Tuesday’s Shootaround: Baylor wins, Virginia survives

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No. 5 Baylor 61, Texas A&M 52: Given the way that the Aggies started this game — by digging themselves a 28-11 hole late in the first half — the way the game ended up wasn’t terrible. A nine point loss of the road to a top five team in the country is hardly a loss to be embarrassed by.

The issues that A&M has have nothing to do with the effort they give or the defense they play or the size they have on the interior. The Aggies are going to be nothing more than mediocre until they find a way to be able to consistently score points. Against Baylor, A&M shot a whopping 28.6% from the floor. They were 7-25 from three. They had all of nine assists to go along with their 13 turnovers. Khris Middleton, who is supposed to be Billy Kennedy’s best offensive weapon, was 4-17 from the floor.

Baylor wasn’t great by any stretch of the imagination. Pierre Jackson had seven turnovers, Brady Heslip went scoreless and the Bears finished with more turnovers than assists, but when you hold a team to 28.6% shooting, you can play just about as poorly as you want and still win.

No. 23 UVA 57, LSU 52: It sounds weird saying this, but this is actually a solid win for the Cavs, their 11th in a row. LSU is probably not going to make the NCAA Tournament, but what they lack in talent they make up for in grit. Just ask Marquette, who lost a dogfight to the Tigers despite being up 13-0 in the first half. LSU had won seven in a row. Virginia got 17 points from Sammy Zeglinski and 12 points and nine boards out of Mike Scott as they used a late surge to take a lead and held LSU on a number of possessions down the stretch.

Robert Morris 70, Ohio 67: Bobby Mo put together one of the weirdest wins of the young season. Ohio had been on fire coming into this game, gaining some national recognition as one of the most impressive mid-majors early in the season. But what makes this win all the more impressive is the fact that they turned the ball over 31 times! And still won! Robert Morris shot the ball 53.2% from the field and held DJ Cooper and Walter Offutt to a combined 6-32 from the floor.

Rhode Island 78, Boston College 72 2OT: Jamal Wilson, who was averaging 16.4 ppg at the time, was kicked off the URI team two days ago. Rhody was 1-12 at the time. Since then, the Rams have won two in a row. Billy Baron had 25 to lead the way in this one.

Georgia State 58, Drexel 44: The Panthers have now won 10 straight games and are sitting at 2-0 in first place in the CAA.

Wofford 56, Wake Forest 52: Wake Forest was playing without CJ Harris, but that’s still no excuse for a team from the ACC to lose to a team from the SoCon, particularly when the SoCon is coming off of a season where they lost four starters and already have dropped games to High Point and UMKC. Travis McKie had 25 points and six boards for Wake in the loss.

Campbell 70, Coastal Carolina 65 OT: Campbell moved to 3-0 in the Big South, knocking off previously unbeaten (in the league) CCU. The Chanticleers didn’t make a field goal in overtime.

Other notable games:

– George Mason 70, William & Mary 56
– VCU 80, Hofstra 63
– Tennessee 76, Chattanooga 63
– Belmont 83, North Florida 53
– Vanderbilt 69, Miami OH 62
– Miami 99, UNC Greensboro 89
– LBSU 74, UC Irvine 60

Top performers:

Kenny Gabriel, Auburn: Gabriel had easily the most impressive performance of the night, going for 24 points, 13 boards, 10 blocks, four steals and three assists while shooting 11-13 from the floor in a 67-41 win over Bethune-Cookman.

Stan Okoye, VMI: Okoye probably had the second best game of the night, as he went for 25 points, seven boards, seven assists, four steals and three blocks in a 76-72 win over Gardner-Webb.

Keith Rendleman, UNC Wilmington: Rendleman had 24 points and 18 boards in an 80-75 win over Delaware.

Shay Shine, High Point: Its our first Shay Shine sighting of the season! The high-flying guard has 22 points in a win over Charleston Southern.

Chris Stephenson, UNC Asheville: Stephenson scored 33 points and grabbed 10 boards in a 66-56 win over Radford.

Kenny Kadji, Miami: Trevis Simpson had 36 points for UNC Greensboro, but Kadji and the Canes were too much. The big man finished with 30 points and 12 boards in a 99-89 win.

Trae Golden, Tennessee: Golden had 29 points in a 76-63 win over Chattanooga just three days after have facial surgery.

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.