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No. 20 Cincinnati beats Arkansas-Pine Bluff 77-49

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HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. (AP) — Coming off its best game, No. 20 Cincinnati wanted to keep the momentum going against an overmatched opponent. The Bearcats did it for a half.

Cane Broome matched his season high with 17 points Tuesday night as Cincinnati rolled to a 77-49 victory over winless Arkansas-Pine Bluff, extending the nation’s longest home-court winning streak. They were coming off a 77-63 win at UCLA, their best showing yet.

They’d hoped for more in their encore.

“Last night all I talked to our guys about is we can’t take two steps back,” associate head coach Larry Davis said. “We played really well against UCLA. We can’t now go out and because our opponent is somebody with less talent, we can’t turn the ball over, we can’t not rebound the ball. That’s the constant battle.”

The Bearcats had 15 turnovers and 14 offensive rebounds, fewer than they’d expected against a much smaller opponent. They got up by 34 points early in the second half and coasted.

“It’s hard to come out when you’re up 30 and try to get back in the groove,” Broome said. “We’ve got to get better at that.”

Even though they didn’t get many style points, the Bearcats (10-2) extended their streak. They have won 32 straight home games on two courts. They’re playing this season at BB&T Arena at Northern Kentucky University while their on-campus arena is renovated. They went 18-0 at Fifth Third Arena last season.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-13) took another lopsided loss as part of its brutal season-opening stretch. The Golden Lions have yet to play a home game. They’ve lost their last four games by 27, 26, 22 and 28 points, hoping the games prepare them for Southwestern Athletic Conference play.

“They put a lot of pressure on us, and it helped us get used to that,” coach George Ivory said. “We’re not going to see that kind of pressure in conference, that size and athletic ability, but it was good for us to play them and learn something from it.”

Cincinnati pulled ahead 26-2 as the Golden Lions missed seven of eight shots, committed nine fouls and had 11 turnovers. It was 43-16 at halftime, with Arkansas-Pine Bluff shooting 26 percent.

Jacob Evans III added 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds for Cincinnati, which dominated the boards 42-28. Travon Harper led the Golden Lions with 16 points.

FILLING IN

Davis took questions from the media in place of coach Mick Cronin, who has a bad cold.

BIG PICTURE

Arkansas-Pine Bluff: It was the 13th of 17 straight games away from home for the Golden Lions, who are 0-6 in true road games and 0-7 on neutral courts — they played in the Rainbow Classic and the Men Against Breast Cancer Showcase. Their first three SWAC games also are on the road. They don’t play at home until Jan. 13 against Southern.

Cincinnati: The Bearcats have two games against overmatched teams in three days, giving them a chance to work on their half-court offense that struggled during losses to Xavier and Florida . They used 12 players in the first half and shot 54 percent while taking the big lead.

EVANS ON A STREAK

During the last five games, Evans has averaged 17.6 points while going 30 of 61 from the field.

WASHINGTON CLOSES IN

Kyle Washington scored five points, leaving him 18 shy of 1,000 for his career at North Carolina State and Cincinnati.

TOUGH NIGHT

Jarron Cumberland scored only four points, fell hard on his lower back with 49 seconds left in the first half, and didn’t return. In his last eight games, Cumberland is shooting 34 percent from the field, including 10 of 30 from beyond the arc. Davis said he sat out the second half as a precaution.

SLOPPY

The Golden Lions had 14 turnovers in the first half against Cincinnati’s pressure defense. The Bearcats eased up defensively, and Arkansas-Pine Bluff finished with a season-high 22 turnovers.

UP NEXT

The Golden Lions play at Tennessee-Martin on Friday.

The Bearcats host Cleveland State on Thursday, the second of three straight home games. They open American Athletic Conference play by hosting Memphis on Dec. 31.

Former Penn coach allegedly took bribes from potential recruit’s father

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Former Penn head coach Jerome Allen allegedly took bribes from a Miami businessman who wanted his son to get into the school as a “recruited basketball player” — increasing his chances to gain entry to the Ivy League school.

According to a report from Bloomberg’s Michael Smith, David Voreacos and Eben Novy-Williams, Allen was involved with Miami businessman Philip Esformes, who had a son, Morris, who was allegedly recruited by several Ivy League schools. When Philip Esformes was accused of health-care fraud, money laundering, conspiracy and bribery, the government uncovered more than $74,000 in gifts that Esformes gave to Allen in 2013 and 2014.

Allen is identified strictly as “Coach-2” in the indictment that alleges that he took multiple cash payments, paid trips from Philadelphia to Miami, and a private jet trip that included Allen, Esformes and his son. The benefits are alleged to be $74,558 — including three separate wired payments of $15,000, $20,000 and $18,000 to Allen from Esformes.

These alleged incidents took place in 2013 and 2014, when Allen was still head coach at Penn and Morris Esformes was a high school basketball player trying to make it to the Division I level. Esformes was eventually granted admission to Penn as he was allegedly going to be on the basketball team. But Allen was fired before Esformes enrolled at the school. So Esformes went to school at Penn, but he never played for the basketball team. Esformes is currently still a senior at Penn.

Allen has been an assistant coach under Brad Stevens with the Boston Celtics since leaving Penn in 2015. He hasn’t been criminally charged for any of these alleged benefits while the NCAA also hasn’t been involved with anything yet.

But this is yet another black eye on college basketball — and this time coming from a prestigious Ivy League institution. It shows that cheating and using leverage happens at all levels of Division I college basketball. Lately, the schools have been paying to get players. This shows there are instances of wealthy people attempting to gain influence through athletics.

This case at Penn is certainly a rare one. Esformes tried to exploit a loophole that would allow his son entry into a great school under the guise that he was a potential Division I-caliber basketball player. And Morris Esformes did end up at Penn — and seems to be doing well. So, this didn’t end poorly for Morris or Allen.

Since Allen is coaching at the NBA level, this likely won’t alter his coaching career, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the NCAA get involved with Penn and Allen going forward.

Elite Class of 2020 point guard to reclassify

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Nico Mannion, a five-star point guard from Arizona, announced on Friday that he will be reclassifying into the Class of 2019.

Mannion was a top 20 player in 2020 but, according to 247 Sports, he will be ranked No. 11 in 2019. The athletic, 6-foot-3 Mannion was long-rumored to be considering a move up a class because of his age. He’ll turn 18 in March of next year, meaning that he’ll arrive on campus the same age as a typical college freshman.

Mannion cut his list to ten schools in June — Duke, Arizona, Villanova, Kansas, USC, UCLA, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Marquette and Utah — but Duke and Arizona appear to be the favorites at this point.

Mannion plays his high school ball for Pinnacle High School in Phoenix and with West Coast Elite on the Under Armour Association circuit. He played for Team USA’s youth ranks, but his mother is Italian and, in June, he was called up to the Italian men’s senior national team, scoring nine points in 29 minutes of a FIBA World Cup Qualifier.

Nebraska to lose junior big man to transfer

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Nebraska’s frontcourt depth took a blow on Thursday as junior big man Jordy Tshimanga informed the program that he will be transferring.

“Jordy called me tonight and asked for his release,” head coach Tim Miles said in a statement that was given to the Lincoln Journal-Star. “The University of Nebraska and our program wish Jordy and his family the best.”

Tshimanga averaged 4.0 points and 4.6 boards in 13 minutes this past season, and a source close to the program told NBC Sports he wasn’t expected to play much more than that this season.

Miles’ has spent the better part of the last two seasons on the hot seat, and this certainly doesn’t make his job easier, but with the talent the Cornhuskers have on their roster, they look like an NCAA tournament team already. They bring back their top four scorers, including former five-star prospect Isaac Copeland and potential first-team all-Big Ten wing James Palmer. With or without Tshimanga, Nebraska has a shot to finish top four in the Big Ten.

North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State part of Las Vegas event

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LAS VEGAS (AP) — North Carolina, UCLA, Michigan State and Texas will play in an early season basketball tournament in Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Invitational will include games at campus sites, then the final two rounds on Nov. 22-23 in Las Vegas. North Carolina takes on Texas in one semifinal, and Michigan State faces UCLA in the other.

UNC, UCLA and Michigan State are all top 20 teams in the NBC Sports preseason top 25.

The championship is Nov. 23, and the semifinal losers also play each other that day.

NCAA to study possible effects of widespread legal wagering

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The NCAA plans to study how the expansion of legalized betting could affect college athletics and member schools.

The NCAA announced Thursday it will create a working group of “subject matter experts” to assess areas such as officiating, NCAA rules, federal and state laws, and the use of integrity services. NCAA leadership has already called for federal regulation on sports betting. NCAA rules prohibit sports wagering by athletes and athletic department employees.

The Supreme Court opened the door for states to have legal wagering on sporting events when it struck down a federal ban in May. Schools in some states such as West Virginia, Mississippi and New Jersey are already exploring the possibility of collecting integrity fees in anticipation of legal sports books opening in their states.

“While we certainly respect the Supreme Court’s decision, our position on sports wagering remains,” said Donald Remy, NCAA chief legal officer. “With this new landscape, we must evolve and expand our long-standing efforts to protect both the integrity of competitions and the well-being of student-athletes.”

The NCAA Board of Governors has already suspended the association’s ban on holding championships in states with legalized sports betting, a policy that only affected Nevada.

“Legalized sports gambling across the country is rather new, but the NCAA and its members have committed significant resources over the years to policy, research and education around sports wagering,” said Joni Comstock, senior vice president of championships and alliances. “With student-athlete well-being as the centerpiece, we will continue to build upon these efforts to assist members as they adapt to legalized sports wagering in their states and regions.”