Late Night Snacks: Florida, Xavier, West Virginia earn good road wins; VCU rolls past George Washington

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Florida 52, Alabama 50

Florida has been struggling to stay consistent this season and the Gators almost let a 13-point halftime lead slip away on the road at Alabama. But Dorian Finney-Smith picked a great time to score his only bucket of the game, as his thunderous poster dunk on Michael Kessens lifted Florida to a huge SEC road win. Eli Carter paced the Gators with 13 points while Chris Walker gave a nice lift inside with 12 points.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Xavier 66, No. 21 Georgetown 53

Chris Mack’s ballclub has struggled away from the Cintas Center — and also been inconsistent on the defensive end — but the Musketeers held the Hoyas to 16 first-half points and never looked back in a solid Big East road win. Myles Davis used a big first-half to finish with 19 points for Xavier while the Musketeer defense slowed down Georgetown guard D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (13 points, 5-for-14 shooting) and limited his teammates. The Hoyas shot 6-for-22 from 3-point range and Joshua Smith (10 points) was the only other Hoya with more than seven points.

2. Oklahoma State 64, No. 20 Baylor 53

After a good home win over Oklahoma over the weekend, the Bears came out completely flat on the road at Oklahoma State on Tuesday. The Cowboys jumped out to a nine-point lead at halftime and held a comfortable lead for much of the game. The guard play for Oklahoma State stepped up as Phil Forte had 16 points and Anthony Hickey had a solid floor game with eight points and 10 assists. This season’s Big 12 feels a lot like last season’s Big 12 where every team beats up on each other and we can’t really tell how good these teams actually are.

3. No. 17 West Virginia 65, Kansas State 59

This game was as ugly as it gets, with the two teams combining for 54 fouls and 45 turnovers as the Mountaineers escaped with a good Big 12 road win. Despite foul trouble with Juwan Staten and Jonathan Holton, West Virginia had a balanced scoring effort and kept the defensive intensity up throughout the game. Tarik Phillip had a team-high 12 points for the Mountaineers off the bench while Staten made some tough buckets in the final frame to finish with 11 points.

4. No. 14 VCU 72, George Washington 48

An A-10 battle that many thought would be closer, the Rams held the Colonials to 26 percent shooting (14-for-52) and five percent 3-point shooting (1-for-17) and ran away in the second half. VCU’s defense also forced 16 George Washington turnovers as freshman Terry Larrier led the Rams with 15 points. Ten different players scored for VCU in the blowout home win.

Mo Alie-Cox also had this earth-shaking dunk:

STARRED

1. Virginia Tech’s Adam Smith

After nearly beating in-state rival Virginia on Sunday, the Hokies bounced back with their first ACC win with an overtime win over Pitt. Smith made the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime with two seconds left in regulation and then made the game-winning 3-pointer with five seconds left in overtime with the game tied. The guard finished with 26 points and six 3-pointers in the win.

The game-tying three from Smith in regulation was from waaay out there:

https://twitter.com/ChadWillis/status/560262325903822852/photo/1

2. Buffalo’s Justin Moss

Moss had a great outing in a win over Western Michigan as he had 23 points and 10 rebounds in the MAC win for the Bulls. The junior was also 11-for-18 from the field and had two blocks and two steals.

Moss also put down one of Tuesday night’s best dunks:

3. Texas A&M’s Danuel House

The former Houston transfer was dialed in from distance as the wing was 6-for-7 from 3-point range in a Texas A&M road win at Auburn. House finished with 22 points for the game as the Aggies have now won five straight SEC games after an 0-2 start.

STRUGGLED

1. Nebraska’s Terran Petteway

The Huskers needed Petteway to step up and make shots with Michigan going zone and the junior failed to do so, going 1-for-11 from the field and 1-for-7 from 3-point range. Petteway also added three turnovers and only got to the free-throw line four times.

2. Baylor’s Kenny Chery

It was a tough night for the senior guard as he had as many points as turnovers (six) in a loss at Oklahoma State. Chery was 3-for-13 from the field and couldn’t get it going.

NOTABLES

  • Michigan defeated Nebraska without sophomore point guard Derrick Walton Jr., who sat out the game with a lingering sprained toe. Zak Irvin stepped up with 14 points and 12 rebounds in the Wolverine win.
  • Tulsa moved to 8-0 in the American with a road win at Tulane. Shaquille Harrison finished with 16 points and seven rebounds.
  • Arkansas slid past Tennessee in the SEC as Bobby Portis and Michael Qualls each finished with 17 points.
  • San Diego State outlasted Fresno State in the Mountain West as Aqeel Quinn led the way with 16 points.
  • Utah State earned a nice win over Wyoming as David Collette finished with 16 points. The Cowboys did at least have a solid highlight when guard Riley Grabau nailed a 3/4 court buzzer-beater to end the first half.
  • Nice Valley win for Evansville as D.J. Balentine had 18 points and six assists in a win over Indiana State.
  • Playing in the second-annual “Purple Out” Akron beat visiting Ball State as Pat Forsythe finished with 17 points and eight rebounds.
  • Eastern Michigan won easily over Ohio as Raven Lee paced the Eagles with 19 points.
  • In an Atlantic 10 battle, La Salle bested Saint Joseph’s as Jerrell Wright had a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Great balance from Georgia in a home SEC win over Vanderbilt. Nobody took more than nine field-goal attempts for the Bulldogs as Nemanja Djurisic led four starters in double figures with 15 points.
  • Richaun Holmes had 18 points and seven rebounds as Bowling Green took down Northern Illinois in the MAC.
  • Staying in the MAC, Toledo bested Miami (OH) as guard Jonathan Williams had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

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.