MIAMI, FL - NOVEMBER 27: Avery Woodson #3 of the Memphis Tigers defends against Austin Grandstaff #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes on November 27, 2015 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. Memphis defeated Ohio State 81-76 in overtime. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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DePaul lands well-traveled shooting guard

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DePaul added a perimeter option to its future rotation Monday afternoon, as NBCSports.com confirmed that former Ohio State shooting guard Austin Grandstaff has decided to join the Big East program. DePaul represents the third Division I program that the Texan has been a part of, as he decided to transfer from Ohio State to Oklahoma back in December.

Grandstaff was due to sit out until the end of the fall 2016 semester after making that move, but he decided in the spring to leave Lon Kruger’s program. With the decision to transfer once again, Grandstaff will need to apply for a waiver that would get him on the court after the upcoming fall semester. If a waiver were to be denied, he’d have three seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2017-18 campaign.

The 6-foot-5 Grandstaff played in ten games at Ohio State, averaging 4.4 points in 11.5 minutes of action per contest. His high point total came in a home loss to Louisiana Tech, as he scored nine points in 12 minutes of playing time that night.

Grandstaff shot 39 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three, with 36 of his 41 field goal attempts being three-pointers. When he signed with Ohio State in May 2014, Grandstaff was ranked 44th in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com, with his shooting ability being one of the key reasons why.

DePaul will lose four perimeter players at the end of the 2016-17 season, led by Billy Garrett Jr., so the addition of Grandstaff will help the Blue Demons from a depth standpoint.

Jenkins and No. 3 Villanova romp over DePaul 83-62

Villanova's Kris Jenkins, left, goes up for a shot against DePaul's Myke Henry during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) No longer at the top of the national poll, Villanova is still No. 1 in the Big East.

Stitch another year on the championship banner, the Wildcats are again the class of the conference – a familiar regular-season coronation they can only hope doesn’t produce the same old early March exit.

Kris Jenkins scored 14 straight points and a career-high 31 overall, leading No. 3 Villanova to an 83-62 romp over DePaul on Tuesday night and the outright Big East championship.

The Wildcats (26-4, 15-2) are Big East champs for the third straight season and had already clinched the top seed for the conference tournament next week in New York. The Wildcats won the tournament in 2015.

“It’s something at the end of the year, we will take great pride in,” coach Jay Wright said. “We really do take pride in the regular season. We evaluate our program by what we do in the regular season. That’s how we make all our decisions.”

But the ultimate jury is in March, where the Wildcats haven’t advanced out of the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament since 2009. The Wildcats were eliminated three times over that span as a No. 1 or 2 NCAA seed.

“We know that we get judged publicly by how you do in the tournament,” Wright said.

Maybe Jenkins can help change the tourney ending. He scored 20 points by halftime and opened the second with consecutive 3s, topping his previous best of 23. The Wildcats shot 68 percent in the first half and proved they are still a force at any ranking.

The Wildcats slipped to No. 3 in the Top 25 after three weeks at No. 1. The Wildcats went 5-1 at No. 1 and lost last week at Xavier.

Jenkins, a 6-foot-6 junior forward, averaged 11.9 points in his first full season as a starter and stuffed a game’s worth of production in 3:31. With Villanova leading 11-10, Jenkins buried four straight 3-pointers. He forced a steal and went in for a layup that made it 25-10 and capped his outburst.

“My teammates do an unbelievable job of making the right play,” Jenkins said. “Recently, the right play has just been to catch and shoot.”

Jenkins came out for a breather and Ryan Arcidiacono promptly buried a 3 that stretched the lead to insurmountable for DePaul (9-20, 3-14).

Eli Cain led DePaul with 14 points.

“He’s become our most consistent player because his mindset has been tremendous and he’s just trying to do the right things to help our team be successful,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said of Cain.

The outcome was never in doubt, Villanova has won 12 straight against the perennial Big East cellar dwellers.

With all the hype on freshman guard Jalen Brunson, and senior stalwarts Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu carrying a bulk of the scoring load, Jenkins went a bit unnoticed until the past month.

He averaged 9.6 points through Jan. 10 before he scored 20 points against Marquette on Jan. 13. In 13 games since, he averaged 14.8 points and 4.4 rebounds. He shot 33 of 81 from 3-point range over that span.

Jenkins was 11 of 18 from the field and was the first Wildcat this season to top 30. He is a big reason why the Wildcats enter the Big East Tournament as the top seed for the third straight season. The Wildcats will play Thursday against the 8-9 winner from Wednesday night.

Win it all in New York and the Wildcats will surely enter the NCAA Tournament as a No. 1 seed.

But for a few days, there’s a Big East title to savor.

“I’ll love that accomplishment at the end of the season,” said Josh Hart, who scored 18 points. “Right now, it’s something cool. But we’re not focused on it.”

TIP-INS:

DePaul: The Blue Demons shot a solid 12 of 22 (55 percent) in the first half and made 6 of 9 3-point attempts. … DePaul made a 3 for the 705th straight game. … DePaul fell to 2-6 this season against ranked teams. … DePaul had 17 turnovers. “A lot of it was their gap defense and their hands being in good position, a lot of it was just our ineptitude of making point-to-point passes,” Leitao said.

Villanova: Villanova has 12 seasons of 25-plus victories in program history, six since 2006. … The Wildcats won their 39th straight game at the Pavilion and had their 169th consecutive sellout. … 76ers rookie center Jahlil Okafor was at the game. … Villanova held a moment of silence for Mike Daly, who played on the 1971 NCAA Final Four team, and died last week.

WHAT’S NEXT

DePaul hosts Seton Hall on Saturday.

Villanova hosts Georgetown on Saturday.

Bluiett helps No. 7 Xavier cruise past DePaul 86-65

Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett, bottom, controls the ball against DePaul forward Peter Ryckbosch during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016, in Rosemont, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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ROSEMONT, Ill. (AP) Trevon Bluiett scored 15 points and No. 7 Xavier used an impressive burst spanning the halves to put away DePaul for an 86-65 victory on Saturday.

The Musketeers trailed 32-25 before they ripped off 29 of the next 34 points to grab control. J.P. Macura made a 3-pointer and two free throws during a 17-1 run over the final 3:43 of the first half, and Bluiett had two layups and a jumper to help Xavier open a 54-37 lead with 16:13 remaining.

Macura and Larry Austin Jr. had 12 points apiece for the Musketeers (19-2, 7-2 Big East), who have won three in a row since their 81-72 home loss against Georgetown on Jan. 19.

DePaul (7-14, 1-8) lost for the eighth time in its last nine games.

The Blue Demons struggled to score after Xavier switched to a 1-3-1 zone late in the first half and never recovered.

Tommy Hamilton IV scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half, and Billy Garrett Jr. finished with 18 points. But DePaul committed 15 turnovers and its reserves finished with just 12 points, compared to 42 for Xavier’s backups.

The Blue Demons also were hurt by a pair of costly fouls on Joe Hanel late in the first half. The sophomore forward was called for over the back while going for a rebound, and then went chest to chest with Jalen Reynolds, drawing a technical.

The result was a pair of free throws for Myles Davis and Reynolds and a 40-32 lead for Xavier with 1:14 to go. Edmond Sumner tacked on a jumper for the Musketeers with 22 seconds left, and the Blue Demons trailed by nine at the break after leading by as many as nine in the early going.

Reynolds and Davis each scored 10 for Xavier, which led by as many as 26 on its way to its five win in the last six games in the series. The Musketeers also beat the Blue Demons 84-64 on Jan. 12.

TIP-INS

Xavier: Bluiett had two points on 1-for-4 shooting in the first half. … The Musketeers earned their fourth consecutive Big East road win. They also improved to 9-1 away from Cintas Center this season. … Xavier missed its first nine shots of the game and 11 of its first 12 overall.

DePaul: Women’s basketball coach Doug Bruno was recognized during the first half with a commemorative ball in honor of his 600th career win on Jan. 15 at Butler. … Hamilton fouled out with 5:35 left.

UP NEXT

Xavier hosts St. John’s on Wednesday night.

DePaul hosts No. 10 Providence on Tuesday night.

Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Bluiett scores 24, No. 7 Xavier beats DePaul 84-64

Xavier forward James Farr (2) drives to the basket against DePaul guard R.J. Curington, left, and center Tommy Hamilton IV (2)during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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CINCINNATI (AP) Trevon Bluiett spent a lot of time shooting 3-pointers the last few days, finding his touch. It was all the way back Tuesday night.

The sophomore forward scored a career-high 24 points – 19 in the first half – and No. 7 Xavier took advantage of open shots on the perimeter while pulling away to an 84-64 victory over DePaul.

Xavier (15-1, 3-1 Big East) led most of the way as Bluiett got going right away, making his first four shots from beyond the arc. He tied his career high with five 3-pointers on 11 attempts. The Musketeers made a season-high 12 3-pointers.

Bluiett had been in a shooting slump, going only 2 of 15 beyond the arc in his last three games.

“I’ve been spending time in the gym and waiting for that to come out,” Bluiett said. “You go through some tough droughts. You’ve got to stay persistent.”

Myles Davis had 14 points and seven assists for the Musketeers, who had four double-figure scorers. Freshman Kaiser Gates had nine of his career-high 11 points in the second half as Xavier pulled away, leading by as many as 26 points.

“That’s what kind of sets us apart,” Bluiett said. “We’ve got seven to nine guys who can go out there and easily get 20 points if they want to. What also sets us apart is that we play together.”

Myke Henry scored 16 points for DePaul (6-11, 0-5), which dropped its fifth straight game. The Blue Demons couldn’t handle all of Xavier’s options on offense.

“They’re so balanced in how they go about things,” DePaul coach Dave Leitao said. “They have a half-dozen guys who can make a major impact and put their fingerprints on the game.”

Xavier forward Jalen Reynolds didn’t start a 74-66 win at St. John’s on Wednesday because coach Chris Mack was unhappy with his conduct during practice. He was back in the lineup on Tuesday and had six points and seven rebounds.

Point guard Edmond Sumner was in uniform and warmed up before the game, the first time he had done that since he fell hard on the court and suffered a concussion at Villanova on Dec. 31. He has missed three games, with Xavier showing its depth and versatility in his absence.

Bluiett made his first four 3-point attempts, including one when he came off a pick and did a catch-and-shoot. Rashaun Stimage fouled him on another attempt, and Bluiett made all three free throws as Xavier pulled ahead 18-8. The Musketeers made six of their first 10 shots from beyond the arc.

After DePaul cut it the lead to two points, Davis hit two 3s – one while falling backward – during a 10-point spurt that made it 28-16, Xavier’s biggest lead of the first half. The Musketeers led 41-31 at the break.

Xavier got so many open shots on the perimeter because the Blue Demons packed in their defense to take away the Musketeers’ front-line scoring. Reynolds and James Farr were a combined 1 for 7 in the first half.

J.P. Macura scored 11 points, including two three-point plays, as Xavier built the lead to 18 points early in the second half.

HONORING SMITH

The Musketeers had a moment of silence before the game for former Butler player Andrew Smith, who died of cancer on Tuesday at age 25.

“He’s been on our team’s mind,” Mack said. “We’ve got guys who played against him and coaches who have coached against him and have the utmost respect. It’s a terrible reminder of how fragile things are. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Butler community, especially the Smith family.”

TIP-INS

DePaul: The Blue Demons haven’t beaten a Top 10 team since a 64-57 win over No. 5 Kansas on Dec. 2, 2006.

Xavier: Davis made his first free throw and missed his second, ending his streak of consecutive free throws made at 24.

UP NEXT

DePaul: Hosts Creighton on Sunday.

Xavier: Plays at Marquette on Saturday.

Follow Joe Kay on Twitter: http://twitter.com/apjoekay

POSTERIZED: Butler’s Kelan Martin dunks on DePaul’s Darrick Wood

Butler forward Kelan Martin (30) drives the ball into Southern Utah guard John Marshall (5) and is called for the charging foul during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
(AP Photo/Doug McSchooler)
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Butler’s Kelan Martin threw down one of the better dunks of the 2015-16 season as DePaul’s Darrick Wood stepped up to take a charge and got run over.

Wood clearly didn’t look for the restricted area when he stepped up and he got called for the foul on the play as well.

(H/T: Brady Collier)

BIG EAST CONFERENCE RESET: Can anyone dethrone Villanova?

Providence’s Kris Dunn reacts in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Massachusetts, Monday, Dec. 21, 2015, in Amherst, Mass. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
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College basketball’s non-conference season is coming to a close, and to help you shake off post-holiday haze and the hangover of losing in your fantasy football playoffs, we’ll be providing you with some midseason primers to get you caught up on all the nation’s most important conferences.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Big East.

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kris Dunn, Providence

This decision was made somewhat difficult by the combination of Dunn missing some games due to illness and other players excelling in non-conference play. But it’s hard to overlook his influence on a team that enters Big East play ranked 12th in the AP poll after being projected as a bubble team in the preseason. Dunn’s averaging 16.5 points, 6.1 rebounds, 7.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game for the Friars, and his turnovers (2.9) are down more than one per game from last season’s average (4.2).

ALL-BIG EAST FIRST TEAM

  • Kris Dunn, Providence
  • Trevon Bluiett, Xavier
  • Josh Hart, Villanova
  • Ben Bentil, Providence
  • Henry Ellenson, Marquette

[2015 REVIEW: Best Dunks | Best Games]

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

  1. The Big East is one of the nation’s best leagues: The preseason conversations regarding the best conference in college basketball centered on the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten, but through non-conference play the Big East has stepped forward into that discussion. Xavier’s been one of the most impressive teams in the country to this point, two-time defending champion Villanova’s lone defeats came against two Top 10 teams in Oklahoma and Virginia, and Butler is 10-1. Joining those contenders has been 12-1 Providence, and both Marquette and Seton Hall are off to good starts as well.
  2. Xavier’s depth and talent make it Villanova’s biggest threat: The biggest question for the Musketeers entering the season was how they’d fill the hole left by the graduation of Dee Davis at the point. Would Edmond Sumner be ready to take the reins after redshirting last season? To this point Sumner has indeed been the answer Chris Mack needed at the point, giving the Musketeers an athletic finisher who continues to improve as a floor general. And he’s surrounded with a host of experienced options, including Trevon Bluiett, Myles Davis and Jalen Reynolds, who can put points on the board. That makes Xavier the team best equipped to challenge reigning Big East champ Villanova.
  3. To look at Providence as “Kris Dunn and some other dudes” would be a big mistake: While Dunn was a preseason favorite for National Player of the Year honors, many didn’t know what to make of the rest of Ed Cooley’s team. Heading into their conference opener against Butler the Friars are ranked in the top ten, and this has been no one-man operation. Sophomore Ben Bentil has been one of the nation’s most improved players, Rodney Bullock’s given them another quality front court option, and role players such as Junior Lomomba have been productive as well. Will the Friars be a top ten team throughout league play? That remains to be seen, but this has been an impressive group worthy of Big East contender status.

[CONFERENCE RESETS: ACC | Big Ten | American]

KEY STORY LINES IN LEAGUE PLAY

  1. Villanova’s perimeter shooting: For a team loaded with quality guards, the Wildcats’ shooting in non-conference play was a surprise. Jay Wright’s team is shooting just 31.1 percent from three on the season, with nearly 52 percent of their field goal attempts being three-pointers. Josh Hart (39 percent) and Ryan Arcidiacono (37 percent) have been the best of the bunch, and they’ll need players such as Jalen Brunson, Phil Booth and Kris Jenkins to raise their perimeter accuracy moving forward.
  2. Does Georgetown have what it takes to rebound: With two of their first three losses coming against very good Maryland and Duke teams, not too many worried about the Hoyas’ 1-3 start after a five-game win streak made John Thompson III’s team appear to be okay. But after dropping games to Monmouth and UNC Asheville and escaping with a win at Charlotte, there are some significant issues to be addressed. Paul White’s struggled with health, and D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera hasn’t been the player many envisioned him being when he changed course and decided to return for his senior year. Can they turn things around and be the contender many expected them to be?
  3. Marquette, Seton Hall looking to make NCAA tournament push: Both the Golden Eagles and Pirates put together quality records in non-conference play, which sets them up for run at NCAA tournament bids as conference play begins. And the strength of the Big East can help both in the quality wins department, with Seton Hall’s best win coming against Wichita State and Marquette’s being at the expense of Arizona State. Marquette’s Henry Ellenson has been one of the nation’s best freshmen, but their tournament hopes may hinge on the development of their perimeter rotation. As for the Pirates, this sophomore-laden group will lean on Isaiah Whitehead and Desi Rodriguez as they look for their first tournament bid since 2006.
Xavier's Edmond Sumner (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Xavier’s Edmond Sumner (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

[NEW PODCAST | NEW TOP 25]

BETTER THAN THEIR RECORD: On Monday’s podcast, my colleague Rob Dauster said that he believed that Villanova was the fourth-best team in the conference, that their issues shooting the ball combined with their question marks in the front court left them susceptible to being picked off. Jay Wright’s club has their issues, but they also have a total of four losses in Big East play the last two years.

BEAT SOMEONE AND WE’LL TALK: On paper, Marquette looks like the real deal. They have a slew of highly-regarded guards surrounding a pair of NBA-caliber big men in Henry Ellenson and Luke Fischer. And as good as they’ve looked in bursts this season, their best wins are over a depleted LSU, Arizona State and a Wisconsin team that has already lost five games. They were also embarrassed on their home floor by Iowa and lost to Belmont in Milwaukee. I want to believe in Marquette, but they need to beat one of the top four teams in the league for me to get there fully.

COACH UNDER PRESSURE: Georgetown has been by far the most disappointing team in the Big East and one of the most disappointing teams in the country. They have top 20 talent on the roster, but they’ve lost at home to Radford, UNC Asheville and Monmouth, the latter of which was a blowout. Given who his father is, it’s going to be very hard for the program to jettison John Thompson III, but if he can’t turn this thing around, he’s going to be a name that pops up on hot seat lists.

POWER RANKINGS, POSTSEASON PREDICTIONS

Tourney teams

  • 1. Xavier: Chris Mack’s team, which reached the Sweet 16 a season ago, has everything a team needs to not only reach that point but go further. And if Edmond Sumner continues to develop at the point, Houston is possible.
  • 2. Villanova: The Wildcats do have to shoot better from the perimeter than they have, and with players such as Arcidiacono, Brunson and Hart they’re capable of turning things around on that front. But do they have enough in the post to play deep into March?
  • 3. Butler: The Bulldogs don’t defend as well as they did in years past, but they’re better offensively thanks to the presence of two playmakers in Tyler Lewis and Roosevelt Jones.
  • 4. Providence: Dunn and Bentil have been excellent, but Ed Cooley’s had many other contributors step forward as well. And their play with Dunn out of the lineup can only help the confidence of those supplementary players moving forward.
  • 5. Marquette: The Golden Eagles’ best wins have come over teams likely to land on the bubble (Arizona State, LSU, Wisconsin). They’ve got an extremely talented front court tandem in Ellenson and Fischer, but the key moving forward: the guards keeping the turnovers (19.6 percent turnover rate) to a minimum.

NIT teams

  • 6. Seton Hall: The progress made by Desi Rodriguez has been huge for the Pirates, who have wins over Ole Miss and Wichita State on their résumé. Kevin Willard’s team will go as far as their sophomore class, led by Rodriguez, Isaiah Whitehead and Angel Delgado, can lead them.
  • 7. Georgetown: The Hoyas have NCAA tournament talent, but they haven’t played to that level on a consistent basis thus far. The biggest issues have been on the offensive end, but they need to be better on the glass as well (7th in defensive rebounding percentage).
  • 8. Creighton: With Maurice Watson Jr. on the leading a balanced offensive attack, the Bluejays could surprise some people in league play. But in order to do so, they’ll need to improve defensively (last in field goal percentage defense, ninth in three-point percentage defense).

Autobid or bust

  • 9. DePaul: The Blue Demons did manage to knock off a ranked George Washington squad, but they’re unlikely to make a major move up the Big East pecking order.
  • 10. St. John’s: This is a rebuilding year for the Red Storm, who still hope to add Marcus LoVett Jr. at some point in the near future. That being said, they compete and are capable of pulling off some upsets in league play.