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No. 6 Miami pulls away from Hawaii 75-57 to stay unbeaten

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HONOLULU (AP) — Miami turned up the pressure in the second half to turn away Hawaii and remain unbeaten.

Ja’Quan Newton and Dewan Huell scored 16 points apiece and the No. 6 Hurricanes pulled away for a 75-57 victory Friday night in a first-round game of the Diamond Head Classic.

Anthony Lawrence II added 11 for the Hurricanes (10-0), who outscored the Rainbow Warriors (7-3) 42-24 in the second half.

Miami shot 69.6 percent from the field in the second half. It took the lead for good on Newton’s fall-away 10-footer that put his team ahead 40-38 with 16:40 to play.

The Hurricanes went on an 11-1 run to take a 48-39 lead following Bruce Brown Jr.’s straightaway 3-pointer and capped a 9-0 run a few minutes later with Lonnie Walker IV’s layup off an assist from Brown that stretched their lead to 57-44.

“I thought our defense created that. We got some stops and then got some baskets in the open court,” Miami coach Jim Larranaga said of his team’s second-half runs.

Miami, one of four remaining undefeated teams in the country, led by as many as 20 points late in the second half.

“Give them credit. They showed why they’re a good team,” Hawaii coach Eran Ganot said. “I’m disappointed in our defensive effort in the second half. I think they made some changes to take us out of our offensive rhythm, which kind of carried over into our defensive half . They dictated the game in the second half. It wasn’t even close.”

Sheriff Drammeh had 17 points and Leland Green added 10 for the Rainbow Warriors, who committed 16 turnovers — eight in each half.

The score was tied at 33 at halftime. There were eight ties and 12 lead changes.

BIG PICTURE

Miami: After allowing the Rainbow Warriors to shoot 45.8 percent from the field in the first half, the Hurricanes clamped down on the defensive end after intermission. Hawaii was just 10 of 26 on field goals (38.5 percent) in the second half and finished with at 42 percent for the game.

Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors fell to 19-105 against ranked opponents, including a 3-42 mark against top-10 teams. They are 10-12 in Diamond Head Classic games and 3-6 in tournament openers. Their seventh-place finish last year was their lowest in the nine-year history of the eight-team tournament.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

The Hurricanes dominated the interior, outscoring the Rainbow Warriors 44-20 in the paint. Huell, a 6-foot-11 sophomore forward, shot 7 of 10 from the field and grabbed a team-high six rebounds.

“For sure, we were just trying to get it down low to the big men, so they could work on the blocks and score in the post,” Newton said.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Hawaii took its first lead with 11:53 left in the first half in wild fashion. Brocke Stepteau nearly lost the dribble a few times while dribbling across the lane, but managed to get off a pass to Jack Purchase, who, in one motion, caught and redirected a one-handed, behind-the-back pass to Drew Buggs on the left wing. Buggs then lined up and hit a 3-pointer to put Hawaii ahead, 13-12.

TIP-INS

Miami: The Hurricanes have eclipsed the 70-point plateau in seven of their 10 games and have held opponents to fewer than 60 points eight times this season. They improved to 76-9 when holding teams under the threshold under Larranaga.

Hawaii: Purchase, a 6-foot-9 junior forward, came off the bench and made an instant impact in the first half, when he hit a pair of 3-pointers and grabbed eight rebounds. However, he added just three points and four rebounds after halftime.

LATE START TIME

The game, the last of four quarterfinals Friday, tipped off at approximately 1:25 a.m. Eastern time, but Newton said it wasn’t an issue.

“I don’t think so because we’re the type of guys that are up all times of the night sometimes, so sometimes though we’d die to play in games like this,” Newtown said.

It was a different story for his coach, however.

“I don’t think it affected our players, but it sure affected me. I’m exhausted right now. I’d like to be in bed and asleep,” Larranaga said.

UP NEXT

Miami will play New Mexico State in a championship semifinal Saturday.

Hawaii, which had its three-game win streak snapped, will meet Davidson in a consolation semifinal Saturday.

Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.

Georgia Tech’s Okogie to sign with agent

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Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie, one of the big winners from this past weekend’s NBA combine, announced on Monday that he will be signing with an agent and remaining in the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 Okogie finished his sophomore season averaged 18.5 points and shooting 38.4 percent from three. The numbers he posted during the athletic testing at the combine, as well as his 7-foot wingspan, makes Okogie an ideal 3-and-D wing at the NBA level.

“Josh is a tremendous young man and an excellent student-athlete,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “He has set a tremendous example, making the Dean’s List this past semester, and deserves a lot of credit for making himself a much better player over the course of his two years here. We will miss him in our program in many respects, from his performance on the court to the energy he plays with and brought to our team. We fully support his decision to take this next step, and wish him all the best.”