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Bacon scores 17, leads No. 25 Florida State over Illinois

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NEW YORK (AP) Leonard Hamilton has a problem.

He has 10 players who can play.

It’s a complication that other coaches only wish they could have.

“That’s who we are,” Hamilton said following No. 25 Florida State’s 72-61 win over Illinois in the consolation game of the NIT Season Tip-Off on Friday.

The Seminoles (5-1), which bounced back from their first loss of the season Thursday in Brooklyn, had six players play at least 20 minutes and 10 players played 10 or more minutes. Trent Forrest’s 26 minutes led Florida State.

“It’s a little problematic for us right now as we try to play so many different combinations of guys,” Hamilton said.

Dwayne Bacon scored 17 points to lead Florida State. Jonathan Isaac had 15 points and seven rebounds. CJ Walker finished with 13 and Xavier Rathan-Mayes had 10.

“We sustained our effort, our focus, better than we did yesterday,” Hamilton said. “We got great play from our bench. The guys gave us tremendous energy. They gave Bacon and Isaac an opportunity (for) a breather here and there. Everybody who came into the game contributed.

“The residual effect of that was (we) were always fresh; (I) was always able to keep a fresh group in there,” he said.

Despite getting a game-high 18 points from Malcolm Hill, Illinois (4-3) lost its third straight. Leron Black chipped in with 15 points, and Te’Jon Lucas had 10.

“I liked our fight,” John Groce said. “The two bright spots as we move forward are Black and Lucas.”

The first meeting between the ACC and Big 10 programs was a taut affair for 30 minutes before Florida State seized control.

Tied 44-all with less than 10 minutes to play, the Seminoles outscored the Illini 7-0 in a 56 second span. The run was sparked by Forrest, who had two steals and drew a shooting foul.

“That was the key stretch that kind of broke it open,” Groce said.

Illinois had cut the deficit to 55-50, but as soon as it looked as if the Illini were about to make a game of it, the Seminoles went on an 11-1 run to extend their lead to 66-51.

“Against a team of that quality in this type of environment if you don’t get stops but two out of 13 times during that stretch when it went from 44-44 to when they got the lead, it’s tough to win,” Groce said.

BIG PICTURE

Illinois: The Illini came into the tournament having won four of five. The Illini leave Brooklyn having been swept by nationally ranked West Virginia and Florida State. While Illinois was more competitive against Florida State than it was against West Virginia, the Illini were outclassed in the final 10 minutes of the consolation game.

Florida State: The Seminoles had not played a game in which they scored fewer than 86 points this season until this win.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida State: Despite the win over Illinois, Florida State may drop out of the Top 25 due to its loss to unranked Temple on Thursday.

NOTABLE

Illinois: Senior guard Tracy Abrams was examined by a trainer during a second half stoppage in play after being inadvertently elbowed in the mouth by Florida State center Michael Ojo, fighting for position in the low blocks.

Florida State: Finished the game with seven blocked shots and five steals.

QUOTABLE

“We try to be consistent. It’s somewhat challenging this time of year for us (with) five new players (we’re) trying to rotate (into the lineup). They’re getting a lot of minutes,” – Hamilton on the benefit of having a deep roster once conference play begins.

UP NEXT

Illinois: Will face the North Carolina State Wolfpack Tuesday in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in Champaign, Illinois.

Florida State: Will face the Minnesota Golden Gophers Monday in the ACC-Big 10 Challenge in Tallahassee, Florida.

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

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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.