New Year’s Eve Snacks: Seton Hall springs an upset of St. John’s

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IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Seton Hall 78, No. 15 St. John’s 67: Playing without Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall pulled off an upset in the opening game of the Big East season, knocking off No. 15 St. John’s at the Prudential Center. The Johnnies once against dug themselves a hole, falling behind by as much as 14 points in the second half. They made a run — D’Angelo Harrison finished with 25 points and got St. John’s within two points with five minutes left — but the Pirates were able to pull away down the stretch. Sterling Gibbs and Jaron Sina made a number of big plays late in the game.

2. No. 4 Wisconsin 89, Penn State 72: With an 11-1 record entering their Big Ten opener at Wisconsin, Penn State had the opportunity to show that it should be regarded as a team capable of factoring into the conference race. Things didn’t work out that way for the Nittany Lions, as Nigel Hayes scored 21 points and Frank Kaminsky added a double-double (18 points, 14 rebounds) to lead the Badgers to the win in Madison. Four Wisconsin starters reached double figures in the win, and as a team Bo Ryan’s bunch shot 63.8% from the field.

3. Xavier 70, No. 25 Georgetown 53: The final college basketball game of 2014 was a good one for the Musketeers, who knocked off the Hoyas in the Big East opener for both. Jalen Reynolds scored 17 points off the bench and guards Remy Abell and Dee Davis added 12 apiece for Xavier, which outscored Georgetown 39-28 in the second half. The Hoyas shot just 36.2% from the field for the game and 2-for-13 from beyond the arc, with D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera scoring 18 points and Joshua Smith ten in a losing effort.

STARRED

1. Jahlil Okafor, Duke: Wofford gave No. 2 Duke a fight, but the Blue Devils pulled away late for an 84-55 win. Okafor was the guy — again — finishing with 24 points, eight boards, two blocks and two steals while shooting 11-for-13 from the floor.

2. Sterling Gibbs, Seton Hall: Gibbs made a number of huge plays down the stretch, including a pull-up three to end a St. John’s run late in the second half. He finished with 25 points and eight assists in the upset win.

3. LaDontae Henton, Providence: Henton scored 35 points on 12-for-21 shooting from the field and grabbed eight rebounds in the Friars’ 65-53 win over Creighton.

4. Bobby Hain, Youngstown State: Hain accounted for 22 points, 14 rebounds and five assists in the Penguins’ 78-74 win over Northern Kentucky.

STRUGGLED

1. UConn at the foul line: The Huskies, one of the nation’s best foul shooting teams a season ago, made just eight of their 19 attempts in a 57-53 overtime loss to Temple.

2. San Jose State: Shot 20 percent from the field in a 61-33 loss at Utah State. Guards Darry Gaynor and Isaac Thornton combined to shoot 5-for-32 from the field.

3. Mississippi Valley State: The Delta Devils shot 24.1% from the field and 1-for-17 from three in their 83-33 loss at No. 9 Iowa State.

TOP 25 SCORES

  • No. 2 Duke 84, Wofford 55
  • No. 4 Wisconsin 89, Penn State 72
  • No. 6 Villanova 67, Butler 55
  • No. 9 Iowa State 83, Mississippi Valley State 33
  • Seton Hall 78, No. 15 St. John’s 67
  • No. 16 Wichita State 66, Drake 58
  • No. 18 Oklahoma 61, George Mason 43
  • No. 24 Colorado State 71, Boise State 65

NOTABLES

  • Jonathan Stark had 22 points as Tulane beat East Carolina, 67-59.
  • Shaquille Harrison had 22 points to lead Tulsa to a 56-54 win over Central Florida.
  • Jesse Morgan continued his solid play with a 17-point, six-rebound performance in Temple’s 57-53 overtime win at UConn. The UMass transfer has been a difference-maker for the Owls since becoming eligible earlier this month.
  • Kendall Stephens scored 16 of his 19 points in the second half as Purdue came back from 11 down to beat Minnesota 72-68. As both a player and head coach, Matt Painter has yet to lose to the Golden Gophers in West Lafayette.
  • Ryan Arcidiacono lead four players in double figures with 15 points as No. 6 Villanova beat Butler, 67-55.
  • Robert Johnson scored 14 points and Hanner Mosquera-Perea added 12 and ten rebounds as Indiana won 70-65 at Nebraska.
  • Larry Nance Jr. scored 29 points and grabbed five rebounds as Wyoming beat UNLV 76-71 in the Mountain West opener for both. Christian Wood led the Runnin’ Rebels with 29 and seven boards.

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

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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.