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Smith, Fernando lead No. 24 Maryland past Nebraska 60-45

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LINCOLN, Neb. — Jalen Smith’s second big offensive game of the season against Nebraska didn’t decide No. 24 Maryland’s win over the Cornhuskers.

The Terrapins’ 60-45 victory Wednesday night was all about defense. Maryland allowed its fewest points in a conference game under eighth-year coach Mark Turgeon.

“Our guys were locked in,” Turgeon said. “That’s the smartest we’ve played defensively this season, so it was good to see.”

Smith had 18 points and 11 rebounds and fueled Maryland’s surge in the first half. Bruno Fernando’s production was limited by double-teams, but he still had his sixth consecutive double-double, and 15th of the season, with 13 points and a career-high 19 rebounds for the Terps (18-6, 9-4 Big Ten).

Nebraska (13-10, 3-9) set season lows for points and field goal percentage (21 percent) while losing its sixth straight and dropping to 13th place in the conference. The Huskers were playing their third game without forward Isaac Copeland, who sustained a season-ending knee injury Jan. 26.

“I hope and pray this is rock bottom,” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “Until we get out of our way on offense and find some rhythm on offense, we have a real problem. I believe it’s mental.”

Isaiah Roby led the Cornhuskers with 20 points and 14 rebounds, and James Palmer Jr. added 11 points.

“Nobody is really having fun right now,” Roby said. “We all had big expectations for this season. Time keeps running out with every game we play.”

The Terps were lethargic at the outset, missing 11 of their first 14 shots as offensive leaders Fernando, Anthony Cowan Jr. and Smith went scoreless through the first nine minutes. Meanwhile, Roby scored 12 points as the Huskers jumped to a 15-10 lead.

But then Nebraska had one of its all-too-familiar scoring droughts, this one lasting longer than eight minutes. Smith, whose short runner with 3 seconds left gave the Terps a 74-72 win over the Huskers on Jan. 2, scored 11 straight points to put his team in front after Tanner Borchardt went to the bench with his second foul.

“I was finishing the shots I put up,” Smith said. “They had a little guard on me and a big on Bruno. Coach Turgeon just attacked, and I was scoring.”

Maryland outscored the Cornhuskers 20-5 to close the half, with Nebraska making just one field goal over the last 11:41. Nebraska drew to 31-29 early in the second half, but the Terps soon were up by double digits again and on their way to bouncing back from a 69-61 loss at Wisconsin last Friday.

BIG PICTURE

Maryland: This wasn’t the Terps’ best night offensively, but avoiding a fourth loss in five games kept them safely in the upper half of the Big Ten. Cowan scored a season-low five points, Fernando had only two in the first half and Maryland shot 38 percent as a team.

Nebraska: The school’s four-game home losing streak is its longest since 2002-03. Glynn Watson Jr. continues to struggle, going 0 for 10 with no points, and Miles’ future at Nebraska is growing dimmer. “This hurts,” Miles said, his voice cracking.

DID HE OR DIDN’T HE?

One of the big no-calls came in the second half when Fernando moved into Borchardt under the basket, knocking him down, before jamming a one-handed dunk. The play brought howls from fans who wanted a foul and a technical on Miles, who wanted the same thing.

It appeared Fernando might have stepped on Borchardt when he came down. Miles said he didn’t know if that was the case, and video was inconclusive. Borchardt wasn’t made available to reporters after the game. The play was not reviewable.

Fernando said he didn’t step on Borchardt.

“I dunked the ball and I was trying to run back on defense and he was right there on the ground. I was trying to get out of his way,” Fernando said. “For me personally, I didn’t have any intentions of hurting anybody. That’s not who I am. That’s not part of my game.”

UP NEXT

Maryland: Hosts Purdue on Tuesday.

Nebraska: Plays at Purdue on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and http://www.twitter.com/AP-Top 25

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville has refuted NCAA allegations against its men’s basketball program in the wake of a federal corruption scandal, requesting that the highest-level violation be reclassified.

The university also is challenging that former coach Rick Pitino failed to promote an atmosphere of compliance in his program.

Louisville filed a 104-page response last week to the Notice Of Allegations sent to the school in May. The document stated that college sports’ governing body seeks to ignore wire fraud convictions against several people involved in the scheme – including a former Adidas executive – by suggesting they were representing its athletic interests. Louisville’s contract with the apparel maker was a standard sponsorship agreement rather than a promotional deal, the response added.

“This argument is as novel as it is wrong,” the school wrote in its response. “Even if an institution has some responsibility for the conduct of its suppliers, that responsibility plainly does not extend to acts of fraud perpetrated against the institution itself.”

Louisville also seeks to have several second-tier violations reclassified even lower. The NCAA has until Nov. 15 to respond with the school responding 15 days after before a decision is made whether the case will proceed through the traditional Committee on Infractions or Independent Accountability Review Process (IARP).

The NCAA’s Notice of Allegations states that Louisville committed a Level I violation, considered the most severe, with an improper recruiting offer and extra benefits along with several lesser violations. Those lesser violations also include Pitino failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance.

The NCAA notice completed a two-year investigation following a federal corruption probe of college basketball announced in September 2017. Louisville acknowledged its involvement in the federal investigation related to the recruitment of former player Brian Bowen II. Pitino, who’s now coaching Iona, was not named in the federal complaint and has consistently denied authorizing or having knowledge of a payment to a recruit’s family.

Louisville has previously indicated it would accept responsibility for violations it committed but would contest allegations it believed were not supported by facts. The school also noted corrective measures taken in the scandal’s immediate aftermath, such as suspending and then firing Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Louisville also dismissed the NCAA’s contention that former Adidas executive James Gatto and amateur league director Merl Code represented the school while funneling illegal payments to recruits at several schools.

“The enforcement staff’s remaining allegations lack factual support and overread the relevant Bylaws,” the response stated, “and rest on the erroneous contention that the conspirators were representatives of the University’s athletics interests.

“For these reasons and others set forth, the panel should reject the enforcement staff’s dramatically overbroad theory, and classify this case as involving a Level II-Mitigated violation.”

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.