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No. 9 Xavier dominates in 64-42 win over Northern Iowa

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CINCINNATI (AP) The rematch was no match at all. Xavier’s defense made sure of it.

J.P. Macura scored 18 points, and Xavier’s defense dug in during a dominant first half, sending the ninth-ranked Musketeers to a 64-42 victory over Northern Iowa on Saturday.

Xavier (6-0) completely controlled a matchup of teams playing for the second time in six days. The Musketeers beat Northern Iowa 67-59 for championship of Tire Pros Invitational in Orlando last Sunday.

This time, it was no contest. Xavier knew exactly what to expect the second time around.

“I think it’s easy,” coach Chris Mack said . “Northern Iowa always runs the same three plays to start the game. I’m sure the players are like, `We’ve got it.’ I was really excited about our mindset today.”

Edmond Sumner had 14 points and seven assists, making Xavier’s offense get into a flow quickly.

The Musketeers looked very comfortable in their second go-round against the Panthers (3-2). Northern Iowa had trouble finding open shots while Xavier raced ahead 30-10, going 4 of 13 from the field with seven turnovers as Xavier’s defense gave its best performance of the season.

The Musketeers led 35-12 at halftime, the fewest points they had allowed in any half for 34 years.

“That’s the best half we’ve played since I’ve been here,” said Macura , a junior. “We were talking really well. We were in each other’s gaps.”

Xavier pushed the lead to 26 points early in the second half and was never threatened. Jeremy Morgan scored 14 points – all in the second half – for Northern Iowa. Morgan had 20 points in their game on Sunday, but missed all of his four shots in the first half while Xavier took control.

The Panthers had made at least 10 3-pointers in each of their first four games this season, going 10 of 24 against Xavier on Sunday. They were only 6 of 18 in the rematch. Xavier had a 42-20 edge in rebounds, getting 15 on offense.

“They made it obvious that they did a better job of preparing their guys for what was the rematch, if you will,” Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson said. “They outplayed us on the glass, they outplayed us in a lot of areas. They outplayed us in the areas that mattered.”

Northern Iowa shot 33 percent from the field and had only seven assists.

“I thought the difference in the game was our defensive effort at the outset,” Mack said. “Good teams lock in on the challenge in the moment. We defended at a really high level, as good as I can remember.”

BIG PICTURE

Northern Iowa: The Panthers are 17-37 all-time against ranked teams, including 2-17 on the road. Both of those road wins came at Wichita State – last season and in 2006.

Xavier: Kaiser Gates got into a game for the first time. The sophomore forward was counted upon to be an integral part of Xavier’s overhauled front line, but tore cartilage in his left knee and had surgery a month ago. Gates played 11 minutes, missed his only shot, got two rebounds and picked up three fouls – not bad for someone who’s had only three practices.

“He had a phenomenal summer,” Mack said. “He’s in great position as we move forward.”

SEE YOU SOON

Xavier hadn’t played consecutive games against a nonconference team since it faced Yale twice in 1960. It was the eighth time in school history that the Musketeers played someone in back-to-back games out of conference.

OUCH

Northern Iowa’s Klint Carlson picked up third foul with 7:48 left in the first half, even though the Panthers were playing zone. Carlson finished with 11 points and three rebounds in 24 minutes. Forward Bennett Koch fouled out with 8:15 to go after scoring five points and getting two rebounds.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Xavier played its most complete game yet and has shown improvement each time out after a couple of close opening wins.

UP NEXT

Northern Iowa hosts George Mason on Wednesday.

Xavier hosts North Dakota State on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

Louisville lands local four-star 2019 guard

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Louisville continued its hot stretch on the recruiting trail on Saturday as local four-star Class of 2019 guard David Johnson pledged to the Cardinals.

Johnson is the third top-100 prospect to commit to Louisville in the past two weeks as he joins a four-man 2019 recruiting class that should be among the best groups in the country. The 6-foot-4 Johnson is regarded as the No. 98 overall prospect in the Rivals Class of 2019 national rankings as he comes from nearby Trinity High School.

Previously committed to the old staff at Louisville, head coach Chris Mack and his staff were able to retain Johnson’s commitment, as he joins a potentially loaded recruiting class. With an ability to play both perimeter spots, Johnson should be able to get others involved when he’s playing on the ball while also being able to pick his own spots as a scorer.

Johnson joins four-star guard Josh Nickelberry, four-star wing Samuell Williamson and four-star forward Jae’lyn Withers in the Louisville Class of 2019 recruiting haul. With Mack and his staff getting three top-100 prospects in the past two weeks, Louisville is currently one of the hottest programs in the country when it comes to landing quality commitments.

And even though Louisville has been in the midst of recruiting scandals over the past few years, they still have all of the necessary check marks for a school to consistently recruit elite players. Now that Mack is providing stability at head coach, Louisville plays in an elite conference with elite facilities with one of the best fanbases in the country. We’re quickly finding out that recruits only care about what will help them over the next few years.

Virginia lands early 2021 commitment from prized perimeter recruit

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Virginia got its Class of 2021 recruiting efforts off to a positive start on Friday night as North Carolina native and guard Carson McCorkle pledged to the Cavaliers.

The 6-foot-3 McCorkle is a highly-regarded young perimeter prospect, as he’s been invited to USA Basketball events and recognized as a potential top-100 prospect. He’s also the first 2021 prospect that Virginia offered a scholarship.

That means Virginia is doing a great job of looking ahead on the recruiting board, as a Class of 2021 commitment gives them more time to close out 2019 and 2020. McCorkle visited Virginia for an unofficial visit in August and he evidently came away impressed enough to commit before his sophomore season. The early commitment from McCorkle could also give the young guard, and Virginia, time to potentially reclassify him up a grade if the Cavaliers wanted him a year early.

Of course, McCorkle (and Virginia) have plenty of time to change their minds over the next few years. But landing McCorkle early is also a positive sign for Virginia’s future recruiting as they’ve locked up a key target as an underclassman.

Miami dismisses guard from program

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Miami announced on Friday afternoon that Miles Wilson has been dismissed from the program for “not meeting team expectations.”

The school provided no other comment or explanation for the dismissal.

Wilson, a 6-foot-2 combo guard, averaged 11.8 points and 3.9 boards as a freshman at Mount St. Mary’s before opting to transfer out of the program. He sat out the 2017-18 season in Coral Gables as his mandatory redshirt season.

“Miles comes to the U after a very successful year at Mount St. Mary’s, where he helped them reach the NCAA tournament,” Jim Larrañaga said in a statement at the time Wilson committed to the Hurricanes. “Miles has the size, length and athletic ability to be an outstanding defender; in addition, he has the shooting and ball handling skills to be a real threat at the offensive end.”

VIDEO: Oklahoma State head coach Mike Boynton jumped out of a plane

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Don’t worry.

He was skydiving.

USC adds to top 2019 class with four-star recruit Kyle Sturdivant

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Andy Enfield’s 2019 recruiting haul already includes two five-star, top-20 recruits along with a pair of additional four-star prospects in the top-100. It’s good enough, right now, for USC to own the best class in the country.

And on Thursday, the Trojans added to it.

Kyle Sturdivant, a top-100 recruit out of Georgia, has committed to the Trojans.

The 6-foot-3 point guard previously committed to his home-state Bulldogs and new coach Tom Crean, but backed off that pledge last month. He also had offers from Cal, Clemson, Auburn and Florida, among others.

Sturdivant put up 16.2 points, 5 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game last season while playing alongside top-five recruit Vernon Carey on Team Takeover Florida.

His commitment gives Enfield a point guard in an already loaded class. The Trojans previously received commitments from five-stars Isaiah Mobley and Onyeka Okongwu and four-stars Max Agbonkpolo and Drake London, giving them the consensus top class in the country this fall.

The Trojans’ continued success keeps the trend alive of schools who were caught up in the FBI corruption investigation simply shaking it off and landing more top talent.

The kings stay the kings.