Ryan M. Kelly/Getty Images

VIDEO: Blackshear’s putback lift Hokies past No. 2 Virginia in OT

Leave a comment

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kerry Blackshear Jr. scored on a putback with 5.8 seconds left and Virginia Tech spoiled No. 2 Virginia’s opportunity to climb to No. 1 with a 61-60 overtime victory Saturday night.

Blackshear rebounded a missed layup by Justin Robinson and banked it in as he was being fouled. He missed the free throw, but Ty Jerome’s 28-foot attempt at the other end missed badly and the Hokies (18-7, 7-5 Atlantic Coast Conference) had a marquee victory:

Robinson led the Hokies with 20 points and seven assists, and Nickeil Alexander-Walker had 12 points.

Devon Hall had 16 points for Virginia (23-2, 12-1), but the 93.3 percent free throw shooter missed twice from the line in the final 31 seconds. De’Andre Hunter added 14 points and Kyle Guy 13 for the Cavaliers, who shot just 34.4 percent, making 21 of 61 shots.

The Cavaliers seemed a likely new No. 1 after No. 1 Villanova lost this week to St. John’s.

Hall made his fifth 3-pointer with 1:01 left in overtime, giving the Cavaliers a 57-54 lead. Two free throws by Isaiah Wilkins made it 59-54, but Blackshear scored for the Hokies. After Hall made the front end of a one-and-one, he missed the second. Alexander-Walker hit his fourth 3-pointer to pull the Hokies to 60-59 and, after Hall missed the front end of another one-and-one, Blackshear made the putback.

RELATED: How does this effect Virginia Tech’s tourney chances?

Robinson had a chance to put the Cavaliers in real trouble, but missed the front end of a one-and-one with 20.6 seconds left and the Hokies ahead 49-47. On the ensuing possession, Jerome hit a jumper from the right elbow with 9 seconds left, forcing overtime.

Virginia trailed almost throughout after the Hokies reeled of 17 straight points in the first half, finally pulling even at 35-all with Hall, Ty Jerome and Hall again nailed consecutive 3-pointers early in the second half. The game stayed close the rest of the way, but the Hokies opened a 49-45 lead on Devin Wilson’s backdoor bucket off a pass from Kerry Blackshear Jr. with 1:17 left.

Ty Jerome ended a more than 4-minute scoreless streak for Virginia with a layup with 52 seconds remaining, setting up the finish.

The Hokies shot 57 percent overall (12-21) and 57 percent from 3-point range (8-14) in the first half, at one point reeling off 17 straight points to open a 22-13 lead. Virginia closed the margin to 30-26 on Kyle Guy’s 3-pointer with 26 seconds left, but Nickeil Alexander-Walker hit a 3-point at the halftime buzzer. It was the third buzzer-beating 3 for the Hokies in the half, and gave them a 33-26 lead.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies are a very dangerous team when they are making shots, and that’s pretty often. They are third nationally in field goal percentage (.517) and have five players averaging in double figures, but with Robinson getting really assertive in recent weeks and surpassing his career high three times, some of their other scorers have all but disappeared. A more consistent production from Justin Bibbs and Ahmed Hill would take some pressure off Robinson.

Virginia: The Cavaliers faced a halftime deficit in their last game, but that was on the road at Florida State. It has been incredibly unusual for them to trail at home — witness their 16-game home winning streak dating to last season — and Virginia Tech made it difficult after halftime with stout defense of its own.

Former Penn coach allegedly took bribes from potential recruit’s father

Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Leave a comment

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

Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Al Bello/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.”