Johnson, Maye lead No. 8 UNC past No. 16 FSU, 77-59

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — No. 8 North Carolina convincingly beat both of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s hottest teams over a four-day span.

In the process, the Tar Heels laid claim to that honor for themselves.

Cameron Johnson had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and North Carolina routed No. 16 Florida State 77-59 on Saturday.

Luke Maye added 15 points and 11 rebounds, while freshman Nassir Little scored 18 points and Coby White finished with 10. The Tar Heels (22-5, 12-2) have won 10 of 11 to remain in a first-place tie.

They beat No. 1 Duke by 16 points on Wednesday night to snap the Blue Devils’ nine-game winning streak. That was the longest such string in the ACC at the time, and Duke’s loss left Florida State and its eight-game streak as the best in the league.

That one’s over, too, thanks to the Tar Heels — who shot 48 percent in the second half while holding Florida State to 25 percent shooting after halftime.

“When we got back here Wednesday night, I talked to them. We did some good things. We got a win,” coach Roy Williams said. “You’ve got to keep playing or you’re going to give it back. We’ve had a couple of Ls in the Smith Center, so you’ve got to protect your home court.”

David Nichols scored 16 points and Terance Mann added 10 for the Seminoles (21-6, 9-5), who had won eight straight but were held to a season-worst 31 percent shooting in their first loss in more than a month.

“A lot of it is their defensive schemes that took us out of some of the stuff we normally get around the basket,” coach Leonard Hamilton said. “We’ve got to have a quick recovery.”

RaiQuan Gray pulled Florida State to 56-52 with a 3-pointer with 10 1/2 minutes remaining. Maye followed that by sandwiching a pair of 3s — including one he banked in from about 25 feet — around a contested jumper by Little to give the Tar Heels all the breathing room they needed.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: The Seminoles were trying for their first five-game winning streak in ACC road games since 2014, but the Smith Center wasn’t exactly the ideal venue for that pursuit. Florida State fell to 4-18 here, with only one victory since 2000.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels haven’t exactly ducked anyone during their surge, either. This was their 10th game of the season against an opponent ranked in the top 19 of the AP Top 25, and they improved to 7-3 against them, with wins in five of six and the loss coming to a third-ranked Virginia team with which they share the ACC lead.

TRENDING

So much for the idea of a Duke hangover. The Tar Heels improved to 30-3 under Williams in their games immediately following their matchups with the Blue Devils, who were without star Zion Williamson for virtually the entire game on Wednesday. All three losses have come in ACC Tournament openers over the years after facing Duke in regular-season finales.

STAR WATCH

Johnson reached double figures for the eighth straight game and is averaging 21.8 points during his last four games, with three Top 25 opponents — No. 3 Virginia, the Blue Devils and the Seminoles — in that stretch.

“Just as the season gets on, gaining more experience and kind of getting more comfortable with everything, it’s always big at this time of year,” Johnson said. “Just staying in the gym has been helpful.”

KEY STAT

The Tar Heels have spent the week simply dominating the lanes. North Carolina outscored Florida State 28-12 in the paint three nights after outscoring Duke 62-28 there. UNC also held a 47-32 rebounding advantage over the Seminoles. “That’s something that we emphasize all the time,” Williams said of the rebounding edge, “so you should do things better if it’s what you emphasize the most.”

KEY MATCHUP

Christ Koumadje, who’s 7-foot-4, entered averaging 13.3 points and 10.3 rebounds during his last three games and had two double-doubles in that stretch. He finished this one with six points and four rebounds in 14 minutes. After shooting 76 percent in his previous three games, he was 2 of 5.

HE SAID IT

“You haven’t heard the last of the Seminoles” — Hamilton, with a smile.

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.