Late Night Snacks: Shockers move to 31-0 and eight ranked teams fall to unranked foes

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GAME OF THE DAY: Southeast Missouri 118, Murray State 115 (2OT)

This OVC contest was wild, with the Redhawks holding on for the three-point win despite giving Murray State one last shot at the tie with less than a second remaining in the second extra session. How’d it happen? SEMO’s Nino Johnson was hit with a technical foul with four tenths of a second remaining for hanging on the rim. Luckily for the Redhawks after making the free throws the Racers turned the ball over, thus ending the game. Jarekious Bradley led the way for the winners with 24 points and 14 rebounds, with Jarvis Williams pacing the Racers with 25 points and 15 rebounds. And as a result of this outcome Belmont is the outright OVC champion.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 2 Wichita State 68, Missouri State 45

Gregg Marshall’s Shockers finished its regular season with a 31-0 record, beating Missouri State convincingly to cap what’s been an incredible run thus far. Cleanthony Early scored 19 points and Ron Baker added 11 for Wichita State, which limited the Bears to 31.4% shooting from the field. Next up for the Shockers is the Missouri Valley conference tournament, and three wins there would make them the first team since UNLV in 1991 to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated.

2) Oklahoma State 72, No. 5 Kansas 65

There was no bigger winner amongst bubble teams on Saturday than the Cowboys, who knocked off the Big 12 champions in Stillwater thanks in large part to Marcus Smart. Smart scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half, and over the final 11:53 he accounted for 14 points and three assists without committing a turnover. As for Kansas, they committed 22 turnovers and that combined with the health of Joel Embiid is of far greater concern than the result.

3) No. 12 Virginia 75, No. 4 Syracuse 56

The last time Virginia took the court in the ACC tournament as the top seed was way back in 1981, when Ralph Sampson was patrolling the paint and Terry Holland the sidelines. Thanks to an impressive second half put together by the current edition of the Cavaliers that 33-year streak will come to an end in a couple weeks, with Virginia shooting 57.7% in the second half against Syracuse. Malcolm Brogdon led four Virginia players in double figures with 19 points, and Virginia’s performance on the boards also factored into the outcome.

STARRED

1) D.J. Covington (VMI)

33 points (12-for-17 FG), 14 rebounds and six blocked shots in VMI’s 86-66 win at Longwood.

2) Jared Brownridge (Santa Clara) 

38 points (12-for-22 FG), seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in the Broncos’ 86-78 win at Pepperdine.

3) Tim Williams (Samford)

32 points (10-for-11 FG), six rebounds and three assists in the Bulldogs’ 93-86 win over Western Carolina.

STRUGGLED 

1) Kendall Anthony (Richmond)

Anthony shot 2-for-20 from the field in Richmond’s 66-43 loss at Rhode Island.

2) Sheldon Strickland (Charleston Southern) 

Strickland made just one of his ten field goal attempts, finishing the Buccaneers’ 63-61 loss at Coastal Carolina with three points, six rebounds and five assists.

3) Askia Booker and Xavier Talton (Colorado) 

Colorado’s starting backcourt combined to shoot 2-for-16 from the field, scoring seven points in their 75-64 loss at Utah.

NOTABLES

  • No. 1 Florida extended its win streak to 21 games with a 79-61 win over LSU in Gainesville. Dorian Finney-Smith scored 16 points off the bench to lead the way.
  • UConn didn’t make a field goal over the final 7:39 but the Huskies made nine of their 13 free throw attempts, beating No. 11 Cincinnati 51-45 in Hartford.
  • Two other Big 12 bubble teams, Baylor and West Virginia, avoided what would have been crushing defeats by beating Texas Tech and TCU, respectively.
  • The same can be said for SEC teams Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee, with all three winning by comfortable margins.
  • No. 21 Memphis picked up a solid win for its resume, beating No. 7 Louisville 72-66 to complete a sweep of the season series. The Cardinals looked to be well on their way to sole possession of first place in the American, but Memphis would come back thanks to some solid defense.
  • No. 18 Michigan State had everyone back on the floor but they didn’t look good at all, falling 53-46 at home to Illinois. Is this a matter of the players needing more time together, or should Tom Izzo be worried about this team’s postseason prospects?
  • Oklahoma converted 16 Texas turnovers into 23 points in their 77-65 win over the Longhorns. Isaiah Cousins scored 24 points and Buddy Hield added 17 for the Sooners.
  • LIU-Brooklyn point guard Jason Brickman became the fourth player (Bobby Hurley, Chris Corchianni and Ed Cota being the others) in NCAA history to compile at least 1,000 assists in a career, reaching the mark during the Blackbirds’ 81-62 loss to Bryant. The final assist count for Brickman, whose college career came to an end on Saturday: 1,009.
  • Justin Martin racked up 19 points and 16 rebounds to lead Xavier to a 75-69 win over No. 9 Creighton in Cincinnati.
  • For the second consecutive game No. 10 Saint Louis was made to pay for its turnover issues, committing 17 in a 67-56 loss at VCU. The Billikens have now lost two straight.
  • No. 16 Michigan clinched at least a share of the Big Ten title with a 66-56 win over Minnesota. Michigan can win the title outright with a victory at Illinois on Tuesday night.
  • No. 17 Kentucky came out sluggish at South Carolina, digging themselves a hole that proved too difficult to climb out of with the Gamecocks winning 72-67.
  • Harvard’s one win away from a third consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament after beating Columbia 80-47. Next up: at Yale on Friday, with the Bulldogs being the only team capable of catching the Crimson in the standings.
  • Gonzaga made quite the statement in its regular season finale, whipping rival Saint Mary’s 75-47 in Moraga.
  • Stephen F. Austin moved to 16-0 in the Southland with a 75-62 win at Southeast Louisiana, with Desmond Haymon leading four Lumberjacks in double figures with 17 points.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

Iowa’s McCaffery says, “I’ve turned programs in” for cheating

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There aren’t a lot of unwritten rules in basketball. One of them, though, is that if a coach breaks a real rule, other coaches don’t speak up. Coaches would seemingly rather lose out on a recruit or transfer rather than turning in one of their own for suspected malfeasance.

Not for Fran McCaffery, though.

The Iowa coach was asked Monday about the FBI investigation into corruption into college hoops, and freely volunteered that he has previously turned other programs in for violations – and that he’ll do it again, if need be.

“I’ve turned programs in and I’ll continue to do that when I know that there’s something going on,” McCaffery said at the program’s media day, according to the Des Moines Register. “But a lot of times you don’t know what’s going on. So can you police yourselves? Only if you know something’s going on. But even then it’s hard for the NCAA to do something.”

Turning in another program for violations is really one of the biggest taboos in the coaching profession. That’s why you get coaches look silly in blocking schools for transfers when tampering is suspected, rather than a coach just reporting tampering.

McCaffery’s tactic, while probably frowned upon by many of his colleagues, is probably the best weapon the NCAA has in combating cheating. If coaches make it clear they won’t tolerate cheating – or that if it occurs, it won’t go unremarked upon – that will go along way in changing a culture and system that the FBI is going to potentially uncover with its wide-ranging investigation that already has resulted in 10 people’s arrest and a Hall of Fame coach’s firing.

“Any time the game is cleaned up,” McCaffery said, “it’s better for all of us.”

Report: Louisville offered $1.5 million settlement to Pitino

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When it became clear that Louisville and Rick Pitino were going to part ways, much of the discussion instantly turned to the more than $40 million left on the coach’s contract.

The school reportedly tried to avoid that whole ordeal Monday, but Pitino apparently wasn’t interested.

Louisville offered to pay $1.5 million to a charity started by Pitino in exchange for his resignation, according to WDRB-TV Louisville. Pitino did not accept and was then fired for cause by the Louisville board.

It’s little surprise to see Pitino reject such an offer with so many more millions on the table should he (almost certainly) begin legal proceedings trying to recoup the cash that Louisville says it doesn’t owe him by firing for cause.

I vehemently reject (the school’s) right to do so ‘for cause,’” Pitino said in an affidavit sent to the school. “I have given no ’cause’ for termination of my contract.”

The firing came on the heels of the latest controversy  to hit Louisville under Pitino’s watch. First came the escort scandal that rocked the program, but now the school is part of the FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball. Ten people were arrested as part of the probe, including an adidas executive who is alleged to have orchestrated getting $100,000 to the family of a recruit in order to facilitate his commitment to the Cardinals program.

Pitino may be out at Louisville, but with more than $40 million at stake, the school surely hasn’t seen the last of him.

Louisville officially fires Rick Pitino

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Louisville’s Athletic Association has officially fired head coach Rick Pitino nearly three weeks after an FBI investigation into corruption in college basketball linked the Hall of Fame head coach and his program to a $100,000 payment from Adidas to a recruit that enrolled at Louisville.

The association, made up of trustees, faculty, student and administrators, oversees Louisville athletics. They voted unanimously to fire Pitino.

Pitino has $44 million in salary remaining on his contract, which extends through the 2026 season. He was with Louisville for 16 seasons.

Pitino had been ‘effectively fired‘ by the university on September 27th, the day after the scandal first broke.

Earlier this summer, Louisville had received their sanctions from the NCAA in a different scandal that enveloped Pitino’s program. In October of 2015, a book was published by an escort named Katina Powell who alleged that a member of Pitino’s staff had paid for strippers and prostitutes for recruits and members of the Louisville team, some of whom were underage. The NCAA’s sanctions, which included vacating the 2012 Final Four and 2013 National Title in addition to Louisville’s self-imposed 2016 postseason ban, were handed down in June, two weeks after a Louisville coach had allegedly helped facilitate a $100,000 payment from Adidas to Brian Bowen’s family and six weeks before another coach would allegedly attempt to do the same for a 2019 prospect.

Kansas’ Self: Adidas case a “dark cloud on our profession’

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas coach Bill Self had come to know James Gatto well over the years, along with just about everyone else involved with the college basketball side of the athletic apparel giant Adidas.

It comes with the territory as one of the company’s flagship schools.

But when Self first heard that Gatto had been swept up in a wide-ranging FBI investigation, centered on Louisville but uncovering corruption elsewhere in college basketball, the Jayhawks’ coach admitted being “very disappointed and disheartened” and likened it to a “dark cloud for our profession.”

Prosecutors have accused the 47-year-old Gatto of conspiring with coaches and others to funnel payments to top prospects and their families to win commitments to play at schools sponsored by Adidas. The idea was that their relationship with Adidas would continue whenever they reached the professional level.

The family of one prospect was allegedly paid $100,000 to commit, according to court documents, and the school was later revealed to be Louisville. The school has since placed coach Rick Pitino on administrative leave while the federal investigation is being resolved. Nine others, including former Oklahoma State assistant Lamont Evans, have been charged in the case.

Self said during a lengthy interview Friday that the cash payments from Adidas surprised him, but “what is not surprising is third parties’ involvement in recruiting. Everyone should know that.”

“That’s prevalent everywhere,” he said. “There’s nothing illegal about agents talking to kids and their families in ninth and 10th grade. There’s nothing illegal about shoe companies funding AAU programs. That is what’s been encouraged and done, so it shouldn’t be a surprise you could have influence from third parties.”

Kansas officials insist they have not been contacted by the FBI, and the school is not under any sort of investigation. It

Kansas recently reached a 12-year contract extension with Adidas that will ultimately provide the school with $191 million in sponsorship money and apparel. Self suggested the affiliation is being used by rivals on the recruiting trail.

“Whenever in recruiting there is something out there that has been reported, whether it’s reliable or unreliable, total myth, whatever, there’s usually competitors that make sure that information gets to people. Unfortunately, that’s how it works,” Self said. “You can say that’s negative recruiting … but a lot of times the things that are reported are so inaccurate it puts you on the defense.”

The Jayhawks already have commitments from two top-100 prospects in 6-foot-9 forward Silvio de Sousa from Florida’s IMG Academy and 6-10 center David McCormack from Virginia’s Oak Hill Academy.

They are also in the mix for several more top-50 prospects in what could be a crucial class for them.

“I’d be lying,” Self said, “if I told you we hadn’t discussed these issues with kids. And has it hurt us to date? I don’t think it has. But it’s not signing day, either.”

Attorney makes case for Louisville to retain Pitino as coach

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Rick Pitino’s attorney has told the Louisville Athletic Association that it should not fire the coach of the men’s basketball program because his client “could not have known” about activities alleged in a national federal investigation of the sport.

Steve Pence made his case Monday while the ULAA was meeting to discuss whether to fire Pitino nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged the program’s involvement in the investigation. The association board is still meeting and has not announced its decision.

Association, a separate body that oversees Louisville’s sports programs and comprised of trustees, faculty, students and administrators, on Oct. 2 authorized university interim President Greg Postel to begin the process of firing Pitino for cause after Postel placed him on unpaid administrative leave Sept. 27.

Pitino, 65, is not named in court complaints in the federal probe but Postel said in a disciplinary letter that the allegations violated his contract.

Pence has contended that Louisville rushed to judgment and made his case before the board for 45 minutes on Monday.

He said Pitino should be retained and noted, “The coach did not engage in any of this activity, he didn’t know about the activity. I think we made a very compelling case to the board, I think they listened attentively and we’ll just have to wait and see what they say.”

Pitino has coached 16 years with the program, a run that included winning the 2013 NCAA championship but was tarnished by several embarrassing off-court incidents.