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Three Things to Know: Florida routs Providence; Creighton’s new piece does well in debut

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Tuesday night didn’t have a lot of big matchups in college basketball. Only four top-25 teams even played. There were minimal matchups between power-conference teams.

But there were still some results to monitor for the future, including an SEC team earning a blowout win, the debut of a potential key rotation piece for a Big East team and 

1. Florida routs Providence at Hall of Fame Invitational

On a slow Tuesday night, Florida ran past Providence for an 83-51 win at the Hall of Fame Invitational in Brooklyn. The Gators used four double-figure scorers to gain an early big advantage as they coasted from there. Keyontae Johnson paced Florida with 19 points and 10 rebounds as the Gators shot 44 percent (8-for-18) from three and got scoring from multiple sources.

Perhaps most importantly, Florida avoided a landmine. Providence isn’t very good this season as they fall to .500. For a team with a lot of talent on paper, the Friars aren’t gelling together. So for the Gators to go into a neutral site and get a win on a slow December night is important for a team that already has three losses in non-conference play.

Florida’s fates weren’t swayed by a win over a floundering Providence team. But they gained some confidence by pounding a Big East opponent before a more important game against Utah State this weekend.

2. Creighton holds off Oklahoma in second half

In another matchup of power conference teams Creighton held off a second-half charge from Oklahoma for the 83-73 home win.

The trio of Marcus Zagorowski (20 points), Mitch Ballock (17 points) and Ty-Shon Alexander (19 points, 11 rebounds) led the way for the Bluejays as they combined for 56 points.

But most notably for Creighton in the win was the season debut of Denzel Mahoney. The Southeast Missouri State transfer hasn’t played since the 2017-18 season when he averaged 19.3 points per game. The 6-foot-5 Mahoney made his presence immediately felt in the Creighton lineup with 14 points in 29 minutes on Tuesday night.

Creighton already has the No. 15 offense in the country with a trio of talented players combining to put up 48 points per game. And now they’re adding a double-figure scorer who came off of a year and a half absence and scored double-figures on a Big 12 team? The Bluejays are an interesting wild card team in the Big East with their ability to put up points.

The matchup this weekend featuring Creighton traveling to Arizona State just got a lot more intriguing.

3. Miami wins back-and-forth game over Temple

In the second game of the Hall of Fame Invitational, Miami won a back-and-forth game over Temple with a 78-77 thriller.

Point guard Chris Lykes made two free throws after getting fouled with four seconds left to give the Hurricanes the win. Only 30 seconds before, the Owls had buried a three-pointer to take the lead as De’Vondre Perry looked like a potential hero.

But Miami pulled out the win making for a significantly more exciting outcome in Brooklyn than the opening contest. The Hurricanes still don’t have any sort of tournament-worthy profile. They still don’t look like an easy out after a recent road win at Illinois and this close win on Tuesday.

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.