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No. 4 Oregon overpowers Valparaiso 76-54

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) An embarrassing road loss to Baylor may prove to be a valuable lesson for Oregon.

If the fourth-ranked Ducks want to meet their own lofty expectations, they’ll have to earn it on the boards.

Two days after losing by 17 points to the unranked Bears, Chris Boucher had 25 points and nine rebounds to lead Oregon to its 27th consecutive home victory, 76-54 over Valparaiso on Thursday night.

Boucher was coming off a 12-point, two-rebound performance against Baylor.

“His activity allowed him to him to have the 25 points,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “He had no defensive rebounds the other night and we lost the rebounding battle by 11.

“Tonight we won it by 13, and that was the difference in the game.”

Jordan Bell added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks (2-1), who took control early in the second half with an 11-4 run fueled by Bell’s eight points to open a 52-38 lead. Bell scored 12 points in the second half as Oregon shot 15 of 27 from the field.

“That was our goal, just to go inside,” Bell said. “Against Baylor we went 3 for 21 at the 3-point line, so we just wanted to go inside.”

Alec Peters led the Crusaders (3-1) with 24 points to become the school’s second-leading career scorer. Tevonn Walker added 12 points.

Valparaiso shot just 23.3 percent in the second half as Peters was its only starter to make more than half of his attempts. The Crusaders finished 4 of 21 from 3-point range.

“I think it’s pretty evident that we are not shooting the ball very well,” Valparaiso coach Matt Lottich said, “and to beat a team like Oregon you’re going to have to hit shots from the outside.”

Backup freshman point guard Payton Pritchard had nine points and five assists for the Ducks, who led by as many as 25 points in the second half.

Oregon had a 40-27 rebounding edge and blocked six shots.

Altman said his team’s size and rebounding ability should be what sets the Ducks apart.

“If you’re not beating people on the boards, you’re not taking advantage of your athleticism,” he said. “Our goal should be a plus-eight or -nine on those boards for the season, and if we do that, it’ll be really positive for our team.”

The Ducks played again without preseason All-America Dillon Brooks, who continues to recover from offseason foot surgery. Altman was noncommittal about the junior forward’s availability for the Maui Jim Maui Invitational when Oregon opens play Monday against Georgetown.

“I don’t know if he’ll play in Maui,” Altman said, “and if he does, it won’t be very much.”

BIG PICTURE

Valparaiso: Coming off a 30-win season and deep run in the NIT, the Crusaders were held 28 points below their season average while shooting just 32.1 percent from the field against the Ducks.

Oregon: The Ducks likely will slip in Monday’s poll off their 66-49 loss at Baylor, but they may regain Brooks’ services while in Hawaii.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Despite Thursday night’s win, Oregon’s best-ever No. 4 ranking likely will take a hit after its 66-49 road loss to unranked Baylor on Tuesday.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

Boucher, who has scored in all 38 games he’s played at Oregon, had 18 points by halftime and missed his career high by one.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

Though not known for his ball-handling, the 6-foot-10 Boucher flashed some nifty moves when he picked off a cross-court pass, dodged a Crusader at mid-court, dipped inside another off the dribble and smoothly threw down a one-handed dunk in the first half to cap a 9-0 run.

UP NEXT

Valparaiso plays Alabama on Monday in Las Vegas at the four-team MGM Grand Main Event. The Crusaders will face either BYU or Saint Louis on Wednesday before heading home.

Oregon heads to Hawaii to play Georgetown on Monday in the first round of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Ducks will face either No. 9 Wisconsin or Tennessee on Tuesday.

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.

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.