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Hunter, Guy lead No. 2 Virginia over Syracuse, 59-44

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — De’Andre Hunter scored 15 points, Kyle Guy added 14 and second-ranked Virginia smothered struggling Syracuse 59-44 on Saturday.

Virginia (22-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), which beat the Orange 68-61 in January, has won 14 straight and is off to its best start in conference play since the days of Ralph Sampson, who led the 1980-81 team to a 12-0 start.

Syracuse (15-8, 4-6), in desperate need of a signature victory, was coming off a four-point loss at Wake Forest in which it shot 30 percent (15 of 50), and the offensive futility continued against the nation’s best scoring defense.

The Orange shot under 40 percent in the January loss to the Cavaliers and fared worse the second time around. Syracuse finished 17 of 50 (34 percent) and its 44 points were its fewest ever in the Carrier Dome.

The Orange needed big games from its top three scorers — Tyus Battle, Frank Howard, and Oshae Brissett — and they didn’t deliver. Battle finished with 15 points on 6-of-17 shooting, Howard was 4 of 17 for 11 points and Brissett had nine points. Syracuse was 4 of 20 from beyond the arc.

Syracuse entered the game ranked fourth in the nation in field-goal percentage defense (37.7 percent), just behind Virginia, but the Cavaliers exhibited their usual patience on offense and hit 12 of 24 shots in the first half to take a 10-point lead at the break. None came from second-leading scorer Devon Hall, who missed the only shot he attempted.

As expected, the game was a methodical, slow-paced slog with each team repeatedly shooting at the end of the shot clock, especially the Orange. The Cavaliers, who never trailed, found room inside the Orange’s 2-3 zone and hit three jumpers from the foul line in the opening 15 minutes.

Virginia built its biggest lead of the period with help from the long ball during an 11-0 run late. Ty Jerome hit a 3 from the top of the key with 6:32 left for a 23-18 lead and Hunter hit another from the left corner just over two minutes later.

Jerome’s second 3 of the period completed the surge and was a beauty of teamwork. Instead of going up for a putback after a strong rebound under the basket, Isaiah Wilkins zipped a pass to the right corner to a wide-open Jerome, and he swished it.

Syracuse managed just one basket in the final seven minutes, a 3 by Battle with just under a minute left as the Orange were held to 8-of-23 shooting (34.8 percent), 3 of 11 from beyond the arc (27.3).

The Orange, who had to work hard for every shot, got a jolt of applause from the home crowd on Frank Howard’s dunk off a steal by Marek Dolezaj that moved Syracuse within 36-27 early in the second half.

The good feeling was short-lived. Mamadi Diakite hit a fall-away jumper along the baseline at the shot-clock buzzer after nearly losing the ball out of bounds, and Guy followed with a long fall-away 3-pointer from the right wing for a 41-27 lead with 13:23 left.

Diakite matched his season high with 12 points.

The Cavaliers put the game away with a 12-0 run midway through the second half and finished 23 of 47 shooting (48.9 percent).

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Cavaliers are on a serious roll and are poised to take over the top spot if Villanova stumbles.

INVISIBLE MAN

Syracuse center Paschal Chukwu was a factor in the first game between the teams, notching a career-high 16 rebounds and scoring nine points in 35 minutes. The 7-foot-2 Chukwu had zero points and three rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia: Virginia continues to subdue its opponents with its stifling defense and has separated itself from the rest of the conference. No other team in the ACC has fewer than three losses. The Cavaliers have road games against Florida State, Miami, Pittsburgh and Louisville before closing out the regular season at home against Notre Dame.

Syracuse: The Orange have three more chances to notch a signature victory to bolster their resume for NCAA Tournament consideration, with games still on the schedule against No. 4 Duke, No. 19 North Carolina and No. 20 Clemson. Last season, the Orange had three upsets of top-15 ranked teams on its home floor and so far this year they have none. Syracuse also has only has one road win in conference play, and that came against last-place Pittsburgh, which is winless in 10 conference 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.