LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 15 Duke, No. 18 Indiana pick up wins

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Charlotte 114, UTSA 108 (2OT)

The 49ers and Roadrunners are playing for seeding in the upcoming Conference USA tournament, and they produced an entertaining contest Thursday night. Six players scored at least 21 points in the game, three for each team, with UTSA’s Ryan Bowie leading all scorers with 23 points. Charlotte received a 21-point, 16-rebound outing from Joseph Uchebo and Curran Scott shot 13-for-15 from the foul line in scoring his 22 points for Mark Price’s team.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 15 Duke 80, Florida State 65: The Blue Devils were balanced offensively, with Grayson Allen leading five double-digit scorers with 18 points. The Seminoles shot 50 percent from the field, but their 15 turnovers were converted into 16 points by the Blue Devils. Of course, Allen was involved in some controversy following the game regarding the possible tripping of Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes in the second half.

Seton Hall 70, Providence 52: The Pirates and Friars are headed in opposite directions at the point, as Seton Hall won by a comfortable margin in Newark. Isaiah Whitehead played very well at the point, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists and four blocked shots as he was far better than Providence’s Kris Dunn who didn’t appear to be at full strength. The Friars pulled to within seven in the second half, but the loss of Ben Bentil (31 points) to a flagrant 2 with just under five mintues remaining essentially ended the game. Seton Hall’s now 7-1 in its last eight games, and Providence is 2-6 during a similar stretch.

No. 18 Indiana 74, Illinois 47: The Hoosiers moved one step closer to a Big Ten title, as they shut down the Fighting Illini in the second half of their 27-point win in Champaign. Yogi Ferrell led the way with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists, and the Hoosiers’ defensive effort was noteworthy as well. Illinois scored just 19 second-half points, and Indiana (mainly OG Anunoby) managed to limit Malcolm Hill to five points on 2-for-7 shooting.

California 75, UCLA 63: The Golden Bears are evidence that the season’s a marathon rather than a sprint. And with their win over the Bruins, Cuonzo Martin’s team is tied with Arizona and Utah for second place in the Pac-12, a game behind Oregon, with three games left to play. Jabari Bird scored 20 points and Jaylen Brown added 16 and ten boards for Cal, which is now 17-0 at home this season. For all the issues Cal had earlier in the season, they’re hitting their stride at just the right time.

STARRED

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists, four blocks and just two turnovers in the Pirates’ win over Providence.

Quinton Hooker, North Dakota: Hooker scored a career-high 38 points, with the final two coming on free throws that sealed UND’s 80-77 win over Portland State.

Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: 27 points, five rebounds and five assists in the Hoosiers’ blowout win at Illinois.

STRUGGLED

Kris Dunn, Providence: Eight points on 4-for-12 shooting, no assists and three turnovers in an 18-point loss at Seton Hall.

Malcolm Hill, Illinois: Five points on 2-for-7 shooting in Illinois’ 74-47 loss to Indiana.

Jordan McLaughlin, USC: McLaughlin struggled in the Trojans’ loss at Stanford, scoring two points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 22 Utah steamrolled Arizona State, 81-46, in a game they led 33-4 at one point. Jakob Poeltl was limited to just seven points, but the attention he drew from Arizona State factored into his teammates making a school-record 17 three-pointers. Brekott Chapman led four Runnin’ Utes in double figures with 15 points while also grabbing nine rebounds.
  • No. 24 SMU moved into a tie for first in the American with a 69-62 win at Memphis. Sterling Brown scored 14 points and Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy added 12 apiece for the Mustangs, who are looking to win back-to-back regular season conference titles for the first time since they won three straight from 1965-67 (Southwest Conference).

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Hofstra moved into a tie for first in the CAA with a 70-69 comeback win at UNCW, which entered the game in sole possession of the top spot. The Pride trailed by as much as 18 Thursday night, avenging a home loss to UNCW February 4 that they led by 22 at one point.
  • ETSU moved to 13-4 in SoCon play with an 80-75 win over Furman. Ge’Lawn Guyn led five Bucs in double figures with 23 points, and ETSU trails first-place Chattanooga (13-3) by a game in the loss column.
  • UConn took care of business on the road, beating USF 81-51 in Tampa. Rodney Purvis led the way for the Huskies with 18 points.
  • North Florida wrapped up the A-Sun regular season title and home court advantage throughout the conference tournament with an 81-80 win at Jacksonville. The Dolphins will be the three-seed, with league newcomer NJIT the two and FGCU the four-seed.
  • Also wrapping up home court advantage throughout its conference tournament was Wagner, which clinched the NEC title with a 69-54 home win over Saint Francis (PA). Behind the Seahawks are four teams (Mount St. Mary’s, St. Francis-Brooklyn, Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart) with matching 10-7 league records heading into Saturday’s close to the NEC’s regular season schedule.
  • High Point outlasted Winthrop 87-85 to move into a three-way tie for first place in the Big South, but the win may have come at a cost for Scott Cherry’s Panthers. Star forward John Brown left the game with a foot injury and did not return. His status will be a key factor in the upcoming conference tournament.
  • IPFW clinched at least a share of the Summit League regular season crown with an 87-75 win at Western Illinois. Mike Landis scored 24 points for the Mastodons, who received 19 points apiece from Michael Calder and John Konchar.
  • Montana and Weber State both took care of business in their respective games, setting up a showdown with first place in the Big Sky on the line Saturday. The Grizzlies won 90-77 at Idaho State, and Weber State beat Montana State 68-60 without the injured Joel Bolomboy.
  • Joining Charlotte and UTSA in triple digits Thursday was Omaha, which scored 102 points in its four-point win over Oral Roberts. Devin Patterson scored 29 points and Randy Reed 21 for the Mavericks, who shot 56.3 percent from the field.
  • Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga both moved to 14-3 in WCC play, with the Gaels beating Santa Clara 75-50 and Gonzaga winning 82-60 at San Diego. The Gaels hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so Gonzaga will need some help if they’re to grab the top seed in next weekend’s conference tournament.
  • USC is still searching for its 20th win of the season as they were blown out by Stanford, 84-64. Dorian Pickens led the way for the Cardinal with 25 points, with Rosco Allen adding 17 points.
  • Kyle Collinsworth posted the NCAA record 11th triple-double of his career in BYU’s 99-81 win over Portland. Collinsworth finished with 14 points, ten rebounds and 16 assists.
  • Playing without forward Taylor Johns, UC Riverside handed Hawai’i its second Big West loss of the season, 77-71 in Honolulu. Jaylen Bland scored 20 points and Secean Johnson 19 to go along with ten rebounds to lead the way for Dennis Cutts’ Highlanders, with D.J. Sylvester scoring 18 off the bench.

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.