Bullets from Friday

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I will be headed out to Fairfax, VA,
today to check out George Mason and Harvard, but I wanted to be sure
to catch you up on the action from the First Friday (trademark pending)
of the season.

The Biggest Winner: Georgetown

the fourth straight time in their series with Old Dominion, the road
team won, with the Hoyas taking a 62-59 win last night. But the
Monarchs didn’t go down without an impressive fight. ODU used their
typical scrappy defense to frustrate the Hoyas offensively, opening up
a 49-41 lead midway through the second half. But then Georgetown caught
fire. Austin Freeman drilled threes on back-to-back possessions (one of
them a four point play) before Chris Wright hit consecutive threes. A
few possessions later, Jason Clark buried one to open up a 59-55 Hoya
lead, which ODU was unable to recover from. Of note — Georgetown got
54 of their 62 points from Freeman, Wright, and Clark.

Other Notable Winners:

  • Temple 62, Seton Hall 56:
    The Owls are a terrific basketball team, and nothing that they did last
    night changed our opinion of them. They were tough defensively and
    balanced offensively. The best sign for the Owls? They beat a good
    Seton Hall team (and don’t let this loss fool you, Seton Hall will be
    good) when Juan Fernandez and Lavoy Allen didn’t play their best.
    Ramone Brown and Rahlir Jefferson will both be names you hear quite a
    bit this season. Seton Hall is still a work in progess. They are
    learning to be more patient offensively and waiting for Herb Pope to be
    back to 100%, and while that’s a disappointing loss, there is reason to
    be optimistic.
  • Morgan State 81, Loyola Marymount 79:
    Perhaps the most underrated great matchup of the day, MEAC favorite
    Morgan State got 31 points and seven triples from DeWayne Jackson and
    17 points and 11 boards from Kevin Thompson as they overcame a 15 point
    deficit on the road in the second half. LMU had high expectations this
    season, but this kind of loss — even in MSU makes the tournament — is
    killer considering the weak non-conference schedule the Lions have.
    Drew Viney went for 27 points to lead LMU.
  • Virginia 76, William & Mary 52:
    An ACC team beating a CAA team at home by 24 shouldn’t be cause for
    celebration, but Virginia is a very young team that whipped up on a
    good William & Mary team in the second half last night. Freshmen
    Billy Baron and KT Harrell combined for 32 points, Mike Scott had 18
    and 9 boards, and Jontel Evans aded seven assists and one turnover in
    place of Sammy Zeglinski.
  • BYU 83, Fresno State 56:
    The big win isn’t what’s important. Neither is Jimmer Fredette’s stat
    line. What I care about? Noah Hartsock out played Greg Smith, Fresno’s
    sophomore center and a NBA prospect at center. Hartsock had 21 points
    and 5 boards. Smith had more turnovers (three) than FGA’s (two).
  • Minnesota 69, Wofford 55:
    Don’t be fooled, Wofford is a good basketball team and potentially a
    tournament team, but Minnesota was in control much of this game. The
    best sign for the Gophers? Their front line of Ralph Sampson, Colton
    Iverson, and Trevor Mbakwe looks like it could be one of the best in
    the Big Ten. Those three combined for 42 points and 32 boards.
  • Southern Miss 60, South Florida 53:
    The Golden Eagles, who don’t exactly have a loaded non-conference
    schedule, picked up an important win in Tampa. Gary Flowers had 15
    points and USM closed the game on a 16-1 run. Southern Miss is likelt
    the second best team in Conference USA.
  • Western Kentucky 98, St. Joseph’s 70:
    Look, Western Kentucky is a good basketball team, and a 28 point win at
    St. Joe’s is always impressive, but this likely says more about the
    state of the Hawks than the Hilltoppers (who are a favorite to win the
    Sun Belt).

The Biggest Loser: Wake Forest

Demon Deacons lost to Stetson. I’m sorry, let me rephrase that. The
Demon Deacons got smacked by Stetson at home, 89-79. And the second
half wasn’t even that close. Stetson, at one point, was up 75-56. Its
gets worse. Point guard Tony Chennault will shelved for two months
after breaking his foot.

Other notable losers:

  • Princeton 78, Rutgers 73 OT:
    Mike Rice’s debut as Rutgers new head coach did not go as well as time
    on the recruiting circuit has. The Scarlet Knights went into Jadwin Gym
    last night and got “punched in the mouth”, as Rice put it, finding
    themselves in a 14 point hole early. They fought back and forced
    overtime, but the Ivy favorites — led by 26 points from Dan Mavraides
    — were able to pull out the win in OT.
  • UNC-Asheville 70, Auburn 69 OT:
    No one expected Tony Barbee’s first season to be easy, not with the
    injuries, ineligible freshmen, and overall lack of talent in his
    program. But could anyone have expected the Tigers to blow a 16 point
    half time lead in the first game in their new arena? Allowing 10
    offensive rebounds in the second half is an easy way to do that.
    Asheville chipped away, eventually forcing overtime, before taking
    control in the extra frame.
  • Pacific 66, UTEP 61:
    People picked UTEP to win Conference USA this season. Those people must
    feel silly after seeing the Miners blow a 36-25 halftime lead and lose
    to Pacific at home in their debut this season. The Tigers made 8-13
    second half threes while UTEP took quick shots and broke down
    defensively. Randy Culpepper was 6-9 with 13 points at the half, but
    went scoreless and missed all six of his field goals in the second half.
  • Appalachian State 89, Tulsa 86:
    There is some good basketball being played in the Southern Conference.
    Wofford and College of Charleston are known entities, but Appalachian
    State proved to a threat as they went into Tulsa and beat the Golden
    Hurricane. Led by 35 points from Omar Carter, a Charleston Southern
    transfer, the Mountaineers got Tulsa into foul trouble and used a late
    11-0 run to take control of the game.
  • Gardner-Webb 78, Charlotte 70:
    In Alan Major’s debut as head coach, the 49ers began the game without
    starters An’Juan Wilderness and Shamari Spears (suspension) and
    finished it with just six players (including two walk-ons) due to
    players fouling out and injuries. Jon Moore went for 24 points and 9
    boards as the Runnin’ Bulldogs gave Chris Holtmann a nice road win in
    his own coaching debut. Finally, someone won in a coaching debut!

Debutante’s Ball:

  • Harrison Barnes, Reggie Bullock, and Kendell Marshall – UNC:
    All three played well, as Barnes had 14 points and 4 boards, Bullock
    had 12 points and 4 boards off the bench, and Marshall looked like the
    team’s best back court player, contributing 10 points and 4 assists in
    11 minutes.
  • Jared Sullinger, DeShaun Thomas, and Aaron Craft – Ohio State:
    OSU won in a blowout against NC A&T, but Sully went for 19 and 14
    and Thomas dropped 24 and 8 boards in 20 minutes. Craft was the most
    important, however, finishing the game with 9 assists and 0 turnovers.
  • Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, and Doron Lamb – Kentucky: Knight and Lamb combined for 37, but Jones went for 25 and 12 in an 88-65 win over ETSU.
  • Scottie Wilbekin – Florida: He impressed much more than Patric Young and Casey Prather.
  • Fab Melo – Syracuse:
    Melo played just 18 minutes, finishing with more fouls (five) than
    points (four) or rebounds (three) in a win over Northern Iowa.
  • Perry Jones – Baylor: Jones had 11 points and 8 boards against Grambling State, but also 7 turnovers.
  • Tobias Harris – Tennessee: Harris led the Vols with 18 points in a blowout win over Chattanooga.
  • Memphis Freshmen: The score doesn’t count. They beat a team transitioning to D-III next season by 64.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — With the coronavirus pandemic already forcing changes for college basketball, a bubble may be brewing in Indianapolis.

Indiana Sports Corp. released a 16-page proposal Friday that calls for turning the city convention center’s exhibition halls and meeting rooms into basketball courts and locker rooms. There would be expansive safety measures and daily COVID-19 testing.

The all-inclusive price starts at $90,000 per team and would cover 20 hotel rooms per traveling party, testing, daily food vouchers ranging from $30-$50 and the cost of game officials. Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn said the price depends on what offerings teams or leagues choose.

“The interest has been high,” Vaughn said. “I think as conferences figure out what conference and non-conference schedules are going to look like, we’re we’re a very good option for folks. I would tell you we’ve had conversations with the power six conferences, mid-majors, it’s really kind of all over the Division I spectrum.”

Small wonder: The NCAA this week announced teams could start ramping up workouts Monday, with preseason practices set to begin Oct. 14. Season openers, however, were pushed back to Nov. 25 amid wide-ranging uncertainty about campus safety and team travel in the pandemic.

There is already scrambling going on and some of the marquee early-season tournaments have already been impacted.

The Maui Invitational will be moved from Hawaii to Asheville, North Carolina, with dates still to be determined and organizers clear that everyone involved “will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.” The Batttle 4 Atlantis has been canceled. The Cancun Challenge will be held in Melbourne, Florida, not Mexico.

More changes almost certainly will be coming, including what to do with the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.

“I think we’re past the guesswork on whether we play 20 conference games or more than that,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said Friday. “We’re trying to get everybody set like in terms of MTEs (multi-team events), figuring out when to play the ACC-Big Ten challenge.”

Painter, who was part of the NCAA committee that recommended how to start the season, noted part of the uncertainty stems from differing protocols imposed by campus, city and state officials.

In Indianapolis, Vaughn believes the convention center, nearby hotels, restaurants and downtown businesses, many within walking distance of the venue, could safely accommodate up to 24 teams. The 745,000-square foot facility would feature six basketball courts and two competition courts.

Anyone entering the convention center would undergo saliva-based rapid response testing, which would be sent to a third-party lab for results. Others venues could be added, too, potentially with more fans, if the case numbers decline.

If there is a taker, the event also could serve as a dry run for the 2021 Final Four, also slated for Indy.

“It’s not going to hurt,” Vaughn said. “I can tell you all the planning we’re doing right now is the same for a Final Four that’s been scheduled here for any other year. But it would be nice to have this experience under our belt to see if it can be done.”

Maui Invitational moving to North Carolina during pandemic

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. — The Maui Invitational is moving to the mainland during the coronavirus pandemic.

One of the premier preseason tournaments on the college basketball schedule, the Maui Invitational will be played at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in downtown Asheville, North Carolina.

Dates for the tournament announced Friday have yet to be finalized. The NCAA announced Wednesday that the college basketball season will begin Nov. 25.

This year’s Maui Invitational field includes Alabama, Davidson, Indiana, North Carolina, Providence, Stanford, Texas and UNLV.

All teams, staff, officials, and personnel will be in a bubble environment that limits their movement and interaction outside the venue.

Burton eligible at Texas Tech after 2 seasons at Wichita State

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Jamarius Burton has been granted a waiver from the NCAA that makes him eligible to play this season for Texas Tech after starting 52 games the past two seasons for Wichita State.

Texas Tech coach Chris Beard announced the waiver Thursday, which came five months after Burton signed with the Big 12 team.

Burton has two seasons of eligibility remaining, as well as a redshirt season he could utilize. He averaged 10.3 points and 3.4 assists per game as a sophomore at Wichita State, where he played 67 games overall.

Burton is from Charlotte. He helped lead Independence High School to a 31-1 record and the North Carolina Class 4A state championship as a senior there.

NCAA season set to open day before Thanksgiving

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The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin on Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to push the start date back from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for non-conference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. The minimum number of games for consideration for the NCAA Tournament was cut from 25 to 13.

Teams can start preseason practices Oct. 14 but will be allowed to work out 12 hours per week beginning Monday.

No scrimmages against other teams or exhibitions are allowed.

In other action, the council voted to extend the recruiting dead period for all sports through Dec. 31. In-person recruiting is not allowed during a dead period, though phone calls and other correspondence are allowed.

The men’s and women’s basketball oversight committees had jointly recommended a start date of Nov. 21, which would have allowed for games to be played on the weekend before Thanksgiving. The council opted not to do that to avoid a conflict with regular-season football games.

The council is scheduled to meet again Oct. 13-14 and could delay the start date and change other pieces of the basketball framework if circumstances surrounding the virus warrant.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.