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Robert Morris guard Josh Williams ties NCAA record with 15 made three-pointers

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Robert Morris senior guard Josh Williams had a memorable home debut for the Colonials as he tied an NCAA Division I record by making 15 three-pointers in a 104-57 win over Mount Aloysius on Wednesday night.

The 6-foot-2 Williams went 15-for-25 from three-point range on the night as he tied the previous NCAA record set by Marshall’s Keith Veney in 1996. Williams finished the night with 49 points, a Robert Morris program record, as his perimeter shooting was consistent throughout the night. Williams started the first half by shooting 7-for-12 from distance and he continued his blistering night by going 8-for-13 in the second half. Williams played 31 total minutes on Wednesday as he added three rebounds, two assists and two steals.

Nobody could have possibly seen this coming from Williams, as he started the season in a 4-for-15 three-point slump during the first two Robert Morris games of the season. A transfer from Akron who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Williams made 69 three-pointers during the 2016-17 season at a 36 percent clip.

While it’s unlikely that Williams can duplicate this type of ridiculous night, he’s certainly made himself a marked man for the rest of the season. With all levels of basketball embracing perimeter shooting, it’ll be fascinating to see when anyone can match, or beat, 15 individual three-pointers made in a Division I game.

No. 10 Kentucky coasts past North Dakota 96-58

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — PJ Washington set career highs with 25 points and seven rebounds, Tyler Herro added 18 points and No. 10 Kentucky rolled over North Dakota 96-58 on Wednesday night.

The Wildcats (2-1) finally got the dominant effort they sought after scraping by Southern Illinois last week. They had to survive an initial back-and-forth with the Fighting Hawks (2-1), who led 13-12 before Washington’s 3-pointer put Kentucky ahead to stay. The Wildcats outscored North Dakota 27-7 over 9:46 for a 39-20 cushion and led by 38 in the closing minutes.

Washington, who managed just 11 points through two games, scored his season high by halftime. He finished 9 of 13 from the field with four 3-pointers to surpass his previous of best 22 points against Mississippi State in January.

Herro shot 7 of 12 to top his 14-point debut against Duke, and Kentucky shot 53 percent in the opening game of the Ohio Valley Hardwood Showcase.

Conner Avants had 14 points and Filip Rebraca 13 for North Dakota, which shot 40 percent in its first meeting against the Wildcats.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Kentucky’s long-overdue convincing performance should seal another week in the Top 10.

BIG PICTURE

North Dakota: Three-point shooting helped the Fighting Hawks make things interesting early against the Wildcats. That strong start lasted just six minutes as they were thoroughly overwhelmed in their first meeting against a Southeastern Conference school.

Kentucky: The Wildcats looked much better than in Friday’s shaky escape of Southern Illinois. Besides consistently shooting a season best from the field, they controlled the paint (46-18) and owned the glass 45-15. Washington certainly needed an offensive boost and delivered inside and outside the arc.

UP NEXT

North Dakota hosts Minnesota Morris on Saturday in the first of consecutive home games.

Kentucky hosts VMI on Sunday in the second game of the Hardwood Showcase that also features Winthrop and Tennessee State.

More AP college basketball: http://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Wednesday’s Things to Know: Michigan, Indiana dominate Big East; Zion Williamson at it again

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Wednesday night’s slate of college hoops didn’t have a ton of marquee matchups. But the Gavitt Games continued as there was an enticing national title game rematch between Villanova and Michigan while Indiana hosted Marquette.

1. No. 18 Michigan makes a statement road win over No. 8 Villanova

Michigan made a major statement win on the road as they dismantled Villanova on Wednesday night. The Wolverines jumped out to an early double-digit lead and never looked back.

We knew the Wolverines would likely be an impressive defensive bunch after last season’s national-title game run. But Michigan’s defense suffocated the Wildcat offense and made Villanova look completely helpless.

CBT’s Rob Dauster was in the building for this one, as he has more thoughts on Michigan’s huge win.

2. Indiana earns a blowout win at home over No. 24 Marquette

Playing without two veteran rotation players, Indiana still had an easy go of it against Marquette on Wednesday night in another Big Ten blowout victory.

Five players finished in double-figures for the Hoosiers as they were led by a solid all-around performance from five-star freshman Romeo Langford. I have more on both Langford’s performance — as well as Indiana and Marquette — with three takeaways from that game here.

3. A big night overall for the Big Ten

Besides for Indiana and Michigan’s double-digit wins over top-25 teams, rest of the Big Ten had an impressive night on Wednesday. Playing in another Gavitt Games contest, Nebraska blew out Seton Hall with an 80-57 win as senior guard James Palmer Jr. erupted for 29 points.

Michigan State also had an easy time against UL Monroe as they ran away with a double-digit win. So far in the Gavitt Games, the Big Ten is dominating the Big East, as they’re 4-1 over the past two nights. It’ll be interesting to see if the Big Ten’s dominance continues when the Gavitt Games resume on Thursday night.

4. The Zion Williamson Show continues as No. 1 Duke routs Eastern Michigan.

Another big night with more big highlights from freshman Zion Williamson helped the Blue Devils run past Eastern Michigan. Williamson finished with a team-high 21 points on 10-for-12 shooting for Duke as he continued his torrid start to the season.

Williamson is now shooting a ridiculous 82 percent from the field in three games this season as he’s 32-for-39 from the field.

Three Takeaways from Indiana’s blowout win over No. 24 Marquette

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Indiana earned a blowout win over No. 24 Marquette with a 96-73 home win on Wednesday night. The Hoosiers made this one look easy thanks to a balanced offense and a solid defensive effort as they earned the Big Ten another win in the annual Gavitt Games.

Here are three takeaways from this one.

1. Indiana is potentially deeper and more talented than anticipated

Coming into this season, Indiana was expected to have plenty of depth. A top-ten freshman class headlined by a five-star recruit will help with that sort of thing.

But even without upperclass vets like guard Devonte Green and forward Zach McRoberts in the lineup on Wednesday night, Indiana had plenty of options in scoring at will on Marquette. While it’s true that Marquette’s defense has been underwhelming since last season, Indiana’s balanced offensive outburst was pretty impressive.

Shooting 63 percent from the field, Indiana had five double-figure scorers led by freshman Romeo Langford’s 22 points (more on him in a moment). Graduate transfer big man Evan Fitzner provided a great offensive lift by scoring inside or knocking down three-pointers as he chipped in 16 points on 4-for-4 three-point shooting. Forward Juwan Morgan (13 points), guard Al Durham (13 points) and freshman guard Robert Phinisee (12 points) also had solid outings.

While returning veterans like Morgan and Durham are expected to have nights like this, Indiana has to be enthusiastic about its newcomers. The freshman backcourt of Langford and Phinisee was outstanding on Wednesday. Fitzner shouldn’t be expected to be that hot on a nightly basis, but he provides a nice floor-spacing option at the five when Indiana needs to change things up.

Once Indiana gets Green and McRoberts back in the rotation, they’ll be able to throw waves of bodies at opposing teams. Freshman Jerome Hunter is another potential rotation piece who is also currently missing. A top-65 defense (via KenPom) from a year ago should be even better. And Indiana has to be thrilled that a young backcourt is playing so well on both ends so early in the season.

Indiana is going to have off-nights with some of their younger players. That sort of thing happens during a long season. But we just saw the type of output this team is capable of. And it’s definitely better than anticipated.

2. Marquette needs to figure out a defensive identity

It’s no secret that defense was going to be Marquette’s big question entering the season. The Golden Eagles missed the NCAA tournament last season in large part because they had the No. 12 offense and No. 182 defense in the nation (via KenPom). When the Golden Eagles needed critical stops in big games last season, they struggled to bear down and get a stop.

Things didn’t look much better for Marquette’s defense on Wednesday night. Surrendering over 90 points on 60-plus percent shooting, the Golden Eagle defense was abused by a balanced Indiana offense that scored however they wanted. The Hoosiers were 9-for-20 from three-point range, as Marquette didn’t do a particularly effective job of limiting quality perimeter looks.

With Marquette maintaining much of its rotation from last season, the major question is going to be how will this defense get better? New pieces like Joseph Chartouny are supposed to help defend on the perimeter. Others like Joey Hauser and Brendan Bailey aren’t exactly known for their defensive prowess. Although known as more defensive-minded than many of the team’s newcomers, Nebraska transfer forward Ed Morrow has struggled to find consistent minutes early in the season.

That means, at some point, Marquette’s returning veterans need to look in the mirror and figure out how they’re going to get stops. We know this team has the capability to put up tons of points thanks to Howard and the Hauser brothers. All three players finished with 18 points each against Indiana. But Marquette has to improve on the other end of the floor if they want to make any kind of splash in the Big East.

3. Romeo Langford is living up to the preseason hype

Entering the 2018-19 season perhaps no freshman in the country faced more pressure than Romeo Langford. While Duke’s R.J. Barrett and Zion Williamson are more highly-touted, they aren’t in-state heroes tasked with bringing a basketball-crazy program back to respectability.

Langford proved on Wednesday night that he’s living up to his lofty preseason expectations with a very good game against the Golden Eagles. Finishing with 22 points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks, Langford filled up the stat sheet in a number of different ways. Known as a scorer during his prolific prep career, Langford’s length and natural timing was impressive on the defensive end, as he helped trap Marquette point guard Markus Howard on multiple occasions.

The scary thing is that Langford didn’t even shoot the ball particularly well in this one. Langford was 8-for-15 from the floor and only 1-for-5 from three-point range. It helps immensely that Langford can create offense for himself by consistently getting to the charity stripe, as he was 5-for-7 from the free-throw line. If Langford can find his perimeter shot, then he has the potential for 30- and maybe even 40-point outbursts.

The good news for Langford is that he still had a great all-around game against a top-25 team with big expectations. There’s still room for Langford to grow and get better. But this is the kind of start Indiana fans were looking for out of their new star.

Wiley, No. 9 Auburn rout Mississippi College 103-52

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AUBURN, Ala. — The Auburn Tigers had a perfect response when a lopsided game suddenly got close: Don’t let the other team score.

Austin Wiley scored 18 points and No. 9 Auburn scored 35 consecutive points during a second-half stretch in a 103-52 victory over Mississippi College on Wednesday night.

Bryce Brown added 16 points for the Tigers (3-0), who went on a scoring tear of dunks, 3-pointers and fast-break baskets after the Division II Choctaws (1-2) briefly closed the gap.

“Our energy was a little down,” Wiley said. “We came together and we were like, `Come on.’ We know the team isn’t up to our caliber. We were just like we can’t play down to any opponent so we’ve just got to wake up, pick up and just finish out the game.”

Mississippi College cut a 25-point deficit down to 51-40 early in the second half.

Things got really ugly after that, though. Auburn reclaimed control emphatically with a 52-5 run that included a stretch when Mississippi College went more than 11 minutes without scoring

Six Auburn players scored in double figures. Horace Spencer had career-highs with 14 points and 17 rebounds. Samir Doughty scored 13, Jared Harper 12 and Malik Dunbar 10.

The 6-foot-11 Wiley dominated a team that didn’t have a starter taller than 6-5. He scored six straight points after coming off the bench in the first half, making 5 of 7 shots and 8 of 10 free-throw attempts. Wiley, who collected seven rebounds, had played only 13 minutes in the last game against Washington after missing the opener with a foot injury.

He did his damage in this one in just 16 minutes.

“It was good to give him the ball, get him moving, shake some of that rust off,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said.

Brandon Boston led the Choctaws with nine points and 10 rebounds. Marcus Lytle and Donovan Ham each had eight. Lytle had seven quick points during the brief second-half rally, and the Choctaws scored the final seven.

Mississippi College coach Don Lofton aggravated a hip injury on the bus before the game. He listened to the game on the radio from the locker room while assistant Erik Ainsworth ran the team.

“I’d have been in the way if I came out there,” Lofton said after coming out of the locker room on crutches.

Auburn jumped ahead 25-2 over the first 10 minutes, but Mississippi College answered with eight straight points.

Boston’s off-balance 3-pointer at the buzzer cut it to 48-29 at halftime.

Auburn’s Chuma Okeke, the reigning Southeastern Conference player of the week, didn’t score in the first half. He had three points and seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Mississippi College: Dropped its second straight to a team from Alabama, including an 88-84 overtime defeat to Talladega.

Auburn: Has just its third 3-0 start in the last 12 years, with three straight lopsided wins. Built the big lead despite mediocre shooting, going 4 of 18 from 3-point range in the first half.

THIRD MEETING

The two teams had played twice before, but it’s been awhile. Mississippi College won 59-44 in 1939 and Auburn won 88-54 in 1981.

FILL-IN OPPONENT

Mississippi College was a late addition to Auburn’s schedule. “We just could not get a quality Division I opponent that wasn’t going to hurt our RPI,” Pearl said, noting the win won’t count in the power ratings or NCAA Tournament resume.

UP NEXT

Mississippi College hosts Henderson State on Saturday.

Auburn plays Xavier on Monday in the Maui Invitational.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Reed’s 26 points help No. 19 Clemson beat Sam Houston State

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CLEMSON, S.C. — Clemson coach Brad Brownell knows he has something many other programs don’t — a highly experienced backcourt to call on when things get tight.

Marcquise Reed had a season-high 26 points and point guard Shelton Mitchell 13 as the 19th-ranked Tigers used a second-half surge to put away pesky Sam Houston State 74-59 on Wednesday night.

“I better enjoy this, because I don’t think I’m going to have it next year,” Brownell said. “Those guys once again played well down the stretch.”

Particularly during a 16-3 run midway through the second half as they combined for 11 points while Clemson took control. The Tigers opened 3-0 for the second straight season and for just the fifth time in coach Brad Brownell’s nine years.

For a good while, though, it seemed the Bearkats of the Southland Conference were more than up to the challenge of handling an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent.

RJ Smith’s 3-pointer early in the second half put Sam Houston State ahead 38-37 before Clemson’s back-breaking run.

Reed scored seven straight points to start the run while Mitchell added a pair of baskets, one off a steal where he dribbled into an official before getting clear for the layup and a 53-41 lead.

“I told him that was bad defense,” Brownell joked about Mitchell.

The Bearkats (2-2) could not respond as Clemson eventually grew the margin to 16 points down the stretch.

Both Reed and Mitchell explored their NBA options last spring before choosing a final college year. They’re each committed, Reed said, to an even bigger season than last year when the 25-win Tigers advanced to the Sweet 16.

Reed said he and Mitchell know they’re the ones who must set the tone with Clemson’s younger players.

“We’ve been in a lot of these situations and scenarios before,” Reed said. “So it’s easy to spread it to the young guys.”

Aamir Simms had 12 points and eight rebounds for Clemson.

It was Reed’s second 20-point game of the season.

Kai Mitchell led Sam Houston State with 14 points and Josh Delaney added 11.

Clemson looked ready to blow things open early as it made its first six shots and led 15-7 five minutes in. But the Tigers went cold the rest of the half, and Sam Houston State took advantage.

Clemson made just five of its final 18 shots of the opening half and the Bearkats took the lead, 30-29 on Albert Almanza’s four-point play with 43.8 seconds left when he got fouled by Elijah Thomas.

But Clemson’s Mitchell answered with a long 3 20 seconds later to send the Tigers into the break up 32-30.

THE BIG PICTURE

Sam Houston State: The Bearkats have lost two in a row on the road. They showed an ability to hang with bigger Clemson for much of the game, but could not handle the Tigers’ experience in the backcourt with three-year starters in Reed and Mitchell.

Clemson: The Tigers struggled to shoot consistently. Their defense, though, held up throughout the game as they limited Sam Houston State to less than 35 percent shooting with six steals and five blocks.

TOUGH TIME FOR THOMAS

Thomas has played through a difficult stretch. He was hurting from an ankle injury in the Tigers’ first two games and played against Sam Houston State despite being sick with the flu. Thomas had a 101-degree temperature Monday. He played 25 minutes Wednesday night with three points, five rebounds and two blocks.

ROAD WOES

Sam Houston State coach Jason Hooten has not liked what he’s seen down the stretch in his team’s first two road games. The Bearkats had the lead in the second half at Louisiana Tech and at Clemson, yet lost both games.

“There’s been a moment where we had chance to seize, I’m not going to say the game, but the lead. We’re not ready for that yet,” he said.

UP NEXT

Sam Houston State concludes its two-game swing at Power Five programs by going to Georgia on Friday night.

Clemson plays Akron on Monday to start the Cayman Islands Classic.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25