(AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

Rhode Island beats Davidson 72-59 for 15th straight win

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KINGSTON, R.I. — Cyril Langevine came off the bench with Rhode Island leading by five points, and soon the advantage was down to one.

All he did over the next nine minutes was score 10 points and grab four rebounds while helping the 18th-ranked Rams open a 16-point lead.

“We’re not a team, we’re a program,” coach Dan Hurley said on Friday night after Rhode Island beat Davidson 72-59 to match a school record with its 15th win in a row. “We’ve got a real deep team. You can go on winning streaks and have seasons like this when you have different guys step up each night.”

Langevine scored a career-high 14 points and added eight rebounds in 22 minutes, and Jarvis Garrett scored all 17 of his points in the second half for the Rams (20-3, 12-0 Atlantic 10). URI last won 15 straight in 1939-40.

Kellan Grady scored 19 for Davidson (13-10, 8-4) and Peyton Aldridge scored 15. The Wildcats, who had won eight of their last 10, made 20 3-pointers in Tuesday’s victory over Saint Joseph’s, but shot just 4 of 17 from beyond the arc against URI.

“Eliminating the 3-point line was key No. 1,” Hurley said. “Our goal is five or less. We probably could have lived with seven or eight. We just didn’t think they had a chance to beat us if they didn’t shoot the ball well.”

URI held a 15-13 lead before scoring 12 of the next 13 points to open a double-digit lead it never relinquished. Langevine had back-to-back dunks to start the run and also had a three-point play with 6:48 left in the first to make it 30-16 before returning to the bench for the rest of the half.

DON’T DO THAT

Langevine, who was coming off a game against Virginia Commonwealth in which he grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds, had a crowd-pleasing dunk early in the second half that drew a technical foul for taunting.

Asked what the official told him, Langevine said, “He laughed at me. ‘Cause I guess I flexed.”

Coming out of the timeout, Rhode Island players were trying to pump up the crowd, but were told to stop by the referee. Aldridge made one of two free throws, cutting the deficit to 42-27.

BIG PICTURE

Davidson: The Wildcats entered the night on a three-game winning streak and holding a one-game lead over St. Bonaventure for second place in the Atlantic 10. They may still be second-best in the conference, but the gap between them and the Rams doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller.

URI: At No. 18 in the AP Top 25, the Rams have already reached their highest ranking ever. They do not play again before the next votes are cast, so they could move up when the new poll is announced on Monday.

SHOOTERS GOTTA SHOOT

Garrett missed his only shot in 12 minutes in the first half but made six of seven while playing 17 minutes in the second. He said he was catching the ball off balance in the first and not feeling like the shot was there.

“At halftime, my teammates were telling me to shoot,” he said. “So I just came out shooting.”

UP NEXT

Davidson: Visits Virginia Commonwealth on Wednesday night.

Rhode Island: Hosts Richmond on Tuesday night.

West Virginia’s Sagaba Konate returns to school

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The nation’s most entertaining shot-blocker is back for another season.

Sagaba Konate, a 6-foot-9 center from Mali, will return to school for his junior season to anchor West Virginia’s defense for yet another season, according to ESPN.

Konate declared for the draft and went through the combine, and while his shot-blocking and intensity shined through there as it did throughout the season, he’s more of a mid-to-late second round pick than he is a first rounder at this point.

As a sophomore, Konate averaged 10.8 points, 7.6 boards and 3.2 blocks. He also shot 79 percent from the free throw line.

So let’s sit back and enjoy what we get to see for another year:

Luke Maye to return to North Carolina for senior season

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Here’s something I never thought I’d say: Luke Maye is returning to North Carolina for his senior season, meaning that the Tar Heels will have their preseason National Player of the Year candidate back in the fold.

Who saw that coming?

“I have had a great experience learning from the NBA process and growing as a basketball player during the past couple weeks,” Maye wrote on Instagram. “I would like to thank my family, friends, coaches and teammates for all of their support. Through this process, I have decided that I am going to comeback to school to improve as a player and finish my college career. I am looking forward to the opportunities and challenges that I will face and there is no better group to do it with than my teammates and the Carolina family! Time to finish the right way with two of the best players and leaders that I know! Let’s finish our legacy the right way!”

Maye, who averaged 16.9 points and 10.1 boards as a junior, declared for the draft last month, but he did not get invited to the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago last week. The 6-foot-9 forward is a stretch four that will fit perfectly at the four for the Tar Heels this season, with Nassir Little, Cam Johnson and Kenny Williams on the perimeter and a trio of sophomore bigs to handle the five.

Getting Maye back was key, but expected. UNC reaching their ceiling this season will depend on whether or not their point guard play is up to par. With Jalek Felton gone and Joel Berry II graduated, that is going to come down to whether or not Seventh Woods can handle the lead guard role or if Coby White can step in and start as a freshman.

Old Dominion lands former four-star center

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Elbert Robinson came out of high school in 2014 as a borderline top-50 recruit with offers from the likes of Florida, Kansas and Louisville before he ultimately chose to attend LSU.

The 7-foot-1 center, though, never even averaged 10 minutes a game in Baton Rouge and now will be finishing his career as a graduate transfer at Old Dominion, according to multiple reports.

“Old Dominion was perfect for him,” Lawrence Johns, Robinson’s grassroots coach, told the Virginian-Pilot. “I know for a fact that nobody in (Conference USA) is over 7 feet.

“I told him to go there and show people why he was the No. 1 center the year he came out.”

Robinson, who sat out last year for medical reasons, could step right into a major role with the Monarchs, who lost their starting frontcourt this offseason. He averaged 2.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 6.4 minutes per game last year for the Tigers.

VIDEO: Mixtape for North Carolina-bound Nassir Little

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Nassir Little is one of the most improved players in the high school basketball ranks, going from being a guy that was a borderline five-star prospect to being a potential No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

At 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan and athleticism to burn, he has all the makings of being one of the switchable wing defenders that are en vogue in the modern era of the NBA.

Former UNC star Phil Ford has surgery for prostate cancer

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina says former point guard Phil Ford has had surgery for prostate cancer.

Team spokesman Steve Kirschner said Wednesday that Ford underwent the procedure Tuesday after he was diagnosed during his annual physical. Dr. Eric Wallen, the UNC physician who is treating Ford, says the cancer was caught early because Ford “has been proactive regarding his health.”

Ford played for Dean Smith in the 1970s and scored 2,290 points, a mark that stood as the school record until Tyler Hansbrough broke it in 2008. Ford also spent 12 seasons as an assistant to Smith after a seven-year NBA career in which he was the rookie of the year in 1979.