Wednesday’s Snacks: No. 1 Kentucky moves to 28-0, Northwestern knocks off Indiana

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Richmond 67, No. 22 VCU 63 (2OT)

Richmond now has a two-game win streak in this series for the first time since 2001, and as a result of the Spiders’ win there’s now a four-way tie atop the Atlantic 10. Terry Allen’s block of a Treveon Graham shot in the final seconds of double overtime sealed the game for Richmond, which forced a second overtime on a T.J. Cline layup with 2.8 seconds remaining in the first extra session. ShawnDre’ Jones scored 22 points off the bench for Richmond, while Graham led all scorers with 25 points while also grabbing ten rebounds.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1. No. 1 Kentucky 74, Mississippi State 56

John Calipari’s Wildcats didn’t play their best basketball in the first half, and that carried over into the early stages of the second. Then Kentucky went on a 24-4 run and removed any doubt. Trey Lyles scored 18 points and Aaron Harrison added 16 for the Wildcats, who host No. 18 Arkansas on Saturday. Kentucky wraps up at least a share of their record 46th SEC regular season title.

2. Northwestern 72, Indiana 65

Chris Collins’ young Wildcats continued to build on their recent momentum, winning their fourth straight conference game for the first time since 1967. Tre Demps scored a game-high 23 points and freshman Victor Law IV added 14 and eight rebounds. As for Indiana, they went more than ten minutes without a point in the second half and that stretch proved costly. Troy Williams scored 21 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Hoosiers.

3. No. 19 Baylor 79, No. 12 Iowa State 70

Thanks to an 18-4 second half run the Bears turned an eight-point deficit into a six-point lead, and from there they were able to do enough to wrap up their first-ever win at Iowa State. Taurean Prince scored 20 points off the bench to lead five players in double figures for Baylor, which shot 14-for-26 from three. By comparison, Iowa State shot 6-for-24 from beyond the arc.

Wednesday’s Bubble Banter

STARRED

1. Saint Joseph’s DeAndre Bembry

Even with his team’s struggles, Bembry has been one of the best players in the Atlantic 10. Bembry led the Hawks to an 82-71 win at UMass with 33 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.

2. North Florida’s Beau Beech

Beech scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Ospreys’ 76-62 win at FGCU. Matthew Driscoll’s team is one win away from clinching home court throughout the A-Sun tournament.

3. Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes

The Seminoles’ comeback at Miami fell short, but Rathan-Mayes (35 points, five assists, four rebounds) did his best to make it happen. The redshirt freshman scored 30 points over the final 4:39 of the 81-77 loss.

STRUGGLED

1.  Indiana’s James Blackmon Jr.

Blackmon Jr. shot 1-for-10 from the field, scoring six points, in the Hoosiers’ loss at Northwestern.

2. La Salle’s Cleon Roberts and Steve Zack

Robert and Zack combined to shoot 0-for-14 from the field and score two points (two Roberts free throws) in the Explorers’ 63-48 loss at Fordham.

3. Iowa State’s Naz Long and Bryce Dejean-Jones

The two guards combined to score nine points on 3-for-12 shooting in the Cyclones’ 79-70 loss to Baylor.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 2 Virginia whipped Wake Forest 70-34, and they were playing without both Justin Anderson and London Perrantes. The Cavaliers limited the Demon Deacons to 21.8% shooting from the field.
  • No. 11 Wichita State took care of business on the road, beating Indiana State 63-53. The Shockers led by four at the half, with Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet both going scoreless during the stanza.
  • No. 23 Butler moved to 10-5 in Big East play with a 21-point win over Marquette. Chris Holtmann’s Bulldogs are now tied for second with Georgetown, and the two teams meet March 3 in Indianapolis.
  • No. 4 Duke needed overtime to leave Blacksburg with a 91-86 win over Virginia Tech. Jahlil Okafor made his return, tallying 30 points and nine rebounds, and Quinn Cook added 26 for the Blue Devils. However Duke needs to get better defensively, as Virginia Tech shot 53.4% from the field.
  • No. 10 Northern Iowa avenged its lone conference loss, beating Evansville 68-57. The Panthers visit Wichita State on Saturday, with the winner earning the outright Missouri Valley Conference title.

NOTABLES

  • North Florida won 76-62 at FGCU, moving into a first-place tie atop the Atlantic Sun with the Eagles as a result. Beau Beech went for 22 points and 13 rebounds for UNF, which will earn the top seed in the conference tournament with a win over Stetson (or FGCU loss to Jacksonville) on Saturday.
  • Valparaiso failed to wrap up the Horizon League regular season title, losing 63-60 at Detroit. The Crusaders can still clinch the outright title with a win over Cleveland State on Friday.
  • Vermont clinched the two-seed in the America East tournament as they beat New Hampshire 64-49. All tournament games will be played on the home floor of the higher seed this year (Albany is the top seed).
  • In a matchup of Atlantic 10 teams looking to play their way into the NCAA tournament discussion, Davidson won 60-59 at Rhode Island on a Jack Gibbs three with 13 seconds remaining. Both teams are now 11-4 in league play.
  • In a matchup of two of the four teams tied for first in the CAA, UNCW took care of James Madison 74-54. The Dukes (11-6 CAA) have lost all six of their games against UNCW (12-5), William & Mary (12-5) and Northeastern (11-5).
  • Bucknell will have to wait a couple days to wrap up the Patriot League, as they lost 84-65 at Lehigh. The defeat gives Colgate some hope, as the Raiders pulled to within a game of first with a win at Lafayette.
  • Larry Nance Jr. made his return to the court for Wyoming, playing 37 minutes in the Cowboys’ 64-59 home loss to Fresno State. Fresno State’s Marvelle Harris led all scorers with 23 points.
  • Aaron White scored 29 points and corralled nine rebounds to lead Iowa to a 68-60 win over Illinois in Iowa City.
  • Georgia picked up a solid road victory, winning 76-72 at Ole Miss. Kenny Gaines scored 22 points and Marcus Thornton added 18 and 13 boards for the Bulldogs, who need to get hot down the stretch if they’re to get into the NCAA tournament conversation.
  • Oregon and UCLA both avoided losses that would not have looked good on their respective resumes, with the Ducks winning 80-69 at Cal and UCLA blowing out Washington in Los Angeles.

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

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.