Scoop Jardine leads Syracuse to a win over Georgetown, but can you trust either team?

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WASHINGTON DC – A little more than two weeks ago, Georgetown went into Syracuse and picked up John Thompson III’s first career win at the Carrier Dome. Down 51-47 with just eight minutes left in the game, the Hoyas made every play down the stretch, closing the game on a 17-5 run.

Playing in front of 20,276 at the Verizon Center on Saturday, the roles were reversed. No. 11 Georgetown made a terrific comeback, using a 20-6 run to take a 45-43 lead on the Orange with nine minutes left. But today it was No. 20 Syracuse outscoring the Hoyas 17-6 down the stretch as they were the ones making the plays that won the game, allowing Syracuse to escape DC with a 58-51 win.

The hero today was Scoop Jardine. He finished with 17 points, seven assists, and two steals while committing just one turnovers. He also hit the two most important shots of the game, a tough, fade-away jumper that made the score 49-46 and then a pull-up 23 footers on the very next Syracuse possession.

“Scoop made two plays that were tough plays,” Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim said in his post game press conference. “They were almost no-no-no-no-yes plays, and that was the difference in the game.”

The fact that he hit those two shots on the road in front of the biggest home crowd that has ever attended a Georgetown game at the Verizon Center makes the two shots all the more impressive.

Thompson agreed. When asked how impressed he was with Jardine’s performance, the first word out of his mouth was “very”.

“He made some big shots,” Thompson continued. “He managed the game for them, he controlled the game for them, and when we made a run he answered with a couple of key baskets.”

It isn’t always that way with Jardine. He’s a guy with all-Big East talent that thinks he’s an all-american and, at times, displays the decision-making skills of a back-up point guard on a middle school team. When asked if Jardine has permission for those no-no-no-no-yes type plays, Boeheim responded simply “well, you know, it depends.”

And therein lies the biggest problem with Syracuse.

This is not a consistent basketball team. Kris Joseph, the most talented player on their roster, was a complete non-factor* this afternoon, finishing with just four points and two boards on 2-7 shooting. Brandon Triche had just five points on 1-7 shooting before hitting four clinching free throws in the final 23 seconds. James Southerland, who was a huge factor earlier in the season, had nine big points in the first half, which was seven more points than he had in the month of February coming in.

*(Well, complete isn’t the correct word. With the Orange up 54-51, Georgetown on a 5-0 spurt, and just 45 seconds left in the game, Joseph came up with an enormous offensive rebound. But Jardine missed the front end of a one-and-one, leaving the Hoyas with a chance to tie the game. Again, inconsistency.)

This was a big win for Syracuse in their quest to earn a top four seed and a double-bye in the Big East Tournament.

But it was also an example of why it is so difficult to trust this team heading into March.

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Georgetown better hope that Chris Wright is healthy enough to return at some point this season.

The past two seasons, it hasn’t been a secret that as Chris Wright goes, so go the Hoyas. Without him on the floor, this team just doesn’t have enough creativity on the offensive end.

This afternoon was Exhibit A.

The Hoyas had one of their worst offensive performances of the season and were coming off of a second half against Cincinnati where they managed just four field goals with Wright on the bench.

They shot just 36% from the field. Half of their field goal attempts were from beyond the arc. They turned the ball over 16 times and managed to score just 0.88 PPP. The fact that they were in this game down the stretch is a testament to just how tough and experienced this group is.

Playing against a bigger Syracuse front line, the Hoyas dominated the glass with an offensive rebounding percentage of 38% and a defensive rebounding percentage of 76%. They rallied in the second half to take the lead despite being thoroughly whipped for the first 25 minutes of the game. Nate Lubick and Henry Sims battled inside while Markel Starks well for a freshman bench player seeing the most significant minutes he’s played all season long.

But without Wright on the floor, there simply is not enough offensive creativity on this team. If the Hoyas don’t get a good shot within the flow of their offense, they don’t have anyone capable of breaking their man down off the dribble and creating. Even within their offense, losing a kid like Wright makes them much more reliant on long, sometimes contested jumpers.

Wright isn’t the best player on the team, Freeman is.

But he is without a doubt their most valuable and irreplaceable.

Without him, this is a thoroughly mediocre basketball team.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.