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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

Trae Jefferson to transfer out of Texas Southern

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Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.

The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.

While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.

Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.

Nevada’s Josh Hall transfers to Missouri State

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Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.

The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.

Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.

Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.

Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Chris Webber accepts Jim Harbaugh’s invitation to be honorary Michigan football captain

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The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.

On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.

Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.

The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.

Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.

Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.

Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.

Akoy Agau returning to Louisville as graduate transfer

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Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.

The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.

Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.

While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.

NCAA President Mark Emmert got a $500,000 raise in 2016

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NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.

That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.

But there’s not enough money to pay the players.

Nope.

Everyone is broke.

Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.