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Graham leads No. 10 Kansas to close home win over TCU

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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Kansas had another game come down to the wire in Allen Fieldhouse and TCU couldn’t close out a winnable one late.

These two trends have carried throughout Big 12 play and were on display Tuesday night as Devonte’ Graham scored 24 points to help No. 10 Kansas beat TCU 71-64.

The Jayhawks (19-5, 8-3 Big 12) have struggled this season to dominate at home as they traditionally have, but were able to avoid dropping two straight in their own building thanks to a gritty finish in which they didn’t make a single field goal in the final five minutes.

“Coach said we needed a game like this,” Graham said. “Just a grind-it-out. Had to play to every possession…playing how we should play every game.”

The Horned Frogs (16-8, 4-7) trailed by two with under four minutes left, but couldn’t get it done, going nearly 3 minutes without a point.

“As I told them in the huddle a couple times, we were right where we wanted to be, and we had our opportunities,” coach Jamie Dixon said.

They have now dropped six conference games by single digits, many of which came down to the end like this one.

“It’s tough to compare them,” Desmond Bane said. “We’ve just got to figure out a way to close out games down the stretch when we have opportunities.”

Kouat Noi led the way for TCU with 17 points. Vlad Brodzianksy had 15 points and eight rebounds, and Alex Robinson had a game-high nine assists.

Foul trouble limited Udoka Azubuike to play just seven minutes in the first half for Kansas, but that rest allowed him to play 18 in the second. He finished with 16 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

TCU is now 1-4 against top 10 teams this season. The Horned Frogs haven’t won a road game against a ranked opponent since 1998.

Kansas is now 16-2 all-time against TCU, and is a perfect 7-0 inside Allen Fieldhouse.

NEW LOOK LINEUP

Self announced earlier in the week that Mitch Lightfoot would enter the starting lineup for this game and moving forward, replacing Lagerald Vick who has struggled mightily as of late.

“I think we have a couple of guys that obviously don’t try very hard, and we’re going to make some changes in our lineup, at least one change,” Self said on Monday.

Lightfoot played 22 minutes and picked up six points and four rebounds. Vick, coincidentally, played 29 minutes.

MOVING UP

With his nine assists, Robinson passes his coach Dixon for seventh all-time in TCU history. Kenrich Williams made history as well, as his nine rebounds boost him to fifth all-time in the program past Mickey McCarty.

SILENT SVI

Svi Mykhailiuk entered the game as the Jayhawks’ second-leading scorer, but went without a field goal against the Horned Frogs.

Mykhailiuk’s lone point came on a free throw in the opening minute, and he put up just two shots otherwise. Coach Bill Self says this came not as a result of poor play from Mykhailiuk but rather strong defense on the other side.

“I asked Svi after the game, I said ‘why couldn’t you get a look?'” Self said. “He said, ‘Well, they just didn’t leave me.’ They switched everything so there was always somebody on him.”

BIG PICTURE

Kansas earns a much-needed win after dropping its third Big 12 game this past weekend to Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks now sit in first place in the conference, one-half game ahead of Texas Tech.

TCU continues its slide since losing star Jaylen Fisher, whose knee injury in January sidelined him for the rest of the year.

UP NEXT

Kansas travels to Baylor Saturday for a matchup with the last place Bears.

TCU returns home to host Texas on Saturday.

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.”