FBI investigates Auburn guard for point-shaving

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UPDATE (4:34 p.m. ET): The school confirmed the investigation. Via Pete Thamel: AU officials were made aware of a rumor regarding an allegation 2 weeks ago and immediately reported it to the FBI.

Auburn guard Varez Ward is reportedly under investigation by the FBI in an ongoing point-shaving scandal, Yahoo! Sports reported Thursday.

Ward, who was suspended on Feb. 25 for a violation of team rules, has been targeted by the FBI since late last month, with at least two games coming under closer probing: a 68-50 loss to Alabama on Feb, 7 and a 56-53 loss to Arkansas on Jan. 25. It was shortly thereafter that the coaching staff reportedly became aware of a potential scandal.

Teammate Chris Denson, also on suspension, was questioned in the investigation, but has been cleared of wrongdoing, the site reports. Other players also have been questioned as to any possible involvement.

Here’s a breakdown from Yahoo! regarding the games in question:

In the Feb. 7 loss to Alabama, Ward played 17 minutes, scoring three points (shooting 1-for-5 from the field and 1-for-2 from the free-throw line) and committing six turnovers with two assists. His first shot was a made layup, his second shot was blocked, his third was an air ball, his fourth was a long missed 3-pointer and his fifth was blocked on a layup attempt. Tailing 43-33 with 15:25 left, Ward turned the ball over twice in 21 seconds. He was then subbed out of the game. Ward entered again with 11:30 remaining and Alabama leading 50-35. Ward then turned the ball over twice in 2½ minutes as the Crimson Tide moved to a 58-38 lead. In the other 26 games Ward played this season, he averaged 2.7 turnovers in 29.1 minutes per game. According to sportsbook Vegas Insider, Alabama entered the game as a five-point favorite. The Crimson Tide easily covered with an 18-point win.

In the Jan. 25 game against Arkansas, Ward checked in with 14:25 to play. He turned the ball over in the backcourt on his first possession 19 seconds later, falling to the floor as Arkansas converted the turnover into a layup. After remaining on the floor for more than a minute, Ward left the game limping on his right leg. Coach Tony Barbee later described the injury as a knee to Ward’s quadriceps. Ward’s departure left Auburn with only one reserve point guard for the remainder of the game against the Razorbacks – little-used Tony Neysmith, who hadn’t played in the previous seven games. According to Vegas Insider, Arkansas went into the game as 9½-point favorites. Auburn ultimately covered that spread without Ward, losing 56-53.

Ward averaged nine points a game this season. He hasn’t spoken publicly since his suspension.

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