Late Night Snacks: Stefan Moody saves Ole Miss, and Iowa falls at home

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: North Dakota State 73, Denver 69

While this game didn’t go two overtimes like the Middle Tennessee/ Rice matchup, the end of regulation in Denver was wild. Lawrence Alexander hit a three to give the Bison a three-point lead with 2.7 seconds to go, only to have Denver’s Brett Olson to respond with a half-court shot that went down as time expired. NDSU pulled ahead for good 12 seconds into overtime, and Alexander led the way with 28 points and seven rebounds. Olson paced the Pioneers with 22 points. With the win NDSU remains alone in first place in the Summit League.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1. Ole Miss 62, Florida 61

Given Florida’s struggles this win may be overlooked by some, but it is an important one for Andy Kennedy’s Rebels. Stefan Moody’s three-pointer with 2.7 seconds remaining was the difference, and as a result Ole Miss is now 8-3 in SEC play. Moody scored 18 points to lead the way, setting up Ole Miss for their game Saturday night against No. 23 Arkansas in Oxford with the teams tied for second in the SEC. Dwight Coleby added 11 points, nine rebounds and three blocks off the bench for Ole Miss.

Video credit: ESPN

2. Minnesota 64, Iowa 59 

After soundly defeating a ranked Maryland team on Sunday, the Hawkeyes failed to build on that momentum Thursday night. Austin Hollins scored 20 points to lead Minnesota to the five-point win in Iowa City, with the Hawkeyes committing 16 turnovers and shooting 4-for-14 from beyond the arc. While Iowa does have some solid wins on its resume, they can’t afford to drop home games they’re expected to win if they’re to comfortably slide into the NCAA tournament field.

3. Illinois 64, Michigan 52 (OT)

With 3:18 remaining the Wolverines led 50-43 and looked poised to pick up a good road win. However from that point forward John Beilein’s team managed to score just two points, as Illinois buckled down defensively and closed the game on a 21-2 run. Kendrick Nunn made some big shots late in regulation, and senior center Nnanna Egwu got the job done defensively for the Fighting Illini. Rayvonte Rice was rusty in his first game since January 3, scoring four points on 2-for-7 shooting, but he managed to contribute in other areas (five rebounds, three steals) while Nunn led all scorers with 21 points.

STARRED

1. VMI

The Keydets put on a show from deep in their 93-59 win over Furman, shooting 24-for-45 from beyond the arc. Brian Brown (nine) and Tim Marshall (seven) were responsible for 16 of those makes.

2. Yonel Brown, Kennesaw State

Brown scored 29 points (9-for-15 FG) and grabbed seven rebounds in the Owls’ 78-65 win over Jacksonville.

3. Mike Rostampour, Omaha

Rostampour played very well in the Mavericks’ 74-73 loss to South Dakota, scoring 24 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

STRUGGLED

1. James Woodard, Tulsa

Woodard found the going tough in a 70-45 loss at UConn, as he missed all seven of his field goal attempts and failed to score.

2. Chasson Randle, Stanford

Shot 2-for-11 from the field, scoring ten points in the Cardinal’s 75-59 loss at No. 11 Utah.

3. D.J. Brown, Texas State

Brown shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring five points in the Bobcats’ 70-61 loss to UT-Arlington.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 3 Gonzaga rolled to an 80-51 win over Loyola Marymount, with Kyle Wiltjer leading the way with 21 points and ten rebounds.
  • No. 11 Utah kept Chasson Randle in check, limiting him to ten points on 2-for-11 shooting in their 75-59 win. Delon Wright led four Utes in double figures with 15 points, and he also accounted for five rebounds and four steals.
  • No. 25 SMU is now tied for first in the American, as they held on to beat Houston 75-69. Markus Kennedy scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds off the bench.

NOTABLES

  • Murray State has now won 20 straight games, as they beat SIU-Edwardsville 78-46 Thursday night.
  • Chattanooga moved back to within a game of first place in the SoCon, winning 56-46 at first-place Wofford. Wofford shot 4-for-20 from beyond the arc.
  • Purdue took care of business in New Jersey, beating Rutgers 61-51 with A.J. Hammons finishing with 17 points, seven rebounds and four blocks.
  • FGCU is now in sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Sun, as they won 65-59 at Northern Kentucky while North Florida lost 80-63 at USC Upstate.
  • St. Francis-Brooklyn maintained its two-game edge in the NEC with an 83-66 win over Wagner. Glenn Braica’s team scored 50 points in the second half, and Jalen Cannon led all scorers with 26 points along with 12 rebounds.
  • Georgia Southern kept pace with ULM atop the Sun Belt, beating Arkansas State 65-60. The Eagles (10-3) are tied with ULM in the loss column, with the Warhawks moving to 11-3 with their win over Louisiana.
  • Eastern Washington took over sole possession of first place in the Big Sky with a 64-61 win over Sacramento State. Ognjen Miljkovic scored a team-high 16 points in the win.
  • Once again playing without the injured Corey Hawkins, UC Davis moved to 9-1 in the Big West with 75-69 win over Cal-State Fullerton. Tyler Les and Josh Fox combined to score 32 points off the bench for the Aggies.
  • If BYU is to get back into the NCAA tournament discussion they’re going to need to rack up wins down the stretch. Dave Rose’s team picked up a solid result Thursday, beating Saint Mary’s 82-60 in Provo.
  • Marcus Jackson scored 24 points as Rice beat Middle Tennessee 71-68 in double overtime. After losing four straight, Mike Rhoades’ Owls have now beaten Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee in consecutive games.
  • New Mexico State moved to 8-1 in the WAC with a comfortable win over Seattle, avenging their lone conference defeat.
  • California has now won five straight games, as they beat Colorado 68-61 in Boulder. No. 11 Utah on Sunday will be tough, but Cuonzo Martin’s team is playing with a lot of confidence right now.

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

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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

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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.