(Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

No. 2 Villanova beats Penn 82-57 in latest city series romp

Leave a comment

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Kris Jenkins already made the biggest basket in Villanova history, so he can be excused a bit that he was unaware he was so close to a career points milestone.

Assigned to shoot free throws after Penn was whistled for a technical foul, Jenkins stood alone at the line and sank the first one for career point 999. He calmly made the second attempt and hit No. 1,000.

Jenkins was mobbed by teammates and buried in confetti when his 3-pointer at the buzzer beat North Carolina for the national championship. For his little slice of Villanova history, Jenkins simply hustled back on defense.

“It doesn’t mean much,” he said.

Coach Jay Wright was surprised as well after the game and gave Jenkins a hearty congratulatory slap on the back at the press conference table.

With little fanfare or championship parades, the magic numbers keep piling up at Villanova.

Jenkins hit six 3s and scored 22 points and No. 2 Villanova again flexed its Philly muscle at the famed Palestra and dominated Penn 82-57 on Tuesday night.

Already the national champs, the Wildcats (7-0) proved its still the best in the Big 5. Villanova, Penn, La Salle, Saint Joseph’s and Temple have had its rivalry games intertwined in the fabric of Philadelphia sports for 61 years.

No team has made the series their own like the Wildcats. They beat the Quakers (2-3) for the 14th straight time and settled in for another round-robin romp with its record 15th straight Big 5 victory.

Wright downplayed the significance of the record.

“If we’re thinking about it, it’s not going to help us get better,” he said.

Get better? The Wildcats played about as well as they could against an underwhelmed Ivy League team, making 12 of 26 3s overall. They shot 60 percent from the floor in the first half and quickly squashed any thought Penn would become this week’s version of Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne.

“I don’t mean to slight their talent, but there’s a lot more talented teams in the country; not a ton, but there’s a good share, more length, more size, more speed, depth, skill,” Penn coach Steve Donahue said. “But there’s no team that plays together, and that hard, in every aspect of the game.”

The Quakers won the opening tip, the students that packed the Palestra roared, they missed their first shot – and Jenkins buried a 3 on the other end. Donte DiVincenzo hit a 3, so did Mikal Bridges and Josh Hart added one and the Wildcats led 40-22.

Jenkins hit three of Villanova’s seven 3-pointers in the first half to put this one away in a hurry. Hart, who had 12 points and nine assists, had his right hand wrapped in ice after the game. He may have jammed his thumb.

DiVincenzo scored 13 points and Darryl Reynolds had 12 points and eight boards.

Jackson Donahue led Penn with 12 points.

BIG PICTURE:

Penn: The Quakers never quit in front of a student section wearing red “Beat Nova” T-shirts. The Quakers could be contenders to make the first Ivy League tournament in Donahue’s second season.

Donahue didn’t think Villanova’s city dominance crippled overall enthusiasm for the Big 5.

“I think it motivates and inspires the other four programs,” he said. “If we won tonight, I don’t know we’d be saying that. All these games, I think it’s incredible. I’m proud to be part of the Big 5 and have a national champion in our (city). I think it elevates all of us.”

Villanova: The Wildcats won their eighth straight game over Penn at the Palestra. The Wildcats are the first reigning NCAA champions to play at the famed basketball gym on the Penn campus since, well, Villanova on Jan. 27, 1986. The Wildcats play two more games against Philly teams before a Dec. 10 game against Notre Dame that could prove their next toughest test.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Villanova should stay at No. 2 in the Top 25.

NO HART

Wright has never been shy about sitting starters for the slightest rules infractions. He benched Hart, the preseason Big East player of the year, for the start of his one because he was tardy to a workout session. DiVincenzo started for Hart.

UP NEXT

Penn: The Quakers face another tough city rival Saturday at Temple.

Villanova: The Wildcats try and keep their Big 5 winning streak rolling Saturday at Saint Joseph’s.

More AP college basketball at http://collegebasketball.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top25

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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
1 Comment

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
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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.