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Villanova, Virginia, Purdue stay 1-2-3 atop latest AP Top 25

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Villanova, Virginia and Purdue are making themselves comfortable atop the AP Top 25. And with the way they’re playing, they might stay there for a while longer, too.

The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in Monday’s latest poll, followed by the second-ranked Cavaliers and the third-ranked Boilermakers. It marked the fourth straight week that with the trio sitting 1-2-3 in the poll as they continue extended winning streaks while avoiding the upsets that hit national powers Duke, Kansas, Arizona and Kentucky last weekend.

Villanova (22-1, 9-1 Big East) has won nine straight and hasn’t lost in the 2018 calendar year.

Virginia (22-1, 11-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has won 14 straight games and leads the rest of the tradition-rich league by at least three games in the loss column. Its defense ranks No. 1 nationally in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency rankings (82.2 points allowed per 100 possessions), and the Cavaliers are coming off a game in which they held Syracuse to 44 points — the Orange’s lowest output ever in the Carrier Dome.

“The guys are playing at a high level, for sure,” Virginia coach Tony Bennett said afterward. “They understand how they have to play. … I like what our guys are doing.”

Then there’s Purdue (23-2, 12-0 Big Ten). The Boilermakers have the nation’s longest winning streak at 19 games with the only hiccups coming in a two-day blip in November’s Battle 4 Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas.

“If there is a better team inside and out in the country, I haven’t seen them yet,” Rutgers coach Steve Pikiell said after his team’s Saturday overtime loss to the Boilermakers.

HERE IS THE FULL POLL

1. Villanova (48 first-place votes)
2. Virginia (16)
3. Purdue (1)
4. Michigan State
5. Xavier
6. Cincinnati
7. Texas Tech
8. Auburn
9. Duke
10. Kansas
11. Saint Mary’s
12. Gonzaga
13. Arizona
14. Ohio State
15. Tennessee
16. Clemson
17. Oklahoma
18. Rhode Island
19. West Virginia
20. Michigan
21. North Carolina
22. Wichita State
23. Nevada
24. Kentucky
25. Miami

TOP-10 CHANGES

Several teams reached first-time-in-years perches in the top 10.

Cincinnati (21-2) followed No. 4 Michigan State and No. 5 Xavier, reaching No. 6 for its highest ranking since January 2004. Next came No. 7 Texas Tech (19-4), which reached its highest ranking since hitting No. 7 in March 1996. And eighth-ranked Auburn (21-2) has its highest ranking since January 2000.

Ninth-ranked Duke and No. 10 Kansas rounded out the top 10, each sliding along with fellow national powers Arizona (No. 13) and Kentucky (No. 24) after losses in an upset-filled weekend.

HIGH MARKS

St. Mary’s (23-2) is rolling along with 18 straight wins behind high-scoring forward Jock Landale (24.5 points per game). Now the Gaels have their highest ranking in program history at No. 11, surpassing a two-week stay at No. 12 last season.

And No. 18 Rhode Island (19-3) also claimed its highest ever slot in the AP Top 25.

VOLS’ CHARGE

Tennessee (17-5) has won five straight games — the last two by a combined 56 points — to reach No. 15, the program’s highest mark since hitting No. 7 in December 2011.

TOP RISERS

Rhode Island joined No. 16 Clemson and No. 20 Michigan in making the week’s biggest climbs of four spots each.

LONGEST SLIDES

No. 22 Wichita State (17-5) had the week’s biggest fall of six spots after losing in overtime at Temple. Duke fell five spots after losing to a St. John’s team that was 0-11 in the Big East, while No. 17 Oklahoma also fell five spots after losing to Texas.

NEWCOMERS

No. 23 Nevada and No. 25 Miami were new to this week’s poll, though both have been ranked multiple weeks this season.

SLIDING OUT

Florida fell out from No. 23 after two losses to unranked teams, while Arizona State fell out from No. 25 in what has been a big decline after a strong start. The Sun Devils went from unranked in the preseason all the way to No. 3 in December, but stand at just 5-6 in the Pac-12.

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.