Late Night Snacks: Minnesota wins at Michigan State, No. 7 Arizona and No. 13 Utah roll

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Idaho 92, Montana 87 (2OT)

While Idaho is playing to lock up a spot in the eight-team Big Sky tournament, Montana entered Thursday’s game locked in a three-way tie for first place. The two teams staged a thriller in Moscow, with Don Verlin’s Vandals managing to hang on in double overtime despite the efforts of Montana senior guard Jordan Gregory. Gregory scored a career-high 36 points, and his three-pointer in the final seconds of the first overtime forced a second extra session. Idaho was more balanced offensively, with Connor Hill leading five Vandals in double figures with 23 points. As a result of their loss, Montana (12-4 Big Sky) drops a game behind Eastern Washington and Sacramento State (both 12-3) in the loss column.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1. Minnesota 96, Michigan State 90 (OT)

The “foul or defend” debate has been a popular one in recent years, with East Lansing (Michigan) HS head coach Steve Finamore having nearly three years of data on the debate. Michigan State prefers to defend when up three, but on two separate cases in regulation the Spartans committed the cardinal sin of fouling a three-point shooter. The second of those situations was on a Carlos Morris three-pointer that tied the game with 1.9 seconds remaining. Morris missed the free throw, but the Golden Gophers remained focused in the extra session and ended Michigan State’s four-game win streak. Morris scored 20 points off the bench and Joey King and Andre Hollins added 17 apiece for Minnesota, which finished the game with five players in double figures.

2. No. 3 Gonzaga 59, San Diego 39

The Bulldogs didn’t shoot as well as they’re capable of in Spokane, but they were able to buckle down defensively against the Toreros. Gonzaga ended the game on a 19-4 run, producing a somewhat deceptive final margin, and they limited USD to 29.6% shooting from the field and 1-for-11 from beyond the arc. Przemek Karnowski led four Bulldogs in double figures with 14 points, with Gary Bell Jr. adding 12 points, Byron Wesley 12 and Domantas Sabonis 11. Kevin Pangos scored three points on 1-for-7 shooting, but he contributed five rebounds and four assists. With the win Gonzaga remains in the conversation for a one-seed in the NCAA tournament.

3. No. 7 Arizona 82, Colorado 54

This one wasn’t close at all, but the takeaway is the performance put forth by Kaleb Tarczewski. On his 22nd birthday Tarczewski scored 14 points, one of five Wildcats to reach double figures (Stanley Johnson scored a team-high 15), and for a player who’s had confidence issues this season this recent stretch has been a good one. Arizona’s starting center has scored at least 14 points in three of the last four games, averaging 12.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. If Arizona is to make a run at the Final Four (and more), they need a confident Tarczewski in the middle. For their sake, the hope is that this recent run helps in that regard.

STARRED

1. Green Bay’s Keifer Sykes

Sykes surpassed the 2,000-point mark in the Phoenix’s win over UIC, scoring 36 points on 13-for-23 shooting from the field while also accounting for six rebounds, four steals and three assists.

2. Oral Roberts’ Obi Egemano

Egemano shot 12-for-17 from the field, scoring 34 points and grabbing eight rebounds in the Golden Eagles’ 74-58 win over North Dakota State.

3. Montana’s Jordan Gregory

It came in a losing effort, but Gregory scored a career-high 36 points and dished out five assists in Montana’s 92-87 double overtime loss at Idaho.

STRUGGLED

1. Western Carolina’s James Sinclair and Rhett Harrelson

Both players struggled in the Catamounts’ 53-49 loss at Furman, with Sinclair scoring 13 points on 4-for-23 shooting and Harrelson three points on 1-for-11 shooting.

2. Colorado’s Xavier Johnson

Johnson scored just three points in the Buffaloes’ 82-54 loss at No. 7 Arizona, shooting 1-for-3 from the field and 1-for-5 from the foul line.

3. San Diego’s Johnny Dee and Christopher Anderson

The Toreros’ starting backcourt combined to score 12 points on 5-for-17 shooting in their 59-39 loss at No. 3 Gonzaga.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • Nic Moore scored 16 points and dished out five assists as No. 21 SMU moved back into first place in the American with a 66-54 win at Memphis. The Mustangs have won 14 of their last 15 games.
  • No. 13 Utah closed the first half of their game on an 18-0 run, taking a 41-9 lead into the locker room. The Runnin’ Utes would go on to win 83-41, setting up their showdown with No. 7 Arizona Saturday night in Salt Lake City.

NOTABLES

  • High Point won 75-71 at UNC Asheville, and thanks to some other upsets the Panthers are in sole possession of first place in the Big South with one game remaining. The only team that can catch Scott Cherry’s squad is Charleston Southern, and the two teams meet Saturday in Charleston.
  • Wofford clinched the top seed in the SoCon tournament with a 76-72 win at Mercer. Mike Young’s Terriers can wrap up the outright regular season title with a win at Furman on Saturday.
  • Temple erased a five-point halftime deficit in beating Houston 66-54, avoiding what would have been a bad loss as the Owls look to earn an NCAA tournament bid.
  • Dan Garvin scored 17 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Bryant won 77-69 at Central Connecticut State, clinching the right to host at least one game in next week’s NEC tournament. The Bulldogs can grab the two-seed with a win Saturday combined with a Robert Morris loss.
  • Jae’Sean Tate scored 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Ohio State’s 81-57 win over Nebraska.
  • Rider locked up the two-seed in the MAAC tournament with a 60-53 win at Monmouth. Kevin Baggett’s Broncs were picked to finish seventh in the preseason coaches poll.
  • Louisiana Tech moved into sole possession of first place in Conference USA with a 77-60 win over UTEP, with Raheem Appleby and Kenneth Smith scoring 17 points apiece to lead the way.
  • Murray State won its 23rd consecutive game, moving to 15-0 in the OVC with a 65-57 win over Eastern Illinois.
  • With Georgia State’s loss at UALR, there’s a two-way tie atop the Sun Belt between Georgia Southern and ULM. The Eagles moved to 13-4 with a win at Appalachian State, with the Warhawks matching that record with a win at South Alabama.
  • Saint Mary’s moved to 13-4 in WCC play with an 84-53 win at San Francisco. The Gaels are in a position where they can ill-afford a “bad loss” ahead of the WCC tournament.
  • Stanford finds itself in a similar spot, and Thursday night the Cardinal outscored Oregon State 47-18 in the second half to turn a two-point halftime deficit into a 75-48 win.
  • UC Davis’ lead in the Big West is down to a game, as they lost 74-60 at UCSB. Michael Bryson led the Gauchos with 20 points, and Alan Williams added 15 points, 16 rebounds, four assists and four blocks.
  • BYU came back from an eight-point halftime deficit to win 82-69 at Portland. Also of note in the win is the fact that Tyler Haws (21 points, 2,614 for his career) is now the program’s all-time leading scorer, passing Jimmer Fredette.

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

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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.