Late Night Snacks: No. 3 Arizona, No. 7 Virginia shine on a busy Saturday

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T.J. McConnell and Kevin Pangos (Getty Images)

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 3 Arizona 66, No. 9 Gonzaga 63 (OT)

T.J. McConnell made two huge shots in overtime and Arizona’s defense turned stifling over the course of the final nine minutes as the Wildcats knocked off Kevin Pangos and Gonzaga at the McKale Center on Saturday night. Our Raphielle Johnson is on site and will be filing from the game, but two notes I noticed from couchside:

  • McConnell, and not all-american Kevin Pangos, made all the big plays down the stretch. Pangos had a key three, but he also had a pair of bad turnovers.
  • Yeah, we need to do this again come March. How about we run it back in the Elite 8? Anyone say no?

PLAYER OF THE DAY: London Perrantes, Virginia

The No. 7 Cavaliers went into the Siegel Center on Saturday afternoon and put a whooping on VCU in one of the toughest environments in college basketball. Justin Anderson was the leading scorer and Malcolm Brogdon is the most well-known player on the roster, but I’ve giving this award to Perrantes because of how well Virginia handled VCU’s pressure and executed offensively in the half court. They were 28-for-41 from the floor and Perrantes had nine assists and three turnovers in 35 minutes.

TEAM OF THE DAY: NJIT 72, No. 17 Michigan 70

The Highlanders were a joke four years ago. They lost more than 50 consecutive games, one of the worst teams in the history of Division I basketball. Now? They still don’t have a conference — they are the lone Division I independent left — but they went into Ann Arbor and knocked off the Wolverines despite the fact that Michigan hit 11 threes and got 32 points from Caris LeVert.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES:

1. No. 2 Wisconsin 49, Marquette 38: Sam Dekker still doesn’t look like himself, but Frank Kaminsky does. He had 15 points, 10 boards, four steals and three blocks to lead the Badgers to a win over arch-rival Marquette at the Bradley Center. It was a nice way to bounce back from Wednesday’s loss to Duke.

2. Green Bay 68, No. 15 Miami 55: The Phoenix manhandled Miami on the road, running them off the floor in the second half despite the fact that their star guard Keifer Sykes was just 5-for-15 from the floor.

3. St. John’s 69, Syracuse 57: D’Angelo Harrison had 24 points and Phil Greene scored 11 straight points late in the second half to give the Johnnies a nice road win over the Orange.

STARRED:

1. Kyle Collinsworth, BYU: Tyler Haws had 30 points in a win for BYU over Hawaii, but Collinsworth was the best player on the floor. He finished with 19 points, 12 boards and 10 assists, adding two blocks and one steal to boot.

2. Alex Caruso, Texas A&M: Caruso finished with 23 points on 9-for-11 shooting, adding six steals, six assists and six boards as the Aggies came from behind to beat Arizona State on Saturday afternoon. Texas A&M was down as much as 13. Kourtney Roberson hit a free throw with 5.1 seconds left for the win.

3. Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: The star freshman for the Pirates seems to be hitting his stride. He finished with 25 points on 9-for-15 shooting (4-for-5 from three), five assists, three steals and no turnovers in a blowout win over Rutgers.

STRUGGLED:

1. Phil Forte, Oklahoma State: There aren’t five shooters in the country more lethal than Forte. You wouldn’t know it based on Saturday. He was 1-for-14 from the floor and 1-for-10 from three.

2. Purdue: The Boilermakers looked really good during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge when they knocked off N.C. State at Mackey Arena. On Saturday, they followed that up by losing to North Florida, 73-70.

3. Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets lost to USC Upstate at home despite the face that the Spartans shot 30 percent from the floor.

NOTABLES

  • Oklahoma State suffered its first loss of the season in rough fashion, falling 75-49 at South Carolina. Duane Notice led the Gamecocks with 20 points.
  • Texas A&M erased an 11-point halftime deficit to beat Arizona State 72-71 in College Station. Kourtney Roberson’s free throw with 5.1 seconds remaining was the difference.
  • Tennessee managed to hold off Kansas State 65-64, with the Wildcats’ Marcus Foster going on a late three-point barrage that nearly erased a ten-point Volunteer lead.
  • Harvard needed two overtimes to vanquish Vermont but the Crimson got the job done, winning 64-52 in Burlington. Wesley Saunders (25 points, seven steals and six assists) led the way for Harvard.
  • Guards Ralston Turner, Anthony Barber and Trevor Lacey combined to score 50 points as NC State beat Wake Forest 78-65 in the ACC opener for both.
  • Northern Iowa is now 8-0 after beating George Mason 71-65 in overtime.
  • Xavier and Alabama combined to score 110 points in the second half of their game Saturday, but it was the Musketeers’ play in the first half that gave them the cushion needed to beat the Crimson Tide 97-84.
  • Having lost two of their last three games Rhode Island got back on track in emphatic fashion, winning 75-43 at Southern Miss.
  • Since suffering a disappointing home loss to USC, New Mexico has won two straight. Saturday they won 63-46 at 8-2 Valparaiso.
  • Derrick Marks scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead Boise State to an 82-71 win at Saint Mary’s.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 8 Wichita State 81, Saint Louis 52
  • No. 10 Villanova 74, Saint Joseph’s 46
  • No. 14 Ohio State 70, Colgate 50
  • No. 19 Michigan State 85, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 52
  • No. 21 Maryland 82, Winthrop 62
  • No. 23 Butler 65, Northwestern 56
  • No. 24 Illinois 70, American 55

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

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
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STORRS, Conn. — UConn swingman Tyrese Martin, who transferred from Rhode Island in April, has been granted a waiver that will allow him to play for the Huskies this season.

The 6-foot-6 junior averaged 12.8 points and 7.1 rebounds and started every game last season for URI, where he was recruited by current UConn coach Dan Hurley.

NCAA rules require undergraduate transfers to sit out a season, but the organization has been more lenient in granting waivers during the pandemic.

Martin, 21, is expected to compete for playing time at UConn on the wing as both a guard and small forward.