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Ole Miss lands No. 1 prospect in Nkemdiche

Grayson, Ga., defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top recruit, selected Ole Miss in a signing day ceremony. (Associated Press)
Grayson, Ga., defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation’s top recruit, selected Ole Miss in a signing day ceremony. (Associated Press)

College football: Alabama. Ohio State. Michigan. Florida. Notre Dame. Mississippi?

Ole Miss muscled in on the powerhouses that usually dominate national signing day, landing some of the most sought-after prospects in the country on college football’s annual first-Wednesday-in- February frenzy.

The Rebels, coming off a promising 7-6 season in their first season under coach Hugh Freeze, had the experts swooning by signing three of the bluest chips still on the board and building a well-rounded class otherwise.

The day started with defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville, Ga., rated the No. 1 recruit in the country by just about everyone who ranks them, deciding to join his brother, Denzel, in Oxford, Miss.

They weren’t done. Coaches in the Ole Miss war room were exchanging hugs and high-fives again a couple hours later when Laremy Tunsil, a top-rated offensive tackle from Lake City, Fla., picked the Rebels over Florida State and Georgia.

And highly touted defensive back Antonio Conner from nearby Batesville, Miss., chose the Rebels over national champion Alabama.

While the Rebels racked up, Nick Saban reloaded the Crimson Tide with a class that ranked No. 1 in the country.

SEC powers Florida, LSU and Georgia pulled in typically impressive classes. SEC newcomer Texas A&M cracked the top 10 of several rankings.

• Several players flip on USC: Signing day didn’t do much to soothe the scars left from a difficult season for Southern California. Several players who had given oral commitments change their minds.

The most notable defection on signing day was five-star defensive back Jalen Ramsey of Brentwood, Tenn., who flipped to Florida State. Defensive end Jason Hatcher from Louisville, Ky., bailed on USC and signed with Kentucky, and defensive end Torrodney Prevot from Houston not only reneged on his USC commitment, but he landed at Pac-12-rival Oregon.

Mayo, Carter lead Mavs past Blazers

NBA: O.J. Mayo scored 28 points, Vince Carter hit a critical jumper in the final minute and the host Dallas Mavericks beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-99 for coach Rick Carlisle’s 500th career victory. LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and 10 rebounds for Portland.

James, Wade pace Heat: LeBron James scored 32 points, Dwyane Wade added 31 points and eight assists, and the Miami Heat held off the visiting Houston Rockets 114-108. James Harden finished with 36 points and 12 rebounds for Houston.

Thunder bury Warriors: Kevin Durant scored 25 points, Russell Westbrook added 22 and the Oklahoma City Thunder throttled the travel-weary Golden State Warriors 119-98 to win consecutive games for the first time in nearly three weeks. Harrison Barnes and Klay Thompson had 19 points apiece for the Warriors.

Wizards beat streaking Knicks: John Wall had 21 points and nine assists, Trevor Ariza scored 20 points and the host Washington Wizards broke the New York Knicks’ five-game winning streak with a 106-96 victory.

Gasol out: Pau Gasol was diagnosed with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot, indefinitely sidelining the 7-foot Spaniard at a key point in the Los Angeles Lakers’ belated rally to get in playoff position.

TCU upsets Kansas for first Big 12 win

College men: Garlon Green scored 20 points and Texas Christian (10-12, 1-8 Big 12) held on for a 62-55 upset of fifth-ranked Kansas at Fort Worth, Texas, for the Horned Frogs’ first Big 12 victory.

The Jayhawks (19-3, 7-2 Big 12), coming off a loss four days earlier against Oklahoma State, have their first losing streak in more than seven years.

Indiana State knocks off Creighton: Jake Odum scored 22 points, topping the 1,000-point mark for his career and leading Indiana State (15-8, 8-4 Missouri Valley) past No. 16 Creighton (2-4, 9-3) 76-57 at Terre Haute, Ind. The Sycamores beat a ranked team at home for the first time since December 2006.

Providence beats No. 17 Cincinnati: FriaKadeem Batts scored 25 points and host Providence (12-7, 4-7 Big East) narrowly won its second straight game after holding a late lead, beating No. 17 Cincinnati (18-5, 6-4) 54-50.

• Spartans down Gophers: Gary Harris scored 15 points and Keith Appling added 14 points before leaving with an injury to help No. 12 Michigan State (19-4, 8-2 Big 10) defeat No. 18 Minnesota (17-6, 5-5) 61-50 at East Lansing, Mich.

Ligety wins first super-G at worlds

Miscellany: Ted Ligety produced a blistering finish to win the super-G at the world championships at Schladming, Austria, his first career victory in the skiing discipline. The American took risks in the final section of the Planai course to win in 1 minute, 23.96 seconds.

Gauthier De Tessieres of France was second and Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway finished third.

Nigeria rolls into final: Nigeria defeated Mali 4-1 in Durban, South Africa, to reach the final of the African Cup of Nations, setting up a soccer matchup with a surprising Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso needed extra time and a penalty shootout to get past favorite Ghana 3-2 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in Nelspruit.

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