No. 2 Duke hits 13 threes en route to win at No. 3 Virginia

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R.J. Barrett hit his first five threes of the night and Cam Reddish hit five of his own as the No. 2 Blue Devils shot 13-for-21 from beyond the arc on Saturday night in Charlottesville en route to a 81-71 win over No. 3 Virginia.

Barrett led the way for the Blue Devils with 26 points, seven boards and three assists while Cam Reddish added 17 points of his own. Zion Williamson struggled offensively, turning the ball over five times, but he had the kind of line that we have come to expect from him: 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting five boards, five assists, three steals and three blocks.

Virginia was led by 16 points from Kyle Guy and 14 points from Ty Jerome, but there really was nothing that the Cavaliers could do. Every time it looked like they were ready to make a run, the Blue Devils hit a big three or made a big defensive play.

Here are three things we can take away from this result:


Duke is one of the nation’s best teams on the defensive end of the floor, and if they didn’t struggle as much as they do on the defensive glass, they might actually be the nation’s best.

Duke is absolutely lethal in transition.

Duke is always going to have the two best players on the floor in Zion Williamson and R.J. Barrett that you simply will not be able to defend, and that doesn’t include Cam Reddish, who could end up being drafted as high as No. 2 in June.

When it comes to beating Duke, the one chance that you have is to pack in your defense, allow them to try and shoot over the top and rely on the fact that their roster is not one that is made up of great three-point shooters. The Blue Devils entered Saturday night as the nation’s 318th-best from beyond the arc, making 30.8% of their triples. This is how Syracuse beat them. This is how teams like Boston College and Georgia Tech were able to hang with the Blue Devils for more than a half. This is how Virginia, who entered Saturday leading the nation in three-point percentage defense, played them

And Duke went out and made their first five threes and 13 of their first 18 threes.

What can you do when they do that?

The answer is nothing.

If this Duke team is going to make 13 three-pointers, they are never going to lose.

And while I’d love to sit here and talk about what Virginia was doing offensively or how Tre Jones impacted the game, none of that really matters in this discussion.


That is the other side of this.

Zion Williamson stuffed the stat sheet, but the Wahoos did about as good of a job of keeping him in check as you can. R.J. Barrett didn’t do much of anything on the offensive end of the floor after he made those five threes to open the game. Cam Reddish did score 17 points, but his damage was done as a spot-up shooter. Those are the shots that you have to live with as a coach.

Virginia, as a team, shot 46.7 percent from the floor. They were 10-for-24 from three. They forced 15 Duke turnovers and limited the Blue Devils to just eight offensive rebounds. They more or less kept Duke from getting out in transition and beating their defense down the floor. I think Tony Bennett will be able to go to sleep tonight knowing that there wasn’t much else he could have done. It was just one of those nights.


If there is something that we can be critical of with Virginia, it’s that they were never able to make a play as the momentum was getting ready to change. What I mean by that is that every time they started chipping away at Duke’s lead, the Blue Devils had the answer.

One example: After a Jay Huff three and a Braxton Key layup trimmed the deficit to five points, Duke answered with a Tre Jones three from the corner before Jones picked Ty Jerome’s pocket on an offensive rebound and took the ball the other way before getting fouled on a layup attempt. Five minutes later, Virginia again cut the lead to five on a De’Andre Hunter three, but Duke answered with a Marques Bolden post bucket that was followed by Zion doing Zion things:  blocking a seemingly wide-open Hunter three into the crowd and, on the ensuing possession, grabbing an offensive rebound and laying the ball in.

Those are small moments in the game, but when Virginia is scrapping and clawing with everything they have to erase a deficit, plays like that are just momentum sappers.

Credit to Duke to keeping the Hoos at bay.


The most under-discussed story line for this Duke season has been the fact that, over the course of the last month or so, Bolden has developed into a capable defensive presence. The adjustment that Duke has made has been to switch most exchanges and all ball-screens — essentially, do exactly what most of the best NBA teams do — and the reason that has worked is because Bolden can hold his own on the perimeter.

Now, I’m not saying that he has turned into Tre Jones, but he doesn’t have to be. As long as he is capable of making it difficult for an opposing guard to get around him while using his length to challenge on the shot, then he is doing his job.

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.