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Baylor cruises past Jackson St 82-57 in return to Fort Hood

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FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) Al Freeman appreciated a second chance to play in front of the soldiers and their families at Fort Hood.

The Baylor guard showed it with his best game of the season.

Freeman scored a season-high 19 points and made a career-best five 3-pointers and the fourth-ranked Bears returned to the sprawling Army post about an hour’s drive south of their Waco campus with an 82-57 victory over Jackson State on Saturday night.

A year ago, Freeman scored 12 points in a 104-59 rout of Division III Hardin-Simmons. This time he was 5 of 8 from long range in the first game featuring a pair of Division I teams at Fort Hood, one of the nation’s largest Army posts covering about 340 square miles and housing more than 40,000 soldiers.

“I know that this is the first time some of the soldiers have seen their families in 18 months, 24 months, however long they had their tours,” Freeman said. “It’s a really cool experience to be the center focus of why they come back and the center focus of them, like, seeing their family again, to be the entertainment for them and their family for the night.”

The setup was similar to a year ago, with a slightly larger and near-capacity crowd at 2,400-seat Abrams Gym, which has a large American flag on the wall behind the benches opposite the only permanent set of stands.

And just like a year ago, Baylor players signed autographs after the game at one end of what looks like a high school gym except for the larger space behind each basket. The Bears enjoyed last year’s “thank you” and wanted to do it again .

“I think everyone feels the same way, especially around the holidays when we get to go home to family and friends and so many of them don’t get to see loved ones because they’re out protecting our freedom,” coach Scott Drew said.

Baylor’s Jo Lual-Acuil had a season-high 17 points with six rebounds and five blocks – slightly better than his 4.3-block average that ranks second nationally. The Bears are 10-0 for the first time since starting 17-0 in 2011-12.

Edric Dennis scored 21 points for Jackson State (3-8), which stayed close until a 24-6 Baylor run that started late in the first half and ended with the Bears up 58-38 with about 12 minutes remaining.

Jackson State’s Sherron Wilson was ejected for flagrant foul that sent Johnathan Motley sprawling to the floor midway through second half, not long after Derek Roscoe was given a technical for saying something to Terry Maston after blocking Maston’s shot.

Wilson’s foul was the third technical in about 5 minutes for the Tigers.

“This is the most frustrating part of our season because we’ve have three season-ending injuries to three starters,” Jackson State coach Wayne Brent said. “So right we’re just trying to scratch and claw. Even with our other guys, we’re still short-handed because they’ve got such good talent.”

PUTTING ON A CLINIC

For the second straight year, Drew and his staff conducted a clinic for the kids of soldiers about a week before the game. “I love the clinic, coming down here and helping kids because dads that can’t be here to work them out because they’re deployed,” Drew said. “To know that their 6-year-old, 8-year-old, had a good chance to run around with the ball and get out of mom’s hair for an hour is probably a good thing.”

SPECIAL MOMENT

Jackson State guard Paris Collins briefly lived at Fort Hood while his dad spent time there. He dad was in the Air Force for 22 years. “It was a dream playing for my dad tonight,” said Collins, the other double-figure scorer for the Tigers with 16 points. “He’s done so much for me. I had `Pop’ coming to watch me, you know what I’m saying. It was a blessing for him to be here.”

BIG PICTURE

Jackson State: The three Brent referred to that are out for the year are guard Chace Franklin (shoulder), Treshawn Bolden (broken foot) and Charles Taylor (knee). The Tigers had to feel a boost by the way they played without three starters in the first half.

Baylor: The Bears were a little flat after taking a big early lead against another SWAC opponent in Southern earlier in the week. But Baylor looked like a team with three wins over Top 10 teams in a 10-minute stretch that started late in the first half.

UP NEXT

Jackson State: Tigers visit Duquesne on Monday, take an 11-day break before playing Fisk at home Dec. 30 and open SWAC play at Alabama State on Jan. 2.

Baylor: Bears have rare case of playing on consecutive days in different facilities, with a game at home Sunday against John Brown. There’s just one nonconference game left after that Wednesday at home against Texas Southern before the Big 12 opener Dec. 30 at Oklahoma.

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

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.