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Williams-Goss leads No. 1 Gonzaga over San Francisco 96-61

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) Undefeated Gonzaga struggled in the first half against San Francisco, and looked nothing like the nation’s top-ranked basketball team.

But Nigel Williams-Goss helped the Zags dominate the second half and coast to a 96-61 victory Thursday night.

Williams-Goss scored 30 points as Gonzaga extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 27 games.

“We’re not going to beat every single team by 20 points in the first half,” said Przemek Karnowski, who added 23 points and seven rebounds for Gonzaga (27-0, 15-0 West Coast). “We’ve got to play our defense like we’re supposed to.”

Gonzaga, which is seeking to become the first team since Kentucky in 2015 to go undefeated in the regular season, let San Francisco shoot 50 percent and take the lead midway through the first half.

But they held the Dons to 23.5 percent shooting in the second half, and outscored them 54-26 for the win.

“I like how we adjusted,” Karnowski said. “We altered a lot of shots.”

Chase Foster had 15 points and Matt McCarthy added 11 for San Francisco (18-10, 8-7). The Dons have dropped 11 straight to Gonzaga and 28 in a row in Spokane dating to 1989.

Williams-Goss, a junior guard, added six rebounds and seven assists as he torched the Dons for at least 30 points for the second time this season. He was 10 of 14 from the field.

“He’s a really, really focused individual,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of Williams-Goss. “He doesn’t leave anything to chance.”

San Francisco coach Kyle Smith liked his team’s effort in the first 16 minutes.

“We competed well,” Smith said. “We gave ourselves a chance.

“We had a couple quick possessions, a couple of bad shots that led to a quick transition for them,” Smith said. “You can’t let your guard down at all.”

San Francisco shot well to lead for a good portion of the first half, until a late surge gave Gonzaga a 42-35 lead at halftime.

Williams-Goss scored 11 points as Gonzaga put together a 15-2 run that bracketed halftime to build a 52-37 lead early in the second.

Williams-Goss continued to score virtually at will, adding eight more points as Gonzaga built a 62-43 lead.

The Dons made only five of their first 20 shots in the second half.

“We guarded the ball better,” Few said. “We guarded the rim. We quit giving up 3s.”

Gonzaga, which has trailed only 6 percent of the time in games this season, fell behind 16-11 midway through the first half. The Zags clawed back and tied the game at 22-22 on Zach Collins’ basket. Williams-Goss followed with a 3-pointer to put Gonzaga ahead for good.

BIG PICTURE

San Francisco: The Dons gave Gonzaga one of its toughest league tests, losing 95-80 earlier this season. It was the most points scored this season against the Zags. The Dons are off to their best start since the 1999-2000 season.

Gonzaga: The Zags limit opponents to 37 percent shooting, second in the nation. Gonzaga has won at least 25 games in 13 of the past 14 seasons. Their 20 straight conference wins dating to last year are the longest streak in the nation.

KEY STATS

Gonzaga made 19 of 35 shots in the decisive second half, while holding the Dons to 8-of-34 shooting in the half. Gonzaga won the rebound battle 44-32 and converted 15 San Francisco turnovers into 30 points.

INJURIES

Gonzaga post Killian Tillie missed the game with a broken finger, and guard Bryan Alberts sat out with an ankle injury

UP NEXT

San Francisco plays at Portland on Saturday.

Gonzaga hosts Pacific on Saturday, and then will have two remaining regular season games left against San Diego and BYU as they seek an undefeated season.

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

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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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.