Thursday’s Shootaround: SDSU survives, Southern Miss takes control of CUSA

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No. 14 Georgetown 58, UConn 44: See here.

No. 12 San Diego State 58, Boise State 56: On Saturday afternoon, San Diego State was drilled by Colorado State, losing by 17 in a game that was never much in doubt after the first 10 minutes. On Wednesday, the Aztecs did everything they could to try and earn their second straight upset loss. They shot just 31.3% from the floor. They went just 3-19 from three. They got behind by as much as 12 points in the second half. And after using a 22-3 run to take a seven point lead with six minutes left, the Aztecs nearly blew it. On the game’s final possession, Boise State, who was only down two after Chase Tapley missed a free throw, somehow managed to find a wide-open Thomas Bropleh, but his three was off the mark.

That’s called escaping.

There are a couple of things to take out of this game. For starters, this is the second time that Boise has given a league favorite a run for their money; they took UNLV to overtime earlier this season. And while their record in league play may not be all that pretty (0-6 rarely is), this is a young group that is still learning to play at the collegiate level. I’d put money on the Broncos pulling off a couple of upsets before the season is over and really making a name for themselves next year.

The mark of a good team is that they are able to win games when they don’t play their best basketball, and if this game showed us anything, its that SDSU is apparently a good team. They do, however, need to get this slump figured out. Steve Fisher’s team is guard-oriented this season, which means that there are going to be some games where the Aztecs cannot buy a jumpshot. They cannot, however, allow one bad game to beget another.

No. 13 UNLV 82, Colorado State 63: Perhaps the only people rooting for Bropleh’s game-winner to drop more than Boise State fans were UNLV fans. Had the Broncos knocked off the Aztecs, than UNLV’s 19 point win over Colorado State would have moved the Rebels into first place in the MWC. Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield combined to go for 29 points, 13 assists and just four turnovers as UNLV shot 50% from the floor and hit nine threes in a game that was never really in doubt.

This loss adds more credence to the notion that UNLV is the best team in the conference, not SDSU. The Aztecs lost to Colorado State by 17. UNLV beat them by 19. That’s a big difference, although neither team was as impressive as New Mexico in their 33 point win over the Rams. Maybe Colorado State is simply team schizophrenia.

No. 6 Baylor 63, Texas A&M 60: Pierre Jackson is a bit of a polarizing figure in college basketball circles. Some love him as a player, others simply love his athletic ability and some believe he is going to eventually be the downfall of Baylor’s team this season. All are fair perspectives. Jackson is a ridiculous athlete with the ability to do some incredible things on a basketball court, but there are times where he buys into his own hype too much. When he plays as Pierre Jackson, he’s great. When he tries to be Steve Francis, he struggles. Its that simple.

But the one thing that no one can disagree with is his ability in the clutch. He’s proven time and time again that he’s a player that can be trusted with the ball in his hands at the end of a game. On Wednesday, he hit a three with 17 seconds left to put Baylor up 61-60 and followed that up with two free throws after Elston Turner missed a tough fadeaway jumper. (Jump to the 2:45 mark):

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JlVNt_sXbP8%5D

Its the fourth time this season that Jackson has made a play in the final minute that has won a game or forced overtime. Against BYU, his block of a Brandon Davies’ three saved the game. Against West Virginia, he forced OT with a three. And in a win over Mississippi State, he scored the game-winning bucket on a driving layup in the final minute.

No. 22 Michigan 68, No. 20 Indiana 56: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Indiana lost on the road to a quality opponent. This game was eerily similar to the loss the Hoosiers had at Michigan State earlier in the season. The Wolverines jumped out to a 13-0 lead and led by as much as 20 in the first half, but the Hoosiers came storming back. They got within two points late in the second half, but Stu Douglass and Tim Hardaway, Jr., hit back-to-back threes to push the lead back up to eight points. The win moved Michigan into a tie with Wisconsin for second place in the league, one game behind Ohio State in the loss column and one game ahead of Michigan State in the win column. Trey Burke led the way with 18 points, four boards and four assists.

Southern Miss 75, Memphis 72: In one of the best games of the night — a game that didn’t actually get on the air until midway through the first half thanks to a high school football all-star game — Southern Miss won their 16th game in the last 17 outings, taking over sole possession of first place in the Conference USA standings. Darnell Dodson had 23 points and Neil Watson added 17 as USM did everything they could down the stretch to give the game back to Memphis. Chris Crawford missed a decent look at a three as time expired, however, the first time Southern Miss has beaten the Tigers in 18 tries. Its worth noting that, when USM lost to Memphis, it was because the Golden Eagles missed a three at the buzzer to win it. Can we get a grudge match?

Texas-Arlington 67, Texas-San Antonio 66: LaMarcus Reed scored 24 points as UTA christened their new arena with a win that moved them into sole possession of first place in the Southland.

The Atlantic 10: The conference just gets weirder and weirder. So here’s what happened last night: Xavier won a tight game against George Washington; UMass lost in overtime to Rhode Island; St. Joe’s beat Richmond on the road; Temple and La Salle beat Fordham and Charlotte, respectively, at home; Dayton lost their third game in a row to Duquesne at home; and St. Bonaventure blew out St. Louis.

Ok.

What’s that mean?

La Salle (?!) is currently sitting all alone in first place in the league at 6-2. Temple, at 5-2, and Xavier, at 6-3, are both a half game back. St. Louis, UMass and St. Bonaventure are all 5-3 while Dayton, Duquesne and St. Joe’s are all 4-4. Got it? Good. There will be a quiz on Friday.

The CAA: Quite obviously, the big news in the Colonial is that George Mason, who had been holding on to first place in the conference, lost at Delaware on Wednesday night. With Drexel and VCU both winning, it now means there is a three-way tie for first place in the league, with Old Dominion sitting just a game back in the win column.

The rest of the top 25:

No. 8 Kansas 84, Oklahoma 62: Thomas Robinson has 20 points, 17 boards, four assists, two blocks and two steals while Tyshawn Taylor added 21 points and six assists in a Jayhawk win.

No. 12 Creighton 102, Illinois State 74: The Bluejays got 25 points from Doug McDermott as they stayed a game in front of Wichita State in the MVC standings. The Shockers beat Missouri State 74-67 on the road.

No. 24 Florida State 68, Georgia Tech 54: Michael Snaer scored 21 points and the Seminoles bounced back from a halftime deficit to knock off the Yellow Jackets.

Other notable scores:

– Davidson 71, Furman 53
– Akron 86, Toledo 72
– Marshall 63, Tulane 44
– Stony Brook 82, Binghamton 48
– NC State 56, Boston College 51
– Miami 90, Maryland 86 2OT
– Ohio 67, Northern Illinois 58

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.