ACC trio headlines list of top seniors across country

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Notre Dame forward Bonzie Colson’s deliberation over whether to turn pro or return for his senior year was never much of a debate.

“It was like a five-minute discussion,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said. “He knew he was a four-year guy. His family knew he was a four-year guy. I thought maybe he would at least want to go up to Chicago and test the waters. (He said), ‘Coach, (I’m) not into it.’ ”

Even in an era when freshmen have an increasingly large role in college basketball, there still are plenty of four-year guys making an impact.

Kansas’ Frank Mason Jr. was named the AP player of the year as a senior last season. Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield won the 2015-16 Naismith Trophy as the nation’s top player his senior season.

Colson says he knew it was the right decision for him to return for his senior year as well.

“I knew I had a lot of development on both sides of the floor that I needed to work on,” Colson said. “But obviously getting the degree from Notre Dame is what I went to Notre Dame for, and I knew I was a four-year guy.”

This list of top seniors heading into the 2017-18 season shows there are plenty of notable “four-year guys” in the Atlantic Coast Conference this year.

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GRAYSON ALLEN, DUKE

Position: Guard

Height: 6-foot-5

Notes: As the only returning Duke player who averaged more than eight minutes last season, Allen provides some needed experience to the top-ranked Blue Devils’ freshman-laden roster. Allen averaged 21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists two years ago to earn AP All-America third-team honors . He had 14.5 points, 3.7 rebounds and a team-high 3.5 assists per game during a turbulent junior season in which he was stripped of his captaincy after getting caught tripping an opponent three times in a calendar year . Allen has regained that captain status this year .

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JOEL BERRY II, NORTH CAROLINA

Position: Guard

Height: 6 feet

Notes: Berry was named the most outstanding player of the Final Four after scoring 22 points and dishing out six assists with only one turnover in the Tar Heels’ NCAA championship game victory over Gonzaga . He did all that despite playing the NCAA Tournament with a pair of sprained ankles. He has another injury that could cause him to miss the start of this season for the ninth-ranked Tar Heels. North Carolina coach Roy Williams said Berry broke a bone in his right hand punching a door after losing a video game . Berry is one of only seven players ever to score at least 20 points in two straight national championship games and one of only six North Carolina players ever to start in two national championship games.

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TREVON BLUIETT, XAVIER

Position: Guard

Height: 6-6

Notes: Big East coaches have given Bluiett first-team all-conference honors each of the last two seasons. Bluiett ranked second in the Big East in scoring (18.5) and 10th in rebounding (5.7) last season while also making 2.5 3-pointers per game. He averaged 21.3 points in four NCAA Tournament games to help Xavier advance to a regional final. Bluiett’s big tournament performance included a 29-point outburst in a victory over Florida State and a 25-point effort in a Sweet 16 upset of Arizona . He averaged 15.1 points and 6.1 rebounds two seasons ago. He’s back for his senior year to help No. 17 Xavier seek an elusive Final Four berth .

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BONZIE COLSON, NOTRE DAME

Position: Forward

Height: 6-6

Notes: Colson is the ACC preseason player of the year and the lone senior to make the AP All-America preseason team . Colson can score in a variety of different ways and has found a way to thrive in the paint for the 14th-ranked Fighting Irish despite his relative lack of height. Colson averaged a double-double last season while earning AP All-America third-team honors. He led the ACC in rebounding (10.1) and ranked ninth in the conference in scoring (17.8). He averaged 22.7 points in the ACC tournament and scored 27 points while shooting 10 of 15 in an NCAA Tournament loss to West Virginia .

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DEVONTE GRAHAM, KANSAS

Position: Guard

Height: 6-2

Notes: Graham heads into his final college season as the Big 12 preseason player of the year. The fourth-ranked Jayhawks will be relying on Graham to emerge as the leader of the backcourt as they replace Mason. Graham ranked 13th in the Big 12 in scoring (13.4), sixth in assists (4.1), second in 3-pointers (2.6) and ninth in steals (1.5) last season. He averaged 11.3 points and 3.7 assists two seasons ago and was named the most outstanding player of that year’s Big 12 tournament.

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YANTE MATEN, GEORGIA

Position: Forward

Height: 6-8

Notes: Maten ranked fourth in the SEC in scoring (18.2), ninth in rebounding (6.8), ninth in blocks (1.5) and second in field-goal percentage (.519) last season. That followed a sophomore year in which he ranked ninth in the SEC in scoring (16.5) and sixth in rebounding (8.0). Maten heads into his senior year trying to earn the NCAA Tournament berth that has eluded Georgia the last two seasons. He was named the Southeastern Conference’s preseason co-player of the year along with Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. and Texas A&M sophomore Robert Williams.

No. 7 Tennessee beats Eastern Kentucky, win streak hits 7

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tyreke Key scored 10 of the first 12 points of the second half and finished with 17, and No. 7 Tennessee overcame a sluggish first half and beat Eastern Kentucky 84-49 on Wednesday night.

“Tyreke is handling the ball now,” Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said. “That’s all new to him. He keeps getting better.”

The Volunteers (8-1) struggled in the first half but still built an 11-point lead over Eastern Kentucky (4-5) on the way to their seventh straight victory.

Key led Tennessee in scoring before leaving with a cramp in his right leg with 6:15 left in the game. Julian Phillips had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Zakai Zeigler and Uros Plavsic added 13 points apiece. Olivier Nkamhoua scored 10.

“I’m still settling in,” said Key, a transfer from Indiana State who didn’t play last year while recovering from an injury. “This is a new role. I’m taking steps every day and keep learning.”

Eastern Kentucky, which came into the game averaging 83.5 points, was held well below that total due to 17% (6 for 35) shooting from long range and 22% (15 for 68) overall. Leland Walker led the Colonels with 13 points.

It was the seventh time this season Tennessee has held its opponent to 50 or fewer points.

“(Tennessee) is the best defensive team in the country,” Eastern Kentucky coach A.W. Hamilton said. “I think they’re the best team in the country.”

At one point in the first half, Tennessee was shooting 20% and still leading by 10 points. The teams combined to shoot 4 of 32 from 3-point range in the first 20 minutes. The Vols, who shot 24% (8 of 34), led 32-21 at the break.

“If we can’t make shots, can you find a way to win the game?” Barnes said. “When the shot’s not going in, find a way to play. The first thing we talk about is our defense.”

Tennessee shot 41 free throws. Phillips, a true freshman, was 7 of 10.

“(Phillips) has learned the pace of the game,” Barnes said. “I’m not sure there’s been a more effective freshman in the country (this season).”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Since its early season slip against Colorado, Tennessee has had a steady ascent in the rankings. The Vols’ next two games – neutral site (Brooklyn) against No, 13 Maryland (Dec. 11) and at No. 10 Arizona (Dec. 17) – will go a long way toward justifying the No. 7 ranking.

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels’ run-and-gun style of offense had them averaging 83.5 points through their first eight games. They ran into a defensive buzz saw in Tennessee, which was yielding just over 51 points.

Tennessee: Santiago Vescovi sat out his second straight game with a shoulder problem. He is expected to be ready to play Sunday against Maryland. . The Vols have won seven in a row since their loss to Colorado.

UP NEXT

Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels host Boyce College on Saturday.

Tennessee: Take on No. 13 Maryland on Sunday at the Hall of Fame Invitational in New York.

Hoggard scores career-high 23, Michigan St snaps 2-game skid

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A.J. Hoggard scored a career-high 23 points, Joey Hauser had 12 points and 15 rebounds and Michigan State beat Penn State 67-58 on Wednesday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

Michigan State (6-4, 1-1 Big Ten) avoided going .500 or worse after 10 games for the first time in 18 seasons.

Hoggard blocked an open layup with less than a minute to play and Hauser grabbed the rebound before being fouled and making two free throws at the other end for a 66-58 lead.

Hoggard, Hauser and Tyson Walker combined for 31 of Michigan State’s 32 second-half points.

The Michigan State defense allowed only one made field goal in the final five minutes. Penn State was just 1 of 9 from 3-point range in the second half after 7 of 18 before halftime.

Walker scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half for Michigan State. Hoggard, who entered third in the conference in assists at 6.3, had six rebounds, two assists and one key block.

Hoggard gave Michigan State 35-33 lead – its first since 4-2 – after back-to-back three-point plays with 59.3 seconds left in the first half. It was tied at 35-all at the break.

Seth Lundy scored 16 points and Jalen Pickett had 13 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists for Penn State (6-3, 0-1)

Michigan State hosts Brown on Saturday. Penn State, which hadn’t played since a double-overtime loss to Clemson on Nov. 29, plays at No. 17 Illinois on Saturday.

No. 7 Virginia Tech posts 9th straight win, beats BC 73-58

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BOSTON — Reigning Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Elizabeth Kitley had 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Cayla King scored 16 on Wednesday night to lead No. 7 Virginia Tech to a 73-58 victory over Boston College, the Hokies’ ninth straight win.

Taylor Soule, one of two BC transfers on the roster for Virginia Tech (9-0, 1-0 ACC), added nine points and five rebounds. Soule scored more than 1,500 points and grabbed almost 700 rebounds in four seasons at BC, earning All-ACC honors three times.

Andrea Daley scored 15 points and Maria Gakdeng scored 14 for BC (7-4, 0-1). They each grabbed six rebounds.

Virginia Tech scored 17 of the game’s first 21 points and led by as many as 19 in the third quarter before BC cut the deficit to 10 in the fourth. Leading 64-54 with under three minutes left and the shot clock expiring, Kayana Traylor hit a 3-pointer for the Hokies.

Gakdeng missed two free throws for BC, and then Kitley scored from inside to make it a 15-point game.

Clara Ford, who also played four years in Chestnut Hill, pitched in 2 points in 2 minutes against her former team.

BIG PICTURE

At No. 7, the Hokies have the highest ranking in the program’s history. With the victory over BC, a 10th straight win against North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday would leave Virginia Tech in position to move up even higher should a top five team falter.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: Hosts North Carolina-Asheville on Sunday.

Boston College: Hosts Albany on Saturday.

Michigan’s Jaelin Llewellyn out for season with knee injury

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Michigan point guard Jaelin Llewellyn is out for the rest of the season with an injured left knee and is expected to have surgery next month.

Wolverines coach Juwan Howard made the announcement three days after Llewellyn was hurt in a loss to Kentucky in London.

Llewellyn transferred to Michigan from Princeton last spring and that seemed to lead to Frankie Collins transferring to Arizona State after a solid freshman season for the Wolverines.

Llewellyn averaged seven points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists in eight games at Michigan. He was an All-Ivy League player last season and averaged nearly 16 points over three seasons at Princeton.

Miles Kelly leads Georgia Tech to 79-77 win over rival Georgia

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 02 Northeastern at Georgia Tech
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ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s Miles Kelly hit another winning shot against a state rival.

Terry Roberts endured a nightmarish final minute for Georgia.

Kelly hit a long 3-pointer and then a drove for the game-winning floater with 23 seconds remaining as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat Georgia 79-77 on Tuesday night.

Kelly hit the winning shot in similar fashion against Georgia State on Nov. 12. He did it again to beat the Bulldogs, finishing with a team-high 17 points after failing to score in the first half.

“I’m going to continue to keep shooting, no matter how many times I miss,” Kelly said.

Roberts missed a 3-pointer, turned the ball over twice with bad passes, and was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to drive for the basket that would’ve sent the game to overtime.

“A tough finish for us,” Georgia first-year coach Mike White said. “We were in position to steal one on the road.”

A pair of second-chance buckets seemingly put Georgia (7-3) in control with a 77-73 lead.

The Bulldogs wouldn’t score again as Kelly led the comeback for the Yellow Jackets (6-3) – with a big assist from Roberts.

He had a chance to essentially seal it for the Bulldogs, but his jumper beyond the arc clanked off the rim.

Georgia Tech grabbed the rebound and raced down the court, where Kelly swished a 3 from well behind the stripe that brought Georgia Tech within a point with about a minute left.

Trying to work the ball inside, Roberts made an ill-advised entry pass that was deflected and stolen by Deivon Smith, setting up Kelly’s drive for the basket that put the Yellow Jackets back ahead,

Roberts tried a drive of his own, only to have it blocked by Jalon Moore. Georgia retained possession, but Roberts’ inbounds pass was stolen by Moore, who was fouled and made one of two free throws.

Roberts took the ball again and hurriedly dribbled toward the basket, only to be called for an offensive foul when he sent Smith flying.

“Just sacrificing my body for the team,” Smith said.

Georgia stole an inbounds pass around midcourt, giving Karlo Oquendo one last shot to launch a 3 that still would’ve won it for the Bulldogs. It bounced off the rim.

The game was tight throughout. Neither team led by more than eight, and a sequence in the second half showed just how tightly these rivals were matched.

With both squads playing at a frenetic pace and showing little regard for defense, the lead changed hands on eight straight possessions as the teams traded baskets.

Stunningly, they combined to score on 19 straight possessions before Georgia’s Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe missed a pair of free throws with 5:17 remaining.

FIRING UP THE CROWD

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when Georgia Tech football coach Brent Key addressed the crowd at halftime.

Key, who served as interim coach for the last eight games of the season, was introduced Monday as the full-time choice for job.

He fired up the fans by getting them to chant “To hell with Georgia” over and over again. When a smattering of Bulldogs fans responded with barks, Key smiled and egged on the Yellow Jackets crowd to drown them out.

He also declared Georgia Tech to be the “greatest school in the entire state, the entire country,” following up his vow the previous day to not back down from the defending national champion and top-ranked Bulldogs.

BIG PICTURE

Georgia: This will be a tough one to swallow for Roberts, who led his team with 16 points and seven assists. The Bulldogs lost despite shooting 53.4% from the field.

Georgia Tech: Four players scored in double figures, and two others players finished with eight points. But it was Kelly, as usual, who had the ball in his hands at the end of a tight game.

UP NEXT

Georgia: After a nearly two-week break, the Bulldogs return to Atlanta on Dec. 18 to face Notre Dame at State Farm Arena in the Holiday Hoopsgiving event.

Georgia Tech: Head to North Carolina on Saturday for the Atlantic Coast Conference opener against the struggling Tar Heels.