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Baylor men pull out of season-opening Empire Classic tournament

Baylor men pull out of season-opening Empire Classic tournament

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Baylor mens basketball (copy)

Baylor associate head coach Jerome Tang (left) was planning to fill in as head coach in the absence of Scott Drew (right) due to Drew’s positive COVID case, but the Bears were forced to withdraw from their season-opening tournament altogether.

The No. 2 Baylor men’s basketball team will not play in the Empire Classic after season-opening opponent Arizona State reportedly planned to withdraw due to health concerns after Bears coach Scott Drew announced Sunday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

The Empire Classic is held in a bubble-like atmosphere at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Though Drew tested positive, he said the rest of the team tested negative on Friday and Sunday and would be coached by assistant Jerome Tang during his absence. COVID-19 protocol requires a 10-day self quarantine for positive cases.

With Baylor out of the Empire Classic, CBS Sports reported that Rhode Island will likely play against No. 18 Arizona State in Wednesday’s first round.

No. 3 Villanova is scheduled to face Boston College on Wednesday. The winners and losers of the opening-round games are set to play Thursday.

Baylor is scheduled to face Seton Hall in South Orange, N.J., on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. The Pirates’ basketball program suspended operations Nov. 9 for 14 days after multiple positive COVID-19 tests, but is scheduled to open the season against Louisville on Friday.

More than 30 teams and 40 games were scheduled from Nov. 25-Dec. 5 at Mohegan Sun Arena after several events were relocated due to the pandemic. Florida’s highly-anticipated game against No. 4 Virginia on Friday has been canceled after the Gators withdrew due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases.

Drew is among several Power 5 conference basketball coaches who have tested positive for COVID-19, including Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo and most recently Tennessee’s Rick Barnes.

Tennessee announced on Monday that it will pause all basketball activities following multiple positive COVID-19 test results within the program, including Barnes and athletic director Phillip Fulmer.

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