Thursday’s Shootaround: A-10 and CUSA get wild, Mizzou impresses

Leave a comment

No. 9 Missouri 76, Iowa State 69: Here’s a hypothetical for you: Missouri gets six points on 1-5 shooting from Marcus Denmon and shoot just 5-21 from three in a game at Iowa State where the Cyclones shoot 12-23 from beyond the arc. Who you got? I certainly wouldn’t pick the Tigers. And I would have been wrong. Should I mention that two of the seven players that Missouri uses fouled out?

We can debate whether or not Iowa State is any good this season, but we cannot debate the fact that they started off Big 12 play with impressive wins over both Texas and Texas A&M. We also cannot debate the fact that Missouri had some serious issues on the road last season, ones that didn’t appear to be answered when they were overwhelmed by Kansas State in Manhattan on Saturday. That’s why this win is important. Missouri clearly did not play their best game. They had their depth tested by foul trouble, they had their star player struggling to get involved offensively and they shot under 25% from beyond the arc.

And they still won on the road. That means something.

Rutgers 62, Pitt 39: You read that right. Pitt lost by 23 at Rutgers. They shot 12-57 from the floor, which is a crisp 21.1%. Yuck. Their leading scorer was JJ Moore, who scored 10 points on 2-10 shooting while Ashton Gibbs was 2-11. Double yuck. This is more than just missing Travon Woodall. Pitt is awful right now, and it goes beyond the 0-4 start in Big East play. The Panthers quit tonight, plain and simple. Jamie Dixon has a lot of work to do.

That said, give credit to Rutgers. This wasn’t necessarily a fluke. Ask Florida and UConn. They’ve both lost at the RAC as well.

No. 13 Michigan 66, Northwestern 64 OT: Playing in the competitive Big Ten, Northwestern cannot afford to waste opportunities to get good wins if they have any plans on making the NCAA Tournament. They already did once, losing by a point to Illinois at home. And now they’ve done it again, blowing an eight point second half lead and missing out on an opportunity to pick up a win over Michigan on the road. Drew Crawford traveled when he had a chance to win the game in regulation and Alex Marcotullio missed the first of three free throws down by three with 0.3 seconds left in overtime.

No. 2 Kentucky 68, Auburn 53: Eventually, Kentucky is going to have to start putting together complete games. Against the Tigers, a team that the Wildcats had no business being competitive with, Kentucky found themselves trailing in the second half. The Wildcats have enough talent on their roster to be the best team in the country — and to their credit, they have been excellent at closing out teams — but the issue is that they allow teams to hang around with them for too long. Eventually, that is going to come back to bite them.

Atlantic 10: There may not be a conference in the country that is going to be more entertaining to try and figure out this season that the A-10, and tonight only further proved that point.

Xavier 78, Duquesne 50: When the Musketeers are playing well, they are without a doubt the best team in this conference. No one can matchup with that level of talent. But is this the win that turns around the Xavier season?

St. Bonaventure 81, Dayton 73: After going into Philly and knocking off Temple, Dayton had their Josh Benson-less front line exposed to the tune of 30 points, 13 boards and six blocks from Andrew Nicholson. The Bonnies and the Flyers are now both sitting at 2-1 in the league.

Temple 72, St. Louis 67: Now here’s the other side of it: the Owls bounced back from a loss at home to Dayton by going into Chafeitz Arena and knocking off a tough Billikens team? With the win over Duke still fresh in our minds, Temple is trying to make a case as the second best team in the conference. All of a sudden, the loss St. Louis took at Dayton in overtime — a game they should have won — looks costly.

St. Joes 80, Fordham 62: The Hawks bounced back nicely from a loss to Charlotte at home by handling a Fordham team that gave Xavier some trouble. After scoring just six points against the 49ers, Langston Galloway went for 30 on Wednesday.

UMass 85, Charlotte 75: The 49ers and the Minutemen have both been surprising teams early on this season. Both teams are now 2-1 in the league.

Conference USA:

Memphis 60, Southern Miss 58: Memphis picked up a big win against a Southern Miss team that is playing some great basketball. Antonio Barton went for 13 points and Will Barton added 11 points and nine boards, but it was two free throws from Chris Crawford with 31.7 seconds left — and a missed three from Cedric Jenkins at the buzzer — that won the game.

Marshall 61, UAB 59: DeAndre Kane had 21 points and 10 boards and Dennis Tinnon added 19 boards as the Thundering Herd used a 14-2 run to erase a 51-42 lead. Marshall is now 3-0 in CUSA. If this league is going to get more than one or two bids, the top teams need to take care of the bottom feeders …

UCF 74, Houston 63: Case in point.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 1 Syracuse 79, Villanova 66: The Orange improved to 18-0 on the season as they went into Philly and took quick care of the Wildcats. Dion Waiters led the way with 20 points and James Southerland added 15 points.

No. 10 Kansas 81, Texas Tech 46: Thomas Robinson had 19 points and 12 boards — which included a 22 foot three from the top of the key and an alley-oop on the break to Elijah Johnson — as the Jayhawks pounded the Red Raiders into the ground.

No. 24 Marquette 83, St. John’s 64: Davante Gardner had 22 points and 15 boards to carry the Golden Eagles and DJO added 18 of his 20 points after the half as Marquette pulled away from the Johnnies.

Other notable scores:

– Old Dominion 68, Delaware 66 OT
– Texas 61, Texas A&M 51
– Maryland 70, Wake Forest 64
– Ohio 60, Buffalo 52
– Ole Miss 71, Arkansas 63
– Colorado State 79, Denver 75
– Georgia Tech 82, NC State 71
– Alabama 69, LSU 53

Top performers:

Andrew Nicholson, St. Bonaventure: The Bonnie’s center had 30 points, 13 boards and six blocks in a win that moved them to 2-1 in league play.

Tim Frazier, Penn State: The Nittany Lions lost to Nebraska 70-58, but Frazier was incredible. He finished with 30 points, six assists, six steals and four boards.

Robert Covington, Tennessee State: Covington had 30 points and eight boards, hitting 7-9 from three, as the Tigers knocked off Morehead State.

Langston Galloway, St. Joe’s: Galloway was just as good. He had 30 as well, also hitting 7-9 from deep.

Isaiah Sykes, UCF: Sykes finished with 21 points and 14 boards, 11 of which came on the offensive end, as the Golden Knights knocked off Houston.

Darryl Partin and DJ Irving, Boston: You know what was more impressive than the 27 points and the 6-7 shooting from deep that Partin posted tonight? The 23 points and 11 assists that Irving had.

Davante Gardner, Marquette: Gardner had 22 points and 15 boards in the Golden Eagle’s win.

Kent Bazemore, Old Dominion: Bazemore went for 27 points and 12 boards as ODU moved to 4-1 in the CAA with a 68-66 win over Delaware in OT.

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Leave a comment

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

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
1 Comment

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

Getty Images

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.