New Year’s Eve Snacks: Seton Hall springs an upset of St. John’s

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IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Seton Hall 78, No. 15 St. John’s 67: Playing without Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall pulled off an upset in the opening game of the Big East season, knocking off No. 15 St. John’s at the Prudential Center. The Johnnies once against dug themselves a hole, falling behind by as much as 14 points in the second half. They made a run — D’Angelo Harrison finished with 25 points and got St. John’s within two points with five minutes left — but the Pirates were able to pull away down the stretch. Sterling Gibbs and Jaron Sina made a number of big plays late in the game.

2. No. 4 Wisconsin 89, Penn State 72: With an 11-1 record entering their Big Ten opener at Wisconsin, Penn State had the opportunity to show that it should be regarded as a team capable of factoring into the conference race. Things didn’t work out that way for the Nittany Lions, as Nigel Hayes scored 21 points and Frank Kaminsky added a double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) to lead the Badgers to the win in Madison. Four Wisconsin starters reached double figures in the win, and as a team Bo Ryan’s bunch shot 63.8% from the field.

3. Xavier 70, No. 25 Georgetown 53: The final college basketball game of 2014 was a good one for the Musketeers, who knocked off the Hoyas in the Big East opener for both. Jalen Reynolds scored 17 points off the bench and guards Remy Abell and Dee Davis added 12 apiece for Xavier, which outscored Georgetown 39-28 in the second half. The Hoyas shot just 36.2% from the field for the game and 2-for-13 from beyond the arc, with D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scoring 18 points and Joshua Smith ten in a losing effort.

STARRED

1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: Wofford gave No. 2 Duke a fight, but the Blue Devils pulled away late for an 84-55 win. Okafor was the guy — again — finishing with 24 points, eight boards, two blocks and two steals while shooting 11-for-13 from the floor.

2. Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall: Gibbs made a number of huge plays down the stretch, including a pull-up three to end a St. John’s run late in the second half. He finished with 25 points and eight assists in the upset win.

3. LaDontae Henton, Providence: Henton scored 35 points on 12-for-21 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds in the Friars’ 65-53 win over Creighton.

4. Bobby Hain, Youngstown State: Hain accounted for 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in the Penguins’ 78-74 win over Northern Kentucky.

STRUGGLED

1. UConn at the foul line: The Huskies, one of the nation’s best foul shooting teams a season ago, made just eight of their 19 attempts in a 57-53 overtime loss to Temple.

2. San Jose State: Shot 20 percent from the field in a 61-33 loss at Utah State. Guards Darry Gaynor and Isaac Thornton combined to shoot 5-for-32 from the field.

3. Mississippi Valley State: The Delta Devils shot 24.1% from the field and 1-for-17 from three in their 83-33 loss at No. 9 Iowa State.

TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 2 Duke 84, Wofford 55
  • No. 4 Wisconsin 89, Penn State 72
  • No. 6 Villanova 67, Butler 55
  • No. 9 Iowa State 83, Mississippi Valley State 33
  • Seton Hall 78, No. 15 St. John’s 67
  • No. 16 Wichita State 66, Drake 58
  • No. 18 Oklahoma 61, George Mason 43
  • No. 24 Colorado State 71, Boise State 65

NOTABLES

  • Jonathan Stark had 22 points as Tulane beat East Carolina, 67-59.
  • Shaquille Harrison had 22 points to lead Tulsa to a 56-54 win over Central Florida.
  • Jesse Morgan continued his solid play with a 17-point, six-rebound performance in Temple’s 57-53 overtime win at UConn. The UMass transfer has been a difference-maker for the Owls since becoming eligible earlier this month.
  • Kendall Stephens scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half as Purdue came back from 11 down to beat Minnesota 72-68. As both a player and head coach, Matt Painter has yet to lose to the Golden Gophers in West Lafayette.
  • Ryan Arcidiacono lead four players in double figures with 15 points as No. 6 Villanova beat Butler, 67-55.
  • Robert Johnson scored 14 points and Hanner Mosquera-Perea added 12 and ten rebounds as Indiana won 70-65 at Nebraska.
  • Larry Nance Jr. scored 29 points and grabbed five rebounds as Wyoming beat UNLV 76-71 in the Mountain West opener for both. Christian Wood led the Runnin’ Rebels with 29 and seven boards.

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.