Late Night Snacks: Traevon Jackson propels Wisconsin past No. 9 Michigan State

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GAME OF THE DAY: Wisconsin 60, No. 9 Michigan State 58

Wisconsin entered Sunday’s game in need of a second consecutive victory in order to keep the momentum gained from their win at Illinois on Tuesday night. They did that thanks to Traevon Jackson, whose jumper with 2.1 seconds remaining proved to be the difference in Madison. Wisconsin had four players finish in double figures, with freshman Nigel Hayes scoring 14 points off the bench to lead the way. As for Michigan State, Adreian Payne scored 24 points and Travis Trice added 13, nearly resulting in the Spartans winning in spite of a 3-for-20 afternoon from Gary Harris.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) St. John’s 70, No. 12 Creighton 65

The Red Storm may have begun Big East play with five consecutive losses, but by no means was their season over. Steve Lavin’s Red Storm have now won six of their last seven games, and the late-game defending of Doug McDermott (25 points) by Jakarr Sampson was critical on Sunday night. McDermott failed to score at all in the final 8:40 of the game, and his teammates were unable to make the plays needed to leave Madison Square Garden with the win. D’Angelo Harrison led the Red Storm, who are looking to fight their way into the NCAA tournament picture, with 19 points.

2) No. 1 Syracuse 57, Clemson 44

The Orange limited Clemson to 34% shooting from the field in winning their 23rd consecutive game, moving to 10-0 in the ACC. This is the first such start to conference play in school history for Syracuse, with C.J. Fair scoring 19 points to lead the way offensively. Next up: a game at No. 25 Pittsburgh on Wednesday night, but it remains to be seen if they’ll have center Baye Moussa Keita for that one. Keita left Sunday’s game after spraining his right knee in the first half.

3) No. 2 Arizona 76, Oregon State 54 

After squeaking out a two-point win on Thursday night against Oregon, the Wildcats took care of Oregon State in Tucson. Arizona shot 50% from the field, and defensively Nick Johnson and company limited Roberto Nelson to ten points on 3-for-12 shooting. Arizona will play its next three games on the road, beginning with a trip north to battle rival Arizona State on Valentine’s Day.

STARRED

1) A.J. English (Iona) 

English accounted for 32 points (10-for-17 FG), six assists and five rebounds in the Gaels’ 101-91 win at Canisius.

2) Xavier Johnson (Colorado)

Johnson scored 27 points (10-for-14 FG) and grabbed ten rebounds in the Buffaloes’ 91-65 beating of Washington. For the weekend Johnson averaged 23.5 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.

3) TaShawn Thomas (Houston) 

Thomas tallied 25 points (10-for-12 FG), nine rebounds and six blocked shots in the Cougars’ 88-74 win over Temple.

STRUGGLED

1) Gary Harris (Michigan State)

Harris scored just six points on 3-for-20 shooting in the Spartans’ 60-58 loss at Wisconsin.

2) UCF starters not named Isaiah Sykes

While Sykes shot 6-for-13 from the field in the Knights’ 75-55 loss to No. 22 UConn, his fellow starters combined to shoot 1-for-15 from the field.

3) C.J. Wilcox (Washington) 

Wilcox shot 2-for-10 from the field (0-for-7 3PT), scoring eight points in the Huskies’ 91-65 loss at Colorado. Wilcox is averaging 19.8 points per game this season.

NOTABLES

  • Iona took a two-game lead in the MAAC with a 101-91 win at Canisius. A.J. English scored 32 points to lead the way for the Gaels.
  • Manhattan also completed the difficult sweep of the Buffalo schools, with Rhamel Brown’s block as time expired preserving a 78-77 win at Niagara. Brown finished the game with 22 points and six blocked shots.
  • Holy Cross beat Bucknell 66-50, picking up its seventh win in the last eight games. Justin Burrell led the Crusaders with 19 points and four rebounds.
  • Jerrold Brooks scored 19 points and Michael Craig 14 to lead Southern Miss to an 81-64 win over Charlotte, keeping pace with UTEP atop Conference USA as a result. A point of concern for the Golden Eagles: senior guard Neil Watson leaving the game in the first half with a sprained ankle.
  • Indiana State rebounded from its loss to No. 4 Wichita State with a 60-56 win over Drake. Khristian Smith scored 19 points off the bench for the Sycamores, who are 9-3 in Missouri Valley play.
  • Chaz Williams scored 21 points and dished out seven assists to lead UMass to a 73-68 win at Rhode Island.
  • Quincy Diggs’ jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining gave Akron a 65-63 win at Bowling Green. The win keeps Akron a game ahead of Ohio and Buffalo in the MAC East standings.
  • DeAndre Daniels made his return to the court for No. 22 UConn after missing the last two games, scoring 14 points in the Huskies’ 75-55 win at UCF. Lasan Kromah and Shabazz Napier tallied 17 points and seven rebounds apiece.

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.