Saturday Snacks: Kansas, Michigan State and Pitt earn big home wins

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source: AP
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GAME OF THE DAY: Montana 83, Northern Colorado 81 (3OT)

The Grizzlies won a wild one in Greeley, with Jordan Gregory making two free throws with 2.2 seconds remaining in triple overtime. Gregory scored 20 points and Brandon Gfeller, whose three-pointer with two tenths of a second remaining sent the game into triple overtime, scored 21 to lead the way for Montana. Tevin Svihovec led three Bears in double figures with 23 points. As a result of their win and Eastern Washington’s loss to Portland State, Montana is back to within a game of first place (in the loss column) in the Big Sky.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Michigan State 59, No. 23 Ohio State 56

The Spartans needed a home win against a ranked opponent and Denzel Valentine delivered the game-winner on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s game-high 17 points was a huge lift for Michigan State and a win puts them among the 4-loss logjam in the Big Ten.

2. Pitt 89, No. 12 North Carolina 76

Pitt has had an up-and-down season, but they’ve won four straight games at home, including wins against Notre Dame and the Tar Heels. Sheldon Jeter led the Panthers with 22 points and he led Pitt with six double-figure scorers. Many people wrote the Panthers out of the NCAA Tournament conversation, but if they keep picking up big conference wins, they’ll be a team to track going forward. As for North Carolina, Marcus Paige struggled to a 3-for-11 performance and 8 points as the Tar Heels were led by 19 from Brice Johnson and 15 from Kennedy Meeks.

3. No. 8 Kansas 74, No. 16 Baylor 64

The Jayhawks held many Baylor stars in check and did a great job of closing in the final minutes of a Big 12 home win. Perry Ellis and Kelly Oubre Jr. each had 18 points and Frank Mason chipped in 15 points to help with the scoring for Kansas. Baylor had 3-for-17 shooting from Royce O’Neale, Johnathan Motley and Lester Medford certainly didn’t help. Rico Gathers had 18 and Kenny Chery had 17, but it wasn’t enough for the Bears. Kansas trailed by 13 in this one early but patiently stayed the course and made a comeback over time.

4. NC State 74, No. 9 Louisville 65

The Wolfpack, who already have a home win over No. 4 Duke on their resume, picked up a huge road win Saturday afternoon. Cat Barber scored a season-high 21 points and dished out four assists with just two turnovers, and Trevor Lacey added 14 with BeeJay Anya and Caleb Martin grabbing ten rebounds apiece. The best number for NC State on Saturday: eight, as in the number of turnovers they committed against a Louisville team known for its pressure defense. Louisville shot 32.8% from the field, and without the live-ball turnovers that help them make up for their offensive deficiencies Rick Pitino’s team struggled.

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STARRED

1. Robert Morris forward Aaron Tate

Tate only had four points and six rebounds, but he made a game-winning, tip-in at the buzzer for the win over Central Connecticut State.

2. Dayton’s Jordan Sibert

The guard played a tremendous floor game for the Flyers and was everywhere as he went for 24 points, seven steals, five rebounds, three assists and a block in a win over St. Bonaventure. Sibert was 6-for-13 from the floor, 3-for-8 from 3-point range and 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.

3. St. John’s Sir’Dominic Pointer

The do-it-all wing was efficient and outstanding in multiple facets of the game in a big Red Storm win over Xavier. Pointer had 24 points on 9-for-10 shooting with five rebounds, four steals and two blocks. St. John’s had an important Big East road game and Pointer came to play.

4. Villanova’s Darrun Hilliard

Hilliard hit eight three-pointers and scored 31 points in the Wildcats’ 68-65 win at No. 18 Butler. His final three-pointer, made with 1.5 seconds remaining, was the game-winner.

STRUGGLED

1. Baylor’s Lest3r Medford

Plenty struggled on Baylor’s offense on Saturday, but Medford had five points on 1-for-5 shooting and five fouls in the loss to Kansas.

2. South Carolina

The Gamecocks haven’t shot well in either of their losses to No. 1 Kentucky. Saturday they shot 23.6% from the field, and that percentage was an improvement on where their numbers were at the under-4 media timeout (18.8% FG).

3. UConn’s Rodney Purvis and Terrence Samuel

Purvis and Samuel combined to score six points on 2-for-13 shooting in the Huskies’ 73-55 loss at SMU.

4. Tennessee’s Willie Carmichael III, Robert Hubbs and Kevin Punter

While Josh Richardson and Armani Moore combined to score 31 points, the Volunteers’ other three starters combined to score five points on 2-for-11 shooting in a 73-55 loss to LSU.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 1 Kentucky moved to 25-0 with their 77-43 win over South Carolina. The Gamecocks shot 23.6% from the field on the afternoon.
  • No. 20 VCU ended its two-game losing streak, winning 79-66 at George Washington. Treveon Graham (ankle) made his return for the Rams, who are tied atop the Atlantic 10 with Dayton and Rhode Island.
  • Monte Morris scored 19 points and Abdel Nader added 16 off the bench as No. 14 Iowa State took care of No. 21 West Virginia, 79-59.
  • No. 2 Virginia survived, holding on to beat Wake Forest 61-60 in Charlottesville. Kostantinos Mitoglou proved to be a matchup problem for Virginia, hitting five three-pointers, but the tandem of Anthony Gill and Malcolm Brogdon was able to do enough to lead the Cavaliers to the win.
  • No. 6 Villanova beat No. 18 Butler 68-65 on a Darrun Hilliard three-pointer with 1.5 seconds remaining.
  • No. 4 Duke didn’t get off to the best start at Syracuse, but the rebounded in the second half to win 80-72. Jahlil Okafor scored 23 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and former Blue Devil Michael Gbinije scored 27 for Syracuse.
  • No. 15 Wichita State won 68-62 at Illinois State, with Ron Baker leading the way offensively with 19 points.
  • After racking up three straight wins over ranked teams, No. 21 Oklahoma State fell 70-55 at TCU.
  • No. 3 Gonzaga has now won 40 straight home games, as they beat Pepperdine 56-48.
  • No. 25 SMU is now in sole possession of first place in the American after the whipped UConn 73-55 in Dallas. Outside of the chance to get closer to the top of the league standings nothing changes for the reigning national champions, who will need to win the conference tournament to go dancing.
  • Marcus Foster beat No. 17 Oklahoma for the second time this season, hitting a three-pointer with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Wildcats the 59-56 victory.
  • Dez Wells scored 22 points and Melo Trimble added 20 as No. 19 Maryland held on to beat Penn State 76-73 in Happy Valley.
  • A Manuale Watkins basket with 6.4 seconds remaining gave No. 24 Arkansas a 71-70 win at Ole Miss. As a result, the Razorbacks are now in sole possession of second place in the SEC.

NOTABLES

  • Memphis picked up an easy American road win at South Florida as Shaq Goodwin had 18 points and nine rebounds and the Tiger bench scored 35 points.
  • Clemson jumped out to a 19-4 lead on Virginia Tech and never looked back. Jordan Roper was 5-for-6 from 3-point range and had 21 points in the Tiger ACC victory.
  • Georgia State was without Sun Belt leading scorer Ryan Harrow, who missed due to concussion-like symptoms, but R.J. Hunter stepped up with 17 points as the Panthers won 53-41 against Texas State.
  • Winthrop guard Keon Moore had 27 points on 6-for-10 shooting to lift the Eagles over Gardner-Webb.
  • Stephen F. Austin’s 33-game win streak in Southland games came to an end Saturday, as they lost 71-63 at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The Lumberjacks are now tied with Sam Houston State atop the Southland standings (10-1).
  • Temple won its seventh straight game, beating East Carolina 66-53 in Philadelphia. Next up for the Owls are games against No. 25 SMU and Tulsa.
  • UCLA won for the fifth time in its last six games, beating Oregon 72-63 in Los Angeles. The Bruins still have a lot of work to do when it comes to getting an NCAA tournament bid, but they have the talent to do it.
  • Saint Mary’s avoided a loss that would not have looked good on their resume, winning 69-62 at San Diego in overtime. The Gaels host No. 3 Gonzaga next Saturday.
  • There are no more winless teams in college basketball, as Florida A&M beat North Carolina A&T 57-50. The Rattlers lost their first 23 games of the season.
  • Murray State has clinched the regular season OVC title, meaning that at the very least Steve Prohm’s team has wrapped up a Postseason NIT berth. The Racers beat Southeast Missouri State 94-92 in overtime, winning their 21st consecutive game.
  • UTEP is now alone atop the Conference USA standings after they beat Old Dominion 62-47 in El Paso. The Miners are 10-3, with Western Kentucky dropping to 9-3 as a result of their loss at Marshall.
  • UC Davis (9-1 Big West) was off, but their lead in the Big West is up to two games as UC Irvine (7-3) lost at UC Riverside 70-63.
  • San Diego State is now a game ahead of Boise State in the loss column atop the Mountain West, as the Aztecs took care of Colorado State 72-63 and the Broncos lost 70-64 at Fresno State.

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

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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.

UConn’s Tyrese Martin granted waiver to play this season

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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.