Pritchard’s clutch shooting paces No. 14 Oregon in win over No. 13 Memphis

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Payton Pritchard shook off a rough night by hitting two massive threes in the final five minutes as No. 14 Oregon held off No. 13 Memphis, 82-74, on Tuesday night in the Moda Center.

Pritchard finished with 14 points and six assists, scoring 10 of the 14 down the stretch. He shot just 4-for-11 from the floor and turned the ball over six times, but he made the plays when it mattered.

Here are three things that we can take away from that game:

1. JAMES WISEMAN NEVER GOT INTO THE GAME

In his first game against high major competition, James Wiseman never really seemed to get out of first gear.

He picked up two fouls before the first TV timeout, meaning that he spent the next 16 minutes riding the pine. It wasn’t until the final eight minutes of the game that he really started showing the things that he is capable of doing. He finished with 14 points and 12 boards, adding a turnaround jumper to a couple of tip-dunks, but for the most part he ineffective.

Part of the reason for that is the defense that Oregon plays. They sit in a matchup zone that is somewhere between a normal 2-3 and a switching man-to-man defense, and they were able to park extra bodies in the paint because the Tigers were unable to shoot them out of it. There was one possession where Memphis was able to get him into a ball-screen action with enough going on on the opposite side of the floor where there was some space for him to work, but that’s it.

For the most part, Wiseman spent his time in Portland looking frustrated and ineffective, and he still finished with a double-double.

That should tell you quite a bit about his potential.

It also helps drive home some of the question marks that surround his motor.

2. OREGON’S GRAD TRANSFERS CAME UP BIG

It should not really come as a surprise to anyone at this point, but Dana Altman is finding success by tapping into the grad transfer market. Anthony Mathis scored 12 points and hit four threes while Shakur Juiston added 17 points, 10 boards, three assists and two blocks to the cause.

And Oregon needed those points. Pritchard struggled with the length and athleticism of Memphis for the first 32 minutes, but the Ducks were in control for the majority of the game in large part due to the play of their senior one-and-dones.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Oregon bench as well.

Starting guard Chris Duarte bruised his knee late in the first half, and that forced Addison Patterson and Will Richardson into big minutes in the second half. Richardson finished with 10 points and six assists, including a huge three in the final minutes, while Patterson scored all seven of his points during one three-minute second half stretch that saw the Ducks open up their first double-digit lead.

(Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

3. JAMES WISEMAN’S ELIGIBILITY IS GOING TO BE THIS YEAR’S ZION WILLIAMSON

Every season, there is a talking point that gets shoved down the throat of anyone that watches college basketball on a nightly basis, and this year it looks like it is going to be Wiseman’s eligibility.

It was discussed ad nauseum during Tuesday night’s broadcast, there were graphics that popped up explaining that he has been ruled ineligible by the NCAA and Jay Bilas and Dan Shulman talked through the particulars of the case multiple times. It was mentioned at halftime. It was the centerpiece of what was discussed postgame.

And rightfully so!

Wiseman might be the best player in the country. He is a potential No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. He is the star attraction on a Memphis team that ranks in the top 15, has Penny Hardaway as their coach and is the college hoops team that had all the buzz in the offseason. Oh, and should I mention that he is in the middle of an absolutely unprecedented battle with the NCAA over his right to play this season?

He should be the thing that gets talked about more than anything else this season.

It’s not wrong.

Just prepare yourself for this to happen.

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.