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NCAA clears Walker to play for Florida Gators

GAINESVILLE — The NCAA has cleared Florida freshman Chris Walker to play but not without strict punishment after it was determined he received impermissible benefits before joining the Gators.

Walker, who was admitted to the university in December, will be eligible to play Tuesday when the No. 3 Gators host Missouri.

He has served a 12-game suspension — 40 percent of the season — and the NCAA has ordered Walker to donate the $270 he received from agents to a charity of his choice and serve 80 hours of community service for the remaining benefits received.

"Walker received preferential treatment from five people, including two agents," the NCAA said in a statement. "According to the facts of the case, which were agreed upon by the university and NCAA staff, when Walker was a prospect, he accepted free cellphones and service, airfare, lodging, meals and apparel. Additionally, individuals close to Walker received free airfare and lodging for nine different trips, including eight associated with Walker's nonscholastic basketball team competition — his AAU associations."

Walker is a 6-foot-10 forward and McDonald's All-American who didn't enroll in the fall due to academic issues.

"We're glad there's a resolution for everyone involved, especially for Chris," Florida coach Billy Donovan said Wednesday.

For the NCAA's complete statement on Walker's reinstatement, go to the Gators' blog at tampabay.com/blogs/gators.

Men

NO. 1 ARIZONA 60, STANFORD 57: Nick Johnson hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 51 seconds left and two free throws with 5.8 seconds to go as the visiting Wildcats (21-0, 8-0 Pac-12) survived for their school-record 21st straight win. After Johnson hit a jumper in the middle of the key with 2:36 left to make it 55-53, Dwight Powell answered on a baseline drive with 1:21 left before Johnson delivered once more. Johnson finished with 16 points, five rebounds and four assists and T.J. McConnell added 11 points, eight rebounds and four assists for Arizona, off to its best start in conference play in more than a decade.

NO. 2 SYRACUSE 67, WAKE 57: Freshman Tyler Ennis scored 16 of his 18 in the second half, and the visiting Orange (20-0, 7-0 ACC) matched the best start in program history. Syracuse remained one of three unbeaten teams in Division I with Arizona and Wichita State. The Orange pulled away late while sidestepping a possible trap with a visit from No. 17 Duke coming up Saturday and joined the 2011-12 group as the only Orange teams to win their first 20 games.

NO. 6 KANSAS 92, NO. 16 IOWA ST. 81: Freshman Andrew Wiggins scored a career-high 29, including six straight late in the game, to help the host Jayhawks (16-4, 7-0 Big 12) pull away from the Cyclones (15-4, 3-4) and win their seventh straight. Wiggins, the nation's No. 1 recruit, had 27 points in Saturday's win at TCU. He matched that with an emphatic dunk that gave Kansas an 81-72 lead with just less than three minutes left in the game.

N'WESTERN 65, NO. 14 WIS. 56: Drew Crawford scored a season-high 30, JerShon Cobb had all 10 of his in the second half and the Wildcats won in Madison for the first time since 1996. The Badgers (17-4, 4-4 Big Ten) got within six with 41 seconds left, but Traevon Jackson lost the ball on a drive with 23 seconds left. Ben Brust had 21 points to lead Wisconsin, which lost for the fourth time in five games.

NO. 19 St. LOUIS 77, RICHMOND 57: Guard Jordair Jett had 21 points and a career-best 10 rebounds for the host Billikens (19-2, 6-0 Atlantic 10), who won their 13th straight and are off to the second-best start in school history, behind the 19-1 start to 1993-94.

ST. BONAVENTURE 78, NO. 21 UMASS 65: Youssou Ndoye scored 11 of his 12 in the second half, and the host Bonnies clamped down on defense to send the Minutemen (17-3, 4-2 Atlantic 10) to their second loss in three games. St. Bonaventure snapped a 24-game skid against ranked teams.

NO. 22 MEMPHIS 69, UCF 59: Joe Jackson scored 17 and Chris Crawford and Michael added 12 each for the visiting Tigers (16-4, 6-2 American), who outscored the Knights (9-9, 1-6) 13-5 to end the game and won their fourth in a row.

PENN STATE 71, NO. 24 OHIO ST. 70: D.J. Newbill hit a pullup jumper over Aaron Craft with two seconds left in overtime, lifting the visiting Nittany Lions. The Buckeyes (16-5, 3-5 Big Ten), who have lost five of six after a 15-0 start that saw them rise to No. 3 in the polls, had beaten Penn State 18 straight times and had won 80 straight at home against unranked opponents.

MARYLAND 74, MIAMI 71: Dez Wells scored all of his 21 in the second half and sank a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 5.9 seconds left to lift the host Terrapins. The Hurricanes (10-10, 2-6 ACC) have lost four of five.

ECKERD 72, LYNN 55: Jerrick Stevenson had 14 points and Malcolm Brunner and Alex Bodney scored 13 each for the host Tritons (11-8, 4-4 Sunshine State), who opened with a 9-0 run and never trailed.

NOVA SE 89, SAINT LEO 63: The host Sharks made 17 of 30 3-pointers to overwhelm the Lions (16-5, 4-4 SSC).

TWO POSTPONED: Because of severe winter storms, the men's game between Towson and host UNC Wilmington was postponed until Monday, and a women's game between No. 25 Middle Tennessee and host Southern Miss was rescheduled for Wednesday.

Women

USF 71, HOUSTON 53: Courtney Williams had 20 points and 10 rebounds and Alisia Jenkins added 10 points and 16 rebounds for the host Bulls (11-9, 6-3 American), who opened with a 15-2 run and rolled in front of 1,189 at the Sun Dome. Ariadna Pujol added 12 points off the bench and Inga Orekhova had 10 points, five assists and four rebounds in 19 minutes for USF.

"I think we just jumped on them early," Williams said. "Coach (Jose Fernandez) told us to come out and make them not want to play anymore, and that's what we tried to do."

USF outrebounded the Cougars 54-27. Houston (4-16, 0-9) lost its ninth straight.

LYNN 55, ECKERD 53, OT: Zachara Bailey hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 2:45 left in overtime for the host Knights, who had trailed the Tritons (7-10, 1-7 SSC) for most of the game.

TAMPA 85, PB ATLANTIC 61: Illyssa Vivo and Taylor McVey had 17 points each as the host Spartans (13-5) rolled.

NOVA SE 85, SAINT LEO 76: The host Sharks overcame Chelsea Williams' 24-point performance, one shy of her career high for the Lions (14-4, 5-3 SSC).

NO. 9 BAYLOR 92, TEXAS TECH 43: Odyssey Sims scored 25 for the host Bears (17-3, 7-1 Big 12), who opened with a 19-0 run and cruised to their third straight win.

NO. 11 OKLA. ST. 49, TCU 48: Roshunda Johnson's basket with nine seconds left lifted the visiting Cowgirls (18-2, 7-2 Big 12).

NO. 20 W. VA. 67, NO. 24 IOWA ST. 56: Asya Bussie had 14 points and 11 rebounds for the host Mountaineers (18-3, 7-2 Big 12), who held the Cyclones (15-5, 4-5) to 28 percent shooting.

COACH HAS BABY: Bethune-Cookman women's coach Vanessa Blair-Lewis gave birth to a boy named Blair Eric Lewis a few hours before Monday's game against Howard.

Information from Times wires was used in this report. Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

NCAA clears Walker to play for Florida Gators 01/29/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 30, 2014 12:16am]

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