Cassius Stanley, Wendell Moore spark come-from-behind win for No. 1 Duke over Georgetown

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NEW YORK — Cassius Stanley scored 20 of his 21 points in the second half and Wendell Moore chipped in with 11 of his 17 as No. 1 Duke erased an 11 point first half deficit to knock off a feisty Georgetown team, 81-73, in the finals of the 2K Classic.

Stanley chipped in with eight rebounds and the pair combined to make all four of their threes in the win.

Vernon Carey paced Duke in the first half, scoring 16 of his 20 points, and finished with 10 boards as well.

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

1. DUKE IS DISCOVERING WHAT THEY HAVE IN VERNON CAREY

There was some skepticism coming into the season about just how good of a player and a prospect Vernon Carey was going to be.

How he fits in the modern NBA is certainly something that will be worth discussing down the road, but in the present – in terms of Duke basketball and the 2019-20 season – Carey is proving himself as one of, if not the dominant big man in college basketball.

On Friday night, he put Duke on his shoulders and carried the Blue Devils through Georgetown’s first half surge. Duke dug themselves a 29-18 hole late in the first half, and Carey had 12 of those 18 points. He scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half. This came a night after he popped off for 31 points, 12 boards and four blocks against Cal.

He’s making threes. He’s moving his feet better on the perimeter than anyone expected. He’s showing himself to be, at the very least, an adequate rim protector. And he is an absolute behemoth when he gets the ball eight feet from the rim with a defender on his hip.

“When we recruited him, everyone said he didn’t have a motor and was just a big guy,” Mike Krzyzewski said. “I always thought he was a really good basketball player that had to learn how to run and play hard. He had a great attitude. Every day he works with us and Nate James. He’s invested, and he has finesse, too. He has good feet. He’s not just a big guy, he is a good basketball player.

“He’s better than I thought. He’s a really good competitor and he shows poise. He checks a lot of boxes. [Marvin] Bagley was more of a power forward, [Jahlil Okafor] was a center and this kid is a little bit of both. He’s a really good player and a helluva teammate.”

Tre Jones is the leader for this team and, maybe, the most important player in all of college basketball. Cassius Stanley has been a pleasant surprise, and Wendell Moore played the best game of his young career on Friday despite the fact that he turned the ball over seven times.

There’s more to this roster than some of us realized in the preseason.

But Carey is the anchor, the star that an offense can be built around.

And he’s only going to get better.

2. GEORGETOWN MADE A STATEMENT IN NEW YORK CITY

It comes in waves with the Hoyas.

There are times where it looks like they could end up being the worst team in the Big East. Then they’ll go on a run where it looks like they’re going to end up getting to the Final Four.

We’ve seen it in just about every game they have played this year.

Against Mount St. Mary’s, they dug themselves a 19-point second half hole before winning fairly easily. They needed a late run against Georgia State to win. Then, after a sluggish first half against Texas, the Hoyas spent the second 20 minutes looking like the Georgetown of yesteryear, like John Thompson Jr. was on the sideline with a towel over his shoulder as Patrick Ewing swatted shots into the second deck. That run continued for the first 15 minutes against Duke.

It came in flashes, but in those flashes we saw just how good Georgetown has the potential to be this year.

“This whole trip is something that we can build on,” Ewing said. “Everyone that we have on our team is capable of playing and playing well. We went toe to toe with the No. 1 team in the country and had an opportunity to win the ball game. We beat the No. 22 team yesterday. I think that our future is bright.

“We’re improving. It’s an ongoing process. We’re getting better every day, every week. We have a lot of talent on this team. It takes a while to get. I think we’re still going through that process.”

What Ewing has at his disposal is a team with length and athleticism everywhere that is bookended by good guard play and great post play. When he can stay out of foul trouble, Omer Yurtseven is the best low-post scorer in college basketball. He played six minutes in the first half on Friday because of fouls. He didn’t have foul issues in the second half and scored 21 points. James Akinjo is still learning how to be a point guard, and there are things that you can tell drive Ewing crazy, but he is as tough and as talented as anyone at the lead guard spot in the Big East.

The x-factor is the seemingly never-ending string of long, athletic wings Ewing has. Jamorko Pickett, Galen Alexander, Josh LeBlanc, Myron Gardner, Jagan Mosley. They play hard, they play tough and they thrive in the helter-skelter, pressing style that Ewing seems to prefer.

We’ll see what Georgetown’s ceiling ends up being this season, but the thing Ewing said on Friday that I agree with more than anything is this: “At the end of the year there’s going to be a lot of teams that don’t want to play us.”

3. MATTHEW HURT’S PLAYING TIME DISAPPEARED IN THIS GAME

Matthew Hurt was a five-star, top ten recruit that was a projected first round pick and enrolled at Duke with the expectation that he could end up being the leading scorer for this team and the ideal fit alongside Carey at the four.

On Friday night, he played just five minutes, he did not get off the bench in the second half and went scoreless. This came one night after he scored all nine of his points against Cal in the final eight minutes of a 35 point win.

It begs the question: What in the world is going on here?

“Jack White was playing better,” Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. White finished with just five points, but he added three boards and three assists. He also led the Blue Devils with in +/- at plus-20.

The easy answer here is that this was just not the matchup for Hurt, who is a slow-footed stretch-four that is not exactly known for his strength or his toughness. The length and athleticism on Georgetown’s roster made White the better fit for this game.

But reading the tea leaves, there may also be more at play. Duke is a team that is going to be built on their defense this season.

“We felt starting practice that we could be food defensively with Tre there and with our depth,” Coach K said. “We’ve really devoted most of our practice to defense, and as a result we’ve gotten tougher and we’ve learned to play defense. We have also spent a lot of time on rebounding.”

Those two things are their foundation. Their strength. And they are also the weakness in Hurt’s game. His value is his ability to space the floor and stretch defenses, creating room for Carey to work in the paint, but Carey had the best two games of his college career this week in the Garden and Hurt was barely involved. If Moore is going to play the way he did Friday and Stanley is going to consistently knock down open threes, then Hurt’s shooting is not as valuable and his defensive frailty makes him a net-negative.

The caveat here is that it is the fifth game of five month season.

There is plenty of time for Hurt to develop into a valuable contributor. We knew that Duke’s roster makeup meant that they were going to be a team that is going to change based on matchup as well. It’s too early to make any grand proclamations at this point.

But it will be something that is worth monitoring for the rest of the season.

NCAA steering farther and farther away from harsh penalties

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The days of postseason bans and crippling scholarship reductions to punish schools for breaking NCAA rules appear to be winding down.

Memphis was placed on three years of probation earlier this week with a public reprimand and fined for NCAA violations related to the recruitment and short college career of James Wiseman, who is about to start his third season with the Golden State Warriors. The NCAA also wrapped up an investigation of Air Force football for breaking the COVID-19 recruiting quiet period.

No postseason bans or scholarship reductions in either case. The Independent Accountability Review Panel, the NCAA’s outside arm of enforcement, said in its decision in the Memphis case that it did not want to punish current athletes.

That sentiment is widespread in college athletics these days, even with millions of dollars suddenly flowing to athletes from various sources for their celebrity endorsements amid concerns over improper inducements. In fact, it is on the way to being codified: Last month, the Division I Board of Directors adopted three proposals to change the infractions process.

The board also committed to “identifying appropriate types of penalties and modifying current penalty ranges, including identifying potential alternative penalties to postseason bans.”

Trying to predict what those alternatives will be is difficult, but if the goal is to avoid harming athletes and others who were not involved in the violations the options are limited.

“I emphatically believe it’s the wrong direction to go,” said Nebraska law professor Jo Potuto, who spent nine years on the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“If you’re going to deter, the punishment has to fit the offense, right?” Potuto added. “You’re not going to deter serious violations with penalties that are not perceived to be really serious.”

Since January 2020, there have been at least 45 major infractions cases decided by the NCAA. Of those, at least 15 involved Level I allegations, the most serious and those carrying the most severe penalties; six cases resulted in some kind of postseason ban, with four of them self-imposed.

The Memphis case went through the IARP, which was created in response to the FBI’s investigation of college basketball corruption but is now being discontinued. Sunsetting the IARP was among several recommendations put forth by the NCAA’s Division I Transformation Committee earlier this year and recently adopted by the board.

As college sports moves toward less centralized governance by the NCAA and deregulation in general, the hope is to create a more streamlined enforcement process.

If justice is swift, the thinking goes, it is more likely to be applied fairly.

“The reality is the current system is broken,” said Atlantic Coast Conference Commissioner Jim Phillips, a member of the transformation committee. “I think everyone in the association, in the enterprise, understands it. When (an investigation) takes the amount of time that it does now and you start to penalize young men and women that were high school, if not middle school-age (when the violation occurred), it’s not an effective process.”

The IARP is still handling cases stemming from the FBI probe involving Louisville, Arizona, Kansas and LSU. Those have been in the NCAA enforcement pipeline for years. A related case against Oklahoma State did not go through IARP and the Cowboys did end up with a postseason ban.

David Ridpath, a professor at Ohio University and former compliance director for several schools, said even though the IARP failed, NCAA enforcement would be best handled by an independent organization.

“No system is perfect, but if you’re going to have an enforcement system at the end of the day you need to provide basic due-process protections and then you have to be able to consistently punish people,” he said.

In the Memphis case, Wiseman received $11,500 from Hardaway in 2017 while Hardaway was coach at a local high school. Hardaway was hired as Memphis’ coach in March 2018, and Wiseman committed to the Tigers in November 2018.

The NCAA accused Memphis of four Level I and two Level II violations, including lack of institutional control, head coach responsibility and failure to monitor. In the past, those types of allegations could strike fear into athletic directors but probation and fines seem much more likely to be the outcome now instead of the sweeping scholarship sanctions, vacated victories and postseason ban that Southern California received in 2010 for the Reggie Bush improper benefits case. Those penalties set USC football back years.

In the end, the IARP essentially reduced the charges against Memphis and cleared Hardaway of wrongdoing.

While the NCAA is losing sway in the wake of last year’s Supreme Court ruling, with more power being shifted to its member conferences, it also remains clear the schools still want the association to handle enforcement.

But what exactly is being enforced?

Athletes can now be paid for endorsement and sponsorship deals and college sports is still waiting on and hoping for help from federal lawmakers to regulate name, image and likeness compensation.

Plus, as revenue skyrockets for schools at the top of major college sports, the NCAA is trending toward fewer restrictions on what financial benefits can be provided to athletes.

“Until we have clarity and certainty on what schools and boosters and athletes can and can’t do, I think many recognize that it’s dangerous to hand down significant punishments when it’s not clear what you can and can’t do,” said Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane. “And I think unless you have clear rules, it’s hard to harsh punishment.”

Still, punishments directed at schools (fines) and coaches (suspensions) could become steeper and longer, Feldman said.

Potuto said with so much money flowing into the top of college athletics, it is doubtful fines could be large enough to be a true deterrent. While she understands the desire to not have current athletes pay for the sins of previous regimes, loosened transfer rules could mitigate the potential harm.

“I will make one prediction: If there is a move to impose penalties much less frequently in five years there is going to be a move to put them back in,” Potuto said.

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.