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No. 9 Kansas outlasts No. 24 Iowa State for critical Big 12 win

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Kansas earned a huge Big 12 home win on Monday night as the Jayhawks outlasted Iowa State for an 80-76 win. Following a Saturday road loss at West Virginia, there were questions about the Jayhawks’ ability to close tight games following some recent late-game mishaps. But thanks to a key defensive adjustment and a strong performance from a Player of the Year candidate, the Jayhawks stayed right in the mix in a crowded Big 12 race.

Here are three takeaways from the Kansas win on Monday night.

Defense was a huge part of the Kansas comeback and eventual win

By switching in the second half, and adjusting to Iowa State’s movement-heavy offense, Kansas was able to go on a 14-0 second-half run and take a solid lead in the second half before eventually going on to win.

The first half, Kansas looked sluggish on the defensive end, as they couldn’t seem to stay with the Cyclone offense. When head coach Bill Self adjusted in the second half by switching at all positions in some smaller lineups, it changed the game for the Jayhawks.

Gaining confidence by getting stops in the second half, Kansas translated that into offense. That run eventually helped them gain control of the game. Making plays on the defensive ended also started to get slow-starting guys like Marcus Garrett (16 points) and LaGerald Vick (14 points) when they didn’t have a lot fall for them early.

Kansas didn’t have the start they wanted. They looked hungover from the road loss two days before. But the halftime adjustments and renewed commitment to the defensive end ignited the Jayhawks on both ends of the floor. A team that has struggled to close some games got some key stops when they needed them.

If Kansas can defend like that, and get some timely stops, then they can stay at the top of the Big 12 race.

Iowa State’s remains a dangerous team despite the loss

The Cyclones might have fallen on Monday night. Looking at things long-term, Iowa State held a halftime lead in this game, rallied to tie the game in the second half once they fell behind, and still ended up with a 1-1 season-series matchup with Kansas after a blowout win at Hilton.

The Cyclones haven’t shown nearly enough reliability to be considered a major top-10 team. They also haven’t been fully healthy enough to figure things out for this season. All of that being said, the Cyclones still remain one of the nation’s most dangerous teams because of their offense. Iowa State’s ability to have four or five guys in every lineup who can score is a huge help.

Marial Shayok (26 points), Talen Horton-Tucker (16 points) and Michael Jacobson (12 points) all made some key shots in this one. And Lindell Wigginton (three points) and the rest of the rotation outside the starting five provided next to nothing.

If the Cyclones get a night where more than a few guys are clicking, then they could be a terrifying team to face in a tournament-style scenario.

Kansas forward Dedric Lawson closed this game like a Player of the Year candidate

On a night where many of their key players struggled, the Jayhawks got a huge, potentially signature, performance from junior forward Dedric Lawson. Coming up with 29 points and 15 rebounds on 13-for-17 shooting, the forward looked simply unstoppable while displaying ruthless efficiency.

But most importantly: Lawson came up with clutch plays on both ends of the floor for a Kansas team that desperately needs help closing.

Making a huge block on a Wigginton dunk attempt with under a minute left, Lawson stopped Iowa State from closing the game to within one point as the play also ignited the home crowd. Following that, on the offensive end, Lawson’s three-pointer with a little under 30 seconds left made it a five-point game and proved to be a major difference in a tight game.

Kansas needed this type of performance from Lawson on a sluggish night and he delivered in a huge way. While others like Zion Williamson and Grant Williams are ahead of Lawson in the Player of the Year race, if he keeps playing like this, he’ll quickly re-join the top conversation.

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.