Williamson, No. 1 Duke rout Eastern Michigan 84-46

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DURHAM, N.C. — Zion Williamson tossed up an alley-oop lob for RJ Barrett, and on the next trip downcourt, Barrett returned the favor by setting up a dunk for Williamson.

For these high-flying Blue Devils, that No. 1 ranking sure seems to fit.

Williamson scored 21 points, Barrett added 20 and Duke routed Eastern Michigan 84-46 on Wednesday night in its first game this season as the nation’s top-ranked team.

“It is great to be No. 1, but nobody really cares who’s No. 1 right now,” Williamson said. “The goal is to win a championship in March.”

Javin DeLaurier and Jack White added 10 points apiece for the Blue Devils (3-0). Playing two days after leapfrogging Kansas for the top spot in the AP Top 25, they looked every bit the part of a top-ranked team.

They shot 47 percent, turned 20 turnovers by the Eagles into 31 points and took command with an early 21-1 run keyed by an assortment of dunks by Williamson.

Damari Parris had nine points to lead outmanned Eastern Michigan (3-1), which shot 31 percent and was stuck in single-digit scoring for about 17 1/2 minutes.

Unlike their last game — in which Army hung with them for about 30 minutes three days earlier — the Blue Devils took the drama out of this one early.

“Everything we did kind of worked,” coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “but the reason it worked is because we played so hard.”

Williamson put Duke up by 20 for good midway through the first half with the highlight of the night — leaping so high to pull in a seemingly errant alley-oop pass that his armpits were even with the rim before he dunked — and Barrett made it a 30-point game with a bucket with about five minutes before halftime.

“The atmosphere got the best of us the first 6-7 minutes of the game,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “It was a struggle for us to score in the first half, and once you get down in this building … it’s pretty hard to come back.”

BIG PICTURE

Eastern Michigan: Not surprisingly, the Eagles threw a 2/3 zone defense at the Blue Devils — Murphy spent seven years on the Syracuse staff with zone savant Jim Boeheim. It wasn’t much of an impediment to the nation’s top-ranked team, though that seems insignificant in the long run because nobody in the Mid-American Conference will match Duke’s talent level.

Duke: Being No. 1 is nothing new for the Duke program — the Blue Devils started the two previous seasons in the top spot — but it’s a new experience for these freshmen. Not that they seem affected in the slightest. Williamson has scored at least 20 points in all three games while making 32 of his 39 shots.

INJURY REPORT

Krzyzewski says 3-point-shooting threat Cameron Reddish was dealing with soreness in his groin but “nothing serious” and would have played more had the game been closer. Reddish finished with three points on 1-of-5 shooting in less than 12 minutes.

PLAY OF THE NIGHT

There were lots of choices, but the best of the bunch came midway through the first half when Reddish lobbed an alley-oop pass from just across midcourt that seemed headed for the seats. Williamson skied so high for it that his armpits and eyes were both at rim-level. That highlight-reel jam made it 28-7, putting Duke up by 20 for good.

STATS OF THE NIGHT

By the time Duke led by 20, Williamson had more dunks (four) than Eastern Michigan had field goals (three). … The Eagles led for 18 early seconds — when it was 2-0 — and that brought the total amount of time the Blue Devils have trailed this season to 30 total seconds.

UP NEXT

Eastern Michigan: Plays host to Boston University on Saturday.

Duke: Faces San Diego State on Monday in its Maui Invitational opener.

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25

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.