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Texas Tech lands critical upset of No. 4 Baylor

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Keenan Evans scored 21 points and Niem Stevenson added 19 points, six boards and five assists as Texas Tech vaulted themselves back into the NCAA tournament picture with a 84-78 win over No. 4 Baylor in Lubbock on Monday night.

Terr Maston led the Bears with 22 points and Manu Lecomte chipped in with 16 points. Jonathan Motley played one of his worst games of the season, going scoreless in the first half and finishing with just 11 points to go along with four turnovers.

Here are three things to take away from this game:

1. We got a little glimpse of Baylor’s back court depth issues: Baylor went on the road to a tough opponent and lost. That’s not the end of the worth, particularly when you consider that Motley didn’t play well and Lecomte, who is supposed to be this team’s leader and star point guard, fouled out with more than eight minutes left after picking up a technical foul arguing an illegal screen.

(That, frankly, is unacceptable for a redshirt junior.)

The Red Raiders beat West Virginia in that gym. They lost to Kansas by one point after Kansas got the benefit of a no-call on what looked like a moving screen on the game’s final possession. Their RPI is in the mid-90s, but their KenPom ranking is in the low-40s, which should tell you that the Red Raiders have been on the wrong end of some tough losses.

So, again, losing at Texas Tech hardly tells us that Baylor cannot win a national title.

What it does show us, however, is that when Lecomte isn’t out there, Baylor’s back court really isn’t all that scary. Granted, they were without Al Freeman on Monday, but Freeman isn’t exactly Dennis Smith Jr. There probably won’t be many games where Lecomte is fouling out with eight minutes left, but it is something to keep an eye on.

2. Let’s talk about that Texas Tech at-large bid: The Red Raiders just landed a win over the No. 1 team in the RPI. That will, unquestionably, help them climb in the RPI; there has never been an at-large bid for a team with an RPI anywhere near 90.

The key, however, is going to be what they do over the course of the next ten days. During that stretch. the Red Raiders play at West Virginia, Iowa State at home and at Oklahoma State. As it currently stands, Texas Tech has four top 50 wins, but all of them came at home and they have just five total top 100 wins thanks to a non-conference SOS that ranks 336th. Throw in losses to Texas and Oklahoma, which weigh down a résumé, and Chris Beard’s club still has a lot of work to do to get themselves in a position where an at-large bid is a realistic possibility.

Because as of today, it’s not.

3. What does this mean for the Big 12 title race?: At the time of this posting, Kansas and West Virginia are still playing. But at it currently stands, this loss drops the Bears two games off of the pace Kansas is currently setting. Even if the Mountaineers manage to pull off a win in Phog Allen, it would mean that the Bears whiffed on another opportunity to pull even with Kansas in the standings. Remember, Baylor hosts Kansas on Saturday. That game could have been a battle for sole possession of first place in the Big 12.

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.