Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Blossomgame’s 15 helps Clemson to 62-60 win over S. Carolina

Leave a comment

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) A victory outside the ACC that will catch the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee’s attention is rare for Clemson. To get it over the Tigers’ bitter in-state rival is even better.

Jaron Blossomgame had 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead Clemson to a 62-60 victory over No. 22 South Carolina in a game Wednesday night where neither team led by more than four points.

The Tigers (9-2) jumped around and pointed after the final buzzer of their seventh straight win. One of them shouted “This is our city!” as Clemson beat a ranked non-conference team on the road for the first time in the program’s history.

And for a Clemson team that has missed the NCAA Tournament for five of coach Brad Brownell’s six seasons – often because of a poor resume outside of Atlantic Coast Conference play – it’s a win that could mean a lot in March.

“That doesn’t build anything but toughness. Mental toughness. For us to come in fight the refs, fight the crowd – our backs against the wall and get the win is just amazing,” said Marcquise Reed who scored 14 points and hit two free throws with 52.5 seconds left that put Clemson ahead for good, 59-58.

PJ Dozier had a career-high 26 points for the Gamecocks (9-2), but missed a possible game-winning 3-point attempt just before the buzzer. The sophomore has scored 20 points or more in his past five games and set a career best for the second straight time.

But South Carolina didn’t get him involved at critical times. Down 59-58 in the final minute, the Gamecocks missed two 3-point attempts on one possession and Dozier never touched the ball.

“He’s trying to win the game,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. “He did everything he could to help us tonight.”

Clemson shot 41.2 percent (21 of 51) against a South Carolina defense that came in ranked third in the country allowing teams to make just 34.6 percent of their shots.

BIG PICTURE

Clemson: Clemson is 3-0 against Southeastern Conference teams after beating Georgia and Alabama. … Elijah Thomas had 12 points and seven rebounds in his second game with Clemson. His contribution was critical as starting center Sidy Djitte had no points and three rebounds, fouling out in 14 minutes.

South Carolina: Chris Silva added 14 points. … Silva and Dozier shot a combined 52 percent (14 of 27). The rest of the Gamecocks shot a combined 23 percent (8 of 35). … All- SEC preseason first-teamer Sindarius Thornwell was suspended for a fourth straight game. … The Gamecocks forced 15 turnovers against a Clemson team that averaged 10.2 turnovers a game.

HOW BIG A WIN?

Reed said Clemson’s win is the kind of victory that builds confidence down the line and can pay dividends for years.

“We wanted to own this state. We beat Georgia, and now we beat them,” Reed said.

Brownell tempered his enthusiasm some, saying it is way too early to make postseason predictions.

“They are going to have a great year. They are going to win a bunch of games. To win a game like this on the road is extremely difficult,” Brownell said.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A second loss in three games could drop South Carolina out of the AP Top 25 after four weeks in the rankings. Expect Clemson to get more than the one vote in the poll it received this week after this win.

UP NEXT

Clemson wraps up its non-conference schedule at home against UNC-Wilmington on Dec. 28.

South Carolina hosts Division II Lander on Tuesday.

More AP college basketball: http://collegebasketball.ap.org

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.