Friday’s Shootaround: Murray State remains undefeated

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No. 24 Murray State 89, Lipscomb 65: Playing their first game as a ranked team in 13 years, the Racers had no problem dispatching with Lipscomb. Ed Daniel and Ivan Aska scored 16 points apiece as the racers used a 29-15 surge to close the first half and open up a 45-29 lead.

Lipscomb is not an Ohio Valley team, but they are comparable to the kind of games that the Racers are going to play the rest of the season. That’s why there was so much speculation this week into whether Murray State would be able to go undefeated this season. They are going to be a heavy favorite in every single game they play this season. They will undoubtedly play their share of poor games, but given the level of competition, they should have a shot to win even on an off-night playing on the road.

Do I think the Racers will go undefeated? No. Do I think they are capable of doing it? Yes. Do I want to see it happen, or at least get close? Heck yes.

Gonzaga 67, Oral Roberts 61: Kevin Pangos had 14 points and seven assists and Elias Harris added 12 points and 10 boards as the Zags held on down the stretch against a feisty Oral Roberts team. Gonzaga used a 17-2 run to close the first half, pushing their lead to as much as 12 in the second half. ORU was able to cut the lead to four late in the game, but couldn’t get closer than that.

Bradley 67, George Washington 66: Walt Lemon Jr. hit a three with 46 seconds left to give Bradley a three point lead. GW had a chance to tie after two Tony Taylor free throws and a forced turnover, but both Taylor and Lasan Kromah missed jumpers on the final possession. Its just another in a long line of struggles for the Colonial team, who appear to still be struggling with the transition to Mike Lonergan as a head coach.

Jackson State 59, SMU 58: Jackson State was 1-9 coming into this game. SMU is headed to the Big East next season. That should be fun.

The rest of the top 25

No. 8 Missouri 104, Kennesaw State 67: Ricardo Ratliffe and Michael Dixon both went for 18 points as the Tigers rolled through Kennesaw State despite playing through finals week.

No. 15 Wisconsin 66, Savannah State 33: Wisconsin’s stout defense remained, well, stout as they held the Tigers to just 33 points and 32.6% shooting from the field.

Other notable scores:

– Akron 87, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 64
– Northwestern 81, Texas Southern 51
– LSU 66, UC-Irvine 59
– Belmont 78, Troy 55
– Oregon State 93, Howard 72
– St. Mary’s 84, NC A&T 45

Top performers

Angus Brandt, Roberto Nelson and Ahmad Starks, Oregon State: Brandt, Nelson and Starks combined for 63 points on 22-35 shooting from the floor and 8-14 from three in a 93-62 win over Howard.

Michael Harthun, Portland State: Harthun scored 22 points on 9-11 shooting from the field as PSU knocked off CS-Bakersfield.

Andre Jones, Winthrop: Jones had 26 points on 8-13 shooting as the Eagles knocked off Jacksonville 59-45.

Rob Jones, St. Mary’s: Jones finished with just five points and six turnovers while shooting 2-8 from the floor. But he had 14 boards (eight offensive) and added four assists and two steals.

Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @ballinisahabit.

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.