Duke still in driver’s seat of elite recruiting with commitment of five-star wing Jayson Tatum

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Duke landing a verbal commitment from prized five-star wing Jayson Tatum at Peach Jam Sunday morning is nothing new for the Blue Devils when it comes to recruiting. Mike Krzyzewski has been bringing blue-chip players to Durham since before Tatum was born. But by landing the St. Louis native and No. 3 overall player in the Class of 2016, the Blue Devils are sending a major warning shot that could have a large ripple effect in elite recruiting for this star-studded 2016 class.

The 6-foot-8 Tatum is part of a very strong top of the class and he’s the type of wing who could be a one-and-done player like Jabari Parker, Justise Winslow and potentially Brandon Ingram preceding him. Think about that for a second. The Blue Devils could potentially have four consecutive one-and-done players who pretty much played the same position.

And that’s not even considering the other integral parts of those Duke rosters that they built through quick recruiting.

Duke has sustained success in recent years by feasting on the one-and-done recruits that were previously running to Kentucky to play for John Calipari, culminating in the 2015 national title as Winslow, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones all became first-round NBA draft picks after one year in school.

With Coach K’s title pedigree at Duke and USA Basketball background, he has carved out a prime spot at the elite recruiting table and this 2016 class could be his best group yet. When you factor in Duke having back-to-back No. 1 recruiting classes to begin with, this is no small feat.

The Tatum pledge means the Blue Devil coaching staff can now spend more time chasing other five-star prospects in the Class of 2016 to join him like five-star power forward Harry Giles, five-star point guard Dennis Smith and an additional big man. Both Giles and Smith happen to be North Carolina natives.

Much has been made of Giles and Tatum being a “package deal” but that’s simply a mislabeled term for the USA Basketball teammates’ general interest in playing with each other in college. Giles never considered Saint Louis and Tatum wasn’t considering some of the schools on Harry’s radar when Tatum released a final four of Duke, Saint Louis, North Carolina and Kentucky earlier this spring. So a “package” isn’t what the two friends are doing. They’re each making independent school lists and decisions.

But that doesn’t mean that Giles and Tatum haven’t spoken about joining forces in the ACC to play for Duke and it could end up happening since the duo has been close through their gold-medal winning experiences with the USA team the past few summers. With so much success already, the duo might want to try their hand at winning a national championship together and playing together at Duke could be the option that Tatum and Giles believe is the best option.

Smith is another development in the 2016 recruiting frenzy as Coach K and assistants Jeff Capel and Jon Scheyer all came to watch Smith’s Team Loaded North Carolina play on Wednesday night during the opening night of the July live evaluation period. Sending three coaches to one game is usually a strong message of an all-out effort to land a prospect, but keep in mind that many of Duke’s primary Class of 2016 targets were playing in the Nike Peach Jam, which didn’t tip 17U action until Thursday night while the adidas Gauntlet began play Wednesday night. Before July started, Smith indicated that Duke was still in the picture along with Florida, Kansas, Louisville, NC State, North Carolina and Wake Forest.

There are still many dominoes to fall before Duke would potentially cement a third consecutive No. 1 recruiting class, but landing Tatum puts them in prime position to do so. The Blue Devils already have one top-five 2016 national target in the fold and they are in very good position for Giles and Smith, the two in-state top-five prospects, as they’re also after other five-star 2016 targets such as guard Frank Jackson and center Marques Bolden.

Time will tell if Coach K can pull off potentially his greatest recruiting class of all time, but Tatum is certainly the start that Duke was looking for.

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.

Nance scores 21 as North Carolina survives Syracuse, 72-68

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. – Pete Nance scored 21 points, capped by a dunk with 19 seconds left that put North Carolina in front for good as the Tar Heels pulled out a hard-fought, 72-68 battle with Syracuse on Tuesday night.

Joe Girard hit from beyond the arc to put Syracuse up, 68-66 with 1:28 left, but after Nance hit the first of two free throws to get North Carolina within one, he missed the second free throw and in the scramble to gather in the rebound, the ball caromed toward the end line and Girard dove to save it. Instead, he flicked the ball right to Nance, who dunked for the lead.

Judah Mintz tried to drive the lane for a go-ahead layup but was called for an offensive foul that was upgraded to a flagrant foul. North Carolina took possession and Caleb Love converted three straight free throws to put the game away.

Armando Bacot scored 18 points and grabbed eight rebounds with four assists for North Carolina (15-6, 7-3 Atlantic Coast Conference). Love finished with 15 points and five assists.

Girard hit 4 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 18 points to lead Syracuse (13-8, 6-4). Mintz scored 17 points and had three steals and Chris Bell hit 3 of 5 from deep and finished with 15 points.

North Carolina has a week off before playing host to Pitt on Feb. 1. Syracuse plays at Virginia Tech on Saturday.

Green Bay fires Will Ryan after 11th straight loss

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GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay fired Will Ryan three days after the Phoenix suffered their 11th consecutive loss.

Ryan, the son of former Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan, posted a 15-61 record in 2 1/2 seasons. Freddie Owens, who had been an assistant coach on Ryan’s staff, will be interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“UW-Green Bay is committed to continuing its legacy as an outstanding Division I athletics program in the future, and Phoenix men’s basketball needs to help lead the way as we work to elevate all of our programs and be a shining light for this region and beyond,” athletic director Josh Moon said in a news release announcing the move.

Moon thanked Ryan and his family for their contributions to the program and said that “we wish him all the best in his future endeavors.”

Stadium first reported Ryan’s firing.

Green Bay dropped to 2-19 overall and 1-9 in the Horizon League with a 72-38 home loss to Robert Morris.

Ryan was hired by Green Bay after going 14-13 in his lone season as the head coach at Division II program Wheeling (West Virginia). Green Bay went 8-17 in Ryan’s debut season and finished 5-25 last year.

Ryan had taken over for Linc Darner, who went 92-80 and posted a winning record in four of his five seasons.