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No. 2 Kansas rides hot start to 95-68 win over UW-Milwaukee

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — It wasn’t the 3-pointers that Ochai Agbaji poured in for Kansas, nor the smooth jumpers and easy layups that Devon Dotson put away, that left the pair with toothy grins after a rout of Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Tuesday night.

It was the alley-oop Dotson threw and Agbaji turned into a reverse jam.

“I just wanted to put some style on it,” Agbaji said, when asked whether the 180-degree turn was necessary because of the pass. “I just jumped and I was like, ‘Man, might as well.”

Indeed, it was all about style most of the night for second-ranked Kansas, which roared to a big early lead before coasting to a 95-68 victory.

Dotson had 22 points and nine assists, Agbaji also had 22 points, and Udoka Azuibuke thundered his way through the lane to 15 points and 17 rebounds as the Jayhawks (8-1) cruised to their 26th consecutive home win and their 300th for the decade — Gonzaga with 304 is the only other Division I program to have reached that milestone.

“Three hundred wins in a decade means you’re averaging 30,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said, “and we still have a chance to add to it a little bit. … I think that speaks volumes of the types of players you’ve had in the program, and hopefully the next decade will be just as productive beginning in January.”

Darius Roy had 25 points to lead the Panthers (5-5), who actually outscored the Jayhawks most of the second half. Leading scorer Te’Jon Lucas was held to 11 points on 1-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.

“You prepare for it all you want. You can draw up schemes,” Lucas said, “but when you get out there you have to execute. And for the first 10 or 15 minutes of the game, we didn’t execute anything. Thats what led us to being down so much.”

Kansas basically put the game away with a faultless first 12 minutes.

Agbaji, who went for 20 points and 12 boards against Colorado over the weekend, continued his torrid pace by knocking down three 3-pointers in the first three minutes. David McCormack and Azubuike got into the act down low, using their massive bulk against the smaller Panthers. And then Dotson went on a scoring binge, using cat-quick penetration to get into the lane and knocking down a series of 3s when Milwaukee began to collapse on the paint.

The result was a 17-1 run to start the game, a 23-4 advantage by the 14-minute mark, and a 40-12 lead — and a whole bunch of used timeouts by Milwaukee coach Pat Baldwin — by the time the buzzer sounded on the under-8 media timeout.

Just how efficient was Kansas by that point? Try a 19-3 rebounding advantage, an 8-of-13 mark from the 3-point line, and 11 assists on the Jayhawks’ first 15 made field goals. Oh, and they had just three turnovers.

The crisp passing and utter selflessness was on display during one fast-break opportunity, when Dotson curled a bounce pass around a defender to Agbaji, who passed up his own look to dump the ball to Tristan Enaruna for a layup.

Milwaukee finally had a stretch of success late in the first half, but the Jayhawks still cruised into the locker room with a 52-27 lead. The second half was mostly academic, punctuated by a few big highlights — like the alley-oop pass from Dotson that Agbaji threw down with a rim-rattling reverse dunk with about 12 minutes to go.

“I liked the lob. I liked it a lot,” Dotson said. “I saw it on the Jumbotron.”

It was a nice way to kick off a festive victory party down the stretch.

“They were very special tonight,” said Baldwin, who grew up in nearby Leavenworth, Kansas. “It was great coming back home and I wish we had a better performance to show for it.”

BIG PICTURE

Milwaukee never gave itself a chance by spotting Kansas a big lead on the road, but it also never gave up. The Panthers scored seven of the first eight points to start the second half and stood toe-to-toe with the Jayhawks the rest of the way.

Kansas is poised to move to No. 1 next week after top-ranked Louisville lost to Big 12 rival Texas Tech at the Jimmy V Classic in New York. The result was shown on the video boards in Allen Fieldhouse and elicited a big roar.

UP NEXT

Milwaukee plays its lone home game in December against Eastern Illinois on Saturday night.

Kansas plays Kansas City on Saturday night at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Butler adds Milwaukee transfer

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LaVall Jordan is adding a little familiarity to a place he already knows well.

Bryce Nze, a transfer from Milwaukee, is rejoining his former coach at his alma mater and new program, Butler, it was announced Thursday.

The 6-foot-7 forward has spent the last two seasons with the Panthers, with the first coming under Jordan before he left to take over the Bulldogs in 2017.

“Bryce is a young man who is a great teammate. He had an immediate impact at Milwaukee. Bryce and I developed a strong relationship and he fits our culture here at Butler,” Jordan said in a statement. “Bryce’s athleticism, competitiveness and tremendous work ethic will be a valuable addition. He will push our guys in practice every day this upcoming season as he continues to develop his skills and his body to reach his full potential in the Big East.”

Nze, a Wisconsin native, averaged 10.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season for Milwaukee. As a freshman under Jordan, Nze shot a school-record 66.2 percent from the floor.

Nze will sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules and then have two years of eligibility remaining.

Butler went 21-14 and won one NCAA tournament game in Jordan’s first year at the helm in Indianapolis.

Milwaukee transfer pledges to Minnesota

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After injuries and controversy sapped Minnesota of a promising start in 2017-18, the Gophers look to be reloading for a shot at a quick turnaround in Richard Pitino’s sixth season in Minneapolis.

The Gophers have added Milwaukee graduate transfer Brock Stull, according to multiple reports.

Minnesota went 15-17 last season despite a 13-3 start to the year as injuries piled up along with expulsion of center Reggie Lynch after an investigation by the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

The Gophers, though, return the bulk of the roster, including star wing Amir Coffey, along with a strong 2018 recruiting class plus Pitt transfer Marcus Carr, who is attempting to be immediately eligible.

Now they’ve added Stull, who averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game during his junior campaign with the Panthers. The 6-foot-4 guard shot 37.9 percent both overall and from 3-point range.

Stull’s commitment comes during a visit to Minnesota, which has his former Milwaukee coach, Rob Jeter, on staff. Jeter coached Stull in 2015-16, the former’s final season with the Panthers after 11 years and the latter’s freshman season.

“I think that I’m a fit for the Big Ten as a guard more (than others),” Stull told Ryan James of Gopher Illustrated. “Coach Pitino lets his guards play freely on offense, and I have an opportunity to be a part of something big there because they are going to be very good. Coach Jeter there helps too”

Former Murray State guard transfers to Milwaukee

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Citing homesickness, guard JayQuan McCloud left the Murray State program in mid-October before he’d even had the opportunity to suit up in a game for Steve Prohm’s program. According to a report Saturday, the North Chicago (Illinois) Community HS product has found his new school.

According to Scott Burgess of Prep Hoops Illinois, McCloud has decided to transfer to Milwaukee.

As a high school senior the 6-foot-4 McCloud averaged 18.0 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. The Panthers lose two senior guards at the end of the current season, Evan Richard and Steve McWhorter, with McWhorter (14.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg) currently leading the team in both points and rebounds.

2014-15 Season Preview: Can Green Bay take the next step, represent the Horizon League in the Tournament?

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source: AP
Keifer Sykes (AP Photo)

Beginning on October 3rd and running up until November 14th, the first day of the season, College Basketball Talk will be unveiling the 2014-2015 NBCSports.com college hoops preview package.

Today, we are rolling out our Horizon League preview.

MORE: 2014-2015 Season Preview Coverage | Conference Previews | Preview Schedule

The Horizon League drew most of its attention from the college basketball general public in 2013-14 for regular-season champion Green Bay’s early exit from the league’s conference tournament. Considered by many to be the heavy favorite to make the 2014 NCAA Tournament after a 14-2 regular season mark in the conference, the Phoenix ultimately fell short in the semifinals as some analysts used the Green Bay loss — and subsequent NIT appearance — as an opportunity to blast the conference tournament method of NCAA Tournament selection.

While Green Bay was one of the better mid-major teams in the country during the regular season last year, they fell to Milwaukee at home in the tournament. But with four returning starters, the Phoenix are favored to win the league this season.

Even with the departure of senior center Alec Brown, who was selected in the second round of the NBA Draft by the Phoenix Suns, head coach Brian Wardle still returns Horizon League Player of the Year favorite in senior point guard Keifer Sykes as well as forward Jordan Fouse,who might be the league’s best defensive player. Green Bay will miss the skill level of Brown on the interior, but they might actually have more interior depth this season as 6-foot-9 senior and double-figure scorer Greg Mays returns and Wardle recruited a few big bodies to bolster the rotation of big men that he can use.

Challenging Green Bay this season will Cleveland State, who has multiple all-league candidates, including senior point guard Charlie Lee, junior big man Anton Grady and junior guard Trey Lewis. Senior forward Marlin Mason acts as a stretch four and 6-foot-9 redshirt sophomore Aaron Scales can play this season and gives the Vikings another big body on the interior.

The most intriguing team in the Horizon League this year could be Valparaiso, who returns 6-foot-10 rim protector Vashill Fernandez along with three talented sophomores — point guard Lexus Williams, forward Alec Peters and forward Jubril Adekoya — and Charlotte transfer E. Victor Nickerson. Bryce Drew’s ballclub went a surpring 9-7 in the league last season despite starting Adekoya, Peters and Williams as true freshmen.

Billy Donlon loses five of the top six scorers from a Wright State team that fell short in the conference tournament finals a season ago, but the Raiders return 5-foot-9 senior point guard Reggie Arceneaux along with 6-foot-6 sophomore J.T. Yoho and guard Crishawn Hopkins. Wright State had 10 players average double-figure minutes last season, so expect Donlon to go to his seven-man recruiting class early and often for depth.

Defending conference tournament champion Milwaukee will not represent the Horizon League again in the NCAA Tournament. This isn’t a bold prediction, but a truth, as the Panthers are ineligible for postseason for low APR scores. But three starters still return for Milwaukee, led by senior point guard Steve McWhorter and junior big man Matt Tiby and Northern Illinois transfer Akeem Springs should add some scoring punch on the wing.

Detroit has the pieces to surprise in the Horizon this season as senior wing Juwan Howard Jr., returns after a breakout junior season. If the son of the former Fab Five member can get some help from Colorado transfer Chris Jenkins or 6-foot-8 sophomore Paris Bass, the Titans could compete sooner than later. Bass, in particular, will be one to watch after sitting out last season.

Oakland now faces life in the post Travis Bader-era, as the NCAA’s all-time leader in three-pointers has graduated and moved on. The Golden Grizzlies will now have to rely on the inside-outside combination of senior big man Corey Petros and returning Horizon League Freshman of the Year Kahlil Fielder at point guard. St. John’s transfer Max Hooper, who shot 40 percent from three-point range in his final season in New York, will get a shot at replacing the prolific Bader.

PRESEASON HORIZON LEAGUE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Keifer Sykes, Green Bay

One of the most dynamic point guards in the country, the 5-foot-11 senior puts up numbers all over the floor and usually rises to the occasion when Green Bay has a big game. A freak athlete with outstanding leaping ability and quickness, Sykes is a difference-maker on both ends of the floor and averaged 20.3 points, 4.9 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game in his junior season. The only thing missing on the resume for the senior is a trip to the NCAA Tournament and he’s focused on leading four returning starters to the Big Dance in 2014-15.

THE REST OF THE PRESEASON ALL-HORIZON LEAGUE TEAM:

  • Juwan Howard Jr., Detroit – The son of former NBA veteran and Fab Five member Juwan Howard, the 6-foot-5 senior had a breakout junior season, averaging 18.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and also leading the Titans in assists.
  • Corey Petros, Oakland – A 6-foot-10, 260-pound senior, Petros is a load to handle on the interior and averaged 13.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game last season on 57 percent field goal shooting.
  • Alec Peters, Valparaiso – The 6-foot-9 sophomore had a huge impact as a freshman, averaging 12.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game on some impressive shooting splits for a player his size (49% FG, 77% FT, 38% 3PT).
  • Trey Lewis, Cleveland State – The Vikings have multiple all-league candidates but Lewis averaged 13.6 points per game as a sophomore and if the 6-foot-3 guard improves his shooting percentages, that number could climb greatly.

ONE TWITTER FEED TO FOLLOW: @billpotter_HL

PREDICTED FINISH

1. Green Bay
2. Cleveland State
3. Valparaiso
4. Wright State
5. Milwaukee
6. Detroit
7. Oakland
8. Youngstown State
9. UIC

APR sanctions result in postseason ban next season for Milwaukee

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Less than a month after representing the Horizon League in the NCAA tournament, falling to No. 3 Syracuse in the Round of 64, the Milwaukee Panthers learned Wednesday that they will not have the opportunity to return in 2014-15.

The school announced that its appeal of sanctions related to substandard Academic Progress Rate (APR) figures was denied by the NCAA Committee on Academic Performance, resulting in the basketball program being banned from postseason play in 2014-15. As a result Rob Jeter’s team will also be prohibited from participating in the Horizon League tournament.

“The academic success of our student-athletes will always be the top priority in the Milwaukee athletic department,” UWM Athletic Director Amanda Braun said. “We are aware that problems did occur in the past, but we have faced them and made changes and are accepting the consequences from the NCAA. Well before we even started the appeals process, we began implementing new processes to help all of our student-athletes have more success in the classroom.”

According to the school the program will have to replace four hours of practice time with four hours of academic support, and they’ll be allowed five days of practice during the season instead of six. During the current four-year window, which ended with the 2012-13 season, schools are required to have an APR score of at least 930. Milwaukee’s score of 908 obviously fell short of that mark.

Of Milwaukee’s top five scorers from this season three have eligibility remaining: guard Steve McWhorter (7.8 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 4.0 apg; will be a senior next season) and forwards Austin Arians (11.1, 3.5) and Matt Tiby (12.0, 6.5). Both Arians and Tiby will be juniors in 2014-15.