LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 12 Creighton outlasts Ole Miss

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 12 Creighton 86, Ole Miss 77

After putting 100 points on Washington State, and more impressively, against N.C. State, the Bluejays jumped 10 spots in the rankings as they took on Ole Miss in the U.S. Virgin Island Paradise Jam championship game. However, No. 12 Creighton found itself down by double digits in the first half thanks to the sharp shooting of Deandre Burnett and Rasheed Brooks coupled with the Rebels ability to control the pace. Marcus Foster kept Creighton within striking distance, at 46-40, with 17 first half points.

The Jays caught fire in the second half, dropping 46 points after halftime. Defensively, they stood strong, holding the Rebels had only one field goal over the final five-plus minutes.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

Georgetown 65, No. 13 Oregon 61: Georgetown nearly surrendered a 17-point halftime lead, as the Ducks to a brief 43-42 edge in the second half. However, the Hoyas countered with a run of their own and were able to hold on to a signature win after a week in which they suffered a late-game collapse against Maryland followed by a wire-to-wire loss to Arkansas State. Oregon saw its All-American candidate, Dillon Brooks, make his season debut after offseason foot surgery. He was limited to only 13 minutes, but showed flashes of what we can expect from him.

Winthrop 84, Illinois 80 (OT): This could be a pivotal year for John Groce, in his fourth season in Champaign. After a 4-0 start, the Fighting Illini dropped an overtime loss to Big South favorite Winthrop. Keon Johnson erupted for 38 points in the victory.

Oklahoma State 97, UConn 90: A preseason top-20 team, UConn falls to 1-3 with losses to Wagner and Northeastern, and now finds itself on the wrong side of the Maui Invitational bracket. The Huskies fell behind by double figures early before a late-game comeback attempt came up short.

Northwestern 77, No. 22 Texas 58: The Wildcats will meet Notre Dame in the Legends Classic final as they rolled past the Longhorns. Shaka Smart has talent on the perimeter, but does he have a point guard? Texas ended with double the turnovers as it had assists.

STARRED

  • Rodney Pryor, Georgetown: The Robert Morris graduate transfer helped spark a 16-4 run to close out the half, giving the Hoyas a 17-point lead. Georgetown nearly blew the large lead in the second half, but behind Pryor’s 26 points and 10 rebounds, the Hoyas landed a signature win over No. 13 Oregon after back weekend back in D.C. Georgetown gets to play No. 16 Wisconsin in the Maui Invitational semifinals on Tuesday.
  • Keon Johnson, Winthrop: The frontrunner to be Big South Player of the Year, dropped 38 points, off 15-of-21 shooting, in a road win over Illinois on Monday night. Johnson also added six boards and three assists.
  • Bonzie Colson, Notre Dame: The undersized junior forward registered his first double-double of the season, posting 23 points and grabbing 13 rebounds in an 89-83 win over Colorado in the Legends Classic. Several of Colson’s boards kept secure the win, as the Buffaloes attempted to pull off a double-digit comeback late in regulation.
  • Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State: One of the criminally-unknown players in college basketball dropped 35 points on the Huskies. Sure, it took him 24 shots to do so, but he also had six assists and committed only a single turnover.

TOP 25

  • No. 4 North Carolina cruised past Chaminade, 104-61, in the Maui opener.
  • The perimeter of Frank Mason, Devonte Graham and Josh Jackson combined for 48 points in an No. 5 Kansas’ 83-63 win over a good UAB team in CBE Hall of Fame Classic.
  • Northern Colorado put No. 8 Arizona on upset alert with a 31-30 halftime lead. But behind Lauri Markkanen’s 17 points and 13 rebounds — the first double-double of his collegiate career — the Wildcats held on for a 71-55 win. How long before the absence of Allonzo Trier catches up with ‘Zona?
  • Ole Miss not only jumped out to an 11-point lead, but the Rebels controlled the pace. Despite that, No. 12 Creighton still dropped 86 points to capture the Paradise Jam title. Marcus Foster, who dropped 25 points took home MVP honors.
  • No. 13 Oregon got Dillon Brooks back, but took its second loss of the non-conference schedule, as Georgetown, which needed to stop the bleeding, held on for a 65-61 win in the Maui Invitational quarterfinals.
  • No. 16 Wisconsin got a scare from Tennessee, but Nigel Hayes, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds, hit some timely threes to halt the upset bid.

NOTABLES

  • Dennis Smith Jr. had a season-high 24 points, as N.C. State gets back in the win column in a consolation win over Saint Joseph’s
  • The first three games of the Gulf Coast Showcase were decided by a total of six points
    • Vermont 60, Wofford 59
    • Hofstra 92, Bradley 90
    • South Dakota 80, Kent State 77
  • In the final Gulf Coast Showcase wasn’t as close, as Rob Gray Jr. scored 23 points in a 93-56 win over George Mason
  • Blue Mountain College, an NAIA team, defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff in triple overtime, 77-74
  • Aaron Menzies posted 35 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in Seattle’s win over Louisiana Monroe in a Legends Classic regional game
  • J.J. Frazier’s 18 points paced Georgia in a win over George Washington in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic
  • Zach Denny’s three in the final minute gave Bowling Green its first win of the season, as the Falcons topped Murray State 78-77
  • Nana Foulland, one of the best mid-major players no one talks about, recorded 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as Bucknell defeated Vanderbilt on the road
  • Rodney Bullock had
  • Bogdan Bliznyuk had a 32-point game for Eastern Washington in a victory over Bryant
  • Central Michigan topped Pepperdine, 88-77, behind 36 points and seven assists from Marcus Keene
  • Eric Mika had his third double-double in four games, leading BYU over Saint Louis, 92-62, in the MGM Grand Main Event.
  • Underclassmen forward Nate Fowler and Joey Brunk combined for 27 points off the bench for Butler

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.