Late Night Snacks: Notre Dame escapes with ACC road win over North Carolina; Michigan State, Oklahoma earn blowout wins

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source: AP
AP

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 13 Notre Dame 71, No. 18 North Carolina 70

Many questioned if the Fighting Irish were legitimate after an easy non-conference schedule and an iffy defense and bench but Notre Dame held off a late North Carolina rally to pick up a huge ACC road win. Despite senior guard Jerian Grant struggling to a 1-for-8 shooting night, the Irish had a balanced offensive effort around him as Zach Auguste scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half and Pat Connaughton added 16 points. Marcus Paige led North Carolina with 15 points but had another sluggish shooting night, going 6-for-17 from the field. Before the game, North Carolina honored late alum Stuart Scott with a moment of silence and a patch on their jerseys.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 16 Oklahoma 70, No. 10 Texas 49

This one got ugly very quickly as the Sooners made a statement in the Big 12 with a road thrashing of Texas. Oklahoma jumped out to a 33-14 halftime lead and never looked back as they played with more physicality on the interior and generally came out with more effort and attitude. Four of five Sooner starters finished in double figures and the fifth finished with nine points. Buddy Hield led Oklahoma with 13 points while TaShawn Thomas had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Thomas also unleashed this vicious poster dunk on Cameron Ridley.

2. Michigan State 70, Indiana 50

An ugly first half for Indiana led to an easy home victory for the Spartans. Michigan State earned its first Big Ten win of the season by jumping out to a 19-4 lead that turned into a 32-13 lead in the first frame. A vintage defensive performance from Tom Izzo’s ballclub held Indiana to only one double-digit scorer as Yogi Ferrell finished with 17 points. Denzel Valentine paced Michigan State with 15 points and six rebounds while senior Branden Dawson added 14 points and 13 rebounds.

3. Iowa 70, Nebraska 59

Even though Nebraska rallied to take the lead with about nine minutes left in the second half, Iowa made a late push and earned a home Big Ten win. Aaron White had a solid outing with 23 points and nine rebounds to lead the Hawkeyes while Gabriel Olaseni had 18 points (12-for-13 free throws) and five rebounds. Iowa now stands at 2-0 in Big Ten play and they look like they’ve fixed some early-season issues consistency issues that were plaguing them.

4. No. 14 West Virginia 78, Texas Tech 67

The return of point guard Juwan Staten (illness) helped the Mountaineers move to 2-0 in the Big 12 with two road wins as West Virginia used a second-half run to pull away. Staten finished with 16 points as the Mountaineer defense forced 22 Texas Tech turnovers.

BUZZER-BEATER OF THE NIGHT: Texas State junior forward Emani Gant banked in his first career 3-point attempt to force a second overtime as the Bobcats eventually earned a huge Sun Belt road win over conference favorite Georgia State.

STARRED

1. Wofford’s Karl Cochran

Cochran scored the final eight points for the Terriers, including two 3-pointers in the game’s final minute, to help Wofford knock off Chattanooga, 68-64. The Terriers trailed by 10 at halftime on the road, but Cochran had a career-high 33 points and six 3-pointers to go along with five steals in helping with a Southern Conference comeback win.

2. Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes and Jordan Fouse

Sykes, a senior point guard, stepped up with 28 points and four assists while Fouse, a junior forward just missed a triple-double with 16 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists to lead the Phoenix to a Horizon League victory over Wright State.

3. Wagner’s Marcus Burton

Two overtimes were needed for the Seahawks to topple Mt. St. Mary’s and Burton was a big reason why as the senior guard had 38 points and six rebounds.

4. East Tennessee State’s Jalen Riley

In a tight conference clash, the senior guard had 26 points, eight assists, three rebounds and two steals in a two-point win over Samford. It was Riley’s seventh game this season that he’s scored at least 20 points.

STRUGGLED

1. Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr.

The stud freshman guard has been a scoring machine this season, but the McDonald’s All-American was held to eight points on just 1-for-14 shooting from the field.

2. Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter

Hunter had a cold-shooting night as he was 3-for-16 from the field and 0-for-10 from the 3-point line in a double-overtime loss at home to Texas State. The junior also had six turnovers on the night.

3. The Texas offense

The Longhorns were the much bigger team but forced a lot more perimeter shots in a bad loss at home to Oklahoma. Texas shot 30 percent from the field (18-for-60) and 28 percent (6-for-21) from 3-point range.

NOTABLES

  • The Citadel ended a 19-game road losing streak with an 85-83 overtime win over UNC Greensboro. Ashton Moore had 28 points to lead the Bulldogs, who hadn’t won a road game since Feb. 20, 2013.

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.