Winners, losers from ACC/Big Ten Challenge


The Big Ten finally figured out this whole “challenge” with the ACC.

After losing the first 10 ACC/Big Ten Challenges, the Big Ten’s taken the last two. There’s no trophy, no cash prize, no medals. Heck, the media attention dwindles rapidly when it’s all over. But it’s still significant given the recruiting implications and the seeding edges when March rolls around.

So who were the biggest winners and losers? Let’s take a look


Kyrie Irving, Duke
First Derrick Rose. The John Wall. Now Irving. Much like he did against Kansas State, the freshman point guard jetted through the Michigan State defense whenever he wanted, showcasing an ability to beat opponents off the dribble and finish in traffic. He hit 8 of 12 shots for 31 points, dished four assists and had six boards in an 84-79 win. He’s already Duke’s best player.

N.C. State didn’t have senior forward Tracy Smith, but it didn’t matter against the Badgers, who won by 39. 39! It was a welcome sight for a team that barely broke 50 in Sunday’s loss to Notre Dame. “[We] just ran good offense, got good looks, and knocked them down,” coach Bo Ryan said afterward. “You have to believe that when you shoot, the next one is going to go in.”

JaJuan Johnson, Purdue
With NBA scouts in the stands, the senior center saved the Boilermakers’ bacon against Virginia Tech. He hit 11 of 24 shots, scored 29 of Purdue’s 59 points, hit the game-tying shot that forced overtime and nailed the go-ahead shot in OT. I’d call that a big night. “I just set a screen and popped out to an open spot and one of the guys found me, and it went down,” he said, all smiles.

Maybe Tony Bennett’s team isn’t the ACC’s worst! An 87-79 win against Minnesota was the event’s most surprising outcome, both for the final result and how it happened. The Gophers entered the game 6-0 with wins against UNC, Wofford, Siena and West Virginia. But the Cavs turned around a double-digit second-half deficit by hitting 10 of 13 shots from beyond the arc.

Northwestern’s never made the NCAA tournament. Is this finally the year? The Wildcats are 5-0 and breezed past Georgia Tech, 91-71. They’ll almost certainly be 9-0 when Big Ten play begins. It’s promising, to be sure.

John Beilein
Michigan’s coach needed this one. A pair of tough losses to Syracuse and UTEP casted doubt on his system and its limitations, but an impressive road win at Clemson instilled his young team with confidence for the first time in well, forever. “That was a big win,” Zack Novak told Ann “We came out and hit them in the mouth to start out with. They made little runs, but (we) hung tough and really just didn’t let them get back in the game.”


Um, what happened Tubby? Your Gophers entered the game with nice wins, a balanced roster and all sorts of confidence. Can the absence of Al Nolen really make that much of a difference? Or is it something else? Something like … “That was probably as pathetic an effort defensively as we’ve had in a long time,” Smith told the Pioneer-Press. Ah. OK then.

Malcolm Delaney, Virginia Tech
Been an odd month for the senior guard. He’s logging nearly 39 minutes a game and is averaging 19.6 point an outing. But he’s hitting just 41 percent of his shots and already has two nine-turnover games (39 on the season) and was flat-out awful against Purdue. He forced shots, dribbled into double and triple teams and made just 2 of 18 field-goal attempts. Credit the Boilermakers’ defense, but Delaney created many of his own problems.

Penn State
Maryland thumped the Nittany Lions, 62-39, in what was billed as Penn State’s biggest nonconference home game since 1996. They hit just 14 of 68 shots (20.6 percent)and endured nearly six scoreless minutes to start the second half. That won’t cut it in this season’s Big Ten.

Chris Singleton, Florida State
Another putrid offensive outing for the Seminoles’ junior forward amplified every bit of his game: suspect shooting, lackluster moves and a tendency to be overwhelmed at times. He’s great on defense, but he’s just 9 for 29 in his last three games.

Larry Drew II, North Carolina
How much longer can Roy Williams stick with Drew as his starting point guard? He had yet another so-so outing, this time a 79-67 loss to Illinois. Freshman Harrison Barnes is struggling with his shot, but it’s Drew who draws the fans’ ire. (Fairly or unfairly.) At some point, his role will have to change.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @BeyndArcMMiller.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK

LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky will play its annual Blue-White men’s basketball scrimmage in Eastern Kentucky to benefit victims of the devastating summer floods.

The school announced that the Oct. 22 event at Appalachian Wireless Arena in Pikeville will feature a pregame Fan Fest. Ticket proceeds will go through Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief.

Wildcat players will also participate in a community service activity with local organizations in the relief effort.

Kentucky coach John Calipari said the team was excited to play for Eastern Kentucky fans and added, “We hope we can provide a temporary escape with basketball and community engagement.”

The scrimmage traditionally is held at Rupp Arena. It will occur eight days after its Big Blue Madness public workout at Rupp.

Kentucky’s Tionna Herron recovering from open-heart surgery

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LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky coach Kyra Elzy says freshman Tionna Herron is recovering from open-heart surgery to correct a structural abnormality.

The 6-foot-4 post player learned of her condition after arriving at school in June and received other opinions before surgery was recommended. Senior trainer Courtney Jones said in a release that Herron underwent surgery Aug. 24 at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston and is recovering at home in DeSoto, Texas.

Elzy said Herron “is the definition of a warrior” and all are grateful to be on the other side of the player’s surgery. Herron is expected back on campus early next month and will continue rehabilitation until she’s cleared to return to normal activity.

“Her will and determination to eventually return to the court is inspiring, and it’s that `game-on’ attitude that is what makes her such a perfect fit in our program,” Elzy said in a release. “We are so thrilled for Tionna’s return to our locker room; it’s not the same without our full team together.”

Herron committed to Kentucky during last fall’s early signing period, rated as a four-star prospect and a top-70 player in last year’s class. Kentucky won last year’s Southeastern Conference Tournament and reached the NCAA Tournament’s first round.

Emoni Bates charged with 2 felonies

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SUPERIOR TOWNSHIP, Mich — Emoni Bates, a former basketball prodigy who transferred to Eastern Michigan from Memphis, was charged with two felonies after police found a gun in a car during a traffic stop.

The 18-year-old Bates failed to stop at an intersection Sunday night and a search turned up the weapon, said Derrick Jackson, a spokesman for the Washtenaw County sheriff’s office.

Defense attorney Steve Haney told The Associated Press that the vehicle and the gun didn’t belong to Bates.

“I hope people can reserve judgment and understand there’s a presumption of innocence,” Haney said. “This was not his vehicle. This was not his gun. … We’re still gathering facts, too.”

Bates was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and altering identification marks on a firearm. He was released after his lawyer entered a not guilty plea. Bates’ next court hearing is Oct. 6.

“This is his first brush with the law,” Haney said in court. “He poses no threat or risk to society.”

Less than a month ago, the 6-foot-9 Bates transferred to Eastern Michigan to play for his hometown Eagles. Bates averaged nearly 10 points a game last season as a freshman at Memphis, where he enrolled after reclassifying to skip a year of high school and join the class of 2021.

“We are aware of a situation involving one of our student athletes,” EMU spokesman Greg Steiner said. “We are working to gather more details and will have further comment when more information is available.”

Bates was the first sophomore to win the Gatorade national player of the year award in high school basketball in 2020, beating out Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Detroit drafted Cunningham No. 1 overall last year, two spots before Cleveland took Mobley in the 2021 NBA draft.

Bates committed to playing for Tom Izzo at Michigan State two years ago, later de-committed and signed with Memphis. Bates played in 18 games for the Tigers, who finished 22-11 under Penny Hardaway. Bates missed much of the season with a back injury before appearing in Memphis’ two NCAA Tournament games.

In 2019, as a high school freshman, the slender and skilled guard led Ypsilanti Lincoln to a state title and was named Michigan’s Division 1 Player of the Year by The Associated Press. His sophomore season was cut short by the pandemic and he attended Ypsi Prep Academy as a junior, his final year of high school.

UConn to pay Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million over firing

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STORRS, Conn. — UConn announced Thursday it has agreed to pay former men’s basketball coach Kevin Ollie another $3.9 million to settle discrimination claims surrounding his 2018 firing.

The money is in addition to the more than $11.1 million in back salary Ollie has already been paid after an arbitrator ruled in January that he was improperly fired under the school’s agreement with its professor’s union.

“I am grateful that we were able to reach agreement,” Ollie said in a statement Thursday. “My time at UConn as a student-athlete and coach is something I will always cherish. I am pleased that this matter is now fully and finally resolved.”

Ollie, a former UConn point guard who guided the Huskies to a 127-79 record and the 2014 national championship in six seasons as head coach, was let go after two losing seasons. UConn also stopped paying him under his contract, citing numerous NCAA violations in terminating the deal.

In 2019, the NCAA placed UConn on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for violations, which the NCAA found occurred between 2013 and 2018. Ollie’s attorneys, Jacques Parenteau and William Madsen, accused UConn of making false claims to the NCAA for the purpose of firing Ollie “with cause.”

The school had argued that Ollie’s transgressions were serious and that his individual contract superseded those union protections.

Ollie’s lawyers had argued that white coaches, including Hall-of-Famers Jim Calhoun and women’s coach Geno Auriemma, had also committed NCAA violations, without being fired, and indicated they were planning to file a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The school and Ollie said in a joint statement Thursday they were settling “to avoid further costly and protracted litigation.”

Both sides declined to comment further.

Ollie, who faced three years of restrictions from the NCAA on becoming a college basketball coach again, is currently coaching for Overtime Elite, a league that prepares top prospects who are not attending college for the pros.

Dream’s McDonald returning to Arizona to coach under Barnes

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Atlanta Dream guard Aari McDonald is returning to Arizona to work under coach Adia Barnes.

The school announced that McDonald will serve as director of recruiting operations while continuing to fulfill her WNBA commitments. She will oversee all recruiting logistics, assist with on-campus visits, manage recruit information and social media content at Arizona.

McDonald was one of the best players in Arizona history after transferring from Washington as a sophomore. She was an All-American and the Pac-12 player of the year in 2020-21, leading the Wildcats to the national championship game, which they lost to Stanford.

McDonald broke Barnes’ single-season scoring record and had the highest career scoring average in school history before being selected by the Dream with the third overall pick of the 2021 WNBA draft.