No. 22 Tennessee beats No. 3 Kansas 64-50 for Atlantis title

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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Tennessee’s players proved to be determined defenders and relentless rebounders, along with having the kind of toughness to ensure the reigning national champions would have little chance to get comfortable.

It was all enough to give the 22nd-ranked Volunteers a title of their own, along with the blueprint that coach Rick Barnes hopes they follow the rest of the year.

Santiago Vescovi scored 20 points while Tennessee locked down on third-ranked Kansas in a 64-50 win Friday night in the championship game at the Battle 4 Atlantis, snapping the Jayhawks’ 17-game winning streak.

Vescovi hit five 3-pointers as the tournament’s most valuable player for the Volunteers (5-1), who dominated the glass, overcame their own turnover troubles and made the Jayhawks work for clean looks. And for the third time in as many days, Tennessee won without leading scorer Josiah-Jordan James (knee soreness).

Perhaps that’s why reserve guard Zakai Zeigler, who had 14 points and four steals, showed up wearing sunglasses to the postgame news conference after the Volunteers had danced and hollered through the on-court trophy ceremony.

“We know if you can’t stop the man in front of you, then you’ll have no shot at winning the game,” Zeigler said, adding: “We just like to play defense, and we just happen to be good at it.”

The Vols held the Jayhawks to 32.1% shooting, bothering them with size and length around the rim. They also took the ball right at the Jayhawks with 5-foot-9 Zeigler leading the way, down to him refusing to let go of a jump ball and trading words with 6-8 forward Jalen Wilson.

Zeigler’s night included a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock at the 7-minute mark to push Tennessee’s lead to 56-38. He followed with another big one from the right wing with 4:42 left after Kansas had closed within 11.

Wilson and Joseph Yesefu each scored 14 points to lead the Jayhawks (6-1), who shot 28.6% in the first half and never warmed up. They made 5 of 21 3-pointers in what was an all-around rough night, from losing starting guard Dajuan Harris to fouls with 9 minutes left to failing to keep the Vols off the glass (45-27).

“We played a team tonight that was older and more mature and obviously played stronger and tougher,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “We didn’t handle the situation near as well as what I would hope a poised team would.”

BIG PICTURE

Tennessee: The Volunteers opened the tournament with a win over Butler, then grinded through an overtime win against Southern California in Thursday’s semifinals. This time, Tennessee played in front the entire way en route to its first title in three tries at the Atlantis resort.

“I think the main thing from the whole week was stay together through tough times, that’s what you’ve got to do,” Vescovi said.

Kansas: The Jayhawks didn’t have an easy first two days in the Bahamas. First came a battle to the final minutes with North Carolina State. Then came Thursday’s overtime win against Wisconsin on Bobby Pettiford Jr.’s last-second putback. But they never looked in any type of offensive flow this time with their smaller lineup.

“I feel like if we were able to get them out of place and not just have them standing there, waiting to contest a layup, that could’ve gave us some better chances at finishing at the rim,” Wilson said.

STRONG RUN

Tennessee held its three Atlantis opponents to 36.9% shooting and 15 of 59 (25.4%) from 3-point range. The Volunteers also averaged a +9 rebounding margin, ending with having Jonas Aidoo (nine) leading five players snagging at least six rebounds against Kansas.

“You can be a good defensive team but if you can’t be a great one if you give them second and third shots,” Barnes said.

SIDELINED

Beyond Harris’ foul trouble, the Jayhawks played most of the way without Pettiford, who exited midway through the first half grabbing at his right leg.

Afterward, Self said he would be out “for a while” with a hamstring strain.

UP NEXT

Tennessee: The Volunteers return home to host McNeese State on Wednesday.

Kansas: The Jayhawks host Texas Southern on Monday.

No. 3 Kansas beats NC State in coach Bill Self’s return

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PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Bill Self couldn’t wait to get started Wednesday at the Battle 4 Atlantis. Neither could hot-shooting Kansas rookie Gradey Dick.

Dick scored a season-high 25 points to help the third-ranked Jayhawks beat North Carolina State 80-74 in Wednesday’s tournament opener, giving Self a successful return to the bench after a four-game suspension.

Dick had 18 on six 3-pointers in the first half before going 1 for 8 from the field after halftime. Jalen Wilson added 19 points and 11 rebounds for the reigning national champion Jayhawks (5-0), who blew an eight-point halftime lead and a nine-point second-half lead before grinding it out.

“I think it really just showed what our team’s about and in crunch time, we can come out with tough plays when we really need it,” Dick said.

It also helped, Dick said, to “have a Hall of Famer in our corner” again.

Kansas had imposed the suspension on Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend as part of the fallout from a pending NCAA infractions case tied to the federal investigation into corruption within the sport.

Self was allowed to coach practices, so he remained involved with the team. But on gamedays, he said he got a dose of the helpless perspective of a fan while assistant Norm Roberts led the team. He said he couldn’t even take notes until he watched the game on a replay.

He was ready for Wednesday right from the 7 a.m. wake-up call.

“I usually don’t jump out of bed,” Self said, “but I kind of did today because I was excited about what was getting ready to happen.”

As he emerged from the tunnel, Self was greeted with loud cheers from a boisterous Kansas fan section. He had a slight smile as one fan dangled a Jayhawks national title banner as he walked by and gave light high-fives to a line of about a half-dozen fans who had extended their arms over their railing.

Casey Morsell scored 21 points to lead the Wolfpack (4-1), while Terquavion Smith added 19 points.

This was N.C. State’s first appearance at Atlantis since 2017 at the start of Kevin Keatts’ coaching tenure. That team opened by beating No. 2 Arizona and this year’s bunch gave Kansas fits all the way to the final minutes.

“We missed a couple of free throws down the stretch, I thought they got out in transition,” Keatts said. “We had a couple of breakdowns that when you’re in that one- or two-possession game, everything is important down the stretch.”

BIG PICTURE

N.C. State: The Wolfpack program had also been caught up in the FBI investigation of the sport involving recruiting violations tied to one-and-done freshman Dennis Smith Jr. under former coach Mark Gottfried. That case had hung over the entirety of Keatts’ tenure until there was a December resolution. Now Keatts has restocked his roster with a style closer to his vision: playing fast and picking up fullcourt even against a marquee-name program.

“I don’t know from a raw speed standpoint if there’s anybody that we’ll play against that is as quick as” the backcourt of Smith and Jarkel Joiner, Self said, adding: “We’re athletic, pretty athletic – but we’re not jet quick. So we had to be turned up pretty good to stay in front of them.”

Kansas: The 6-foot-8 Dick is off to a strong start. He came in averaging 16.8 points while shooting 10 of 20 from 3-point range, then surpassed his (short) season high of 23 points from the opener against Omaha.

KEY SEQUENCES

Dick’s sixth 3-pointer for a 39-31 lead came before the halftime horn and through light contact from Morsell, with Dick falling to the floor. He got up with an emphatic shout, clapping, while Morsell could only respond with a frustrated shrug.

But N.C. State answered with an 8-0 burst, with Morsell hitting a 3 on the break and another on a stepback to tie it.

The Wolfpack never led after halftime but tied it five times, the last at 63-all on Jack Clark’s jumper with 7:14 left.

UP NEXT

N.C. State: The Wolfpack will face Dayton, which lost to Wisconsin, in Thursday’s consolation bracket.

Kansas: The Jayhawks advanced to Thursday’s semifinals to face Wisconsin.

No. 6 Kansas rallies late to beat No. 7 Duke 69-64

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jalen Wilson and Dajuan Harris Jr. provided a calm, steadying influence for No. 6 Kansas. Jayhawks freshman Gradey Dick provided the late splash.

Together they extended the nation’s longest active winning streak.

Wilson scored a career-high 25 points, Harris dished out a career-best 10 assists and Dick made three crucial baskets in the final 2 1/2 minutes to help the defending national champs rally past No. 7 Duke 69-64.

“We didn’t know where he was at times; we sent out a missing person’s report in the second half,” interim coach Norm Roberts joked, referring to Dick. “But this is his first real big-boy game he’s played in and I thought he really responded.”

Kansas is 3-0 with Roberts filling in for suspended coach Bill Self, who will sit out the first four games because of a 2017 infractions scandal. But the results remain unchanged as the Jayhawks ran their winning streak to 14.

Wilson also grabbed 11 rebounds on a night when shooting was at a premium.

Duke (2-1) was led by Kyle Filipowski, who scored a season-high 17 points and had 14 rebounds to become the first player in school history to register double-doubles in each of his first three games. Marvin Bagley III was the only other player to do it in his first two games.

Jeremy Roach had 16 points as new coach Jon Scheyer lost for the first time.

The young Blue Devils pushed Kansas to the brink in a game that went back and forth most of the second half. Duke just couldn’t finish it off.

“Before the game, we said that whoever handles the adversity better wins and I thought they did that late,” Scheyer said.

Still, the Blue Devils were in prime position when Filipowski’s putback with 4:39 left gave Duke a 59-54 lead.

But Kansas scored seven straight points to take a 61-59 lead on Dick’s 3-pointer with 2:21 to go. Roach answered with a 3 for Duke and then Dick scored on alley-oop play with 1:40 left to give Kansas a 63-62 edge.

The Jayhawks never trailed again, ending the game on a 15-5 run.

“Those two guys, they never gave in,” Roberts said. “There was never any panic and that’s all led by Jalen and Dajuan.”

BIG PICTURE

Duke: These Blue Devils don’t appear to be content taking a backseat to anybody. Despite a slow start and a poor finish, they traded jabs all night with a more experienced team. At times, they even looked more physical than Kansas – all promising signs for improvement.

Kansas: They’ve survived without Self – this time just barely. But the gritty Jayhawks played hard and fast and never got rattled, even when the execution wasn’t great or the shots didn’t fall. Even Roberts acknowledged sometimes winning ugly is what it takes.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Duke: The Blue Devils may slide a bit, but not much. Certainly not after this sort of performance just three games into a season with a first-year coach and three freshman starters.

Kansas: With No. 4 Kentucky losing and the Wildcats visiting No. 2 Gonzaga this weekend, the Jayhawks could move up a spot or two – depending on the results.

NEW EXPERIENCE

In a game of firsts, Scheyer thought his team played relatively well. It marked the first time Scheyer coached or Duke’s talented freshmen class played outside Cameron Indoor Stadium. It also was their first experience against a ranked team and their first close contest. And the double-overtime game between Michigan State and Kentucky in the opener Tuesday didn’t help much.

“We went out there three times to warm up,” Scheyer said. “It was the first time for a lot of different things.”

UP NEXT

Duke: Heads home to face Delaware.

Kansas: Will host Southern Utah.

No. 5 Kansas opening season without Hall of Fame coach Bill Self

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — There will be something missing from what should have been a festive occasion at Kansas, when the No. 5 Jayhawks celebrate their latest national championship before opening the new season against Omaha.

Namely, their head coach Bill Self.

Rather than following his team to the court for pregame introductions, Self will probably be sitting at home, forced to watch on TV while beginning a four-game suspension. Kansas officials imposed the punishment on its coach and assistant Kurtis Townsend as part of the fallout of a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball corruption.

Norm Roberts, who spent six seasons as the head coach at St. John’s, will serve as the acting coach.

“Norm and I have been together off-and-on since `95,” Self said, “and he’ll probably be a voice that the players probably enjoy and respect hearing far more than they have been hearing.”

“I think it’s something (where) hopefully we can become more mature,” he added, “and if that’s the case, it’s still not good by any stretch. But I have to own it, though, and our players have to make the most of it, and I believe they will.”

Self was allowed to coach the Jayhawks in their lone exhibition, when they overcame a sluggish start against Division II Pittsburg State in a 94-63 win. And the terms of the school-administered suspension allow him to coach the Jayhawks any day but game day, which means the Hall of Fame coach will still largely determine the game plan.

He just won’t be on the sidelines against Omaha, North Dakota State and Southern Utah or a showdown against seventh-ranked Duke in the Champions Classic next week in Indianapolis.

Self and Townsend will be back on the bench to face North Carolina State at the Battle 4 Atlantis on Nov. 23.

“Norm will go into the game knowing who the first big off the bench is, who the first guard off the bench is. He knows what plays we’ll script,” Self said, “but he’ll be in charge. He will be in charge. I’ll be at practice, but everything that happens after 12 a.m., that’s going to be Norm’s call. And as a coach, you really hope nothing happens after 12 a.m.”

Jeremy Case, who helped the Jayhawks win the 2008 national title, will be alongside Roberts on the bench. The Jayhawks also can use Joe Dooley, a longtime assistant and now director of student-athlete development, and Brady Morningstar, a former player who usually serves as the video coordinator, as fill-in coaches on game day.

Still, it’s hard to substitute for a two-time national champion coach who’s won more than 81% of his games at Kansas.

“Norm will do a great job. The guy has been a head coach in the Big East,” Self said. “We’ve been together a long time, and there’s a correlation in us being successful and who your coaches are, and we’ve had the best staff. I don’t know anybody can compare the staff we’ve had over time, and Norm has been a huge part of that.”

The suspensions, along with a series of recruiting penalties, were punishment for an infractions case that stems from a federal investigation in 2017 that led to the conviction of a shoe company executive, a middleman who worked with them and several assistant coaches. It involved Kansas along with Arizona, LSU, Louisville and North Carolina State.

When it came to the Jayhawks, the issue was whether representatives of apparel company Adidas were acting as boosters – the school contends they were not – when they arranged payments to prospective recruits. Kansas never disputed that the payments were made, only that it had any knowledge the inducements were happening.

The school asked that the case be decided by the Independent Accountability Resolution Process, which was created to handle particularly complex cases and acts outside the purview of the NCAA. But the soon-to-be disbanded panel has been painfully slow in its work, and it remains unclear when – or even if – there will ever be a conclusion.

“I don’t understand all the nuances that go on,” Self said, “and to be real candid with you, if I don’t understand it, it’s hard for anyone else to understand it, because I’m right in the middle of it.”

Rather than wait out the process, Kansas imposed penalties last week in a gesture it hopes will mitigate any additional punishment. Self will sit out the next four games – an important developmental period for his young team – and put his trust in Roberts, who hasn’t been a head coach since he was fired by St. John’s in 2010.

“We have a culture that’s been built here,” Roberts said. “I’ve been with Bill a long time. We kind of end each others’ sentences. And we talk about how faces change but expectations don’t. Our players know our expectations are what they are at Kansas, and what we do on the court doesn’t change.”

Kansas suspends Self for 4 games in ongoing infractions case

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas suspended Hall of Fame coach Bill Self and top assistant Kurtis Townsend for the first four games of the season Wednesday, along with imposing several recruiting restrictions, as part of the fallout from a lengthy FBI investigation into college basketball corruption.

Norm Roberts will be the acting coach for the defending national champions beginning with their opener Monday night against Omaha. Self and Townsend also will miss games against North Dakota State and Southern Utah along with a high-profile showdown between the No. 5 Jayhawks and No. 7 Duke in the Champions Classic.

Self and Townsend will rejoin the team to face North Carolina State at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas on Nov. 23.

The school already had barred the two coaches from off-campus recruiting this past summer. It will also reduce the number of official visits during the 2023-24 academic year, reduce the total number of scholarships by three over a three-year span and reduce the number of permissible recruiting days during the upcoming year by 13 days.

There were no official visitors this year for Late Night at the Phog, the annual celebration to kick off the season.

“Coach Townsend and I accept and support KU’s decision,” Self said in a statement. “We are in good hands with Coach Roberts, and I am confident that he will do a great job on the bench leading our team. I am proud of the way our guys have handled this situation and I look forward to returning to the bench for our game against N.C. State.”

The infractions case against Kansas stems from a federal investigation in 2017 that led to the conviction of shoe company executives, a middleman who worked with them and several assistant coaches.

Kansas was among the schools named in the case, along with Arizona, LSU, Louisville and N.C. State.

The Kansas case hinged on whether representatives of apparel company Adidas were considered boosters – the school contends they were not – when two of them arranged payments to prospective recruits. The school never disputed that the payments were made, only that it had any knowledge that the inducements were happening.

Auburn received four years of probation through a traditional NCAA infractions process for a similar case, but Kansas joined other schools in appealing its case to an Independent Accountability Review Panel, which was among the proposals made by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2018 to reform the sport.

The panel works outside the purview of the NCAA and was designed to handle particularly complex cases. But its work has been painfully slow – NCAA president Mark Emmert acknowledged the process takes “way too long” – and Kansas decided to self-impose restrictions while continuing to wait for the IARP to announce its decision.

“We are hopeful these difficult self-imposed sanctions will assist in bringing the case to a conclusion,” Kansas athletic director Travis Goff said in a statement, and declining any additional comment. “Until then, we will continue to focus on supporting our outstanding men’s basketball student-athletes and coaches.”

Kansas had already doubled down on Self by signing him to a new contract in April 2021.

Under the terms of the five-year deal, Self gets one additional year after the conclusion of each season – in effect, making it a lifetime contract. It guaranteed him $5.41 million per year with a base salary of $225,000, a professional services contract of $2.75 million and an annual $2.435 million retention bonus.

The contract includes a clause that states the school cannot fire Self for cause “due to any current infractions matter that involves conduct that occurred on or prior to” the signing of the deal. And while he would have to forfeit half of his base salary and professional services pay while serving any Big 12 or NCAA suspension, it’s unclear whether that includes any self-imposed suspensions such as the one handed down Wednesday.

“Throughout this process, we have had ongoing conversations with all the involved parties,” Kansas chancellor Douglas A. Girod said in a statement. “We believe the actions we are announcing today move us closer to resolving this matter.”

Making the Kansas case more complex, though, is the rapidly shifting landscape of college sports. Some of the alleged infractions from the 2017 investigation would no longer be against the rules following name, image and likeness legislation, which has allowed athletes in all sports to begin making money from endorsements and other off-the-field business arrangements.

Meanwhile, the days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions as punishments appear to be ending.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation in August and slapped with a public reprimand and fine for violations in the recruitment of James Wiseman, now with the Golden State Warriors. But the Tigers escaped any scholarship penalties or postseason bans because the IARP said it did not want to punish current athletes.

Even as the IARP continues to work on several cases, the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year put forth a recommendation to end the process. The proposal was swiftly adopted by the Division I Board of Directors.

“We look forward to commenting further when this process is fully resolved,” Girod said of the IARP process. “Until then, I want to reiterate our unwavering support of Coach Self and our men’s basketball program.”

Gethro Muscadin, ex-Kansas, New Mexico forward, dies at 22

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Former Kansas and New Mexico forward Gethro Muscadin died late Monday from injuries he sustained in a single-car rollover crash in December, Jayhawks coach Bill Self announced Tuesday.

“Although only here one year,” Self said, “Gethro was loved and liked by all and will always be remembered as a Jayhawk. We wish his family and loved ones the best going through this most difficult time.”

Muscadin, 22, grew up in the seaside city of Gonaives, Haiti, and moved to the U.S. in 2006 to pursue basketball. He played at Sunrise Christian Academy and Life Prep Academy, both in Kansas, along with Aspire Academy in Kentucky, where he grew into a four-star prospect that had scholarship offers from a number of high-major programs.

The 6-foot-10 center chose the Jayhawks and appeared in 11 games during the 2020-21 season, including a loss to Southern California in the NCAA Tournament, and was teammates with many on last season’s national championship team.

Muscadin transferred to New Mexico after the season, starting nine of 12 games and averaging 9.3 points before leaving the program last December. At the time, Lobos coach Richard Pitino called it a mutual decision to part ways.

Muscadin had returned to Kansas to watch the Jayhawks play Nevada and was traveling to Wichita afterward when the crash happened on a stretch of interstate. According to the Kansas Highway Patrol, Muscadin was not wearing a seatbelt when the vehicle “went off the road, rolled multiple times, and came to rest on the fence line” south of Topeka.

Self said Muscadin, who turned 22 in August, had been in a “non-responsive state” since the crash.

The driver, Alaceyia Howard, was hospitalized with minor injuries from the crash.

“The Lobo community is saddened today by the passing of former New Mexico basketball player Gethro Muscadin,” the program tweeted Tuesday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this time.”

This story has been corrected to show that Muscadin was 22, not 20.