Friday’s Shootaround: Pac-12 excitement, St. Mary’s pulls ahead


No. 9 Murray State 81, SEMO 73: See here.

The Pac-12: Since the Pac-12 has such a terrible TV and I spent the last three weeks on the road, tonight was the first night that I have actually been able to sit down and watch some Pac-12 basketball. It also happened to be arguably the best night of Pac-12 basketball this season. I think I’m spoiled.

Washington 71, UCLA 69: Washington overcame a late 10 point deficit as Terrence Ross scored 10 of UW’s final 12 points down the stretch to knock off UCLA and move into sole possession of first place in the Pac-12. Perhaps more importantly, Washington was able to make their run while Tony Wroten was stuck on the bench. Wahsington’s talented freshman came up lame midway through the second half, turning him into a liability on defense and hampering his explosiveness offensively.

We also finally got a chance to see just how good Joshua Smith is capable of being when he decides to play. The Washington native went for a career-high 24 points against the Huskies. The problem with Smith finally being motivated against Washington? It shouldn’t take a hometown crowd for him to be motivated. He needs to play like that at all times.

Arizona 78, Cal 74: Playing their first game without Kevin Parrom, who broke his foot last week, the Wildcats put together their most impressive performance of the season. After digging themselves a 22-9 hole, Arizona went on a 33-10 run. Over one stretch, the Wildcats hit 19 of 23 shots from the field. But Cal fought back from as much as 14 points down, eventually pulling even two possessions after Jorge Gutierrez and an Arizona assistant got into a bit of a scrap. In the end, however, Kyle Fogg was too much. He hit a big three to break the tie and block a potential game-tying three from Allen Crabbe.

This win was huge for Arizona. It keeps them relevant and it makes a statement. Avoiding a collapse on the road with a roster that young is a big deal. But the Cal loss is a bad thing for the Pac-12. The Bears probably have the best chance to earn an at-large bid of anyone in the conference, and the best chance of that happening would be for them to pull away from the Pac-12 pack. They had a chance to do that on Thursday but missed out.

– Colorado 82, Oregon State 60
– Oregon 79, Utah 68
– Stanford 68, Arizona State 44
– Washington State 60, USC 53

No. 5 Duke 75, Virginia Tech 60: Coach K implemented some changes heading into this game, both on the court (Seth Curry came off the bench in favor of Tyler Thornton) and off it (a ban on social media and a bus trip to Blacksburg instead of a chartered jet). It worked. Duke used a 13-2 run at the end of the first half to take control of the game and Austin Rivers — who finished with 18 points, five assists and five boards – played as well as he has all season long.

No. 24 St. Mary’s 84, San Diego 73: Rob Jones had 28 points and eight boards and Stephen Holt added 23 points as the Gaels maintained control of the WCC with a come-from-behind win over the Toreros. USD was up 42-38 at the break. The bigger news for St. Mary’s is this:

BYU 83, Gonzaga 73: BYU thoroughly dominated the Zags from the tip, opening a lead as big as 19 points in the second half, as they forced 19 turnovers and collected 14 steals. Noah Hartsock led the way with 24 points and 14 boards. The Gonzaga loss means that St. Mary’s now has a two game lead over the rest of the pack in the WCC.

Nevada 53, Utah State 52: Deonte Burton hit an off-balance three with 11.2 seconds left in the game to knock off a scrappy Aggie team. The Wolf Pack remain undefeated in WAC play and still have slim hopes of getting an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Old Dominion 80, James Madison 71: Kent Bazemore led six scorers in double figures with 19 points and Chris Cooper went for 22 boards as the Monarchs as they pulled into a first place tie in the Colonial with VCU, GMU and Drexel.

Middle Tennessee State 68, North Texas 66: Marcos Knight had 19 points and the Blue Raiders used a 25-6 run to close the first half and open up a 10 point lead. They pushed that lead to 15 before UNT made a furious run down the stretch to make the game interesting. MTSU is still undefeated in Sun Belt play and has a chance to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

South Dakota State 75, Oral Roberts 60: The Jackrabbits moved to within a game of first place in the Summit League with an impressive win over Oral Roberts, getting revenge for an earlier loss in Tulsa. Nate Wolters led the way with 24 points and nine assists.

Iona 105, Canisius 86: Momo Jones had 43 points and Scott Machado added 14 points and 14 assists as the Gaels kept pace with Manhattan atop the MAAC standings.

Other notable scores:

– No. 11 Florida 74, South Carolina 66
– LIU 75, Bryant 70
– UNC-Asheville 89, VMI 86
– Weber State 92, Portland State 79

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

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.

South Carolina, Staley cancel BYU games over racial incident

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina and women’s basketball coach Dawn Staley have canceled a home-and-home series with BYU over a recent racial incident where a Cougars fan yelled slurs at a Duke volleyball player.

The Gamecocks were scheduled to start the season at home against BYU on Nov. 7, then play at the Utah campus during the 2023-24 season.

But Staley cited BYU’s home volleyball match last month as reason for calling off the series.

“As a head coach, my job is to do what’s best for my players and staff,” Staley said in a statement released by South Carolina on Friday. “The incident at BYU has led me to reevaluate our home-and-home, and I don’t feel that this is the right time for us to engage in this series.”

Duke sophomore Rachel Richardson, a Black member of the school’s volleyball team, said she heard racial slurs from the stands during the match.

BYU apologized for the incident and Richardson said the school’s volleyball players reached out to her in support.

South Carolina said it was searching for another home opponent to start the season.

Gamecocks athletic director Ray Tanner spoke with Staley about the series and supported the decision to call off the games.