Jones takes Round 1 in Holiday Invitational

Duke recruit leads DeSoto past Hampton, NCSU recruit Barber

CorrespondentDecember 29, 2012 

— Score one for Duke recruit Matt Jones.

In a marquee matchup that drew a standing-room crowd Friday night at the Holiday Invitational, Jones scored 18 points and helped his DeSoto (Texas) team defeat Hampton (Va.), led by N.C. State recruit Anthony Barber.

DeSoto (18-1) advanced to the championship game of the Summit Hospitality bracket at the tournament, facing St. Joseph’s (N.J.) at 7:20 p.m. Saturday.

Jones, a 6-foot-4 point guard, went 9 for 10 from the free throw line, including 6 for 6 in the final minute to salt away the victory for DeSoto, ranked No. 9 in the nation by ESPN.

Jones, who is rated as the No. 36 player in the nation by ESPN.com, said that he and Barber had played against each other several times in camps. For the silky Duke recruit, the individual matchup wasn’t what the game was about.

The players didn’t guard each other except after making defensive switches, so it was a stat sheet battle individually. Jones came up a point short of Barber’s 19, but won the team duel.

“We just wanted to win,” Jones said. “I knew my teammates were depending on me, being a senior, and I just wanted to win.

“We (Barber) played at LeBron camp, and you can’t fight (people looking at the individual matchup).”

DeSoto took charge in the third quarter, outscoring Hampton 14-3 to take a 31-18 lead.

Hampton (9-1) went on an 8-0 run early in the third quarter, getting five points from Barber, to cut the DeSoto lead to 38-30. But Jones and company won it at the line in the final two minutes.

“We’re just very happy to be playing in the championship tomorrow,” DeSoto coach Chris Dyer said.

“This is a very, very elite field. This has to be the top tournament or one of the top tournaments –I don’t want to offend anyone – in America.”

As far as the individual duel between the two Triangle-bound guards, he said it was just a taste of things to come.

“They are different kind of players. They’re both really good players and the ACC is really fortunate to have them next year,” Dyer said. “You guys are going to have a great time watching them.”

DeSoto played big inside, getting 12 blocked shots from Devin Wyatt.

Hampton shot just 26 percent from the floor, missing numerous outside shots.

Barber, a 6-foot-2 player with blinding speed, is rated the No. 14 player in the nation by ESPN.com. He turned his left ankle early in the second quarter, walking it off and staying in the game. Despite being slowed by the ankle, which Barber said was still sore after the game, he was able to drive to basket numerous times in an acrobatic display.

“They had a lot of blocked shots, but that never stopped us from going inside,” Barber said. “I figured that once I wasn’t hitting (from the outside), I had to go to the rim. So that is what I did.

Barber downplayed the individual matchup with Jones.

“That wasn’t a big deal,” Barber said. “I played my game, he played his. We’re both great players and people want to see that. We just came out and played the game.

“I wasn’t caught up in me and Matt, me and Matt. Just play the game.”

DeSoto defeated a state champion for the second straight day. In the first round, the Eagles topped defending NCHSAA 2A champion Kinston. On Thursday, it was Virginia AAA champion Hampton.

In Friday’s first semifinal, St. Joseph’s (N.J.) made its tournament debut with a 58-50 victory over Broughton.

St. Joseph’s did not play in the first round because travel difficulties prevented it from getting to Raleigh on Wednesday. The Falcons won a coin flip with Holly Springs to stay in the winner’s bracket.

Karl Towns Jr., a 6-foot-11 junior who is rated as the No. 3 player in the class of 2014 by ESPN.com, had 17 points and seven rebounds for St. Joseph’s, which advanced to the final of the Summit bracket.

New Hampton (N.H.) followed with a 68-51 victory over High Point Christian. Noah Vonleh, an Indiana recruit, led New Hampton with 18 points. The Huskies advanced to the Shavlik Randoph bracket final and will face the winner of Friday night’s late game between Oxford Webb and Word of God on Saturday at 9 p.m.

In Friday’s other games, Apex eliminated Clinton 56-34 as TJ Evans scored 16 points, and Waxhaw Cuthbertson avenged a loss in last year’s 2A state championship game with a 50-47 victory over Kinston.

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