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No. 13 Kansas holds off Iowa State 83-77

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AMES, Iowa (AP) — Kansas responded to arguably its worst loss of the year with a much-needed win in a hostile environment — one that kept the Jayhawks within reach of Big 12-leading Texas Tech.

Performances like the one they put forth on Tuesday night are a big reason why the Jayhawks win the Big 12 every year.

Udoka Azubuike scored 19 points, Malik Newman had 17 and 13th-ranked Kansas bounced back from a brutal loss at Baylor by beating Iowa State 83-77.

Lagerald Vick scored 16 points for the Jayhawks (20-6, 9-4 Big 12), who shot 48.4 percent from the floor and committed just seven turnovers.

Azubuike led the way, hitting 9 of 10 shots and adding three blocks.

“Whenever we need a big basket, we know we can go into the big fella,” Newman said.

Kansas took a five-point lead into the break after Nick Weiler-Babb’s long 3 to end the half was waved off, and it quickly jumped ahead by 11 early in the second half.

The Cyclones chipped away at that deficit at times, even getting as close as three, but the Jayhawks pushed their lead to 76-63 with 4:46 left on back-to-back alley-oop dunks by Azubuike.

That capped a run of six straight makes for the Jayhawks — who also held Iowa State without a field goal for over four minutes down the stretch.

“We took too many bad shots in the first half,” Kansas Bill Self said. “You’re going to shoot a good percentage if you throw it inside a lot.”

Freshman Cameron Lard scored 19 points with 11 rebounds for Iowa State (13-12, 4-9). But freshman Lindell Wigginton, who burned the Jayhawks for 27 points in their first meeting, was held to 12 points on 3 of 12 shooting. He also had five turnovers.

Weiler-Babb had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists after missing four games with knee tendinitis.

“We knew they’d come in here focused. They’re a resilient group,” Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said of Kansas. “We weren’t good enough on the defensive end.”

THE BIG PICTURE

Kansas: This was a game KU couldn’t afford to lose if it hoped to keep its quest for a 14th straight conference title alive. The Jayhawks’ next three games: at home to West Virginia and Oklahoma and on the road at Tech, will likely determine their fate. Still, seeing the Jayhawks respond in a crucial spot as the season draws to a close is something their Big 12 rivals have seen over and over again.

Iowa State: The Cyclones encountered a Kansas team with something to prove after it got waxed by Baylor 80-64 over the weekend. That’s a tough combination to overcome in a rebuilding year — though Lard’s monster game, on the heels of being named Big 12 newcomer of the week on Monday — was highly encouraging.

THE NUMBERS

Devonte’ Graham finished with 13 points for Kansas, but he was just 3 of 16 from the field. The rest of the Jayhawks combined to shoot 27 of 46. …Iowa State’s Donovan Jackson was just 1 of 9 from the field. …Svi Mykhailiuk had 10 points for the Jayhawks. …The Cyclones shot just 3 of 16 on 3s, but Zoran Talley had his best game of the year. He scored 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting

HE SAID IT

“For (Graham) to go 3 for 16, and we were able to put him on our back for a change…and come out with the (win), it’s big — and it just speaks to how good our team can actually be when everything is clicking,” Newman said.

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.”