Reggie Johnson returns in No. 25 Miami’s 27-point trouncing of No. 1 Duke

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Miami center Reggie Johnson entered Wednesday’s game against No. 1 Duke at the 14:17 mark of the first half to a crowd chanting his name.

His unexpected return to the Hurricanes’ lineup after missing eight games with a broken thumb might not bring instant production from the 6-10, 292-pound senior, but if Wednesday’s energy and effort were any indication, his return has this team reinvigorated and ready for a run at an ACC title.

Energy and hot shooting from No. 25 Miami sunk Duke out of the gate, with the Hurricanes ripping off a 25-1 first-half run on their way to a dominating 90-63 win over the Blue Devils at BankUnited Center in Coral Gables, Fla.

The backcourt combination of Durand Scott and Shane Larkin was too much for Duke in the first half. Scott scored 15 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting from the floor and Larkin added nine, extending the Duke defense away from the basket with strong shooting from three-point range.

Scott finished with 25 points and Larkin had 18.

Senior Kenny Kadji did his part to pick apart Duke’s defense as well, scoring 22 points on the night, including 2-of-3 from three-point range and a layup, plus the foul that extended Miami’s lead to 23 points with 2:54 to play in the first.

Duke worked to get open shots in the first half, but could not convert. The Blue Devils shot just 8-of-36 (22 percent) from the field in the first half, helping to spur Miami’s transition game and allowing Scott and Larkin to lead the break.

The Blue Devils were once again without Ryan Kelly, who continues to be sidelines with a lingering foot injury. A stalling offense could likely have been helped along by his

Miami came out with the same intensity in the second half and never relented. Duke cycled in players from its bench looking for an energy boost, including Alex Murphy and Marshall Plumlee.

Murphy was one of the few bright spots for Duke Wednesday night, finishing with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting from the floor. Quinn Cook, Seth Curry, and Tyler Thornton, expected to all be major contributors, combined to shoot 1-of-29 on the night. That abysmal three percent outing was only amplified by Kelly’s absence.

The win keeps Miami undefeated in the ACC and improves its conference record to 5-0. The Hurricanes now have a two-game lead on Duke and a 1.5-game lead on NC State.

Miami moves on to play Florida State and Virginia Tech, meaning they could conceivably enter its Feb. 2 matchup with NC State at 7-0.

The Duke loss is one of the worst in recent memory for a No. 1 team. In 2004, No. 1 Wake Forest lost to Illinois, 91-73. Also in 2004, No. 1 St. Joseph’s lost to Xavier, 87-67.

The loss is the third-worst ever for a team ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

Nevada’s Jordan Caroline pulls out of 2018 NBA Draft

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Jordan Caroline has opted to pull his name out of the 2018 NBA Draft as he will return to Nevada for his senior season, he announced on Saturday.

The 6-foot-7 Caroline put together a strong season for the Wolf Pack as he averaged 17.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game as Nevada made the Sweet 16 behind one of the most talented offenses in the country.

Caroline’s return is a huge boost for Nevada as they still await the NBA draft decisions of Caleb and Cody Martin.

Currently ranked No. 17 in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25 (without the Martin twins), the Wolf Pack will still have a ton of talent around Caroline next season. Five-star freshman center Jordan Brown recently committed to Nevada. The program also a number of talented transfers entering the mix, including Tre’Shawn Thomas, Nisre Zouzoua and Ehab Amin.

If the Martin twins return to school (and that is a big if) then Nevada could have a potentially elite offense next season. But even if the Martin twins go pro, Nevada should still be the favorite in the Mountain West and a threat to once again make the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Dewan Huell returning to Miami for junior season

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Miami received some positive news on Saturday afternoon as the school announced the return of forward Dewan Huell for his junior season.

After testing the NBA draft waters without an agent, the 6-foot-11 Huell will be back for the Hurricanes. Starting all 32 games for the program last season, Huell averaged 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game while shooting 57 percent from the floor.

“After getting feedback from NBA teams and talking it over with my family and coaches, I would like to announce that I will be returning to Miami for my junior season,” Huell said in the release. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season.”

A former McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school, Huell’s return gives the Hurricanes stability in the front court for next season as he’ll play with other returning players like Sam Waardenburg and Ebuka Izundu. With Miami losing both Lonnie Walker and Bruce Brown early to the 2018 NBA Draft, Huell could be expected to provide more offensive production as a junior.

Bruce Weber receives contract extension at Kansas State

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Kansas State and head coach Bruce Weber have agreed to a two-year contract extension, according to a release from the school.

After leading the Wildcats to a surprising Elite Eight appearance in March, Weber will be the head coach at Kansas State through the 2022-23 season, which gives him another five seasons to work with. Weber will be paid $2.5 million in 2018-19 and he’ll receive a $100,000 increase to his salary in each remaining contract year.

Weber had already signed a two-year extension in August 2017, but this move gives the veteran head coach more job security (and positive recruiting perception) for the next few seasons.

“We are very fortunate to have not only such an outstanding basketball coach but also a man in Coach Weber who conducts his program with integrity and class and is widely respected across the nation,” Kansas State Director of Athletics Gene Taylor said. “Certainly last season was one of the most memorable postseason runs in our program’s history, and we are excited for next season and the years ahead under Coach Weber’s leadership.”

With Kansas State returning most of its roster from last season, including the return of guard Barry Brown from the 2018 NBA Draft process, expectations are sky-high for Weber and the Wildcats this season. Currently ranked as the No. 8 team in the NBCSports.com Preseason Top 25, Kansas State’s veteran club could give Kansas a serious run for a Big 12 regular season title this season.

Northwestern loses incoming freshman point guard

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Northwestern and incoming freshman point guard Jordan Lathon are parting ways. The 6-foot-4 Lathon was viewed as a potential candidate to replace Bryant McIntosh at lead guard for the Wildcats this season, but Northwestern has reportedly revoked his offer of admission and basketball scholarship.

It is unclear why Lathon was unable to be admitted into Northwestern, but the school’s VP for University Relations, Alan Cubbage, gave a statement to Inside NU’s Davis Rich and Caleb Friedman.

“Northwestern University has revoked its offers of admission and an athletic scholarship for Jordan Lathon, a recruit for the Northwestern men’s basketball team,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the privacy of the student, the University will have no further public comment.”

Lathon later acknowledged the situation in a tweet explaining to fans that he will no longer be attending Northwestern.

While it is unclear why Lathon and Northwestern are parting ways, other high-major programs are already very interested in bringing in Lathon for next season. Oklahoma State immediately jumped in with a scholarship offer. There is also speculation that Lathon, a native of Grandview, Missouri, could also hear from the in-state Tigers as well.

It’ll be interesting to see where Lathon lands, and how this also affects Northwestern’s point guard situation. The loss of a four-year starter like McIntosh will be tough to fill, especially since Lathon was committed to Northwestern since last June. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Wildcats and head coach Chris Collins seek out a veteran point guard graduate transfer to try and get some immediate help.

Nebraska’s James Palmer Jr. returning to school

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Nebraska received some important news on Friday night as senior guard James Palmer Jr. will be back for next season.

The 6-foot-6 Palmer had tested the NBA draft waters, but he decided to return to the Cornhuskers. After putting up 17.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game last season, Palmer is expected to be an All-Big Ten candidate once again this season. Palmer shot 44 percent from the floor and 30 percent from three-point range last season.

After transferring in from Miami, Palmer became the Huskers’ go-to scorer last season in helping Nebraska to a 22-win season and NIT appearance.

With Palmer back, Nebraska will have some legitimate expectations for the upcoming season, especially if the team’s second-leading scorer, Isaac Copeland Jr., also returns from the NBA draft process.