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Garrett’s career-high 24 points lead No. 3 KU past Oklahoma

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Marcus Garrett has carved out a reputation at Kansas as one of the nation’s best defenders, the kind of consummate leader and team-first player just about every team with national title aspirations needs on its roster.

He wasn’t known as a particularly good 3-point shooter until Saturday.

Dared to shoot from beyond the arc by Oklahoma, the junior guard responded by knocking down a career-high six 3s to highlight a virtuoso performance. Garrett finished with a career-best 24 points, added seven assists, five rebounds and four steals, and led the third-ranked Jayhawks to an 87-70 rout that keeps them in the running for the Big 12 title.

“Coach has been saying for about two weeks now, when I’m open I have to take it,” Garrett said. “I don’t really care about how the defense is playing. I know what we’re trying to do offensively. I just took the shots that were there.”

His barrage opened up things for the rest of the Jayhawks.

“Obviously if Marcus makes six 3s we’ll be hard to deal with,” Jayhawks coach Bill Self said. “That was probably the best offensive game he’s had since he’s been here.”

RELATED: CollegeBasketballTalk’s latest bracketology

Udoka Azubuike took advantage of newfound real estate in the paint to pile up 15 points and 17 rebounds. Devon Dotson found lanes the basket and scored 19 points. Ochai Agbaji took advantage of the sagging defense to score 10, all helping the Jayhawks (22-3, 11-1) win their 10th straight since falling to top-ranked Baylor in early January.

Kristian Doolittle had 27 points and 12 rebounds to lead Oklahoma (16-9, 6-6), but the senior forward needed 20 field-goal attempts to get there. Austin Reaves added 12 points, while leading scorer Brady Manek dealt with early foul trouble and was held to seven points and 1-for-6 shooting from the arc.

“They’ve had really good defensive teams. It’s not like they haven’t been good,” said Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger, whose team has lost 19 straight in the Phog. “But this team is really good. They’re really together. They react to each other well. They have lots of length at the rim. They’re a really good defensive team. Good in other areas too.”

As expected, the Sooners spent the first half slumping into the paint, trying to keep Azubuike and fellow big man David McCormack from getting easy looks at the rim. As a result, they backed off the 3-point line and dared Garrett – who shot just 29 percent there coming into the game – to begin hoisting up shots.

He finally did. And he made Oklahoma pay.

Garrett knocked down a trio of first-half 3-pointers, including one that capped a 17-5 surge over the final 8 minutes and gave Kansas a 41-32 lead at the break. That barrage forced Oklahoma to begin guarding the perimeter, and that opened for Dotson lanes to the basket, and the Jayhawks’ big men began working with their backs to the basket.

Garrett didn’t just do it with his shooting, either. One of the nation’s best defenders also had steals on back-to-back possessions late in the half, leading to easy run-outs and layups that crushed Oklahoma’s confidence.

“It was very critical,” Doolittle said. “It wasn’t the intensity we wanted.”

Kansas kept its momentum going with a 12-2 run to start the the second half, only for the Sooners to make their lone big run of the game. Manek finally got a couple of shots to drop, and McCormack and Tristan Enaruna committed offensive fouls on consecutive possessions for Kansas, allowing the Sooners to trim their deficit to 61-51 with 11 1/2 minutes left.

Dotson answered with a pair of layups, and Agbaji knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner in front of the Kansas bench a few minutes later, allowing the Jayhawks to stretch the lead and cruise to the finish.

“I thought we battled for a bit and then I thought we made a couple weak plays, they made a couple good plays to draw it out before the half,” Kruger said. “They’re good. They’re really good. Our guys battled in a lot of good ways and the big guy inside bothered us a bit. Garrett making 3s bothered us a bit.

“They’re just good.”

TECHNICALLY SPEAKING

The Jayhawks were leading 76-60 when they had a run-out and the Sooners’ De’Vion Harmon knocked the ball out from behind. Referee Gerry Pollard incorrectly whistled that it went off Kansas, sending coach Bill Self sprinting down the court and bumping into him. Self was given a technical foul and Doolittle made one of two free throws.

BIG PICTURE

Oklahoma was 8 of 24 from beyond the arc and beaten on the boards, and that’s never a recipe for success against the Jayhawks. The Sooners also allowed Kansas to pile up 14 second-chance points.

Kansas committed 10 turnovers, but most of those came in the final few minutes. They had just three at halftime, when the Jayhawks had built a cushion they would never relinquish. Dotson had five assists and Kansas had 17 as a team.

UP NEXT

Oklahoma: hosts top-ranked Baylor on Monday night.

Kansas: concludes its homestand against Iowa State on Monday night.

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.