KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) It took Carlton Bragg Jr. about 20 minutes to knock the rust off.
Took about the same amount of time for Kansas.
Playing for the first time in a week, the third-ranked Jayhawks were sluggish in falling behind pesky Davidson on Saturday night. But they dominated in the paint in the second half, began getting into transition and ran away from the Wildcats for an 89-71 victory at Sprint Center.
Josh Jackson and Frank Mason III led the way with 18 points apiece, but Bragg added seven points and eight rebounds in 18 minutes in his return from a brief suspension.
“He didn’t really play well in the first half,” Mason said, “but we told him in the locker room, `Stay aggressive, stay confident,’ and that’s what he did. I was happy to have him back out here.”
Bragg had been suspended following his arrest on suspicion of battery, but the misdemeanor charge was dismissed this week after video evidence surfaced that showed him acting in self-defense. The woman who had accused the sophomore forward of shoving her has been charged instead.
“I thought Carlton played well,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.
Svi Mykhailiuk also had 13 points for the Jayhawks (10-1), who extended their nation-leading home winning streak to 49 games. Kansas considered the matchup with the Wildcats (5-4) a home game even though it was played just down the road from its campus in Lawrence.
It was the Jayhawks’ eighth straight win in the building, including the Big 12 Tournament last season and the CBE Classic a few weeks ago. It’s also the same building where they will not only contest the league tournament in March but hope to land in the NCAA Tournament with a spot in the Final Four on the line.
Peyton Aldridge hit five 3s and had 22 points to lead the Wildcats, while Jack Gibbs – the nation’s fourth-leading scorer coming into the game – had 12 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
“We had a great opportunity in front of us and for about 25 minutes I thought we handled it very well,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said, “and then I think the statistics bear out they just annihilated us in the paint, and they annihilated us in transition.”
Davidson spoiled the holidays for the Jayhawks nearly five years ago to the day when it rolled into the same building and upset a team that would reach the Final Four. And just like that night, the Wildcats relied on superior toughness and a bevy of 3-pointers to cause all kinds of problems Saturday night.
Davidson hit seven 3s in the first half alone, taking a 43-42 lead into the locker room. The only other time the Jayhawks have trailed at the break this season came in a win over Duke.
Kansas was 0 for 8 from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Wildcats extended their lead to five early in the second half before Jackson finally hit from the perimeter. Mason added another 3-pointer, and the Jayhawks clawed their way back in the game.
It was 58-all with just over 11 minutes left when Landen Lucas converted an alley-oop dunk, triggering a 10-2 run that allowed Kansas to seize control. Mykhailiuk hit a 3-pointer during the run, and Bragg Jr. hit a bunch of free throws to cap it.
Kansas later pushed the decisive charge to 20-4 as it wrapped up its 10th straight win.
“They’re a team that really moves a lot on offense, set a lot of screens. It was kind of hard to keep up with our man out there,” Jackson said, “but I think we made a couple – What am I trying to stay? – we made a couple of adjustments on defense that really helped us out.”
STATS AND STREAKS
Kansas had a 48-22 advantage in the paint, including a 23-9 edge on second-chance points. … The Jayhawks scored 16 points off turnovers. Davidson managed two. … The Wildcats wrapped up a stretch of seven of eight games away from home. … Aldridge needs four more points for 1,000 for his career./
Davidson finally gets a break in the schedule. The Wildcats lost to fifth-ranked North Carolina their last time out, the first time they’ve played back-to-back games against Top 5 opponents since 2008.
Kansas showed that it could overcome a lethargic outing to win a game. The Jayhawks have barely been challenged since their win over Duke on Nov. 15 in New York.
Davidson plays Jacksonville on Wednesday night in its first home game since Nov. 26.
Kansas visits UNLV on Thursday night in its last game before Big 12 play.
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Justin Jackson buried shot after shot from behind the arc in the best performance of his career for No. 7 North Carolina. Coach Roy Williams didn’t have much to feel good about otherwise.
Jackson matched his career high with 27 points and hit a career-best seven 3-pointers to help the Tar Heels beat Davidson 83-74 on Wednesday night, though they struggled both to slow down high-scoring Wildcats guard Jack Gibbs and find much of a rhythm with top point guard Joel Berry II sidelined by a sprained left ankle.
“Well it’s been a lot of fun watching this basketball team at certain times this year,” Williams said. “It was not fun tonight.”
The Tar Heels (9-1) didn’t get in any kind of groove offensively, with the 6-foot-8 Jackson largely carrying the offense on a night when they got little production from the front line. He had shot 30 percent from 3-point range through his first two seasons and was up to 35 percent coming in before matching his previous high of four 3s by halftime.
“Confidence and stepping into it — I think that’s all it was,” Jackson said. “I knew I had to step up more but then whenever I got my shots, I just stepped into it like it was another shot.”
But UNC shot just 38 percent, while only Isaiah Hicks (13 points) and reserve Luke Maye (career-high 10 points, all before halftime) reached double figures.
Gibbs — ranked seventh nationally by averaging 23.3 points — finished with 30 points for the Wildcats (5-3), who trailed by 16 midway through the second half before making a late push to get within three in the final 2 minutes.
But Kennedy Meeks answered with two free throws, then Hicks followed with two more after getting a big rebound in traffic with 52 seconds left to help UNC hang on.
“They made some good plays, they got some key rebounds,” Gibbs said of the final minutes. “They’ve got athletes and sometimes it’s tough to get those rebounds. Down the stretch, they made the plays and we didn’t.”
Davidson: Gibbs is the kind of scorer that can scare any opponent when he gets hot, while Peyton Aldridge (22 points) provides his own matchup troubles. And with a veteran coach like Bob McKillop, this is the kind of team that scares big-name teams come tournament time.
“I loved the way they fought,” McKillop said.
UNC: The Tar Heels got a glimpse of life without arguably their top player in Berry. Nate Britt got the start and had six assists but missed all eight of his shots, while Seventh Woods and Stilman White (career-high six points) saw plenty of minutes at the point. But the Tar Heels missed Berry’s finish-through-contact toughness, leadership and scoring ability.
Gibbs and Aldridge combined to make 17 of 35 shots, with Gibbs hitting five 3-pointers.
“As teammates, we ‘ve got to do a better job of helping off and helping out on players like Gibbs,” Meeks said. “Like (Williams) probably said in the press conference, either we’re going to be a mediocre team or we’re going to be a good team. We’ve got to decide before it’s too late.”
The game was 5 seconds old when there was a brief stoppage due to falling confetti-like material fluttering to the court from the rafters of the Smith Center. Arena staffers swept it up and the game resumed within a minute or two.Team spokesman Matt Bowers said at halftime it was believed to be pieces of a padding used to absorb leaks near the ceiling.
Davidson: The Wildcats get a 10-day break before playing their fifth power-conference opponent this year, facing No. 3 Kansas on Dec. 17 in Kansas City, Missouri.
UNC: The Tar Heels begin a two-game set with Southeastern Conference opponents, first by hosting Tennessee on Sunday before facing No. 6 Kentucky on Dec. 17 in Las Vegas.
Atlantic 10 Preview: Can Rhode Island unseat Davidson?
Beginning in October and running up through November 13th, the first day of the regular season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2015-2016 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.
Today, we are previewing the Atlantic 10 Conference.
Last year, many people were reminded never to bet against Bob McKillop. The Davidson coach, in a new league for the first time in 23 years, took little time navigating his way to the top of the conference standings, leading the Wildcats to the Atlantic 10 regular season title.
Davidson graduated Tyler Kalinoski, the A-10 Player of the Year, but there’s reason to believe the Wildcats can repeat in the A-10 this season. The back court is anchored by Jack Gibbs and Brian Sullivan, both of whom averaged double figures and finished top-3 in the league in assists. Jordan Barham, as 6-foot-4 senior who led Davidson is rebounding, adds another upperclassmen on the perimeter. The front court will build off of last year’s experience with six forward logging 10 or more minutes, including Payton Aldridge and Jake Belford, who was missed all but six games last season.
The Wildcats may be a favorite to repeat, but no team in the A-10 has as much upside as Rhode Island. The Rams are coming off a 23-win season, bringing back all-conference selections E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin, along sophomores Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garrett. The roster was bolstered by the additions of graduate transfer Four McGlynn, who will help with the Rams’ deficiency behind the 3-point line, and Kuran Iverson, the ex-Memphis forward and former top 30 recruit, who will create matchup problems for opposing defenses.
The Dayton Flyers have become a team no one wants to be paired with on Selection Sunday. Archie Miller’s team has won five games in the last two tournament appearances and is primed for another postseason appearance with Kendall Pollard, Scoochie Smith and Kyle Davis returning. James Madison transfer Charles Cooke and redshirt big man Steve McElvene could both make an immediate impact. At the moment, Dyshawn Pierre is not with the team. It’s a blow to the roster, but remember, Miller was able to guide the Flyers to a 20-7 finish after dismissing two players last winter.
The major offeseason storyline in the Atlantic 10 occurred in April when Shaka Smart left for Texas. Chattanooga head coach and former VCU assistant Will Wade takes over a program dealing with the graduation of two of the program’s all-time greats, Treveon Graham and Briante Weber, and departures of some of Smart’s top recruits (Terry Larrier and 2015 commits Tevin Mack and Kenny Williams). However, Melvin Johnson, Mo Alie-Cox and JeQuan Lewis is a solid core to have in Wade’s first season.
George Washington and Richmond headline a list of teams that could fight to round out the top fiver. The Colonials have one of the best starting fives in the league, but depth could be a concern. The Spiders return Terry Allen and T.J. Cline, but lose Kendall Anthony. ShawnDre’ Jones will step into that role after earning A-10 Sixth Man of the Year honors.
FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW:
1. Shaka Smart gone, Havoc remains: Texas was able to uproot Shaka Smart from VCU this spring. VCU was quick to hire Smart’s former assistant, Will Wade, who had built Chattanooga into a Southern Conference contender in just two seasons. In Wade’s introductory press conference, he made it clear, “Havoc still lives here.” Wade served on Smart’s staff for four years, which included the 2011 Final Four run.
2. Dyshawn Pierre suspended: The 6-foot-6 senior forward was suspended for the entire fall semester back in September. He was the team’s top returning scorer and rebounder at 12.7 points and 8.1 boards per game. The Flyers could be without the versatile forward for marquee non-conference games against Vanderbilt and at the AdvoCare Invitation in Orlando, which includes potential matchups against Notre Dame and Wichita State/Xavier. He is currently fighting this suspension.
3. Rhody rising: The fourth year of Dan Hurley’s tenure in Kingstown is expected to end with the Rams first NCAA tournament appearance since 1999. Rhode Island finished third in the A-10 standings last year, but settled for an NIT bid. Rhode Island has the most talent in the league, bringing back E.C. Matthews, Hassan Martin, Jared Terrell and Jarvis Garett, while adding transfers Kuran Iverson and Four McGlynn, both of whom immediately eligible. Is that enough to dethrone Davidson and stave off Dayton and VCU?
4. Coming off a ‘down year?’: Following back-to-back seasons in which the league earned five and six NCAA tournament bids, the A-10 sent just three (Davidson, Dayton and VCU) to the Big Dance in March. Entering this season, you’d expect all Davidson, Dayton, Rhode Island and VCU to be in the conversation.
5. A big slate on NBCSN: Twenty-four Atlantic 10 Conference games, in addition to two rounds of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, will be aired on the NBC Sports Network.
Favorite: “I think someone has to prove that they’re better than Davidson. I know they lost a good player, but their style of play is never predicated on a star system or on a single player. I’d have to go with Davidson until someone proves otherwise.”
Sleeper: “I’d say George Washington or Richmond. Those are two teams I’d really keep my eye on.”
“DeAndre Bembry. When people use the phrase, ‘he does everything,’ it’s usually exaggerated. It’s not exaggerated in his case. He’s outstanding at just about every area of basketball. He can rebound, he can defend, he can pass, he obviously can score, he can make threes, he can finish. … I really think he’s a great NBA prospect.”
“Bembry. He can shoot the three, he post up, he can get offensive rebound. I think he can do it all. I think he’s the complete package. He’s too big for most small forwards to guard him and he’s too versatile and skilled for power forwards.”
Most underrated player:
“I think Kendall Pollard should have been all-league. I don’t know how underrated he is, but I think a guy who doesn’t get as much attention is Hassan Martin at Rhode Island. I think he’s terrific.”
“Probably, [Patricio] Garino. Are people talking about him? I think he’s gotten better every year. He had a great summer against a high-level of competition.”
PRESEASON ATLANTIC 10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: DeAndre Bembry, Saint Joseph’s
Giving a guy on a sub-.500 team player of the years honors is a tough sell. Perhaps that’s why Bembry wasn’t named Atlantic 10 Player of the Year as a sophomore. No player in the Atlantic 10 has more of an impact on his team than 6-foot-6 forward. Bembry logged a ridiculous 38.6 minutes per game (tops in Division I) and won the A-10 scoring title at 17.7 points per game. He finished in the top-10 in points, rebounds, assists and steals.
THE REST OF THE ATLANTIC 10 FIRST TEAM:
Jack Gibbs, Davidson: The junior point guard went for 20 or more six times (missed seven games to injury). He also led the A-10 in assists at 4.8 per game
Hassan Martin, Rhode Island: The 6-foot-7 forward was a second-team A-10 selection, corralling 7.7 boards and blocking 3.1 shots per game, sixth-best in the NCAA.
E.C. Matthews, Rhode Island: URI’s top returning scorer averaged 16.9 points per game and like Martin second team A-10 selection
Jordan Price, La Salle: The redshirt junior was second in the Atlantic 10 in scoring at 17.2 points per game.
FIVE MORE NAMES TO KNOW:
Patrico Garino, George Washington
Melvin Johnson, VCU
Kuran Iverson, Rhode Island
Kendall Pollard, Dayton
ShawnDre’ Jones, Richmond
BREAKOUT STAR: Donte Clark, UMass
The 6-foot-4 freshman was inserted into the starting lineup in early January. He had his ups-and-downs scoring, but ending the season averaging 14.4 points per game in the last five games. Clark could be a big part of UMass’ future, one that has one of conference’s top recruiting classes coming in.
COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Jim Ferry, Duquesne
Ferry received a contract extension at the end of June despite failing to finish better than 10th in the A-10 standings in three seasons at the helm. While he doesn’t appear to be on the hot seat, that act of good faith comes with the expectations that the Dukes will improve this upcoming season.
ON SELECTION SUNDAY WE’LL BE SAYING … : The same old same old, arguing about the A-10 getting too many bids, or not enough bids
I’M MOST EXCITED ABOUT : Is there another surprising team?
Last season, newcomer Davidson was slotted 12th in the preseason before winning the regular season title. In 2013, George Washington, picked 10th in the preseason, reached the program’s first tournament in seven years. From the coaches’ quotes above, George Washington and Richmond will be in the conversation. But what about that next tier of teams? St. Joe’s and La Salle both benefit by having two of the top scorers in the league, while St. Bonaventure and Duquesne each have experienced lineups. Will any of those teams defy preseason projections?
FIVE NON-CONFERENCE GAMES TO CIRCLE ON YOUR CALENDAR:
Nov. 16, Virginia at George Washington
Nov. 20, VCU vs. Duke (in New York)
Nov. 26, Dayton vs. Iowa (in Orlando)*
Dec. 5, Providence at Rhode Island
Dec. 6, Davidson at North Carolina
*Dayton could renew a rivalry with Xavier at the AdvoCare Invitational
1. Davidson: Yes, Tyler Kalinoski is gone, but Bob McKillop returns three guards who averaged double figures, including Jack Gibbs. Wildcats also have a experienced frontline.
2. Rhode Island: The Rams is the most talented team in the A-10 led by E.C. Matthews and Hassan Martin. But that February slate is brutal. URI is at VCU, at Davidson and at Dayton in three of their last six regular season games.
3. Dayton: The Flyers were expected to return four starters, but as of right now, the status of Dyshawn Pierre remains uncertain. Dayton still has the chemistry and depth to make a run at the A-10 title.
4. VCU: Depending on how graduate transfer Korey Billbury fits in to the offense alongside JeQuan Lewis, Melvin Johnson and Mo Alie-Cox, this could be a really good first year for Will Wade.
5. George Washington: A veteran lineup of brings back Joe McDonald, Patricio Garino and Kevin Larsen and adds 6-foot-10 transfer Tyler Cavanaugh. But do the Colonials have the depth to support a talented starting lineup?
6. Richmond: The loss of Kendall Anthony is tough, but the trio of ShawnDre’ Jones, Terry Allen and T.J. Cline make the Spiders a real sleeper in the A-10 this season.
7. St. Bonaventure: The Bonnies could be another surprise team, returning Marcus Posley, Dion Wright and Jaylen Adams.
8. La Salle: The Explorers took an early foreign tour to Prague in May, hoping to jumpstart a 2015-16 campaign in which players are stepping into larger roles alongside the returning Jordan Price.
9. Duquesne: Derrick Colter and Micah Mason, two of the better 3-point shooters in the A-10, will have no issues putting up points, but the Dukes will need to focus on limiting points on the other end. Duquesne gave up the most points per game in the A-10 last season.
10. Saint Joseph’s: The Hawks have arguably the best player in the conference, but DeAndre Bembry will need some help.
11. Saint Louis: Four starters back could lead the Billikens to a higher finish. In order to do so, Saint Louis will need to make major improvements to its offense, which ranked the worst in the conference.
12. UMass: A streak of three straight 20-win seasons was snapped in 2014-15. Despite a stable back court, Minutemen are likely enter a rebuilding season after losing Cady Lalanne, Maxie Esho and Derrick Gordon.
13. George Mason: A rebuilding effort begins under Dave Paulsen, who is taking over a program that will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Final Four run this spring. The Patriots return three starters, including 6-foot-11 center Shevon Thompson, who averaged a double-double last season.
14. Fordham: Jeff Neubauer inherits a 10-win team that saw Eric Paschall, the 2015 Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year, transfer to Villanova.
Davidson picked up a key big man transfer late this week as former Boston College big man Will Magarity committed to the Wildcats. The 6-foot-11 Magarity is a native of Sweden. He’ll have to sit out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules before he has two more years of eligibility remaining.
“We’re very, very happy to have Will Magarity join our program,” Davidson coach Bob McKillop said to the Charlotte Observer. “He is a perfect fit for our style of play. He will be a superb addition to Davidson as both a student and an athlete.”
Magarity appeared in 22 games as a sophomore for the Golden Eagles and averaged 15.7 minutes per contest. Shooting 39 percent from the field and stretching the floor a little bit at 31 percent from the field, Magarity averaged 3.9 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
With a year to sit out and by moving down a level, this could be a good move for Magarity, since his skill level as a big man will be coveted by a coach like McKillop.
WATCH LIVE: Atlantic 10 tournament: La Salle vs. No. 24 Davidson and VCU vs. Richmond
It’s day three at the Atlantic 10 tournament in Brooklyn, and the top four seeds will finally take the court. No. 24 Davidson, playing as a ranked team for the first time this season, is the top seed and they’ll take on La Salle in the first quarterfinal of the day. Bob McKillop’s team has far exceeded the preseason expectations, winning the outright regular season title and Tyler Kalinoski earning Atlantic 10 Player of the Year honors.
The Explorers will counter with shooting guard Jordan Price, and the action begins at Noon on NBCSN. And if you can’t get to a television, the game can be watched on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Following that game, rivals VCU and Richmond meet for the third time this season with the Spiders having won both regular season meetings. Chris Mooney’s team has kept the live-ball turnovers to a minimum against the Rams, who have struggled with consistency since losing point guard Briante Weber to a knee injury.
VCU needs Treveon Graham and Melvin Johnson to be consistent scoring options if they’re to make a run in Brooklyn, as they survived a challenge from Fordham on Thursday. Also key for VCU: keep Richmond’s Kendall Anthony in check. The senior guard was a first team All-Atlantic 10 selection, and Chris Mooney’s team has played its best basketball of the season in their current six-game win streak.
GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 6 Wisconsin at Minnesota, 7:00 p.m. (ESPN)
The Badgers, who wrapped up a share of the Big Ten title on Sunday, can clinch it outright with a win over the Golden Gophers. National Player of the Year candidate Frank Kaminsky leads the way for one of the nation’s most efficient offenses, but this could be a tricky game for Wisconsin. Minnesota’s been inconsistent this season, but Richard Pitino’s team managed to snap a three-game losing streak by knocking off Michigan State in double overtime last week. In their first meeting, a 63-53 Wisconsin win February 21, the Badgers shot just 6-for-17 from three. Minnesota will need to force a similar shooting performance if they’re to pull off the upset.
THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: VCU at Davidson, 9:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Davidson’s still in the running for the Atlantic 10 title, and a win over the Rams would move Bob McKillop’s team into a tie for first with Dayton heading into the weekend. The Wildcats have won seven straight games thanks in large part to a highly efficient offense led by Tyler Kalinoski and Jack Gibbs. How they handle VCU’s pressure will have a major impact on the outcome, and the same can be said of VCU senior Treveon Graham. He’s struggled offensively in recent games, and Shaka Smart needs his leading scorer to get going ahead of the Atlantic 10 and NCAA tournaments.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR
1. No. 5 Arizona is the lone ranked team playing at home tonight, and with a win over California (9:00 p.m., ESPN) the Wildcats will wrap up their second consecutive outright Pac-12 title. Can Kaleb Tarczewski continue his recent run of solid play in the pivot? He’ll need to be a factor if the Wildcats are to make a run at their first Final Four appearance since 2001.
2. No. 13 Utah is one win away from locking up the two-seed in next week’s Pac-12 tournament, and Thursday night they visit Washington State (11:00 p.m., ESPNU) on the Palouse. In their first meeting a 22-point Utah win January 21, guards Delon Wright and Brandon Taylor combined for 35 points and 15 assists.
3. Two of the top teams in the Sun Belt meet in Monroe, as ULM host Georgia State (8:00 p.m.). Both teams are 13-5 in conference play, Georgia State won the first meeting by 20, but that game was played December 30. Keith Richard’s Warhawks are looking to get back on the right track, as they’ve lost two of their last three games.
4. No. 18 Arkansas looks to rebound from its loss at No. 1 Kentucky, and they’ll be doing so on the road against South Carolina (7:00 p.m., ESPN2). The Razorbacks won the first meeting by 20 points in Fayetteville, with Bobby Portis accounting for 18 points and 13 rebounds.
5. UConn and Memphis meet at Gampel Pavilion (9:00 p.m., ESPN2), with both teams looking to build some positive momentum ahead of the American Athletic Conference tournament. Memphis will be shorthanded, as the injured Austin Nichols did not make the trip to Storrs.
Temple at East Carolina, 7:00 p.m. (ESPNU)
Stanford at Arizona State, 11:00 p.m. (FS1)
Atlantic Sun semifinals: Lipscomb at North Florida; USC Upstate at FGCU
Metro Atlantic first round: Niagara vs. Siena; Fairfield vs. Saint Peter’s; Marist vs. Quinnipiac
Missouri Valley first round: Southern Illinois vs. Missouri State; Bradley vs. Drake
Ohio Valley quarterfinals: Morehead State vs. UT Martin; Eastern Illinois vs. Belmont
Patriot League quarterfinals: Boston University at Lafayette; American at Lehigh; Holy Cross at Bucknell; Navy at Colgate