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Payne’s career game helps Florida beat No. 4 Auburn 69-47

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Omar Payne had the best game of his college career, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and led Florida to a 69-47 victory over No. 4 Auburn on Saturday.

Payne, a freshman from Kissimmee, was widely considered an afterthought in Florida’s highly touted recruiting class. Against the Tigers, he looked like a future lottery pick.

The 6-foot-10 forward dominated in the paint, scoring on tip-ins, putbacks and layups, and creating a mismatch nightmare for Auburn (15-2, 3-2 Southeastern Conference). His three-point play, which came after an offensive rebound, put Florida (12-5, 4-1) up by 14 with a little more than 4 minutes to play.

The Gators sent the home crowd into a late frenzy – and to the exits – with a 14-0 run that included 3-pointers by Noah Locke, Keyontae Johnson and Kerry Blackshear Jr. Fans chanted “over-rated” in the closing minutes.

Locke and Blackshear finished with 11 points apiece for the Gators, who haven’t lost at home to Auburn since 1996. Blackshear added a season-high-tying 16 rebounds.

The Tigers have lost two in a row since starting 15-0.

Danjel Purifoy was the only player in double figures for Auburn, which shot 25.5% from the field. He had 10 points.

The Tigers struggled out of the gate, missing 15 of their first 16 shots. But Florida failed to take advantage of Auburn’s sluggishness, turning the ball over far too often for coach Mike White’s liking.

Auburn kept it close thanks to being perfect (10 for 10) from the free throw line.

The Gators led by five at the break and quickly built a double-digit lead coming out of the locker room. Nembhard, Johnson and Blackshear made consecutive baskets and then Payne followed with a putback and a layup that pushed the lead to 38-27.

Florida looked like it might really pull away a few minutes later, but Samir Doughty answered with back-to-back 3-pointers. Auburn’s leading scorer missed all four shots in the opening 20 minutes and didn’t record a single positive statistic.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: The Tigers won’t win many, if any, games shooting like this. Purifoy made 3 of 11 shots and Doughty was 3 of 12 from the field.

Florida: The Gators finally look like a top-10 team. They opened the season ranked No. 6 but lost two of their first four games. White tweaked the offense, and the results are starting to show.

UP NEXT:

Auburn: Hosts South Carolina on Wednesday. The Tigers have lost four of the last six in the series.

Florida: Plays at LSU on Tuesday. The Gators have won four of the last five meetings, including two in overtime.

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

No. 2 Baylor pushes winning streak to 15 with come-from-behind win at Oklahoma State

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STILLWATER, Okla. — Devonte Bandoo hit four threes in the final 11 minutes, including two in the last three minutes, as No. 2 Baylor rallied past Oklahoma State 75-68 for the Bears’ 15th straight victory. Oklahoma State has now lost five in a row.

Jared Butler scored 19 points and had six assists.

Baylor (15-1, 5-0 Big 12) has the second-longest active streak in the nation and the third longest in school history.

Freddie Gillespie had 17 points and four rebounds and Devonte Bandoo scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half for Baylor, which overcame a 12-point deficit in the last 20 minutes.

Isaac Likekele scored 16 points and added nine rebounds and five assists for Oklahoma State (9-8, 0-5). Cameron McGriff had 16 points and five rebounds while Thomas Dziagwa and Lindy Waters each scored 14. Oklahoma State shot 41%, the highest allowed by Baylor since Nov. 24, a span of 10 games.

The Bears trailed 47-35 with 14 minutes remaining but used an 18-4 run over the next four-plus minutes to get back in the game. When MaCio Teague hit a 3-pointer 8:41 left, Baylor had its first lead.

The teams exchanged leads four times down the stretch before the Bears sank seven of eight free throws in the final minute to seal it.

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears entered the day having trailed for a total of just 22 minutes, 13 seconds, over their previous nine games. Their largest deficit in that span was a 20-15 margin in the first half of a 67-55 win over then-No. 3 Kansas on Jan. 11. Oklahoma State led 36-27 at the half, just the fourth time this season Baylor wasn’t up at halftime.

Oklahoma State: After shooting just 30% or less in three of their previous four outings, the Cowboys found their mojo. Their shooting percentage was the highest in five games.

UP NEXT

Baylor: The Bears have a quick turnaround, hosting Oklahoma on Monday.

Oklahoma State: The Cowboys play at Iowa State on Tuesday.

Gators guard Andrew Nembhard has flu, could miss Auburn game

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida could be without point guard Andrew Nembhard against No. 4 Auburn on Saturday.

Coach Mike White said Nembhard has the flu and missed practice Thursday and Friday. The sophomore and Canadian national team player has started all 52 games in two seasons.

“We all better be ready to play potentially without him,” White said.

Nembhard is averaging 11.1 points, 5.9 assists and 2.8 rebounds this season. He also ranks second on the team with 21 steals. If he doesn’t play, the Gators (11-5, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) would start one of two freshmen: Tre Mann or Ques Glover.

Neither option seems ideal against Auburn (15-1, 3-1), which starts four seniors including two in the backcourt.

“Great opportunity for freshmen guards,” White said. “All these guys want opportunities. They have to take advantage of it. We have to be ready.”

Although Florida has plenty of time remaining to bolster its postseason resume, White acknowledged that his team could use a victory against an Auburn team that sits 11th in the NCAA Evaluation Tool (NET) rankings. The Gators have only one win against a team currently ranked in the NET top 50.

You’ve got to start taking advantage of some of them,” White said. “You want to play postseason and you want to play in that one tournament as opposed to the others, and you’ve got to win some of these.

“I don’t think any of them are do or die. I don’t think you put your team – especially this team – in the right mindset to execute (by saying that). But our guys also have to understand and we all have to understand that at this time of year – really from now to finish, really from the first game to finish – you’ve got to take advantage of some of these opportunities.”

It might be without Nembhard, who’s assist-to-turnover ratio is slightly better than 2 to 1.

“He’s one of the best guards in our league,” senior forward Kerry Blackshear Jr. said. “He’s somebody who calms us down on both ends of the plays, accountable on both ends. But I think we have some guys ready to step up, been really good in practice these last few days.

“I think we got a good chance of winning this one.”

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

Elleby’s 25 points leads Washington State in upset of No. 8 Oregon

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PULLMAN, Wash. — CJ Elleby went 25 points as Kyle Smith led Washington State to a win over a Top-10 team for just the third time in program history, surprising No. 8 Oregon 72-61 on Thursday night.

Elleby, who was held to a season-low six points in his last game, helped Washington State (11-7, 2/3 Pac-12) to its first win over a Top-10 opponent since 2007.

Elleby shot 9 for 20, including 4 for 7 from 3-point range, and added a season-high 14 rebounds. Isaac Bonton finished with 12 points and six assists, and Jeff Pollard scored 11 for the Cougars.

Payton Pritchard had 22 points and five assists for Oregon (14-4, 3-2), which had its three-game winning streak halted. Chris Duarte had 15 points for the Ducks.

Trailing by five points with 3:24 left, Pritchard made a clutch jumper in the paint and then converted a free throw to make it 60-58.

On the ensuing possession, Elleby converted a three-point play to make the score 63-58.

Washington State then went on a 9-0 run that closed out Oregon.

BIG PICTURE

Oregon: The heavily favored Ducks were outplayed by the Cougars and are now 4-2 in the Pac-12.

Washington State: The Cougars get a much needed victory over a heavily favored Oregon squad.

UP NEXT:

Oregon: At Washington on Saturday

Washington State: Host Oregon State on Saturday

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

Rose leads Temple to upset of No. 16 Wichita State

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PHILADELPHIA — Quinton Rose scored 19 points and Temple used a strong defensive performance to upset No. 16 Wichita State 65-53 on Wednesday night.

Jake Forrester and Monty Scott each chipped in 11 points for the Owls (10-6, 2/3 American Athletic Conference), who snapped a three-game losing streak while defeating a ranked opponent for the 13th consecutive seasons.

James Echenique scored 20 points and Jamarius Burton added 16 for the Shockers (15-2, 3-1), who had won nine straight.

The Owls, under first-year coach Aaron McKie, clamped down on the Shockers. They held Wichita State to a season-low in points while forcing them to shoot 30.2% (19-for-63) from the field and 14.3% (3-for-21) from 3-point range.

Shockers leading scorer Erik Stevenson went scoreless, missing eight shots and five from 3-point range. Tyson Etienne, who entered tops in the conference with 37 3-pointers made, also was scoreless and missed three 3-point tries.

The Owls opened the second half on an 11-0 run over the first 4:06, going up 37-32 on Nate Pierre-Louis’ jumper with 15:54 left. Wichita State missed all four of its field-goal attempts, and Temple forced the Shockers into four turnovers during the stretch.

Temple, helped by getting in the bonus with nearly 11 minutes left, kept control from that point. The Owls went up by as many as 10, 55-45, on Forrester’s layup with 4:26 left. Temple’s defense kept the Owls in control, and they clinched the win on Rose’s driving layup that made it 61-53 with 1:39 remaining.

The Shockers jumped to an early lead behind consecutive Burton 3-pointers and were up by as many as nine, 21-12, after a pair of Echenique free throws with 9:53 left in the first half.

Temple used a 1-2-2 three-quarter court press to limit Wichita State’s offense for much of the remainder of the first half. The Owls got as close as within 28-26 on Rose’s second straight two-point jumper with 3:02 left before intermission. But the Shockers scored the final two buckets of the period, on layups by Trey Wade and Morris Udeze, to lead 32-26 at the break.

BIG PICTURE

Wichita State: The Shockers still are in first place in the conference and will try to get back on track on Saturday against Houston.

Temple: The Owls avoided falling into a last-place tie with Central Florida in the 12-team league. They’ll try to pull out of the middle of the pack on Saturday at SMU.

UP NEXT

Wichita State: Host Houston on Saturday.

Temple: At SMU on Saturday.

Couisnard’s three gives South Carolina buzzer-beating win over No. 10 Kentucky

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Down goes Kentucky!

Jermaine Couisnard scored 26 points, including this banked in three at the buzzer, as South Carolina scored 56 points in the second half and erased a 14-point deficit in the final 15 minutes to knock off the No. 10 Wildcats, 81-78, in Columbia on Wednesday night.

Couisnard’s 26 points were a career high. When his game-winner went through the net, Couisnard and his teammates ran around the court in celebration as the fans erupted in cheers.

Moments earlier, Immanuel Quickly banked home a shot with 4.1 seconds to go that tied things at 78. Quickly led Kentucky (12-4, 3-1) with 20 points.

Keyshawn Bryant scored 15 points for the Gamecocks, who had four players in double figures.

Kentucky led by 14 less than five minutes into the second half and was still up 54-41 on EJ Montgomery‘s two foul shots with 11:41 left.

That’s when Justin Minaya started a 27-14 run over the next seven minutes that ended with Couisnard’s basket off the glass to tie things at 68-all.

After Ashton Hagans put Kentucky up again with two foul shots, Minaya answered with a 3-pointer that sent the crowd into pandemonium.

Minaya added two more baskets between a drive by A.J. Lawson and South Carolina was ahead 76-71 with 1:46 to go.

Kentucky tied it a final time on Quickly’s jumper after Lawson missed two foul shots with a chance to seal the game.

South Carolina ended a three-game losing streak against Kentucky. The Gamecocks past five wins over the Wildcats since 2009 have all come at Colonial Life Arena.

It was impossible to imagine South Carolina winning after an awful first half where it missed its first 10 shots and was shooting less than 25 percent from the field.

THE BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats had four players in double figures and seemed to have the game in control. But they missed eight of their final 10 shots.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks entered this one on a three-game losing streak that included a dreadful home defeat to Stetson. But on the plus side, they’ve now beaten a pair of top-10 teams. They topped Virginia on Dec. 22.

UP NEXT

Kentucky plays at Arkansas on Saturday.

South Carolina travels to Texas A&M on Saturday.

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