Late Night Snacks: No. 4 Duke, No. 10 San Diego State among the big winners

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Saturday’s Bubble Banter

GAME OF THE DAY: No. 16 Iowa State 85, Oklahoma State 81

Oklahoma State didn’t foul in the final seconds of regulation and Naz Long made them pay, hitting a three-pointer as time expired to force overtime. And while each team was without a key player in the extra session, Oklahoma State not having Marcus Smart proved to be more of an issue than Iowa State not having Melvin Ejim. The Cyclones will be the four-seed in the Big 12 tournament, but just as important is the fact that Oklahoma State will now have to play on Wednesday.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES 

1) No. 4 Duke 93, No. 14 North Carolina 81

Jabari Parker scored 30 points and Rodney Hood added 24 as the Blue Devils avenged their loss in Chapel Hill last month. The biggest problem for North Carolina was their performance on the boards, as Duke rebounded more than 53% of its missed shots and scored 20 second-chance points. As a result of this game Duke gets the three-seed in the ACC tournament and North Carolina the four-seed.

2) No. 1 Florida 84, No. 25 Kentucky 65

The top-ranked Gators became the first team in SEC history to go 18-0 in conference play, soundly defeating the Wildcats in Gainesville. Florida led by as much as 22 in the first half, putting together their run in spite of the fact that Scottie Wilbekin was on the bench with two fouls. To Kentucky’s credit they would cut the margin to six in the second half, getting the ball inside on a more regular basis. But the Gators would once again flex their muscle, regaining control of the game down the stretch.

3) Oregon 64, No. 3 Arizona 57 

The Ducks, who have now won seven in a row, are headed to the NCAA tournament with their win over the Wildcats being icing on the cake. Jason Calliste scored 18 points off the bench and as a team Oregon shot 10-for-19 from beyond the arc, with this stat being one of the key factors in the win. As for Arizona, they can ill-afford to have Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Gabe York combine to score two points as they did on Saturday.

STARRED

1) F Doug McDermott (Creighton)

McDermott scored 45 points on 17-for-25 shooting to go along with seven rebounds in the Bluejays’ 88-73 win over Providence. He also became the eighth player in the history of NCAA Division I to reach the 3,000-point mark.

2) Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

Wiggins’ Jayhawks didn’t win on Saturday, losing 92-85 at West Virginia, but the freshman was sensational in defeat. Wiggins scored 41 points (12-for-18 FG, 15-for-19 FT) to go along with eight rebounds, five steals and four blocked shots.

3) Javon McCrea (Buffalo) 

McCrea celebrated Senior Day with a 34-point, six-rebound, four-assist performance in Buffalo’s 88-65 win over Bowling Green. McCrea made 13 of his 18 shots from the field.

STRUGGLED

1) Zach LaVine (UCLA) 

LaVine wasn’t the only Bruin to struggle in their 73-55 loss at Washington State, but he went scoreless on 0-for-8 shooting from the field.

2) Ryan Boatright and Shabazz Napier (UConn) 

UConn’s talented guard tandem combined for one of their worst games of the season in an 81-48 loss at No. 11 Louisville, shooting 4-for-24 from the field. They combined to score 14 points and commit nine turnovers, with Napier responsible for six of those miscues.

3) Naadir Tharpe (Kansas) 

Tharpe struggled in the Jayhawks’ 92-86 loss at West Virginia, playing just 16 minutes and finishing with zero points (0-for-3 FG), zero assists and one turnover.

CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS

  • America East: All chalk at Albany
    Not only did the top four seeds all win in Saturday’s quarterfinals, but all four won by double digits. The closest game was top-seed Vermont’s 77-60 win over New Hampshire. Next up for Vermont: host Albany, who beat UMBC 86-56. The other semifinal will match two-seed Stony Brook and three-seed Hartford, who beat Maine and Binghamton respectively.
  • Big South: Winthrop, Coastal Carolina advance to Sunday’s final
    Eight-seed Winthrop continued its run, with Keon Johnson scoring the final five points of the game in their 80-79 win over UNC Asheville. They’ll take on the host Chanticleers, who beat VMI 66-62.
  • CAA: Northeastern’s the lone lower seeded winner
    Four-seed Drexel wasn’t as fortunate as the other three “home” teams on Saturday, dropping a 90-81 decision to Northeastern. Scott Eatherton accounted for 23 points and 15 rebounds in the victory. Next up for the Huskies is top-seed Delaware, with the Blue Hens outlasting Hofstra. The second semifinal will match two-seed Towson and three-seed William & Mary.
  • Horizon: Milwaukee eliminates regular season champion Green Bay
    Green Bay, the prohibitive favorite to win the Horizon League tournament, lost to Milwaukee 69-64 in overtime in one semifinal. Jordan Aaron led the winners with 28 points, hitting multiple key shots in both regulation and overtime. Keifer Sykes injured his ankle in the first half but he toughed it out for the Phoenix, who will now have a stressful eight-day wait to see if they can squeak into the NCAA tournament field. As a result of Green Bay’s loss Wright State will host the title game as a result of their 68-63 win over Cleveland State.
  • MAAC: No surprises in Springfield
    The top four seeds all advanced in the quarterfinals, with Canisius holding off Siena 71-65 in the tightest contest of the four. Top-seed Iona rolled to a 94-71 win over Rider to set up a matchup with the Golden Griffins, and Manhattan will face a Quinnipiac team that won both regular season meetings in the other semifinal.
  • MVC: No. 2 Wichita State moves to 33-0
    Gregg Marshall’s Shockers keep on rolling, as they overwhelmed Missouri State 67-42 in a semifinal matchup. Wichita State will face Indiana State in the title game, with the Sycamores surviving Southern Illinois by a final score of 62-59.
  • Northeast: Mount St. Mary’s upsets Wagner
    Jamion Christian’s Mountaineers pulled off the road upset, beating Wagner 77-72 on Staten Island. Mount St. Mary’s advances to the title game and they’ll be on the road again, with regular season champion Robert Morris holding off rival Saint Francis (PA) 60-57.
  • OVC: Eastern Kentucky punches its ticket
    Jeff Neubauer’s Colonels became the second team to cement its spot in the 68-team field, beating Belmont 79-73 for the OVC tournament title. Corey Walden led the way with 29 points, and EKU beat the top two seeds in the event on consecutive nights (beating Murray State on Friday).
  • Patriot: Top two seeds advance to title game
    Regular season champion Boston University and two-seed American both picked up home wins, advancing to Wednesday’s title game. BU, which beat Army 91-70, will get to host that game. American beat Holy Cross 57-46 in the other semifinal.
  • Southern: Georgia Southern eliminates Chattanooga
    Will Wade’s Mocs were knocked out of the SoCon quarters by Georgia Southern, which beat Chattanooga 62-55. Next up for the Eagles is Wofford, with the Terriers beating The Citadel 68-51. In the other semifinal top-seed Davidson (77-54 win over Samford) faces Western Carolina, with the Catamounts beating Elon 66-64.
  • Summit: IPFW rolls over IUPUI
    IPFW took care of business in the lone Summit League tournament game, whipping IUPUI 85-47. Luis Jacobo led four Mastodons in double figures with 19 points.
  • WCC: Top-seed Gonzaga survives
    Gonzaga nearly found itself in the unenviable position of scoreboard watching, but the Bulldogs are still alive after David Stockton’s layup with 1.6 seconds remaining gave them a 77-75 win over Santa Clara. Next up for Gonzaga is rival Saint Mary’s, which beat Pepperdine 80-69. The other semifinal matches BYU and San Francisco and keep an eye on the Dons, who have now wow six straight after beating San Diego 69-60.

NOTABLES

  • No. 11 Louisville and No. 15 Cincinnati clinched shares of the American Athletic Conference title, with the Cardinals whipping No. 19 UConn 81-48 and the Bearcats holding off Rutgers 70-66. Cincinnati won the coin flip, which means they’ll be the top seed in next week’s conference tournament.
  • No. 20 Memphis beat No. 18 SMU 67-58 but the Mustangs will still be the three-seed in the American conference tournament. Memphis will be the five, taking on UConn in the quarterfinals.
  • No. 10 San Diego State won the outright Mountain West title, beating No. 21 New Mexico 51-48.
  • The Pac-12’s Bay Area teams picked up needed home wins, with Stanford beating Utah 61-60 and Cal beating Colorado 66-65 in overtime.
  • Josh Newkirk’s basket at the end of regulation forced overtime, with Pittsburgh beating Clemson 83-76 in overtime.
  • Of the three SEC bubble teams only one made a positive statement, with Tennessee blowing out a reeling Missouri squad 72-45. As for Arkansas, they lost 83-58 at Alabama.
  • Dayton, which won at Saint Louis earlier this week, took care of business Saturday night by beating Richmond 60-48.
  • Jon Ekey’s three-pointer with five tenths of a second remaining gave Illinois a 66-63 win at No. 24 Iowa. The Hawkeyes have lost five of their last six heading into the Big Ten tournament.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 6 Villanova 77, Georgetown 59
  • No. 12 Michigan 84, Indiana 80
  • No. 23 Oklahoma 97, TCU 67

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.