Five things we learned from No. 1 Duke’s win over No. 2 Michigan State

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CHICAGO – No. 1 Duke knocked off No. 2 Michigan State behind a 37-point explosion from Grayson Allen on Tuesday night.

They won despite losing Marvin Bagley III to an eye injury midway through the first half.

Those two things are facts. Here are five things we learned in the process:

1. DUKE’S ZONE LOOKS LIKE IT HAS SOME STAYING POWER

Duke surprised a lot of people when they came out in a 2-3 zone to start Tuesday night’s game. Mike Krzyzewski has been a proponent of an extended, half-court man-to-man that it is weird to see the Blue Devils doing anything other than denying passing lanes, extending out to half court and daring an opponent’s ball-handlers to try and beat them one-on-one.

But that’s not what we got in the United Center on Tuesday night, and it worked.

“I thought they were just playing 2-3 against lower-major teams and when they played higher-major teams they’d go back to man,” Miles Bridges said. “They were deflecting almost every pass. I guess I had five turnovers, Cash had four turnovers, Josh had five turnovers. We couldn’t even get the ball moving like we wanted to.”

Duke didn’t necessarily come into this game thinking that they were going to play only zone, but it was hard to get out of it once they saw how effective it could be. Michigan State had just 14 points with seven minutes left in the first half. They were down 38-34 at the break, and of those 34 points, 13 came in transition and nine came on three straight possessions in a one minute span where the Spartans buried a three. For the most part, that zone took away everything that Michigan State wanted to do.

And it makes sense when you think about it.

Duke has as much size, length and athleticism along their front line as they’ve had in years, and the combination of Trevon Duval and Grayson Allen at the top of the zone causes havoc. It’s the method that Jim Boeheim has used so successfully over the last 40 years.

“We were worried about fouls,” Krzyzewski said. “In man, they were deeper than us and would wear us down. The nervousness of the game, we might get some dumb fouls.”

And they did.

But in the end the zone ended up being enough.

2. TREVON DUVAL IS A HELL OF A PLAYER

Entering the season, Duval was the biggest question mark on this Duke roster. We knew Grayson Allen had an all-american season under his belt. We know that Gary Trent was a scorer. We knew that Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter would be able to anchor the front line.

What we were unsure of was whether or not Duval was the answer to Duke’s woes at the point guard spot.

He sure looked that way on Tuesday night, finishing with 17 points, 10 assists, six steals and three boards while sparking Duke’s transition game and finding a way to create offense when the Blue Devils needed a bucket.

He’s still not a shooter – 7-for-20 from the floor, 0-for-4 from three, 3-for-7 from the line … that’s not good – and that certainly is a concern for the kind of NBA prospect he can be in the long-term. And to be frank, Duval was at his best after Bagley was out of the game, when he didn’t have to worry about running offense through the most talented player on the Duke roster.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Duke just beat the No. 2 team in the country without Bagley, and Duval was the second-best player on the floor in the game. That means something.

Jaren Jackson Jr. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

3. MICHIGAN STATE HAS THEMSLEVES A PLAYER IN JAREN JACKSON

Miles Bridges did everything he could to bring Michigan State back in this game, and Nick Ward was a bastion of productivity, as he always is.

But the guy that made a name for himself on Tuesday night was Jaren Jackson, a five-star, 6-foot-11 freshman forward that has the talent to be a top ten pick whenever he decides to enter the NBA Draft. He finished with 19 points and seven boards, but more important was the fact that he went 3-for-5 from three and blocked three shots. Players that provide rim protection on end and floor-spacing on the other are, quite literally, the most valuable commodity in basketball when it comes to role players, and Jackson may be the best at that role in the country this year.

He’s the perfect four-man to play alongside Bridges and Ward, and while Michigan State is leaving Chicago with a loss, they should sleep well knowing that their front line made Bagley and Carter look normal.

4. JAVIN DELAURIER IS GOING TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE FOR THE BLUE DEVILS

DeLaurier didn’t play much as a freshman and didn’t get much attention heading into this season. He may have been a top 50 prospect coming out of high school, but when you’re behind three five-star players on the depth chart a year after failing to crack the rotation, it’s hard to get too excited.

But DeLaurier proved who he can be on Tuesday night, finishing with four points, seven boards, four assists, three steals and two blocks. He’s not all that skilled, but he is long and athletic, and he plays hard. Those are things that are incredibly value to a team that has a plethora of scorers in their starting lineup, particularly when that team is going to be playing quite a bit of zone this year.

In fact, DeLaurier made arguably the biggest play of the game on Tuesday. With just over three minutes left, he grabbed an offensive rebound and kicked the ball out to Grayson Allen, who gathered an assist by swinging the ball to a wide-open Gary Trent. Trent buried a three that broke a 75-all tie and gave Duke a lead they would never relinquish.

DeLaurier isn’t ever going to be a star, but he’ll thrive in the role he’s asked to play.

5. MICHIGAN STATE’S BACK COURT IS STILL A QUESTION MARK

Cassius Winston had 11 assists on Tuesday night. He also had five turnovers, shot just 1-for-5 from the floor and finished with just three points. Josh Langford made some plays in transition, but he was 3-for-9 from the floor and missed some critical shots in the second half.

Those were the major question marks with this team heading into the season.

Could Winston protect the ball? Would he and Langford be able to provide a scoring punch in the back court? If they couldn’t, would there be someone off the bench that would be able to find a way to chip in?

On Tuesday night, the answer was … not really?

It came against the No. 1 team in the country, yes, and their performance was certainly far from bad, but it wasn’t enough for them to get a win over Duke. They need to be better.

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.