Travis Hines

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Thomas’ career-high 24 leads Creighton over No. 20 Northwestern

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ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) — Khyri Thomas had a career-high 24 points, 11 rebounds and five assists, Martin Krampelj added a career-high 17 points and Creighton beat No. 20 Northwestern 92-88 on Wednesday night in a Gavitt Tipoff Games matchup.

Ty-Shon Alexander had 14 points and Marcus Foster had 12 for the Bluejays (3-0).

Vic Law had a career-high 30 points and Bryant McIntosh added 24 for Northwestern (2-1).

Creighton senior Toby Hegner went down in the first half with a high ankle sprain and was on crutches at the end of the game.

The Wildcats rallied from a 15-point first-half deficit to take the lead in the second half, but couldn’t maintain the momentum as Creighton answered the run and took the lead for good with 14 minutes to go.

Law scored 12 straight Northwestern points early in the second half to lead a furious comeback from a 51-43 halftime deficit. Included in that run was a four-point play 3 minutes into the half to put the Wildcats on top 56-55 — their first lead since early in the first half.

Creighton is 12-1 against teams from the Big Ten since November 2011. The Bluejays had four wins over teams ranked in the Top 25 last season.

THE BIG PICTURE

Creighton: The Bluejays scored 109 points in their previous game against Alcorn State and were on a pace for 120 or more in racing out to a 44-29 lead 15 minutes into the game. But after Northwestern picked up its defensive intensity, they managed just 11 points over the next 8 minutes in losing the big lead. The players, though, responded and reclaimed control.

Northwestern: The Wildcats are coming off their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season and were ranked in the AP preseason poll for the first time. But Wednesday night showed that nothing is going to come easy this season just because expectations are high — especially if they don’t play with the same intensity on the defensive end as last season.

UP NEXT

Creighton: The Bluejays face No. 23 UCLA on Monday night in the Hall of Fame Classic in Kansas City.

Northwestern: The Wildcats face La Salle on Saturday in the Basketball Hall of Fame Tip-Off Tournament at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Conn.

Berry struggles in return, but North Carolina tops Bucknell

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If Joel Berry was playing a videogame Wednesday as Joel Berry, he may have wanted to break his other hand.

The North Carolina senior struggled mightily in his return from injury into the Tar Heels’ lineup as UNC narrowly outlasted Bucknell, 93-81, to improve to 2-0 on the season.

The final result and Berry’s actual performance probably matters less than simply getting him back on the court after his infamous injury, but it was a difficult night for the 6-foot senior guard. Berry made his first shot of the game, but missed his next 10 to finish 1 of 11 with eight points in his return to the lineup.

Berry missed North Carolina’s season-opening win against Northern Iowa because he broke his hand in frustration while playing videogames against teammate Theo Pinson and a UNC manager in what was surely an embarrassing – not to mention painful – moment for Berry, but that will undoubtedly be enshrined in Tar Heel lore for a generation or nine. You’ve also got to give him credit for working his way back from injury early, even if the rust was incredibly apparent.

Still, it ended up only costing Berry, who averaged 14.7 points and 3.6 assists in UNC’s national championship season, a game and North Carolina nothing as they’re off to a 2-0 start, though the Tar Heels’ showing against Bucknell wasn’t exactly inspiring. UNC struggled to get any kind of separation from Bucknell until very late. The Bison shot 46.8 percent from the floor and 40.7 percent on 28 3-point attempts. Luke Maye had a big night for the Tar Heels, putting up 20 points while Pinson added 19 (besting Berry like, presumably, he did to provoke the injury in the first place).

It wasn’t pretty, but getting Berry back is huge for the Tar Heels. They maybe just need to let him win in 2K or whatever to keep him healthy and on the floor.

George Washingtons Terry Nolan, Jr. throws down on Florida State

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George Washington went into Tallahassee and lost to Florida State, 87-67, on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t totally a lost cause for the Colonials.

Or at least for Terry Nolan, Jr.

The 6-foot-2 freshman threw down a vicious one-handed dunk over the Seminoles’ 6-foot-9 forward Mfiondu Kabengele to at least leave with quite the memory.

Nolan had 18 points on 8 of 12 shooting on the night.

Texas’ Bamba out with concussion

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Mohamed Bamba’s freshman season at Texas is being paused do to injury.

The 6-foot-11 center is being held out of Texas’ game Tuesday night against New Hampshire after sustaining a concussion in practice Sunday, the school announced. He “continues to be treated and evaluated as part of the program’s concussion protocol,” according to the school.

Until there’s more information, there’s no reason to overreact to this news, but it is no doubt concerning given the increased scrutiny players are now receiving upon returning from head injuries.

Bamba, a potential No. 1 pick in June’s NBA draft, already got off to a strong start to his Longhorns career, putting up 15 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, two assists and one steal in just 23 minutes of action in his season debut against Northwestern State on Friday. He was named the Big 12’s co-newcomer of the week.

He is a huge – literally and figuratively – piece of Shaka Smart’s bounce back season after the Longhorns went 11-22 overall and finished last in the Big 12 in his second season in Austin. If he misses extended time, it would radically change the expectations for what Texas will be able to accomplish.

After New Hampshire on Tuesday, Texas has Lipscomb on Saturday before a Thanksgiving day matchup with Butler.

NCAA declares NC State’s Beverly eligible

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The NCAA finally acceded to NC State, Braxton Beverly and public sentiment.

College basketball’s governing body reversed itself and has declared the freshman eligible to play this season, starting with the Wolfpack’s game Tuesday night against Bryant.

“Based on additional information, NCAA staff reconsidered and granted NC State’s transfer waiver request for Braxton Beverly, allowing him to compete immediately,” the NCAA announced via social media.

Whatever that new information is, it helped the NCAA arrive at a decision that nearly every single observer of the sport has called for in Beverly’s situation. His circumstances were reached via a winding road, but an ultimately relatively easy one to rule on.

Beverly committed to coach Thad Matta and Ohio State last year, and enrolled at the school early. The Buckeyes eventually moved to fire Matta, but not until June when Beverly had been already attending classes. Eventually, he decided that without Matta, Columbus was not where he wanted to be and headed to N.C. State. The NCAA originally ruled that because he had attended classes he would be treated as any other Division I transfer and subject to sitting out a year – even though he was only briefly at Ohio State and only looked to leave after Matta’s unorthodox firing in the middle of the summer.

“When (Wolfpack coach Kevin Keatts) told me that my appeal had been denied earlier this week, I could tell how upset he was,” Beverly wrote on his personal blog. “I took it pretty hard. I was shocked. I think Coach was too. Some of my family might have taken it even harder, my uncle probably took it the hardest out of everybody.

“Through all of this, I am still happy with the decision to come to NC State. I think it was the best move for me to set me up to be the most successful man I can be.”

It may have taken the NCAA awhile to get to this decision – and that time cost Beverly two games to star N.C. State’s season – but ultimately, it’s hard to see how the final decision was anything but the correct one.

Tyler Herro commits to Kentucky

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Wisconsin’s loss was Kentucky’s gain.

Tyler Herro, a four-star guard who de-committed from his home-state Badgers last month, announced Tuesday that he has committed to John Calipari’s Wildcats.

“Just the relationship I had with (assistant) Kenny Payne and the relationship I’ve built with Cal over the past few weeks,” Herro told Scout of his decision. “Obviously what they do to get guys to the NBA.

“They just expressed that they have an opportunity for me. They think I can come in right away and play and play a big role in what they want to do.”

Herro is a 6-foot-5 guard and a consensus top-50 player in the 2018 class known for his ability to spread the floor. He quickly became one of the hottest commodities available when he opened up his recruitment last month, and Kentucky quickly rose to the top over the likes of Villanova and Oregon. Herro visited Lexington last week before making his decision.

“Big Blue Nation was crazy,” he said. “It was weird because all the fans knew me and I’m not even committed yet.”

Herro’s commitment gives Calipari three players currently in his 2018 class. Five-star recruits Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson both signed earlier this week. Herro’s addition will help Kentucky immediately in the shooting department, something has been somewhat of a weakness for Calipari’s team in recent years despite the overwhelmingly talented recruiting classes he’s consistently reeled in.

“I think I’ll be able to space the floor out, play the one or the two, get to the hoop, pulling up and shooting,” he said. “I think all three of us can do something special.”