Thursday’s Shootaround: UNC rolls, big win for Seton Hall

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No. 6 UNC 82, Texas 63: Texas barely had a chance to get their legs under them before the Tar Heels put this thing away. UNC used a 13-1 run midway through the first half to break the game open and never looked back. Myck Kabongo was a no show on Wednesday night, finishing with one point and one assists to go along with four turnovers in 15 minutes. Jonathon Holmes and Sheldon McClellan both played well, but it wasn’t enough for the ‘Horns, who shot an abysmal 34.9% from the floor.

This game was less about Texas, however, than it was about UNC. The Tar Heels looked determined. This is a team that has fallen out of the national consciousness following losses to UNLV and Kentucky, seeing their name dropped behind the likes of Ohio State and Syracuse when discussing national title contenders. Roy Williams’ club played like they wanted to make a statement.

In particular, Harrison Barnes was terrific. He finished with 26 points and 10 boards on 9-15 shooting. He wasn’t settling for jumpers, either. Barnes was attacking the rim off the bounce, showcasing what appeared to be a better all-around game than he is sometimes given credit for. Maybe he’s started to hear his doubters, the people saying that he is nothing but a jump-shooter and will be a bust as an NBA player. One other note: I love the was Reggie Bullock has been playing of late. Not only is he scorching the nets, but he — along with Dexter Strickland — have become shut-down perimeter defenders.

Alabama 69, Oklahoma State 52: The Crimson Tide, playing without JaMychal Green, hit five of their first six threes and jumped out to a 19-4 lead within the first five minutes. Trevor Releford had 19 points and Tony Mitchell (aka Mr. DVR, let’s make that happen) added 16 points, 11 boards and four blocks as Oklahoma State was only able to get the lead into single digits once. The win was nice, but it was Fool’s Gold. There is a reason Alabama is 337th in the country shooting threes, and its the 2-9 they shot after the first five minutes of the game.

Middle Tennessee State 68, Ole Miss 56: Raymond Cintron led four players in double figures with 18 points and sparked a second half surge that saw the Blue Raiders pull away from the Rebels. Jelan Kendrick saw the first action of his college basketball career, finishing with eight points, three assists and four steals. The key here, however, is that Murphy Holloway had his ankle rolled up on. He couldn’t put any pressure on it when he left the floor. How bad will that injury turn out to be?

Seton Hall 69, Dayton 64: Its time for us to start taking the Pirates seriously as they improved to 10-1 on the season after going into Dayton and knocking off the Flyers. Seton Hall was in control for much of this game, keeping Dayton at a two possession deficit for much of the second half despite Herb Pope battling foul problems. Pope finished with 14 points, nine boards, five assists and three blocks while Jordan Theodore added 14 points and eight assists, but the star of this show was Patrick Auda, who went for 18 points. I’m not ready to call SHU a Big East sleeper or a bubble contender because I simply haven’t seen this team handle quality competition well enough yet. But keep an eye on this team. Theodore and Pope are as good of a duo as there is in the league.

Duquesne 75, George Mason 64: Impressive win for the Dukes, as they went to Fairfax and knocked off Mason handily. The Patriots simply committed too many turnovers down the stretch to make a serious run, and anytime GMU would string a couple of basketball together, Duquesne had an answer at the other end.

Houston Baptist 72, Santa Clara 71; Morgan State 69, Loyola Marymount 45: Rough night for the WCC.

No. 22 Murray State 78, Tennessee-Martin 54: UTM was never in this one. Isaiah Canaan had 10 points, six boards and seven assists.

Other notable scores:

– Wake Forest 87, UNC-Wilmington 78
– Cincinnati 101, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 53
– St. joe’s 81, Coppin State 72
– St. John’s 66, UT-Pan American 61
– Texas-Arlington 74, Kent State 73
– Vanderbilt 89, Lafayette 58

Top performers:

Saah Nimley, Charleston Southern: Nimley had 23 points and 12 assists as the Buccaneers knocked off Stetson.

Kevin Olekaibe, Fresno State: Kevin Olekaibe hit a 3-pointer with 29.9 seconds remaining as Fresno came back from 12 down at the half at Arizona State for a 68-65 win. Olekaibe had 30 in the win.

Rayvonte Rice, Drake: Rice finished with 29 points, five boards and four assists as Drake blew out Central Arkansas.

Mike Scott, Virginia: Scott had 33 points and 14 boards as Virginia traveled across the country to take on Seattle, barely squeaking by with an 83-77 win.

Adam Smith, UNC-Wilmington: Smith went for 32 points and hit seven threes, but UNCW lost a tough one to Wake Forest.

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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.