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Fort Wayne’s 3-point barrage shoots down Indiana, 92-72

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Fort Wayne coach John Coffman simply told his players to be themselves Monday night at Indiana.

He wanted them to use their 3-point shooters to attack Indiana’s defense. He wanted them to stick to the defensive game plan.

And after 40 minutes of waiting, watching and worrying about another poor stretch derailing the Mastodons’ latest upset bid, Coffman finally got another chance to celebrate a monumental victory.

Kason Harrell scored a career-high 28 points, Bryson Scott added 26 and the Mastodons made 17 3-pointers to blow out the Hoosiers 92-72 on their home floor.

“Our No. 1 priority was to play with an attack mentality,” Coffman said before thinking back to last season’s upset over Indiana. “That was the No. 1 thing that put us in position last year. Then it had to be toughness. We talked a lot about rebounding — tip, tip, tip and then we’ve got a garbage collector with a Matt Weir or a Bryson Scott rebounding.”

The Mastodons (6-5) did just enough on the glass to make it work.

But they were so dominant everywhere else, they didn’t even need overtime to win this time.

It’s the fifth time an in-state team, other than Notre Dame or Purdue, has posted consecutive wins over the Hoosiers, and Fort Wayne did it by matching Indiana State’s record-breaking total for 3s made by a visiting team at Assembly Hall.

“Again I told the guys on the staff, I’m not sure you can make 17 3s in a game once in a decade let alone a season, twice at home,” coach Archie Miller said. “It’s comprehensible.”

But it happened, and when the Mastodons’ long-distance shooters warmed up in the second half, the game turned quickly.

After watching Indiana rally from a 33-27 first-half deficit to take a 40-36 lead early in the second half, Fort Wayne reverted to its customary form.

It made three 3s during a 17-5 run that gave them a 53-44 lead with 14:03 to go.

Then, with Indiana trailing 58-51, they made four more 3s in a 1:41 stretch to extend the lead to 70-53. One more 7-0 scoring flurry put the Hoosiers in a 21-point deficit that it couldn’t rebound from.

Robert Johnson had 17 points and Juwan Morgan finished with 14 for Indiana (6-6).

“They felt the pressure of our poise on offense because we played our process for 40 minutes,” Coffman said. “We got great shot after great shot after great shot. Seventeen 3s, that’s a good night for us but that’s not surprising. We’ve done that before. What was really good was that for 40 minutes we stuck with being us.”

BIG PICTURE

Fort Wayne: The Mastodons proved last year’s stunning upset was no fluke. This time, they made the three-hour trek to Bloomington and went home with an even more impressive victory. The win will help fortify Fort Wayne’s resume but it has to continue to win.

Indiana: It took less than 72 hours for the biggest win of Miller’s first season to wear off. The Hoosiers now have two embarrassing losses to in-state mid-major teams. The Hoosiers gave up 34 3s in those losses and have allowed 51 in the other 10.

KEY NUMBERS

Fort Wayne: John Konchar had 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. … The Mastodons wound up 17 of 30 on 3s and 14 of 30 on 2s. … They scored 29 points off 18 Indiana turnovers while committing just 12. … Fort Wayne also had 13 steals. … Scott is 5-0 all-time against the Hoosiers, including three wins he had at Purdue. His twin brother, Brenton, plays for Indiana State and was part of season-opening win in Bloomington.

Indiana: Couldn’t take advantage of its 46-31 rebounding edge or the 20-6 advantage on the offensive end. … Indiana was 4 of 24 on 3s. … The other losing streaks against in-state teams other than Notre Dame and Purdue: Three straight to Butler from 1947 to 1948; two to the Bulldogs in 1957 and 1958 and two to Indiana State in 1999 and 2000. Butler also won the first three games in the series from 1901-02.

THEY SAID IT

Fort Wayne: “In the huddle one time, I said it looked like they weren’t confident and we wanted to take advantage of that and we did,” Scott said.

Indiana: “I think handling success is always a lot harder than getting kicked in the face,” Miller said when asked about the quick turnaround from the Notre Dame win.

UP NEXT

Fort Wayne: Opens play Thursday against Liberty in the first of two games at a tournament in New Orleans.

Indiana: Hosts Tennessee Tech on Thursday in the second-to-last non-conference game on the schedule.

Christian Vital going back to UConn for junior season

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Dan Hurley is keeping his roster intact at the top.

Christian Vital, UConn’s second-leading scorer a season ago, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, he announced Monday via social media.

“Great Talk Today Coach! Appreciate The Wisdom You Have Let Me In On!” Vital wrote “I Think It’s Time To Get Back To Winning Ways In Storrs! I’m Going To Need That #1 Back ASAP! WE GOT (UNFINISHED) BUSINESS!”

The 6-foot-2 junior-to-be Vital joins Jalen Adams, who was the Huskies’ top-returning scorer, back in Storrs in Hurley’s first year. Vital averaged 14.9 points on 38.3 percent shooting. Adams previously announced he would return to school without declaring for the draft.

The return of UConn’s top two scorers underscores an even bigger trend under Hurley as the Huskies appear to have avoided any major defections from last year’s roster despite the coaching change.

UConn is coming off a 14-18 season that proved to be the last of coach Kevin Ollie’s six years with the Huskies that included a national championship but also back-to-back losing seasons.

Chris Silva returning to South Carolina for senior season

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South Carolina is getting an first-team all-SEC performer back.

Chris Silva, who led the Gamecocks in scoring and rebounding last season, is returning to school after declaring for the NBA draft without hiring an agent, the school announced Monday.

“I’m thankful for the experience of going through the draft process,” Silva said in a statement. “I want to thank all of the teams that gave me the opportunity to workout for their organization. I’m excited to announce that I’m returning to South Carolina for my senior season. I can’t wait to get back on the court with my brothers and continue to work on my game.”

The 6-foot-9 Silva, who did not get an NBA draft combine invite, averaged 14.3 points and 8 rebounds per game as a junior.  He shot 46.7 percent from the floor.

“Going through the evaluation process was an unbelievable experience for Chris and us,” South Carolina coach Frank Martin said in a statement. “He comes back to a place he loves with some knowledge on some of the things that we have to help him improve on in his efforts to one day fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.”

In addition to being South Carolina’s leading scorer, he was the SEC co-defensive player of the year last season after averaging 1.4 blocks per game. His return to Columbia gives the Gamecocks a potential contender for SEC player of the year in 2018-19.

Kansas fires athletic director Sheahon Zenger

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Kansas has fired athletic director Sheahon Zenger, effective immediately, citing a lack of progress in key areas within the athletic department.

“Sheahon has been a loyal Jayhawk, and our athletics department has improved in many areas under his leadership,” Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod wrote in an email to KU faculty and staff. “But athletics continues to face a number of challenges, and progress in key areas has been elusive. To achieve the level of success we need and expect, I have determined a change in leadership is necessary.”

Zenger had been in the role of AD since 2011.

The issue, of course, is not the play of the Kansas basketball program. The Jayhawks have won every Big 12 regular season title since 2004, and head coach Bill Self has taken the program to two Final Fours since Zenger was hired.

The football team is still a disaster, but one can’t help but wonder whether or not the real issue at hand here is Kansas’ getting tied into the FBI’s investigation into college basketball.

The Jayhawks were not mentioned in the initial indictments that were handed down, but Kansas was a central figure in the superseding indictments that were dropped after the national title game. The mother of Billy Preston, who did not play for the Jayhawks this season, was alleged to have been funneled $90,000 by Adidas, while Silvio De Sousa’s status is currently in question after the FBI alleged his guardian was paid at least $20,000 to help offset money that the family had already accepted from a rival shoe company.

All of that came in the aftermath of dealing with Cheick Diallo and Cliff Alexander, both of whom had their one season in Lawrence reduced due to off the court issues.

“Since becoming chancellor, I have spent countless hours with higher education peers and Jayhawks to hear their perspective on KU,” Girod wrote. “A common thread in these conversations is that, as a major public university with national aspirations, we must continue to strive for excellence in all areas — including athletics. As I have said many times, a successful athletics department is inextricably linked to our broader mission as a flagship research university.”

Louisville, ex-AD Tom Jurich reach $4.5M settlement

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The University of Louisville has reached a $4.5 million settlement with former athletic director Tom Jurich, who was fired in the wake of a national federal corruption investigation of college basketball.

Jurich disputed his Oct. 18 firing for cause after nearly 20 years as AD and had considered suing the school. The University of Louisville Athletic Association and Board of Trustees on Friday approved the settlement. Jurich’s employment ended “without cause” as a result of his resignation, also described in the settlement as “retirement.”

He’ll also receive another $2.6 million in accrued employment benefits, along with home game tickets and parking for Louisville football and basketball for 20 years.

An audit of the University of Louisville Foundation released last June showed that Jurich averaged annual compensation of more than $2.76 million from 2010-16, including more than $5.35 million in 2016.

Then-interim president Greg Postel had placed Jurich on paid administrative leave in September after the school’s acknowledgement of its involvement in the investigation. Trustees voted 10-3 to fire Jurich, two days after the ULAA unanimously fired Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino.

The former AD said in a joint statement that he “spent the better part of my career” working with dedicated athletes, coaches and staff to elevate Louisville. He added, “I am proud of what we accomplished, which is well documented.”

Jurich’s legal team had stressed that the ex-AD did nothing illegal and hadn’t violated NCAA rules.

Trustee chairman J. David Grissom said in the statement that “Everyone is pleased that this matter has been successfully resolved. All parties can move forward to begin the next chapter.”

Jurich played a major role in Louisville’s success on the field and how the school handled issues off it. He led the school’s 2014 entry into the Atlantic Coast Conference and oversaw numerous program and facility upgrades, including a $63 million expansion of the football stadium due for completion by fall.

He also hired several successful coaches including Pitino, who guided the Cardinals to the 2013 NCAA men’s basketball championship. Louisville ultimately vacated that title in February as part of NCAA penalties for a sex scandal after an escort’s book allegations that former basketball staffer Andre McGee hired her and other dancers to strip and have sex with players and recruits.

Pitino has filed a $38.7 million federal lawsuit against Louisville, alleging breach of contract.

Georgia Tech’s Okogie to sign with agent

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Georgia Tech guard Josh Okogie, one of the big winners from this past weekend’s NBA combine, announced on Monday that he will be signing with an agent and remaining in the NBA Draft.

The 6-foot-4 Okogie finished his sophomore season averaged 18.5 points and shooting 38.4 percent from three. The numbers he posted during the athletic testing at the combine, as well as his 7-foot wingspan, makes Okogie an ideal 3-and-D wing at the NBA level.

“Josh is a tremendous young man and an excellent student-athlete,” said head coach Josh Pastner. “He has set a tremendous example, making the Dean’s List this past semester, and deserves a lot of credit for making himself a much better player over the course of his two years here. We will miss him in our program in many respects, from his performance on the court to the energy he plays with and brought to our team. We fully support his decision to take this next step, and wish him all the best.”