Pregame Shootaround: Are there upsets in store on Saturday?

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GAME OF THE NIGHTNo. 7 Arizona at USC, 7:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview.

I’m really not quite sure what to make of USC at this point. If it wasn’t for a massive collapse last Sunday — a collapse, mind you, that happened to coincide with an ankle injury to Julian Jacobs — the Trojans would currently be sitting at 3-0 in the Pac-12. That would put them all alone in first place in the conference, and while they have yet to really beat anyone that matters, when was the last time we needed that qualifier when it comes to USC basketball?

I say all that to say this: USC is going to get their best shot at making a statement on Saturday night when No. 7 Arizona comes to down. Unlike year’s past, the Trojans actually have a shot at playing their way into the NCAA tournament this season, but in order for them to do that they’re going to need to win games like this. That won’t be easy this weekend, not after they lost at UCLA on a blown defensive assignment.

WHO’S GETTING UPSET?: No. 1 Kansas at Texas Tech, 9:00 p.m.

From Rob Dauster’s Weekend Preview:

Yeah, I’m going out on a limb here, but I think I’m on to something. Kansas is coming off of that massive win over Oklahoma, a game that probably won’t be topped at any point this season. After Saturday, they’re heading to Morgantown to take on a West Virginia team that plays a physical, pressing style of basketball and has proven to be a tough place for the Jayhawks to win. And Texas Tech is actually pretty good this year. They’re 11-2 on the season and gave Iowa State all they could handle in Hilton on Tuesday. The Jayhawks better show up ready to play.

MID-MAJOR GAME OF THE DAY: Wichita State at Southern Illinois, 4:00 p.m.

One of the season’s bigger mid-major surprises has been Southern Illinois, who is 14-2 and 3-0 in the Valley entering Saturday’s home game against Wichita State. The record looks nice for the Salukis, but they haven’t earned a marquee victory yet. Their non-conference strength of schedule is at 344 and they’re only No. 104 on Kenpom. A win over the Shockers would help the computer numbers. On the Wichita State side of the things, this would also be a nice win for the Shockers, as they’re also 3-0 in league play. They’ve won four straight games since getting more pieces back from injury.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR:

1. Baylor is the forgotten member of the top of the Big 12, which is the kind of thing that tends to happen when you lose by 30 to Kansas. that said, the Bears matchup far better with No. 13 Iowa State, who doesn’t have nearly enough size inside to deal with Baylor’s front court. Taurean Waller-Prince vs. Georges Niang will be fun. That game tips at 3:00 p.m.

2. Ben Simmons and LSU will get another test when they head to Florida to take on the Gators at 1:30 p.m. I’m not sure if this is the kind of game where LSU is truly in danger of losing — remember, this Florida team no longer is coached by Billy Donovan and got mollywhopped by Tennessee in Knoxville this week — but it will be interesting to see how the Tigers respond to Tuesday’s win over Kentucky. This is a program that’s proven to be inconsistent, and nothing would make more sense for them that beating UK and losing to UF.

3. Jim Boeheim’s back! The Syracuse Hall of Famer missed the last nine games as he was suspended for academic fraud and NCAA violations committed during his tenure. The Orange went 4-5 without, including 0-3 in the ACC, which is why Saturday’s visit from No. 6 North Carolina is so important.

4. Vanderbilt has been one of the most disappointing teams in college basketball this season, going from a team that looked like an SEC contender to one that has lost essentially every meaningful game they’ve played. On Saturday, they play at No. 22 South Carolina, one of just two undefeated teams left in college basketball.

5. There’s an intriguing matchup in the Sunshine State at 4 p.m. as Florida State pays a visit to No. 12 Miami in a game between the two preseason picks for ACC sleepers. If you like quality guard play, this is a game for you.

OTHER TOP 25 GAMES

  • Kansas State at No. 2 Oklahoma, 4:30 p.m.
  • No. 3 Maryland at Wisconsin, 1:00 p.m.
  • No. 4 Virginia at Georgia Tech, 2:00 p.m.
  • No. 9 Kentucky at Alabama, 6:00 p.m.
  • Virginia Tech at No. 14 Duke, 12:00 p.m.
  • Oklahoma State at No. 17 West Virginia, 1:00 p.m.
  • No. 21 Texas A&M at Tennessee, 1:00 p.m.
  • Memphis at No. 23 Connecticut, 7:00 p.m.
  • No. 24 Pittsburgh at Notre Dame, 4:00 p.m.
  • No. 25 Dayton at La Salle, 2:00 p.m.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • DePaul at Georgetown, 12:00 p.m.
  • Creighton at Seton Hall, 2:00 p.m.
  • St. John’s at Marquette, 2:00 p.m.
  • Northwestern at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m.
  • Washington at Washington State, 3:00 p.m.
  • Mississippi State at Arkansas, 3:30 p.m.
  • Nebraska at Rutgers, 5:00 p.m.
  • Arizona State at UCLA, 5:00 p.m.
  • UNLV at Wyoming, 6:00 p.m.
  • Fresno State at Boise State, 6:00 p.m.
  • Texas at TCU, 7:00 p.m.
  • Portland at Gonzaga, 8:00 p.m.
  • Georgia at Ole Miss, 8:30 p.m.
  • Auburn at Missouri, 9:00 p.m.
  • East Carolina at Temple, 9:00 p.m.
  • Cal at Oregon State, 9:30 p.m.

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.