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Ole Miss cancels 4 basketball games, Duke delays opener due to COVID-19

Ole Miss cancels 4 basketball games, Duke delays opener due to COVID-19
Coach Mike Krzyzewski (R) and the Duke Blue Devils will not play their men's basketball game as scheduled Wednesday after a positive COVID-19 test emerged from within opponent Gardener-Webb's program. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 23 (UPI) -- The University of Mississippi on Monday canceled its first four men's college basketball games and paused team activities until Dec. 7 after positive COVID-19 tests emerged in the program, the school said.

Duke also postponed its men's basketball season-opener due to a positive COVID-19 tests in the Gardner-Webb program. The Blue Devils had been scheduled to play Gardner-Webb on Wednesday, but now its season will start against Coppin State at 2 p.m. EST on Saturday in Durham, N.C.

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The Ole Miss athletic department said positive tests and contract tracing within the basketball program have led to the cancelation of the Justin Reed Ole Miss Classic, which had been planned for Wednesday through Friday, and the Rebels' Dec. 5 game against Memphis.

Last week, Ole Miss men's basketball coach Kermit Davis announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Affected student-athletes and staff are in self-quarantine.

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Ole Miss now is scheduled to begin its college basketball campaign against the University of North Carolina Wilmington on Dec. 12 at the Pavilion at Ole Miss in Oxford, Miss.

The Rebels announced Nov. 12 that the Pavilion will be at 25% capacity this season for men's and women's basketball games.

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Central Arkansas, Jackson State and Arkansas State also had been scheduled to compete in the Justin Reed Ole Miss Classic before it was canceled.

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"This is obviously disappointing, but the safety of our student-athletes is paramount," Arkansas State head coach Mike Balado said in a news release.

"We are hopeful we can get games rescheduled with Jackson State and Central Arkansas, but we will keep the safety of our student-athletes at the forefront of any decision."

Virginia, Arizona State, Baylor, Florida and Miami previously canceled or postponed their men's basketball season-openers due to COVID-19.

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Louisville, Middle Tennessee State, Vanderbilt and Tennessee Tech are among the women's basketball programs that have canceled or postponed their season openers.

Baylor men's basketball coach Scott Drew also announced Sunday that he had tested positive for COVID-19. Longtime men's basketball coaches Jim Boeheim at Syracuse and Tom Izzo at Michigan State announced earlier this month that they also had tested positive.

The 2020-2021 Division I men's and women's college basketball seasons start Wednesday.

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