Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

No. 2 Michigan St wins 11th straight, tops Long Beach 102-60

Leave a comment

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Miles Bridges attracts a lot of attention on offense, drawing eyes as one of the top players in college basketball.

He’s only one of many Michigan State players defenses have to try to stop.

Bridges had 17 points and nine rebounds as part of a balanced offense that gave the second-ranked Spartans a 102-60 victory over Long Beach State on Thursday night.

“Everybody is starting to get comfortable in their roles,” said Joshua Langford, who also had 17 points. “This team is getting in a great rhythm.”

Michigan State’s Nick Ward scored 16, Cassius Winston had 13 points and eight assists and Jaren Jackson added 13 points.

“You have to pick your poison,” 49ers coach Dan Monson said. “You have to hope they have a bad shooting night. That’s why we zoned so much. It’s just so hard to match up man for man. That balance is impressive and you couple that with sharing the basketball.”

Michigan State (12-1) has won 11 straight with all the victories by double digits and many by 20-plus points.

“I need to keep hammering on the mistakes we’re making,” coach Tom Izzo said.

The 49ers (5-9) trailed by just five points midway through the first half before Michigan State pulled away. The Spartans led by 16 points at halftime and dominated at both ends of the court to quickly turn the game into another rout.

“They pretty much carved us up,” Monson said.

Long Beach State’s only double-digit scorer was Gabe Levin, who had 14 points.

BIG PICTURE

Long Beach State: With wins over Stanford and Oregon State, the 49ers should feel good about their season so far. They can’t be happy, though, to have almost twice as many losses as victories.

Michigan State: The Spartans’ starters are all averaging in double figures, creating matchup problems for defense inside and out.

“They’re as good as they’ve been,” said Monson, who previously faced the Spartans when he coached at Minnesota and Gonzaga.

TORRID PACE

Ward was 7 of 8, coming off a 9-for-9 shooting performance, and might have went two straight games without a miss if Bridges didn’t pass him the ball for a tough shot in the closing seconds of the first half. He has made 68.6 percent of his shots this season. Michigan State’s season shooting record was set by Ron Charles during 1979-80 when he made 67.6 percent of his shots.

“I didn’t know that stat existed,” Ward said.

ON THE MEND

The 49ers were without Bryan Alberts, their second-leading scorer. The Gonzaga transfer averaged 21 points in his previous three games before knee swelling led to surgery on Thursday.

“We’re optimistic we can get him back in next 10 days or so,” Monson said.

TOO MANY TURNOVERS

Michigan State’s weakness may be unforced turnovers. The Spartans gave up the ball 12 times against Long Beach State.

“That’s more of a mental thing,” Langford said.

NEXT UP

Long Beach State: Plays at Colorado State on Saturday night.

Michigan State: Gets to rest for more than a week before hosting Cleveland State on Dec. 29.

“It’s really good that we get a break,” Izzo said. “We need it mentally and physically, coaches even need one.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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.