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Landale scores 24 to help No. 19 Saint Mary’s hold off BYU

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MORAGA, Calif. (AP) Jock Landale had a pretty good time spending his night going against BYU’s 6-foot-10-inch sophomore Eric Mika in a battle of two of the West Coast Conference’s top big men.

The 6-11 center from Saint Mary’s enjoyed passing for six assists that led to 15 points for the Gaels even more.

Landale had 24 points and eight rebounds to help offset another big game from Mika and the 19th-ranked Gaels pulled away in the second half to beat the Cougars 81-68 on Thursday night.

Saint Mary’s top scorer coming into the game, Landale was the focal point of the Gaels’ offense while also trying to defend Mika, the second-leading scorer in the WCC. Mika finished with 28 points – one shy of his career-high set earlier this season – and 10 rebounds.

“It’s so much fun going against someone who’s that good,” Landale said. “He’s a great guy as well so there was a little banter back and forth. It is a lot of fun going against someone who’s hard to guard and knowing you’re hard to guard as well.”

Landale had more fun, and was equally effective, when he passed out to the perimeter whenever BYU tried collapsing in the paint with a double-team. His six assists doubled Landale’s previous career-high and were critical in getting the Gaels’ outside shooting going.

Calvin Hermanson scored 15 points, Emmett Naar added 15 on three 3-pointers and Joe Rahon had 10 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Saint Mary’s.

“Having people like that out on the 3-point line where we don’t always have to go to me, we can go to other people, it makes us so much harder to guard,” Landale said. “It’s great having a supporting cast like that.”

Naar said Landale’s passing helped open up the offense.

“It adds a lot more to our game going inside, then out,” Naar said. “It makes it easier for me, Joe and Cal as shooters because he can score, defenses have to focus in on him.”

The Gaels (13-1, 3-0) have won seven straight since suffering their lone loss of the season at home against UT Arlington on Dec. 8.

Landale got the better of Mika late, scoring twice on putbacks to go with a basket in the paint over the final 6 minutes before checking out of the game to a rousing ovation with 1:15 remaining.

It’s only Saint Mary’s third win in the past seven games against BYU.

“Landale, any time we helped, he found the open guy,” Cougars coach Dave Rose said. “He just played great as far as his decision-making. He really makes that team difficult to guard.”

The Cougars (11-5, 2-1) suffered their first loss in conference and their first defeat since Dec. 17 despite Mika’s big game. The sophomore shot 12 of 17 in 27 minutes.

Much of the first half centered around a battle between the big men. The duo spent most of the first half banging into one another in the paint while shouldering the scoring load for their respective teams early.

The difference was Saint Mary’s shooting from the perimeter. The Gaels went 6 of 13 from beyond the arc and shot 64.3 percent overall to take a 44-36 halftime lead.

BIG PICTURE

BYU: Mika has scored 20 or more points in eight games this season. … The Cougars got off to another slow start and the 36 points were their third-fewest in a first half this season. BYU also had just two offensive rebounds before the break.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels remain on course for a showdown with undefeated No. 5 Gonzaga on Jan. 14 in Spokane but coach Randy Bennett’s squad continues to do a good job focusing on the task at hand. Landale didn’t have the numbers that Mika did but proved he is one of the WCC’s elite centers. He also had plenty of scoring support, one of the staples of Bennett’s offense.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Gaels aren’t likely to make much movement based off this one game and it won’t matter at all if they can’t hold serve on the road in San Francisco over the weekend.

BITS AND PIECES

Rose was pleased with his team’s effort but noted that the Cougars’ lack of consistency was a pivotal factor in their four-game losing streak coming to an end. Mika, for instance, was held scoreless for the final 11 minutes while BYU managed only four baskets over the last 7. “There are pieces of this game that were good for us,” Rose said. “It just wasn’t for 40 minutes.”

UP NEXT

BYU: Hosts Pacific on Saturday.

Saint Mary’s: Takes a short ride across the Bay Bridge to play at San Francisco on Saturday night.

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

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.

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.