Friday’s Shootaround: Vandy, St. Mary’s, Washington win in routs

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Rutgers 85, No. 10 Florida 83 2OT: See here

Vanderbilt 74, No. 13 Marquette 57: This is what Vanderbilt needed. This is the kind of performance that we had been calling for. The talent on their roster in undeniable. How that talent manifests itself on the court is a different story, and the only evidence that we had this season was that Vanderbilt a) couldn’t win close games and b) Vanderbilt struggled against teams that were more physical.

Against Marquette on Thursday night, Vanderbilt used a 35-8 run to open the game while simultaneously putting the game out of reach. It was complete and utter domination from the tip. Vanderbilt’s defense was stifling — Marquette made just two of their first 21 shots — and their offensive attack was balanced and potent. They hit threes, they scored in transition, they had second chance points, they got post touches. Like I said, it was total domination.

The question that I guess we have to ask is what this means for both teams. For Vanderbilt, its a justification for all the people that had this team ranked in the top five coming into the season. Yes, they really are this good when they show up to play. But this isn’t exactly new information to us. While its nice to see them play like this against a very good team on the road, the issues or whether or not Vanderbilt is going to be able to win a postseason game or close out a close game hasn’t been answered.

For Marquette, I am a bit concerned. I’ll chalk up the viciousness of the beating Vanderbilt put on the Golden Eagles to a bit of a fluke event — Marquette played as bad as they ever will while Vanderbilt was clicking on all cyclinders — but there is reason to start getting concerned about Marquette. They were coming off of a fairly ugly loss at LSU and have had their big win over Washington get brought back down to earth by the Huskies’ struggles. Maybe this Marquette team has a lower ceiling that we all thought.

St. Mary’s 98, BYU 82: Welcome to the WCC, bitch.

That’s more or less what the Gaels said to BYU, right? St. Mary’s used a quicker lineup to torch BYU, who looked completely lost defensively. Rob Jones led the way with 24 points and 15 boards boards, but Matthew Dellavedova chipped in with 18 and 12 assists. More importantly, however, Stephen Holt and Jorden Page finally look like they got on the right track. Holt had 21 points and hit 4-6 from three while Page had 13 points and five assists.

The Gael’s weakness in the paint was exposed, however, as Brandon Davies went crazy, finishing with 28 points and seven boards.

Washington 95, Oregon State 80: If Washington is going to make a run in the Pac-12, its going to be Tony Wroten that has to lead the way. Over the last few weeks he has easily been the best Husky. Against Oregon State, he finished with 26 points, nine boards and four assists, including the biggest play of the game: a driving, and-one layup with two minutes left that pushed Washington’s lead to eight after Oregon State had cut the lead to three.

Cincinnati 56, Oklahoma 55: The Bearcats struggled throughout much of this game, finding themselves down 47-35 with just six minutes left. But Mick Cronin turned on the press, and Cincy made their run. Cashmere Wright, who had struggled through much of the game, had two driving layups — one of which was an and-one — in the final minute to give Cincy their fifth straight win.

Belmont 79, Marshall 74: Marshall wasn’t able to complete their sweep of Belmont, meaning that the Thundering Herd are probably going to want to avoid any bad losses in Conference USA play if they want to ensure themselves of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Scott Saunders had 23 points and nine boards in the win.

Memphis 64, Robert Morris 47: The Tigers finally came out and beat up an overmatched opponent from the tip. Memphis played stifling defense, got on the glass and went ahead by as much as 28 early in the second half.

VCU 76, Akron 75 OT: The Rams trailed for much of the game in this one, but two free throws from Treveon Graham with 32 seconds left forced the extra period. After Zeke Marshall hit two free throws for Akron to give the Zips a 75-74 lead, Brad Burgess found a cutting Darius Theus for the game-winning layup.

Illinois State 65, Northern Iowa 61: Three of the top four teams in the Valley lost their opener. If Creighton beats Wichita State on Saturday, all four of the favorites in the conference will have a loss.

Stanford 60, UCLA 59: In the second half, the Bruins went 0-13 from the floor when they had a chance to take the lead. That’s not good. On the final possession, Laz Jones had a runner blocked out to half court. Jones did finish with 26 points, however.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 6 UNC 100, Elon 62: The Heels look like they are starting to hit their stride. Tyler Zeller led the way with 19 points and 13 boards, nine of which came on the offensive end of the floor.

No. 16 Michigan 71, Penn State 53: Tim Hardaway went 1-7 from three but still managed to score 26 points as the Wolverines opened up a 36-22 lead at the half before cruising to an 18 point win.

No. 18 Kansas 89, Howard 34: The score was 42-13 at the half. What else do you need to know?

No. 23 Harvard 67, Boston College 46: Six minutes into the game, Boston College was up 14-3. Harvard outscored them 64-32 the rest of the way.

Other notable scores:

– Davidson 75, Penn 70
– Butler 53, Green Bay 49
– Tennessee 86, Citadel 55
– Fordham 72, Georgia Tech 66
– Milwaukee 57, Valpo 55
– Cal 53, USC 49
– Alabama 72, Jacksonville 55
– Hofstra 83, Iona 75
– NC State 87, Campbell 81

Top performers:

Eli Carter, Rutgers: The freshman has 31 points, seven boards and seven assists as the Scarlet Knights knocked off No. 10 Florida. He hit many big shots, including a three at the end of the first overtime to tie the game and a fall away jumper in the second overtime that ended up being the difference maker.

Matthew Dellavedova and Rob Jones, St. Mary’s: I have a feeling we are going to be seeing a lot of stat lines like this out of the Gaels this season. Jones finished with 24 points, 15 boards and four assists while Dellavedova went for 18 points, 12 assists, six boards and four steals.

Will Barton, Memphis: Barton makes some poor decisions with his shot selection and he doesn’t always seem like the best leader on the floor, but I don’t think there are 10 guys in the country that play the game harder than him. He had another monster double-double on Thursday, finishing with 27 points and 13 boards in a 64-47 win over Robert Morris.

Tony Wroten, Washington: Wroten finished with 26 points, nine boards and four assists against Oregon State as the Huskies won by 15.

Keegan Bell, Chattanooga: The point guard came within one rebound of a triple-double, finishing the game with 10 points, nine boards and 16 assists in a win over Longwood.

Lance Goulbourne, Vanderbilt: Goulbourne had the most impressive line of anyone on the ‘Dores in their win over Marquette, finishing with 13 points, 16 boards, three steals and three blocks.

Lorenzo Brown and Richard Howell, NC State: Brown went for 24 points, eight assists and eight boards while Howell finished with 17 points and 17 rebounds.

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

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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.