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No. 1 Baylor wins 22nd straight Big 12 game, knocking off No. 14 West Virginia

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WACO, Texas — Jared Butler said he wasn’t trying to make up for the absence of Baylor’s second-leading scorer behind him as the top-ranked Bears chased the Big 12 record for consecutive wins.

Maybe it just seemed that way when the junior guard connected on a 3-pointer just 21 seconds in and hit three more from long range before halftime.

Butler scored 16 of his 21 points in the first half, and Baylor never trailed while matching Kansas for the longest winning streak in the Big 12 at 22 games with a 70-59 victory over No. 14 West Virginia on Saturday.

The Bears (23-1, 12-0 Big 12) cruised without MaCio Teague, a junior whose streak of 90 consecutive games ended because of a right wrist injury. Butler and Teague are the only two Baylor players averaging in double figures.

“I told myself that I can’t change my game,” said Butler, who was 8 of 11 overall and 5 of 7 from long range. “I can’t try to force shots now that he’s not playing. I didn’t try to change my game, but luckily it just worked out that way.”

RELATED: CollegeBasketballTalk’s latest bracketology

Baylor led by 19 in the first half and answered a scoreless stretch of nearly four minutes before halftime by starting the second half on a 20-3 run for its biggest lead at 53-25.

Taz Sherman scored a season-high 20 points for the Mountaineers (18-7, 6-6), who had 11 of their season high-tying 22 turnovers in the first 12 minutes and shot 35% in a third consecutive loss.

“We have this incredible fascination for dribbling the ball,” coach Bob Huggins said. “I haven’t seen a game yet where you get points for that. You’re not going to win turning it over 22 times.”

Matthew Mayer had a flying dunk off a nifty spin move on the baseline and finished with 13 points and eight rebounds for the Bears, who matched Kansas’ record run in the Big 12. The Jayhawks started 22-0 in 1996-97, the league’s first season.

Davion Mitchell scored 13 points with a game-high nine assists – two more than West Virginia had as a team – as Baylor extended the longest winning streak in school history. The Bears won their 12th consecutive conference game, topping the 1945-46 team’s mark from the old Southwest Conference.

“I think it’s a tribute to the players, their belief,” coach Scott Drew said. “And we’ve been operating under joy … focusing one game at a time and we’ll keep doing that.”

The Mountaineers were coming off a 58-49 loss to No. 3 Kansas when they led by seven midway through the second half. West Virginia, which got 11 points and 12 rebounds from freshman Oscar Tshiebwe, hadn’t lost consecutive games this season before the current skid.

BIG PICTURE

West Virginia: An 8-0 run to finish the first half gave the Mountaineers a sliver of hope, but they missed their first 11 shots after halftime to ruin any chance of getting back in the game. When they finally started making shots, the Mountaineers were down 28 points with 10 minutes to go.

Baylor: The Bears have a nation-leading six wins without a loss against Top 25 opponents. Their four-week run atop the poll is the longest for a Texas school since Houston over the final eight weeks in 1968. It’s sure to reach five weeks after a blowout of the team that beat Baylor a day after it reached No. 1 for the first time in January 2017.

COUNTDOWN TO KANSAS

The Jayhawks won 87-70 at Oklahoma, which should set up a 1 vs. 3 showdown in Waco next Saturday. Before then, the Bears visit the Sooners while Kansas is home against Iowa State. No. 2 Gonzaga plays at Pepperdine on Sunday in the only other game that could change the current rankings.

“First and foremost, we’ll concentrate on our next game,” Drew said. “But when the weekend comes, I don’t know if there’s a better honor out there for a university than to have college game day for football and basketball in the same year.”

The ESPN show visited Waco when the Sooners played the surprising Bears for the Big 12 lead in football in November.

CULVER’S STRUGGLES

Derek Culver, second to Tshiebwe in scoring and rebounding, had just three points while attempting just four shots and finished with three rebounds without one on the offensive glass.

UP NEXT

West Virginia: Oklahoma State at home Tuesday.

Baylor: At Oklahoma on Tuesday.

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.