LSU offered Duke star Zion Williamson scholarship to play football

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While Zion Williamson is setting the basketball world on fire with his explosive dunks and head-over-the-rim blocks, there are plenty of football minds out there wondering just what the 6-foot-7, 285 pound behemoth could do with a set of pads and a helmet on.

That very sentiment is what inspired a former LSU assistant football coach to offer Williamson a scholarship to LSU out of the blue a couple of years back.

“I thought, hell, why not, he’s probably the best damn tight end to ever live,” Eric Mateos, who was the tight ends coach at LSU in the fall of 2016, told ESPN this week.

“Honestly, I just thought it would be really fun and would be good exposure for LSU if we offered him for football. Unfortunately, he didn’t seem to be too [interested]. Coach O said go recruit the best athletes in the country, and that’s what I tried to do.”

There has been some debate on football twitter about what position Zion would play should he decide that his future is not in basketball. In a day and age where ex-basketball players are a pipeline straight to NFL tight end, it would make sense to play his there. What can, say, Gronk or Travis Kelce do that Zion can’t?

Then again, we see the difference a dominant pass-rusher can have on a defense. Why can’t Zion be Jadeveon Clowney, or J.J. Watt, or Khalil Mack?

If it was up to me, I’d say both. Let him play both sides of the ball. Let him be used to try and block field goals, too. Hell, he’s the greatest Hail Mary specialist in the history of the sport as well.

I guess the only surprising thing here is that LSU as the only football program to offer him a scholarship.

Michigan State’s Nick Ward leaves game with low ankle sprain

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Nick Ward sprained his right ankle during an injury scare in the first half of No. 11 Michigan State’s 80-59 victory over Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday night.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo said he doesn’t “think it’s anything serious.”

Ward went down midway through the first half and pounded the court with both fists. He got up on his own and hobbled off the court, trying to keep weight off his right leg. He did not return.

Izzo said it’s a low ankle sprain, which generally heals faster than a high ankle sprain.

Ward had four points, three rebounds and a block in five minutes.

The 6-foot-9 forward is averaging 17 points, ranking second on the team, with a team-high 7.5 rebound average.

He returned to school for his junior season after initially putting his name in the NBA draft.

Robert Morris guard Josh Williams ties NCAA record with 15 made three-pointers

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Robert Morris senior guard Josh Williams had a memorable home debut for the Colonials as he tied an NCAA Division I record by making 15 three-pointers in a 104-57 win over Mount Aloysius on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-2 Williams went 15-for-25 from three-point range on the night as he tied the previous NCAA record set by Marshall’s Keith Veney in 1996. Williams finished the night with 49 points, a Robert Morris program record, as his perimeter shooting was consistent throughout the night. Williams started the first half by shooting 7-for-12 from distance and he continued his blistering night by going 8-for-13 in the second half. Williams played 31 total minutes on Wednesday as he added three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Nobody could have possibly seen this coming from Williams, as he started the season in a 4-for-15 three-point slump during the first two Robert Morris games of the season. A transfer from Akron who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Williams made 69 three-pointers during the 2016-17 season at a 36 percent clip.

While it’s unlikely that Williams can duplicate this type of ridiculous night, he’s certainly made himself a marked man for the rest of the season. With all levels of basketball embracing perimeter shooting, it’ll be fascinating to see when anyone can match, or beat, 15 individual three-pointers made in a Division I game.

No. 10 Kentucky coasts past North Dakota 96-58

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — PJ Washington set career highs with 25 points and seven rebounds, Tyler Herro added 18 points and No. 10 Kentucky rolled over North Dakota 96-58 on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (2-1) finally got the dominant effort they sought after scraping by Southern Illinois last week. They had to survive an initial back-and-forth with the Fighting Hawks (2-1), who led 13-12 before Washington’s 3-pointer put Kentucky ahead to stay. The Wildcats outscored North Dakota 27-7 over 9:46 for a 39-20 cushion and led by 38 in the closing minutes.

Washington, who managed just 11 points through two games, scored his season high by halftime. He finished 9 of 13 from the field with four 3-pointers to surpass his previous of best 22 points against Mississippi State in January.

Herro shot 7 of 12 to top his 14-point debut against Duke, and Kentucky shot 53 percent in the opening game of the Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase.

Conner Avants had 14 points and Filip Rebraca 13 for North Dakota, which shot 40 percent in its first meeting against the Wildcats.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky’s long-overdue convincing performance should seal another week in the Top 10.

BIG PICTURE

North Dakota: Three-point shooting helped the Fighting Hawks make things interesting early against the Wildcats. That strong start lasted just six minutes as they were thoroughly overwhelmed in their first meeting against a Southeastern Conference school.

Kentucky: The Wildcats looked much better than in Friday’s shaky escape of Southern Illinois. Besides consistently shooting a season best from the field, they controlled the paint (46-18) and owned the glass 45-15. Washington certainly needed an offensive boost and delivered inside and outside the arc.

UP NEXT

North Dakota hosts Minnesota Morris on Saturday in the first of consecutive home games.

Kentucky hosts VMI on Sunday in the second game of the Hardwood Showcase that also features Winthrop and Tennessee State.

More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Michigan, Indiana dominate Big East; Zion Williamson at it again

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Wednesday night’s slate of college hoops didn’t have a ton of marquee matchups. But the Gavitt Games continued as there was an enticing national title game rematch between Villanova and Michigan while Indiana hosted Marquette.

1. No. 18 Michigan makes a statement road win over No. 8 Villanova

Michigan made a major statement win on the road as they dismantled Villanova on Wednesday night. The Wolverines jumped out to an early double-digit lead and never looked back.

We knew the Wolverines would likely be an impressive defensive bunch after last season’s national-title game run. But Michigan’s defense suffocated the Wildcat offense and made Villanova look completely helpless.

CBT’s Rob Dauster was in the building for this one, as he has more thoughts on Michigan’s huge win.

2. Indiana earns a blowout win at home over No. 24 Marquette

Playing without two veteran rotation players, Indiana still had an easy go of it against Marquette on Wednesday night in another Big Ten blowout victory.

Five players finished in double-figures for the Hoosiers as they were led by a solid all-around performance from five-star freshman Romeo Langford. I have more on both Langford’s performance — as well as Indiana and Marquette — with three takeaways from that game here.

3. A big night overall for the Big Ten

Besides for Indiana and Michigan’s double-digit wins over top-25 teams, rest of the Big Ten had an impressive night on Wednesday. Playing in another Gavitt Games contest, Nebraska blew out Seton Hall with an 80-57 win as senior guard James Palmer Jr. erupted for 29 points.

Michigan State also had an easy time against UL Monroe as they ran away with a double-digit win. So far in the Gavitt Games, the Big Ten is dominating the Big East, as they’re 4-1 over the past two nights. It’ll be interesting to see if the Big Ten’s dominance continues when the Gavitt Games resume on Thursday night.

4. The Zion Williamson Show continues as No. 1 Duke routs Eastern Michigan.

Another big night with more big highlights from freshman Zion Williamson helped the Blue Devils run past Eastern Michigan. Williamson finished with a team-high 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting for Duke as he continued his torrid start to the season.

Williamson is now shooting a ridiculous 82 percent from the field in three games this season as he’s 32-for-39 from the field.