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Bolden leads South Carolina past No. 9 Virginia, 70-59

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Jair Bolden made an early 3-pointer for South Carolina and drew a charge a short time later and paused, staring a Virginia player down after the play.

It was a product of Bolden being excited to be playing against No. 9 Virginia, the defending national champion, and on national television, coach Frank Martin said, but it didn’t sit well with the Gamecocks coach at all.

“I don’t coach that. I’m not going to condone that. It’s not about us individually. It’s about us doing our jobs so we can all have success together,” Martin said, surmizing that offering him a spot on the bench got his attention.

Gamecocks assistants also helped and “just got him refocused and he came back in and that was never a part of … the rest of the game either. I don’t know why he did that. That’s why I took him out,” Martin said.

When Bolden came back in, he ignited the Gamecocks, scoring 15 of his season-high 22 points before halftime in a 70-59 victory against the Cavaliers.

“One of the things that excites us is when we play against teams that are good opponents, and we’ve been playing great teams,” Bolden said, adding that Martin’s glare was “scary, even though he’s on our side. You learn from it.”

Virginia coach Tony Bennett wishes his team had learned from Bolden’s early shooting display. He was 6 for 9 by halftime with a trio of 3-pointers.

“I thought he had too many uncontested or open window shots,” Bennett said.

The biggest one may have been the first one.

“When he jumped up and made that 3 early in he game, it gave our guys some life,” Martin said, and the Gamecocks raced to an early 13-5 advantage.

A.J. Lawson had 10 of his 14 points in the second half and Justin Minaya had 10 of his 12 after the break for the Gamecocks (8-4). They led 23-11, saw Virginia pull even at 45 with just over 11 minutes to play and promptly scored 12 of the next 17 points. The Cavaliers never got closer than five the rest of the way.

Martin called a timeout in the middle of a 13-3 run by Virginia that pulled them even, but watched as the Cavaliers closed the gap, letting his team figure it out.

“I’m sitting on the bench saying, `Wow! That’s pretty neat,” he said of seeing them respond. Maik Kotsar started it with an inside basket, Keyshawn Bryant also scored and Lawson hit a free throw. After the Cavaliers closed it back to 51-50, Lawson hit a pair of free throws and Minaya and Bolden scored.

“We had stretches of solid basketball, but not enough,” Bennett said.

Mamadi Diakite scored a career-high 21 points to lead Virginia (9-2). The Cavaliers had a season-high 19 turnovers, leading to 23 Gamecocks points. South Carolina shot 55.1%, connecting on 27 of 49 attempts.

BIG PICTURE

South Carolina: Bolden finished 8 for 13 from the field and 4 for 6 from beyond the arc. Minaya was 5 for 9 and Lawson was 5 fo 12. The Gamecocks had a 23-13 edge in points off turnovers and a 16-6 edge in fast break points.

Virginia: Ball security has become an issue for the Cavaliers, especially in the person of sophomore point guard Kihei Clark, who committed six (of the team’s 11) turnovers in a victory against Stony Brook and seven more against the Gamecocks. “At times we beat ourselves,” Bennett said.

UP NEXT

The Gamecocks have some time off before facing Stetson on Dec. 30 at home.

Virginia faces Navy at John Paul Jones Arena next Sunday.

Bubbles brewing with season on horizon

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
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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

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
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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.