Wednesday’s slate and what to watch

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About 10 games remain in most teams’ Conference USA schedule, but the regular-season champion could come down to tonight’s Memphis-Southern Mississippi game.

How’s that for something different?

The Golden Eagles (19-3, 6-1 in C-USA) rarely have a season like this. They’ve been to two NCAA tournaments, won the NIT once (back in ‘87) and haven’t been a player in C-USA since it joined. Last year began promising, but they dropped four of their last seven regular-season games.

But Southern Miss has found its niche thanks to an offense that takes care of the ball, shoots the 3 well and hits the offensive glass. The defense can be soft, but it’s been good enough. It’ll have its hands full tonight, though.

(All times ET; TV info from HDSportsGuide.com)

Memphis at Southern Miss, 8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
The Tigers (15-6, 6-1) won the earlier meeting between the two and feature the league’s best player in sophomore Will Barton (18.8 ppg, 8.7 rpg). The 6-6 wing dumped 29 points on Marshall last weekend as Memphis won for the ninth time in the last 10 games. If there’s a bright side for the Eagles, it’s that the Tigers’ depth took a hit when freshmen forward Adonis Thomas went down with a knee injury two weeks ago. Maybe that’ll be the opening that helps Southern Miss snap its 18-game losing streak to Memphis.

Indiana at Michigan, 6:30 p.m. (BTN)
Two teams with vastly different styles – the Hoosiers (17-5) love to run, get it inside to Cody Zeller and hustle for points anywhere it can; the Wolverines (16-6) play slower, shoot a lot of 3s and rely on guards Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway – vie in what could be the best game of the night. Winner gets to stay in the Big Ten race.

Connecticut at Georgetown, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
UConn (14-6) got freshman Ryan Boatright back for Sunday’s game against Notre Dame, but it didn’t help. So the Huskies will tweak the starting lineup, plugging Boatright and forward Roscoe Smith in place of Shabazz Napier and Alex Oriakhi. Will it be enough to steal one from the Hoyas (16-4), one of the season’s most consistent teams?

Wichita State at Missouri State, 8 p.m. (COX-Kansas)
Tough game for the Shockers (18-4, 9-2 in Missouri Valley) who are one game behind Creighton in the MVC standings. (Then again, every road game in the Valley is tough.) The Bears (13-10) are the only MVC team who’s beaten Creighton and feature all-league everything Kyle Weems.

Baylor at Texas A&M, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Bears (19-2) have won at tougher places (BYU, Northwestern) and beaten better teams (SDSU, West Virginia, St. Mary’s) this season, but there’s a certain amount of pause related to this game. The Aggies (12-8) have been one of the season’s biggest disappointments, but have played better the last three games. Beware, Bears.

Colorado State at UNLV, 10:30 p.m. (the mtn)
If you thought the Rams (14-6) would give SDSU its first conference loss, take a bow. And stop lying. Now, if you think they’ll win at UNLV (20-3), you’re nuts. But I have to admit … I’m intrigued.

EAST
UMBC at Albany (NY), 7 p.m.
Vermont at Boston U., 7 p.m.
Ball St. at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
George Mason at Delaware, 7 p.m.
Xavier at George Washington, 7 p.m.
UConn at Georgetown, 7 p.m.
Towson at Hofstra, 7 p.m.
Charlotte at La Salle, 7 p.m.
Colgate at NJIT, 7 p.m.
Hartford at New Hampshire, 7 p.m.
Drexel at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
Rutgers at Providence, 7 p.m.
UMass at Rhode Island, 7 p.m.
Binghamton at Stony Brook, 7 p.m.
Fordham at Temple, 7 p.m.
NC State at Boston College, 8 p.m.

SOUTH
SMU at East Carolina, 7 p.m.
Georgia Tech at Florida St., 7 p.m.
Davidson at Furman, 7 p.m.
Tulane at Marshall, 7 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s at Richmond, 7 p.m.
Georgia St. at UNC Wilmington, 7 p.m.
VCU at William & Mary, 7 p.m.
Texas A&M-CC at Nicholls St., 7:30 p.m.
Georgia at Auburn, 8 p.m.
Maryland at Miami, 8 p.m.
Lamar at SE Louisiana, 8 p.m.
Memphis at Southern Miss., 8 p.m.
Houston at UAB, 9 p.m.

MIDWEST
Indiana at Michigan, 6:30 p.m.
Toledo at Akron, 7 p.m.
Duquesne at Dayton, 7 p.m.
Oakland at IUPUI, 7 p.m.
E. Michigan at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Bowling Green at W. Michigan, 7 p.m.
Evansville at Bradley, 8 p.m.
Drake at Indiana St., 8 p.m.
Ohio at N. Illinois, 8 p.m.
St. Bonaventure at Saint Louis, 8 p.m.
Illinois St. at Creighton, 8:05 p.m.
Wichita St. at Missouri St., 8:05 p.m.
St. John’s at DePaul, 8:30 p.m.
Minnesota at Iowa, 8:30 p.m.
Oklahoma at Kansas, 9 p.m.

SOUTHWEST
Northwestern St. at Cent. Arkansas, 8 p.m.
UTEP at Rice, 8 p.m.
McNeese St. at Sam Houston St., 8 p.m.
Texas St. at Stephen F. Austin, 8 p.m.
Wyoming at TCU, 8 p.m.
UTSA at Texas-Arlington, 8 p.m.
Baylor at Texas A&M, 9 p.m.

FAR WEST
CS Bakersfield at New Mexico St., 8:30 p.m.
Boise St. at San Diego St., 10 p.m.
Colorado St. at UNLV, 10:30 p.m.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
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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.