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Cole Anthony stars in North Carolina debut

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As Cole Anthony took the floor Wednesday in his collegiate debut, it looked as though the potential top pick in the 2020 NBA draft was going to make a fashion statement.

Ultimately, though, the Mikan-esque corrective lenses he wore – and later ditched – weren’t what left the biggest impression of the night. It was his game.

The son of UNLV great and 11-year NBA vet Greg Anthony, the North Carolina freshman exploded for 34 points, 11 rebounds and five assists in the Tar Heels’ season-opening 76-65 win over Notre Dame to start both the season and ACC play 1-0.

It was a virtuoso performance for a player that was in the mix for being the top-rated prospect in the 2019 class, but has found himself less a part of the national conversation this preseason than his counterparts like James Wiseman at Memphis or RJ Hampton, who opted not to even play college basketball.

Anthony’s entire repertoire was on display against the Irish, who could do little to contain him all evening. He was 12 of 24 overall from the floor and 6 of 11 from 3-point range. He created for others. He got the Tar Heels going in transition with 11 defensive boards.

Simply put, he was dynamic.

The only issue for Anthony was his four turnovers, but given how much responsibility there is on him offensively to initiate the offense, get others involved and score it himself, that’s not that bad of number in 37 minutes. Especially when it’s the first 37 minutes of his career.

It was a game reminiscent of some of the breakout games we’ve seen from the best freshmen in recent years. Remember Trae Young’s 43 against Oregon two years ago or Zion Williamson’s 28 and seven in his debut against Kentucky last year? It’s not much of a leap of faith to think we’ll be talking about Anthony’s first-ever college game in that same vein.

It was a declaration of intent.

Cole Anthony is here, and he’s coming for the ACC. Along with the rest of college basketball.

He’s uniquely situated as a 6-foot-3, playmaking lead guard for a top-10 team to make a dent in college basketball. Maybe he’s not going to be the cultural phenomenon that both Young and Williamson were, but going for 34, 11 and five in your first-ever college game against a strong ACC program is a pretty good indication that Anthony is going to be awesome this season.

Honestly, it’s too bad he decided to toss the glasses he started the game wearing. Making rec specs cool might have been the true test of Anthony’s talent and appeal.

Although, there’s a notable precedence for a guy flipping of his glasses and becoming super.

Vassell leads No. 18 Florida St.’s late run past Notre Dame

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Freshman Devin Vassell scored 13 points, sparking Florida State’s second-half charge with a dunk and a 3-pointer on consecutive possessions, and the 18th-ranked Seminoles held off Notre Dame 68-61 on Monday night.

Trent Forrest made 4 of 6 six free-throw attempts in the final minute to help the Seminoles (22-6, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) hang on.

D.J. Harvey scored 18 points and Prentiss Hubb had 17 for Notre Dame (13-15, 3-12), which has dropped four straight games.

The Fighting Irish went scoreless for nearly five minutes late in the game and made just one of their final 10 field-goal attempts.

Vassell shot 5 of 6 from the floor, draining all three 3-point attempts, and had seven rebounds. He scored more points than he had in 14 prior ACC games.

Christ Koumadje added 12 points, the fourth time in the last five games he has scored in double figures.

John Mooney added 14 points and eight rebounds for Notre Dame, which had won three straight in the series — none of which were played in Tallahassee. The Seminoles are 44-3 at home in the last three seasons.

Florida State had the rebounding edge, 40-26.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish have dropped all eight games against ranked opponents this season.

Florida State: The Seminoles were sluggish most of the night but made enough big plays late to secure a seventh 10-win season in ACC play. Florida State has won a program-best 12 ACC games three times, most recently in 2016-17.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame plays at Louisville on Sunday.

Florida State hosts North Carolina State on Saturday.

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

Blackshear powers No. 20 Virginia Tech past Notre Dame 67-59

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Kerry Blackshear Jr. had 22 points and 14 rebounds as No. 20 Virginia Tech defeated Notre Dame 67-59 on Saturday.

The Hokies (21-6, 10-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), leading from the game’s first basket onward, grabbed to a 14-4 advantage over the initial eight minutes.

The Fighting Irish (13-14, 3-11), who got as close as six points on three occasions in the second half, lost their third straight game and their ninth in their last 11 outings.

T.J. Gibbs led Notre Dame with 18 points but was just 5 of 17 from the field with three 3-pointers. John Mooney added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Blackshear, hot of late, is averaging 24.7 points and 12.0 rebounds over his last three games.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker added 12 points for Tech.

The Hokies swarmed for as many offensive rebounds — 18 — as Notre Dame had defensive rebounds on their way to winning the glass 49-27.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies improved to 4-3 without senior point guard Justin Robinson. The ACC’s active leader in career assists is out indefinitely with a left foot injury he suffered Jan. 30 at Miami. Tech — which is 17-3 with Robinson (14.4 points ppg, 5.5 assists) — encounters two ranked opponents in its final three regular-season games.

Notre Dame: The Irish fell below .500 for just the second time in coach Mike Brey’s 19 seasons. The only other occasion occurred in 2013-14, when they slipped to 15-16 on their way to a 15-17 finish, their only non-winning season under Brey.

Guy, Hunter lead No. 4 Virginia past Notre Dame, 60-54

Guy, Hunter lead No. 4 Virginia past Notre Dame, 60-54
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Kyle Guy scored 22 points, De’Andre Hunter had 20 with 10 rebounds and No. 4 Virginia withstood a late push by Notre Dame to win 60-54 on Saturday.

Hunter scored six points during a 9-0 run for the Cavaliers (22-2, 10-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) after the Fighting Irish closed to within 45-44 with 8:12 left.

But Notre Dame (13-12, 3-9) then went more than five minutes without a point as Hunter scored inside and hit four free throws. Guy added a 3-pointer and it was 54-44 with less than five minutes to play.

T.J. Gibbs scored 17 and D.J. Harvey had 10 for Notre Dame. Gibbs scored Notre Dame’s first 10 points and was the only Irish player to score until Harvey’s basket with 6:41 left in the first half.

Notre Dame closed to within 54-50 when Virginia went scoreless for more than four minutes after a pair of free throws by Hunter with 4:55 left. The Irish called timeout with 41 seconds left, and when Virginia inbounded the ball to Guy, Nate Laszewski stole it and scored with 34.5 seconds left, making it 54-52 and prompting a timeout by the Cavaliers. After Virginia inbounded, Guy was fouled and made both ends of a 1-and-1. A dunk by John Mooney for the Irish and two more free throws by Guy finished it off for the Cavaliers.

Virginia led just 29-25 at halftime but looked poised to pull away after a 10-3 run early in the second half gave the Cavaliers a 39-30 lead. The Irish responded with a 10-2 surge as Laszewski scored seven of the 10 points. That pulled them within 41-40 with just under 11 minutes to play and the Cavaliers never relinquished the lead, but also struggled to get much separation.

BIG PICTURE

Notre Dame: The Irish nearly pulled off a stunning upset against a Virginia team that hadn’t played since Monday and shot the ball poorly. Notre Dame’s zone defense disrupted Virginia’s rhythm. The Cavaliers won 82-55 when the teams played in South Bend, Indiana, on Jan. 26.

Virginia: The Cavaliers had uncharacteristically averaged 13.5 turnovers in their past four games, but cleaned that up, at least in the first half when they had no turnovers. They did cough it up eight times in the second half and were outscored 9-1 in points off turnovers for the game.

Monday’s Things To Know: Baylor keeps winning, Duke dominates and Texas Tech finds Jarrett Culver some help

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There wasn’t much in the way of high-profile matchups or huge upsets Monday, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to catch up on the important action – and trash talking – from across the country. Here’s what you need to know, starting Baylor being…pretty good?

BAYLOR IS GOOD AND NO ONE KNOWS HOW

No one thought Baylor would be particularly good this season. In fact, most thought they’d be bad, having lost the two best players – Manu Lecomte and Jo Lual-Acuil – off a team that wasn’t all that good a year ago. It wasn’t just media punditry, either. The Big 12’s coaches voted the Bears ninth in the league preseason poll.

So pretty much everyone was expecting Scott Drew’s team to languish through this season, and for the select few, probably none outside Waco, Texas or without a Baylor degree framed on their wall, that actually had some hope, they certainly let go of those dreams when Tristan Clark, this year’s team’s best player, was lost for the season with a knee injury early this month. Surely, that would extinguish any hope of a meaningful season for Baylor.

Well, Baylor just absolutely stomped Oklahoma, 77-47, in Norman on Monday night to win its fifth-straight game and improve to 5-2 in the Big 12, which, would you seriously look at this, is tied for the best record in the conference. It’s honestly amazing – the team picked to finish next-to-last lost its best player and now has the best record in the league almost halfway through the schedule.

If you’re still making Scott Drew Can’t Coach jokes, you really, really need to stop. He’s the Big 12 coach of the year right now, and probably will move into the national discussion if things keep moving in the same direction.

The Bears have morphed into – I kid you not – the Big 12’s best offense during league play, per KenPom. They’re grabbing about 40 percent of their own misses to help offset so-so shooting while hoisting 41.9 percent of their attempts from 3-point range. They’re also assisting on better than 60 percent of their buckets. Makai Mason, whose foot injury made him a true mystery before the season, is shooting 38.6 percent from 3-point range during Big 12 play while King McClure and Mario Kegler have helped fill the void over the last month.

So the question here is how real is this? The offensive rebounding, which is powering the offense, seems sustainable given Drew’s teams are always great on the boards. The defense is suspect, though, with Big 12 opponents clocking in at a league-worst 53.9 percent effective field goal percentage. The Bears’ opponents are making 40 percent of their 3s. Not great. Still, though, the Bears’ schedule seems awfully well set up for them to keep the momentum. They’ve got TCU at home this weekend before a trip to Texas, which has lost five of six. Then it’s home dates with Kansas State and the Sooners again. It’s really not too hard to see them at 9-2 or 8-3 there, is it? You get there by the second week of February in the Big 12, and the NCAA tournament seems attainable with just another win or two, no problem.

We’ll see if this magic evaporates, but given what we’ve seen already from Baylor, it would almost be more surprising to see the Bears collapse than it has been to see them get here.

As for Oklahoma, not exactly an ideal way to follow up a 31-point win against Vanderbilt. The team that spent November and December piling up a great resume now has home losses to Kansas State and Baylor along with road Ls to Kansas, Texas Tech and Texas. It’s hard to make sense of the Sooners, but their upcoming stretch (at West Virginia, vs. Iowa State, vs. Texas Tech, at Baylor, at TCU) should rectify that.

DUKE ROLLS

GIven how the highlight reel dunks have become commonplace and the presumption is he’ll go No. 1 in June’s NBA draft, sometimes you can lose sight of how good Duke’s Zion Williamson is. Look at what the freshman did in the Blue Devils’ 83-61 thrashing of Notre Dame in South Bend.

Williamson made 10 of 12 shots from the floor, including his only 3-point attempt, had nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks in 36 minutes. It’s wild what he’s doing, and even wilder that games like this aren’t all that noteworthy any more.

TEXAS TECH BUILDS MOMENTUM

You could be forgiven if your faith in Texas Tech had hobbled over the last couple weeks. That 4-0 start to the Big 12 looked a whole lot less impressive after the Red Raiders dropped three-straight – at home to Iowa State and then at Baylor and Kansas State – followed by a “meh” win at home against Arkansas in the Big 12/SEC Challenge on Saturday.

Texas Tech took a step toward rebuilding that trust Monday.

The 16th-ranked Red Raiders took care of business in Lubbock against TCU with an 84-65 win in which they controlled the game essentially from start to finish.

Undoubtedly the best sign for Chris Beard and Co. was an offense that didn’t rely on Jarrett Culver to do literally everything. Culver, whose usage rate of 32.3 percent is the highest in the Big 12 during conference play, got a ton of help against the Horned Frogs with Matt Mooney scoring 18, Tariq Owens 17 and Davide Moretti 11. Culver still got his with 18 points but the fact that he was 0-6 from 3-point range didn’t haunt the Raiders with the rest of the team going 9-15 from distance.

Culver is going to have to do the bulk of the work for the Texas Tech offense this year – that’s just reality – but if the likes of Mooney, Owens and Moretti can chip in with regularity, that’s going to ease things on the Red Raiders and put way less pressure on Culver to be great and the Texas Tech defense to be near-perfect.

Zion Williamson powers No. 1 Duke past Notre Dame

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Zion Williamson scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked four shots, and fellow freshmen RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish combined for another 30 points as No. 2 Duke rolled to an 83-61 victory over Notre Dame on Monday night.

Williamson made 10 of 12 shots from the field for the Blue Devils, who were in control all the way.

Duke (18-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its fourth straight game while sending the Fighting Irish (11-10, 1-7) to their sixth straight loss.

Barrett tallied 17 points for the Devils to go with nine rebounds. Reddish had 13 points.

John Mooney scored 14 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for Notre Dame. It was his seventh consecutive double-double.

Prentiss Hubb added 13 points and T.J. Gibbs 12 for the Irish.

Duke, which led by as many 24 points in the second half, was up 46-28 by halftime.

The Blue Devils roared to a 17-2 lead in the opening six minutes, with Williamson scoring nine points during the spree, and were up 26-7 by the time 10 minutes had elapsed.

Notre Dame trimmed its deficit under double digits just once, at 32-23. The Blue Devils’ immediate response to that was a 10-0 run over a span of 2:22.

BIG PICTURE

Duke: The Blue Devils moved into sole possession of the lead in the hotly contested ACC for the moment by virtue of their seventh league win. No. 3 Virginia (6-1), No. 15 Louisville (6-1) and No. 9 North Carolina (5-1) each have one league loss as well, and all were idle Monday. Duke still has road assignments remaining against each of those other three clubs, plus a home date with the Tar Heels.

Notre Dame: Teetering at just over .500, the Irish are in danger of missing out on postseason for just the second time during coach Mike Brey’s 19 years in South Bend. ND has made 12 NCAA Tournament appearances and five in the NIT under Brey. The lone time his Irish were shut out of either was in 2014, when the team closed at 15-17.

UP NEXT

Duke: The Blue Devils step outside the ACC for one last time this regular season when they host St. John’s on Saturday. The Red Storm are 15-5, but have lost four of five.

Notre Dame: The Irish visit Boston College on Saturday. The Eagles (11-7, 2-4) account for ND’s lone ACC win, 69-66 on Jan. 12 at Notre Dame.