No. 18 Butler outlasts Georgetown as Hoyas drop to 0-4 in Big East

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Freshman Kamar Baldwin scored a career-high 16 points as the No. 18 Bulldogs followed up their upset win over No. 1 Villanova by going into snowy Washington D.C. and knocking off Georgetown in overtime, 85-76.

Kelan Martin added 11 points for the Bulldogs, who are now 14-2 on the season with one of the best profiles in the sport. They beat Indiana. They beat Cincinnati. They beat Arizona in Las Vegas, a neutral site game with a crowd that was anything-but. They won at Utah. They were the first team to beat Villanova since March 12th, 2016.

And while you may not know any of the names on Butler, that’s may be precisely what makes the Bulldogs so good.

Martin was an NBC Sports Midseason All-American, but you wouldn’t know it if you watched the game on Saturday. He was 3-for-12 from the floor and fired up a couple of terrible shots down the stretch, including an airball at the end of regulation. Andrew Chrabacsz, who is probably Butler’s second-best player, wasn’t all that good either, finishing with nine points and four boards on 4-for-10 shooting.

Off-nights from your two best players is not the best way to win road games in league play, but Butler was able to do just that.

Why?

Baldwin, for one. He may be the quickest player in all of college basketball, and he showed it on Saturday, getting his career-high on an array of nifty drives to the rim while knocking down a trio of threes. That’s a nice third option to have. It’s also nice have a guy like Kethan Savage on the roster, a fifth-year senior that battled an illness at the started of the year but entered Saturday averaging 11.0 points in Big East play; he had 13 points, including seven in a late 11-2 run, when Butler knocked off Villanova, and scored six of his 11 points on Saturday in the extra period.

And then there’s Nate Fowler, a sophomore big man that entered Saturday averaging just 11.6 minutes per game. Against the Hoyas, Fowler not only played the crunch time minutes, but he scored Butler’s last five points in regulation and scored on a putback to give the Bulldogs a 76-70 lead with just over a minute to play in OT.

Put all of that together, and what you get is this Butler team.

They have a star that can carry them, that can win a game on his own, in Martin. Ask Indiana, who watched Martin score 28 points against them despite going scoreless for the first 15 minutes. They have an all-conference caliber secondary option in Chrabacsz. And they have a trio of role players that have proven to have the mettle to win league games for them on the road.

That’s tough.

Jagan Mosely scored a career-high 20 points for the Hoyas, while L.J. Peak added 22 points and Marcus Derrickson chipped in with 14, but it wasn’t enough the Hoyas, who entered the afternoon 8-7 on the season after their first 0-3 start in the Big East since 1999. That was the final year of John Thompson II’s tenure with the Hoyas, which is ironic considering the current angst among Hoya fans with the Thompson regime. Georgetown now does not have a Big East win over a team not named St. John’s or DePaul since Jan. 26th of last season, which was 14 games ago.

This win would have done quite a bit to ease the pressure weighing on this program, because despite being a team that is sitting at .500 on the season, Georgetown is more relevant in the NCAA tournament picture than people may realize. Yes, the Hoyas lost at home to Arkansas State, which isn’t quite as bad as that team’s league affiliation may have you believe. And yes, they lost at Providence and at Marquette to start off Big East play, but road games in conference are never going to be a black mark on anyone’s résumé.

Put another way, Georgetown’s current profile is not good.

But it’s salvageable. That win they have over Oregon? It’s only going to look better and better as the season goes on, and the good thing about being in a league as tough as the Big East is that, in theory, there would be plenty of quality wins available. The Hoyas missed on two of them now, but they still have six games left against Villanova, Butler, Creighton and Xavier. And they still have four games left against St. John’s and DePaul. Three of the four games they play against Providence, Marquette and Seton Hall are at home.

It’s not impossible.

It’s not over yet.

But if they don’t get things turned around soon, it will be the third time in the last four seasons that JT III has missed the NCAA tournament.

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.