Saturday’s Snacks: Louisville, Iowa State both earn important wins; Arizona, Gonzaga earn tough victories

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GAME OF THE DAY: VMI 113, Western Carolina 111 (2OT)

This was a wild one, with the two teams combining to score 224 points on the day. Duggar Baucom’s Keydets attempted 46 three-pointers, making 20, and guard Julian Eleby scored 43 points to lead five players in double figures. As for WCU, James Sinclair countered with 40 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four steals in a losing effort. Eleby scored 17 of his 43 points in the two overtime periods for VMI, which moved to within a game of Western (and East Tennessee State) in the SoCon standings.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

1. Xavier 73, No. 19 Butler

Important Big East win for Xavier as they continue to be tough at home while also staying above .500 with the win. Myles Davis had 18 points, 4 steals and 3 rebounds. Butler still hasn’t found its way yet since the loss of Andrew Chrabascz as they shot 36 percent from the field and only Roosevelt Jones (14 points) finished above 10 points.

2. No. 12 Louisville 55, Miami 53

It wasn’t pretty — and both teams shot poorly — but Louisville gained control late in the second half to earn an ACC win. The Cardinals trailed much of the game at home and snapped a two-game losing streak by holding Miami point guard Angel Rodriguez to a 1-for-12 outing. Despite only shooting 33 percent from the field, Montrezl Harrell had 21 points and 14 rebounds.

3. No. 14 Iowa State 85, Texas 77

Nice road Big 12 win for the Cyclones, who have won two consecutive road wins in the conference for the first time since 2006. Georges Niang and Matt Thomas each had 17 points to lead Iowa State, who did a great job of containing the Texas interior attack. The Cyclones shot 46 percent (26-for-56) from the field and 57 percent (12-for-21) from 3-point range.

STARRED

1. LSU’s Jarrell Martin

Besides pulling off one of the best in-game dunks of the year — no defender category — Martin had 28 points and 13 rebounds in an important win for the Tigers against Florida.

2. Niagara’s Emile Blackmon

Minor upset in the MAAC as the Purple Eagles ousted heavily-favored Rider on the road. Blackmon had 30 points on 10-for-16 shooting and 6-for-9 3-point shooting.

3. VMI’s Julian Eleby and Western Carolina’s James Sinclair

Both players managed to score at least 40 points, with Eleby going for 43 and Sinclair 40 in VMI’s 113-111 double overtime win over the Catamounts.

STRUGGLED

1. Miami’s Angel Rodriguez

The point guard had a solid floor game, but couldn’t hit a shot of any kind as he went 1-for-12 from the field in a loss to Louisville.

2. Texas’ Javan Felix

A 1-for-9 shooting performance is not what Felix had in mind as the Longhorns fell to Iowa State at home. Felix not being able to hit from distance (0-for-5) also hurt the Texas spacing quite a bit.

3. UCLA’s Tony Parker

While Arizona had some key players struggle in their 57-47 win over the Bruins, UCLA needed from from Parker than the two points and one rebound he provided before fouling out. Combine this effort with the two points he scored in a loss at Arizona State, and this was a rough road trip for the junior big man.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • Player of the Year candidate Frank Kaminsky had 21 points, five rebounds and three assists in a win for No. 5 Wisconsin over Minnesota.
  • North Carolina had six players in double figures, led by Kennedy Meeks’ 18 points, in a win over Georgia Tech. The No. 15 Tar Heels scored on its first offensive possession by using the Four Corners offense.
  • Oklahoma was able to outlast Texas Tech on the road as Isaiah Cousins had 22 points in the overtime win. The No. 17 Sooners also had 17 points from Frank Booker.
  • In the Atlantic 10, Treveon Graham had 24 points and 10 rebounds to help lead No. 25 VCU past UMass.
  • No. 23 West Virginia followed up its win over Kansas with a good performance on the road, beating No. 22 Oklahoma State 73-63 in Stillwater.
  • No. 6 Villanova maintained its grip on first place in the Big East, winning 87-76 at Marquette.
  • No. 11 Northern Iowa once again showed off its stifling defense, limiting Bradley to 39 points in a 56-39 home victory.
  • No. 10 Notre Dame pulled away from Boston College in the second half in Chestnut Hill, winning 87-70 with New Bedford, Massachusetts native Bonzie Colson scoring 16 points to lead the way. Six players scored in double figures for Notre Dame, and Jerian Grant dished out 12 assists.
  • No. 4 Duke did not miss a beat despite the fact that Jahlil Okafor sat out with a sprained ankle, beating Clemson 78-56 in Durham. Quinn Cook scored 27 points and Justise Winslow added 20 and 13 rebounds.
  • No. 1 Kentucky, as expected, steamrolled Auburn 110-75 in Lexington. Karl-Anthony Towns led six Wildcats in double figures with 19 points, and he also tallied 11 rebounds and four blocks.
  • No. 8 Kansas beat TCU 81-72, with Perry Ellis posting 23 points and seven rebounds and freshman guard Devonte’ Graham adding 20 points and three assists.
  • No. 18 Arkansas picked up an SEC road win at Mississippi State as Rashad Madden led four double-figure scorers with 16 points.
  • It wasn’t pretty offensively, and they played sluggish basketball at the start of both halves, but No. 7 Arizona managed to take care of UCLA 57-47. The Wildcats dominated the glass and held the Bruins 27 points below their season average.
  • No. 3 Gonzaga struggled early, trailing by as much as 16, but they turned things around in the second half to win 70-60 at Saint Mary’s. The game was closer than the final margin would indicate, and the Bulldogs scored the game’s final 12 points as they won the outright WCC title.

NOTABLES

  • Pitt had a close effort against Syracuse and game up with a huge ACC road win. The Panthers had 19 from Chris Jones.
  • St. John’s pushed past Seton Hall in a fun Big East contest as Sir’Dominic Pointer had 22 points and 10 rebounds to pace the Red Storm.
  • Texas A&M got past South Carolina as Danuel House had 25 points and six rebounds.
  • Baylor cruised past a free-falling Kansas State as Taurean Prince had 14 points, 5 steals and 5 assists.
  • Caleb White and B.J. Tyson both had 19 points to lead East Carolina past South Florida.
  • Murray State remained unbeaten in the Ohio Valley Conference with a win over Austin Peay. Cameron Payne had 22 points and 8 assists in the win.
  • The MAC remains as wild as ever as Buffalo earned a road win at Bowling Green. Shannon Evans had 19 points while Jarryn Skeete and Justin Moss each had 15 points.
  • In an Atlantic 10 upset, Duquesne held off Dayton as Derrick Colter had 25 points and Micah Mason had 19 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds and 4 steals to lead the Dukes.
  • The Big Sky race got even more interesting Saturday afternoon, as Northern Arizona beat Eastern Washington 73-69 in Flagstaff. The Eagles now have three conference losses, as do Sacramento State and Montana.
  • Two more teams have clinched an automatic Postseason NIT berth should they need it: St. Francis-Brooklyn (NEC) and North Carolina Central (MEAC). Both clinched their respective conference regular season titles Saturday, joining Murray State (OVC). Of course, all three prefer to play in the NCAA tournament.
  • In a matchup of rivals hoping to play their way into the NCAA tournament, Stanford beat California 72-61 in Palo Alto.
  • Harvard took over sole possession of first place in the Ivy League, erasing a 14-point first half deficit to beat Princeton 63-55. While that was happening, Yale lost at home to Columbia. The Crimson and Bulldogs meet March 6 in Cambridge.
  • New Mexico State managed to lock up a postseason berth, as their 72-55 win at Grand Canyon gives them the outright WAC regular season title.

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.