SATURDAY’S SNACKS: Kansas, Kentucky make statements; Texas A&M, Wichita State both fall

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
1 Comment

GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 6 Kansas 76, No. 3 Oklahoma 72

The Jayhawks have the inside track on the Big 12 regular season title after a season sweep of Oklahoma. Devonte Graham was the hero in this one for Kansas as he went for 27 points and played tough defense. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 22 Kentucky 89, South Carolina 62: Despite John Calipari getting ejected 2:26 into the game, Kentucky continued its recent stretch of SEC blowouts with another impressive road win. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on this one and examines if the Wildcats are ready for a Final Four run.

LSU 76, No. 15 Texas A&M 71: Staying atop the SEC with Kentucky was LSU who earned an important home win after falling to South Carolina earlier this week. The struggle continued for Texas A&M as they’ve now dropped five straight SEC games. I have more on why Texas A&M is struggling and how LSU had a balanced outing today.

Duke 63, No. 7 Virginia 62: Grayson Allen’s much-discussed shot as time expired gave the Blue Devils the win over Virginia at Cameron, but it was Brandon Ingram who led the way. Ingram finished with 25 points and seven rebounds, keeping Duke alive in a game the Cavaliers appeared poised to run away with in the first half. And with the loss, Virginia hasn’t won at Cameron since 1995.

Michigan 61, No. 18 Purdue 56: Michigan needed a few more wins over top-flight teams to feel comfortable about their postseason fate, so this was a big win for them. More importantly, Caris LeVert returned to the lineup and played some minutes off the bench. CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on the Wolverines here.

Northern Iowa 53, No. 25 Wichita State 50: This loss was killer for Wichita State as it snapped a nation-leading 43-game home win streak while hurting the Shockers’ at-large chances. And, suddenly, Northern Iowa is really dangerous and playing good ball. See what this one means for the Missouri Valley Conference leading up to Arch Madness.

Wisconsin 70, No. 2 Maryland 57: Greg Gard’s Badgers picked up a huge win for their NCAA tournament hopes, handing Maryland’s its first-ever conference home loss as a member of the Big Ten. Vitto Brown scored 21 points and grabbed seven boards to lead the way, and his improved play of late has been a key development for Wisconsin.

BUBBLE BANTER: What do Saturday’s results mean for Selection Sunday?

STARRED

Keon Johnson, Winthrop: One of the country’s underrated mid-major scorers, the 5-foot-7 Johnson scored 32 points and beat Radford at the buzzer with a cold-blooded jumper.

Cat Barber, N.C. State: The junior guard was cooking in an ACC win over Wake Forest as he went for 38 points, five rebounds and three assists for the Wolfpack. Barber was 10-for-20 from the floor and 17-for-20 from the free-throw line in the win.

Erik McCree, Louisiana Tech: The Bulldogs picked up an important win over UAB in Conference USA as McCree had 33 points, six rebounds and three assists. The junior forward was 11-for-20 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line.

Cameron Oliver, Nevada: Oliver accounted for 20 points and 24 rebounds in the Wolf Pack’s overtime win over Fresno State.

STRUGGLED

Wichita State’s offense: In the loss to Northern Iowa, the Shockers shot just 30 percent from the field and 22 percent from 3-point range. Fred VanVleet and Ron Baker combined to shoot 8-for-31 from the floor and 4-for-16 from 3-point range.

Isaiah Taylor, Texas: Taylor scored nine points, shooting 3-for-14 from the field, in the Longhorns’ loss at No. 14 Iowa State.

Kyle Wiltjer, Gonzaga: Wiltjer scored four points, shooting 2-for-17 from the field, in the Bulldogs’ loss at SMU.

OTHER TOP 25 RESULTS

  • No. 1 Villanova retained its two-game lead atop the Big East with a 73-63 win over St. John’s. Daniel Ochefu scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds for the Wildcats.
  • Behind a balanced effort, No. 5 Xavier came away with a 74-57 win over Butler for a Big East road win.
  • No. 10 West Virginia forced 26 turnovers and rolled to an easy 73-42 home win over TCU in the Big 12. Jonathan Holton returned from suspension and contributed 14 points in the win.
  • No. 11 Oregon suffered its second straight loss, as they fell 76-72 at Stanford. Rosco Allen led the Cardinal with 25 points, and the Ducks’ comeback attempt fell short. And after being hailed as the class of the Pac-12 prior to their trip to the Bay Area, this could be the wakeup call Dana Altman’s team needs.
  • No. 13 Louisville also lost Saturday, falling 71-66 at Notre Dame. Demetrius Jackson scored 27 and dished out five assists for the Fighting Irish, who also received a much-needed boost from Steve Vasturia as they made their rally in South Bend.
  • Georges Niang and Monte Morris scored 24 points apiece as No. 14 Iowa State beat No. 24 Oklahoma, 85-75. Also of note for the Cyclones was the return of Jameel McKay, who tallied eight points, seven rebounds and four blocks on the night.
  • No. 16 SMU beat Gonzaga 69-60, keeping the Bulldogs from picking up a key win for their NCAA tournament hopes. Nic Moore was outstanding for the Mustangs, finishing with 25 points and 11 assists.
  • One of the teams that desperately needed a win on Saturday was No. 20 Providence, as they outlasted Georgetown, 75-72. The Friars built a 20-point halftime lead and almost lost. Kris Dunn (20 points) and Ben Bentil (16 points) had help from Rodney Bullock (23 points, 10 rebounds) so that’s a positive sign.
  • Texas Tech picked up a big win as it looks to earn an NCAA tournament berth, winning 84-66 at No. 21 Baylor. Keenan Evans scored 21 points and Justin Gray 17 for the Red Raiders, who shot 57.8 percent from the field.

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Clemson topped Georgia Tech in the ACC as Jaron Blossomgame had 17 points and seven rebounds.
  • Playing without Josh Scott, Colorado escaped with a home win over Washington in the Pac-12 as Wesley Gordon had 17 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
  • Ole Miss was a winner in the SEC over Arkansas as Stefan Moody went 4-for-17 from the floor but still finished with 17 points and seven assists.
  • Oklahoma State outlasted Kansas State in overtime in the Big 12 as Leyton Hammonds had 13 points.
  • Aaric Armstead his two free throws in the final seconds to give Northern Illinois an 80-79 win over Akron. The Zips still have a two-game cushion on the rest of the MAC.
  • Tulane snapped a 12-game home losing streak in the American with an overtime win over Memphis. Shaq Goodwin also picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season trying to pull a Vince Carter on a breakaway.
  • Belmont, one of the leaders of the Ohio Valley Conference, blew a 14-point halftime lead in a loss to Morehead State. Brent Arrington scored 24 points for the Eagles as Belmont’s Craig Bradshaw (28 points) missed a look at the buzzer for the win.
  • Louisiana Tech scored 56 second-half points as they beat UAB 85-76 in Ruston. Erik McCree scored 33 points for the Bulldogs.
  • UNCW tightened its grip on first place in the CAA with a 78-68 win over James Madison. Craig Ponder scored 19 points and Chris Flemmings added 17 points and 11 boards for the Seahawks.
  • VCU rebounded from its loss at UMass with an 85-52 beating on Saint Louis. Korey Billbury led five Rams in double figures with 20 points.
  • Also adding a quality win to their résumé was Alabama, which won 61-55 at Florida. Avery Johnson’s Crimson Tide limited the Gators to 28.6 percent shooting in the win.
  • After jumping out to a 20-point lead UConn held on to beat Tulsa by two, with the Golden Hurricane hitting a three as time expired.
  • Princeton came back to beat Columbia 88-83 in overtime, grabbing sole possession of second place in the Ivy League. The Tigers take on first place Yale Friday night in a huge matchup in regards to the league race.
  • Wright State completed a season sweep of Valparaiso, beating the Crusaders 61-59. Valpo shot 7-for-26 from three in the loss.
  • Hawai’i maintained sole possession of first place with a 76-59 win over Cal-State Fullerton. UC Irvine, which received 36 points from Alex Young in a win over CSUN, remains a game back in the standings.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

ncaa
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images
2 Comments

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

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
2 Comments

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

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

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.