Late Night Snacks: Wednesday proves why conference play is unmatched

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Games of the Night

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89 (OT)

Kansas trailed by six points with close to four minutes remaining, but freshman Ben McLemore hit a clutch bank three-pointer with one second remaining to tie the game at 79-79. The Jayhawks controlled overtime and got the victory. McLemore finished with 33 points on 10-of-12 shooting. Both Kevin Young and Jeff Withey posted double-doubles for Kansas. Credit Iowa State, though, for staying in the game and giving Kansas a challenge. Six players scored in double figures for the Cyclones, including a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds from Melvin Ejim.

Boise State 63, Wyoming 61

Down by one point with just over nine seconds remaining, Boise State brought the ball up the floor and set up for the win. Igor Hadziomerovic drove the baseline after getting a hand-off on the wing and kicked it out to Jeff Elorriaga, who buried a three at the buzzer to win it. Wyoming loses on its home floor and its previously unblemished record is no more. Elorriaga finished with 18 points.

Also of Note: Towson 99, William & Mary 86 (2OT)

Important Outcomes 

1. No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

The Orange struggled to pull away from the scrappy Friars on Wednesday night, but C.J. Fair and Michael Carter-Williams were able to lead their team to a win. Fair finished with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds.

2. No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

We know the Big Ten is going to be a battle all season long, but No. 8 Minnesota has now distinguished itself as perhaps the legitimate third contender in the conference behind No. 2 Michigan and No. 5 Indiana. Joe Coleman had 29 points on 10-of-16 shooting for the Gophers.

3. No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

Butler got its first taste of what Atlantic 10 conference play is like and responded with a hard-fought win. Rotnei Clarke had 28 points to pace the Bulldogs from the perimeter and Andrew Smith had 24 points and 10 rebounds on the interior. Brad Stevens has his team rolling after it knocked off No. 1 Indiana.

Starred

1. Ben McLemore, Kansas (33 points, 10-of-12 FG, 6-of-6 3pt FG)

McLemore played with the poise of a seasoned veteran in his team’s gusty win over Iowa State Wednesday night. He was a perfect 6-of-6 from behind the three-point line and was a perfect 7-of-7 from the free throw line. Kansas needed a hero to beat the Cyclones, and McLemore was there to deliver. NBA scouts are taking notice.

2. Cleanthony Early, Wichita State (39 points, 13-of-19 FG)

The Missouri Valley is turning out to be another wild conference and Early’s 39 points kept No. 23 Wichita State from being upset at the hands of a Southern Illinois team that is now 0-4 in conference play. He added six rebounds and two blocks, as well.

3. Jamaal Franklin, San Diego State (20 points, 18 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 blocks)

To go along with that impressive stat line, he led the Aztecs to a win and had this ridiculous dunk, throwing the ball to himself off the backboard and slamming it home. Franklin continues to distinguish himself as one of the best players in the Mountain West and will undoubtedly be in the conversation for Conference Player of the Year.

Also of Note: Jerrelle Benimon, Towson (26 points, 12 rebounds) | Jeff Elorriaga (18 points, Game-winning buzzer beater) | Mike Fitzgerald, Air Force (30 points, 9-of-10 FG)

Struggled

1. Dez Wells, Maryland (2-of-9 FG, 5 points)

In a three-point loss to Florida State, Wells’ lack of production hurt Maryland. He was seven points off his season average and was never able to find his rhythm against the Seminoles.

2. California’s scoring combo, Allen Crabbe and Justin Cobbs (Combined 7-of-27 FG, 18 points)

Already working through injuries, coach Mike Montgomery turns to Crabbe and Cobbs for an average of 37 points per game together. Both struggled from the floor against Washington, leading to a 15-point loss in Berkeley.

Three Facts 

1. The Mountain West Conference is going to be the best conference in the country west of the Mississippi River this season. If Wednesday night is any indication (New Mexico tough win over UNLV, San Diego State escaping vs. Fresno, Boise State sinking Wyoming), the conference tournament in Las Vegas is going to be wild.

2. Kansas extended its winning streak at Allen Fieldhouse to 31 straight games with its win over Iowa State.

3. Towson beat William & Mary in double overtime, 99-86. The Tigers have now won four straight, the first time that has happened since 2000.

Marshall Henderson Shot Tracker

Ole Miss’ Henderson finished with 32 points in a win over Tennessee on Wednesday night, but shot just 3-of-12 from three-point range. He was helped by his ability to get to the line, going 13-of-14 from the stripe.

Top 25 Scores

No. 2 Michigan 62, Nebraska 47

No. 3 Louisville 73, Seton Hall 58

No. 6 Kansas 97, Iowa State 89

No. 7 Syracuse 72, Providence 66

No. 8 Minnesota 84, No. 12 Illinois 67

No. 11 Florida 77, Georgia 44

No. 14 Butler 72, St. Joseph’s 66

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at JohnnyJungle.com, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_

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

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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.