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No. 14 Auburn wins SEC title, 79-70 over South Carolina

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AUBURN, Ala. — Bryce Brown scored 29 points, making eight 3-pointers, and No. 14 Auburn claimed at least a share of the Southeastern Conference title with a 79-70 comeback victory over South Carolina on Saturday.

The Tigers (25-6, 13-5) earned the top seed in next week’s SEC Tournament with their first regular-season title since 1999 and third overall. Auburn would win the outright championship if No. 16 Tennessee loses to Georgia, and holds the tiebreaker thanks to a win over the Volunteers.

Auburn fans began “SEC! SEC!” chants in the final two minutes, celebrating a rare title for a long-struggling program that’s also poised to end a 15-year NCAA Tournament drought. Afterward, confetti rained down on the team as they donned SEC championship T-shirts on the court.

Brown led a comeback after Auburn trailed by 14 points midway through the first half, busted out of a shooting slump in a big way. He made 8 of 12 3-pointers after going 7 for 39 over the previous four games while nursing foot and shoulder injuries.

Jared Harper finished with 18 points and eight assists. Mustapha Heron scored 12 points and made all 10 free throw attempts. His only basket was a breakaway dunk in the final minute that brought a roar from the crowd. Horace Spencer added 11 points.

Frank Booker led South Carolina (16-15, 7-11) with 27 points and 10 rebounds after scoring 25 points in an overtime win over LSU.

Chris Silva finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 3:38 left. He was 8-of-10 shooting, but committed eight turnovers.

Wesley Myers scored 11 points.

Auburn stormed back from a 14-point deficit midway through the first half. Brown scored 15 points and made four 3-pointers over the final 6:14.

Booker hit a long 3-pointer from the top of the key that rolled around the rim before going in with five seconds left to give the Gamecocks a 37-35 halftime lead.

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: Dropped its fifth straight road game and committed a whopping 24 turnovers against a team it had beaten at home. Booker and Silva combined for 19 of the team’s first 20 points.

Auburn: Fought back after missing its first eight 3-pointers and starting 2 of 15 from the floor. Showed plenty of resilience after back to back road losses.

DOUBLING UP

Auburn coach Bruce Pearl joins Eddie Fogler as the only coach to win regular-season SEC titles at two schools. Volger won with Vanderbilt in 1993 and South Carolina in 1997.

UP NEXT

Both teams are set to play in the SEC Tournament in St. Louis.

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.”

Arizona releases non-conference schedule

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A trip to Maui, a home date against Baylor and trips to UConn and Alabama highlight Arizona’s non-conference schedule, which the school released Thursday, this season.

Despite losing nearly the entirety of last year’s talented-but-troubled group, Sean Miller still scheduled aggressively. The first test will come the week of Thanksgiving in Hawaii at the Maui Invitational. It’s an extremely competitive field with Duke, Auburn, Gonzaga, Iowa State, Illinois, San Diego State and Xavier. The bracket for the event has yet to be released.

The Wildcats travel to Storrs to face UConn in Dan Hurley’s first season on Dec. 2, and then a week later visit Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The marquee home game will be Saturday, Dec. 16, when Scott Drew and Baylor come to Tucson.

Here’s the full schedule:

Day Date Opponent Location

Sunday Nov. 11 Cal Poly Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Nov. 14 UTEP Tucson, Ariz.

Monday Nov. 19 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Tuesday Nov. 20 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 21 vs. TBA Lahaina, Hawai’i

Wednesday Nov. 28 Texas Southern Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 2 at UConn Hartford, Conn.

Thursday Dec. 6 Utah Valley Tucson, Ariz.

Sunday Dec. 9 at Alabama Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Saturday Dec. 15 Baylor Tucson, Ariz.

Wednesday Dec. 19 Montana Tucson, Ariz.

Saturday Dec. 22 UC Davis Tucson, Ariz.