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Wiseman puts up 17 as Memphis hammers UI-Chicago

James Wiseman scored 17 points as 14th-ranked Memphis routed Illinois-Chicago 92-46 on Friday night in Memphis, Tenn., in a game overshadowed by the freshman big man’s eligibility status.

Wiseman, considered a potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, made all four of his field goal attempts and added nine rebounds with five blocks in 24 minutes. The 7-foot-1 preseason All-American had 28 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks in Memphis’ season-opening win over South Carolina State on Tuesday.

For a short time Friday it appeared that first game was going to be the entirety of his college career. That’s because earlier in the day it was revealed the NCAA had determined Memphis coach Penny Hardaway — who coached Wiseman in high school before taking over the Tigers program last season — provided Wiseman’s family with $11,500 for moving expenses in 2017 in order for them to relocate from Nashville to Memphis.

The school said in a statement that assistance was done “unbeknownst to James,” and about 40 minutes before tipoff an emergency temporary restraining order issued by a Shelby County judge cleared the way for Wiseman to play.

During the game, the NCAA issued a statement saying it had informed Memphis that Wiseman was “likely ineligible.” The statement noted the university “chose to play him and ultimately is responsible for ensuring its student-athletes are eligible to play.”

That off-court drama pushed to the background a game that on paper was expected to be a blowout and lived up to that projection. Memphis (2-0) led 47-16 at halftime thanks to 11 three-pointers, six by freshman guard Boogie Ellis, while the Tigers held UIC (1-1) to 20 percent shooting before the break and 24.2 percent for the game.

Memphis hit threes on four of its first six possessions, three by Ellis, part of an 18-3 start for the Tigers. UIC, which was without three of its top returning scorers from last season and narrowly beat NAIA school Olivet Nazarene in its opener, missed 10 of its first 11 shots.

The Tigers had five players in double figures, led by Ellis, who had 22 points on 8-of-11 shooting.

UIC was led by freshman guard Brian Taylor, who had 11 points including three 3-pointers.

–Field Level Media

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