Late Night Snacks: Gonzaga and Washington State’s thrilling finish

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Games of the Night

No. 10 Gonzaga 71, Washington State 69: The Zags and Wazzu played one of the best early season basketball games you’re going to see. Gonzaga erased a four-point halftime deficit on the strength of Elias Harris and Kelly Olynyk, going up by 11 points late in the second half. But Brock Motum and Devante Lacy got hot from the perimeter, eventually taking advantage of a couple of missed free throws by the Bulldogs in order to tie the game with 7.8 seconds left. Lacy went coast-to-coast, breaking Gary Bell’s ankle with a crossover in the process. But Kevin Pangos didn’t hesitate, taking the in-bounds and answering with a coast-to-coast drive of his own.

Olynyk and Harris combined for 45 points on 20-31 shooting from the floor. Lacy and Motum also combined for 45 points, hitting nine threes in total.

Charlotte 73, Davidson 69: The 49ers looked like they may be for real. Thanks to Pierria Henry’s baseline jumper with 27.5 seconds left in the game, Charlotte took a 71-69 lead and hung on to win after De’Mon Brooks drove into three defenders and missed a layup. Chris Braswell led the way for Charlotte, finishing with 15 points. This is a group that was overlooked heading into the season, but if they keep winning, Atlantic 10 foes are going to have to start taking them seriously.

St. Louis 67, North Texas 63: Jordair Jett and Cody Ellis finished with 17 points apiece as the Billikens won their second straight game since the passing of former head coach Rick Majerus. It’s the first time this season that they have won back-to-back games. Jett broke a 61-all tie with 35 seconds left, and Ellis hit four free throws down the stretch to ice the game.

Chris Jones had 21 points, seven assists and seven boards to lead the way for the Mean Green, who dropped to 3-6 on the season. Tony Mitchell had 18 points and eight boards.

Important Outcomes

Colorado 70, Colorado State 61: Colorado jumped out to a 42-17 lead late in the first half, and while the Rams were able to cut the lead to three points with about five minutes left, the comeback proved to take too much out of them; Colorado responded with a run of their own and finished off the win. This was a performance that Tad Boyle’s team needed. They struggled to hold off Texas Southern and lost at Wyoming last week after breaking into the top 25, looking like they bought into their own hype.

The Rams will be just fine. They ran into a buzzsaw tonight in a rowdy environment. It happens. The concern, however, is that Colorado State’s issue last season, especially in league play, was their performance on the road.

No. 18 New Mexico 75, USC 67: New Mexico closed out the first half with a 22-4 run, taking control as Hugh Greenwood caught fire from beyond the arc. He hit five threes and finished with 17 points, while Alex Kirk went for 13 points and 13 boards and Kendell Williams chipped in with 13 points and nine assists.

Starred

Geron Johnson, Memphis: Johnson went for a team-high 21 points, shooting 8-11 from the floor, as the Tigers ran over a good Ohio team, 84-58. Johnson looked like the most talented perimeter scorer Josh Pastner has at his disposal.

Spencer Dinwiddie, Colorado: 29 points on just 8-10 shooting. A big win over a big rival. Nights don’t get much better than that.

Kevin Willard, Dayton: The Flyers went into Tuscaloosa and beatdown Alabama, 81-76. Dillard was the star of the show, finishing with 25 points and six assists.

Tyreek Duren, La Salle: Duren went for 29 points as La Salle blew out Penn State at home.

Struggled

Florida State: The Seminoles lost their third straight game on Wednesday, losing by 25 at home to No. 6 Florida. FSU was down 50-19 at one point. They shot 34.6% from the floor. They turned the ball over 22 times.

Jarnell Stokes, Tennessee: For the second straight game, Tennessee failed to crack the 40 point mark. On Wednesday night, Stokes finished with five points on 2-5 shooting. That’s not going to cut it.

Villanova: The Wildcats lost by 15 at home to Big 5 rival Temple, their fourth loss in the last five games. They turned the ball over 20 times in the loss.

The Rest of the Top 25

  • No. 19 Michigan State 76, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 44
  • No. 23 Oklahoma State 61, South Florida 49

Notable Scores

  • West Virginia 69, Marshall 59
  • Niagara 62, Loyola 61
  • Northern Iowa 76, Northern Colorado 59
  • St. Mary’s 88, Drake 73
  • Utah 76, Boise State 55

Three Facts

– Loyola Marymount won his 300th game tonight, beating Northern Arizona in overtime. Anthony Ireland had 28 points in the win.

– Maryland beat UMES 100-68, the first time that a Mark Turgeon team has reached triple digits since he lost to Baylor 116-110 in five overtimes at Texas A&M.

– Tennessee has lost three games this season. They have scored a total of 119 points in those three games. That’s a total of 39.7 points.

And one fight

That wasn’t even a real fight.

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

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

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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

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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.