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Report: Minnesota center Reggie Lynch facing 3rd sexual assault allegation

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Suspended from competition by the University of Minnesota after it was ruled by the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action that he was responsible for sexual misconduct in an alleged sexual assault that occurred last April, center Reggie Lynch has been allowed to rejoin the team for practices.

Tuesday afternoon the Minneapolis Star-Tribune released another report on Lynch’s case, with expulsion having been recommended on the heels of a third alleged victim coming forward and accusing the senior with sexual assault. Lynch is currently appealing the ruling regarding the first alleged incident that was handed down by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, which included suspending Lynch from school and banning him from campus until August 2020.

Lynch’s appeal of that ruling will be heard by the Minnesota Sexual Misconduct Subcommittee. Lynch, who was in his first school year on campus after transferring from Illinois State, would go on to be involved in another incident in May 2016.

Lynch was not charged by law enforcement authorities in either incident, with the athletic department suspending him during the offseason but reinstating him in September 2016 after what was believed to be the second incident.

With Tuesday’s report by the Star-Tribune, Lynch is now alleged to be involved in three such incidents in the months of April and May 2016 as opposed to the two that were reported on last week.

Forward Charles Buggs to leave Minnesota program

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Tuesday afternoon the Minnesota basketball program announced that forward Charles Buggs would be leaving the program, making him the second player to depart since the end of the season. The 6-foot-9 Buggs, the last remaining link to Tubby Smith’s tenure at Minnesota, has graduated and will be eligible immediately at another Division I school as a result.

Buggs started 21 of the 28 games he played in last season, averaging 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in 24 minutes of action per contest. He joins guard Kevin Dorsey as players who have left Richard Pitino’s program this offseason.

After redshirting as a freshman in 2012-13, Buggs played in 16 games as a redshirt freshman in 2013-14 and for his career averaged 4.1 points and 2.1 rebounds per contest. With size being at a premium on the transfer market at this point in the spring, it will be interesting to see which schools reach out to Buggs with an eye towards adding another front court option to their rotation for the 2016-17 season.

Under-pressure Pitino: ‘We’ve got to get this right’

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Richard Pitino’s fourth year as the coach at Minnesota has come with significant pressure to pull up the floundering men’s basketball program from the bottom of the Big Ten and help put an end to the off-the-court problems.

With the university president publicly expressing concern about Gophers players repeatedly getting in trouble, Pitino has begun a make-or-break season. Minutes after his first meeting with just-hired athletic director Mark Coyle on Thursday, Pitino sat down in his office for an interview with The Associated Press about his status and the state of the team.

“Obviously he’s coming in at a time when I’m not the most popular guy right now, and I understand that,” Pitino said of Coyle, who arrives from Syracuse. “But I’ve got to show him my vision. I’ve got to show him what I believe we’re all about. I’ve got to also show him what we need to do differently and how we can do it and make sure people are proud of the product on the court as well as off the court.”

Not only did the Gophers finish with an 8-23 record, but guards Kevin Dorsey, Nate Mason and Dupree McBrayer were suspended for the final four games after a sex video appeared briefly on Dorsey’s social media accounts. Dorsey has left the program with the intent to transfer. Mason and McBrayer were reinstated.

Then center Reggie Lynch was jailed this week on suspicion of criminal sexual conduct. He was released without charges filed, but the investigation is ongoing.

University President Eric Kaler, not yet halfway into his opening remarks at Coyle’s introductory news conference on Wednesday, singled out the team.

“Frankly, this has been a tough week and a tough couple of months for our men’s basketball program. I’m profoundly disappointed in the continuing episodes, poor judgment, alleged crimes, and it simply can’t continue,” Kaler said. “Mark is aware of my concerns and wherever he’s been, Mark’s commitment to integrity is unquestioned. I expect him to set a high bar and make sure this department makes news for winning Big Ten and national titles, and producing admirable and successful student athletes, and not for unacceptable behavior by anyone in the department.”

Pitino said he wasn’t surprised by Kaler’s reaction.

“When you win eight games and you have some off-the-court issues, that responsibility lies on me. It doesn’t lie on anybody else. So we’ve got to get it right,” Pitino said. “I certainly understand where he’s coming from.”

Thanks to an extension and raise granted last year by previous athletic director Norwood Teague, Pitino’s buyout ballooned to $7 million if he were to be fired this offseason. Coyle sounded prepared to play the good cop role in evaluating the coaches he’s now in charge of, including Pitino.

“It’s my job to come in, take a look at it and create accountability,” Coyle said, later adding: “I think I’m patient. No matter what coach you’re looking at or what program you’re looking at, I think it’s important that you understand everything around that program.”

Teague also permitted private jet usage overages for Pitino, who according to a university audit revealed this week spent $325,000 on such travel for recruiting between 2013-16. The coach’s contract only budgeted $150,000 for that period.

“Everything that we did was approved, so we never felt like we were doing anything wrong,” Pitino said. “And if there are things that we need to do differently to get better, we’ll do them.”

Pitino said there has been extra communication between him and his players recently with regard to off-the-court behavior. He said his staff has been making arrangements to advise the team in that area.

“That’s priority number one, making sure our guys are educated properly and understand what’s at stake and what’s expected of them,” Pitino said.

VIDEOS: University of Mary’s Devan Douglas wins college dunk contest

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Thursday night the annual State Farm College Slam and 3-Point Championships were held in Cypress, Texas, with the event serving as a “kickoff” event of sorts to Final Four weekend. The winner of the slam dunk contest came from the Division II ranks, as University of Mary’s Devan Douglas took home the championship belt.

With his first dunk Douglas jumped over IPFW’s Max Landis and threw down a two-handed dunk. Douglas proved to be the most consistent dunker on the night, and there were times when it appeared as if he would hit his head on the rim.

UNLV’s Ike Nwamu finished second in the dunk contest, with two of his better dunks being his opening round between the legs dunk and a Vince Carter-inspired windmill in which he finished with his arm inside of the rim.

The best missed dunk came courtesy of Mississippi State’s Craig Sword, who attempted to jump over the Denny’s pancake mascot. Sword was unsuccessful on three attempts, with the pancake looking better equipped to take a charge than serve as a prop.

And his heels were inside the restricted area, so it would have been a block if we’re being completely serious about this.

The men’s and women’s three-point contests were also held Thursday night, with Georgia Tech’s Adam Smith and Minnesota’s Rachel Banham winning the respective titles. And in the matchup of champions that followed, Banham edged out Smith to take home a second trophy on the night.

Minnesota dismisses guard Carlos Morris

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Minnesota has dismissed swingman Carlos Morris for conduct detrimental to the team.

The Golden Gophers announced the move Wednesday, a day before they host No. 6 Maryland. The school says the senior will remain on scholarship for the remainder of the season.

Morris was the team’s fourth-leading scorer at 9.8 points a game. He made 16 starts and averaged 25.6 minutes for the Gophers, who are still looking for their first Big Ten victory of the season.

Morris was a junior college transfer before last season and was one of just two seniors on the rebuilding team, along with Joey King.

He was recently replaced in the starting lineup by freshman Dupree McBrayer.

Bryant helps No. 19 Hoosiers hold off Gophers for 74-68 win

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana’s Thomas Bryant got down and dirty Saturday and looked good doing it.

He scored points, banged inside, played defense and jump-started the Hoosiers’ sometimes anemic offense at three key points.

The freshman center had a career-high 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and scored the go-ahead basket on a putback with 1:56 left to help No. 19 Indiana fend off Minnesota’s frantic second-half rally for a 74-68 victory.

“It was just one of those games that you have to do some things to find a way to win the game and he had a big impact,” coach Tom Crean said.

Bryant made plays on both ends in a game the Hoosiers (18-4, 8-1 Big Ten) desperately needed after the Golden Gophers erased a 16-point second-half deficit and took a 67-66 lead with 3:54 to go.

But Bryant clogged up the middle and the Golden Gophers didn’t make another basket.

Offensively, Bryant’s basket off the rebound and an emphatic dunk with 27 seconds left made it 70-67. That was all the Hoosiers needed.

“I felt like Thomas stayed with it even when calls didn’t go his way,” senior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell said after scoring 13 points. “He kept his head, he played great defense, he rebounded well for us and he had that poise for us.”

This was no typical game for the surging Hoosiers.

They started slow, didn’t take the lead until midway through the first half, didn’t make a 3-pointer for the first 14 1/2 minutes and couldn’t close it out against a team that has now lost 11 in a row.

Minnesota (6-16, 0-10) was led by Nate Mason and Kevin Dorsey, who each had 21 points. Dorsey’s scoring total was a career high.

After trailing 39-27 at halftime and 48-32 with 16:33 to play, the Gophers rallied.

They scored six straight points, went on an 11-4 run and finally took the lead when Dupree Brayer came up with a steal and scored on a breakaway dunk that sent the Gophers bench jumping up and down while most of the fans inside Assembly Hall were stunned.

Bryant made sure it didn’t last.

“I think maybe they tightened up a little bit defensively, so you’ve got to give them credit,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I know a lot of people make fun of us, our record, and so on. But these guys, they’re fighting.”

TOPSY-TURVY TURNAROUND

Minnesota opened the game with a 7-0 lead, then fell into a 12-point halftime deficit after Indiana went on a 22-4 run. The Gophers turned things around in the second half and came up short. It’s not the first time this season things have gotten a little topsy-turvy. Indiana rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit for a 70-63 win earlier this month at Minnesota.

THE SHOOTERS

Both teams finished 2 of 18 on 3-pointers, but it was Indiana’s numbers that really turned heads. The Hoosiers set a conference record in league play with 18 3s the last time Minnesota came to Bloomington, and the Hoosiers started the day No. 3 in the nation in 3-point percentage (44.4 percent). Afterward, Cream said he would have liked his team to have taken even more 3s.

SHORT-HANDED

After the game, Pitino noted that his team almost pulled off a major upset on the road despite playing with only seven scholarship players. Senior guard Carlos Morris, a team captain and former starter, missed the game to attend the funeral of a family friend.

TIP-INS

Minnesota: Outscored Indiana 48-42 in the paint and had the same offensive rebound total (10) as Indiana. … In addition to losing 11 in a row, the Gophers have lost three straight in the Indiana series and 15 of their last 16 Big Ten regular season games.

Indiana: Troy Williams also scored 13 points and had six rebounds. … Came into the game with three consecutive home wins by 25 or more points for the first time since 1987-88.

UP NEXT

Minnesota visits Northwestern on Thursday.

Indiana visits Michigan on Tuesday.