Saturday Recap: Duke, Kentucky, Trae Young all go down

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
2 Comments

PLAYER OF THE DAY

This was a game that No. 10 Kansas was supposed to lose. With Billy Preston still ineligible and Silvio De Sousa still awaiting clearance from the NCAA, a night where Udoka Azubuike picked up five fouls in just 13 minutes of action was supposed to be a night where the Jayhawks simply did not have enough size or enough depth to beat a good basketball team, let alone a good basketball team on the road.

But that’s exactly what the Jayhawks did.

Kansas knocked off No. 16 TCU in Fort Worth, 88-84, and they did so because Mitch Lightfoot played the game of his life. I’ve been hard on Mitch, questioning whether or not Kansas was actually a good team when one half of their front court rotation was the former three-star prospect. I’ll eat those words with a size of queso after he went for nine points, seven boards (six offensive) and six blocks on Saturday.

Lightfoot was terrific. Not only did he provide energy on the glass and some rim protection, he also knocked down a three and a 15-footer. If and when De Sousa (and/or Preston) get eligible, this provides Kansas with even more lineup versatility.

Mitch, consider this my humble apology.

THE REST OF SATURDAY’S STARS

  • JEVON CARTER, DARIUS MILES and JAMES BOLDEN, West Virginia: Those three did the heavy lifting against Trae Young as the No. 7 Mountaineers knocked off No. 6 Oklahoma.
  • VINCE EDWARDS, Purdue: Edwards doesn’t get anywhere near enough attention nationally. He finished with 21 points, 10 boards and six assists on Saturday as the No. 13 Boilermakers beat Nebraska 74-62.
  • DEVONTE’ GRAHAM, Kansas: Lightfoot made the plays defensively, Graham did offensively. He finished with 28 points and six assists.
  • TREMONT WATERS, LSU: Waters finished with 21 points, five boards and four assists in a win at No. 11 Texas A&M, but that’s not the full story: He also hit two threes in the final 12 seconds, including the buzzer-beater you see below, for the win.

TEAM OF THE DAY

No. 23 Tennessee’s season was getting ready to go off the rails. The Vols had were coming off of a loss at home to Auburn which came just days after they blew a lead at Arkansas, losing in overtime. That came a couple of weeks after they choked away a home win over North Carolina, and in the second week of the season, Tennessee blew a 14-point lead against Villanova.

That seemed like it was going to be the story of the season for the Vols, particularly if they lost at home to No. 17 Kentucky on Saturday evening. That would have dropped Tennessee to 0-3 in the SEC and 10-5 overall.

Then Saturday happened. Admiral Schofield went for 20 points, nine boards, four assists and four steals while Grant Williams chipped in with 18 points, eight boards and four assists as Tennessee landed a much-needed win. With a trip to Vanderbilt and a home game against a presumably healthy Texas A&M team coming up next week, this was a must-win.

And instead of blowing a lead down the stretch, Tennessee ran away with a 76-65 win.

 

GAME OF THE DAY

No. 21 Seton Hall won a thriller at Butler on Saturday, coming from 11 points down to knock off the Bulldogs in Hinkle behind 28 points, 15 boards and six assists from Angel Delgado and 29 points from Khadeen Carrington. All the details are here.

WTF???? OF THE DAY

Colorado completed a sweep of the Arizona schools on Saturday, jumping out to a massive lead on No. 14 Arizona and holding on to beat the Wildcats down the stretch.

We told you everything you need to know about the actual game itself here.

Let’s talk about what happened after.

First, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle was asked if there was any extra satisfaction in beating a team like Arizona, which was caught up in the FBI investigation in September.

“Absolutely,” he told reporters, adding he had great respect for Sean Miller. “They recruit very, very well. USC has recruit very, very well. The two most talented teams in our league from top to bottom are USC and Arizona. So, hell, yes, there’s extra satisfaction.”

Miller’s quote, while having nothing to do with Boyle’s, were equally as interesting.

“I can’t get them to play hard,” Miller said. “I really can’t. We do it for a while. I know we’ve had a win streak and we also have a good team. We have a lot of talent. A lot of times our offense can get us to the finish line, but you have to be able to play both offense and defense. And any really good team or good program, you’re going to have those days (when) the ball doesn’t go in, but you rely on your effort and your togetherness and maybe your defense to maybe keep you in the game.

“With our team, man, it’s really hard to get our guys to run as fast as they can. And that’s not them. That’s me. I have a hard time reaching our guys.”

WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW?

Mustapha Heron finished with 17 points and six boards while Jared Harper chipped in with 14 points and eight assists as Auburn landed their second-straight win over a ranked team on Saturday, knocking off No. 22 Arkansas, 88-77. The Tigers were up by as many as 23 points, taking a 17-point lead into the half and cruising in the second half. This win comes just three days after Auburn beat No. 23 Tennessee in Knoxville. Suddenly, Auburn is sitting at 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the SEC while playing as well as any team in the SEC. It begs the question: Can this Auburn actually win the conference?

The easiest bet in sports is any team that is hosting a team coached by Mike Anderson. The second easiest bet is Virginia against North Carolina. The No. 8 Cavaliers beat the No. 12 Tar Heels, 61-49, today.

Florida‘s Chris Chiozza had the play of the day.

Jalen Brunson had 27 points and eight assists as No. 3 Villanova knocked off Marquette. Markus Howard, one game after going for 52 points, had 37 points and eight assists.

Providence got 19 points and nine assists from Kyron Cartwright as they landed a critical win over No. 5 Xavier. The Friars entered the night 10-6 overall, having lost two in a row without anything close to a marquee win on their résumé. The Musketeers had been flirting with a loss like this for a few weeks.

Marcquise Reed finished with 24 points, five steals and three assists as No. 25 Clemson knocked off Louisville in overtime, 74-69. The Tigers are now 14-1 on the season with their only loss coming to Temple on a neutral court.

Keenan Evans had 27 points as No. 18 Texas Tech blew out Kansas State. The Red Raiders look like they might be the best team in the Big 12 right now.

The Burn Offense is back! Notre Dame executed it to perfection in Mike Brey’s first win at Syracuse since 2007.

Kentucky moves scrimmage to Eastern Kentucky for flood relief

Sam Upshaw Jr./Courier Journal/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

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

Joe Rondone/USA TODAY NETWORK
1 Comment

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

uconn
Michael Hickey/Getty Images
0 Comments

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

Getty Images
0 Comments

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.