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Rui Hachimura leads No. 7 Zags over Cal State Bakersfield 89-54

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SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Seventh-ranked Gonzaga has wrapped up an eventful non-conference season that saw the Zags reach No. 1 in the Top 25, and then fall down a few spots after a pair of losses.

Rui Hachimura scored 22 points as Gonzaga beat Cal State-Bakersfield 89-54 on Monday night to wrap up the non-conference season for both teams.

Brandon Clarke and Zach Norvell Jr. each scored 16 points for Gonzaga (13-2), which has easily won four straight games after losing to No. 3 Tennessee and No. 15 North Carolina. Jeremy Jones had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

“They did a great job,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said of the non-conference season. “The way those games were stacked up was as tough as anything we’ve done.”

“They’ve done fantastic in lieu of the injuries we had,” Few added, referring to the loss of forward Killian Tillie and guard Geno Crandall. Both are expected back for the conference season.

Jarkel Joiner scored 24 points for Cal State Bakersfield (8-5), which saw a five-game winning streak snapped. The Roadrunners were hurt by 36 percent shooting.

“They are a tough, hard-nosed team that plays everybody tough,” Few said. “It’s hard to get separation on them.”

Gonzaga blew out its past three opponents in the first half, but this game started as a defensive battle. The Roadrunners used a pressure defense and methodical offense to slow one of the nation’s top offenses.

Gonzaga went on an 11-0 run while holding the Roadrunners scoreless for 6 minutes to take an early 13-6 lead.

A 13-0 run a few minutes later put Gonzaga up 28-12. The Zags led 43-24 at halftime, behind 13 points by Hachimura. Joiner scored the last 10 points of the half for Cal State Bakersfield.

The teams traded baskets early in the second half, and Joiner’s 3-pointer cut Gonzaga’s lead to 55-35.

A 10-2 run put Gonzaga up 65-37 with 12 minutes left. The Roadrunners could not make up the difference.

“I was proud of our guys in the first half,” Bakersfield coach Rod Barnes said. “We took the game to them.”

“In the second half we gave in,” Barnes said. “We’ll take this as a good butt-whipping and get home and fix the problems.”

Gonzaga has won 15 straight home games dating to last year.

FAMILY TIME

Hachimura had several family members visiting from Japan in recent days, including his mother. He sank 7 of 10 shots, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a shot Monday. “I really wanted them to come,” Hachimura said. “I have to play good.”

SHOOTING WOES

The Roadrunners made just 22 of 60 shots, including 3 of 19 from 3-point range. They also committed 20 turnovers and got to the free throw line just 10 times.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Four big wins over outmanned opponents in the past two weeks doesn’t hurt.

BIG PICTURE

Cal State Bakersfield: The Roadrunners have been holding opponents to 68 points per game … Coach Rod Barnes was WAC coach of the year in 2016 and 2017 … The Roadrunners lost by five points to then-No. 20 TCU earlier this season.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs outscored their previous two opponents by a combined 64-7 through the first 10 minutes of those games, but no such luck this time … Gonzaga came in averaging 94 points per game … The Zags lead the nation in field goal shooting at 53 percent.

UP NEXT

Cal State Bakersfield opens Western Athletic Conference play against Seattle on Thursday.

Gonzaga opens defense of its West Coast Conference title against Santa Clara on Saturday. The Zags are projected to win the league regular season title for the seventh consecutive year.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.