Saturday’s Snacks: Louisville, Iowa State both earn important wins; Arizona, Gonzaga earn tough victories

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GAME OF THE DAY: VMI 113, Western Carolina 111 (2OT)

This was a wild one, with the two teams combining to score 224 points on the day. Duggar Baucom’s Keydets attempted 46 three-pointers, making 20, and guard Julian Eleby scored 43 points to lead five players in double figures. As for WCU, James Sinclair countered with 40 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in a losing effort. Eleby scored 17 of his 43 points in the two overtime periods for VMI, which moved to within a game of Western (and East Tennessee State) in the SoCon standings.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Xavier 73, No. 19 Butler

Important Big East win for Xavier as they continue to be tough at home while also staying above .500 with the win. Myles Davis had 18 points, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Butler still hasn’t found its way yet since the loss of Andrew Chrabascz as they shot 36 percent from the field and only Roosevelt Jones (14 points) finished above 10 points.

2. No. 12 Louisville 55, Miami 53

It wasn’t pretty — and both teams shot poorly — but Louisville gained control late in the second half to earn an ACC win. The Cardinals trailed much of the game at home and snapped a two-game losing streak by holding Miami point guard Angel Rodriguez to a 1-for-12 outing. Despite only shooting 33 percent from the field, Montrezl Harrell had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

3. No. 14 Iowa State 85, Texas 77

Nice road Big 12 win for the Cyclones, who have won two consecutive road wins in the conference for the first time since 2006. Georges Niang and Matt Thomas each had 17 points to lead Iowa State, who did a great job of containing the Texas interior attack. The Cyclones shot 46 percent (26-for-56) from the field and 57 percent (12-for-21) from 3-point range.

STARRED

1. LSU’s Jarrell Martin

Besides pulling off one of the best in-game dunks of the year — no defender category — Martin had 28 points and 13 rebounds in an important win for the Tigers against Florida.

2. Niagara’s Emile Blackmon

Minor upset in the MAAC as the Purple Eagles ousted heavily-favored Rider on the road. Blackmon had 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting and 6-for-9 3-point shooting.

3. VMI’s Julian Eleby and Western Carolina’s James Sinclair

Both players managed to score at least 40 points, with Eleby going for 43 and Sinclair 40 in VMI’s 113-111 double overtime win over the Catamounts.

STRUGGLED

1. Miami’s Angel Rodriguez

The point guard had a solid floor game, but couldn’t hit a shot of any kind as he went 1-for-12 from the field in a loss to Louisville.

2. Texas’ Javan Felix

A 1-for-9 shooting performance is not what Felix had in mind as the Longhorns fell to Iowa State at home. Felix not being able to hit from distance (0-for-5) also hurt the Texas spacing quite a bit.

3. UCLA’s Tony Parker

While Arizona had some key players struggle in their 57-47 win over the Bruins, UCLA needed from from Parker than the two points and one rebound he provided before fouling out. Combine this effort with the two points he scored in a loss at Arizona State, and this was a rough road trip for the junior big man.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • Player of the Year candidate Frank Kaminsky had 21 points, five rebounds and three assists in a win for No. 5 Wisconsin over Minnesota.
  • North Carolina had six players in double figures, led by Kennedy Meeks’ 18 points, in a win over Georgia Tech. The No. 15 Tar Heels scored on its first offensive possession by using the Four Corners offense.
  • Oklahoma was able to outlast Texas Tech on the road as Isaiah Cousins had 22 points in the overtime win. The No. 17 Sooners also had 17 points from Frank Booker.
  • In the Atlantic 10, Treveon Graham had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help lead No. 25 VCU past UMass.
  • No. 23 West Virginia followed up its win over Kansas with a good performance on the road, beating No. 22 Oklahoma State 73-63 in Stillwater.
  • No. 6 Villanova maintained its grip on first place in the Big East, winning 87-76 at Marquette.
  • No. 11 Northern Iowa once again showed off its stifling defense, limiting Bradley to 39 points in a 56-39 home victory.
  • No. 10 Notre Dame pulled away from Boston College in the second half in Chestnut Hill, winning 87-70 with New Bedford, Massachusetts native Bonzie Colson scoring 16 points to lead the way. Six players scored in double figures for Notre Dame, and Jerian Grant dished out 12 assists.
  • No. 4 Duke did not miss a beat despite the fact that Jahlil Okafor sat out with a sprained ankle, beating Clemson 78-56 in Durham. Quinn Cook scored 27 points and Justise Winslow added 20 and 13 rebounds.
  • No. 1 Kentucky, as expected, steamrolled Auburn 110-75 in Lexington. Karl-Anthony Towns led six Wildcats in double figures with 19 points, and he also tallied 11 rebounds and four blocks.
  • No. 8 Kansas beat TCU 81-72, with Perry Ellis posting 23 points and seven rebounds and freshman guard Devonte’ Graham adding 20 points and three assists.
  • No. 18 Arkansas picked up an SEC road win at Mississippi State as Rashad Madden led four double-figure scorers with 16 points.
  • It wasn’t pretty offensively, and they played sluggish basketball at the start of both halves, but No. 7 Arizona managed to take care of UCLA 57-47. The Wildcats dominated the glass and held the Bruins 27 points below their season average.
  • No. 3 Gonzaga struggled early, trailing by as much as 16, but they turned things around in the second half to win 70-60 at Saint Mary’s. The game was closer than the final margin would indicate, and the Bulldogs scored the game’s final 12 points as they won the outright WCC title.

NOTABLES

  • Pitt had a close effort against Syracuse and game up with a huge ACC road win. The Panthers had 19 from Chris Jones.
  • St. John’s pushed past Seton Hall in a fun Big East contest as Sir’Dominic Pointer had 22 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Red Storm.
  • Texas A&M got past South Carolina as Danuel House had 25 points and six rebounds.
  • Baylor cruised past a free-falling Kansas State as Taurean Prince had 14 points, 5 steals and 5 assists.
  • Caleb White and B.J. Tyson both had 19 points to lead East Carolina past South Florida.
  • Murray State remained unbeaten in the Ohio Valley Conference with a win over Austin Peay. Cameron Payne had 22 points and 8 assists in the win.
  • The MAC remains as wild as ever as Buffalo earned a road win at Bowling Green. Shannon Evans had 19 points while Jarryn Skeete and Justin Moss each had 15 points.
  • In an Atlantic 10 upset, Duquesne held off Dayton as Derrick Colter had 25 points and Micah Mason had 19 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals to lead the Dukes.
  • The Big Sky race got even more interesting Saturday afternoon, as Northern Arizona beat Eastern Washington 73-69 in Flagstaff. The Eagles now have three conference losses, as do Sacramento State and Montana.
  • Two more teams have clinched an automatic Postseason NIT berth should they need it: St. Francis-Brooklyn (NEC) and North Carolina Central (MEAC). Both clinched their respective conference regular season titles Saturday, joining Murray State (OVC). Of course, all three prefer to play in the NCAA tournament.
  • In a matchup of rivals hoping to play their way into the NCAA tournament, Stanford beat California 72-61 in Palo Alto.
  • Harvard took over sole possession of first place in the Ivy League, erasing a 14-point first half deficit to beat Princeton 63-55. While that was happening, Yale lost at home to Columbia. The Crimson and Bulldogs meet March 6 in Cambridge.
  • New Mexico State managed to lock up a postseason berth, as their 72-55 win at Grand Canyon gives them the outright WAC regular season title.

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.