Wednesday’s Shootaround: The first day of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge

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Loyola Marymount 75, No. 25 St. Louis 68: Fresh off of getting climbing their way into the top 25, the Billikens blew a 12 point first half lead as the Lions used a 20-6 run that spanned both halves to take a 36-34 lead early in the second half. LMU slowly gained control of the game down the stretch as they earned their second win over a ranked opponent on the season. LaRon Armstead led the way with 22 points off the bench while Anthony Ireland and Jarrod DuBois went for 17 and 16, respectively. Most impressive? The Lions were without second-leading scorer Ashley Hamilton and have yet to get a minute of playing time for their best player, Drew Viney.

Its easy to write this game off as the Billikens being over-rated after a hot start to the season, but consider this: St. Louis, who is 6-1 on the season, are now on their sixth day on the west coast after playing in the 76 Classic. They’ve played five of their first seven games away from home — with one of those home games being a whooping of Washington — and dropped a competitive game on the road to a team with talent that is better than people think. No loss is a good loss, but losing this game is far from terrible for St. Louis.

Arizona 83, New Mexico State 76: This is a good win for Arizona. New Mexico State is a talented team that will compete for the WAC title and tough to beat at home. More impressive? The Wildcats got this victory despite NMSU’s two best players — forwards Wendell McKines (28 points, 10 boards) and Hamidu Rahman (13 points, eight boards) — going off against Arizona’s young front line. Nick Johnson was terrific, scoring 19 points and making a number of big plays down the stretch, while Jesse Perry had 15 points and 12 boards. Solomon Hill went for 12 points, seven assists and six boards while Josiah Turner had 12 points and three assists, but three turnovers as well.

No. 8 Baylor 90, Prairie View A&M 54: I think its safe to say that Perry Jones has made his entrance into the 2011-2012 season. Prairie View opened up a 11-2 lead in the first four minutes, but that’s when Jones woke up. He finished the evening with 27 points on 10-14 shooting, a performance that included a couple of high-flying dunks. Of note: Pierre Jackson had 17 points and six assists.

No. 3 Syracuse 84, Eastern Michigan 48: There were all kinds of story lines heading into this game. It was the first game that the Orange had played since the latest news cycle on Bernie Fine went public and the longtime Syracuse assistant coach was fired. It was also the first time that former assistant Rob Murphy, now the head coach at Eastern Michigan, had returned to his old Carrier Dome stomping grounds. What happened in this game didn’t matter to, well, anyone, but the postgame press conference had some fireworks.

ACC/Big Ten Challenge: Yeah, I went 6-0 on Day 1. And yeah, I’m going to brag about it.

Ohio State 85, Duke 63: See here.

Virginia 70, No. 15 Michigan 58: Well, it looks like Mike Scott has healed from his ankle injury. Virginia’s star forward had 18 points and 11 boards, taking over for a stretch in the second half that spurred a 19-2 run from Virginia to gain control of this game. Michigan was stifled by Virginia’s pack line defense, their offense that was so beautifully run in Maui stifled. Joe Harris added 18 for the ‘Hoos.

Illinois 71, Maryland 62: Terrell Stoglin scored 25 points while James Padgett added 16 as the Terps put up an impressive fight against the Illini, but in the end Sam Maniscalco was too much. The Bradley transfer hit three big threes in the second half and knocked down the game-clinching free throws. He finished with 24 points and Brandon Paul added 17.

Purdue 76, Miami FL 65: Robbie Hummel had 17 points and five boards while Lewis Jackson added 15 points as the Boilermakers countered Miami’s small lineup by pounding the ball inside. They went 22-31 from two-point range. Of note: the Johnsons — Anthony and Terone — combined for 21 points and a number of key plays late in the game.

Clemson 71, Iowa 55: Andre Young had 19 points, TJ Sapp added 13 off the bench and Tanner Smith had seven points, eight assists and 14 boards as Clemson rolled their hosts.

Northwestern 76, Georgia Tech 60: The Wildcats got 25 points and eight boards from John Shurna as they jumped on Georgia Tech at the start of both halves.

Other notable games:

– Texas 73, North Texas 57
– LSU 59, Houston 58
– Providence 82, Holy Cross 77
– Cincinnati 56, Miami OH 47
– Oregon 64, UTEP 59

Top performers

Gerard Coleman and Vincent Council, Providence: Council had 19 points, 11 assists and seven boards and Coleman added 18 points, eight boards, six assists and three steals as Providence knocked off Holy Cross 82-77.

Chris Gaston, Fordham: Gaston has 15 points and 11 boards as Fordham knocked off Colgate. Gaston scored the 1,000th point of his college career.

Emil Jones, Troy: Jones was a fantasy all-star as they knocked off ETSU, finishing with 14 points, eight boards, five assists and five steals.

Perry Jones, Baylor: In his first game back from suspension, Jones went for 27 points on 10-14 shooting as the Bears knocked off Prairie View A&M.

Jonathon Loyd, Oregon: Loyd had 24 points and hit 6-7 from three as the Ducks outlasted UTEP 64-59.

John Shurna, Northwestern: Shurna went for 25 points, eight boards, three steals and three blocks to lead the Wildcats past Georgia Tech for the second straight year in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

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

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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.