Freshmen Leaf and Ball lead No. 16 UCLA past San Diego 88-68

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LOS ANGELES (AP) Knowing San Diego lacked a solid inside presence, UCLA went after the Toreros where it hurt.

T.J. Leaf had 26 points and 10 rebounds and fellow freshman Lonzo Ball added 13 points to help the 16th-ranked Bruins win 88-68 on Thursday night.

“T.J., he can shoot it, pass it and handle it,” UCLA coach Steve Alford said. “That just opens up your offense even more.”

Thomas Welsh had 12 points and 11 rebounds as one of six players in double figures for the Bruins (3-0), who failed to top 100 points for the first time this season. They averaged 110.5 points in victories over Pacific and Cal State Northridge.

“Six guys got to the free throw line, six guys got rebounds and assists,” Alford said. “It enables us to stretch our offense.”

San Diego’s Brett Bailey tied his career high with 22 points and Cameron Neubauer added a career-best 14 points despite playing the second half with three fouls.

Bailey’s 3-pointer drew the Toreros (0-3) within four points early in the second half before Leaf and Ball teamed up for an entertaining offensive show.

Leaf got things started with a one-handed dunk on a give-and-go with Isaac Hamilton and followed with another one-handed jam on Ball’s assist. The highly touted freshmen reversed things, with Leaf feeding Ball for a dunk before Leaf scored inside. The Bruins had 21 assists.

“I’ve never played with this much talent around me before,” Leaf said. “It takes adjusting to get used to, but we’re starting to get used to our roles.”

Leaf kept up the theatrics with another dunk before finishing off the 16-8 run with a two-handed dunk on Ball’s alley-oop pass that extended UCLA’s lead to 58-45.

“We wanted to give it to them inside a little bit,” Leaf said. “We really wanted to make our presence around the basket and we did that.”

Consecutive baskets by Ball and a 3-pointer by Leaf pushed the Bruins’ lead to 68-52.

The Toreros couldn’t defend UCLA’s surge. Bailey and Neubauer did all of San Diego’s second-half scoring until Olin Carter III scored eight straight points with 6:13 to go.

“Our kids really competed, but against an explosive team like UCLA, we gave up so much size,” second-year San Diego coach Lamont Smith said. “They had 46 points in the paint; it was not just post-up points, but it’s what they got in the interior.”

Hamilton added 12 points and Aaron Holiday had 11 for the Bruins, who shot 52 percent.

BIG PICTURE

San Diego: The Toreros face a long climb this season, having been picked to finish last in the West Coast Conference coaches’ poll. They lost by 10 points to San Diego State in their season opener and still have New Mexico State and Southern California among their non-conference games. No. 14 Gonzaga looms twice during conference play, too.

UCLA: The Bruins have an easy schedule leading up to their first big challenge of the season against No. 2 Kentucky on Dec. 3 in Rupp Arena. They also play Big Ten opponents Michigan and Ohio State in December.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

If they keep winning, the Bruins figure to stay solidly in the middle of the rankings for the rest of the month. They’ll be tested much more in December with games against No. 2 Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio State and No. 4 Oregon.

TIP-INS

San Diego: The Toreros got outrebounded 43-38, but owned a 14-7 edge on the offensive glass. … Carter finished with 13 points. … They made 10 3-pointers, including three each from Bailey and Carter. … The Toreros attempted 75 field goals and 31 3-pointers.

UCLA: Leaf was 11 of 13 from the field and made all four of his free throws. … Bryce Alford chipped in 10 points. … All seven of the Bruins players scored. … Ball finished with eight assists and seven rebounds. … The Bruins made 19 of 22 free throws, and so far have been much more consistent at the line than last season. “That’s going to be crucial in tight games,” the elder Alford said.

UP NEXT

San Diego: Hosts Nicholls State on Sunday, the first of four straight home games this month.

UCLA: Hosts Long Beach State on Sunday, the last of four consecutive home games to start the season. The Bruins are 14-1 against the 49ers.

More AP college basketball: http://www.collegebasketball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.

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.

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.