NCAA slaps Ga. Tech hoops on wrist for major violations

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Georgia Tech football got a big NCAA smackdown, but the hoops program didn’t emerge unscathed after myriad violations emerged Thursday.

A graduate assistant broke NCAA rules when he helped administer two youth basketball tournaments on campus in May 2009 and 2010 and also evaluated prospective student-athletes. At one point, he made 28 calls to two assistant coaches during the ’10 event.

The NCAA termed those major violations because the hoops staff knew about it and it provided more than a minimal recruiting edge.

Former coach Paul Hewitt, who was fired shortly after the season ended and was not named in the NCAA’s report, disagreed with the NCAA’s assessment.

“My staff and I have always had a record of compliance with the rules,” Hewitt told Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com. “And we’re proud of that record.”

(Tech football took the brunt of the damage. The school received four years’ probation, a $100,000 fine and had to vacated its 2009 ACC title, but didn’t lose any scholarships or any postseason bans.)

Not that it’s a huge deal.

All new hoops coach Brian Gregory has to deal with is a reduction of two recruiting days during the current evaluation period (which was self-imposed) and a limit of 10 official visits for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 academic years.

The bigger hit was simply having the label of “major violations” occupy the news on Thursday. By next month, it’ll be a distant memory for the hoops program.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Kennesaw State blows eight-point lead in 16 seconds, loses to Elon

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Kennesaw State entered Monday night at 1-6 on the season, but with 19 seconds left, it looked like the Owls have their second of the season locked up. Kendrick Ray made a pair of free throws with 19 seconds left to put KSU up 89-81, and all they had to do was avoid a complete meltdown to get out with a win.

They couldn’t.

A Luke Eddy layup with 16 seconds left cut the lead to six, and after KSU’s Nigel Pruitt missed two free throws, Dainan Swoope his a three with seven seconds left to make the score 89-86.

On the ensuing inbounds, Kennesaw State threw the ball away … and then proceeded to foul Eddy when he was shooting a three. This is what that disaster looked like:

Eddy would hit all three threes before, shockingly, KSU turned the ball over again. Elon could not capitalize this time, sending the game to overtime, where the Phoenix outscored the Owls 14-4.

Elon won 104-94.

Here’s what the comeback looked like on the play-by-play:

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Rick Pitino: Louisville ‘just ignored’ in top 25 due of scandal

Rick Pitino
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Louisville beatdown Saint Louis at the Barclays Center on Sunday night, a 77-57 win that was much closer at halftime than the final score might indicate.

The win moved the Cardinals to 5-0 on the season, and that, in turn, got Louisville into the back end of both top 25 polls.

They’re 24th in the AP Poll and 22nd in the Coaches Poll, but that happened on Monday morning. On Sunday night, Pitino made sure to get a rant in about how this team is viewed and why pundits and voters should overlook the scandal currently plaguing his program.

“I think people are looking at that and they’re not really studying the team,” he said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, adding that he thinks the team is “just ignored” because of the accusations leveled by self-described madam Katina Powell in the book she published back in October.

And here’s the thing: he is 100 percent correct. Louisville was overlooked in the preseason because the scandal, when combined with the fact that the Cardinals are integrating so many new pieces into their rotation, made it tough to see how they would be able to compete at a level that we’ve come to expect out of Louisville teams.

I know that because it’s why my colleagues at NBCSports.com, against my wishes, refused to allow me to rank Louisville in the preseason top 25. In other words, I’ve had first-hand interactions with the haters. But if we’re going to be honest here, scandal or no scandal, Louisville probably wasn’t going to find their way into the preseason top 25, not when they had to replace Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell.

And scandal or no scandal, no team from outside the top 25 is going to play their way into the top 25 by beating the likes of North Florida and St. Francis (NY) without some shenanigans — like Fred VanVleet getting hurt, like Indiana collapsing, like Arizona and Cal and Notre Dame playing their way out of the top 20 — happening around the country.

So Pitino is right: the scandal probably did have an impact on how his team was viewed in the preseason.

But Pitino the scandal isn’t what kept them out of the top 25 until Monday.

That weak non-conference schedule and roster turnover was why.

And if we’re going to be honest here, it probably should have kept them out for another week.