Providence lands key win at No. 24 Georgetown, gives them a chance to win Big East

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Providence knocked off No. 24 Georgetown, 74-71, in D.C. on Wednesday night, the first road win that the Friars have landed over a ranked opponent since January 24th, 2004.

In and of itself, that makes this win important — I’ll get to that in a minute — but how they earned this win is what truly matters. The Friars came back from 13 points down with 12 minutes left, making the game-changing run despite the fact that star point guard Kris Dunn was on the bench with foul trouble and leading scorer LaDontae Henton, as head coach Ed Cooley put it, “was basically playing for Georgetown for 20 minutes”.

It was the youngsters, the role players, that truly made the difference on Wednesday.

Ben Bentil finished with 16 points and 11 boards, by far his best game in a Providence uniform. “I thought Ben was a man today,” Cooley said. “He grew up today.”

But it wasn’t just Bentil. Freshman point guard Kyron Cartwright made a couple of huge plays after Dunn went to the bench, and sophomore Junior Lomomba, playing a season-high 27 minutes, was a spark on the defensive end.

“Junior Lomomba had a great game that didn’t show in the stats,” Cooley said. “I was proud of our group, especially when Kris came out and we had those three freshmen in.”

“When a talent like Kris Dunn comes off the floor, you just hope that your young guys have gone through enough to weather a storm against a great team.”

The comeback was helped by the fact that Henton was finally able to get going. He didn’t hit a field goal until a three with 33 seconds left in the first half and had just six points midway through the second half, when a 13-0 Georgetown run helped push a one point deficit into that 13-point lead. His defense was just as bad, but he scored eight points in a 90-second span midway through the half that sparked the Friar comeback.

Carson Desrosiers came up huge as well, making a number of baskets in the paint and hitting some critical free throws down the stretch. It’s a great sign for a Friar team that has, at times, looked like a two-man show this season.

“We’re halfway through the Big East schedule, and it’s time for the freshmen to grow up,” Desrosiers said. “We’ve had contributions from them all season, and tonight we needed it from them badly.”

“All of our freshmen play. We need them to contribute. It provides a huge boost, especially if one of our horses is off.”

There’s the obvious — road wins look great on an NCAA tournament resume, and the Friars have now put themselves in a great position to make a return trip to the Big Dance. But there’s more at play here. The Big East is one of just two major conferences that play a full double-round robin schedule, and landing a road victory over one of the other league contenders is what can make the difference between a fourth place finish and a real shot at landing a regular season conference title.

Providence is a game behind Villanova for first place in the conference with two games left against the Wildcats. They’re a game up on Georgetown after having swept the Hoyas. They’re tied with Butler, who they have already beaten on the road this season.

The Friars control their own destiny this year, believe it or not.

A Big East regular season title is within their grasp.

Who saw that coming after Bryce Cotton’s graduation?

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.

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.