Brown’s scoring spurt leads No. 14 Auburn past Texas A&M

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COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Auburn guard Bryce Brown said he fired up a couple of long-range shots Wednesday night that likely had his coaches “shaking their heads.”

“But when I make it, they don’t tend to be mad about it,” Brown said with a smile.

He made plenty against Texas A&M and scored all but two of his 22 points in the first half as No. 14 Auburn cruised to an 85-66 victory.

The Tigers (13-3, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) won on the road for the first time in league play this season. They dominated the Aggies (7-8, 1-3) from the start and never looked back.

Brown scored 18 consecutive points for the Tigers — and outscored the Aggies 18-10 by himself during that span — late in the first half to stake Auburn to a double-digit lead it didn’t relinquish.

Brown began the stretch with a three-point play after he was fouled in the lane on a layup, and his next 15 points came on 3-point shots.

“I thought he didn’t really take that many bad looks. He worked to get open,” Tigers coach Bruce Pearl said.

Jared Harper had 17 points, six assists, three steals and three rebounds for Auburn. Anfernee McLemore added 13 points and six rebounds off the bench, and Chuma Okeke had 10 points and seven rebounds. Austin Wiley grabbed a career-high 12 boards.

“Everything they do well, we don’t do well, so it was a tough matchup for us,” Texas A&M coach Billy Kennedy said.

Auburn overwhelmed Texas A&M in second-chance points (20-8), points off turnovers (18-10), offensive rebounds (20-7) and bench points (27-5).

“This win will work wonders for us,” Brown said. “It will help us at home, too, because we know if we can get the job done away from our place, we can definitely get it done at our place. We just want to keep getting as many road wins as we can because that will be the separator between us and other teams in the SEC.”

Savion Flagg and Wendell Mitchell each had 22 points to lead the Aggies.

“We got sped up at the beginning, and we allowed them to control the tempo,” Mitchell said.

BIG PICTURE

Auburn: The Tigers improved to 4-3 away from Auburn Arena. Before the game, Pearl said they needed to play better on the road if they intend to “have the kind of year we want to have.” The lopsided victory Wednesday should go a long way toward building confidence away from home, especially with the Aggies coming off a last-second victory at Alabama on Saturday.

Texas A&M: Any notion the Aggies were back on the right track following TJ Starks’ buzzer-beater at Alabama was quickly swept aside in what is expected to be a rebuilding year under Kennedy.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

While the one-sided road victory was nice for the Tigers, they have a much better chance of rising in the rankings with a strong showing Saturday against Kentucky.

HIGHLIGHT REEL

McLemore timed his jump perfectly and put his hand on top of the ball as Flagg tried a short jumper in the paint early in the second half. McLemore’s extended block drew “aaahs” from the Aggies crowd with Auburn leading 57-42 at the time.

STAT OF THE NIGHT

The Aggies entered averaging 3.4 more rebounds per game than their opponents, but Auburn claimed a 50-33 advantage on the boards.

HE SAID IT

“We thought at times we were the Harlem Globetrotters, trying to dribble instead of making hard cuts and guys getting open and passing the ball. I thought we got sloppy.” — Kennedy on his team’s play.

UP NEXT

Auburn returns home to face No. 12 Kentucky on Saturday.

Texas A&M stays at home to play Missouri on Saturday.

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.