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Koumadje has double-double as No. 17 Florida St. routs Wake

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Christ Koumadje hasn’t had many chances to make an impact on games this season. But he used his long, 7-foot-4 frame to dominate Wake Forest for the best night of his college career.

Koumadje recorded his first career double-double, with a season-high 20 points and a career-high 12 rebounds, to help No. 17 Florida State rout Wake Forest 88-66 on Wednesday night.

“He did a really good job of going to the offensive glass early on, especially in our zone,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said. “We didn’t turn and go hit him, he brought the contact to us. When he gets within four feet of the basket, when he jumps, he’s right there at the rim.”

Koumadje, who is playing in his 109th career game, played just 24 minutes but was efficient from start to finish. He made 10 of 12 shots from the floor as the Seminoles won their sixth straight game.

While he has been an effective rebounder this season, Koumadje didn’t score in Florida State’s last game and hadn’t produced more than nine points in his previous 10 ACC games this season. But he was a significant part of the game plan from the start on Wednesday, scoring 12 points and pulling down eight rebounds as the Seminoles took a 38-31 halftime lead.

“The coaches demand energy from me,” Koumadje said. “Coming out, I was just trying to be aggressive. My teammates found me. I was crashing the glass.”

Phil Cofer scored 13 points and Mfiondu Kabengele had nine points and seven rebounds for Florida State (19-5, 7-4 ACC), which enjoyed its most lopsided win against an ACC team this season. The Seminoles’ previous best performance was an 80-62 win at Syracuse on Feb. 5.

Florida State outrebounded Wake Forest 43-27. Koumadje had five of the Seminoles’ 12 offensive rebounds.

“We didn’t rebound the ball the way we had typically rebounded in league play,” Manning said. “We have to do a better job on the backboard.”

Chaundee Brown scored 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting and Brandon Childress had 11 points for Wake Forest (9-14, 2-9). The Demon Deacons are just 1-6 against ranked teams this season.

Wake Forest shot 38.6 percent (22 of 57) from the floor.

Cofer and P.J. Savoy each made three 3-pointers as the Seminoles shot 38.5 percent (10 for 26) from beyond the arc.

The Seminoles shot 56.5 percent (35 of 62) from the floor. They had 13 players score in the game as Florida State’s bench produced 41 points.

“We intended to get them in regardless,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of using the reserves. “They were very effective when they went in.”

Florida State has won six straight ACC games for the first time since the 2011-12 season in which the Seminoles also won the league tournament.

STRENGTH IS DEPTH

Koumadje is the eighth Florida State player to lead the team in scoring in a game this season. Others who have led the way for the Seminoles are Cofer, Kabengele, P.J. Savoy, Terance Mann, M.J. Walker, Trent Forrest and David Nichols.

SOME IMPROVEMENT

Wake Forest came in shooting 29.8 percent from 3-point range. But Childress and Brown each made 3-pointers on Wednesday as the Demon Deacons shot 44 percent (11 of 25) from beyond the arc.

“They hit some 3s that we contested very well,” Hamilton said.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Few ACC teams have been as impressive as Florida State the past three weeks. The Seminoles could move up into the top 15.

BIG PICTURE

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons battled for a half but lost for a sixth straight time in Tallahassee, where they haven’t won since 2008.

Florida State: The Seminoles shot 64.5 percent (20 of 31) in the second half and only committed four turnovers in the final 20 minutes.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest hosts North Carolina on Saturday.

Florida State plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday.

New-look Virginia back to work after winning NCAA title

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Tony Bennett’s first offseason as a national champion coach has come with benefits on the recruiting trail. His first season at Virginia after winning the title, however, will bring challenges.

Five players who helped Virginia beat Texas Tech to capture the first basketball title in school history are gone, and that’s four more than expected. Center Jack Salt graduated, and guards De’Andre Hunter, Ty Jerome and Kyle Guy declared for the NBA draft. Seldom-used Marco Anthony transferred.

Recruiting was already well underway before the Cavaliers won it all, but Bennett said Wednesday the result “certainly can’t hurt and I think it has helped. It validates a lot of good stuff that’s happened in the past.”

Virginia hopes the spoils of those improvements are evident quickly in incoming freshmen guard Casey Morsell, big men Justin McKoy and Kadin Shedrick and junior college shooting guard Tomas Woldetensae.

Virginia opened its summer practice period on Tuesday, and Bennett said he’s not sure just yet who will be ready to contribute.

“Everyone will have ample opportunity, the newcomers, so to speak,” he said. “To say who, you just don’t know. … There are some opportunities out there. So it’s the returners and we can go down the list of the guys we brought in, but I think they’re excited about the opportunity.

“There’s always a learning curve any time you go from whether it’s high school to college or junior college to college or coming from a redshirt to being eligible. … Going up a level and playing in the ACC, for any of these guys, there’s the challenge of the physicality and the level of talent and the speed.”

Woldetensae, a left-handed shooter, averaged 17.3 points per game and shot 47.6 percent from 3-point range last season at Indian Hills Community College.

“We thought we needed to add some experience and a quality player on the perimeter and when he was mentioned and we did our homework and watched film and all those kinds of things,” he said. “His personality came out as a young man of character and we always start there. He seemed wanting to challenge himself at a very high level.”

The Cavaliers were delighted that Mamadi Diakite decided to come back for his senior year after testing the professional waters. And they added senior transfer Sam Hauser, who averaged 14.9 points and 7.2 rebounds last season at Marquette. Hauser will be eligible to practice with the team, but won’t be able to play until 2020-21.

Bennett’s offseason included numerous speaking engagements, recruiting, talking to NBA scouts about his players and some time to decompress.

He also checked an item off his bucket list when, with his father, longtime college coach Dick Bennett, he played Augusta National Golf Club, home of The Masters. That, he said, “was amazing.”

Now, it’s back to work.

“I’m grateful for the busy-ness of it,” he said of the offseason. “It means something good happened.”

Four-star forward commits to West Virginia

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West Virginia landed a top-75 recruit Thursday night.

Isaiah Cottrell, a 6-foot-9 forward from Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas, committed to West Virginia’s 2020 recruiting class.

Cottrell picked the Mountaineers overs offers from the likes of Kansas, Washington and Arizona, among others. His father, Brian Lewin, played for West Virginia in the 1990s. The four-star prospect continues a promising recruiting trend for Bob Huggins, who landed a top-40 commit in center Oscar Tshiebwe in the 2019 class.

The Mountaineers missed the NCAA tournament last season for the first time in four years as they slid to 15-21 overall and last in the Big 12 with a 4-14 mark.

John Calipari’s new deal at Kentucky worth $86 million over 10 years

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John Calipari and Kentucky agreed in April to what was described as a “lifetime contract.” Thursday, the exact terms of that deal were disclosed.

The Wildcats coach’s new contract worth $86 million over 10 years.

“I’ve said from day one that this would be the gold standard and it has been for student-athletes and coaches,” Calipari said in a statement released by the school. “As I enter my 11th year, I’m reminded it took me 20 years to get an opportunity to like this. There is no other place I want to be. As I look forward, my mindset is what’s next and how can we be first at it for the young people that we coach.”

Calipari, 60, will likely continue to be a source of speculation for other jobs presuming he keeps things rolling in Lexington as he has for the last 10 years, but what Kentucky is paying him will almost certainly be more than any other program – and potentially NBA franchises – are going to be willing to. Calipari’s success, NBA history and ability to always be central to the broader college basketball conversation means he’ll always be in demand, but it’s hard to picture a situation that could intrigue Calipari enough to leave one of – if not the – best jobs in basketball.

“(Calipari) has added a special chapter to the greatest tradition in college basketball and it’s a chapter we want him to continue writing until the end of his coaching career,” Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart said in a statement. “We are pleased to announce a new contract that will enable him to do exactly that.”

Calipari 305-71 with one national championship, four Final Fours and 26 first-round draft picks in 10 years with the Wildcats. He and Kentucky will likely open the 2019-20 season as one of the frontrunners for the national championship.

Michigan State reports violation for Tom Izzo hosting visit for former high school

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Michigan State self-reported an NCAA rules violation for Tom Izzo hosting Iron Mountain High School for a tour while the team was in town to compete for its first ever state title that weekend.

Izzo unknowingly committed the violation — which only occurred because Iron Mountain was competing in the Breslin Center that weekend — and the Spartans immediately gave notice once they became aware of it. Proud of his alma mater for advancing to Michigan’s final weekend, Izzo was merely taking interest in players and a team connected to his youth. The Iron Mountain program toured the Breslin Center with Izzo and toured Michigan State’s locked room while also watching the Spartans practice before their state semifinal game.

Since it was a special privilege for Iron Mountain, playing in an event there, the Spartans were technically at fault for a violation. The fact that Izzo and Michigan State have to report a violation for this sort of thing is kind of ridiculous since Izzo has a natural connection to the team in question. Although Michigan State likely isn’t going to get hit with any NCAA issues from this, it’s the kind of thing that critics come to question about the NCAA’s rulebook.

Former lacrosse star Pat Spencer commits to Northwestern for basketball

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Northwestern landed a unique graduate transfer on Thursday as Loyola lacrosse star Pat Spencer will spend his final year of college eligibility hooping for the Wildcats, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman.

A former high school basketball standout at Boys’ Latin (MD), Spencer was one of the best lacrosse players in the country for the Greyhounds the past four years in college. He was selected in two drafts during the Spring. Spencer was taken first overall in the inaugural PLL College Draft while getting taken seventh overall in the MLL’s Collegiate Draft. Loyola remains in the NCAA tournament as Spencer is playing out his senior season of college.

Spencer is passing up multiple professional lacrosse opportunities to play Big Ten basketball for Northwestern. For a stud athlete in a sport to pass up money to pursue another athletic dream is one of the college basketball’s best things to follow next season.

As if Spencer’s background wasn’t unique enough, he’ll be at a Northwestern team starving for an identity since making the NCAA tournament a few seasons ago. By playing in the Big Ten, Spencer will be thrown against Final Four contenders and potential draft picks, which makes this transition particularly intriguing. It’s a cool story to follow this season as college hoops doesn’t often get athletes from other sports playing in such prominent conferences.

Greg Paulus famously went from Duke point guard to Syracuse quarterback as a graduate transfer, but he was leaving the sport to pursue an opportunity to play football. Spencer choosing basketball over a sure pro shot in lacrosse is an interesting opportunity for him this season. It’ll be interesting to see if he can still contribute anything on the hardwood.

(Ht: Jeff Goodman, Stadium)