Battey returns to court for Colorado after suffering stroke

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BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Just the other day, the 6-foot-8 redshirt freshman quietly slipped on his Colorado basketball jersey for a photo shoot.

Instant tears. A simple task he doesn’t take for granted .

Last December, Evan Battey was playing hoops with his buddies when his right leg went numb. Then, his right arm. He tried to speak but couldn’t. Battey suffered a stroke that day along with two seizures.

Nearly 11 months later, the 20-year-old forward from California will make his Buffaloes debut — with feeling back and his speech constantly improving.

“I’m thankful to be out here,” said Battey, whose team opens the season next Tuesday against Drake. “I’m thankful just to be alive today.”

Looking back, there were signs for Battey, who redshirted last season due to NCAA eligibility requirements. Like how two months before his stroke he was unable to pronounce words following a weightlifting session. He texted his mom, Rosalind Lewis, that he felt funny.

But his speech soon returned. He pushed the episode from his mind, because “I was in the best shape of my life at the time,” Battey explained .

The day after Christmas, Battey and his buddies were playing basketball at a Los Angeles gym when he experienced numbness from head-to-toe. His friends called his mom, who happened to be a few minutes away and quickly drove over. By the time she arrived, he was walking on his own but his speech appeared weakened. She took him to the emergency room where doctors performed a scan and discovered a blood clot. He was given a drug to break up the clot and transported to another facility specializing in strokes. While in the ambulance, Battey suffered a seizure. At the facility, he had another.

After four days in the hospital going through a battery of neurological and cardiology exams, the doctors had no explanation for what caused his stroke. It remains unknown.

“The good news was the tests came back as, ‘Hey, we don’t feel like there’s going to be long-term effects,'” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said.

At first, Battey’s balance was off. He struggled to make a fist with his right hand. His smile was uneven. But everything gradually returned through physical therapy. His speech remains a work in progress.

Two weeks after his stroke, the Buffaloes were playing at Southern California and Battey attended morning practice. For the first time — and with his right arm still feeling weak — he shot a few 3-pointers.

He made one. Then another. And another.

“I was feeling it,” he said. “I was making them all from muscle memory. It was a good sign for my teammates to see that I’m shooting again.”

Battey returned to Boulder in time for January classes, diligently going through physical rehab (he struggled to write) and speech therapy (he recited song lyrics to progress enunciation). He attended home games to cheer on his teammates.

“It was hard, because I couldn’t be that vocal guy on the sideline,” he said. “Because when you have a stroke, you know what you want to say, you just can’t articulate it.”

By early May, he had most of the feeling back on his right side and returned to practice. At first, he was a little hesitant: What if it happened again?

Take his time. No rush. That was Boyle’s message. It’s been his message.

Boyle had a conversation with Battey soon after his stroke: His scholarship was good even if he didn’t play a minute with the Buffaloes. All he wanted was Battey to be healthy.

But his desire to play was burning. He hadn’t played for a school team in quite a while.

Battey missed his senior season at Villa Park High School in Orange County because of an eligibility rule stemming from him repeating the ninth grade. Instead, the affable Battey served as a coach for the big men and the team’s JV squad that season.

His academic issues followed him to Boulder with the NCAA ruling him out since he did not meet the initial eligibility requirement of graduation from high school in four years.

Steadily, he’s getting back into a rhythm again.

“I sometimes think about my health when I’m sitting in class or lying in bed, but not when I’m on the floor,” said Battey , who played 27 minutes and had seven points in an exhibition game against Colorado School of Mines over the weekend. “I just love the game so much.”

At practice, Battey wears a heart monitor (the entire team does). If his soars too high, he rests. He will be closely monitored in games by the Colorado training staff.

“We know what’s normal and when things become abnormal, we’ll be quick to shut him down,” Boyle said. “Up to this point, he’s been fine.”

This summer went a long way toward alleviating any lingering doubt. He traveled with the USA East Coast team on a four-game trip to Italy. Along for the excursion were his mom and sister.

“I needed to be there,” his mom said, “to see how he was doing and see him in that environment. It was wonderful.”

Last week, Battey stayed after practice to hone the foot work on his jumper.

On the far end, Boyle just watched.

“I’m not sure I’ve had as much respect for a player I’ve coached, in terms of what they’ve been through off the court, as I have been for Evan Battey,” Boyle said. “My expectation level of Evan is so high, because I think he has an opportunity to be such a good player.”

For Battey, the excitement is already building for opening night. His mom will be there. Same with his dad, Earl.

“I don’t know how I’m going to control my emotions,” Battey said. “But I’m ready. I’m ready.”

___

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Zach Edey has 19 points, No. 1 Purdue beats Michigan 75-70

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Junfu Han/USA TODAY NETWORK
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Zach Edey had 15 of his 19 points in the first half and Fletcher Loyer finished with 17 points to help No. 1 Purdue hold off Michigan 75-70 on Thursday night.

The Boilermakers (20-1, 9-1 Big Ten) had a 15-0 run to go ahead 41-28 lead in the first half after there were 10 lead changes and four ties, but they couldn’t pull away.

The Wolverines (11-9, 5-4) were without standout freshman Jett Howard, who missed the game with an ankle injury, and still hung around until the final seconds.

Joey Baker made a 3-pointer – off the glass – with 5.9 seconds left to pull Michigan within three points, but Purdue’s Brandon Newman sealed the victory with two free throws.

Purdue coach Matt Painter said Michigan slowed down Edey in the second half by pushing him away from the basket.

“They got him out a little more, and got him bottled up,” Painter said.

The 7-foot-4 Edey, though, was too tough to stop early in the game.

“He’s one of the best in the country for a reason,” Michigan coach Juwan Howard said. “He’s very effective, especially if he’s 8 feet and in.”

With size and skills such as a hook shot, the junior center from Toronto scored Purdue’s first seven points and finished the first half 7 of 12 from the field and 1 of 2 at the line.

“He did a great job in the first half, going to his right shoulder and using his left hand,” Painter said. “He made four baskets with his left hand which is huge.”

Freshman Braden Smith had 10 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue’s defense ultimately denied Michigan’s comeback hopes, holding a 22nd straight opponent to 70 or fewer points.

Hunter Dickinson scored 21, Kobe Bufkin had 16 points and Baker added 11 points for the Wolverines, who have lost four of their last six games.

Dickinson, a 7-1 center, matched up with Edey defensively and pulled him out of the lane offensively by making 3 of 7 3-pointers.

“Half his shots were from the 3, and that’s a little different,” Painter said. “His meat and potatoes are on that block. He’s the real deal.”

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Boilermakers got the top spot in the AP Top 25 this week after winning six games, a stretch that followed a loss to Rutgers on Jan. 3 that dropped them from No. 1 in the poll. Purdue improved to 7-2 as the top-ranked team.

BIG PICTURE

Purdue: Edey can’t beat teams by himself and he’s surrounded by a lot of role players and a potential standout in Loyer. The 6-4 guard was the Big Ten player of the week earlier this month, become the first Boilermaker freshman to win the award since Robbie Hummel in 2008.

“Fletcher is somebody who has played better in the second half, and on the road,” Painter said.

Michigan: Jett Howard’s health is a critical factor for the Wolverines, who will have some work to do over the second half of the Big Ten season to avoid missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2015. Howard averages 14.6 points and is the most dynamic player on his father’s team.

ROAD WARRIORS

The Boilermakers were away from home for 12 of 23 days, winning all five of their road games. They won at Ohio State, Michigan State and Michigan for the first time since the 1997-98 season and beat the Spartans and Wolverines on their home court in the same season for the first time in 12 years.

UP NEXT

Purdue: Hosts Michigan State on Sunday, nearly two weeks after the Boilermakers beat the Spartans by a point on Edey’s shot with 2.2 seconds left.

Michigan: Plays at Penn State on Sunday.

Miller scores 23, No. 10 Maryland tops No. 13 Michigan 72-64

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Diamond Miller scored 23 points, and No. 10 Maryland closed the first quarter with a 13-2 run and led the rest of the way in a 72-64 victory over No. 13 Michigan on Thursday night.

Abby Meyers contributed 12 points and 11 rebounds for the Terrapins (17-4, 8-2), who won for the 10th time in 11 games. Lavender Briggs scored 14 points and Shyanne Sellers added 13.

Maryland gained a measure of revenge after losing twice to Michigan last season – including a 20-point rout in College Park.

Leigha Brown led the Wolverines with 16 points.

Michigan (16-5, 6-4) led 13-9 in the first quarter before a three-point play by Miller started Maryland’s big run. Briggs and Faith Masonius made 3-pointers during that stretch.

The Terps pushed the lead to 16 in the third quarter before the Wolverines were able to chip away. Miller sat for a bit with four fouls, and Michigan cut the lead to seven in the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines still wasted too many possessions with turnovers to mount much of a comeback.

Michigan ended up with 24 turnovers, and Maryland had a 25-5 advantage in points off turnovers.

Miller fouled out with 2:19 remaining, but even after those two free throws, the Terps led 65-57 and had little trouble holding on.

Michigan lost for the second time in four days against a top-10 opponent. No. 6 Indiana beat the Wolverines 92-83 on Monday.

BIG PICTURE

Michigan: Whether it was against Maryland’s press or in their half-court offense, the Wolverines turned the ball over too much to score consistently. This was a lower-scoring game than the loss to Indiana, but the margin ended up being similar.

Maryland: While Miller clearly led the way, the Terps had plenty of offensive contributors. They also held Michigan to 13 points below its season average entering the game.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Wolverines have appeared in 48 straight AP polls, and although a two-loss week could certainly drop them, the quality of their opponents could save them from a substantial plunge.

Maryland is tied for 10th with an Iowa team that beat No. 2 Ohio State on Monday night. Now the Terps can boast an impressive victory of their own.

UP NEXT

Michigan: The Wolverines play their third game of the week when they visit Minnesota on Sunday.

Maryland: The Terps host Penn State on Monday night.

 

Boum, Jones lead No. 13 Xavier over No. 19 UConn, 82-79

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STORRS, Conn. – Souley Boum scored 21 points, Colby Jones added 20 and No. 13 Xavier went on the road and held off No. 19 Connecticut 82-79 Wednesday night.

The win was the 13th in 14 games for the Musketeers (17-4, 9-1 Big East) and it gave them a season sweep over the struggling Huskies (16-6, 5-6).

Jack Nunge had 12 points and Jerome Hunter added 11 for Xavier, which led by 17 in the first half and 39-24 at halftime.

Jordan Hawkins scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half for UConn, leading a comeback that fell just short.

Tristen Newton added 23 points for the Huskies, who won their first 14 games this season but have dropped six of eight since.

The Musketeers never trailed but had to withstand UConn runs that cut the lead to a single point four times in the second half.

A three-point play from Hawkins made it 78-77 with 2:40 left. But a second-chance layup from Nunge put the lead at 80-77 just over a minute later.

Newton was fouled with two seconds left by Desmond Claude, but his apparent attempt to miss his second free throw went into the basket.

Boum then hit two free throws at the other end, and Newton’s final attempt from just beyond halfcourt was well short.

Xavier jumped out to a 9-0 lead as UConn missed its first nine shots.

A 3-pointer from Zach Freemantle gave the Musketeers their first double-digit lead at 20-9, and another from Jones pushed it to 35-18.

BIG PICTURE

Xavier: The Musketeers lead the Big East, and the win over UConn was their ninth conference victory this season, eclipsing their total from last season.

UConn: The Huskies came in with a 17-game winning streak at Gampel Pavilion dating to February 2021. They fell to 1-4 against the four teams in front of them in the Big East standings. The lone win came at Gampel against Creighton.

UP NEXT

Xavier: The Musketeers continue their road trip with a visit to Creighton on Saturday.

UConn: Doesn’t play again until next Tuesday, when the Huskies visit DePaul.

No. 12 Iowa State holds on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76

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AMES, Iowa – Jaren Holmes matched his season high with 23 points as No. 12 Iowa State held on to beat No. 5 Kansas State 80-76 on Tuesday night.

The Cyclones (15-4, 6-2 Big 12) moved into a three-way tie atop the conference standings with the Wildcats and Texas.

Gabe Kalscheur added 19 points for Iowa State. Osun Osunniyi finished with 16.

Markquis Nowell led Kansas State (17-3, 6-2) with 23 points.

A 3-pointer from Holmes gave Iowa State a 59-49 advantage with 8:12 remaining. Kansas State responded with a 10-1 run to trim the margin to 60-59.

Caleb Grill’s 3-pointer steadied the Cyclones and pushed the lead back to 63-59 with five minutes left.

Free throws by Osunniyi, Grill and Holmes sealed the victory in the final 24 seconds.

The first half featured eight lead changes and ended with Kansas State up 33-31.

A 3-pointer by Kalscheur ignited an early 9-0 run for the Cyclones and helped them build a 19-14 lead. Iowa State made just one of nine 3-point tries in the first 20 minutes.

BIG PICTURE

Kansas State was trying to extend its best start to a season since 1961-62.

Iowa State improved to 11-0 at home. The Cyclones have not lost back-to-back games this season.

UP NEXT

Kansas State hosts Florida on Saturday as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

Iowa State travels to Missouri on Saturday.

Georgetown snaps 29-game conference losing streak

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WASHINGTON – Primo Spears scored 21 points and Georgetown snapped a 29-game conference losing streak with an 81-76 victory over DePaul on Tuesday night.

Georgetown (6-15, 1-9) won its first Big East game since March 13, 2021, ending the longest skid in the history of the conference. The Hoyas also ended a 10-game losing streak this season.

Spears also contributed six assists for the Hoyas. Akok Akok scored 12 points and added six rebounds and four blocks and Brandon Murray recorded 12 points.

Umoja Gibson led the Blue Demons (9-12, 3-7) in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four assists and three steals. Javan Johnson added 13 points.

Spears scored nine points in the first half and Georgetown went into the break trailing 37-36. Georgetown used a 10-0 run in the second half to build a 12-point lead at 75-63 with 1:39 remaining.