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No. 5 Nevada dominates USC in 2nd half of 73-61 victory

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LOS ANGELES — Struggling offensively, Nevada went into halftime trailing by one in front of a partisan crowd. The Wolf Pack’s seniors emerged with a different mindset.

“We just have to come out with that intensity, come out with that fire,” Jordan Caroline said. “We got to play like we’re behind. We got to go make a big run, and that’s what we did.”

Caroline scored 22 points and No. 5 Nevada took control with a dominant second half to beat Southern California 73-61 on Saturday and equal its 8-0 start from last season.

Tre’Shawn Thurman added 14 points and nine rebounds and Caleb Martin had 12 points for the Wolf Pack, who outscored USC 39-26 over the final 20 minutes.

“It was a tough early game and really focusing on the importance of the game,” Martin said.

It marked a major turnaround from the first half, when the Trojans shot 50 percent from the field and led by as many as seven points. The Wolf Pack missed more than half their field goal attempts and leading scorer Martin had just seven points, leaving them trailing by one at the break.

“Historically, we’ve been a really good second-half team, so far this year it’s kind of mixed results,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “We just felt like we didn’t have good enough rhythm to start the game and we felt like USC was controlling the pace. We had to play better defense.”

Nick Rakocevic had 20 points and 12 rebounds for the Trojans (5-3) as their three-game winning streak ended. Bennie Boatwright, their leading scorer at 16.8 points, was held to seven points.

USC came out aggressively to start the game, driving to the basket, crashing the boards and closely defending Martin, who entered the game averaging 21 points.

Caroline and Thurman carried Nevada in the first half, each scoring 11 points.

“Jordan Caroline absolutely killed us,” Rakocevic said. “We kind of gave him a lot in the paint, just kind of gave him everything he wanted.”

USC didn’t appear to be the same team in the second half, when the Trojans never put together a scoring run.

“I thought the first half was a really good sign that we could be one of the top teams and compete, but we’ve got to come out better in the second half,” Rakocevic said. “We just came out flat. Defensively, I think we just had too many breakdowns.”

The Wolf Pack turned things around quickly, outscoring USC 9-0 to open the second half. It was the start of a 31-11 run that produced Nevada’s largest lead, 65-46. The spurt included three consecutive 3-pointers by Jazz Johnson (two) and Thurman.

“A team that averages 90 points, you’re not going to be able to hold them down the whole game, but when they go on runs you have to score with them,” USC coach Andy Enfield said.


Nevada: The Wolf Pack’s point total was a season low. … Los Angeles Lakers player JaVale McGee, who played two years at Nevada before leaving for the NBA, sat courtside wearing a Nevada hoodie. His Hall of Fame mother, Pam McGee, who starred in basketball at USC, wore a Trojans jersey. … More than 20 pro scouts were in attendance. … The teams played each other for the first time since 1976. The Wolf Pack trail the series 2-1.

USC: The Trojans’ point total was a season low. … G Charles O’Bannon Jr. is expected to have the cast on his left pinky finger removed on Monday. He had surgery on Nov. 13. … G Kevin Porter Jr., the Trojans’ third-leading scorer, returned to play in the second half after missing two games with a right quadriceps contusion. He was scoreless in four minutes. … Enfield needs one win for his 100th at USC. He is 99-79 in his sixth season. … Before the game, Boatwright received the ball used to score his 1,000th career point against Texas Tech, on Nov. 19 in Kansas City.


Musselman used to visit Galen Center when he was an assistant at Arizona State. The crowd of 5,844 was small but loud in urging on the Trojans. “This place is not like it was today,” he said. “It was electric.”

Memphis, Penny land commitment from second five-star prospect, Precious Achiuwa

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The transformation is complete.

On Friday afternoon, Precious Achiuwa, a top 15 prospect in the Class of 2019, announced that he has committed to play his college basketball at Memphis, joining one of the best recruiting classes in the country and affirming that Penny Hardaway will enter the 2019-20 season with a preseason top 10 team.

Achiuwa, one of the top combo-forwards in the class and the kind of athlete that will make him an attractive player to NBA GMs, joins No. 1 player James Wiseman and fellow four-star prospects D.J. Jeffries, Lester Quinones, Boogie Ellis, Damion Baugh and Malcolm Dandridge in Penny’s first real recruiting class as Memphis head coach.

The Tigers also add Rayjon Tucker, arguably the nation’s top grad transfer and a potential NBA player in his own right.

As we wrote earlier this week, Penny is building an absolute monster in Memphis.

Grant Williams will remain in 2019 NBA Draft

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Grant Williams announced on Friday morning that he will be staying in the NBA draft after an All-American junior season with Tennessee.

Williams averaged 18.8 points, 7.5 boards, 3.2 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.1 steals this past season, helping lead Tennessee to a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament and on a run to the Sweet 16, where they lost in overtime to Purdue.

This is probably the right decision for him to make. While he is somewhat undersized and limited athletically, Williams is such a smart and savvy players. He really understands how to pass, he can defend multiple positions and, most importantly, he has a skill-set that should allow him to be able to contribute as a role player at the next level, particularly if his three-point stroke is as good as it has looked in postseason workouts.

Williams is slotted in at No. 19 to San Antonio in the most recent NBC Sports mock draft.

Tennessee will now have to play the waiting game with Jordan Bone, who is still undecided on his status. The Vols currently sit 22nd in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

Clemson lands Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore

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Clemson is adding a former top-50 recruit to its roster.

Texas Tech transfer Khavon Moore has pledged to coach Brad Brownell and the Tigers, he announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 Moore, a former four-star recruit, played just 2 minutes last season for the Red Raiders and saw his season shutdown amid medical concerns due to lingering issues from a broken leg he suffered in high school. The plan was for him to seek a medical hardship redshirt for last season, which could allow him to still have four years of eligibility remaining at Clemson after sitting out the upcoming season as a transfer.

The Tigers went 20-14 last season and missed the NCAA tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons under Brownell.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, continues to build a monster even with departures like former high-profile recruit.



Four-star forward Jalen Wilson asks out of Michigan letter of intent

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John Beilein isn’t the only loss Michigan sustained this week.

Jalen Wilson, a top-50 guard in 2019, has requested out of his National Letter of Intent with the Wolverines, he announced Thursday.

“Due to the sudden head coaching change, I have requested my release from The University of Michigan, and will re-open my recruitment,” he wrote on social media.

Beilein’s decision to leave Michigan for the NBA and the Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the college basketball world earlier this week, and there’s little surprise to see it shake the Wolverines’ recruiting class as the head coaching position remains vacant and Michigan conducting a search of its next coach.

Wilson, a 6-foot-8 forward, is now considering Kansas, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Florida along with the Wolverines, according to 247Sports. The Texas native suddenly becomes one of the most desirable players left available ahead of the upcoming season.

Cole Bajema, a top-150 wing from Washington, is the lone remaining signee in Michigan’s 2019 class.

Nebraska adds former Tennessee forward Walker

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Former Tennessee forward Derrick Walker is transferring to Nebraska.

Nebraska announced Wednesday it has added Walker to its roster. Nebraska officials said Walker will sit out the 2019-20 season before playing for the Cornhuskers. He has two seasons of eligibility remaining.

Walker entered the NCAA transfer portal after averaging 0.8 points, 1.1 rebounds and 5.3 minutes for Tennessee this past season. The 6-foot-8 Walker averaged 1.9 points, 2.2 rebounds and 8.8 minutes as a freshman in the 2017-18 season.

Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said in a statement, “Derrick is a physical player who gives us skill and versatility in the post.”