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Ohio State overcomes 20-point first-half deficit to knock off rival Michigan

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Ohio State overcame a 20-point first-half deficit to knock off rival Michigan with a 71-62 Big Ten home win on Monday night. Trailing 43-23 with a little over a minute left in the first half, the Buckeyes made a furious comeback thanks to a standout defensive effort that only allowed the Wolverines to score 19 points over the final 21-plus minutes of the game.

Here are three takeaways from this early-December Big Ten rivalry game.

1. Ohio State could be dangerous in a wide open Big Ten

Let’s get a few quick things out of the way. The Big Ten is very down this year. Ohio State head coach Chris Holtmann is a really good coach. Knowing those two things, the Buckeyes (7-3, 2-0) are going to be a really intriguing team in a conference that doesn’t have many sure things outside of Michigan State, Minnesota and Purdue.

Northwestern is struggling. Maryland hasn’t proven themselves quite yet. Michigan keeps blowing second-half leads (more on that in a minute). Even though the Buckeyes are trotting out a short-handed roster with a ton of new players and a coach who was hired in June, Holtmann and his team are sitting 2-0 in the conference with a blowout win on the road at Wisconsin and an impressive comeback win over Michigan.

Junior forward Keita Bates-Diop (18 points) continues to look like an all-Big Ten threat with the way he’s played so far this season and Jae’Sean Tate (14 points) is a veteran Big Ten player. If others like junior C.J. Jackson (17 points) and freshman big man Kaleb Wesson (eight points, five rebounds) continue to play well then Ohio State is going to be a team that nobody wants to face later this season. The Buckeyes are already exceeding the early-season expectations of many and they have the upside to get better.

2. Does Michigan have a go-to scorer?

For the second consecutive game, Michigan got off to a hot start. It looked like the Wolverines were about to cruise to a 2-0 start in the Big Ten after an easy win over Indiana over the weekend. But second-half offensive woes were a huge issue for Michigan in this one as they only scored 19 points in the final 21-plus minutes of Monday’s game.

With Michigan also blowing a late second-half lead against LSU in the Maui Invitational, that makes two winnable games that the Wolverines have squandered early in the season.

After solid starts in the first half against Ohio State, Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman and Zavier Simpson (11 points each) both were relative non-factors in the second half as Michigan struggled without a go-to scorer. Moritz Wagner (14 points) led the Wolverine offense on Monday but he struggled to a 5-for-13 shooting night as he couldn’t consistently finish inside against a bigger player like Wesson.

Transfer wing Charles Matthews looked timid on the offensive end the last few games as he struggled to do anything of substance with the ball in his hands. Duncan Robinson was ice-cold against Ohio State. When the Buckeyes made defensive adjustments after Michigan’s hot start, the Wolverines couldn’t turn to a single individual offensive player to carry them through a tough stretch. The Wolverines are still a talented team with plenty of weapons, but who steps up when this team needs a boost? Michigan doesn’t have a go-to scorer right now and they could really use one.

3. Ohio State is capable of making big runs

 

The past two games, the Buckeyes have been able to win thanks to big runs in the second half. It’s true that Ohio State already had a double-digit lead over Wisconsin at halftime of its dominating win. But a 10-2 Buckeyes run to start the second half completely took the life out of the Kohl Center as Wisconsin suffered their worst home loss in that building.

More huge runs carried the Buckeyes past Michigan on Monday. A ridiculous 26-3 run between the first and second half brought Ohio State back in the game while a 15-2 run closed out the game in convincing fashion for the win.

Holtmann has not only shown an ability to make necessary in-game adjustments but his players are also responding with the kind of energy and attention to detail that could really help them throughout the season.  The bizarre early-December Big Ten matchups aren’t a true indicator of how these teams will look for the rest of the season but the Buckeyes pack enough scoring punch and defensive intensity to be able to hang around in most games.

High school basketball player collapses, dies at AAU event

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James Hampton, a member of Team United and a senior at Liberty Heights, a private high school in Charlotte, collapsed and died during a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League game on Saturday night.

Hampton was 17 years old.

In the second half of a game against Nike Phamily, a Phoenix-based program that is run by the father of Marvin Bagley III, Hampton collapsed to the floor unresponsive. Trainers at the event began CPR on and administered chest compressions. Parademics arrived within 10 minutes, but Hampton could not be revived.

The cause of death has not yet been released, but this is not the first time that Hampton had an issue. Last spring, at an event in the Washington D.C. area, Hampton collapsed on the court and had to be given CPR.

“He just fell down on the floor,” Team United director Jacoby Davis told the Charlotte Observer. “He had seizures a year ago and I remember (one of the Team United coaches) telling me that, ‘I saw his eyes rolling back in his head.’ I ran on the court thinking he was having a seizure. A trainer came over and said he didn’t know what was wrong. Another trainer checked his pulse. He said he didn’t have a pulse. It got crazy after that.”

RIP James Hampton.

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.