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K-State’s defense stifles No. 14 Texas Tech in 58-45 win

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MANHATTAN, Kansas — Kansas State and Texas Tech have two of the four highest-rated defenses in the country. They didn’t disappoint Tuesday night.

In a preview of the tough test that awaits Big 12 opponents, the Wildcats ground down the 14th-ranked Red Raiders 58-45 on Tuesday night. Kansas State held Tech to a season low in points and hasn’t allowed a team to score more than 71 this season.

“First of all, it is about K-State’s defense,” Texas Tech coach Chris Beard said. “One team has broken 70 on them this year, and we knew it was going to be a difficult game to score so we set up a game plan.”

That game plan didn’t work. Barry Brown Jr. had 15 points, Dean Wade scored 13 and Mike McGuirl added nine as K-State hit big shot after big shot.

“Everyone is coming to win and play their best game,” Brown said. “Especially knowing you’ve won five straight, everyone is trying to stop your momentum.”

The Big 12’s top-ranked defenses combined to force 30 turnovers. The Wildcats (15-4, 5-2) held Texas Tech to 33-percent shooting and never let the Red Raiders get their offense rolling.

Jarrett Culver led Texas Tech (15-4, 4-3) with 17 points. Tariq Owens had 12.

The Wildcats outrebounded Texas Tech 33-25 overall and 27-18 on the defensive side, limiting second-chance points.

The Red Raiders struggled to contain Brown in the first half. He had two step-back 3-pointers and 11 points. Wade was a mismatch as well, with Red Raider big man Norense Odiase called for three fouls in the first half. He only played five minutes.

Owens scored seven points off the bench in Odiase’s absence, keeping Texas Tech in it, but Kansas State led 32-24 at the half.

“They made shots,” Beard said. “They were aggressive, they got to the free-throw line and late in the game when we were trying to come back from a deficit they got good looks.”

The Wildcats led 46-38 midway through the second half before Wade made two free throws and Xavier Sneed hit a 3. The Red Raiders got back within eight but couldn’t get any closer.

“I think the biggest improvement we’ve made from the start of the season is passing the ball and slowly I think we are becoming a better offensive team,” coach Bruce Weber said.

After Tuesday night, the teams seem to be going in different directions. K-State has won five straight while the Red Raiders have lost their last three games after starting 4-0 in Big 12 play. Beard thinks the Wildcats are built for a title run this year and was quick to give them credit after the loss.

“This is one of the best teams in the country,” he said. “Now they have won five straight, which is a direct reflection of the character of the guys they have on their team.”

K-State is in a tie for first in the conference with Kansas, which has won 14 straight regular-season titles. The Wildcats will clash with the Jayhawks for the first of two meetings on Feb. 5th at home.

“Well we dug out of the hole and not only were we 0-2, but we were down 21 points to West Virginia,” Weber said. “There’s a lot more coming up and as I said, these next two road games are very, very important.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech has lost three straight games after starting 4-0 in conference play. They will need to get the ship going back in the right direction soon.

Kansas State has won five straight and looks to be one of the best teams in the Big 12.

UP NEXT

Texas Tech will be home Saturday against Arkansas in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge.

K-State plays at Texas A&M on Saturday.

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.