Kansas State lands massive win at No. 2 Baylor

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No. 2 Baylor had three shots in the paint in the final 10 seconds to complete a comeback from 19 points down at home against Kansas State but was unable to make any of them, losing 56-54 to the Wildcats.

Johnathan Motley finished with 17 points and 14 boards, but he had two point-blank chances to tie the game on the final possession and missed them both.

Kansas State got 15 points and four assists from Kamau Stokes while Wesley Iwundu added 12 points, eight boards and five assists. They were up 37-18 with four minutes left in the first half and 46-28 with 15 minutes left in the game, but Baylor’s defense completely stifled Kansas State down the stretch.

Here are three things we learned in this game:

1. Kansas State finally breaks through: Entering the day, the Wildcats were just 2-7 against the RPI top 100 and sitting squarely on the bubble. They had lost at Kansas thanks to a travel-enhanced layup at the buzzer by Svi Mylhailiuk. They lost at Texas Tech in a game where they were on the wrong of a couple calls down the stretch. They badly needed this win, and, somehow, they were able to hang on. For now, this win probably takes Kansas State off the bubble.

2. Baylor blew their chance to make up ground on Kansas: Kansas losing a home game was the opportunity that Baylor needed to make up ground on the Jayhawks after the Bears lost at Phog Allen on Wednesday. If they hadn’t blown this game, they would currently be sitting in a tie for first place in the conference with the Jayhawks with a head-to-head home matchup with them left on the schedule. That’s the dream scenario. An outright Big 12 title would have been Baylor’s to win. Now that can’t happen unless Kansas loses again.

3. This win says more about Kansas State than Baylor: The Wildcats are a good team, one that has been on the wrong side of some bad luck this season. This was the win that proved it, that legitimized their chances of getting to the NCAA tournament. Baylor’s lost just twice this season – at West Virginia and at Kansas – and has put together one of the best résumés in the sport. They are not a fluke, and the Wildcats mollywhopped them for 25 minutes on Saturday.

They also probably should have blown that lead down the stretch, which is why I’m not all that concerned about Baylor’s performance. Sometimes weird things happen in college basketball. Kansas blew a 15-point lead at home today. Virginia blew a 12-point halftime lead. Oregon hit a million threes and, at one point, led Arizona by 35 points. The Bears dug themselves a hole and very nearly crawled all the way out.

I’d go as far as to say that I’m more bothered by the fact that Baylor couldn’t complete the comeback than the fact that they needed to make a comeback. It’s good to know they’re capable of making a run like this when they’re not a team that’s built around uptempo offense or three-point shooting. They made that run, but they missed two shots from within three feet in the final 6.4 seconds that would’ve tied the game; that doesn’t count the 10-foot pull-up jumper that Lecomte missed because he was trying to draw a foul.

(UPDATE: Since Baylor fans are crushing me for this, let me be more clear in my point. Yes, Baylor came back from 22 points down to win against Louisville, but that comeback was a slow-grind. It wasn’t a deviation from what they normally do, they just actually did it well in the second half. Against Kansas State, they were down by 11 points with 3:30 left. Baylor is a slow-paced, defensive-oriented program team that pounds the ball inside, doesn’t shoot many threes and doesn’t force many turnovers. That’s the opposite of what’s ideal when you’re trying to rally from a big deficit late in a game, but the Bears were still able to make it happen on Saturday.)

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.