No. 14 Indiana takes easy route past Creighton 86-65

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Thomas Bryant enjoyed playing the middle man Thursday night.

Indiana’s highly touted freshman dominated the post on offense, grabbed rebounds and blocked shots on defense and had just as much fun setting up his teammates.

On a night James Blackmon Jr. scored 19 points, Bryant stole the show with a resounding 17-point, seven-rebound performance that helped No. 14 Indiana rout Creighton 86-65.

“The lion came out in me,” Bryant said. “Luckily, it was my game.”

Bryant is more than just a one-trick pony, too.

After starting his career with two solid games, the 6-foot-10 center finished 7 of 10 from the field, made the first 3-pointer of his career, blocked four shots, had two assists and one steal. And when he wasn’t filling the stat lines, Bryant appeared to have just as much fun setting picks for his teammates.

By the end of the night, the student section was chanting his first and last name as Bryant stomped his feet and encouraging the crowd to roar.

It was exactly what coach Tom Crean expected to see from Bryant.

“He’s tuned in, he’s tuned in,” Crean said. “He’s having a lot of fun.”

Creighton (2-1), on the other hand, was frustrated.

After averaging 98 points in their first two games, the Bluejays wound up with only two players in double figures. Maurice Watson Jr. had 21 points and Khyri Thomas had 11.

They were a dismal 3 of 18 on 3s, had no offensive rebounds in the first half and never could stop Bryant.

“They’ve got a lot of pieces,” coach Greg McDermott said. “Bryant adds another dimension to them that I don’t think they had last year with his ability to protect the rim. They can throw it to him and he can make some plays and he even had a 3 tonight.”

The Hoosiers (3-0) made it look easy.

They took the lead on their first basket, a 3 from Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, and never trailed again. Bryant’s 3 spurred a 12-0 run that gave Indiana a 26-10 lead less than nine minutes into the game.

Creighton never got closer than 15 the rest of the way.

“He’s enjoying himself,” Crean said of Bryant. “The good news is he’s going to continue to get better.”

RANK ROAD

Creighton has been one of the nation’s most consistent teams over the past 10 seasons, but it has struggled mightily against ranked teams on the road. The Bluejays are 3-66 all-time in those games and only have one such win since upsetting No. 13 Indiana State in January 1978. That was Jan. 20, 2014, at No. 4 Villanova.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

Indiana has had at least five players score in double figures in all three games this season. Ferrell had 15 points and six assists Thursday, while Troy Williams had 13 points and Nick Zeisloft had 12. Seven Hoosiers have scored 10 or more points in a game this season.

3 FOR THE SHOW

Creighton did a better job defending the 3s than either of Indiana’s first two opponents. But the Hoosiers still finished 10 of 28. They are averaging 11.7 per game and are shooting 42.7 percent from beyond the arc.

TIP-INS

Creighton: The Bluejays had a seven-game winning streak against the Big Ten snapped. … Creighton has made at least one 3 in 716 straight games. But its streak of 70 consecutive games with four or more 3s, the third-longest active one in the nation, ended.

Indiana: The Hoosiers are 3-0 for the sixth straight year and have won all three by more than 20 points. … Ferrell passed Ray Tolbert (1,427) for No. 19 on the school’s career list. He now has 1,429 points. … The 51-point first half was the third consecutive half that Indiana scored 51.

UP NEXT

Creighton travels to Las Vegas to face Rutgers on Monday.

Indiana plays Wake Forest in Maui, Hawaii, on Monday.

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.

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.