Derrick Gordon’s last-second bucket lifts UMass past Providence in overtime

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AMHERST — Trey Davis told UMass coach Derek Kellogg he was confident he could take his man off the dribble and win the Minutemen the game. He did his typical jumpstop into a floater, but his shot came up a little bit short. Luckily the ball landed right into the hands of sophomore guard Derrick Gordon, who put in the game-winner with 1.1 seconds to play as UMass won an overtime thriller, 69-67, over Providence on Saturday night at the Mullins Center.

“It looked good,” Gordon said of Davis’ shot. “But it just happen to bounce my way.”

With 1:36 remaining in regulation, UMass point guard Chaz Williams picked up his fifth foul, as the Minutemen held a five-point lead. Bryce Cotton was looking to draw contact, and as he leaned in Williams backed off. Cotton hit the deck, and Williams was sent to the bench.

“I didn’t touch him, so I don’t see where the foul call came from,” Williams said.

With Williams out, PC rallied to tie the score and force overtime. It looked like the Friars would take control in the overtime period, but missed free throws  by Providence and a team grittiness from UMass kept the shorthanded Friars from picking up the win.

“I looked at everyone on the floor and they gave me a head nod like they was ready to win this game and that’s what they did,” Williams added.

UMass bounces back after suffering its first loss of the season last Saturday, as Florida State slowed down the game. Despite losing and shooting poorly, the Minutemen still had a chance to win the game, showing they can win regardless of tempo and style.

“This is probably the first team we’ve had that can win in a lot of different ways,” Kellogg said. “We can win when the game’s fast, we can win in the half-court. That just shows the guys have matured and we’re better as a team and a program.

“We can lock up and make plays in the half-court and I actually think we can get better on our press. I don’t think our press is where it needs to be quite yet. We’re not as aggressive as I’d like to be.”

Against Providence, UMass proved it could win without its star point guard, who missed the final 6:36 of the game. Trey Davis and Maxie Esho both shined off the bench — scoring 23 opposed to Providence’s zero bench points — while Gordon, who can be a big piece for the Minutemen moving forward, ended as the hero.

Moving forward this is a big game for the Minutemen. They showed maturity, especially when Williams went out , and maybe a game-winning bucket, in front of a sold-out crowd, can get Gordon — the Western Kentucky transfer — going offensively.

UMass concludes its non-conference slate next Saturday against Miami (OH). Providence begins Big East play on Tuesday, hosting Seton Hall.

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.