 in Orlando, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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To get an idea of just how much of a disaster the UConn basketball team is right now, think about this: The Huskies landed a huge win on Thursday night when they found a way to hang on to be Loyola Marymount, 65-62, because it meant that they didn’t drop to 0-3 on the season.

The Huskies have already lost to Wagner and to Northeastern at home this season. Dropping a game to LMU, even if it was on the road, would likely have more or less ensured that this team was headed for the NIT, assuming they find a way to finish over .500.

Because that’s not a guarantee yet, either.

That’s how bad things have gotten for a program that has won four national titles in the last 18 years and two since Barack Obama took office.

The issues are plentiful.

Let’s start with their perimeter shooting, or lack thereof. UConn entered Thursday night shooting 27.5 percent from beyond the arc on the season, having shot 20 threes per game, and left LMU’s gym with another 6-for-23 night. Defenses know exactly how to play them: pack everyone inside 18 feet and let Rodney Purvis and Terry Larrier try to prove that they’re actually shooters.

The other major issue is that UConn’s bigs are not all that good. Amida Brimah blocks a ton of shots, but he’s a 7-footer that weighs less your average sportswriter and is a non-threat offensively if he’s not dunking the ball. Kentan Facey and Steve Enoch, UConn’s other two big men, aren’t much better offensively, but they are quite a bit worse defensively. In other words, the only way UConn is getting any offense generated is if their guards create it.

And their guards aren’t really creators. Jalen Adams hasn’t taken the step forward that we expected. Purvis is a scorer that hunts shots for himself. Larrier is a slasher. Alterique Gilbert, the latest McDonald’s All-American guard on the Husky roster, left Thursday’s game with a dislocated left shoulder that was painful enough that he couldn’t stand up on his own. It doesn’t seem all that likely that he’ll play in Maui, which starts on Monday.

This is simply not a very good basketball team right now.

And the most worrying part is that the Huskies don’t exactly have pieces that would make you believe a turnaround is coming.

It is going to be very interesting to see how they fare on the islands.

Brown scores 12 as No. 9 Badgers dispatch Chicago State

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 11:  Vitto Brown #30 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks to pass during the second half of a game against the Central Arkansas Bears at the Kohl Center on November 11, 2016 in Madison, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) Vitto Brown hadn’t even broken a sweat when Wisconsin coach Greg Gard pulled the forward and fellow starter Ethan Happ just more than a minute into Thursday night’s game with Chicago State.

But the move sent a message.

Brown ending up scoring 12 points to lead No. 9 Wisconsin as the Badgers shook off some uneven play from their starters to beat the Cougars 69-51.

“It’s always important to send a message with your leaders like us because they know if we mess up and can be taken out, the other guys will be held to the same standard,” Brown said.

Gard said he figured some of his starters would be sluggish two days after a 79-67 loss to No. 22 Creighton. But after seeing a couple of careless turnovers to start the game and a quick 8-0 deficit, he had enough.

Gard’s move paid off. Khalil Iverson came off the bench to add 11 points, and freshman guard D’Mitrik Trice dished out seven assists in 23 minutes. Meanwhile, Bronson Koenig added 10 points, though he was 1 of 6 from 3-point range.

“That’s the nice thing about having guys on the bench who will go in and play as hard as you can, as smart as you can, for as long as you can,” Gard said.

The Badgers (2-1) were just 11 of 39 from beyond the 3-point line against Creighton. They again struggled from deep Thursday, hitting 5 of 19. But they had little trouble with the Cougars (1-1) inside as they pulled away. They hit almost 54 percent of their two-point attempts, outscoring Chicago State 34-10 in the paint.

Fred Sims scored 26 points to lead Chicago State, which came out in a zone and pressed Wisconsin early.

Coach Tracy Dildy said his staff saw Wisconsin’s shooting troubles in Tuesday’s game and decided to go with a zone to “see where it can take us.” With the Badgers’ struggles continuing, he added, it likely made the Cougars’ zone look better than it was.

“But they stopped settling for 3s and really were able to have their way pounding it inside,” he said.

BIG PICTURE

Chicago State: Hey, it’s a paycheck. The Panthers went 4-28 last season, including 0-14 in the Western Athletic Conference. They were a tune up for a bigger, deeper and more talented team.

Wisconsin: It wasn’t always pretty but Wisconsin played better inside than it did in Tuesday’s loss and now moves onto bigger challenges.

TOUGH NIGHT AT THE OFFICE

Wisconsin’s Nigel Hayes, who scored 16 points in Tuesday’s loss, was a non-factor. He was 1 for 8 from the field, including 1 for 4 from 3-point range, and 0 for 2 from the free throw line. He finished with three points. He wasn’t the only one who struggled. Fellow starter Zak Showalter missed all five shots he took, including four from behind the 3-point line.

PROTEST CONTINUES

Hayes and and fellow Badger Jordan Hill continued their protest during the national anthem. Both stood a step behind the rest of their teammates while it was played. Hayes stood with his hands clasped behind his back, head down with the collar of his warm-up shirt pulled up over the bottom half of his face.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

It’s not going to make up for Tuesday’s loss to Creighton. But the Badgers largely took care of business and have a chance to redeem themselves in the eyes of pollsters when they head to Maui next week.

UP NEXT

Chicago State: The Cougars travel to Oakland on Saturday as they play 14 of their 16 pre-conference games on the road. That includes two games next month in Nevada as part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic.

Wisconsin: The Badgers will get some stiffer competition against No. 21 Tennessee on Monday in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Mack and No. 23 Texas beat Eastern Washington 85-52

KANSAS CITY, MO - MARCH 10: Tevin Mack #0 of the Texas Longhorns shoots a free throw against the Baylor Bears in the first half during the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Basketball Tournament at Sprint Center on March 10, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Three wins in seven days was just about the perfect start to the season for No. 23 Texas’ new starting lineup.

The rest of the schedule promises to be much more challenging. And it starts right away, far away from the comforts of home.

Tevin Mack scored 19 points and Texas rolled to an easy 85-52 victory over Eastern Washington on Thursday night as the Longhorns started smoothing out the rough edges in their 3-0 start.

“Now the question is, `Can we go on the road?”‘ coach Shaka Smart asked. “The competition level will go up. We will see better athletes. We will see better size. We will see better teams. How will we answer that?”

They will know next week when they travel to Brooklyn, New York for the Legends Classic, where their first opponent will be Northwestern.

“It’s going to be fun,” Texas guard Kendal Yancy said, “especially because we’re winning.”

That’s a far different feeling than last season, when Texas started 2-3 after early road trips to China and the Bahamas.

Texas had little trouble with Eastern Washington as five Longhorns scored in double figures. Freshman Andrew Jones scored 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting. He had a big first half, making all four of his shots for 12 points in just 9 minutes on the court.

Yancy scored 10 points, opening the game with consecutive 3-pointers, and Texas built a 39-24 lead at halftime. Jarrett Allen, Texas’ 6-foot-11 freshman forward, had four assists in the half by kicking passes out to wide open shooters for 3-pointers.

Texas opened the second half with a burst from Eric Davis Jr., who made two 3-pointers in 10-4 run that pushed the lead to 54-28. Jones’ first basket of the second half, a breakaway dunk, put the Longhorns up by 27 with 11 minutes to play.

Bogdan Bliznyuk scored 22 points for Eastern Washington (1-2).

“We’re a little better than we played tonight, but they made us look a lot worse than we are,” Eastern Washington coach Jim Hayford said. “We don’t see athletes like that in the Big Sky (Conference).”

THE BIG PICTURE

Eastern Washington: The Eagles were overmatched from the start against their first Big 12 opponent in six seasons. Eastern Washington is 1-24 all-time against ranked opponents.

Texas: The Longhorns played their most fluid game with unselfish passes, defensive hustle and an ability to spread the points around the court. Kerwin Roach Jr., who missed the first game because of a suspension, got in his best work at point guard with four assists.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Texas still needs win against major conference competition if they hope to impress voters. The next two games against Northwestern and either Notre Dame or Colorado at the Legends Classic, would be a start.

MACK ATTACK

Mack was suspended for the first game for an offseason rules violation but has lead the team in scoring in each of the two games he’s played, despite not starting either one. He scored 14 points in 23 minutes against Louisiana Monroe, and played just 21 minutes against Eastern Washington. He has a team-high eight 3-pointers on 14 attempts.

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

Texas made a season-high 11 3-pointers and Eastern Washington was just 3 of 21 from long range and made just one in the second half. Two of Allen’s early assists led to Texas 3-pointers. “I thought Jarrett really set a tone early in the game by making some terrific passes,” Smart said.

The Longhorns forced a season-high 16 turnovers.

UP NEXT:

Eastern Washington hosts Bryant on Monday.

Texas faces Northwestern on Monday in Brooklyn, New York.

No. 12 Louisville runs past Long Beach State 88-56

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 17:  Donovan Mitchell #45 of the Louisville Cardinals shoots the ball during the game against the Long Beach State 49ers at KFC YUM! Center on November 17, 2016 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s concerns about the early season schedule causing his 12th-ranked Cardinals problems might be merited at some point.

Right now, the Cardinals are handling non-conference opponents with surprising ease.

Jaylen Johnson had 14 points and 11 rebounds, Deng Adel added 11 points and Louisville jumped on Long Beach State quickly for an 88-56 blowout Thursday.

The Cardinals (3-0) outscored the 49ers 23-2 over a 5:28 span in the first half for a 30-8 lead en route to their third straight 30-point win to open the season. Louisville’s height advantage made the difference on both ends as it controlled scoring in the paint 42-20 and rebounding 51-37.

Louisville’s fast, effective start toward that end impressed Pitino enough to compare his team’s effort to the 2013 NCAA championship squad, which is saying something this early in the season.

“That was really, really special to see,” said Pitino, whose team made 11 of their first 14 shots before finishing at 45 percent (34 of 76) from the field. That was a clinic at the offensive end and a clinic at the defensive end.”

Johnson helped get the Cardinals going with 10 points and seven rebounds in the first half en route to his second double-double in three games.

“I just make sure I’m more efficient,” said Johnson, who made 7 of 11 from the field in 18 minutes.

The 49ers (1-3) made just 18 of 61 from the field (30 percent) and couldn’t slow the Cardinals in any phase while losing to their second ranked Atlantic Coast Conference foe in three days. Fifth-ranked North Carolina used a quick start to beat Long Beach State 93-67 on Tuesday night.

“It was similar because we just weren’t able to withstand that first blow to stay in the game,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “Once we got comfortable, it’s too late. Game’s over. You come on these road trips to try to put your kids in adversity to get them better and I don’t feel like we handled it any better than we did Tuesday.”

Mangok Mathiang added 11 points and Ray Spalding had 10 for Louisville. The Cardinals blocked nine shots in winning the first of four games in the Battle 4 Atlantis that continues next week in the Bahamas.

Evan Payne had 15 points and Gabe Levin added 12 for Long Beach State, which fell to 0-3 against the Cardinals.

THE BIG PICTURE

Long Beach State: Just when the 49ers seemed capable of playing Louisville close at 7-6, they missed their next 10 shots and 14 of 16 overall in a drought that dug an insurmountable hole. That comes two nights after they trailed North Carolina 14-0. … Long Beach State committed 19 turnovers leading to 25 Louisville points.

Louisville: Good thing the Cardinals dominated the paint, because their perimeter shooting is still a work in progress. Adel and Donovan Mitchell (eight points) combined to make their first three attempts from behind the arc, but the team didn’t make another until David Levitch and Ryan McMahon made both their attempts in the second half. Louisville still finished 7 of 20 from long range after entering the game 13 of 43 through two games. … McMahon and Quentin Snider each had five assists for the Cardinals, who finished with at least 20 in consecutive games for the first time since 2010-11.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Barring any movement by teams ahead of Louisville before Monday, next week’s Battle 4 Atlantis matchups could determine the Cardinals’ ranking for the following week.

TIME MANAGEMENT

Tipoff was 4 p.m. to allow Louisville fans time to watch this game and the third-ranked football team’s nationally televised contest at Houston with an 8 p.m. kickoff. Attendance was 14,337, down from the usual sellouts at the KFC Yum! Center.

UP NEXT

Long Beach State: The 49ers’ tough early season schedule continues with a visit to No. 16 UCLA on Sunday.

Louisville: Continues play in the Battle 4 Atlantis against Old Dominion on Wednesday in the Bahamas.

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