Butler’s 30 points lead No. 16 Baylor to 105-61 win over UCA

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WACO, Texas — Jared Butler and Baylor’s guard-oriented lineup quickly helped ease coach Scott Drew’s usual nervousness about a season opener.

There wouldn’t be another upset.

Butler scored 30 points with a career-high eight 3-pointers, MaCio Teague had 18 points and 10 rebounds in his Baylor debut and the No. 16 Bears opened Drew’s 17th season by scoring the first 19 points on the way to a 105-61 victory over Central Arkansas on Tuesday.

“It’s a great feeling (after) last year and what happened, and how we felt going into the locker room after the game,” Butler said, referring to last year’s opening loss to Texas Southern. “Man, it’s great that we got off to a great start. I think it’s really important. But with that being said, it doesn’t matter how you start, it’s how you finish.”

The Bears overcame several injuries and won 20 games last season, getting to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Big 12 coaches picked them this preseason to finish second in the conference behind Kansas.

Baylor’s first five baskets were scored by five different players, including transfer starters Teague and Davion Mitchell. The game began at 11 a.m. — no other college basketball game started earlier on the first day of the season — and was played before a crowd filled mostly with elementary school students.

“Won’t guarantee we’ll always shoot 55%, but when you do and you have 25 assists and you defend and rebound like we did today, obviously not a lot to be upset with,” Drew said.

Teague, a transfer from UNC Asheville who had to sit out last season, had four 3-pointers.

“I was pretty anxious going into the game. I had a little bit of trouble sleeping last night,” Teague said. “But it felt great to go out there and join the team, join my brothers and play against a different team.”

Devonte Bandoo added 15 points and Freddie Gillespie 14 for the Bears, who shot 56% overall (40 of 71) and finished with a 51-30 rebounding edge. Baylor shot 55% on 3s, the 18 (of 33) being the most in a home game and two short of the overall school record.

Rylan Bergersen, a transfer from BYU, had 17 points in his Central Arkansas debut. Eddy Kayouloud added 13 points and top returning scorer Hayden Koval had 12.

“In these Power Five games, we’ve won one … you know the reality of it. You never go into the game thinking that you don’t have a chance because basketball’s a funny game,” sixth-year UCA coach Russ Pennell said. “But I think the thing that we try to do in these games is try to find the good minutes.”

CLARK’S RETURN

Baylor’s preseason All-Big 12 forward, Tristan Clark, had three points and four rebounds in his return after missing the second half of last season with a knee injury. Clark had two early fouls and played only five minutes in a scoreless first half. He finished 1-of-3 shooting in 16 minutes overall.

“We’ve seen in practice, he’s had moments where he was the Tristan of old and then he’s had moments where he’s still getting the rust off,” Drew said. “It’s a long process for him. He will keep getting better and better with time.”

QUICK 10

Bandoo had 10 points in span of 1:40 in the first half. He drove for a reverse layup that made it 11-0 and drove for a dunk 15 seconds later. His consecutive 3-pointers, sandwiching the first basket by UCA, put the home Bears up 22-2.

BIG PICTURE

Central Arkansas: The Bears from the Southland Conference got down so much so quick that it took time for them to settle in and just play. They do have four returning starters.

Baylor: A good start for Baylor, which had two Division I transfers in its starting lineup that had to sit out last season: point guard Mitchell (Auburn) and Teague. Clark, who was the nation’s top field goal shooter in the 14 games he played last season, will have plenty of time to get back into a groove before conference play starts.

UP NEXT

Central Arkansas returns home to Conway, Arkansas, to play crosstown rival Hendrix College on Thursday night. Their campuses are about 2 1/2 miles apart.

Baylor took off after the game to head to Alaska, where the Bears will play Washington at a military base Friday night.

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.