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No. 1 Villanova beats Temple 78-57 for 17th straight victory

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (AP) Josh Hart shined again as a player of the year candidate in front of a slew of NBA stars that had to know he will join them next season.

“Josh Hart everyone!” teammate Kris Jenkins yelled as the Wildcats entered the media center.

Hart raised his arms in triumph.

“The guy who made the shot right behind me,” Hart said.

Jenkins’ national title game-winner earned Villanova a trip to the White House. Once a player meets the president, Joel Embiid, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan watching courtside fail to awe as much as some All-Stars.

“If President Obama’s here, I wouldn’t mind too much,” Hart said.

Hart shook off a slow start to score 26 points and lead No. 1 Villanova to its 17th straight win, 78-57 over Temple on Tuesday night.

Unlike Obama, the Wildcats could be back in the White House next season.

Already the top team in the country, the Wildcats (11-0) again staked their claim as the best in Philadelphia. The Wildcats romped to their 18th straight Big 5 victory, and finished 4-0 this season against the Owls, Saint Joseph’s, Penn and La Salle. The Wildcats fattened their season record against Philly teams and haven’t lost any game since they fell to Seton Hall in the Big East championship game.

National championship game star Daniel Ochefu, now with the Washington Wizards, rallied the crowd before tipoff and Lowry was honored with a framed Team USA jersey in his return to campus.

The crowd loved cheering Villanova’s former stars.

They’re simply infatuated with Hart.

Hart bypassed a shot at the NBA and returned for his senior season to improve his draft stock and help the Wildcats become the first repeat champions since Florida in 2006-07.

He missed his first five shots after missing four total shots in a 37-point effort last week against Notre Dame. He hit a runner at the first-half buzzer to spark a sensational second half: Hart made consecutive 3s that made it 49-31 and blew the game open.

Hart was about as well-rounded offensively as any AP College Basketball Player of the Year candidate this season. He attacked the rim and converted three-point plays and absolutely dominated when needed against a Temple program with a recent history of knocking off nationally ranked Wildcat teams.

He scored a whopping 22 points over a 9-minute stretch that sent the crowd into a frenzy.

“The beauty is, he didn’t know that, I didn’t know that,” coach Jay Wright said of that scoring spurt.

Yeah, but the Owls sure did.

The Owls (7-4) played little like a team that knocked off two straight Top 25 teams to win the NIT Season Tip-Off and were the latest team knocked silly by the Wildcats. They had 12 turnovers on 31 possessions in the first half and had six turnovers and were held without a point during one 10-possession stretch.

Temple coach Fran Dunphy was a co-captain at La Salle and helped the Explorers to a 23-1 record in 1969 under coach Tom Gola. He coached the Owls and Penn to multiple NCAA Tournaments. He saw Jameer Nelson and Delonte West lead Saint Joseph’s to a near-perfect season.

Dunphy has never seen a city program rolling like the Wildcats.

“It’s hard to argue that they’re not the best grouping of guys that have had the best four-year career,” he said. “Besides their name, they have national champion. That’s pretty impressive.”

BIG PICTURE

Temple: The Owls had already defeated two Top 25 teams this season and received votes in the poll. But Temple stumbled at home against George Washington and the loss to the Wildcats has stalled their momentum. The Owls had their lowest point total in the first half this season. Shizz Alston Jr. led the Owls with 12 points and Daniel Dingle had 11.

“They did a great job defensively but I felt like we had a great opportunity to make shots we didn’t make,” Dingle said.

Villanova: The Wildcats won their 18th straight Big 5 game. They are 4-0 each of the last four seasons in the Big 5. Hart, Jenkins and Darryl Reynolds are the first senior class in the 60-year history of the Big 5 to go unbeaten.

“We’ve been part of some great teams with some great players,” Jenkins said.

SHARE THE LOVE

Sure, Hart was the focus again for Villanova. But Jalen Brunson scored 13 points and Jenkins and Eric Paschall each scored 12. Brunson added six assists as he has quietly emerged as the stout point guard the Wildcats envisioned.

POLL IMPLICATION

Villanova will remain No. 1 in the AP Top 25.

UP NEXT

Temple hosts NJIT on Saturday.

The top-ranked Wildcats play their final nonconference game before Big East play on Dec. 21 against American.

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

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.

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.