William Mancebo/Getty Images

Gonzaga snaps Saint Mary’s 19-game win streak, 78-65

Leave a comment

MORAGA, Calif. (AP) — By forcing the ball out of Jock Landale’s hands, Gonzaga was able to avenge a home loss to Saint Mary’s and move back into first place in the West Coast Conference.

Rui Hachimura scored 23 points and was a key part of a defensive effort that neutralized Landale as the 12th-ranked Bulldogs ended the nation’s longest active winning streak at 19 games with a 78-65 victory over the 11th ranked Gaels on Saturday night.

Landale made 12 of 15 shots in Saint Mary’s win at Gonzaga last month but was held to just four shots and two baskets because of relentless double teams right from the start in the rematch,

“When they came in our gym they stole one from us at home,” guard Josh Perkins said. “We just wanted to come out of the gate at the get go and set the tone and I think we did that.”

The Bulldogs (23-4, 13-1) jumped on the Gaels (24-3, 13-1) early and never trailed, making 3-pointers on the first three trips and showing off a defensive wrinkle by sending double teams at Landale as soon as he got the ball in the post.

That strategy only worked because of the way Gonzaga recovered to prevent 3-pointers, holding the Gaels to 5 for 20 from long range.

“We wanted to give a different look with the doubles and where they were coming from,” coach Mark Few said. “Our guys did a great job. The doubles are actually the easy part of it. It’s rotating out of it that’s difficult, especially when they put four other guys on the floor who can shoot 3s.”

Zach Norvell Jr. scored 15 points and Johnathan Williams added 12 points and 11 rebounds for Gonzaga.

Cullen Neal scored 18 and Jordan Ford added 17 to lead Saint Mary’s.

Hachimura converted sweeping layups on back-to-back trips early in the second half, adding a foul shot on one of the plays, to help Gonzaga open up a 20-point lead.

Gonzaga raced out to a 22-5 lead, quieting an overflow crowd that turned out for the first matchup of two top 15 teams in WCC history. The Gaels responded and cut the deficit to seven before going into the half down 42-30.

“They came out and kind of just hit us in the mouth,” Ford said. “They got a big lead on us early, and after that it was kind of hard for us to get back.”

BIG PICTURE

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs showed they are still the top dog in the conference by dominating the Gaels on their home floor for their 22nd straight conference road win. They also improved to 6-0 all-time against Saint Mary’s when both teams are ranked, which could happen again in the teams meet in the WCC championship game next month.

Saint Mary’s: The Gaels hadn’t lost since dropping back-to-back contests to Washington State and Georgia during a tournament in Anaheim on Thanksgiving weekend. They came into the game leading the nation by shooting 52.8 percent from the field but were taken out of their game offensively with Landale getting no shots in the half-court offense in the first 26 minutes and the team shooting just 41.5 percent overall.

“As soon as it touched my hands I had two guys on top of me,” Landale said. “This team’s not about me. I don’t have to score every possession, and tonight I didn’t. We’ve had games like that where I don’t. But we’ve got to find ways to make those shots count that we get from the perimeter.”

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
2 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
6 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
1 Comment

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
Leave a comment

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.