Nigel Williams-Goss scores career-high 36 for No. 5 Zags

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Nigel Williams-Goss spent Sunday and Monday in bed and only regained his strength from an awful stomach bug a couple of days ago.

Nobody would have ever known it the way he shot during a career scoring night.

Williams-Goss scored 36 points as No. 5 Gonzaga used its accurate shooting all over the court to beat San Francisco 95-80 on Thursday.

“He had the flu really, really bad, as bad probably as we’ve had that I can remember,” coach Mark Few said. “He even had to take Monday off because he was so dehydrated. He came to practice Tuesday-Wednesday and obviously he was phenomenal tonight. Phenomenal in a lot of ways. … Really super efficient.”

Williams-Goss shot 12 for 15 as Gonzaga shot 61 percent, made all nine of his free throws and also had 11 rebounds and six assists for the perennial West Coast Conference favorites in their eighth straight win against USF and fifth in a row on the Dons’ home court.

Jordan Mathews scored 16 points for the unbeaten Zags (15-0, 3-0), returning to the city where he grew up to face a program his father once coached.

Williams-Goss finally found the kind of shooting stroke he had been waiting for after falling off in the West Coast Conference opener against Pepperdine, then he struggled through at Pacific on Saturday after throwing up all day.

“The last game being sick, for myself I wanted to kind of pick it up a little bit,” Williams-Goss said, “and just come out with a full focus and energy.”

Jordan Ratinho scored 20 points as an inexperienced USF team (11-5, 1-2) hung tough against the more athletic, physical Zags.

A sold-out crowd of 3,814 at Memorial Gym turned out for what is always an anticipated visit by Gonzaga whenever the Bulldogs travel.

Golden State Warriors general manager Bob Myers sat courtside with one of his daughters alongside San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee a few seats away from Bill Cartwright, back working at his alma mater.

First-year coach Kyle Smith, back in the WCC by way of a successful six-year stint at Columbia, has brought a basketball energy back to the Hilltop and its storied hoops tradition dating to the days of Bill Russell and K.C. Jones playing for Pete Newell.

“You feel it every day, every day when you’re a part of this program trying to live up to that legacy,” Smith said.

USF had pulled within 55-45 on Ronnie Boyce’s steal and layup and quickly forced another. But Smith was hit with a technical foul with 14:25 left to play for arguing a travel call on Ratinho after he made a steal. Williams-Goss converted both free throws.

“He didn’t feel us at all,” Smith said of trying to defend Williams-Goss. “He was really comfortable out there. We didn’t take anything away from him.”

Mathews, a transfer from nearby California in Berkeley, made three 3-pointers. His father Phil was the Dons’ head coach for nine seasons from 1995-2004. In 1997-98, he coached USF to its first NCAA Tournament berth in 16 seasons and the program hasn’t been back since.

Mathews’ layin at the 14-minute mark of the first half capped a 6-0 run, and the Bulldogs took off from there.

San Francisco shot just 24.1 percent (7 for 29) from 3-point range and couldn’t withstand a 26-8 Gonzaga run in the first half during which it shot 62.1 percent.

Przemek Karnowski, a 7-foot-1, 300-pound load in the middle, and Zach Collins made things tough for the Dons to defend in the paint.

“They don’t change a whole lot,” Smith said of the powerful Zags. “The names change.”

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: Josh Perkins had his streak snapped after hitting a 3 in 15 straight games but he had six assists. … Ryan Edwards returned for the Zags after he was sick the past two games. … The Zags are 33-4 against USF under Few.

San Francisco: USF was outrebounded 39-23. … The Dons dropped to 6-2 at home. … After allowing Santa Clara to go 13 for 26 from 3-point range in a 72-58 loss Saturday, Gonzaga was 6 of 20 from deep.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: At Portland on Saturday.

San Francisco: Hosts Saint Mary’s on Saturday, when Smith will face close friend and 16th-year Gaels coach Randy Bennett. Smith coached under Bennett in Moraga before a six-year stint at Columbia.

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

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.