Miles Bridges’ 16 points leads Michigan State over Nebraska 72-61

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) Michigan State finally broke through against Nebraska.

Miles Bridges scored 16 points to lead five Spartans in double figures, and they shot 63 percent in the second half to pull away from Nebraska for a 72-61 victory on Thursday night.

The Spartans (14-9, 6-4 Big Ten), who beat Michigan on Sunday, won consecutive games for the first time since December and ended a three-game losing streak against the Cornhuskers (10-12, 4-6).

“Nebraska has beaten us like a drum,” Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said. “I don’t think we have any players that have beaten Nebraska.”

His team’s difficulties against the Huskers have been a head scratcher. Michigan State regularly is near the top of the Big Ten. Nebraska is usually near the bottom.

It wasn’t as if the Spartans’ players were obsessed with ending the skid.

“That’s the funny thing in the Twitter era,” Izzo said. “Nobody thinks about yesterday or the day before. People don’t think about the past as much. I didn’t hear that as a battle cry. Maybe that’s good.”

The Spartans’ Cassius Winston said he and his teammates came into the game looking at the big picture. Michigan State is trying to make the NCAA Tournament for the 20th straight year, and there’s a lot more work to be done to get there.

“We said there’s no more room for error,” Winston said. “If we want to make our dreams, our goals we put out at the beginning of the season – if we want to make them come true, we’ve got to play consistently for every game.”

Michigan State’s bench outscored Nebraska’s 31-9, with Alvin Ellis III scoring 11 points and Nick Ward and Winston adding 10 apiece. Kenny Goins also had 10 points.

Tai Webster had 18 points to lead Nebraska, Jordy Tschimanga added a season-high 15 points and nine rebounds and Glynn Watson Jr. scored 13.

Michigan State made eight of its first 10 3-pointers in the second half and finished 11 of 17. The Spartans took the lead 7 minutes into the game and were ahead by single digits until Winston’s 3-pointer made it 50-38 with 13:50 left. They led by as much as 20.

“We pushed through adversity when they were starting to come back,” Bridges said, “and we fought to bust the lead wide open.”

Bridges, the Spartans’ 6-foot-7, 230-pound freshman sensation, was 7 of 10 from the field, including 2 of 5 on 3s, and had a team-leading six rebounds.

“He’s so versatile,” the Huskers’ Evan Taylor said. “Especially to be that size, he can go both ways – shoot the 3, shoot mid-range. We didn’t do too bad of a job on him. Good players are going to make plays.”

Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue was at Pinnacle Bank Arena to have his Huskers jersey retired during a halftime ceremony. He played at Nebraska from 1995-98.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan State: The Spartans won away from East Lansing for the first time since Dec. 27. Izzo says his team is still a long way from being very good, let alone great. He said 15 turnovers were too many and that the Spartans need to do a better job rebounding. Nebraska held a 32-27 edge on the glass and got 12 on the offensive end.

Nebraska: The Huskers couldn’t carry over the momentum from beating a then-No. 22 Purdue at home on Sunday, and now they’ve lost six of their last seven.

SICK SPARTANS

Goins made his first start since Dec. 18 in place of Ward, who had started 10 straight games. Both missed two practices because of illness, but Izzo said Goins started because he felt better than Ward.

“Ward and Goins are sicker than dogs,” Izzo said. “I’m happy they could go. If you watched both of them, they were dying.”

UP NEXT

Michigan State visits Michigan on Tuesday. The Spartans beat Michigan 70-62 at home on Sunday.

Nebraska visits Iowa on Sunday. The Huskers beat Iowa 93-90 in double overtime at home on Jan. 5.

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.