Solomon Hill, Mark Lyons help No. 7 Arizona outlast Stanford

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For a team that has so much youth in its regular rotation, it was Arizona’s two seniors who powered the Wildcats to a win over an upstart Stanford team Wednesday night.

Mark Lyons scored a season-high 25 points and Solomon Hill had 23, the two accounting for nearly 66 percent of Arizona’s overall offensive output in a 73-66 win at McKale Center in Tuscon, Ariz.

Hill played the last four minutes of regulation with four fouls, but avoided fouling out. His emphatic dunk with 1:08 to play to all but put the final nail in Stanford’s coffin.

The Cardinal did not go down without a fight, though.

Stanford used the same energy it had found in its previous two games to jump out to a 10-0 lead in the first four minutes Wednesday night.

Guard Aaron Bright was hot both off the dribble and from three-point range, scoring seven of those first ten for the Cardinal. His dribble penetration opened up perimeter opportunities for teammates all night and Bright finished with 16 points.

A key matchup coming into Wednesday night’s game is how reigining Pac-12 Player of the Week Josh Huestis and versatile junior Dwight Powell would fare against the young but talented Arizona front line of Kaleb Tarczewski and Brandon Ashley.

Tarczewski and Ashley combined for six points on just 2-of-9 shooting from the floor, while Huestis finished with his fifth double-double of the season, 10 points and 10 rebounds. Powell was the Cardinal’s most effective offensive option, finishing with 24 points and 10 rebounds.

Without that offensive help from the Arizona front line, more weight fell on the shoulders of the veteran guard Lyons, who responded as he often has in Pac-12 play. He did his best to counter Bright’s hot shooting from the outside with 9-of-13 shooting from the floor.

With 15:39 to play, a Bright three-pointer pushed the Stanford lead to three, 37-34. On the next possession, a Lyons assist led to an Ashley. The Xavier transfer then followed that up with a layup that gave Arizona its first lead of the game, 38-37, with 14:35 to play.

Dwight Powell’s athleticism and versatility became important for the Cardinal through the middle of the second half. Stanford went to him on four of five straight possessions, attacking Ashley and forcing him to foul out with 6:40 to go.

Solomon Hill became Arizona’s most effective scorer in the latter half of the second, scoring five straight points to tie the game at 54 with 4:44 to play.

Angelo Chol competed in the paint to grab eight rebounds and add six points.

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

VIDEO: Deandre Ayton NBA Draft Prospect Profile

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Over the course of the next month, I will be putting together NBA Draft Prospect Profiles for our sister site, Pro Basketball Talk, of the most talented and promising prospects from the college ranks.

Today, the first example of those profiles went live. It’s of Deandre Ayton and you can read all of the 1,500 words here. We take a good long look at why he’s the best prospect in the draft and the reasons why he may never actually reach his immense ceiling.

If you’re not into reading, here is a four-minute video breakdown of his strengths, his weaknesses and how he can turn the latter into the former.

Florida State’s leading scorer gets extra year of eligibility

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Florida State announced on Friday that Phil Cofer has been granted a fifth-year of eligibility by the NCAA.

Cofer is a 6-foot-8 power forward that averaged 12.8 points and 5.1 boards a season ago, shooting 37.5 percent from three and providing the kind of versatility defensively that allowed the Seminoles to play they way that they needed to play.

“I am happy to announce that I will be returning to Florida State’s basketball team next season,” Cofer said in a statement. “I have been working hard, on and off the court, to prepare for another incredible season. I can’t wait to put the Florida State uniform back on.”

The Seminoles are currently ranked 13th in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

Jessie Govan returning to Georgetown for senior season

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Jessie Govan is returning to Georgetown.

The 6-foot-10 center who averaged a double-double last season will withdraw from the NBA draft to play his senior season with the Hoyas, according to multiple reports.

Govan’s return to D.C. is a huge development for the Hoyas. As a junior, Govan averaged 17.9 points and 10 rebounds per game. He shot 50.8 percent from the floor and 34.8 percent from distance. He went from a nice contributor as a sophomore to a breakout star last season for first-year coach Patrick Ewing.

Without Govan, the Georgetown frontcourt would have been very young and unproven. Now Ewing gets back a major impact player who will not only help the Hoyas compete in 2018-19, but bridge the gap to NC State transfer Omer Yurtseven’s eligibility in 2019.

The Hoyas were surprisingly competitive in Ewing’s first year back at his alma mater, and now has a chance to see an even bigger uptick this season with its anchor in the middle back in the fold.

Mizzou settles lawsuit brought by South Carolina women’s coach Dawn Staley

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An ugly episode has reached its conclusion with the University of Missouri paying $50,000 and its athletic director apologizing to South Carolina women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley.

Mizzou will donate $25,000 to Staley’s charity foundation and the other $25,000 going to her attorneys after she filed a defamation lawsuit stemming from an incident last winter when Tigers athletic director Jim Sterk claimed she “promoted that kind of atmosphere” after he alleged that Missouri players were called racial epithets and spit on after a game at South Carolina in January.

“Following a very spirited and intense game I attended in late January between the nationally ranked Missouri and South Carolina women’s basketball teams, I made comments in a local radio interview that were construed to suggest that Coach Staley promoted the negative experiences of racial epithets and spitting,” Sterk said in a statement Missouri released Thursday.

“I do not believe Coach Staley would promote such conduct, and I sincerely apologize to her for those comments.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in February, stemmed from an incident after a Missouri player claimed she had been spit after a loss in Columbia in January.

“We had players spit on and called the ‘N’ word and things like that,” Sterk said on Jan. 30, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I mean it was not a good environment and unfortunately and I think Coach (Dawn) Staley promoted that kind of atmosphere. And it’s unfortunate that she felt she had to do that.”

With Thursday’s announced settlement, both parties are looking to put the incident in the past.

“I accept his apology and I appreciate the contribution of $25,000 to INNERSOLE, a not for profit organization I co-founded that provides new sneakers to children who are homeless or in need,” Staley said in a statement. “I’m glad we can share in support of this worthy cause and I look forward to moving past this with a continued spirited but positive competition amongst our programs.”  

 

SEC/Big 12 Challenge matchups unveiled

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A meeting between two of the sport’s most successful programs highlights this year’s slate of games in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, which was unveiled Thursday.

Kansas will visit Rupp Arena to play Kentucky on Jan. 26 as part of the annual event’s sixth year of competition.

The Jayhawks have won three-straight against the Wildcats with two being part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge and last year’s meeting part of the Champion’s Classic. Both teams ranked in the top five of our preseason Top 25.

Another marquee matchup will be defending SEC champ and likely top-10 preseason ranked Tennessee hosting Bob Huggins and West Virginia. Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton will welcome his alma mater to Stillwater with South Carolina the Cowboys’ matchup.

All games will be played on Saturday, Jan. 26. The challenge was split 5-5 last season. The Big 12 holds a 3-1-1 advantage in the event with its teams holding an overall record of 29-21.

2019 SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Alabama at Baylor

Iowa State At Ole Miss

Kansas at Kentucky

Kansas State at Texas A&M

Vanderbilt at Oklahoma

South Carolina at Oklahoma State

Florida at TCU

Texas at Georgia

Arkansas at Texas Tech

West Virginia at Tennessee