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Report: Charges filed against Josh Pastner accusers

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Charges have been filed against a couple who accused Georgia Tech coach Josh Pastner of sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room in early 2016.

According to a report from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach, Ron Bell and his girlfriend, Jennifer Pendley are accused of being “engaged in a plan or scheme … to allege a false, fraudulent accusation of sexual assault against Josh Pastner with the goal of obtaining an anticipated civil monetary settlement/judgment,” according to court records in Arizona.

Pendley, a partner with Bell in the scheme, tried to turn on Pastner, a former friend of Bell’s, as the duo hatched a plan to call police and accuse Pastner of sexually assaulting her in a hotel room while he was coaching Memphis more than three years earlier.

The call came before mediation of a civil lawsuit related to the accusation. Pastner’s attorney countered with a court filing that included recorded jailhouse conversations suggesting the couple fabricated the allegations.

In January 2018, Pastner filed a civil suit against the two in Arizona, alleging extortion and blackmail by threatening to release false allegations about him. A countersuit was filed by Bell and Pendley the next month alleging the sexual assault along with other times he allegedly harassed her.

A Title IX investigation conducted by attorneys hired at Georgia Tech cleared Pastner on it in June 2018.

Bell was previously linked to Pastner in a November 2017 report from CBS Sports in which he provided Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie and Tadric Jackson with improper benefits. Bell paid for flights to his home in Tucson, meals in Atlanta and claimed to send the players shoes and shirts purchased online. Georgia Tech self-reported the violations to the NCAA after Pastner reported the violations to them as Okogie and Jackson were suspended for the start of the 2017-18 season.

The warrant for Pendley was issued last week when she failed to appear in court twice to be arraigned. Pendley was facing misdemeanor charges of facilitation of a fraud scheme practice, facilitation of influencing a witness and facilitation of tampering with a witness. Bell was hit with seven misdemeanor counts in March, including solicitation of a fraud scheme practice, solicitation of influencing witness, attempted tampering with a witness, use of an electronic communication to terrify, intimidate, threaten or harass and impersonating a public servant.

(H/t: Mark Schlabach, ESPN)

Report: NCAA serves Georgia Tech with notice of allegations

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A couple days after its 2018-19 season came to an end in the ACC tournament, the Georgia Tech basketball program now finds itself in the crosshairs of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Thursday night it was reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the school has been given a notice of allegations in connection with alleged rules violations by former assistant coach Darryl LaBarrie and Pastner’s friend-turned-adversary Ron Bell.

Per the report two of the three violations are of the Level I variety, the most severe when it comes to the NCAA rules structure.

LaBarrie is alleged to have taken a prospective recruit and a team member to a strip club during a visit in November 2016. Also, the recruit and team member are alleged to have been given $300 by another individual who was not identified.

Lastly, the NCAA has alleged that there was an impermissible meeting between the recruit and a person who is considered by the governing body to be a “representative of the school’s athletics interest.” Meetings of that variety are not allowed to occur during the recruitment of a prospective student-athlete.

According to reports by ESPN.com and Stadium, the recruit in question was former Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. and the representative was former Georgia Tech point guard Jarrett Jack.

With regards to Bell, who was alleged to have attempted to blackmail and extort Pastner in a lawsuit filed by the coach in January 2018, his involvement in this case comes as a result of contact with former Georgia Tech players Tadric Jackson and Josh Okogie.

According to the Journal-Constitution, the NCAA states in the notice that Bell gave Jackson and Okogie $1,400 in travel expenses, clothing, shoes and meals when the tandem visited Bell in Arizona in November 2017. It was also stated that Bell purchased plane tickets for Markel Crawford, who at the time decided to transfer from Memphis. Crawford would ultimately transfer to Ole Miss instead of Georgia Tech, with Bell cancelling the tickets as a result.

It goes without saying that this isn’t a good situation for Pastner and Georgia Tech, especially when taking into consideration the program’s 2018-19 performance. Per the report the head coach is not directly blamed in the NCAA’s notice, but in recent years the governing body has placed more responsibility on coaches when it comes to knowing what’s going on in their programs.

Georgia Tech will have until May 16 to respond to the allegations in the notice.

Jerome, Hunter lead No. 2 Virginia’s rout of Ga. Tech, 81-51

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Ty Jerome scored 19 points, De’Andre Hunter had 18 and No. 2 Virginia took command with a 25-4 first-half run and beat reeling Georgia Tech 81-51 on Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers (25-2, 13-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 11-7 before a 3-pointer by Braxton Key sparked the eight-minute surge. Hunter had nine points, Kyle Guy six and Jerome five in the burst. Virginia’s lead was 41-22 at halftime and 51-24 after a 10-2 run to start the second half as the Cavaliers won their fifth in a row in the series. Guy added 11 points and three others had eight.

Jose Alvarado scored 12 and James Banks III had 11 for the Yellow Jackets (12-17, 4-12), who lost for the ninth time in their last 10 games. Georgia Tech also got a full dose of Virginia’s all-around efficiency as the Cavaliers shot 55.6 percent (30 of 54), made nine 3-pointers and limited the Yellow Jackets to just five 3-pointers (in 17 attempts) and 37.5 percent shooting overall (21 of 56).

BIG PICTURE

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are very young with only two seniors on the roster, and neither Abdoulaye Gueye nor Brandon Ashton contributed much until Gueye made a few baby hooks in the second half. In Josh Pastner’s third season as coach, the turnover has been significant, but the results have been slow to follow.

Virginia: Coach Tony Bennett went with a new starting five of freshman guard Kihei Clark, Jerome, Guy, Hunter and Mamadi Diakite. It’s the third game in a row Bennett has juggled combinations, with Jack Salt and Braxton Key also getting starts in that span. Salt had started every ACC game before Wednesday night.

Koumadje leads No. 17 Florida State past Georgia Tech 69-47

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ATLANTA — Christ Koumadje had 10 points and 12 rebounds as No. 17 Florida State tied a school record with its seventh straight ACC win, beating Georgia Tech 69-47 Saturday.

Freshman Devin Vassell came off the bench to score a team-high 11 while playing in his hometown for the Seminoles (20-5, 8-4).

Georgia Tech (11-15, 3-10) lost its seventh straight ACC game with another offensive struggle.

Tech guard Jose Alvarado broke out of a lengthy slump with 17 points, but the Yellow Jackets made just 8 of 36 shots from inside the 3-point arc and shot 34.8 percent overall. They’ve averaged 53.1 points in the streak. On Saturday, they put up their seventh and eighth halves in the streak scoring 25 or fewer points.

The teams were tied at 10 early before the Jackets fell into the first of multiple shooting freezes, and the Seminoles stretched their lead to 31-15 on a layup by Terance Mann with 4:27 left.

To that point, Tech had made just 6 of 26 shots, and center James Banks III — the Jackets’ leading scorer in ACC action — was off the mark on his first six.

Phil Cofer, David Nichols and Vassell each a pair of 3-pointers before Alvarado and Abdoulaye Gueye hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc for the Jackets, and Banks finally got loose for a dunk shortly before the buzzer to pull Tech within 34-23 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The first time the Seminoles put together a seven-game ACC winning streak, in the 2011-’12 season, they went on to win the ACC Tournament. This also cemented a fourth consecutive season with 20 or more wins overall, matching a run from 2009-’12 that also was under head coach Leonard Hamilton.

Georgia Tech: The Jackets keep churning their lineup, as freshman forward Kristian Sjolund made his first start and sophomore Moses Wright returned to the lineup for the first time in more than a month. Sjolund scored 19 points in Tech’s previous two games after scoring just nine combined all season before that, and he can shoot. They were replaced to start the second half by Gueye and Brandon Alston. Sjolund had 11 points, including 3 of 7 3-pointers, and Wright scored two.

Outlaw leads No. 22 Hokies to 76-68 win over Georgia Tech

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BLACKSBURG, Va. — Ty Outlaw scored 20 points and No. 22 Virginia Tech defeated Georgia Tech 76-68 on Wednesday night.

Outlaw hit six 3-pointers for the Hokies (19-5, 8-4 ACC), who rallied from a three-point halftime deficit and snapped a two-game losing streak.

Kerry Blackshear Jr. and Nickeil Alexander-Walker each scored 16 points for the Hokies, who swept the season series and notched their sixth straight win over Georgia Tech (11-14, 3-9).

Michael Devoe paced the Yellow Jackets with 22 points.

After hitting just five 3-pointers in winning an ugly game in Atlanta on Jan. 9, Virginia Tech hit 13 in the victory. The Hokies shot just 34.6 percent in the first half (9 of 26), but heated up behind Outlaw and Blackshear in the second half, shooting 59.3 percent (16 of 27).

The Hokies trailed 35-30 early in the second half, but a 3-pointer by Outlaw with 18:04 remaining started a 17-2 run in which Virginia Tech scored on six of seven possessions to take the lead for good. Georgia Tech missed three shots and turned the ball over twice in that span.

The Yellow Jackets cut the lead to 49-48 on a 3-pointer by Devoe with 8:56 left, but the Hokies answered, with Blackshear converting a three-point play on the ensuing possession. Blackshear later added a free throw and Outlaw connected on a 3-pointer in a 7-0 run, and the Hokies never looked back.

TIP-INS

Virginia Tech: The Hokies had been struggling without star point guard Justin Robinson, who missed his fourth straight game with a foot injury. In three previous games without him, they had averaged 54 points and shot 35.6 percent from the floor (32.8 percent from beyond the 3-point arc), but they got well against the Yellow Jackets, who came into the game ranked third in the ACC in field-goal percentage defense (38.9 percent).

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets had failed to score 50 points in two of their previous three games, so 68 points and 11 3-pointers certainly were a step in the right direction. But their zone defense let them down in this one, as Virginia Tech’s 13 3-pointers were the most against the Yellow Jackets this season.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Virginia Tech: After sliding in the polls following Saturday’s loss at Clemson, the Hokies have a chance to move back up with a win at Pittsburgh on Saturday. The Panthers were in last place with a 2-10 conference record heading into Wednesday night play.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets aren’t going to be in the national poll any time soon, but can play the role of spoiler, with games against ranked foes Florida State and Virginia remaining on the schedule.

UP NEXT

Virginia Tech: The Hokies play at Pittsburgh on Saturday.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets play host to No. 17 Florida State on Saturday.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

Saturday’s Things To Know: The Big 12 rolls, Kentucky’s back, Justin Robinson breaks out

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PLAYERS OF THE DAY: Justin Robinson, Virginia Tech

Robinson had the game of his life on Saturday afternoon.

The senior point guard, who has spent much of this season overshadowed by the emergence of Nickeil Alexander-Walker, scored 24 of his 35 points in the first half, hit nine of his 13 threes and handed out eight assists as No. 10 Virginia Tech bounced back from a couple of embarrassing losses at Virginia and at North Carolina to mollywhop Syracuse in Blacksburg.

The Hokies jumped out to an early double-digit lead, pushed the lead to 19 points by halftime and ended up cruising through the second half as the Syracuse zone had no answer for their ability to pass the ball and shoot over the top of the Orange defenders.

This was exactly the kind of win that Buzz Williams’ team needed to get their confidence back and headed in the right direction.

TEAM OF THE DAY: Kentucky Wildcats

It doesn’t get much better than knocking off a top ten team and getting the nation back on your bandwagon. We wrote about about No. 8 Kentucky beating No. 9 Kansas right here.

ONIONS OF THE DAY: Braxton Beverly, N.C. State

The Wolfpack trailed 67-61 with 20 seconds left. After four missed free throws from Marcquise Reed, Braxton Beverly hit this shot to give N.C. State the win:

EXTRA ONIONS: The Hausers

And we all thought that Markus Howard was the bucket-getter for Marquette.

Well, he still is. He had 31 points today. But just as important as those 31 points were the 41 points and 14 boards that Sam and Joey Hauser combined for as No. 12 Marquette erased an 11-point deficit late in the second half on Saturday. There wasn’t a single shot that stood out, but that duo made big shot after big shot, and then hit clutch free throws down the stretch to ice the win.

With those two playing as well as they have been playing, Marquette is looking more and more like a serious Final Four threat.

SATURDAY WAS A GOOD DAY FOR …

THE BIG 12: Thanks to an impressive feat of scheduling, the Big 12 was able to cruise past the SEC in the Big 12/SEC Challenge thanks in large part to the fact that three of the top five teams in the SEC — No. 16 Auburn, No. 22 Mississippi State and No. 25 LSU — were not playing in the event. Kansas-Kentucky was a thriller, and Iowa State-Ole Miss had some intrigue even if it didn’t live up to it, but beyond that, the slate as a whole was something of a snooze.

But it worked out for the Big 12. They won the event 6-4.

THE BIG THREE: It’s not exactly surprising given the competition that they were playing, but No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Virginia and No. 3 Duke all cruised to blowout wins. Tennessee was challenged early by West Virginia, Duke was challenged a little longer by Georgia Tech, but overall there wasn’t much of a sweat.

QUINNDARY WEATHERSPOON: Weatherspoon finished with 27 points, scoring 20 in the second half as No. 22 Mississippi State landed a much-needed win over No. 16 Auburn, 92-84.

LINDELL WIGGINTON: It has been awhile since we’ve seen Wigginton play like the guy that was arguably the best returning guard in the Big 12 this season, but he did on Saturday. Wigginton scored 18 points in 21 minutes off the bench, shooting 7-for-10 from three and making three threes to help Iowa State land a win at Ole Miss. Getting Wigginton and Cameron Lard playing better is the key to the Cyclones reaching their season.

SATURDAY WAS A BAD DAY FOR …

KANSAS STATE: The Wildcats had won five straight games, turning their season around and setting themselves on a course as one of college basketball’s biggest sleepers, and then the SEC/Big 12 Challenge comes along and Kansas State goes and loses to Texas A&M, who entered this game with a 7-10 record having lost six of their last seven. That’s not ideal.

MISSOURI: The Tigers led No. 25 LSU by 14 points with 2:08 left, and not only did they managed to find a way to get to overtime, but they lost in overtime and failed to cover 5.5 points. This was a bad beat for Missouri and the people that bet on them.

TRAVIS STEELE: It’s bad enough that Xavier blew an 11 point second half lead and lost at home to No. 12 Marquette, but part of the reason that the Musketeers lost is that Steele, with 3:34 left in the game, was hit with a technical foul right after Marquette had regained the lead. He’s had better days.

ISAAC COPELAND: Not only did Nebraska lose at home to Ohio State, the third straight loss for the Huskers as they fight for a spot in the NCAA tournament, but they suffered a much more significant loss: Isaac Copeland is done for the year after tearing his ACL, and he tore it going up for a meaningless dunk after he was called for a travel. Just brutal.

JORDAN GOODWIN: The Billikens might have lost their chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament on Saturday with a 54-53 loss to Davidson, and that loss was due to Jordan Goodwin missing a pair of free throws with just 0.4 seconds left on the clock. That’s a tough one to swallow.

FINAL THOUGHT

Overall, I know the Big Ten is a good basketball conference.

There are two very real national title contenders at the top of the league in Michigan and Michigan State, and they legit.

But beyond that, what are we talking about here?

Because the further we get into the season, the more that I am starting to believe that there is a giant mass of mediocrity in the league once you get past the top two teams.

We all thought Maryland was the team that was going to emerge as the contender to the Michigan schools, but after getting worked by the Wolverines, the Terps turned around and lost to Illinois on Saturday. That’s not good. Neither is the emergence of Wisconsin as potentially the third-best team in the conference after they had a string of losing four out of five, including a home game to Minnesota and a pair of games where they couldn’t crack 15 first half points. Purdue has looked great in metrics like KenPom and NET, but that’s largely due to the number of close losses they have against the likes of Florida State, Virginia Tech and Texas. I don’t trust Iowa or Minnesota. Ohio State just snapped a five-game losing streak against Nebraska, who is on a three-game losing streak. Indiana has lost six in a row.

I fully expect at least nine teams from the Big Ten to get to the NCAA tournament because the Pac-12 is awful, the Mountain West only has one potential at-large team and the Atlantic 10 has none. The bids have to come from somewhere.

But that doesn’t mean I think that those teams are going to be great once they get there.