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Bluiett sparks No. 3 Xavier in Big East win over St. John's

Sean O'Mara put an exclamation point on Xavier's runaway victory with a two-handed jam in the final seconds and Paul Scruggs cupped a hand to his right ear as the school band played the team off a winner.

The Musketeers never let up in the final minutes, crushing 3s and dunking with such ease that it ticked off a sore St. John's. The Red Storm's Ahmed Bashir popped off at Tyrique Jones in the handshake line and it quickly disintegrated into shoving and shouting. The scuffle was busted up by players and assistants from both teams as the crowd stood for a better view of the unexpected fracas.

St. John's coach Chris Mullin, a native New Yorker, simply said, "I didn't see anything."

Xavier could have ended it with one word like kids do when they tussle on the playground: scoreboard.

Trevon Bluiett scored 27 points, Kaiser Gates had 16 and No. 3 Xavier looked every bit the top seed in the Big East Tournament in an 88-60 win over St. John's on Thursday.

"I'm not going to throw anybody under the bus," Xavier coach Chris Mack said. "A couple of guys didn't want to shake hands."

The Big East reviewed tape of the scuffle and security footage to determine if the action spilled into the locker rooms. Big East senior associate commissioner Stu Jackson said he does not plan on taking any disciplinary action.

Xavier (28-4) flexed its muscle in a dominant second half on the Red Storm's home court at Madison Square Garden. Xavier plays fifth-seeded Providence in a tourney semifinal Friday. Providence beat Xavier 81-72 on Jan. 6. The Friars knocked off fourth-seeded Creighton 72-68 on Thursday.

Xavier lost only three times during conference play to take its first Big East title and the top seed into MSG. The Musketeers snapped out of a sluggish first half in a hurry in the second to win for 13th time in their last 14 games.

Bluiett buried a 3 from the top of the arc for a 45-35 lead. Bluiett was high-fived by his teammates, who bounced around him headed into a timeout. Mack sternly pointed Bluiett toward the huddle, then smacked him on the rear for a good job.

Gates followed with another 3-pointer and O'Mara's block led to Quentin Goodin's fast-break bucket to help the Musketeers finally build some separation. Gates and JP Macura hit consecutive 3s for a 56-42 lead and the Musketeers showed again why they expect to play deep in March. Xavier has reached the Sweet 16 six times in the last 10 years and set a school record in victories this season.

"If we're a one seed, two seed, we were an 11 seed last year and made it to the Elite Eight, so we know firsthand that it never really matters," Bluiett said.

The only hiccup: Xavier ended Villanova's four-year run of regular-season Big East titles but lost twice to the Wildcats. The potential for a third game looms in the tourney final Saturday.

"Our focus really isn't on Villanova right now," Gates said.

St. John's lost 73-68 to Xavier in January, which capped a 0-11 conference start. The Red Storm (16-17) beat then-No. 4 Duke and followed with a stunning win over then-No. 1 Villanova in Philadelphia that straightened out their season. They went 5-3 down the stretch and knocked off Georgetown in the tournament opener.

About 12 hours after knocking off Georgetown, the Red Storm came out with another upset on their minds. Justin Simon waved his arms and exhorted the home crowd to get louder on a 3 that gave St. John's a two-point lead. Xavier let St. John's hang around in large part because it missed its first six 3-pointers. But the Musketeers hit two straight to spark a 10-0 run and take a 33-29 lead into halftime.

Marvin Clark II led St. John's with 18 points.

The Red Storm's Tariq Owens was hit with three fouls in the first half and Shamorie Ponds, who returned from an abdominal strain to score 26 points against the Hoyas, was scoreless in the first half.

Mullin refused to blame the quick tournament turnaround for St. John's lethargic second half.

"That's what you get for coming in ninth," he said.


St. John's: The Red Storm could have a promising future Mullin.

"I think having that 11-game stretch of losing, losing, losing, losing, I think most people would have cowered and tucked their tail and ran. I'm proud of our team for fighting back and making, salvaging something out of the season," Clark said.

Xavier: The Musketeers will likely earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament if they win it all in New York.


Ponds, a sophomore guard, could leave for the NBA. Mullin said he has yet to talk to Ponds about his future.


St. John's: The Red Storm will regroup.

Xavier: The Musketeers are looking to win their first Big East Tournament title. Xavier's best finish in four previous tourneys was a loss in the 2015 title game.


For more AP college basketball coverage: http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_Top25


AP freelance writer Matt Sugam contributed to this report.

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Georgia Sports News

  • Want to attack every day with the latest Georgia football recruiting info? That’s what the Intel will bring at least five days a week. The play sheet calls for a breakdown of where elite cornerback prospect Lejond Cavazos stands after trips to Ohio State and UGA last week. Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month.  Do you read that starter paragraph each day? Maybe you should. There are little things that are dropped in there from time to time. The catchphrase for Tuesday regarding IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.) junior defensive back Lejond Cavazos has his future spot at cornerback. The recruiting world hasn’t caught up to that yet. Lejond Cavazos was one of the most impressive prospects to camp at UGA this month. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) The 2020 prospect is rated as a 3-star safety and No. 302 overall by 247Sports. He’s not ranked on the 247Sports composite. That will change. Look for him to eventually rise to a top 5 prospect at cornerback. It will not shock me to see him listed with nation’s top 30 prospects for 2020. At least. Cavazos was good enough to start two games for IMG as a sophomore last season. I saw him work early last fall against Miami Central and made sure to tuck his name away. He also roomed with future 5-star receiver Jermaine Burton (now at Marietta) in the 2020 class, too. Let’s tick off the reasons why he is a rare player: He’s a two-sport athlete and an accomplished hurdler. He’s clocked a 7.93 in the 60-meter hurdles and a 13.80 at 110 meters. Those are special high school times for a prep hurdler, but he’s a football player first. Cavazos wasn’t healthy this year at Nike’s The Opening regional. He still posted a 4.56 laser time in the 40 with a 43-inch vertical and a power ball toss of 37 feet. His hamstring limited him to a 4.39 in the pro agility shuttle. He clocked a verified time of 4.03 seconds in that 5-10-5 at an earlier showing. It meant a Sparq rating of 115.08. That’s in the 99th percentile of all tested athletes. It was good for 46th overall this cycle. It rates as the fifth-best showing beyond the 2019 class. Can he play? The fact he started last year (two games) for IMG Academy and will start this year satisfies that curiosity. When he worked out for Georgia and Ohio State last week, both programs saw him as a cornerback first and a do-it-all defensive back second. Both staffs halted his workout early because they didn’t need to see any more. When the ranking services catch up as they usually do, he can chart as a top 15 overall prospect for 2020. He can contend for the nation’s top cornerback spot in 2020. Kirby Smart worked him out personally. DawgNation was told that Cavazos turned in a sub-4.5 time in the 40 at Ohio State. “Both schools view me as a corner,” Cavazos said. “They both really said they liked my height and my size and my quickness. They both want me to play corner, but they said if that doesn’t work out then I could definitely go to safety easily.” Cavazos would rather play cornerback. He feels that’s his best spot, but will play whatever his squad needs him to do at IMG. Urban Meyer and Smart both stayed close to Cavazos and his family during those visits. Lejond Cavazos on UGA and Ohio State being so close Cavazos has really liked Ohio State and Georgia of late. The Bulldogs turned his head with a visit this winter that was followed up by a G-Day visit. He has said the Bulldogs were in a top-school position.  He went to see Ohio State first last week. It left a distinct impression on him, but then came Georgia. Lejond Cavazos said the back-to-back trips to UGA and Ohio State last week have complicated his decision. (Cavazos Family/courtesy) “It definitely complicated it a lot,” Cavazos said. “Coming off that Ohio State visit, I was like ‘This is the school’ and this and that and then going to Georgia hearing like kind of the same stuff makes it really a hard decision. They are both really good schools so I don’t know what I am going to do now leading up to a commitment. “I thought I was going to commit like in a couple of weeks before I go back to school so it really just made it a lot harder on me.” What happens now? Will he now ride through his junior year and see which school stands out after Sept. 1? That is a key date. Schools can then contact him per NCAA rules. That will reflect where he stands on their boards. He also will watch them closely this fall. “That is probably what I am going to stick back to doing,” he said. What’s the best thing he likes now about Ohio State? Georgia? His answer was basically the same for both. “I would say probably their career plan program they have going on with their players,” Cavazos said. “They set you up to succeed for a life outside of football.” He liked that they didn’t focus on the football. “They both have a good plan as well for their life after football. Those are like the two main things for both schools that I like the most. They have a Plan A which is something else that is outside of football.” He could not discern any clear differences in terms of facilities. “I really like both setups for their facilities,” he said. “I can see myself succeeding at both schools. They are both really nice. They both have what I need.” That’s another brick to the argument the Bulldogs need to complete the west end zone and upgrade their weight room to stand out nationally there. Lejond Cavazos knows that Nolan Smith dude pretty well as teammates at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) It wasn’t specifically stated, but it sounds as if UGA and Ohio State are well out in front. Cavazos only planned to work out for Georgia and Ohio State this summer. “They are both definitely tied right now,” Cavazos said. “Everything that I heard from one school I also heard from the other school. They both said the same things and made the same points.” He plans to check out both schools this fall, and he did not rules out making a commitment. “I will go to each school’s big game this year,” Cavazos said in reference to both Georgia and Ohio State. How did the Georgia visit go for Lejond Cavazos?  Georgia thought very highly of Cavazos both before and after the workout. He left an impression on Smart. “He said I’m what they want,” he said. “Coach Smart told me that I checked off all the boxes.” Lejond Cavazos said he already has a very good relationship with first-year Georgia assistant coach Dan Lanning. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Georgia’s workout focused on speed and running drills. The Buckeyes wanted to see what his backpedal looked like. What was his favorite part of the UGA trip? “Just chilling with the coaches,” he said. “That was with both Coach Smart and Coach [Mel] Tucker. Just that feeling you get when you are around family. It felt like that.” Smart worked him out personally. “He has a great arm,” Cavazos said. It meant a quick hook. “After my second or maybe third one-on-one rep, Coach Smart said he saw what he needed to see and that I should stop,” Cavazos said. He likely had more in the tank. Cavazos is described by those who know him as a competitor. He was always trying to jump the highest on the trampoline or to be the fastest swimmer in the pool growing up. That instinct cannot be instilled. “When he was a kid and his [older] brothers would hit him, he wouldn’t come to complain to us,” C.J. Cavazos, his father, said. “He would hit his brothers back. One of his brothers is now 6 feet tall and 280 pounds and his big brother Josh would come upset to us and tell us, ‘Why does Lejond keep hitting me’ and ‘Can you tell him to quit hitting me’ with that. “I’d tell him, ‘Lejond is the little kid, and you are the big kid, and you are telling me to get him to stop hitting you’ There was something wrong with that picture. … Lejond has always been that kind of stubborn and hard kid. When you are the youngest of six you are either going to be that or get run over.” No matter how well he tests or drills, that attitude will be what separates him from his peers in football. C.J. Cavazos has a high opinion of the Bulldogs. “Georgia is a phenomenal program and has evolved into a national power,” he said. “Georgia’s academics are second to none. Their support system to help their players to graduate is something I like a lot and their fan base is crazy. We love it. Their spring game was just a taste of what it is.” “We want him to go to a program that is a very passionate program like Georgia who cares about their players.” How did the Ohio State visit go for Lejond Cavazos?  The Buckeyes made sure to name drop. “They definitely liked my feet,” Cavazos said. “They were comparing me to a lot of their corners from past years saying I was a lot like so-and-so and they said I could be like this guy and that guy. Ohio State told me about my potential with where I’m already for this age. They brought up where I am right now and then I will have the development of two more seasons of high school. They said that where I am at right now, that I could be really good when I go off to college.” Lejond Cavazos is a starting safety at IMG Academy. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) (Key fact: Ohio State has had five defensive backs selected in the first round of the NFL draft over the past three years.) Meyer made an impression when he spoke to Cavazos after a drill. “He stopped me after my 1-on-1s and just told me that I was a freak athlete,” Cavazos said. The IMG junior still wasn’t fully healthy at either workout. But he was still able to clock a 4.4 showing in the 40 in Columbus. “I still have some resistance when I run,” he said. “I can be a lot better.” His favorite part of the Ohio State trip was the feedback he got from the players about what it is like to be part of the  Buckeyes. He said he spent more time with Meyer than Smart. “It wasn’t a lot more,” Cavazos said. “They were pretty much with me the whole time along both visits to each school.” The X-factor in the recruiting of Lejond Cavazos Cavazos will have a tough eventual choice: Buckeyes or Bulldogs. But he seems to be as well-equipped as a prospect can possibly be to sift through a tough decision. That’s because of personal and professional relationships established by his father. C.J. Cavazos can count two NFL head coaches in his inner circle. They help the family determine what is real, what is fake and what is necessary when it comes to the next steps for Lejond. Lejond Cavazos also has great ability in track as a hurdler. (Jeff Sentell/DawgNation) Cavazos speaks frequently with Todd Bowles and Anthony Lynn. Bowles is the head coach of the New York Jets. Lynn leads the San Diego Chargers. Bowles speaks very highly of both Mel Tucker at Georgia and Greg Schiano of Ohio State. The son listens to the father here. He also advises recruits in a professional capacity. His father, like his son, is also an engaging communicator. He is honest. His straightforward style was able to recruit his wife, Melba, into naming their son “Lejond.” It took him about nine months of recruiting, but he was finally able to sway here. The full story on that naming right is a topic for another blog, but it shows something about this family. Steering his son through this choice will be something akin to his 779th rodeo. “He doesn’t think I’m listening to him a lot of times but I do,” Lejond Cavazos said. “I just don’t show it enough but what he says really helps me. His two best friends are head coaches in the NFL. They give feedback on what I do and what I have to work on. It really helps me in terms of bettering myself.” Cavazos is a very connected recruit. There are the many relationships he can draw on such as UGA commit Nolan Smith and Burton from their times at IMG Academy. Trey Sanders, another IMG 5-star, told DawgNation wherever he goes he will bring Cavazos along. Tony Brown, the former track and football star, was a 5-star prospect and the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect in 2014. That is another family friend. Taron Vincent, the former 5-star tackle at IMG Academy, is also trying to reel him to Ohio State. His father was also a high school coach at one time at Carter High in Dallas. That’s where he met a young Urban Meyer when he was just a young assistant on the recruiting trail. “My father is a great resource,” Cavazos said. “He’s not going to tell me where to go. He knows that this is my decision and he’s just told me that he knows that both of these schools [Georgia and Ohio State] are very good options.” What will happen when his son tells him he is ready to make a commitment? That’s the only time he will put the proverbial foot down. This is what father says he’d tell his son. “I’d be like, ‘OK, today is Friday. You’re telling me this is what you want to do. You have seven days to sleep on it. If you wake up next Friday in the morning and you come to tell me this is still your school, that’s when you call that school and tell them you’re ready to commit.’ We’re done then. But we’re not going to do anything on a knee-jerk reaction. We’re going to pray about it and sleep on it every day for a week.” When that is vetted, there will be no games. “I will be totally honest with these coaches,” C.J. Cavazos said. “The only way to do this is the right way. Be honest. Not waste their time. Time is money for these coaches. If you waste their time, you waste their money. They have other kids they can go and get.” The Cavazos family will respect the fact these recruiters are professionals. “I’ve told Urban Meyer that when he commits, we are done,” his father said. “I’ve told Lejond this. We are not going anywhere else once he commits. So he’s not ready to do that. I don’t have a timeline. It is not about me or his mom or his family. It is whenever he is ready.” Fast and furious things to keep in mind Check out the official visit recap from Chris Kirschner of SEC Country regarding 5-star ILB Nakobe Dean. Dean told Kirschner that Alabama “did everything it needed to do” on that visit. It sounds as if  the Tide made a favorable impression, but not enough for them to race out to the lead after his first official visit. It was very Smart of the Bulldogs to get Dean on campus for a rigorous workout prior to that Alabama visit. DawgNation readers should be well-informed on the name Bryan Bresee by now . He just picked up a rash of Crystal Ball picks to Ohio State from writers who cover that program over the last month. That’s something to monitor. The nation’s top prospect for 2020 should cut his options down to a smaller group this summer, but I don’t expect him to make a public decision anytime soon. He will be competing at The Opening Finals in Texas later this month. I have gotten a lot of questions of late about the defensive tackle spot for the Bulldogs and where the Bulldogs will go after the decision made Monday by C.J. Clark to stay home and play for North Carolina State. The short answer is that it will lead to a greater emphasis placed on the following names: Travon Walker, Derick “Rambo” Hunter and Quashon Fuller. Fuller told me recently he is still committed to Florida State but that all the schools within his top 5 are “basically neck and neck” at this point. We’ll go into deeper detail with the conversation later on this week. The 6-foot-4, 272-pound strongside defensive end could play all up and down the line at UGA. Georgia continues to make up ground here after two recent back-to-back visits. Here’s another popular question: What’s going on with Tray Scott on the recruiting trail? The most straightforward answer I can give here is what I hear from sources. Scott is a genuine person on the recruiting trail. No sizzle. He will keep it real. It seems like that approach will really work for those who value that style. But he is not slick and will not give off that professional sales approach. It will not work for everyone, but it will matter a great deal to those who value knowing exactly where they stand in a deep-rooted recruiting relationship. Georgia continues to make up ground on another key defensive line target. That prospect is currently committed to another SEC school. We will tackle that one later this week, too. Miss any Intel? The DawgNation recruiting archive will get you up to speed just as fast as former Georgia All-American LB Roquan Smith found the ball after the snap. The post DB Lejond Cavazos has UGA, Ohio State in a dead heat appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATLANTA (AP) - As the only general manager holding three first-round picks in Thursday night's NBA draft, including No. 3 overall, Atlanta's Travis Schlenk has been a popular target for trade talk. Overall, the Hawks have four picks in the top 34. That's more than enough depth to attract interest, but the rebuilding Hawks are even more attractive trade targets because they also have about $20 million in salary cap space. That creates more attractive options for a team needing to unload a contract in a trade. Schlenk says he is answering every call and considering all options - including the possibility of trading up or down from the No. 3 spot. It's an exciting time for Schlenk, who never held such a high draft pick in his previous job as assistant GM with the Golden State Warriors. 'This is the highest pick that I've been a part of,' Schlenk said last week. 'At Golden State, the highest pick we had was six. So it's exciting. Having the four picks, along with the third pick, we get a lot of phone calls, which is exciting as well, and we're going to go through all the options that are presented to us and make the best decision, hopefully.' He says he's comfortable with the idea of opening the 2018-19 season with four rookies. Schlenk is planning the Hawks' future with a new coach. Former Philadelphia assistant Lloyd Pierce was hired on May 11 to replace Mike Budenholzer, now the Bucks coach. Schlenk might use his first pick to select a forward-center to pair with 2017-18 rookie John Collins. Among players who could be available are Duke's Marvin Bagley III , Michigan State's Jaren Jackson and Mo Bamba of Texas. Guards Luka Doncic of Slovenia, Trae Young of Oklahoma and forward Michael Porter of Missouri could be alternatives for Schlenk. Pierce stressed defense in his first news conference in Atlanta. Schlenk said it's important to land players with balanced offensive and defensive skills. 'Obviously when you look at the best teams in the league, the majority of the time they're good defensive teams,' Schlenk said. 'But at the end of the day, if you're not scoring 100 points you're probably not winning, so we're going to look for guys that are two-way players, who can play defensively, but also we've got to be able to score the ball on the other end.' Bagley qualifies as that two-way talent, but he could be drafted at the No. 2 spot by Sacramento. 'I put a lot of work into this and I think I'm the best player in the draft,' Bagley said after his draft workout in Atlanta last week. 'I mean that in the most humble way possible, not to be cocky.' Phoenix is projected to select Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the top pick. Jackson is an accomplished shot blocker with less polish on the offensive end. He is regarded by many to have the potential shooting skills to develop into a well-rounded NBA big man. With point guard Dennis Schroder's future in Atlanta uncertain, the Hawks can look for talent at any position. Their wealth of picks could make it easier to take a chance on Doncic, who has the skills to play multiple positions even though his ability to create space in the NBA has been questioned by some critics. 'I've maintained all along, and I honestly believe this, we're going to take the best player,' Schlenk said. 'We're in a situation where we're looking to add the most talent we can, and we're going to get a good player at the third pick.' The No. 3 spot is the Hawks' highest since 2007, when they selected Al Horford at No. 3. Atlanta also has the No. 19 and No. 30 picks in the first round and No. 34 early in the second round. Those selections give Schlenk a wealth of options, including a deal for a higher pick next year. Schlenk said he has considered if the possibility to 'trade back to collect more assets would be advantageous.' ___ More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • Georgia football is the No. 1 topic every day on DawgNation Daily — the daily podcast for Georgia Bulldogs fans. Catch up on everything happening with UGA athletics with host Brandon Adams and the cast of DawgNation experts as they break down the latest Georgia football recruiting news and discuss UGA coach Kirby Smart’s quest to keep the Bulldogs on top of the SEC. On episode No. 724 (June 19, 2018) of the podcast, Georgia fans can hear a discussion about why some fans are getting restless about Georgia recruiting. Georgia football podcast: Some fans getting restless about UGA recruiting Beginning of the show: Georgia saw a couple recruiting targets make commitments to other schools Monday leaving some UGA fans wondering how the Bulldogs’ current recruiting momentum stacks up to some of its rivals. UGA fans have also recently had a strong reaction to some comments from 5-star wide receiver — and UGA commit — Jadon Haselwood. I’ll address those subjects on today’s show. 11-minute mark: DawgNation’s Chip Towers shares a compelling reason why UGA’s schedule might be tougher than some experts think. I’ll talk about Chip’s reasoning and how UGA should respond. 15-minute mark: DawgNation’s recruiting insider Jeff Sentell joins the show. Some of the topics covered include… 4-star defensive tackle CJ Clark’s NC Sate commitment 4-star defensive end Justin Eboigbe’s Alabama commitment Reaction to 4-star offensive tackle Xavier Truss’ UGA commitment An evaluation of UGA’s 2019 quarterback commit, John Rhym Plumlee Thoughts on 5-star wide receiver Jadon Haselwood’s candid comments An assessment of 5-star linebacker Nakobe Dean’s recruitment after his Alabama official visit And an update on UGA’s quarterback recruiting efforts 40-minute mark: I take a look at what ESPN ranked as the top concerns for the SEC teams in its preseason top 25. 45-minute mark: I discuss the latest Dawg Day Q&A. End of show: I update the Gator Hater Countdown. For the Monday (June 18) show, click here. For the video version of the Tuesday show, click here. For older episodes of DawgNation Daily, click here. The post Georgia football podcast: Some fans getting restless about UGA recruiting appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Braves continue to dominate the National League All-Star voting. The leading vote-getter among NL outfielders is now Nick Markakis. The Braves outfielder has 1,173,653 votes and surpassed the Nationals’ Bryce Harper (1,002,696) in the latest voting update released by Major League Baseball on Monday. Markakis was third among outfielders in the initial release of balloting results. The 34-year old has never made the All-Star team in is 13-year career. Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman continues to be the overall top vote-getter and the leader among first basemen with 1,433,140 votes. Teammate second baseman Ozzie Albies continues to lead all second basemen with 915,736 votes. Freeman holds a substantial lead among first baseman. He leads the Cubs Anthony Rizzo (566,382). Albies leads the Cubs’ Javier Báez (767,417) and the Reds’ Scooter Gennett (743,979). The Giants’ Brandon Crawford (1,120,031) is the leader at shortstop ahead of second-place Dansby Swanson (568,400) of the Braves. The Rockies’ Nolan Arenado (1,124,563) is the leader at third base and the Giants’ Buster Posey (686,253) is the leader at catcher. The Dodgers’ Matt Kemp (925,697) is third among NL outfielders. Several other Braves are among the leaders. Kurt Suzuki is third among catchers with 557,692 votes. Johan Camargo is third among third basemen with 395,389 votes. Among outfielders, Ronald Acuna is fifth with 617,151 votes and Ender Inciarte is sixth with 528,943 votes. All-Star voting ends July 5 for the game to be played July 17 in Washington. A third voting update will come June 25.