Getty Images

No. 14 Florida St. rallies to top No. 15 Va. Tech in OT

Leave a comment

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Staring down a 14-point halftime deficit, No. 14 Florida State didn’t panic.

M.J. Walker scored nine of his 11 points after halftime, including a critical 3-pointer in overtime, and Florida State rallied to top No. 15 Virginia Tech 73-64 on Tuesday night.

Mfiondu Kabengele scored 13 of his 17 points in the second half and overtime, while Terance Mann added 14 points as Florida State improved to 15-1 at home this season and tied the program record with 12 Atlantic Coast Conference wins.

“We’re all basically vets,” Mann said. “We’ve been through everything. We’ve been through an Elite Eight run. Even going to the NIT. Games like that, you don’t really have to panic. It’s just halftime, you have a whole another half to throw a punch. And that’s what we did.”

The Seminoles rallied after trailing 35-22 with 18:08 left in regulation. Six minutes later, Florida State tied the game and Mann’s 3-pointer with 11:26 remaining put the Seminoles ahead.

Virginia Tech was short-handed playing without guard Justin Robinson (foot) and forward Kerry Blackshear (fouled out), but the Hokies kept the game close.

Ahmed Hill hit a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 61. After a timeout, Mann missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer and the teams went to overtime.

Florida State outscored Virginia Tech 12-3 in the extra period, making 7 of 8 free-throw attempts as the Seminoles improved to 3-0 in overtime games this season. They shot 86.4 percent (19 of 22) from the free-throw line for the game.

With the win, Florida State (24-6, 12-5 ACC) clinched the No. 4 seed in next week’s conference tournament and a double bye. Virginia Tech (22-7, 11-6) is locked into the No. 5 seed.

“I think it’s pretty remarkable that in year 4 we would play for the fourth seed in the best league in the country,” Virginia Tech coach Buzz Williams said. “And considering all that’s transpired this season, to play the way that we have played in the last nine games, it’s scarred my heart in a good way.”

Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored 19 points and Hill added 18 points to pace Virginia Tech, which didn’t make a basket from the floor for a span of more than five minutes in the second half as Florida State regained the lead.

Blackshear, the Hokies’ tallest player at 6-foot-10, fouled out with 2:46 left in regulation. He had nine points and five rebounds but it was a tough loss for Virginia Tech, which only goes seven deep and was also without the injured Robinson.

Florida State has won 12 straight against Virginia Tech in Tallahassee, going back to 1990 when the teams were Metro Conference rivals. The Seminoles are 9-0 at home in ACC games against the Hokies.

Hill and Alexander-Walker each had 10 first-half points as Virginia Tech raced to a 33-19 halftime lead. The Hokies outrebounded FSU 21-13 and held the Seminoles to just 26.9 percent (7 of 26) from the floor.

“Virginia Tech did an unbelievable job in the first half of bottling us up and taking away the things that we were accustomed to doing,” Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said.

“I thought our guys turned it up defensively (in the second half). I think we showed a lot of character by being down such a large margin in the first half, not playing very well.

“We could have very easily have gotten discouraged. We didn’t panic. I thought the guys responded to each other and responded to the challenge that we gave them as coaches.”

SPECIAL MOMENT FOR SENIORS

Florida State’s seniors high-fived fans and played conductor for the Seminole Sound after the hard-fought win.

The victory on senior night gave Florida State 93 wins in the past four seasons. The Seminoles have the second-most wins over a four-year stretch in program history, just short of the 95 victories by the 2008-12 teams. Florida State still has one regular-season game remaining (at Wake Forest on Saturday) plus the ACC Tournament and NCAA Tournament to achieve the record.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida State could climb toward the top 10 with a victory in the regular-season finale against Wake Forest. It’s hard to fathom Virginia Tech would move down much, if at all, and could remain in the top 15 with a win over Miami.

BIG PICTURE

Virginia Tech: The Hokies were dominant in the first half, but ran out of gas in overtime. They were again without Robinson, who was in street clothes but coaching up teammates from the bench.

Florida State: The Seminoles scored just 19 first-half points, their lowest total of the season. But a 12-0 second-half run and success at the free-throw line helped them to the win.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech plays Miami on Friday.

Florida State travels to face Wake Forest on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Louisville challenges NCAA over recruiting allegations

Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports
Leave a comment

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
4 Comments

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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

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

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
7 Comments

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

Getty Images
4 Comments

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.