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No. 23 Tennessee rallies to beat No. 17 Kentucky 76-65

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Admiral Schofield had 20 points and nine rebounds Saturday night and No. 23 Tennessee rallied in the second half to beat No. 17 Kentucky 76-65 and end a two-game skid.

This marks the third consecutive season that Tennessee (10-4, 1-2 SEC) has beaten Kentucky (12-3, 2-1) in Knoxville. Kentucky entered the night leading the overall series 153-69, but no team has beaten the Wildcats as often as Tennessee.

The Volunteers had blown leads of at least nine points in each of its four losses this season – including its first two SEC games – while Kentucky had rallied from halftime deficits to beat Georgia and LSU in its first two SEC matchups.

This time, it was Tennessee staging the second-half comeback.

Grant Williams scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half as Tennessee erased an eight-point halftime deficit. Lamonte Turner added 11 points and five assists.

Quade Green scored 14 points to lead Kentucky. PJ Washington had 13 points and Wenyen Gabriel added 11 points, but both missed much of the second half. Washington limped to the locker room with about 12 1/2 minutes left and didn’t return, while Gabriel fouled out with just under 12 minutes remaining.

After Kentucky built a 37-29 halftime lead, former Tennessee star and SEC player of the year Ron Slay went onto the Thompson-Boling Arena court and delivered a pep talk to the sellout crowd. The Vols responded as soon as the second half began.

Williams tied the game at 39-all with 17:28 left and he then drew his third foul 11 seconds later when he was defending Gabriel and the two players collided. Tennessee argued the call, and technical fouls ended up being assessed to both Vols coach Rick Barnes and Kentucky coach John Calipari.

This marked the first time a Tennessee coach had picked up a technical foul since Bruce Pearl received one on March 11, 2011. A total of 216 games had elapsed since a Tennessee coach had been assessed a technical foul.

Williams put Tennessee ahead for good with 12:37 left as part of a 10-0 run that eventually gave the Vols a 54-47 lead with 11:12 remaining. Washington got injured and Gabriel fouled out during that spurt.

Both teams had been dealing with flu bugs this week.

Kentucky guard Hamidou Diallo and forwards Sacha Killeya-Jones and Nick Richards were feeling sick Wednesday in a 74-71 victory at LSU. Tennessee’s Jordan Bone also had the flu this week.

Diallo scored five points in 16 minutes before fouling out. Killeya-Jones had four points in 16 minutes and Richards had nine points in 24 minutes. Bone was Tennessee’s starting point guard but played just 9 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kentucky: The Wildcats built their first-half lead by working the ball inside on offense and containing Williams on defense. They weren’t nearly as effective doing either of those things in the second half. After outscoring Tennessee 22-6 in the paint in the first half, Tennessee had a 24-10 edge in that category in the second half.

Tennessee: The Vols badly needed this victory to avoid falling to 0-3 in SEC competition with three of their next four games on the road. Barnes had criticized Tennessee for playing too casually in a 94-84 loss to Auburn on Tuesday, and the Vols’ second-half comeback was an impressive response.

NEXT UP

Kentucky hosts No. 11 Texas A&M on Tuesday.

Tennessee is at Vanderbilt on Tuesday.

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.