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Tillie helps No. 12 Gonzaga hold off Pacific, 71-61

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STOCKTON, Calif. (AP) — Killian Tillie had 21 points and 10 rebounds and made a key tip-in with 1:39 remaining, and No. 12 Gonzaga beat Pacific 71-61 on Thursday night.

Johnathan Williams added 10 points and 13 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season as the Bulldogs (22-4, 12-1 West Coast Conference) won their sixth straight. Zach Norvell and Rui Hachimura also scored 10 points while Josh Perkins had 12 on 2-of-11 shooting.

The win sets up Gonzaga for a chance at redemption against Saint Mary’s. The Gaels, who beat Loyola Marymount on Thursday night to remain unbeaten in the WCC, handed the Bulldogs their lone conference loss on Jan. 18 in Spokane.

Gonzaga coach Mark Few has tried to keep his players’ minds off the rematch. Now the clash between ranked teams will have conference title implications.

The Bulldogs put themselves in position by holding off a pesky but sloppy Pacific team. The Tigers (12-14, 7-6) were within 47-41 with 13½ minutes left but went scoreless over the next four minutes as they had trouble taking care of the ball.

Gonzaga took advantage and went on an 8-1 run, getting six of the points on free throws.

Pacific was within 59-51 following three free throws by Roberto Gallinat before Tillie tipped in Perkins’ miss to help Gonzaga hold on for its 12th consecutive win in the series.

Gallinat had 15 points, Miles Reynolds scored 13 and Jahlil Tripp added 12 for Pacific.

Perkins got off to a slow start offensively but repeatedly kicked the ball out to open shooters after driving the lane.

Tillie benefited the most from Perkins’ unselfishness. Gonzaga’s lone sophomore starter, Tillie had eight of the Bulldogs’ first 14 points and made five of his first six shots as they built a 24-15 lead.

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: Perkins went 0-for-6 on 3-pointers, ending his career-high streak of 16 consecutive games with at least one 3. … The Bulldogs scored 36 first-half points for the third consecutive game.

Pacific: The Tigers have seven wins all-time over ranked opponents, the most recent coming in the 2004 NCAA Tournament when they knocked off Providence. … Pacific did a good job on the boards early but failed to score off four offensive rebounds in the first half. … Lafayette Dorsey returned after being carried off the floor late in the first half. He was hurt while fouling Silas Melson following a midcourt turnover and stayed down for several minutes. He rode a stationary bicycle at the start of the second half before checking in with 17 minutes left and finishing with nine points.

UP NEXT

Gonzaga: Visits No. 11 Saint Mary’s on Saturday night.

Pacific: Hosts Portland 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.”