Saturday College Hoops Recap: Trae Young is a cheat code, Butler beats No. 1 Villanova

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PLAYER OF THE DAY

Trae Young is a cheat code.

Seriously.

He finished with 39 points and 14 assists on Saturday. Playing his first Big 12 game. On the road. Against an undefeated top ten team.

And he didn’t even play his best.

All of that is true!

Young had 17 points and four assists in the final ten minutes to help the Sooners overcome a double-digit second half deficit, but he also shot just 9-for-23 from the floor and had seven turnovers, a number that would be higher if you included some of the bad* shots that the took.

But that doesn’t matter anymore.

Because Trae Young is a cheat code.

*Editor’s note: There are not ACTUAL bad shots for Trae Young. Every one of them is a good shot.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • MARVIN BAGLEY III, Duke: Bagley played his best game as a collegian on Saturday, and that’s saying something considering the way that he has played this season. He went for 32 points and 21 boards, 11 of which came on the offensive end of the floor, as the Blue Devils won a thriller against No. 24 Florida State, 100-93.
  • DEANDRE AYTON, Arizona: In his Pac-12 opener against a top three team that just so happened to be his school’s in-state rival, No. 3 Arizona State, Ayton went for 23 points, 19 boards, three blocks and three assists to lead the Wildcats to a statement win that they are probably going to need if they want to win the league.
  • TY JEROME, Virginia: Boston College went into Charlottesville and gave No. 9 Virginia a fight. If it wasn’t for a turnover on the final possession of the game the Eagles might have won. Ty Jerome led the way with 31 points for UVA in a 59-58 win.
  • JAYLEN BARFORD and DARRYL MACON, Arkansas: Barford went for 33 points and Macon had 28 as the Razorbacks landed a come-from-behind, overtime win over No. 19 Tennessee. It is not easy to go into Fayetteville and leave with a victory.
  • BONZIE COLSON, Notre Dame: The Irish shook off a slow start to land a win in their ACC opener against Georgia Tech. Colson finished with 22 points, 17 boards, three blocks and a pair of steals.
  • JOCK LANDALE, Saint Mary’s: It took overtime for Saint Mary’s to get out of Provo with a win, but the Gaels managed to do just that, knocking off BYU 74-64. Landale was the best player on the floor in the game, finishing with 31 points and 13 boards in the win.
  • ANDREW ROWSEY, Marquette: Marquette won their first game of the Big East season over Georgetown on the back of a 35-point outburst from their diminutive point guard.

TEAM OF THE DAY

Butler landed their biggest win of the season on Saturday, as they broke the century mark against No. 1 Villanova, winning 101-93. The Bulldogs have now beaten Villanova all three times that they have played in the 2017 calendar year. Kelan Martin led the way with 24 points for Butler, who shot 60 percent from the floor and 15-for-22 from beyond the arc. As a team, Butler posted 1.40 points-per-possession against a team that entered the day as a top ten team according to KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric.

I’m not sure how else I can explain this. It was a ridiculous performance from a Butler team, the first marquee win for them this season and the first statement win for LaVall Jordan as the head coach of the Bulldogs. When it comes down to it, this could end up being the difference between a bid to the NCAA tournament and a trip to the NIT

What does it mean for Villanova? Well, we dove into that here.

GAME OF THE DAY

A thriller in Fayetteville. After trailing for the entire game, Arkansas staged a rally in the final five minutes, eventually forcing overtime against No. 19 Tennessee. The Razorbacks would eventually build an 11-point lead in the extra frame, but Tennessee came storming right back. They cut the lead to two points before a pair of Darryl Macon free throws sealed the win.

Arkansas got a combined 61 points from Macon and Jaylen Barfield as they added another impressive win to their résumé. The Hogs are quietly having an impressive season, one that should get them ranked in the top 25 come Monday and maybe as high as a top four seed come Selection Sunday. We shall see how it all plays out.

For the Vols, this is going to be another tough loss to swallow. They led by nine points with 3:53 left in the game. They also led late against No. 13 North Carolina when they played the Tar Heels in Knoxville early this year. Hell, held a big lead on No. 1 Villanova in the first half back in November. Those are their three losses. Tennessee is having a really good year. They’re that close to having a great year.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

No. 6 Xavier trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half against DePaul at the Cintas Center on Saturday, but they turned things around, winning 77-72 in a performance that wasn’t exactly inspiring but that got the job done.

The highlight of the game came midway through the comeback. The referees missed a blatant inbound violation – DePaul’s Eli Cain clearly never established inbounds while receiving an inbounds pass – and Mack ran 15 feet on the court during play to argue the call. He was, clearly, T’d up, and in the process of trying to argue his point, Mack pulled out a whiteboard and tried to diagram what happened for the referee:

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Joel Berry saved the day for No. 13 North Carolina, hitting this floater to give the Tar Heels a late lead as they held off Wake Forest, 73-69:

It came against a shorthanded No. 5 Texas A&M, but Alabama landed themselves a marquee win, blowing out the Aggies, 79-57. That win is going to look great on their résumé come Selection Sunday. It shouldn’t hurt Texas A&M all that much, however. The Aggies were without leading scorer D.J. Hogg and off-guard Admon Gilder, two of their three leading scorers and their two best three-point shooters.

In their first game as a member of the American, No. 8 Wichita State picked up a road win against UConn, 72-62. That sounds more impressive than it actually is. UConn is not all that good at basketball these days, and the Huskies took the lead late in the second half before the Shockers pulled away for good.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

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.