Wednesday's college basketball: NCAA says Memphis’ Wiseman can play

Associated Press and News staff
Memphis freshman James Wiseman has been cleared to play by the NCAA.

The James Wiseman saga finally has a resolution.

After months of back-and-forth between Memphis and the NCAA, the sports governing body has cleared the heralded freshman to return to the basketball court on Jan. 12.

Wiseman will sit out a total of 12 games under a decision announced by the NCAA.

The sports governing body also announced Wednesday that Wiseman must donate $11,500 — the amount of impermissible benefits the NCAA ruled he received — to a charity of his choice to regain his eligibility.

The University of Memphis issued a statement that the NCAA informed school officials that Wiseman must sit out nine games for the infraction and three more for the games the freshman already has played this season.

“Based on case precedent, the circumstances of this case and other mitigating factors, the University will immediately appeal this decision,” Memphis said in a statement. “We expect a more fair and equitable resolution, and we will exhaust all avenues on James’ behalf.”

Wiseman had filed a lawsuit to continue playing after the NCAA ruled him “likely ineligible” for receiving the impermissible benefits from Penny Hardaway — who was not the Memphis coach at the time.

Wiseman withdrew a lawsuit against the NCAA on Nov. 14 after Memphis played him in the Tigers’ first three games of the season. The 16th-ranked Tigers were 2-1 with the 7-foot-1 center on the court.

Once Wiseman withdrew his lawsuit, Memphis held him out of a win over Alcorn State while working to resolve his eligibility status with the NCAA. His first game back will be when the Tigers visit South Florida.

The NCAA ruled Wiseman was “likely ineligible” due to $11,500 Hardaway gave the center’s family for moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis in the summer of 2017. That started a legal battle that featured Wiseman suing the NCAA and obtaining a temporary restraining order to play two games.

Memphis said Wiseman will sit out Wednesday night’s game against Arkansas-Little Rock.

Wiseman also will miss the Tigers’ game Nov. 28 against North Carolina State in Brooklyn, New York, on Dec. 28. Wiseman will miss a trio of games against Southeastern Conference teams: Saturday vs. Mississippi, Dec. 14 at No. 20 Tennessee and Jan. 4 vs. Georgia.

The freshman also will miss the first two games of league play in the American Athletic Conference, pending Memphis’ appeal.

The NCAA noted in its release Wednesday the payment to Wiseman’s family in 2017 was not allowed because of Hardaway’s status as a booster, which included a $1-million donation to the university for the Penny Hardaway Athletic Hall of Fame.

Big Ten men

(At) Indiana 79, Princeton 54: Joey Brunk scored a season-high 16 and Devonte Green added 16 to lead the Hoosiers to victcory. The Hoosiers (5-0) are off to their best start since 2013-14.

Jaelin Llewellyn scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half to lead Princeton (0-4).

Ryan Langborg had 13 for the Tigers, who have lost eight straight dating to last season.

(At) Rutgers 69, Stephen F. Austin 57: Caleb McConnell had 16 points and six rebounds, and Akwasi Yeboah provided a spark off the bench with 13 points to lead Rutgers.

Rutgers (4-1) jumped out to an 8-0 lead in the wire-to-wire win, prompting a Stephen F. Austin (4-1) to call timeout 2:15 into the game. The Scarlet Knights would lead by as many as 14 points before taking a 31-26 halftime advantage.

(At) Illinois 85, The Citadel 57: Kofi Cockburn scored 18 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. It was the fourth double-double for Cockburn, a 7-foot freshman. His 17 rebounds broke a school single-game record for a freshman, previously held by Deon Thomas (16). Cockburn is the only freshman in the country with four double-doubles through five games.

Ayo Dosunmu and Giorgi Bezhanishvili each added 16 points for Illinois.

Kaelon Harris led The Citadel (1-4) with 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Cockburn had eight points and 11 rebounds as Illinois led 34-20 at the half. The Illini held the Bulldogs to 7 of 36 shooting (19%) in the first half.

The Illini scored 51 points in the second half while holding the Bulldogs to 37.

State women

(At) Western Michigan 82, Detroit Mercy 57: Four Broncos scored in double-figures, with Kamrin Reed leading the way with 17 points, and Breanna Mobley added 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for Western Michigan (2-1). Jordan Walker scored 14. For Detroit Mercy (0-5), Nicole Johnson had 17 points and Maxine Moore added 12.

Top 25

(At) No. 2 Louisville 76, USC Upstate 50: Ryan McMahon made consecutive 3-pointers and Dwayne Sutton and Darius Perry had one each during a second-half surge.  Trailing the determined Spartans 43-40 with 14:07 remaining, Sutton’s 3 tied it before McMahon added one after a huge block of Josh Aldrich’s layup attempt. McMahon and Perry followed again from long range, and the Cardinals (5-0) turned up the intensity on both ends for a 24-5 burst.

Jordan Nwora had two 3s among his 28 points. The Cardinals finished 51% from the field and have shot above 50% in each game this season.

Bryson Mozone’s 14 points on four 3s led Upstate (1-5), which was 9 of 24 from long range.

(At) No. 5 North Carolina 75, Elon 61: Armando Bacot had season highs of 22 points and 14 rebounds, fellow freshman Cole Anthony flirted with North Carolina’s first triple-double in 19 years and the Tar Heels beat Elon.

Anthony finished with nine points, 10 rebounds and a season-high eight assists for North Carolina (4-0), which hasn’t had a player with a triple-double since Brendan Haywood and Jason Capel each did it 10 days apart in December 2000.

Garrison Brooks added 14 points for the Tar Heels – 30½-point favorites who a year ago beat Elon on the road by 49 points. They trailed at halftime for the second time this season before opening the second half with a Bacot-led 21-5 run that pushed the lead into double figures, and wound up outrebounding Elon 56-25.

Marcus Sheffield scored 19 points for the Phoenix (2-3), who lost their third straight – all to power-conference schools – while shooting 28% in the second half.

(At) No. 16 Memphis 68, Arkansas-Little Rock 58: Precious Achiuwa had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Memphis beat Arkansas-Little Rock after star freshman James Wiseman was cleared by the NCAA to return to the court Jan. 12.

The game was played only hours after the NCAA ruled Wiseman, the Tigers 7-foot-1 center and last season’s top recruit, ineligible for the next 11 games for receiving impermissible benefits from Memphis coach Penny Hardaway. Wiseman’s family received $11,500 from Hardaway to help with moving expenses from Nashville to Memphis two years ago, before Hardaway became the Tigers’ coach. Wiseman played for East High, where Hardaway coached.

The NCAA considered Hardaway a university booster because he donated $1 million to the university in 2008. Wiseman watched the game from the bench.

Markquis Nowell led the Trojans (3-2) with 16 points, while Ben Coupet Jr. added 12 points. Ruot Monyyong had 12 points and nine rebounds and Kamani Johnson finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

(At) No. 20 Tennessee 76, Alabama State 41: Jordan Bowden scored 16 points to lead four Tennessee players in double figures as the Volunteers trounced Alabama State for their 29th straight home victory.

Tennessee (4-0) owns the longest active Division I home winning streak. The Vols haven’t lost at Thompson-Boling Arena since falling 94-84 to Auburn on Jan. 2, 2018.

Lamonte’ Turner added 13 points and six assists for Tennessee. Turner is averaging 8.5 assists this season and entered the night ranked second among all Division I players in that category.

Bowden and Turner also became the 51st and 52nd Tennessee players to join the 1,000-point club. Bowden has 1,011 career points, while Turner has 1,002.

Tennessee held Alabama State (0-4) without a basket for the final 9 minutes, 39 seconds. The Hornets shot 28% (14 of 50) overall and 16.7% (4 of 24) in the second half.

Alabama State’s Tobi Ewuosho led all scorers with 17 points.