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Things To Know: Buffalo notches another road win, North Carolina routs Stanford, Lagerald Vick goes wild

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We’ve entered the second week of the college basketball season after an eventful first few days. The week didn’t get off to exactly a rousing start, but there were some notable results – and performances – on Monday evening across the country.

1. Buffalo outlasts Southern Illinois

Kentucky isn’t the only team to have a little trouble with the Salukis. Just a weekend removed from its overtime win at West Virginia, 25th-ranked Buffalo could never get great separation from Southern Illinois but claimed a 62-53 win in Carbondale on Monday.

It was a second-straight impressive road win for the Bulls, who won despite shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from 3-point range. They did it with a defense that forced 19 turnovers and held the Salukis to a 3 of 13 mark from distance. CJ Massinburg came back to earth after scoring 43 against the Mountaineers, being held to just seven points on 3 of 9 shooting. Montell McRae and Jeremy Harris both had 11 to lead the Bulls. It may not have been a pretty win for Nate Oats’ team, but against a feisty opponent on the road coming off an emotional victory, it’s undoubtedly a welcome one.

For Southern Illinois, it was a second close-but-no-cigar effort after it pushed Kentucky to the limit in a 12-point loss last week. Kavion Pippen had 18 points to lead the Salukis in scoring. The Bulls and Salukis will have a rematch Dec. 15 in Buffalo.

2. North Carolina stomped Stanford

In what was really the marquee matchup of the night, the Tar Heels had little trouble dispatching Stanford in Chapel Hill, 90-72. Luke Maye had 16 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Cameron Johnson continued impressive play as the former Pitt transfer put up 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting while also grabbing seven rebounds. The 6-foot-9 senior has scored at least 17 points in all three of UNC’s games this season.

After putting up 21 points on 9 of 13 shooting against Elon on Friday, freshman Nassir Little struggled, making just 4 of 10 shots (0 of 3 from deep), though he did play a season-high 24 minutes off the bench. North Carolina’s start t the season isn’t likely to get much tougher in the near-term with games against Tennessee Tech and St. Francis up next before the Las Vegas Invitational pits them against Texas and then either Michigan State or UCLA before tilts with Michigan (Nov. 28) and Gonzaga (Dec. 15) really test them.

3. Lagerald Vick perfect from distance as Kansas overcomes early troubles

A cascade of 3s put Vermont up early, but an 8 of 8 performance from Lagerald Vick from behind the line helped propel Kansas past the Catamounts. 84-68. Vick finished with a career high 32 points while going 12 of 14 overall from the floor. Pretty good for a guy who wasn’t even going to be a member of the Jayhawks program after three years in Lawrence not too long ago.

An early 18-4 run staked Vermont to an early lead, but the Catamounts couldn’t keep pace as Vick went wild and Udoka Azubuike produced inside to the tune of 23 points and 11 rebounds. Freshman point guard Quentin Grimes had 10 points and 10 assists. The game proved to be a pretty solid encapsulation of the depth and weapons that Bill Self has at his disposal this season as Dedric Lawson, a popular first-team All-American pick, went scoreless with an 0 for 6 night, yet the Jayhawks had two seniors put up monster numbers and a rookie drop 10 dimes. Kansas can beat you in a variety of ways with a variety of players.

Anthony Lamb had 24 points while Ernie Duncan added 17 and Stef Smith 13 for the Catamounts, who face Louisville on Friday.

Sagaba Konate’s presence blocks ‘Press Virginia’s’ regression

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — College basketball’s most electrifying defender was using his feet to change games just a few years ago.

Growing up in Mali, soccer was the game for Sagaba Konate.

“How would you like that guy bearing down on you?” asked West Virginia coach Bob Huggins.

The 6-foot-8, 260-pound Konate doesn’t work much in pursuit these days. Instead, he mostly huddles at the rim, waiting to unleash his game-changing skill.

“I just block shots,” Konate told NBC Sports last month at Big 12 media day. “I just do it. That’s the thing I like to do.”

Konate’s ability to block in the manner and with the frequency he does is a big reason for the belief that 13th-ranked West Virginia’s vaunted press won’t regress without All-American guard Jevon Carter. Instead of having a harassing guard at the tip of the spear, Press Virginia will have a bear trap in the rear.

“We have the best shot blocker in the country in the back of it,” Huggins said, “which helps considerably.”

Konate, who measured a 7-foot wingspan and a 35-inch vertical at the NBA Draft combine, blocked 3.2 shots per game last year, swatting away an astounding 15.6 percent of a team’s shot attempts when he was on the floor. If Konate is in the game, essentially one out of six shots has a zero percent chance of going in.

It’s a weapon nearly no other team in the country has at their disposal, and one that Konate has developed in just a few short years since picking up the sport when he emigrated from Mali to the U.S. midway through high school in 2014.

“It’s kind of natural,” Konate said of his blocking ability. “No one taught me how to block shots.”

(Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

There was something that drew him to it, though.

“I just saw it was pretty cool,” Konate said, “and I love doing it. So that’s what I do.”

It’s not simply the volume of shots he turns away that makes Konate such a menace defensively. It’s the substance and situation, too.

Konate has seemingly perfected the volleyball-style block, that keeps the ball in play and can kick-start the break.

“You don’t see people block shots with two hands very often,” Huggins said. “He blocks shots with two hands regularly.”

Maybe the most impressive tool in Konate’s repertoire, though, is his ability to deny dunks. He never concedes a slam, and often wins the aerial confrontation at the rim.

“For me, I really don’t care,” Konate said. “I don’t care if I get dunked on. It’s just fearless. I don’t play scared. I’m going to jump, make a play.

“If he dunks on me, the play goes on, but I’m going to get you.”

Konate’s panache for contesting jams puts him in the same company as the best player Huggins has ever had, Kenyon Martin.

“Kenyon could have,” Huggins said, “but nobody tried. They kind of tried to stay away from him as much as they could. They come at Sags.”

But why would anyone be foolish enough to do that?

“I don’t know,” Huggins said. “The challenge of it, maybe.”

The Mountaineers, who host our No. 1 mid-major Buffalo tonight, certainly have to welcome anyone brave enough to try to test their best.

“It motivates me if he dunks on me the first time,” Konate said. “The second time, I’m 100 percent sure I’m going to block you.”

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Bane rallies No. 20 TCU in second half for opening 66-61 win

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Desmond Bane scored 13 of his 14 points after halftime when No. 20 TCU rallied for a 66-61 victory over Cal State Bakersfield on Wednesday night.

Bane’s tiebreaking driving layup with 2:48 left finally put TCU ahead to stay. The Horned Frogs had trailed by as many as 11 points before halftime.

TCU played an opener as a ranked team for the first time in 20 seasons, since 1998-99. That was after the Horned Frogs had gone to the 1998 NCAA Tournament, their last one before making it last March in the second season for coach Jamie Dixon at his alma mater.

Jarkel Joiner had 18 points and Damiyne Durham 11 for Bakersfield. Both had three 3-pointers.

JD Miller had 13 points for TCU, while Alex Robinson had 12 points and nine assists. Yuat Alok had 11 points.

Bane, who also had 10 rebounds, and Alex Robinson each had five points in a 19-6 run in the second half that pushed TCU ahead for the first time since less than seven minutes into the game. The Frogs led 49-47 when Bane drove for a layup and made the free throw after being fouled.

Durham and Lee had all of the points for the Roadrunners in a 10-1 run in the first half that pushed them ahead 23-15. Durham had a layup and Lee a jumper, then after a TCU free throw they each had a 3-pointer in a 34-second span that prompted Dixon to call timeout.

Bakersfield led 37-28 at halftime.

BIG PICTURE

Cal State Bakersfield has nine players on its roster who previously redshirted a season, matching the most in the nation. Joiner is a sophomore guard from Oxford, Mississippi, where Barnes was an All-SEC guard as a player for Ole Miss in 1988 before later becoming the SEC Coach of the Year for the Rebels. This is Barnes’ eighth season at Bakersfield.

TCU opened the season without junior point guard Jaylen Fisher, who will miss at least a couple of weeks while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in September. He missed the final 16 games last season after torn meniscus in that knee.

UP NEXT

Cal State Bakersfield plays its home opener Friday against Antelope Valley, the only time the Roadrunners will be at home until Dec. 4.

TCU is playing its first six games at home, the next Sunday against Oral Roberts. They won’t leave campus for a game until making the 40-mile trip to play SMU in Dallas on Dec. 5.

Report: NCAA given OK to investigate teams mentioned in corruption scandal

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With the college basketball regular season getting underway Tuesday night, this was a good time for a rather significant news dump.

Yahoo Sports reported Tuesday that the FBI has given the NCAA the OK to begin investigating some of the programs that have been mentioned during the recent cases on corruption and bribes in college basketball recruiting. Among the programs mentioned during the first trial were Louisville, Kansas and NC State.

Tuesday’s development is big because the NCAA will likely have access to information that it may not have been able to procure without the FBI investigation. The NCAA does not have subpoena power, which has a significant impact on investigations that involve former athletes, coaches or individuals who have no connection to an athletic department, as they cannot be forced to speak to NCAA investigators.

Last month former adidas basketball executive James Gatto, former adidas grassroots basketball employee Merl Code Jr. and former runner/aspiring agent Christian Dawkins were found guilty of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. While Gatto and Code were found guilty of two counts, Dawkins was found guilty of three counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The lawyers for all three plan to appeal the verdicts in the coming months.

There are two more rounds of trials in connection with the FBI investigation that have yet to begin, with those scheduled for February and April. Among the men indicted who have yet to be tried are former Division I assistant coaches Tony Bland (USC), Lamont Evans (Oklahoma State), Chuck Person (Auburn) and Emmanuel “Book” Richardson (Arizona).

Top-ranked Kansas takes care of No. 10 Michigan State

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The opening game of the Champions Classic between No. 1 Kansas and No. 10 Michigan State offered up more drama than expected late, but the Jayhawks managed to hang on for the 92-87 victory in the regular season opener for both teams.

While Kansas’ improved depth has been one reason why they’ve been viewed as an early favorite to cut down the nets in April, the Jayhawks’ stars were the difference makers against Michigan State. Freshman guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson performed well on the perimeter, combining to score 37 points (21 for Grimes), with Dedric Lawson adding 20 points and 14 rebounds and Udoka Azubuike scoring 17 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field.

The Champions Classic tends to be a good early season litmus test for newcomers, as they are being tested against high-level talent in a big-game environment. But while there’s still plenty of work to be done, neither Dotson nor Grimes looked to be bothered by the big stage Tuesday night. Grimes’ smooth shooting stroke produced six three-pointers, four coming in the first stanza, giving Kansas perimeter production during a half in which it managed to score 26 points in the paint.

Michigan State didn’t have much of an answer for Kansas in the first half, and that includes the dynamic between Lawson and Azubuike.

The addition of Lawson, who averaged 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game at Memphis in 2016-17, gives Kansas a player who can not only score on multiple levels but can also be used as another creator off of the dribble. On multiple occasions Kansas was able to run the two-man game with Lawson and Azubuike, a dynamic that last year’s Final Four team lacked.

Lawson didn’t shoot particularly well Tuesday night, finishing 5-for-18 from the field, but he was able to get to the foul line (8-for-10), control the glass and dish out a game-high six assists. Lawson isn’t going to make a habit of shooting that poorly this season, and his entire set of skills make the redshirt junior an incredibly tough matchup to deal with. And his presence opens things up for a 7-footer in Azubuike outplayed Michigan State’s big men Tuesday night.

Azubuike, who led the nation in field goal percentage last season, had little trouble getting to his spots within the Kansas offense. While there were some instances of the junior center having both feet planted in the paint, there were others where he had to do some work after receiving the entry pass. And his strength was too much for Michigan State to deal with, regardless of which big they sent Azubuike’s way.

There may be occasions when he shares the court with a David McCormack or Silvio De Sousa (if he’s cleared), but those pairings may not happen very often given how well Azubuike and Lawson appear to work together. And as the freshman guards continue to mature, Kansas should be an even tougher team to deal with than they were for much of Tuesday’s season opener.

Baylor suspends Mario Kegler for first six games

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Baylor will start the season without forward Mario Kegler, as the former Mississippi State transfer has been suspended for the first six games of the season.

Head coach Scott Drew announced the suspension of Kegler to reporters on Monday as Kegler will sit out due to a violation of team rules.

The 6-foot-7 Kegler is expected to be one of Baylor’s go-to players this season after he sat out last season following his transfer from the Bulldogs. As a freshman with Mississippi State two seasons ago, Kegler averaged 28.7 minutes per contest as he put up 9.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game. A noted scorer and former four-star prospect, Kegler shot 42 percent from the field and 34 percent from three-point range.

Baylor’s schedule doesn’t start with many difficult games, so Kegler’s suspension shouldn’t hurt the Bears too much. Playing mostly buy games, except for a clash with SEC bottom feeder Ole Miss on Fri, Nov. 23, Baylor has a chance to win all of those games even without one of their best players.

But Baylor is definitely going to need Kegler to get up to speed and produce if they want any sort of successful season. Making matters more difficult for Baylor is an ankle injury that guard Makai Mason is dealing with at the start of the season. Although only a minor injury, Mason is expected to be a game-time decision for Baylor’s season-opener against Texas Southern on Tuesday.

Without Kegler and Mason, it’ll be interesting to see who Baylor turns to for offense as senior guard King McClure is the team’s returning leading scorer at 8.1 points per game.