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College Basketball’s Best Backcourts

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Guards win in March.

That’s why having the best guards in the country makes you such a good basketball team.

And that’s what makes this list of college basketball’s best backcourts so important.

These are the teams that are positioned to make a run in March.

1. KENTUCKY (Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley, Kahlil Whitney, Johnny Juzang)

It’s hard to top a perimeter group that boasts four five-star prospects and multiple McDonald’s All-Americans, but it’s become practically the norm at Kentucky.

Ashton Hagans proved himself capable of running an offense and being a lockdown defender last season. The sophomore is hoping to expand his offensive game this season as perimeter shooting will be something to monitor. Tyrese Maxey is one of the most college-ready scorers in the freshman class as he’s also capable of playing with the ball in his hands.

The duo of Hagans and Maxey could also compliment each other nicely with Hagans as a lockdown guy and Maxey focused on bucket-getting. There might not be a better third guard in the country than former McDonald’s All-American Immanuel Quickley as he can help on both ends of the floor. Freshman Kahlil Whitney could get heavy minutes on the wing as he’s a run-and-jump athlete with more skill than advertised.

2. MICHIGAN STATE (Cassius Winston, Josh Langford, Aaron Henry, Rocket Watts, Foster Loyer)

Having the Preseason Player of the Year in college basketball certainly helps the Spartans this season as Cassius Winston is the sport’s top returning player this season. With Winston maintaining his responsibilities at point guard, Michigan State is a big favorite to win the Big Ten as they try to capture a national title.

Although injured, Joshua Langford is a potent scorer and solid defender when he’s in the lineup. Langford’s health could ultimately be the key to unlocking the Spartans’ ceiling this season. Aaron Henry has a chance to make major strides as a sophomore as he showed plenty of promise late in the season. The addition of freshman Rocket Watts should give a nice boost to the Michigan State second unit as he could be looked upon to help score while the starters get rest.

3. FLORIDA (Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke, Tre Mann, Scottie Lewis)

Expectations are high at Florida this season as a young-but-talented perimeter group could ultimately determine the Gators’ ceiling. The return of point guard Andrew Nembhard and shooter Noah Locke was big for Florida as both players produced solid freshman campaigns. Nembhard will be asked to do even more this season as one of the team’s few returning rotation players. Locke needs to be more consistent after a sluggish end to the season but he’s a capable shooter who limits turnovers.

The Gators are very excited by the addition of two McDonald’s All-Americans in athletic wing Scottie Lewis and in-state scoring guard Tre Mann. Lewis fits perfectly with this Florida outfit because he doesn’t have to score a lot to be a major factor. Lewis has outstanding defensive upside and can also help handle the ball in a pinch if needed. Mann’s ability to put up points in bunches will greatly benefit the Gators as his role in this perimeter group will be fascinating to watch.

4. NORTH CAROLINA (Cole Anthony, Brandon Robinson, Leaky Black, Christian Keeling, Andrew Platek, Anthony Harris)

There will be some question marks in the North Carolina backcourt this season with the loss of talented players like Coby White, Kenny Williams and Cameron Johnson. Having freshman Cole Anthony should alleviate a lot of those Tar Heel perimeter concerns. Anthony has a chance to be the most productive freshman in college hoops this season with his Westbrook-like impact on the game. Capable of the triple-double on any night, Anthony has to push North Carolina’s offense if the Tar Heels want to be great.

Senior Brandon Robinson and grad transfer Christian Keeling (Charleston Southern) should help provide floor spacing for Anthony. North Carolina fans have patiently waited for sophomore Leaky Black to unleash his vast potential. If Black figures out how to play with more aggression then he has the talent to be an impact ACC player. Freshman Anthony Harris could earn rotation minutes if he’s healthy enough following a torn ACL last December.

5. DUKE (Tre Jones, Alex O’Connell, Wendell Moore, Cassius Stanley, Jordan Goldwire)

The return of Tre Jones at point guard was gigantic for the Blue Devils as the sophomore has a chance to be one of the nation’s top players. A standout running the offense and defending on the perimeter, Jones has to improve an inconsistent perimeter jumper that became a liability at times last season. Even if Jones isn’t knocking down shots, he still makes everyone around him better and he’ll be the unquestioned leader of Duke’s defense.

Junior Alex O’Connell has carved out a role the past two seasons as a shooter off the bench as the Blue Devils hope he can become more well-rounded as an upperclassman. Two stud freshmen enter the mix as well in Wendell Moore and Cassius Stanley. Moore is a winning player capable of contributing in multiple ways. The freshman doesn’t need to score to make an impact. Stanley is a big-time athlete who can slash and flourish in the open floor. Perimeter shooting as a whole is going to be the major storyline to follow with this Duke backcourt.

6. KANSAS (Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji, Marcus Garrett, Isaiah Moss)

Plenty of talented perimeter pieces return to Kansas as the Jayhawks should have more stability there than a year ago. Devon Dotson pulling his name out of the NBA Draft and returning for his sophomore season was huge for Kansas. The downhill guard can create offense in an instant and he’s one of the toughest guards to slow down in the country.

After burning his redshirt in the middle of last season, Ochai Agbaji made a major splash as he was starting and contributing by the end of the year. Agbaji has big upside and seeing what he can do during a full season should be fun to watch. Junior Marcus Garrett returns as a lockdown defender and solid rotation piece. Grad transfer Isaiah Moss comes from Iowa ready to produce as an off-ball scorer as he gives the Jayhawks a perimeter threat that they needed for this roster.

7. MARYLAND (Anthony Cowan, Eric Ayala, Darryl Morsell, Aaron Wiggins, Serrel Smith)

Following last season’s Round of 32 run, the Terps return their entire perimeter group after only losing big man Bruno Fernando this offseason. Anthony Cowan would receive far more attention at lead guard if he wasn’t in the same league as Cassius Winston as the senior is the team’s leading scorer and distributor. If Cowan can become a little more consistent then he could push for All-American honors.

It helps Maryland that Cowan has plenty of weapons around him as sophomores Eric Ayala, Darryl Morsell, Aaron Wiggins and Serrel Smith all return. All three produced as freshmen last season. Wiggins, the team’s sixth man last season, could make a major leap with more minutes while Ayala and Morsell are established starters who fit nicely with Cowan. Smith gives Maryland a wealth of perimeter options as he would play more minutes on most teams.

8. OREGON (Payton Pritchard, Will Richardson, Anthony Mathis, Chris Duarte)

Not many backcourts in college hoops have a Final Four participant as the Ducks are led by veteran floor general Payton Pritchard. Helping Oregon reach multiple Sweet 16s the past three years, Pritchard is tough as nails and makes plays all over the floor. Pritchard will have weapons around him this season. Transferring in from New Mexico, senior shooter Anthony Mathis is reunited with Pritchard, his former high school teammate. Sophomore Will Richardson will both be asked to score more this season after being role player a year ago. The wild card in the group could be highly-touted JUCO guard Chris Duarte who some considered the best JUCO prospect in the country. As long as Pritchard gets scoring help from one of his four perimeter options, the Ducks should be fine.

9. SETON HALL (Myles Powell, Quincy McKnight, Myles Cale, Anthony Nelson, Shavar Reynolds Jr.)

A veteran backcourt with a potential All-American in Myles Powell, Seton Hall has a lot to look forward to from its perimeter. Powell is one of America’s premier players as he’ll have a chance to earn All-American honors if he plays like he did last season. Although Powell is a rugged scorer and solid two-way player, if he limits turnovers then he’ll be even tougher to stop. McKnight isn’t reliable as a perimeter shooter but the senior fills in a lot of gaps for the group as he can attack the basket, handle the ball and really defend. Junior Myles Cale adds an additional scoring punch that prevents defenses from overloading too much on Powell. Depth is a question mark for this group, although reserves like Anthony Nelson and Shavar Reynolds Jr. have been solid in limited minutes.

10. ARIZONA (Nico Mannion, Josh Green, Max Hazzard, Dylan Smith, Devonaire Doutrive)

The Wildcats are hoping for a return to the national spotlight this season thanks to the addition of two McDonald’s All-American guards in Nico Mannion and Josh Green. Both freshmen should receive big minutes right away. Mannion is a competitor on both ends who should be able to run Arizona’s offense while also providing some scoring pop on his own. Green is a smooth wing athlete who can slash and attack the basket. If Green can improve his shaky perimeter jumper than he’ll be tough to defend. Veterans Dylan Smith and Devonaire Doutrive both return and will be counted on to help Arizona’s perimeter defense. The addition of UC Irvine grad transfer Max Hazzard should help as the senior was a big reason why the Anteaters made a splash in the NCAA tournament.

11. MARQUETTE (Markus Howard, Sacar Anim, Koby McEwen, Greg Elliott)

This group’s ranking gets a boost thanks to the return of Markus Howard for his senior season. One of the most dynamic scorers in the country, Howard is one of the only players in college hoops capable of going for 50-plus points on any night. Howard should have help this season in the form of senior Sacar Anim and Utah State transfer Koby McEwen. Anim has earned steady minutes in the Marquette rotation while McEwen is a former all-conference selection in the Mountain West who should alleviate some of the scoring burden placed on Howard. Sophomore Greg Elliott is a bit of a forgotten man in this group after redshirting last season with a thumb injury but he could give a nice addition to the unit — particularly on defense.

12. DAVIDSON (Jon Axel Gudmundsson, Kellan Grady, Luke Frampton, Carter Collins)

Not many backcourt units boast two all-league players returning  in the same unit. With Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jon Axel Gudmundsson and first-team all-conference selection Kellan Grady back in the fold, Davidson has one of the most dangerous backcourts in the country. Gudmundsson is one of America’s most underrated floor leaders. The senior is a do-it-all guard capable of pushing for a triple-double any game. Grady (17.3 ppg) is the lethal scorer and former highly-touted prospect among the group as the junior can get rolling. And Luke Frampton made the most three-pointers in the A-10 last season as he rounds out a very tough trio of starters.

13. PROVIDENCE (Alpha Diallo, David Duke, Luwane Pipkins, A.J. Reeves, Maliek White)

The Big East has more perimeter star power on teams like Seton Hall and Marquette but you could make a solid argument that Providence has the deepest unit in the league. Diallo’s return to school gave the Friars a ton of hope this season as the second-team All-Big East selection is the productive leader of this group. From there, the Friars could get a leap from sophomores A.J. Reeves and David Duke as both former top-100 prospects nearly averaged double-figures last season. Point guard play will be the group’s biggest question but Providence was wise to add UMass grad transfer Luwane Pipkins and his scoring prowess to the lineup this offseason. If Pipkins struggles to consistently run the offense then senior Mallek White is one of the Big East’s better reserve guards.

14. LSU (Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays, Marlon Taylor, Parker Edwards)

Losing Tremont Waters will certainly hurt. The good news for LSU is that Javonte Smart, Skylar Mays and Marlon Taylor all pulled their name out of the NBA Draft and returned to school. Playing more off the ball last season with Waters at point, Smart will get a chance to be the primary playmaker as a sophomore. While Smart’s perimeter shooting remains a question mark, he is undoubtedly strong when it comes to attacking the rim and making plays. Mays didn’t shoot particularly well from the perimeter last season but still produced a great season. The senior is an All-SEC caliber player who isn’t afraid to step up in big moments. Taylor didn’t get heavy minutes last season but he’s a mega athlete capable of playing above the rim and helping defensively. LSU’s perimeter doesn’t have a lot of depth but Southeastern Louisiana transfer Parker Edwards could carve out a useful role as a perimeter shooter.

15. CREIGHTON (Ty-Shon Alexander, Mitchell Ballock, Marcus Zegarowski, Davion Mintz)

The Bluejays have plenty of perimeter pieces to rely on this season thanks to the return of numerous veterans. Davion Mintz is a three-year starter capable of playing multiple guard spots but he’s at his best setting up the numerous weapons he has around him. Ty-Shon Alexander and Mitchell Ballock are two junior bombers who can really knock down perimeter shots. Alexander is the more well-rounded scorer while Ballock might be more capable of a one-night explosion as evidenced by his NCAA-record 11 threes against DePaul last season. Marcus Zegarowski is the intriguing sophomore of the group as he joined the starting lineup midway through last season and made a major impact scoring and distributing.

No. 15 Florida falls to UConn 62-59 on the road

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STORRS, Conn. — Christian Vital scored 15 points and made a key steal at the end of the game as UConn upset No. 15 Florida 62-59 on Sunday.

Tyler Polley also scored 15 points and Josh Carlton added 13 for the Huskies (2-1) who led by five points at halftime and never trailed after intermission.

A layup by Florida’s Keyontae Johnson with just over a minute to go cut the lead to 60-59, but those would be the last points the Gators scored.

Vital hit two free throws with 17 seconds left and Florida had a chance to tie. But Alterique Gilbert tipped the ball out of Johnson’s hands and Vital grabbed it and dribbled away, securing the win.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 15 points and eight rebounds for Florida (2-2), falling two boards shy of a fourth straight double-double. But he fouled out with 4:37 left in the game and his team trailing 53-49.

Andrew Nembhard scored Florida’s next four points, including a 3-pointer that brought the Gators within a point at 54-53.

Blackshear scored the game’s first two baskets, but the Gators made just four of their first 13 attempts from the floor.

But UConn had a tougher start, going without a basket for the first six minutes.

Vital got the UConn crowd into the game with a 3-pointer, a dunk and a jumper on consecutive trips down the court that gave the Huskies an 11-6 lead.

The Huskies held Florida to two Blackshear free throws over the final 4:17 of the first half and led 25-20 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

The loss ends a rough seven days for the Gators. Florida was No. 6 coming into the season but lost to Florida State a week ago and beat Towson by just six points on Thursday. The Gators offense came into the game averaging just 63.7 points per game, while giving up 60.7.

UConn: Highly touted freshman guard James Bouknight has finished serving his three-game suspension following his arrest on charges including evading police in a September car accident. Bouknight, who is due in court on Monday, is expected to suit up for the Huskies in this week’s Charleston Classic, where it’s possible the Huskies could again face either Saint Joseph’s or Florida, depending on how the early rounds pan out.

UP NEXT

Florida: The Gators face Saint Joseph’s in the Charleston Classic on Thursday.

UConn: The Huskies also travel to Charleston and face Buffalo in the first round of the tournament on Thursday.

Seton Hall placed on probation for three years for transfer tampering

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SOUTH ORANGE, N.J. — The NCAA has placed the men’s basketball program at Seton Hall on probation for three years, taken away a scholarship for the 2020-21 academic year and limited recruiting in each of the next two seasons as part of a negotiated resolution of a transfer tampering case started in 2016.

Under terms of the agreement announced Friday, Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard was given a two-game suspension he has already served, and his former assistant and current Saint Peter’s University head coach Shaheen Holloway received a four-game suspension that has two games remaining.

Seton Hall, which is currently ranked No. 12 and dropped a 76-73 decision to No. 3 Michigan State on Thursday night, remains eligible for the NCAA tournament.

The NCAA also announced Friday Seton Hall has been fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men’s basketball budget and had its scholarships reduced to a maximum of 12 in 2020-21. Willard will have to attend an NCAA rules seminar in 2020 and the program will have a two-week ban on recruiting communication this academic year and next.

Holloway, who was Willard’s assistant at Seton Hall in 2016, is prohibited from all recruiting communication for six weeks during the 2019-20 academic year. He also is required to attend a rules seminar in each of the next two years.

The case centers around current Seton Hall forward Taurean Thompson, who transferred from Syracuse to Seton Hall in August 2017.

During the investigation, the NCAA learned Holloway had approximately 243 impermissible contacts with the prospect’s mother from Nov. 16, 2016, through Aug. 28, 2017, while the prospect was enrolled at his initial institution.

The NCAA said Holloway and the prospect’s mother had 154 phone calls without written permission from the prospect’s athletic director. After Thompson informed his original university of his intent to transfer and requested permission to contact Seton Hall, the university denied the request. After the request was denied, Holloway still had 87 impermissible calls with the prospect’s mother.

Willard, who has taken Seton Hall to the past four NCAA tournaments, was penalized for failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance within his program. He admitted to not taking adequate steps to report or stop the calls when he found out about them.

According to the agreement, Holloway did not report the calls with the prospect’s mother because they involved a personal relationship outside of the prospect and basketball, and he believed the communications were permissible.

“Seton Hall University, in conjunction with the NCAA, recently concluded a review of an infraction within our men’s basketball program,” Seton Hall said in a statement Friday afternoon. “Our department was proactive in our review and fully cooperated with the NCAA enforcement staff. While the violation was inadvertent, it was nonetheless against NCAA bylaws, and for that we take full responsibility.”

The case was processed through the new negotiated resolution process. The process was used instead of a formal hearing or summary disposition because the university, the head coach, the former associate head coach and the enforcement staff agreed on the violations and the penalties.

The Division I Committee on Infractions reviewed the case to determine whether the resolution was in the best interests of the NCAA and whether the agreed-upon penalties were reasonable.

Holloway is in his second season at Saint Peter’s. He will miss games against Providence on Saturday and Wagner on Wednesday. His first game will be against St. Francis, New York, on Nov. 30.

Quinones, Achiuwa send No. 13 Memphis past Alcorn St 102-56

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Despite playing their first game without heralded recruit James Wiseman, the No. 13 Memphis Tigers had little trouble with Alcorn State.

That’s what happens when you have the top recruiting class in the nation.

Freshman Lester Quinones had 21 points and 10 rebounds and fellow freshman Precious Achiuwa added 20 points Saturday, sending No. 13 Memphis to a 102-56 romp over Alcorn State.

Wiseman was sidelined because of eligibility issues, but Memphis hardly missed him in bouncing back from its first defeat of the season, an 82-74 loss to Oregon on Tuesday night.

“His presence is huge. Seven-footer in the paint. His dominance obviously wasn’t felt,” Quinones said of not having the 7-foot-1 Wiseman. “I feel like other guys stepped up.”

“We understand James is not playing right now,” Achiuwa added, “which hurts the team in a way because he’s a big part of the team. But this is an opportunity for other guys to play.”

DJ Jeffries finished with 15 points and Tyler Harris and Lance Thomas added 11 each for Memphis (3-1). Isaiah Attles led Alcorn State (1-3) with 13 points while Troymain Crosby had 10.

Wiseman was declared ineligible because Memphis coach Penny Hardaway helped with the family’s moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis two years ago when Hardaway was coach at East High School. Wiseman’s status is in limbo while the NCAA considers disciplinary action.

“We don’t want to change too much because we know he’s going to be back earlier than later,” Hardaway said after moving Achiuwa into the center spot vacated by Wiseman. “The guys can just slide over. They already understand the rotations. They understand the offensive side and the defensive side of what we want. We’re not going to change too much.”

Alcorn State’s zone initially took Memphis out of any flow, the Tigers choosing long passes across the top of the defense and struggling to get the ball inside. That kept the Braves in the game near the midway point of the first half.

The Memphis defense eventually put pressure on the Braves, leading to 16 Alcorn State turnovers in the half. Memphis put together a 24-3 run to close the half and carry a 52-24 lead into the break. The lead would swell to 53 in the second half.

“We didn’t follow the game plan,” Braves coach Montez Robinson said. “I thought if we followed the game plan – which we did in the first four-to-five minutes of the game – and stuck to that, it may have been a different outcome. Not knowing what the outcome would be, but it would have been different.

“It wouldn’t have been a 40-to-50-point game.”

BIG PICTURE

Alcorn State: The Braves did well in staying with Memphis for a while even with the Tigers employing a fullcourt press. But the Memphis defense proved intimidating, and the Braves began overpassing inside. That led to way too many turnovers — 26 for the game.

Memphis: Without Wiseman, Memphis relied on Achiuwa inside. While his 20 points and eight rebounds were impressive, his 8 of 20 from the free throw line was a detraction. Still, overall, that wasn’t a factor as Memphis controlled the final 30 minutes of the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Certainly, a rout over the Braves, who haven’t beaten a non-conference Division I team since the 2012-13 season, is not going to enhance the Tigers’ ranking. The potential impact will come from last Tuesday’s loss to Oregon in Portland.

FOUL SHOOTING WOES

Achiuwa’s foul shooting stood out enough that even the freshman forward noticed it on the stat sheet before the postgame press conference. “I’m probably one of the few dudes that can get to the free throw line at will,” he said. “My physicality and the way I play. …I’ve just got to knock them down in the game. That just tells me I have to work on that. There’s room for improvement.”

LAST WORD

“The sky’s the limit for those guys. They’re young so they’re going to continue to get better, continue to grow. – Alcorn State coach Montez Robinson on No. 13 Memphis.

UP NEXT

Memphis: Hosts Arkansas-Little Rock on Wednesday.

Bowden scores 18 as Tennessee upsets No. 20 Washington 75-62

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TORONTO — Tennessee coach Rick Barnes is a big believer in challenging his teams with tough non-conference schedules.

On Saturday, Barnes’ squad passed its first test in style.

Jordan Bowden scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half, Lamonte Turner had 16 points and the Volunteers upset No. 20 Washington 75-62 in Toronto.

“We’ve got to go test ourselves,” Barnes said. “We have to do that. We’ve always believed in that. We believe that this time of year, it’s really about trying to get yourself ready for conference play. To do that, you’ve got to play a high-level opponent like we played today.”

Yves Pons scored 15 points, John Fulkerson had 14 and Turner added seven rebounds and eight assists as the Volunteers improved to 3-0 and handed Washington its first loss in three games this season.

“We just got a little bit out-classed but we can learn from it,” Washington coach Mike Hopkins said.

Pons scored in double figures for the third straight game.

“Yves is getting more and more of a feel,” Barnes said. “I think he’s getting more and more confident.”

The game was the middle feature in the James Naismith Hall of Fame Classic, an NCAA triple header at Scotiabank Arena in downtown Toronto, home of the defending NBA-champion Raptors.

Washington, which began its season with a neutral-site win over ranked Baylor, didn’t fare so well north of the border, falling behind by as many as 14 against the Volunteers.

“I felt like we were in sand a little bit today,” Hopkins said. “They were moving the ball, we weren’t as active and disruptive as we normally were. Our rim protection wasn’t as good as it was against Baylor.”

Nahziah Carter had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Isaiah Stewart had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Jaden McDaniels scored 15 for the Huskies.

Quade Green scored 10 points but Washington struggled with its outside shooting, going 5 for 18 from 3-point range.

The Huskies struggled for the second straight game. Washington overcome an awful offensive first half to pull away for a 56-46 win over Mount St. Mary’s Tuesday.

Stewart’s jump shot with 18:28 left in the first half put the Huskies up 3-2 but Turner answered with a 3-pointer, giving Tennessee a lead it would not relinquish.

“We knew the middle of the zone was going to be open,” Turner said. “We’ve got big guys who can make that shot.”

Pons drew cheers from his bench for a huge block on Carter’s dunk attempt midway through the first. The loose ball ended up with Huskies guard Quade Green, whose jump shot bounced off the rim. Carter, who had fallen to the court along the baseline after the block, got back on his feet in time to jump and put back the rebound, then turned and yelled at the Volunteers bench as he headed back up court.

Washington called timeout after Bowden’s 3-pointer with 8:55 left in the first capped a 7-0 run and gave Tennessee a 25-13 lead. The Volunteers stretched their advantage to 38-24 on a 3 by Pons with 1:47 left in the half. Bowden scored 15 points in the first half and Pons had 11 as the pair combined to make four of five attempts from 3-point range and 10 of 14 overall.

Tennessee recorded an assist on each of its 15 made baskets in the opening half and led 40-28 at the intermission. Tuner had seven assists for the Volunteers, matching Washington’s first half team total.

“We were in rhythm,” Barnes said. We were getting things done and playing at a very high percentage.”

Carter, McDaniels and Stewart were the only three Huskies players to score in the first half, combining to make 13 of 23 attempts. Six other Washington players shot 0 for 7.

Carter made his only attempt from 3-point territory, the only Washington player to connect from long range in the opening 20 minutes.

“They controlled the pace for most of the game,” Hopkins said.

After both teams went scoreless for almost three minutes in the second half, Carter made a fast break reverse layup to cut the deficit to 50-41, then made a block that led to another Washington basket, cutting the gap to seven at 50-43 with 11:22 remaining. Josiah-Jordan James replied with a 3 as the Volunteers pushed their lead back to 10 points.

“Every time we had a little bit of momentum where you could turn a switch, they made a big shot or made a big play,” Hopkins said.

CLOSE TO HOME

Washington’s Carter and Stewart are both from Rochester, New York, about 170 miles southeast of Toronto.

BIG PICTURE

Washington: The Huskies recorded a season-low four blocks after averaging an NCAA-best 11 over their first two games.

Tennessee: The Volunteers opened their season with home wins over UNC Asheville and Murray State before heading north to Toronto. Tennessee has games against Florida State, No. 13 Memphis, and Wisconsin ahead before the SEC schedule gets underway in January.

KEY STAT

Tennessee finished with 19 assists on 25 made baskets.

UP NEXT

Washington hosts Maine on Tuesday.

Tennessee hosts Alabama State on Wednesday.

Bey’s 19 points lead No. 10 Villanova over Ohio 78-54

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PHILADELPHIA — Less than 72 hours after a humbling loss to one team from Ohio, Villanova used two of its young standouts to win against another squad from the Buckeye State.

Saddiq Bey scored 19 points and Justin Moore added 18 to lead No. 10 Villanova past Ohio 78-54 on Saturday.

The win came after a 76-51 road loss to No. 16 Ohio State on Wednesday night. Villanova fell behind the Buckeyes early and never recovered.

“In that game, we kind of backed down,” Moore said. “We learned that you have to come out and you have to keep fighting. That’s what Villanova does and that’s what we were able to do today.”

After a sluggish start Saturday, Villanova (2-1) broke the game open with a 27-4 run in the final 6:36 of the half, turning a one-point deficit into a 43-21 lead.

Bey and Moore combined for 9-for-12 shooting and 4 of 6 from beyond the 3-point line for 26 points in that run. The Wildcats finished 14 of 31 from long range.

“I thought we had just two or three bad three-point attempts today,” Villanova coach Jay Wright said. “I think the numbers are a reflection of Justin and Saddiq moving the ball and getting good shot opportunities.”

Ohio shot 3 of 20 from behind the arc, with its first conversion from Ben Vander Plas three minutes into the second half after a 0-for-10 start. The Bobcats committed 16 turnovers.

Vander Plas led the Bobcats (3-1) with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Preston added 16 points and eight assists.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl had 11 points and 11 rebounds and Colin Gillespie scored 10 points for Villanova.

“I told our guys that with the exception of that seven-minute stretch at the end of the first half, we played pretty even with them” Ohio coach Jeff Boals said. “Against a team like (Villanova), the margin for error is pretty small. It was a good teaching moment for our guys.”

BIG PICTURE

Villanova: After losing by 25 at Ohio State on Wednesday night in the Gavitt Games, Villanova is likely to take a slight dip in the next AP rankings.

Ohio: After starting the season 3-0 with road wins against St. Bonaventure and Iona, the Bobcats had trouble dealing with Villanova’s forwards.

UP NEXT

Villanova: Plays Middle Tennessee on Thursday in Myrtle Beach Invitational in Conway, South Carolina.

Ohio: Plays No. 24 Baylor on Thursday in the Myrtle Beach Invitational.