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Sexton leads No. 24 Alabama past Louisiana Tech 77-74

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Collin Sexton and Dazon Ingram were hard to stop on drives to the basket, and there was no defending their free throws.

Sexton made four foul shots over the final 8 seconds, and Ingram had two big ones also, to lift No. 24 Alabama to a come-from-behind 77-74 victory over Louisiana Tech on Wednesday night.

“We can make free throws and we know that,” Ingram said. “We work hard in practice on making them and if we don’t make them then Coach Avery (Johnson’s) going to make us run. We just had to really lock in when they were needed down the stretch.”

The Crimson Tide (6-1) overcame an 11-point deficit over the last 14 minutes and held off the previously unbeaten Bulldogs (5-1).

Louisiana Tech’s Jacobi Harris missed a 3-pointer from the right wing and Jalen Harris grabbed the rebound and hit a layup with 2 seconds left to make it a 1-point game. Riley Norris heaved the inbounds pass across midcourt to Sexton, who made two free throws with just over 1 second left.

Ingram and Sexton, the Southeastern Conference’s leading scorer, led Alabama with 22 points each. Ingram made two foul shots with 27 seconds remaining and Alabama hit its last 13 free throws.

Johnson praised Ingram especially and also Sexton “for the way they dominated getting to the basket and making shots for us and making good decisions.” They were especially successful in the final minutes at the line.

“(Ingram) wasn’t perfect but boy he sure made them when we needed it,” Johnson said.

After Ingram’s makes, Louisiana Tech’s Joniah White grabbed an offensive rebound and drew the foul on the other end, making both foul shots with 9 seconds to play.

Louisiana Tech’s Derric Jean, who had hit the game-winning 3-pointer against Evansville, fired a Hail Mary pass on the final sequence. Harris just got off a potential tying 3-pointer that bounced off the rim.

“It’s a play that we practice,” Bulldogs coach Eric Konkol said. “We didn’t have a timeout and said if he makes the second free throw this is what we need to do. We really tried to get a tip out to one of our shooters at the arc. I thought it was down. It was close. I’m not sure if his toes were on the line or not. I know he was right there. They executed exactly the way we practice.”

Donta Hall had 15 points and seven rebounds for the Tide.

Daquan Bracey scored 21 points to lead Louisiana Tech. Jacobi Boykins had 14 points and Harris and Jy’lan Washington 12 apiece.

Alabama scored the final eight points of the first half, cutting a 10-point deficit to 38-37. The Bulldogs came out of the locker room hot after that with a 10-0 run.

Alabama was coming off an 89-84 loss to No. 12 Minnesota after going the final 10-plus minutes with three players due to injury and ejections of the entire bench. Sexton set an Alabama freshman record with 40 points in that game.

BIG PICTURE

Louisiana Tech: Led most of the way in a bid for its first regular-season win over a ranked team since 1984. First true road game of the season. It was the program’s first game against a ranked opponent since 2011.

Alabama: Is 6-1 for the first time since 2012-13.. Alabama didn’t lead from the opening 2 minutes until the final 6. Herbert Jones fouled out. Sexton was 6-of-19 shooting.

FOUL SHOTS: Alabama made 16 of 18 free throws in the second half (88.9 percent). Sexton finished 9 of 11 from the line and Ingram was 13 of 17.

“They’re tough, tough drivers,” Konkol said. “We shut them down at times, but we defended and fouled them at times as well. They were able to shoot a whole lot of free throws and that hurt, especially Ingram.”

MISSING 3s: Louisiana Tech made just 4 of 23 3-point attempts and missed all 11 attempts after halftime. Boykins was 2 of 11 from beyond the arc.

UP NEXT

Louisiana Tech hosts Division II Miles College on Saturday night.

Alabama continues a three-game home stand against UCF on Sunday.

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