Wednesday’s Things to Know: N.C. State ends Clemson’s NCAA hopes; Colgate makes NCAAs for first time in 23 years

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Wednesday was a slower night for Championship Week as only one autobid was decided and a lot of conference tournaments getting into key matchups beginning on Thursday. But the bubble still had some important movement while the night’s only autobid has a fun story to follow for the next week. 

N.C. State stuns Clemson with wild ACC tournament comeback

Two bubble teams collided in the ACC tournament second round on Wednesday afternoon as N.C. State rallied to knock out Clemson. Trailing by 16 at the half, the Wolfpack stormed back to win as the Tigers went over 10 minutes without a field goal in the second half. Markell Johnson hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to give N.C. State the win on what some considered a controversial late foul call.

But N.C. State’s comeback is secondary to the impact this game has on the bubble.

With both of these teams clinging for their at-large lives, the Wolfpack extended their season while Clemson is likely going to be left out of the Field of 68. The win for N.C. State is also nice, but they might still have work to do when they get a crack at No. 1 Virginia on Thursday.

CBT’s Rob Dauster has more on both of these teams in the latest edition of Bubble Banter.

Colgate makes first NCAA tournament appearance in 23 years

Wednesday night’s only autobid went to the Patriot League as Colgate outlasted Bucknell to earn its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1996.

Sophomore guard Jordan Burns erupted for a career-high 35 points during a night in which the Raiders’ best player, Rapolas Ivanauskas, was battling foul trouble. Ivanauskas, the Patriot League Player of the Year, finished with 14 points and eight rebounds while junior Will Rayman finished with 18 points and seven rebounds.

While Colgate isn’t projected to be any sort of major threat as a likely No. 15 seed, they have a fun story as a program with minimal success since the mid-’90s. Learn more about the Raiders with our in-depth look here.

TCU, St. John’s survive the bubble (for at least another day)

The only other bubble teams to play outside of the Clemson/N.C. State matchup on Wednesday was TCU in the Big 12 tournament and St. John’s in the Big East tournament.

Holding off Oklahoma State to advance, the Horned Frogs avoided a potentially disastrous loss as Kouat Noi tallied a team-high 20 points in the victory. TCU advances to face No. 1 seed Kansas State in the Big 12 quarterfinals on Thursday, as the Wildcats will likely be without senior forward Dean Wade (foot).

St. John’s finally got the best of DePaul with a win in Madison Square Garden after the Blue Demons swept the regular-season series. Shamorie Ponds, Mustapha Heron and Justin Simon all had 18 points each to pace the Red Storm as Simon also deserves credit for slowing down DePaul star Max Strus (14 points, 4-for-12 shooting). St. John’s could gain more at-large credibility tomorrow with a matchup against Marquette in the Big East quarterfinals.

CBT’s Rob Dauster examines more on St. John’s and TCU’s bubble cases in Bubble Banter.

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.