Joe Robbins/Getty Images

No. 22 Tennessee hangs on to beat Vanderbilt 67-62

Leave a comment

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee guard Jordan Bowden disagreed with his coach’s assessment this week that the sophomore guard wasn’t slumping.

He made sure to break out in a big way on Tuesday night.

Bowden scored 19 points and shot 5 of 7 from 3-point range as Tennessee built a 20-point second-half lead before hanging on for a 67-62 victory over Vanderbilt.

“Mainly it was my teammates who just kept telling me to keep shooting the ball, keep shooting the ball,” Bowden said. “Derrick Walker, before every game, he tells me, ‘You’re the best shooter in the country.’ It gives me that confidence every game.”

Tennessee (14-5, 5-3 Southeastern Conference) earned its fifth win in six games and withstood a brilliant performance from Vanderbilt’s Riley LaChance, who scored all of his 25 points in the second half as the Commodores got to within two in the closing minutes.

Bowden is shooting 53.8 percent (35 of 65) from 3-point range this season. His efficient night came after he had just two points in a loss at Missouri and went scoreless in a victory at South Carolina last week.

Tennessee coach Rick Barnes said Monday he didn’t think Bowden was in a slump. Barnes noted at the time that a slumping player “won’t take the shots he should take” and that Bowden was avoiding that trap.

Bowden said he did believe he was slumping, and his relief was evident when his shots started falling against Vanderbilt.

“What I’ve been waiting on for the past two games, finally seeing one go in,” Bowden said. “It was a good thing to see.”

After leading 41-21 with 14½ minutes left, Tennessee barely survived.

Tennessee was clinging to a 60-58 advantage after Vanderbilt’s Jeff Roberson made one of two free-throw attempts with 1:19 remaining. Tennessee’s Lamonte’ Turner answered by sinking a 3-pointer with 1:03 left.

LaChance missed a 3-point attempt on Vanderbilt’s next possession to set up a layup by Bowden that extended Tennessee’s lead to 65-58 with 33 seconds remaining. The Vols’ advantage wouldn’t drop below five the rest of the way.

“They got back in the game, but at the end we found a way,” Barnes said. “Lamonte’ Turner’s shot was a big one.”

The Commodores were seeking to beat Tennessee in Knoxville for a fourth straight season, but poor shooting nearly knocked Vanderbilt out of contention early.

Vanderbilt’s Payton Willis made a 3-pointer 40 seconds into the game to open the scoring, but the Commodores missed their next 17 3-point attempts before LaChance heated up.

LaChance went 4 of 4 from 3-point range in a span of 2½ minutes and ended up scoring 15 straight Vanderbilt points to start the rally. But his huge second half couldn’t reduce the sting of a loss to an in-state rival.

“We lost, so we’re all very disappointed,” LaChance said. “The way we played the first half was nowhere near how hard and how well we need to play.”

Roberson added 21 points for Vanderbilt. Grant Williams had 18 points for Tennessee.

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt: The Commodores showed plenty of fight to get back into the game, but the first half also showed how hard it is for Vanderbilt to find offense when its 3-point shots aren’t falling. Promising freshman guard Saben Lee went scoreless in 20 minutes and wasn’t on the floor during the Commodores’ comeback.

Tennessee: Derrick Walker continues to show he could add some depth to Tennessee’s frontcourt the rest of the season. The freshman scored 10 points Saturday in a victory at South Carolina to double his previous career high. He followed that up Tuesday by collecting five points and six rebounds in just 17 minutes.

MISSING FISHER-DAVIS

Vanderbilt announced before the game that senior guard Matthew Fisher-Davis would miss the rest of the season with an injured right shoulder. Fisher-Davis has made 70 career starts and was averaging 11.9 points per game to rank second on the team.

The Commodores have gone 1-2 since Fisher-Davis’ injury.

KEY STATS

LaChance and Roberson shot a combined 17 of 32 and teamed up for 46 points. The rest of Vanderbilt’s roster shot 6 of 25 and combined for just 16 points. … LaChance was 4 of 9 from 3-point range, while all the other Commodores were 1 of 15.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt hosts TCU on Saturday.

Tennessee is at Iowa State on Saturday.

___

More AP college basketball: https://collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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.