Late Night Snacks: Villanova survives Syracuse while UNC, SMU get big wins

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GAME OF THE DAY: No. 7 Villanova 82, Syracuse 77 OT

The Orange had complete control of this game. Villanova never led in regulation. They did trail by 14 in the second half before using an 8-0 run sparked entirely by Darrun Hilliard to kick-start a comeback that culminated in Villanova scoring five points in ten seconds to force overtime.

This is the kind of loss that a rebuilding Syracuse team is going to feel in March. This was their marquee non-conference win slipping through their fingers.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. No. 24 North Carolina 82, No. 12 Ohio State 74: North Carolina jumped out to a big lead before letting Ohio State back into it late. We had Scott Phillips on site for the game. Here is his story from Chicago.

2. No. 1 Kentucky 83, UCLA 42: Kentucky absolutely embarrassed the Bruins on Saturday afternoon, jumping out to a 24-0 lead and burying UCLA 41-7 at the break. UCLA is a borderline tournament team this season, but they still have some talent on that roster. And that should scare you. Kentucky has now played three games against elite programs on national television, blowing out both Kansas and UCLA and beating Texas by 12. When the Wildcats come to play, who can beat them?

3. SMU 62, Michigan 51: Michigan’s losing streak has been extended for four games, as the Wolverines lost to an SMU team that has been one of the nation’s most disappointing teams this season. Three of those four losses, including Saturday’s, came in Ann Arbor. Given the relative weakness of the Big Ten outside Wisconsin, it’s time to start considering the idea that Michigan is not a tournament team. For SMU, this was an important win, but not as important as the news they got yesterday: Markus Kennedy is now eligible. He finished with five points and three boards off the bench.

STARRED

1. Terry Rozier, Louisville: Montrezl Harrell got tossed at halftime after this skirmish. He had been all of Louisville’s offense to that point, but Rozier took over in the second half, scoring 26 of his 32 points after halftime.

2. Rayvonte Rice, Illinois: Rice scored 19 points and buried this buzzer-beater to give the Illini a 62-59 win in the Braggin’ Rights game over Missouri.

3. Troy Williams, Indiana: Williams had 22 points, 11 boards, three assists, two steals and two blocks as the Hoosiers knocked off No. 23 Butler, 82-73, at the Crossroads Classic.

4. Kelly Oubre, Kansas: I know that is was against Lafayette, but that doesn’t change the fact that Oubre started and finished with 23 points and 10 boards today.

STRUGGLED

1. Caris LeVert, Michigan: LeVert was a no-show on Saturday, finishing 1-for-8 from the floor with four points and five turnovers in a loss to SMU at home. He was also torched by Nic Moore, who finished with 17 points.

2. UCLA: Presented without comment:

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3. Travis Trice and Bryn Forbes, Michigan State: Trice and Forbes combined to score 12 points and shoot 4-for-22 from the floor and 1-for-12 from three as the No. 25 Spartans lost to Texas Southern in overtime in the Breslin Center. That’s a bad, bad loss.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 13 Iowa State put four players in double-figures in a blowout win over Drake. Oh, and they landed a pretty important transfer, too.
  • No. 21 Notre Dame got 22 points from Demetrius Jackson — who led six scorers in double-figures — as the Irish blew out Purdue in the Crossroads Classic, 94-63. More impressive? They did it on a night where Jerian Grant shot 3-for-13 from the floor.
  • Jernard Jarreau scored 12 points and all eight Huskies scored at least six as No. 16 Washington beat No. 15 Oklahoma 69-67 in Las Vegas.
  • Javan Felix scored 17 points in No. 9 Texas’ 78-68 win over Long Beach State, which received 23 points from Mike Caffey.
  • Juwan Staten scored 24 points as No. 22 West Virginia beat NC State 83-69 at the Gotham Classic in New York City.
  • Przemek Karnowski and Kevin Pangos scored 16 points apiece in No. 8 Gonzaga’s 63-50 win over Cal Poly in Seattle.
  • Winston Shepard scored 15 points as No. 19 San Diego State beat Ball State 70-57.
  • Delon Wright anf Brandon Taylor combined to score 33 points to lead No. 14 Utah to a 59-46 win over UNLV.

NOTABLES

  • Nino Williams had 17 points to lead four players in double-figures as Kansas State shot 61.5 percent from the floor to beat Texas A&M.
  • Kris Dunn had 16 points, 11 assists and five steals while LaDontae Henton added 27 in a blowout win for Providence over UMass.
  • In his first game with the Gators, Alex Murphy had nine points, four boards, two steals and two blocks off the bench. Dorian Finney-Smith added 16 points, six boards, four assists and four steals as Florida knocked off Wake Forest.
  • VCU hit 15 threes and rolled, 68-47, over a Cincinnati team playing without their head coach, who has an unruptured aneurysm.
  • Georgetown avoided what would have been an ugly loss, blowing a double-figure lead at home, against Charlotte, surviving 81-78.
  • D.J. Newbill had 20 points and four assists as Penn State improved to 11-1 on the year with a win over Drexel.
  • Devon Bookert went for 24 as Florida State knocked off South Florida in Tallahassee.
  • Georgia Tech picked up a nice win against Vanderbilt thanks to 19 points and eight boards from Charles Mitchell.
  • Davidson improved to 9-1 on the season as they knocked off old SoCon rival College of Charleston, 80-68, on the road.
  • K.T. Harrell finished with 24 points as Auburn knocked off Xavier in a double-overtime thriller, 65-59.
  • Houston lost again, this time at home against South Carolina State.
  • Northern Iowa limited Iowa to 27.5% shooting from the field, winning 56-44 in Des Moines. Ben Jacobson’s Panthers are now 10-1 on the season.
  • Lehigh picked up a road win Saturday night, outlasting Arizona State 84-81 in triple overtime. Savon Goodman, playing in his second game for ASU, scored 24 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a losing effort.
  • BYU had to hang on for dear life for their 79-77 win over Stanford, a game they led by 13 with 4:20 remaining. Tyler Haws, back from an ankle injury, scored 24 points in the win.

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.