Late Night Snacks: On his 19th birthday, Duke’s Jahlil Okafor puts up monster 25-20 performance

Leave a comment
source: Getty Images
Duke’s Jahlil Okafor (Getty Images)

GAME OF THE NIGHT: UT Martin 81, UIC 78, OT

Facing a 17-point second-half deficit, UIC rallied with a 20-4 run to help force overtime. But UT Martin held strong in the extra frame to secure the road victory as Deville Smith had a monster game. The UNLV transfer had 26 points, seven assists, six rebounds, five blocks and three steals in the win as UT Martin improved to 6-2 on the season.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Georgia Southern 68, South Florida 63

This is the third consecutive loss for the Bulls, but that’s not the story here. Georgia Southern looks like they might be a legitimate contender in the Sun Belt alongside Georgia State and Lousiana-Lafayette with a win over an AAC team on the road. The Eagles have a solid senior one-two punch in guard Jelani Hewitt and forward Trent Wiedeman and only have losses on the road at Illinois and Central Florida. Long way to go this season, but the Sun Belt race is looking more-and-more intriguing.

2. Memphis 81, North Carolina Central 47

The Tigers have followed four losses with four wins this season as that trend continued on Monday night. Memphis needed a blowout win re-gain some confidence and the interior starters of Shaq Goodwin (11 points, eight rebounds) and Austin Nichols (14 points, seven rebounds) both played well in the victory. Let’s see if Memphis can build on this and start in winning streak in the 2014-15 season.

STARRED

1. Duke’s Jahlil Okafor

On his 19th birthday, Okafor decided that producing numbers in the teens wasn’t good enough. The freshman added another solid game to his Player of the Year cause with 25 points and 20 rebounds against Elon in only 29 minutes.

2. Oregon State’s Gary Payton II

The junior guard finished with 10 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and six steals on the night, joining his legendary father in exclusive company.

3. Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer

Wiltjer’s hot stretch continued as he went 9-for-11 from the field to finish with 21 points, three rebounds and two assists in a win over Texas Southern.

STRUGGLED

1. North Florida’s second-half defense (and pregame dunking

The North Florida defense collapsed in the second half after building up a 41-32 lead at halftime on Tennessee Tech. The Ospreys allowed 60 percent shooting in the second half as the Golden Eagles scored 50 points in the game’s final 20 minutes for the 82-80 win.

2. Missouri State’s perimeter shooting

Three-point shooting didn’t come easily for the Bears in a road loss to Oral Roberts. Missouri State went 4-for-17 from behind the three-point line (23 percent) after entering the game shooting 40 percent for the season.

3. Champion Baptist College

You might remember these dudes for trailing Southern 44-0 last season before eventually losing 116-12. Well, the Tigers have gotten better since last season, but they still lost 128-54 to Lamar.

NOTABLES

  • Georgia Tech advanced past Appalachian State as Marcus Georges-Hunt paced the Yellow Jackets with 15 points.
  • Drake freshman guard Reed Timmer had 19 points as the Bulldogs held off Jackson St., 76-66.
  • Cleveland State played a non-Division I opponent in NAIA school Mount Vernon Nazarene, but junior guard Trey Lewis poured in 32 points, including going 9-for-11 beyond the arc.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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
1 Comment

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
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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
4 Comments

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.