Te'o admits to lying about Kekua after Dec. 6 call

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Te'o admits to lying about Kekua after Dec. 6 call

In an interview with ABC's Katie Couric that will air Thursday, ex-Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o elaborated on his thought process after Dec. 6 -- when he received a call from a person who said she was Lennay Kekua, and had to fake her own death to evade drug dealers.
Multiple times after receiving that call, Te'o spoke to the press about Kekua as being dead. He told Couric: "I get a phone call on Dec. 6, saying that she's alive, and then I'm going be put on national TV two days later. And to ask me about the same question. You know, what would you do?"
Te'o admitted to lying to the press about her death, and -- as he did when interviewed by ESPN's Jeremy Schapp -- vehemently denied being a part of the hoax.
A few more important details from the Te'o case came to light Wednesday beyond the Couric interview, specifically involving a few paper trails in the case. First, ESPN reported Te'o showed Schapp his phone records from the time of Kekua's purported car accident (April 28) through her death on Sept. 12. Those records have been a key to Te'o's side of the story -- the investigation commissioned by Notre Dame did not ask for them, oddly enough -- although ESPN was unable to independently verify the records, per its report.
Secondly, the New York Daily News obtained Te'o's 1-800-FLOWERS receipt for the white roses he ordered for Kekua's funeral. A message from Te'o on the receipt read: "My dearest Lennay, although our time together was brief, I feel like Ive known you all of my life. Till we meet again. I love you, Manti.
Perhaps more details about this story can be gleaned from Te'o's interview with Couric, which also included his parents.
"People can speculate about what they think he is. I've known him 21 years of his life. And he's not a liar. He's a kid," Te'o's father, Brian, said in the interview.
Earlier this week, it was reported the Tuiasosopo family may be convening to discuss a public statement, although that has yet to happen.
UPDATE: Phone records were released this afternoon that showed between May 11 and Sept. 12 -- the supposed time Kekua was in the hospital -- Te'o made more than 1,000 phone calls to a 611 area code number, where Kekua lived. 110 of those calls lasted for more than 60 minutes, which would help the verification of Te'o's story that he would stay on the phone with Kekua through the night while she was supposedly in the hospital.
Te'o's interview with Couric airs at 3 p.m. Thursday on ABC.

Chicago native Paris Lee doing all he can to make sure Illinois State's NCAA Tournament bubble doesn't burst

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USA TODAY

Chicago native Paris Lee doing all he can to make sure Illinois State's NCAA Tournament bubble doesn't burst

Dan Muller didn't even have to say anything.

The Illinois State men's basketball coach certainly didn't want his team to lose focus, not with what the game against Bradley meant for the Redbirds' NCAA tournament chances. 

But as Bradley mounted a comeback in the second half of what initially appeared to be a blowout, senior point guard Paris Lee stepped up and delivered all that needed to be said.

"Paris led us like he always does," senior forward Deontae Hawkins said. "The defense was slacking later in the game and Paris called us out and told us, 'We're too old to keep following our old habits.'"

[RELATED —​ MVC tripleheader on CSN Wednesday night, including ISU-Missouri State at 8 p.m.]

The Redbirds wound up cruising to a 64-50 win over Bradley to improve their record in the Missouri Valley Conference to 13-1 (21-5 overall) and Lee took home MVC player of the week honors for his effort.

It was all the more important given the audience at Redbird Arena Saturday night.

At halftime, Illinois State honored the 1998 team, the last Redbirds squad to make it to the NCAA Tournament back when Muller was filling an important role as a player instead of a coach.

Now in his fifth year at the helm of ISU, Muller has improved the Redbirds' record in the MVC in each season. With four conference games left — including Wednesday night's tilt against Missouri State on CSN — Muller has already set a new high mark with 13 conference wins.

And he's been leaning heavily on Lee to do so.

Muller said Lee's impassioned mid-game speech to his teammates has become a common sight this year as Lee — a native of Maywood, Ill. just outside Chicago — has grown more comfortable in a leadership role.

"Paris is pretty locked in," Muller said. "He's been a coach on that floor all year; he has been since he's been here [at ISU]. That's one of the areas he's probably improved the most over the last four — his leadership, his competitive spirit, his comfort level and taking control of the team."

Lee admitted his transformation into a leader was not always a natural fit.

"I feel like I had no other choice but to start maturing because we had a lot of new guys on the team and a lot of younger guys looking up to me," he said. "So I had to. I was kinda forced to grow up. 

"In previous years, I've always had teammates that were able to take the load from me, talk, do everything I should do. But this year, I had no choice but to [step up as a leader]."

Lee is all in — down to his red-tipped dreadlocks that he joked gives him more swag and a pair of sick red Jordans — on getting the Redbirds back to the NCAA Tournament in his final season. He's already set a new career high in assists, thriving as a playmaker/facilitator.

"I'm very hungry, man," Lee said. "I'm gonna continue to play the right way, not try to do too much. Just try to do the right thing to help my team win."

Wednesday on CSN: Missouri Valley with three games on CSN/CSN+

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Wednesday on CSN: Missouri Valley with three games on CSN/CSN+

The Missouri Valley has a busy day night of basketball on CSN and CSN+ on Wednesday night.

It starts at 6 p.m. with Southern Illinois hosting Wichita State on CSN. After that game on CSN, Illinois State will travel to Missouri State in a game that will air live at 8 p.m.

CSN+ will also air another live Missouri Valley matchup at 7 p.m. as Northern Iowa hosts Bradley.

[RELATED - Chicago native Paris Lee doing all he can to make sure Illinois State's NCAA Tournament bubble doesn't burst]

Southern Illinois (14-13, 7-7) is trying to compete for the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament as they get a big opportunity to host a conference leader. Senior guard Mike Rodriguez leads the Salukis in points (12.9 ppg) and assists (4.2 apg).

Wichita State (23-4, 13-1) are not only fighting for the conference regular season title but also a potential NCAA tournament bid. The Shockers are a balanced group led by Markis McDuffie (11.8 ppg). 

The second game on CSN has Illinois State going to Missouri State.

The Redbirds (21-5, 13-1) will have a tough one on the road as they only beat the Bears by three in early January at home. Deontae Hawkins is leading the team in scoring at 14.4 points per game as Illinois State tries to adjust to playing without MiKyle McIntosh. 

Missouri State (15-12, 6-8) has lost three straight games. Junior forward Alize Johnson leads the Bears in scoring at 15.4 points per game. 

The third game of the night will be on CSN+ as Northern Iowa is hosting Bradley at 7 p.m.

The Panthers (13-12, 8-6) have won three straight games as they've made a push into third place in the Valley. Senior Jeremy Morgan (15.4 points, 6.1 rebounds per game) is having a strong season as he's looking like an all-conference player.

Bradley (9-18, 4-10) beat Northern Iowa, 72-61, the last two time these teams met in Peoria as the Braves have lost two straight games. Freshman guard Darrell Brown leads the team in scoring at 12.2 points per game.